Monthly archives for January 2008

Published on January 19, 2008

Widerbug
If you do any amount of web developing with CSS and JavaScript, it’s probably a safe bet that you use the Firefox and Firebug combo to test ideas, tweak appearance and behavior of pages, and debug problems when they crop up. You might also use a widescreen monitor to provide more screen real estate to flip between your code and the rendered output. In an arrangement like this, the open Firebug panel takes up precious vertical space, while spare pixels on the side go unused.

After a few trivial changes to Firebug, I’ve modified it to open on the right side of the browser as a sidebar. With the stock plugin, you can achieve a similar layout by detaching Firebug from the current tab and moving its window in the same position, but this has a generally unwelcome side effect: the separate window doesn’t update when you switch tabs. With Widerbug, you can open the Firebug sidebar, and it will keep up with you as you switch tabs and maintain its width.

Widerbug preview

Release History

  • Widerbug is Retired
    January 6, 2011
    Firebug 1.9.0 added widescreen support, making Widerbug obsolete
  • Widerbug 1.5.0
    Released on January 25, 2010
    Merged Firebug 1.5.0 changes, for Firefox 3.6.*
  • Widerbug 1.4.0
    Released on July 17, 2009
    Merged Firebug 1.4.0 changes, for Firefox 3.5.*
  • Widerbug 1.3.3
    Released on May 25, 2009
    Merged Firebug 1.3.3 changes, for Firefox 3.0.*
  • Widerbug 1.3.0
    Released on Jan. 8, 2009
    Merged Firebug 1.3.0 changes, for Firefox 3.0.*
  • Widerbug 1.2.1
    Released on Sept. 13, 2008
    Merged Firebug 1.2.1 changes, for Firefox 3.0.*
  • Widerbug 1.0.5
    Released on Jan. 19, 2008
    Initial release, for Firefox 2.*

Download

Install Widerbug
(You may have to temporarily allow command-tab.com to install Firefox extensions. Also, if you’re currently using Firebug, please uninstall Firebug first, restart Firefox, and then install Widerbug, just to be safe.)

Published on January 11, 2008

Whenever I get a new stick of RAM for my Mac or PC, I’m always eager to just plug it in and start using it to its fullest, but having worked on hundreds of computers and encountering dozens of bad memory modules has convinced me that thorough testing is a must. While off-the-shelf PCs can run a copy of the free Ultimate Boot CD tool to perform RAM tests, Macs are a little bit more complicated in this respect. If you’ve purchased AppleCare for your Mac, it comes with a bootable TechTool Deluxe disc, but you’re otherwise left to your own devices when it comes to hardware tests.

Fortunately, with a little preparation right now, you can boot your Mac into Single User Mode and do a complete RAM test in the future. While you can run the necessary software in a fully-booted system, I recommend doing testing in Single User Mode where there are far less programs loaded in memory, and less chance of an important system component getting corrupted if your machine freezes or kernel panics — common symptoms of bad memory. A modified Mac OS X boot CD would be ideal, but that’s another post for another day!

Download Memtest

The testing setup isn’t terribly complex; I’ve taken the liberty of putting together an installable package which will put the Memtest utility into your /usr/bin/ folder. Memtest is a Unix command-line program that does the memory testing, and is the Mac equivalent of MemTest86.

Memtest Usage

To run memtest on a new memory module, first shut down your computer and install the new chip. (Some helpful guides for doing this can be found at iFixit, if you’re unsure of the exact steps.) Ensure the chip is firmly in place, close up your machine (or don’t, if you’re a pessimist), and power it on while holding down the Command and S keys to force Mac OS X to boot into Single User Mode. Once you see a black screen with white text, you can release the key combination. After all the system logging is done scrolling past, type memtest all 2 to test all memory two times. Two passes should be enough to detect any blatant problems, but I wouldn’t hesitate to let it run for hours on end if I suspected an intermittent memory problem (memtest all). When complete, you should be greeted with “All tests passed” if your new RAM is in good condition. If your system locks up or freezes indefinitely during the test, you may have a bad memory module on your hands.

2/16/12 Update: Memtest is still working under Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.

10/25/12 Update: Memtest is still working under OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion.

Published on January 9, 2008

Since its release, I’ve been a fan of Jan Van Boghout‘s VLC Icon Overhaul, preferring the dark video icons to QuickTime’s slightly modified generic document set. Part of the challenge of publishing a Mac application is coming up with icons that stand out against the rest of the system while still retaining the standardization that users expect, and Jan’s add-on makes VLC-playable files easily identifiable without introducing any confusion about their type. I’ve taken the liberty of creating 512×512 Leopard size icons for each format VLC can play, ready to drop into the application’s contents and use. Download the set here (full size preview), and follow the same instructions to install them. (Note that I haven’t built a large VLC application icon — something I may do soon.)

Published on January 2, 2008

Mac OS X Internals author Amit Singh has put together a unique plugin for MacFUSE called GrabFS, which is a virtual file system of running applications, in which you can navigate through windows and view current screenshots. That’s a lot going on in one sentence, so lets take it bit-by-bit:

MacFUSE is a Google project headed by Amit to port the FUSE (“Filesystem in userspace”) tool from Linux to Mac. Effectively, it mounts what appears to be a disk image, but the contents of the image can be from any source. The key to FUSE is that the apparent files and folders can be conjured up based on information obtained elsewhere, be it from other files and folders, a remote server, Flickr image streams, or process lists. Plugins allow authors to devise new ways of presenting a hierarchy to the end user, regardless of the original data format.

In the case of GrabFS, it lists each running application on your Mac as a folder inside the virtual FUSE disk. Inside every folder is a screenshot TIFF file for each window of that application, which you can view in place or copy out for later use.

MacFUSE isn’t a new project, but talented developers are continually thinking up new sources of information to plug right into your desktop.