Proud to be Mac!

My progress working through the Cocoa Programming for OS X book has stalled a bit, but it’s not what you might think. I’ve been preoccupied by all of those cool-bean Cocoa concepts I’ve been learning over the past two weeks. Reading tech books is one thing, but you don’t really get it until you code it. My journey to the Mac platformbsod started back in 2003, a time when I had become increasingly frustrated with the many failings of Windows.

Not sure why I feel the need to segue to my Mac past, but here I go anyway… Queue the nostalgic soundtrack.

It was bad enough I had to use Windows all day at work, but I decided I wasn’t going to put up with it at home as well. I needed a reprieve and purchased my first Mac on Ebay, an iMac late 2001 model.

iMac
My first Mac, a late 2001 iMac. I got many years out of this awesome machine! *Technically, I my first Apple computer was purchased on Ebay months earlier but those computers arrived busted.

I was stoked to learn more about this new platform. Could it live up to the reputation as being something different and better? I went down to CompUSA to purchase a copy of OS X, Panther (10.3) on the day of the launch. When I arrived I was surprised to find other Mac users had gather to get their own copies. It was the first time that I got a sense that this computer was something different not just because of the machine but the people were special too. They were different and were happy to embrace a computer that seemed to get them. I was curious to know the essence of what made a Mac a Mac. I would tune in to watch the WWDC keynotes where interim CEO Steve Jobs would present the state of the Apple union. It was great feeling part of that special development community. It was so fun learning about the Mac and the unique culture that came with it. I especially loved how the Mac had always distinguished itself from the pack, particularly in the “Think Different” era. (Who doesn’t love Clarus the Dogcow? clarus_dogcow– Moof! )  Apple has evolved a lot since those early days, but I believe the Mac is still a strong, unique and viable platform. Through the years I have come to love using my Mac at home. I may use Windows and such at work, but that just makes me appreciate the Mac even more. There are those who do not see the Mac this way and that’s fine with me. Every now and then I still like to get into it with the IT crowd who often frame Macs in terms of parts or specs, but the Mac guy in me says let it go. I’m a Mac and your a PC and there is room for everybody.

Okay, so back to my Mac development plan, I’ve decided that this year I am going for it. No excuses! I am determined to write an app and get it into the App Store. There, I said it so it has to happen. The Mac platform has really matured since the early days of Xcode development. I am surprised at how far Swift has come in such a short time. Xcode 7 is a terrific development environment. It’s great fun to get instant feedback on how much CPU or memory your app consumes as it is being developed. It’s like a giant sandbox or playground- well of course Xcode actually has a “Playgrounds”, so right there you can see you’re in for a whole lot of fun. Back when I started learning to program on the Commodore 64 I used to love typing in code and seeing what happened on the screen. Playground gives you the same freedom to experiment with ideas and see the the results play out before you. I highly recommend experimenting with your code in Playground. It is a great way to hone your skills without ever having to build and compile your code. As a build engineer by trade, I really appreciate that feature!

Well, I am off to do some Mac development… 🙂

 

My PC Won’t Sleep

Is your Windows desktop an insomniac? Does your Windows PC stay awake no matter what you try? Maybe you’ve tried to adjust the Power Options in the control panel? Maybe you tweaked your LAN and USB device settings. Maybe you played around with the Powercfg utility? Maybe you tried all of the advice out there and still your PC won’t sleep. That has been my experience.

At home  I have two custom-built PCs that use a lot of power. Inside these rigs I am running some pretty powerful video cards on 800W power supplies. My power bills were getting quite high and I was looking for ways to cut costs. I did not want my PCs running when nobody was using them. These are family computers that often get left on “by accident”. The problem for me was getting them to sleep. Windows has had power control settings since day one, but I have always had issues with this feature. Sometimes my PCs wouldn’t wake after going to sleep. Sometimes they would go to sleep at unexpected times without warning. But lately, my PCs just never went to sleep.  I had hoped the issue was only happening on Windows 7 and that after I upgraded to Windows 8 things would improve, but they didn’t.  I would schedule my computer to sleep after 20 minutes and began to notice the computer stayed awake. Sometimes my computer would sleep, but then immediately woke up for some reason. I researched the issue and learned that there were many things that could wake up a computer, from: shared media to USB devices.  Here is one support link from Microsoft on how to troubleshoot the issue:  http://support.microsoft.com/kb/976877 

I even learned how to “Get a detailed Power Efficiency Diagnostics Report for your computer“. Yeah, this has been a time consuming task. Ugh!

Determined to fix the issue once and for all, I would try solutions like the ones suggested in the support article, but after hours of tweaking, my PCs defiantly stayed awake. Just when I thought I had the computers down for the night, the little naughty PCs would wake themselves up again. Finally, I got fed up and came up with my own creative solution- I wrote an app called Nightcap that puts your PC to sleep after a specified period of time.  Out of the box, Nightcap will put your computer to sleep after 10 minutes of inactivity.  But the computer doesn’t just fall asleep without warning. A minute before sleeping, a warning will pop-up on screen with a countdown timer alerting you to the fact that your computer is about to sleep. To cancel the sleep state, simply move your mouse or press a key. Even cooler, the app can be set to fall right back to sleep if the computer has woken up without user interaction.

Nightcap Coming Soon!

sandman

I had planned to make Nightcap available this weekend, but I wanted to ensure that the program provided a way for you to give feedback and report issues. Nightcap was developed on Windows 8, so I want to do some testing on Windows 7 and possibly XP. 

If you have a sleepless PC and want such a program, please let me know and I’ll work extra hard to make it available on my site soon.  My hope is that Nightcap will save you from hours of frustration and maybe even a little on your power bills. I know, for certain, it has saved money on mine.