Setting the default printer with a script with Mac OS X

7 Apr

After looking around the internet, I couldn’t find the answer in a single place, but I figured it out and so I might as well publish it here.

If what you want is to make a script so that all the user has to do is double-click something or run a script and their computer will use “XYZ PRINTER” default printer whenever they print, this is the sequence that works:

defaults write ~/Library/Preferences/org.cups.PrintingPrefs.plist UseLastPrinter -bool FALSE
lpoptions -d XYZ_PRINTER

The way it works is that line 1 turns off the “Use last printer” system preference that is the default setting. Then the second line actually sets the default printer. You’d think that all you need is the second line, but the “Use last printer” overrides it, so if you try doing just the second line nothing happens. It’s not obvious, unless you see it right in front of you like it is now :)

You can make this into an AppleScript pretty easily. Note that you have to replace any spaces in the name of the printer with an underscore.

A bunch of journalists really wish…

29 Dec

…they could cover a mind-boggling once-in-a-lifetime story like the iPhone launch.

That’s why so many of them are crapping so often on the “lack of innovation” that’s supposedly not happening these days, despite the fact the clear evidence (as given by the many who disagree with that premise) is that in fact innovation is streaming along quite nicely.

What they really want to have happen is for a Jobs-esque figure to get up on that podium and blow everyone’s mind away. So they can cover it. Problem is, you can’t will that sort of stuff to happen.

Blogger of the Year

29 Dec

I often say this too, especially on short flights: ”Why can’t I read my Kindle during take-off and landing?”

All hail Nick Bolton.

My Kindle 6″ Review

26 Dec

My parents got me a Kindle 6″. I’m a previous sometimes user of the original first-generation Kindle, and I found it to be a great purchase.

First of all, I bought the cheapest, simplest Kindle, and wasn’t at all interested in the Fire or anything fancy. I already have an iPad and use that for all of my consumer needs sans reading. I love the e-ink feature that the simple Kindle has, and is the main reason for buying it. My father has twice reported that he thought the contrast wasn’t enough, so it might be worth having a look before buying, but I for one love how it’s off-white like paper.

The best part about it is that you can hold it and turn pages with one hand. This feature is great for reading because it means you can do so many other things with it as well. Do some reading during commercials or those in-between times you have. I gave my wife a massage while reading. If you have your iPhone with you, you can read on-the-go as well, due to its automatic read-syncing feature. The buttons are particularly well placed to make for easy turning.

The worst part about it though is that it’s essentially an advertising device. The upshot is that’s why it’s so cheap, because Amazon is selling them to sell more content. Which is a fair enough tactic and completely understandable, especially since this device is essentially an extension of your Amazon account. (To think otherwise is folly.) However, I still have to take it down a few points of my imaginary scale (out of 50 for no reason) for the advertisements on the home screen. I mean, I get the commercials on the screen saver bit, but on the home screen. Even, the same advertisement that I get on the home screen? C’mon?

So, it get my “highly recommended” (45 out of 50!) assuming that you already have an Amazon account, and are prepared to spend a bit more money on content.

The single most interesting thing about Microsoft…

18 Dec

… is that right now it’s really interesting to watch. It’s becoming clear that big companies don’t fail, they melt, and the suggestion that they are probably going to have to divide itself into two or three companies is probably the right one.

I think the main problem facing Microsoft right now is that they are trying to get the same codebase to run everything from phones to tablets to desktops. With the introduction of touch screens, the industry divided itself into two, and that division will continue to increase as time goes on. That fingers alone are used to manipulate everything on a device is such a game-changer it necessarily means having to split off from whatever happened previously.


I swear I haven’t changed a thing

22 Nov

So I maintain an internal site used by teachers and students all the time. So I also hear a lot of complaints. I can’t blame them, I certainly have my own complaints as well.

One of the fascinating things about the development process is that under-the-hood you do need to constantly iterate; you know, tweak the font size a bit, adjust the buttons, make the code run faster. That’s how the developers cut their teeth on stuff, that’s just what you have to do.

The downside to doing that in an educational context though is that the teachers are just too damned busy. There are a lot of things to blame for that, but let’s just accept that they are Just. Too. Damned. Busy. So if they use your site and something changed a bit, even if they are still successful, whenever they have difficulty with something they will surmise that it’s because a change happened.

Many educators who are marking work all the time don’t have the perspective to realize that cosmetic changes aren’t the same as functional changes. They just see change. I helped several colleagues who were trying to get some information out of the website but were stumped and swore up-and-down that I had changed things.

The reality was that they were confused about things from the beginning, and saw something they didn’t understand. All of this makes me think that I shouldn’t be changing things at all, or maybe wait until holidays or breaks, but if I did that I wouldn’t be able to build out the website to meet the community’s needs.


Two Predications about the Future of Apple Software

2 Nov

Now that the Mac OS operating system updates are free, and the development cycle for that OS is so stable, I think this is leading to the inevitable conclusion:

One day major dot-number OS updates (iOS, and Mac) and iWork updates are going to be automatic, even required.

As it is, Apple already enjoys a very rapid rate of adoption by its users, and not updating immediately seems counter-intuitive. At our school now, we are in the position of asking users to not update which rings hallow when you consider just how few issues there actually are. The real issue is really all about time management: We don’t want to overwhelm our users with things like “update to the latest and figure out how to use it”, but still… it’s so easy now all it does is take the fun out of it all.

The only real technical issue with the Mavericks update is actually with the new iWork suite: The new format is fundamentally incompatible with the old one, and vice versa, and I think I know why. The new format encompasses changes required if the software is going to be sharing documents online as well. The old format used XML which has to be uploaded and downloaded in one swoop; but not so with the new Google Docs-style of breaking everything down into small chunks so that it is network-friendly. That’s a fundamental change to the architecture that requires breaking with the past.

So, the whole reason to make it backwards-incompatible is so that you can have Pages for Mac, iOS, and the web.

Which brings me to another prediction:

A future XCode is going to be a development environment that allows devs to write Mac and iOS and web-based software with the same codebase.

If it sounds complicated, it is. Apple is going to need a way to make sure users are using the same operating system everywhere, to make that sort of system sustainable, hence why this prediction is predicated by the first one.

Okay, one more prediction, which is also actually more like deduction:

Future Software updates will always be backwards-compatible

Low Standards in Educational Software

26 Oct

Follett Destiny is synonymous with Library software where I come from, where I am now, and where I’m going. It’s ubiquitous. There are hundreds of thousands of districts and schools using it. It does Library catalogues, maintains check-outs, and stuff like that.

Which is pretty amazing when you think about it, because apparently all these school districts and schools all don’t mind having the same ugly green color throughout the user interface. Because, you know what, you can’t change that ugly green color.

Screen Shot 2013-10-26 at 11.32.17 AM

I wrote to the support people myself. Can’t I just change that green to our school colors. Nope. You’re kidding me, right? Nope.

This is what really irks me about software intended for schools. It intentionally goes against the grain of best practice. Colors of a website are so ridiculously easy to change and adjust, it’s not even funny. It does not require extensive understanding of any technology, it’s just a color!

It’s almost as if companies and software packages that are completely uncustomizable are built that way to protect the school from itself, because they aren’t competent enough to maintain something that can be changed or readjusted.

I have to wonder about the standards of those that are choosing to use such software, too, because they obviously don’t mind any of it.

It’s an insult to our collective intelligence.


21 Oct

Can you believe that the operating system produced by Microsoft has such atrocious battery life. Truly a sinking ship.

US going into default is extension of the Civil War

16 Oct

Bruce Bartlett’s piece is practically an academic journal-esque article offering documentary proof that defaulting is just the latest round in the on-again-off-again Confederacy uprising. He outlines how there are more than just indirect connections. It really is a must-read.

And if those facts don’t convince you that defaulting is really just an extension of the Civil War, how about this nugget:

The election of Barack Obama in 2008 caused a big jump in debt default advocacy among those on the right.

Mr Obama, remember, is black.