iOS 5.1 disabled iMessage

Not sure if anyone else has had this problem, but it looks like yesterday’s iOS 5.1 update turned off iMessage support, at least on my AT&T iPhone 4. A quick trip to Settings→Messages→iMessage was all that it took to get iMessages working again (they had somehow been turned off during the update).

Anyway, just posting in case someone else is trying to figure out why their iPhone suddenly stopped receiving iMessages.

New look!

Finally gave this old site something of a make-over. Most of my energy these days goes into research, art, and music, so I’ve made space for those topics and removed all of the old, long-unloved software projects. They were mostly just gathering bit-dust here, anyway—the successful ones found new homes years ago.

So, if you came here looking for something specific but keep hitting 404’s trying to find it, drop me a line. I’ll point you in the right direction.

Yet Another WordPress Flash Uploader Problem (with solution!)

This was a new one for me. Every time I tried to upload a photo to a WordPress site, I received a very informative “HTTP Error” message while the upload progress bar read “Crunching…”. Thanks in part to the stunningly generic error message, it took a while to figure out exactly what was going on.  The problem, it turns out, was HTTP authentication; I had enabled Apache’s basic HTTP login for the site, but being a plugin, Adobe Flash was not similarly authenticated.  So, trying to use the Flash-based image uploader kept silently failing because it couldn’t authenticate with the server.  The fix is simple: just tell Apache not to use authentication for the script that handles Flash-based uploads.  You can do this by modifying the .htaccess file in the root of your WordPress directory like so:

<FilesMatch "(async-upload.php)$">
    Satisfy Any
    Order allow,deny
    Allow from all
    Deny from none

Making the Apple Keyboard Play Nice with Windows

After a long, long love affair with Logitech, I’ve finally finished a slow migration toward Apple’s input devices.  Their aluminum keyboard took some getting used, but once I’d grown accustomed to it on my Macbook, I decided to get one for my Windows 7 desktop.  It seemed like everything was working perfectly until I pressed the mute button; nothing happened.  Volume down?  No go.  In fact, all of the media keys (volume up/down, mute, play/pause, etc.) refused to do anything. For whatever reason, SharpKeys and other keyboard mapping utilities don’t recognize Apple’s media keys.  The solution, it turns out, is to install a pair of Bootcamp files from your Mac OS X installation DVD.

Here are the steps that worked for me.  I’m running Windows 7 x64 with a 2010 Apple aluminum keyboard, and have a Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard installation disc.  As always, your mileage may vary:

  1. Insert your Mac OS X installation disc.  If it tries to auto-run anything, cancel it.
  2. Open Windows Explorer, right-click on your DVD drive, and select Open from the menu.
  3. Navigate to the Boot CampDriversApple folder.
  4. Copy BootCamp.msi (or BootCamp64.msi for x64 systems) to your desktop.
  5. Copy AppleKeyboardInstaller.exe (or x64/AppleKeyboardInstaller64.exe for x64 systems) to your desktop.
  6. Use a tool such as 7-zip to extract the AppleKeyboardInstaller.exe file.
    1. With 7-zip, can you do this by right-clicking on the file and selecting 7-Zip->Extract to “AppleKeyboardInstaller”.
  7. Navigate to the folder you extracted AppleKeyboardInstaller.exe to and run the DPInst.exe file to install the Apple keyboard driver for Windows.
  8. Click Start->All Programs->Accessories, right-click on Command Prompt, and select Run as administrator.
  9. In the command prompt, type “cd Desktop“.
  10. Install BootCamp by typing “BootCamp.msi” (or “BootCamp64.msi” for x64 systems) in the command prompt.
  11. Once the installation completes, you can delete the files on your desktop and remove the Mac OS X installation disc.  Reboot your computer and enjoy your new media keys!

April 2013 Update: I just tried this method using Windows 8 and the BootCamp drivers from Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. Apple seems to be preventing the new BootCamp.msi  (version 5) from installing on non-Apple hardware, so the above method will fail on Step 10. Luckily I had an old copy of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion BootCamp drivers (version 4) which worked perfectly on Windows 8.

August 2013 Update: Thanks to Tom in the comments section, who pointed out that Apple’s Bootcamp update will install on non-Apple hardware, so we can use the latest Bootcamp drivers on Windows 8! On my machine, however, these new Bootcamp drivers set the time incorrectly after each reboot. The fix is to open up regedit.exe and navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\TimeZoneInformation. Double-click the RealTimeIsUniversal key and set its value to 0. Reboot and enjoy!

PHP ZIP Extension for MAMP

Do you use MAMP as a web development testing environment on your Mac?

Do you need the PHP ZIP extension for dealing with archive files?

Are you running Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard?

I do, and found making these tools play nice together to be far harder than it should have.  If you need to fix a similar setup, here are the steps that finally worked for me (on Mac OS X 10.6.4 with MAMP 1.9):

  1. Install XCode if you don’t already have it (we’re going to be doing a bit of compiling).
  2. Download the MAMP source code components (available towards the bottom of the page).
  3. When the MAMP source code package opens, go into the MAMP_src folder and double-click the php-5.3.2.tar.gz file (if you are using a different version of PHP, replace 5.3.2 with your actual version number).
  4. You should now have a php-5.3.2 folder in your Downloads folder.  Open up Terminal and cd to ~/Downloads/php-5.3.2.:
    cd ~/Downloads/php-5.3.2/
  5. Install the pcre.h header file (we need it to compile the extension):
    sudo cp ext/pcre/pcrelib/pcre.h /usr/include/php/ext/pcre/
  6. Configure PHP for i386 architecture:
    CFLAGS="-arch i386" ./configure
  7. Configure the ZIP extension for i386 architecture:
    cd ext/zip; CFLAGS="-arch i386" ./configure
  8. Build the extension:
  9. Install the extension:
    cp modules/ /Applications/MAMP/bin/php5.3/lib/php/extensions/no-debug-non-zts-20090626/
  10. Enable the extension by opening /Applications/MAMP/conf/php5.3/php.ini and appending the following line:
  11. Remove the pcre.h header file we installed earlier, we don’t need it anymore.
  12. Restart MAMP.  If everything worked properly, you’ll be able to goto http://localhost/MAMP, click on phpInfo, and see zip in the list of enabled extensions.

StrayLight Photography

I’ve been meaning to revamp the photography section of this site for a while now; this weekend, I finally found the time to do it. I registered a new domain,, and put together a portfolio consisting of my 20 favorite shots (<shamelessPlug>many of which are currently on display at Interzone through February 28th!</shamelessPlug>). I’m hoping to quickly expand the site with themed portfolios (portraits, urban decay, etc.), but… first things first.

Also, the new portfolio has been an excuse to play with CSS3 and jQuery 1.4.  Visitors using Firefox, Safari, Chrome, or Opera should see a site that behaves like it was created with Adobe Flash, but is fully accessible and doesn’t require the proprietary Flash plug-in.  Visitors using Internet Explorer… well… it at least degrades cleanly.  Mostly.

Mapping Caps Lock to Control without Admin Access

Somewhere along the line, I picked up the habit of mapping the otherwise utterly useless caps lock key to act as another control key.  If you’re an Emacs user, this is sort of critical to avoid the wrist strain of constant pinky-stretches to the lower-left corner of the keyboard.  Its become second nature now, so when I recently found myself working on a Windows-based lab computer where caps lock actually performed as-advertised, the result was a lot of code THAT lOOKED LIKE thIS.  Unpleasant, to be sure.

Linux and Mac OS X make remapping this key extremely easy.  System Preferences on the Mac and the GNOME keyboard control panel on Linux include a simple option to enable.  Tada!  No more wasted space west of ‘A’.  Windows, of course, is a different beast.

The good news: there’s a very simple registry hack to remap caps to control.  Seriously, it’s floating all over the internet.  Except, there’s a wrinkle–you need administrative access to edit the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE registry tree, which is what all of these hacks do.  For whatever reason, our school has decided computer science graduate students aren’t to be trusted with administrative access to their own computers [another rant for another time], so what’s a wrist-strained user to do?

Muck around in the Windows registry, of course!  It turned out to be pretty straight forward.  There’s a duplicate of the keyboard mapping registry key under HKEY_CURRENT_USER, which non-administrators can modify, and it appears to behave exactly like the key under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE.  So, for anyone in a similar position, here’s the registry key to modify:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER→Keyboard Layout→Scancode Map =

You can download a registry update file here.  Save it to your computer, double-click it to update your registry, then reboot and enjoy your vastly-improved keyboard.

Won’t be the Same Guitar Chords

Of all the Dance Hall Crashers tunes to not be transcribed, I can’t believe this is one.  Was one.  I worked out the album version the other day, still trying to put together a decent acoustic arrangement.

C G Dm x2

C            G                   Dm
It's morning two and you haven't called me
C           G                   Dm
It's like a thorn burning in my side
C        G                        Dm
Open the blinds, but something is different, can't put my finger on it
C                G                  Dm
The bright clean air makes me wanna hide
Am     G       F
'Cause now, oh now, this is how it ends
Am       G        F
Based on promises that we'll still be friends 

C                 G            Dm
But ba da, ba da, ba ba ba da, I know it'll never be the same
C             G            Dm
Ba da, ba da, ba ba ba da, now it's all been broken
C             G            Dm
Ba da, ba da, ba ba ba da, I know it'll never be the same
C             G            Dm
Ba da, ba da, ba ba ba da, you know I'd still do anything for you 

Where is the day you used to inspire me?
Where is the time I used to depend?
On the relief of your anchor I thought I'd never need
Now that it's gone, will I slip away?
So now, oh now, this is how it ends
Based on promises that we'll still be friends

But ba da, ba da, ba ba ba da, I know it'll never be the same
Ba da, ba da, ba ba ba da, now it's all been broken
Ba da, ba da, ba ba ba da, I know it'll never be the same
Ba da, ba da, ba ba ba da, you know I'd still do anything

F       C
This is only a letter
F       C
Jumbled words, no false pretense
F        C
And it's not a true confession
'Cause you've cost me much more than you'll ever guess
F                C
But I'm not your fallen hero
F           C
Someone who came to your defense
F                 C
And when it's all done and over
I'll make it, I'll make it, I'll make it, I'll make it make sense 

C G Dm x2

C          G
Know it'll never be
Know it'll never be
C          G
Know it'll never be
Know it'll never be

Ba da, ba da, ba ba ba da, I know it'll never be the same
Ba da, ba da, ba ba ba da, now it's all been broken
Ba da, ba da, ba ba ba da, I know it'll never be the same
Ba da, ba da, ba ba ba da, you know I'd throw it all away