Monday, September 15, 2008

Joel Spolsky Co-Launches "Stack Overflow" programmer's forum

One of my favorite programming bloggers, Joel Spolsky, recently announced his latest co-project:  Stack Overflow.  This is basically a 'fixed' version of the question forum that you frequently encounter when searching for programming questions.  The improvement is that this is moderated, and the answer gets promoted to the top so that you don't have to wade through endless comments to find the answer (if you do find the answer).

It's still in beta, and it doesn't have too many users yet, so it's hard to say whether Google will give it enough PageRank to reach critical mass.  Just in case, I registered myself (using OpenID, with my blogger website -- this blog) so that I could get a low enough user number to have Web Cred.  I got #7448.  Not too bad.  If this ever grows to SlashDot proportions, people will be like "ahh, he's got a four digit user number -- he must know what he's talking about"  (says the 7-digit user number user).  Of course, it will be impossible to ever win the user number war against Jeff Atwood:  #1.

I browsed the site a little bit and couldn't find any big complaints about the user interface, although I haven't tried posting yet (I did get a 'bronze medal', though, for filling out my biographical information!).  They've got syntax highlighting on the code samples, so it can't be too bad...

I'm half tempted to move a bunch of the programming tidbits I've collected on this site over to Stack Overflow.  I just want to make sure that the answers still link over to this blog so that this blog can build web presence as well.  (One of the great things about posting useful answers in your blog is that it raises the blogs PageRank -- if these same answers are posted elsewhere, your blog doesn't improve).  Stack Overflow lets you link your website through your user profile, but you have to click the user profile first.  I've also noticed that the last person to edit the question gets the credit for asking it -- not the original asker.  This creates a situation like that game where you try to put your hand on top of another person's hand, who tries to put their hand on top of yours, until you both end up slapping each other instead of putting hands on hands...

In any case, I hope that this website builds to the point that Google gives it top PageRank for the questions it answers.  This would let me reap the benefits of this system without all the work... :)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Disabling Spotlight Search on Mac OS X 10.5

(Update 2009-11-09: WARNING: It appears that the information in this blog post is not compatible with Snow Leopard 10.6, and may render your system unbootable)

I recently installed the Google Desktop application on my MacBook, and have had good luck with using it. I know there's all kinds of privacy issues, but for now I'm willing to exchange this a little for the convenience of Google searching of all my personal documents... :)

One problem, though, is that Spotlight is still on and chewing up CPU time, in addition to Google's indexing service. Since I'm using Google search and not Spotlight search, it would be nice to my battery life and fan life (and ears) to not have Spotlight needlessly burn cycles.

Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be any good way to disable Spotlight. The only way that I could easily find was to go to "Apple Icon->System Preferences...->Spotlight->Privacy" and select my whole hard drive under the "Prevent Spotlight from searching these locations:" box. This worked, but after looking at the Google Desktop settings (in System Preferences...->Google Desktop), I discovered that "Google Desktop will not search items in Spotlight's Privacy list". So essentially by disabling Spotlight (in this manner), I've also disabled Google Desktop search.

With more searching, I found a way to disable Spotlight by getting a little dirty with system settings. There are a number of 'wrong' ways to do this, as evidenced by several blogs that suggested moving or deleting system files, or changing there permission flags to 0000. From the best I can infer, the 'correct' way to disable Spotlight for Mac OS X 10.5 is by standard system services calls. Open a terminal and run the following commands:
> sudo launchctl unload /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.metadata.mds.plist
> sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.metadata.mds.plist
The second command will result in an "launchctl: Error unloading: com.apple.metadata.mds" error, but (from what I've read) you can ignore this error.

To later re-enable Spotlight search, type these commands:
> sudo launchctl load /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.metadata.mds.plist
> sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.metadata.mds.plist

Sources: Comments within the following blogs (don't follow the main article suggestions):
Hope this helps!