Links for 2011-7-14 through 2011-7-31

Links for 2011-7-14 through 2011-7-31:

  • Cocos2D Tutorial – Dynamically Coloring Sprites [Brandon Trebitowski,] Have you ever seen a game (such as Tiny Tower) that contains similar sprites that only vary by certain attributes (coloring, shading, accessories, etc…)? I would often wonder how long it would take the artists to create each permutation of these sprites. After discovering that you can call a method on a CCSprite called setColor, I realized how most of this customization is done in code.
  • Muddying the Budget Waters With Social Security Many people misunderstand how the program operates. Payroll taxes stream into the trust fund that is used to pay current retirees’ benefits. When there is a surplus, that money is invested in a special type of Treasury bond that pays interest to the trust fund. At the end of last year, the trust fund had about $2.6 trillion. And though last year was the first year since 1983 that the fund paid out more than it received in tax revenue, it still continued to grow because of the interest accrued — and it is estimated to continue to grow through 2022.

    Since the money in the trust fund is held in Treasury securities, taxes collected are essentially being lent to the federal government to pay for whatever it wants (and this allows the government to borrow less from the public).

  • The Cult of Centricism We have a crisis in which the right is making insane demands, while the president and Democrats in Congress are bending over backward to be accommodating — offering plans that are all spending cuts and no taxes, plans that are far to the right of public opinion.

    So what do most news reports say? They portray it as a situation in which both sides are equally partisan, equally intransigent — because news reports always do that. And we have influential pundits calling out for a new centrist party, a new centrist president, to get us away from the evils of partisanship.

    The reality, of course, is that we already have a centrist president — actually a moderate conservative president.

  • Revamp of a game [Yuchen Wang, ClingMarks]
  • Cocos2D and ARC [Jerrod Putman, Tiny Tim Games]
  • How To Use Custom Classes With Core Data Without Fear [Doug Sjoquist , Sunetos]
  • User Testing in the Wild: Joe’s First Computer Encounter « Boriss’ Blog
  • Make a backup copy of the MacBook Air USB Software Reinstall Drive | TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog Since it doesn't come with an optical drive, giving MacBook Air buyers a DVD of the operating system wouldn't be very helpful. That's why Apple's lightest laptop comes with the USB Software Reinstall Drive — a very small white USB drive. Sometimes USB flash drives are referred to as "Thumb Drives," but this one is more like the size of a baby's finger.

Posted by Postilicious

MacBook Pro disappointment

When Apple introduced the MacBook Air late last year, they called it The Next Generation of MacBooks. I was really hoping the new MacBook Pro would inherit many of its attributes, such as the thin profile, light weight, and standard SSD. Although the new models are a nice improvement over the old MacBook Pro, with faster processors & improved graphics, they’re still just as big and heavy.

After using the 3 pound 13″ MacBook Air, I will never go back to a big laptop that weighs 5 pounds or more. I would have preferred to see much thinner MacBook Pros with no optical drive and a standard SSD drive. Despite the slower processor, I find my MacBook Air to be almost as fast as my old 15″ MacBook Pro thanks to the much faster SSD. I would still love to see a “super MacBook Air”, with the fastest CPU & graphics from the MacBook Pro and 8GB RAM, but without too much extra size & weight by keeping the SSD and eliminating the optical drive.

MacBook Crash

I had a weird, random MacBook crash today. The screen suddenly got scrambled and collapsed to a narrow bar at the top of the screen, which was all black. It wasn’t merely a GUI layer crash, since I couldn’t SSH to it, so I had to reboot it. I didn’t notice any unusual messages in the console log leading up to the crash. This is the third time I’ve experienced this crash since the NVidia graphics update.

Weird MacBook crash

Sudden MacBook freezes

On several occasions, my MacBook randomly froze. When it happens, the mouse pointer will suddenly stop moving, usually in the middle of typing. After I reboot, there are no unusual messages in the log around the time of the freeze, and hardware test finds no problems.

MacBook RAM and hard drive upgrades

I upgraded my new MacBook to 4GB of RAM and a 320G 7200 RPM drive, which I purchased from Other World Computing. The speedup is dramatic, since it was constantly thrashing with only 2G of RAM when I had 2 large applications open (like Aperture + Photoshop, or anything else with Parallels).

Replacing the hard drive in the MacBook is very easy – you just have to open the battery compartment and remove a single screw. The most difficult part is dealing with the 4 mounting screws on the side of the drive which hold it in place. They’re nearly impossible to remove from the old drive. Luckily I was able to find 4 screws that were exactly the right size. Unfortunately the screws still attached to the old drive prevented it from being mounted properly in the external case.

Drive Removed

Replacing RAM is a bit more involved, since you have to remove 8 screws and the entire bottom of the case. It isn’t too difficult to open, and the RAM is easily accessible and very easy to replace once you get it open.

Bottom of case removed

I highly recommend doing upgrades like this in two phases. First, I replaced the RAM, put everything back together, started up, and verified that the RAM was good. For the second phase, I replaced the hard drive. I then connected the old drive in an external case and used Carbon Copy Cloner to restore the contents to the new internal drive.

I’ve posted a full photo gallery of the upgrade here.