Keep GimmeSomeTune running

As a follow-up on my previous post on the question, which advocated a simple (but bad) approach to keeping GimmeSomeTune running, here’s a better way!

The Good Thing ™ to do is to use OS X’s built-in mechanism to start and keep processes running, namely launchd.

What we have to do is simply to write a plist containing the info needed by launchd, namely:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "">
<plist version="1.0">

Save this as a plist file in ~/Library/LaunchAgents. The name doesn’t really matter, but the best way to keep everything tidy and adhere to OS X’s standards is to call it at.eternalstorms.gstlauncherdaemon.plist.

Alright! Now GimmeSomeTune is going to start when you log in, and launchd will make sure it keeps running (i.e. relaunch it if it crashes). To tell launchd to use that plist file right now without having to log out and back in again, run:

launchctl load -w ~/Library/LaunchAgents/at.eternalstorms.gstlauncherdaemon.plist

And conversely, to stop it:

launchctl unload -w ~/Library/LaunchAgents/at.eternalstorms.gstlauncherdaemon.plist

Deep sleep on MacBook Air Late 2010

Apple’s latest MacBook Air boasts to last 30 days on battery when sleeping. Classical sleep will power down most of the machine (display, processor, hard drive, etc) but keep the RAM powered on in order to keep the state of the OS. However, the RAM drains too much power to realistically allow more than a week or so on a single charge.

The MBA feat is achieved through “deep sleep”, i.e. writing the RAM contents to a file on the hard drive, which allows powering down the RAM without losing state (also known as hibernation). The only problem is that waking the computer up requires loading back all of this data on RAM, which takes a few seconds.

Apple even uses a trickier approach by default: the computer sleeps normally at first, and switches to deep sleep after a certain amount of time.

This is very easy to see on the MBA: close the lid and reopen it a few minutes later, waking up is super fast. Leave it sleeping for a day, and it will take about ten seconds before you can do anything with it.

While this is a clever solution, the parameters aren’t that well adjusted — the computer goes to deep sleep too fast in my opinion.

This can be modified through pmset. First, run it to see what are the active parameters:

Air:~ florent$ pmset -g
Active Profiles:
Battery Power		-1*
AC Power		-1
Currently in use:
 deepsleepdelay	4200
 halfdim	0
 hibernatefile	/var/vm/sleepimage
 disksleep	10
 sleep		10
 hibernatemode	3
 displaysleep	5
 ttyskeepawake	1
 deepsleep	1
 acwake		0
 lidwake	1

The interesting one is deepsleepdelay (edit: see footnotes). It represents the time in seconds before switching from classical sleep to deep sleep. 4200 seconds, 70 minutes, is way too short. Let’s set it to 24hrs instead:

Air:~ florent$ sudo pmset -a deepsleepdelay 86400

There it is! Deep sleep will still work, but won’t be as annoying.

Edit July 2, 2011:
It looks like Apple changed the name of that setting from deepsleepdelay to standbydelay during the update to OS X 10.6.8. The command line has to be changed accordingly:

Air:~ florent$ sudo pmset -a standbydelay 86400

Semibold keyboard shortcut in Pages

So… Turns out there is no shortcut to turn text to semibold in Apple Pages, from the iWork suite. There are shortcuts for bold and italic respectively, but not semibold (or light / ultralight for that matter) even for the fonts that support it.

The closest thing to a solution that I found is through Character Style:
– Select a piece of text, make it semibold
– In the Styles Drawer, under Character Styles, click on the little arrow next to “none” and “Create New Character Style From Selection
– Assign a Hot Key to the newly created Character Style, by clicking the arrow next to it and Hot Key.

There are a few drawbacks to this approach, mainly that the character style you’re defining will be tied to a particular font, and that the only shortcuts allowed by the Hot Key setting are F1 to F6. If anyone has a better way, I’m all ears!

Automatically restart applications on OS X

I use GimmeSomeTune to provide hotkeys and some other goodies for iTunes. It works alright, but is veeeery crashy — usually every dozen hours or so on my machine.

How to fix that? Let’s relaunch it as soon as it crashes. Simple!

In a terminal:
for (( ; ; )); do open -W /Applications/Multimedia/; done

open is the bash command to launch applications on OS X. It works with all kinds of files: open somefile.avi will open that file in your default video player, VLC for example. The -W flag tells open to wait until the application exits before returning any value. By putting it all in a for loop, we effectively ensure that bash will launch GimmeSomeTune, wait until it crashes, then relaunch it, and so on.

Edit: this is a bad way of doing things. A better way is described here.

nginx as a reverse-proxy to Apache+Sinatra

I was recently developing a Sinatra app that wanted to host from home — setting it up Heroku would have meant migrating from SQLite to Postgres, and I’m lazy. The problem was that I already happened to have an Apache server at home to serve some other content, specifically some calendars through the WebDAV module.

The solution I used was simple: instead of having Apache listening on port 80, I set up nginx to listen to port 80 and redirect to either Apache (set to listen on port 8080 instead) or Sinatra (port 9393) depending on the URL.


Nginx configuration was dead simple (after a few tries). The gist of it being these few lines:

location / {
location /reorg {

The configuration in its entirety is available here.


After setting up this solution, I realized Apache’s mod_proxy would have done the trick without the need for nginx. And that mod_rack (Phusion Passenger) could probably have eliminated the need for running a specific ruby process for Sinatra at all. Live and learn!