Switching flyspell dictionaries on the fly

Since I am using Emacs for most of my text processing, and it comes with the nice Flyspell mode, and I do write English and German the most, I found this nice snippet from the Emacs wiki:

(defun fd-switch-dictionary()
(let* ((dic ispell-current-dictionary)
(change (if (string= dic "deutsch8") "english" "deutsch8")))
(ispell-change-dictionary change)
(message "Dictionary switched from %s to %s" dic change)

(global-set-key (kbd "<f8>") 'fd-switch-dictionary)

On OS X, I recommend to use emacs-app or emacs-app-devel from MacPorts. For flyspell to work correctly, also make sure to install aspell and e.g. aspell-dict-de. Otherwise the above function will complain, most probably.

Cisco VPN Client triggering system crashes?

I am not quite sure, but I suspect my Cisco VPN Client for OS X is triggering some crashes on the MacBook Pro. Only when I have been using the VPN Client, suspend the machine, then wake it up again, the system becomes unstable in some cases. Once, I got a OS X death screen right away, the other time I just got the blue screen, and the activity LED on the front was just off. This so far only seems to happen after I have been using the VPN Client. The current release of the client is 4.9.0180, and is already pretty old. Funny enough the Cisco webpage lists only OS X 10.4 and 10.5 as supported, and not 10.6, which has been out for what… 9 months or so? If I find anything new on this, I will update this post.

Update: There is Tunnelblick, a free UI for OpenVPN, which can be used as well. Trying this out now, to see if it is any better.
Update: So far no more crashes. I’ve used Tunnelblick for some weeks now. So I guess the Cisco client indeed is the culprit

Arrow keys broken for console applications in OS X 10.6.3

I was just trying to configure some project using the curses based ccmake tool. I noticed that I cannot do that, since the arrow keys on my keyboard stopped responding when running ccmake. Turns out, Apple broke curses in OS X 10.6.3. Workaround is to copy the ncurses dylib from a 10.6.2 system, which I don’t have at hand right now. Funny enough, the keys are also broken when using xterm instead of the standard terminal, so there is definitely something very broken in ncurses right now.

XCode cannot compare SVN directories

I am missing one feature in XCode: it can’t compare whole directories under version control. Only single files can be compared. For example, I have a directory named “Classes”. It’s info dialog does not show the version control tab:
However, if I choose some source file, I get the SCM tab and can compare my local version with the head version in the repository:

Setting PATH and other variables on OS X

Since OS X is a UNIX like many others, I usually put my environment variable settings like PATH in ~/.profile. However, for Cocoa based apps, that are not run from a terminal, this will not help. Luckily, there is a documented procedure for setting environment variables for Cocoa applications. In short, you just have to edit a plist. If it already exists on your system, just type the following in a terminal:

open ~/.MacOSX/environment.plist
If the file does not yet exist, just run the Property List Editor (e.g. via spotlight), and create that folder and that file.