New great Features in iStocks 0.3.0

iStocks MiniI have been busy with enhancing the iStocks dashboard widget. Thanks a lot for your valuable input; most new features were taken from your comments. The new 0.3.0 release has features such as Sorting by performance, Multiple instance support and color themes. It is also possible to rename the symbols and reorder them. And last but not least, the chart fetching has become much more robust by using several fallback data sources.
Check it out at iStocks Widget.

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iStocks Dashboard Widget ready for Leopard

iStocks MiniMy upgrade to Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard has been successful without any glitches. I had even spare time to update my iStocks Widget to v2.0. It is now ready for Leopard but works also in 10.4. It has some new features based on the feedback, including support for stocks, futures, mutual funds, indices and currencies like “EUR=X”. It has an integrated symbol lookup facility and ships multilingual. Check it out.

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iTunes 7 might delete your Files! Silently!

iTunes 7 IconPlease be careful – iTunes 7.0 might delete files and folders in your music folder, even if you have switched off automatic management! This turns out to be really nasty if you have set the music folder to something like E: or C: !! As I did on my PC. Au revoir, my precious downloads … :-(

Want to see a demo? I have recorded a Youtube.com video of iTunes in Action (deleting files).

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Thunderbird just stole me 30 Minutes

Thunderbird IconI used to advertise Mozilla Thunderbird to friends as a great free E-mail client with excellent IMAP support. Not anymore (I switched to Apple Mail). This is due to some stupid UI flaws in Thunderbird that just make me shake my head. Today, I focus on my fight against Thunderbird to recognize the changed password of my IMAP account. I expected a dialog box with a prompt for the new password. But far from it!

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Counting UTF-16 Characters in Java 5

If you take I18N serious, then you should take a look at Sun’s latest “Core Java Technologies Technical Tips” covering Strings if you think the following code sample is always the correct way to count the length of a string:

private String testString = "abcd\\u5B66\\uD800\\uDF30";
int charCount = testString.length();

Java 5 introduces support for Unicode 4.0, which defines a significant number of new characters above U+FFFF (the U+ prefix signifies a valid Unicode character value as a hexadecimal number.). Thus, the 16-bit char type does no longer represent all characters!

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Apple officially acknowledges Macbook Random Shutdowns

Apple surely felt the heat when the Macbook community (again!) raged on the “Macbook RSS”, the Random Shutdown Syndrome. (See also my formely posted blog entry about a possible cause of RSS.) As with the recent Walk of Shame case, Apple came to its senses and has now published an official statement: Knowledge Base article 304308 says:

“If your MacBook is shutting down intermittently, please contact AppleCare for service.”

Apple SupportApple has acknowledged the RSS as a hardware related defect, meaning that repair is covered by your guaranty. (Hopefully, you haven’t void it by opening your Macbook!). And as other sources as well as comments to the former blog article indicate, Apple is specifically replacing the heatsink in Macbooks suffering from the RSS. Good news, then, finally.

Update Sep, 19: MacBidouille has a story (in French) about Apple now providing specific instructions to Apple Authorized Service Providers on how to resolve the RSS. Apple also delivers a revised motherboard and a new heatsink for the repair.

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iStocks Dashboard Widget: International Stock Quotes

Tracking stocks can be fun on the Mac, thanks to the Dashboard. However, my home stock market is Germany and Apple’s Stocks dashboard widget, which comes with Mac OS X 10.4, only displays quotes and charts of US stocks. (Actually it’s a limitation of Apple’s quote server and not of the code.) There are 2200 registered widgets available currently, with some dozens of them related to international stock markets. It’s sad, but none of these widgets were as nice or useful for me as Apple’s.

iStocks MiniSo, with a little time to spare today, I’ve completed a small hack which I had on my Todo list for quite a long time. iStocks Widget is a modification (aka patch or clone) of the original Stocks widget which pulls its stock information from the international Yahoo quotes servers. So basically, you can track any stock as long as there’s a corresponding Yahoo symbol. The symbols usually carry information about the stock exchange location, like “SIE.DE” is Siemens, XETRA, Germany.

I’ve put the release at 0.1, since I’m not quite sure if the Yahoo URLs are stable. I’ve tested it against some random stocks (which all worked fine). BTW, you will notice that the intraday and weekly charts are images from Yahoo (they are not rendered via Quartz as the rest). The problem here is that 15-minute and hourly quotes are not available yet for international stocks. I think Yahoo is about to provide them when its new Yahoo Finance Charts will be announced officially.

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