Volitans Software

Support for (Some) External Drives

I have some great news. The OSX SAT SATA driver adds support for some external drives, connecting over Firewire, USB, or eSATA. I have tested it on a drive I owned, and it worked just like an internal drive

Supported external drives have been the number 1 feature request since SMART Utility’s release 6 years ago. I’m estatic that I can say its (mostly) supported. Not all drives will work, but the best way to know is to try. Just download the zip from that link, open up the .dmg, and install the .pkg. Many thank yous go out to kasbert who wrote the code.

Because its based on Apple’s code, it uses Apple’s public license. This means that in the next version of SMART Utility, I will include a way to install the driver. That will help so many people.

Look for that new version soon!


Its been awhile since this has been updated- too long in fact. So I wanted to fill everybody in on the company.

SMART Utility 3.1.1 is well under development, and should be released next Tuesday Determinations about 3.2 are still a bit up in the air, but its mostly settled. It will probably be out in a month or two. (There may be a 3.1.2 in between). There are some great ideas for 3.3/4.0 which I’m very excited about- including an iPhone app!

There are some other products under considerations, but nothing solid as of yet. I’d love to have a second and third app to not only expand the company, but provide protection in case the market for SMART Utility shrinks.

That’s it for now!

SMART Utility 3.1 is (Finally!) Out

SMART Utility 3.1 has been released, which brings full support for Mountain Lion. There are also a few new features as well as bug enhancements.

Note that this will be the final version that will support 10.5 and 10.6.

Download for 10.5 (Leopard), 10.6 (Snow Leopard), 10.7 (Lion). and 10.8 (Moutain Lion)

Here’s the full release notes:

  • Added email notifications for app and extra
  • Added SMART Utiilty.log file to crash reports to provide more information
  • Added Developer ID signing for Gatekeeper on 10.8
  • Fixed a bug preventing the overall status from displaying properly on 10.8
  • Fixed some other minor bugs
  • Reorganized preferences window
  • Reorganized Growl notifications (removed scan and update complete, added drive name and partitions)
  • Updated smartctl engine to 5.42, which supports many more drives
  • Updated Growl framework to 1.2.3, which fixes some bugs
  • Switched to using GCC 4.2
  • Dropped support for 10.4

Mountain Lion is Out!

I’ll have a detailed post in the next few weeks, but I’ve been running the developer previews and its pretty nice.

Also, SMART Utility version 3.1 will be out next Tuesday will full Mountain Lion support. Right now it sort of works- but it doesn’t display the PASSED/FAILING/FAILED text properly and it doesn’t support GateKeeper yet.

So check back next Tuesday!

Sometimes You Have to Cut Your Losses and Ship

Its always difficult to step back and re-evaluate a project after working many hours on it. You don’t want to think you wasted all of that time, to throw it away. But sometimes you must think hard about what you are doing, and whether its for the best.

I reached that point over the weekend. SMART Utility hasn’t been updated in nearly a year, and that was not my plan. I had some contract work that took me six months, which ended in January. I began work on version 3.1 of SMART Utility, which had some major work required. I had a few medium features completed, when I started work on the major feature in April- a rewritten operation of the main window.

I wanted to have a version out by now, so that I could begin work on a Mountain Lion compatible version. And with the release less than a month away, I was stressing out about completing it on time. The new major feature was taking too long. And while it is going to be nice to have, its not a necessity. Getting SMART Utility working on ML is, however.

So I made a hard decision to stop work on the new feature. I branched off the code to version 3.2. I reverted the 3.1 code to the point prior to the work on the main window. (I love git BTW!) It wasn’t easy to decide to do that, but I felt relieved about doing so.

So I hope to have 3.1 out in the next week or so. Its a nice upgrade, but not what I imagined. But that’s okay, I know my customers will be happy to have a new version (with email notifications!!). And I can start work on getting it fully supported under Mountain Lion. I don’t know if 3.1 will be compatible with 10.8, or if it will require 3.2. That really depends on how much work is required. However, 3.1 will be the last version supported under 10.5. Version 3.2 will require 10.6.

So stay turned for more news!

Keeping Out of the Sandbox

With the impending sandbox deadline coming up (FOR REAL THIS TIME, YO!), I thought I re-visit my decision to keep SMART Utility out of the App Store, when it was announced. This was both a political and technical decision. The technical part was simple- it would take a fair amount of work to rewrite SMART Utility to meet the App Store rules. There would be features left out, or features that would be restricted (the menu item for example). And even with all of that, it still may not have been approved. I found all of that completely unacceptable. The sandbox restrictions are just the icing on the cake.

The political part was a little more complex. I do not like the idea of somebody else approving apps and deciding what my customers are allowed to see. I feel that curated apps can be a good idea- but I entirely disagree with Apple’s rules for curation. I believe that they should put every app submitted up, except for ones designed to cause damage (i.e. trojans). They should not restrict based on APIs or ideas. I would love to use the App Store’s features (Software Updates for example), but not at the expense of features. That is bad for my product and my customers. I will not stand for that. I also do not like the lack of trials, as well as paid upgrades for apps.

The sandboxing issue has also lead to some developers pulling apps. Manton Reese has decided to pull Clipstart. He has a followup about the lock in with the App Store, which helps reaffirm my decision to stay out of the App Store. Atlassian (who helped prompt Manton to pull his app) has also decided to pull SourceTree. He documents many, many issues with sandboxing. And check out the comments for more complaints (hey comments can be good, surprise!!).

And not only are good apps not available in the App Store (which is big problem for Apple), but as Brent Simmons says, it has a chilling effect by stopping developers from even thinking or developing apps for the App Store. As Michael Tsai, you don’t know what the costs will be ahead of time. You could develop a great app, only to have Apple change the rules.

This is bad for customers and bad for developers. Apple needs  new way.


Das Keyboard for Mac Review.

About a month ago I finally received my Das Keyboard for Mac. Prior to that I was using an Apple Design Keyboard. I know the Apple Extended Keyboard II is all the rage in geek circles, but I found the softer key action of the ADK much nicer. Still, I wanted to try the Das Keyboard out since its a USB keyboard that the closest to the ADK, and even closer to the AEKII.

I really like the design of it. Its black, which aesthetically fits much better with my MacBook Pro and my external monitor. It has two USB ports on the side- which are powered. That requires a cable with two USB plugs to plug in. Since I have a hub, and I’m not losing ports (but gaining better access to them), this is great. The weight is very solid, which helps keep the keyboard stable.

It also has media buttons, which are helpful- though I don’t like the placement of the function key. Its in the opposite spot over where the MacBook Pro has it. I would much rather had it in the same place. They key font is weird- and maybe that’s because all the text is in lower case, which I find not as pleasing and harder to read. Finally, they replace the Insert key with an eject key- which is great except I need the Insert key for vSphere servers!

As far as the action of the keys- I like it. Its not as nice as the ADK, but I bet its pretty close to the AEKII. It took me a bit to adjust as I think they keycaps are smaller. But after using it a month, I’m now pretty fast and accurate on it, which is great. The sound isn’t as pleasing as the ADK, but its not annoying at all. I actually like it.

My final verdict- if you like the old style keyboards, but want a modern replacement, get the Das Keyboard. It doesn’t get better than this.

Apple Continues to Find Ways to Ruin the User Experience on iOS

This is just stupid. The link they are banning doesn’t even TRY to bypass the rules, but because it POTENTIALLY could, the apps are being banned.

Apple is going about this the wrong way. Now, to buy a Kindle book, I’m forced to use Safari, instead of the much better user experience of just doing it in App. What they should do, if they are so concerned about bypassing the In App Purchase system, is only allow paid apps to bypass the In App Purchase system. That way they make money and make the experience better, instead of the opposite now.

Apple Allowed to Intervene in Lodsys Case

This may be a bit of old news at this point, but its still great news. Apple can now offer a defense to those developers being attacked by Lodsys. Hopefully they can defeat them, and then Lodsys will be out of business.

A sad note to come out of this is that some developers caved and started paying Lodsys. I understand the logic (saving money), but its only a short term gain. If they fought and lost, they would pay regardless. But by paying, they only funding Lodsys to go after developers like me, and that hurts the whole industry. And they also set a precedence for other patent trolls to come after small developers. Sure, its only 1% now, but when there are 50 companies asking 1% because nobody fault, then that’s a huge problem.