Unsanity strikes back!

| Ted Landau's User Friendly View
Leopard-compatible betas released!

Coincidence can be a funny thing.

Just last week, I emailed the folks at Unsanity software, requesting an interview. In case you don't know, Unsanity makes about a dozen popular utilities for Mac OS X. By far, my favorite is WindowShade X. It has long been (together with LaunchBar) one of the first two third-party utilities I install on every new or updated Mac.

The problem has been that virtually none of the Unsanity haxies (as most of their utilities are called) have been updated for Leopard—even though Leopard has now been out for about four months and just about every developer who intends to come out with a Leopard update has already done so. Making matters worse, Unsanity has not exactly been forthcoming in explaining the reason for the delay or when it might be over.

In a blog entry from last October, Unsanity stated, "We have a build internally that works with Mac OS X 10.5... so it's a matter of days for the compatibility update." Unfortunately, the promised update did not appear in the next few days...or weeks...or months. Queries from users—as to what was happening—were met with silence. No further blog entries on the subject were posted. Postings from users began getting increasingly cranky and critical.

It was this backdrop that led to my request for an interview. I hoped they might be willing to sit down for a talk and explain what was going on.

Therein lies the coincidence. I received a reply from Unsanity today, politely declining my request for an interview. Instead, I was directed to a pair of blog entries, posted yesterday, for the answers to my questions: Pragmatic Disillusionment and Enthusiastic Trepidation. I don't flatter myself to imagine that my email triggered the blog entries. As I said, I am sure the timing was just a coincidence.

Still, the entries do provide most of the answers I would have sought.

The main thing is that they announce the release of Leopard-compatible beta versions of much of Unsanity's software. I quickly installed the beta version of WindowShade and — yea! — it works.

[Two troubleshooting notes: (1) Although the installer says that you can either log out or restart to get the software to work, I found that a restart was needed to get the essential Application Enhancer (APE) component to run; (2) After installing the new version of APE, any haxies that are not specifically recognized as compatible with Leopard will be disabled automatically. This includes haxies not made by Unsanity.]

When will these still not 100% complete beta versions be replaced by final released versions? When, if ever, will new versions of Unsanity's remaining software be released? Don't ask. Literally. All Unsanity will tell you is that "it'll be done when it's done." Unsanity adds that any more precise ETA is likely to be wrong and so they won't provide one. If you post comments requesting an ETA, they will be edited or deleted. At least Unsanity offers an apology for the delay in getting these two blog entries (and updated programs) posted, with health problems cited as a primary cause.

Most of the technical details in the remainder of the blog entries are directed at developers. Still, there are several nuggets of more general interest to be found.

The first blog entry (Pragmatic Disillusionment) is entirely devoted to explaining why the existing release versions of Unsanity programs do not work with Leopard. Although this has some bearing on what gets covered in the next entry, there really isn't much value, in my view, in slogging through the details of why haxies and Leopard have not played well together.

The second blog entry starts off by similarly staying in the past. It offers a very lengthy defense for why a version of Application Enhancer may cause a blue screen crash at startup in Leopard (as described here). Noting that it only happened if you were using an out-of-date 2.0.1 version of APE, a version that was updated more than a year before, the blog entry expresses indignation toward people who asked the "loaded question": "Why didn't you test APE 2.0.1 before Leopard was released?" The entry goes on to add that it would have been impossible to test the older version anyway, as the final build of Leopard (which revealed the bug) was not available to developers until the same time it was released to the public.

So, no, Unsanity is not apologizing for any problems caused by APE under Leopard.

At last, the blog entry moves to the present and provides links to the current Leopard-compatible beta versions of its software.

And that's all you are going to get from Unsanity, until they are ready to tell you more. Whenever that is.

P.S. The blog entries, in addition to discussing the status of Unsanity's software, contain several intriguing troubleshooting tidbits.

Most notably, they provide explanations for blue-screen freezes/crashes at startup that have nothing to do with any Unsanity software. For example:

  • An external hard drive that does not mount properly (possibly due to a problem with its bridge board) can cause a hang at startup. Because the mounting problem is typically intermittent (presumably, you would have discarded the hard drive if it never mounted!), the blue screen crash often does not occur at a second restart—even though from the user's perspective nothing has changed.


  • The Mac's inability to make a successful connection to a flaky network can cause a time-out at startup that can last as long as 15 minutes.


  • The blog entries also point out, at least twice, that InputManager software must not be installed in the user's home folder (~/Library/InputManagers) in Leopard, as it will "prevent the InputManager from loading even if the InputManager is installed globally in /Library/InputManagers and meets all the requirements to load." In other words, check your ~/Library/InputManagers folder. If you find anything there, remove it. Doing this at least offers a chance for other InputManager-dependent software to work. While most Unsanity Software does not use the InputManager, two do: Smart Crash Reports and Menu Extra Enabler. These will now install in /Library/InputManagers.

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    Comments

    Ishan Bhattacharya

    Just a couple of comments: The Fruitmenu beta crashes the Finder without fail when I click on the black Apple icon; Windowshade and Silk seem to work OK, however.
    ——-

    Ishan Bhattacharya

    Also forgot to mention: I find Unsanity’s peculiar “it’ll be ready when it’s ready” attitude rather odd, if not disturbing. During the past 4-5 months, the wall of silence by this software vendor, including lack of response to emails, even if it’s a canned response has been IMHO an improper way to manage a loyal customer base. Apple Inc. does the same, to some degree but there’s a slight difference between the two organizations, in scale if nothing else. If there are health issues involved, and the customers had been informed, it would have made all the difference; as a developer, I have a pretty good idea what Apple did with 10.5.2 and more importantly, how they did it, and I am not excusing Apple’s behavior. I am sure haxies have been tremendously difficult to code under those cirumstances. That is precisely why paying customers should be kept informed of both the coding issues involved as well as more personal issues (without divulging personal info).

    Having managed working with 10.5.2 through all the betas and then the final release for these many months, I don’t feel that the haxies are all that needed anymore, and that is exactly what Unsanity shouldn’t want to have happen. It’s be interesting to speculate as to whether Unsanity was entertaining some form of “buyout” from Apple (and maybe still is) and perhaps that accounted for the inordinate delay in releasing public betas. OTOH, Unsanity’s public statements are exceptionally critical of Apple in many forums, so maybe (probably) I’m totally wrong. But there was something unusual about the stonewalling about Unsanity last time I mentioned their name to some friends who work for our favorite fruit company…

    Old Rogue

    Well, I tried to read both of those blog entires, but I might just as well have been staring into a bush - didn’t understand much of it at all.  So tell me in simple language, can I install and run Windowshade and Shapeshifter in 10.5.2, or not, and if yes, how?

    Ted
    [quote comment=“118”]So tell me in simple language, can I install and run Windowshade and Shapeshifter in 10.5.2, or not, and if yes, how?

    Yes for WindowShade: Download WindowShade X 4.2b1

    No, not yet, for ShapeShifter.

    Mr. Reeee

    I’ve been missing FontCard, WindowShade X and Labels X. Silk I debate about, still.

    It’s good to finally hear some word from Unsanity.

    I’ll probably wait until these things go out of beta, before I consider mucking with Leopard.

    Until then, I’ve learned to live without my haxies.

    Don

    It’s back to the drawing boards for you, Apple. I had high hopes that you were able to effectively prevent the installation of dangerous low-level hacks like APE in Leopard but this beta release from Unsanity proves otherwise.

    DTNick

    @Old Rogue:

    Unsanity has a product compatibility page listing what works and what doesn’t:

    http://unsanity.com/products/compatibility/

    Old Rogue

    Thanks Ted, that was perfectly clear.  After rereading “Pragmatic Disillusionment,” I guess it was clear there too.  Pity, ‘cause it’s the last remaining thing that keeps me from using 10.5 full time - I hate the look of the Leopard theme.

    Bryan
    Hey [quote comment=“121”]It’s back to the drawing boards for you, Apple. I had high hopes that you were able to effectively prevent the installation of dangerous low-level hacks like APE in Leopard but this beta release from Unsanity proves otherwise.

    Heya Don,

    I am curious about your take on this.  In particular, what difference does it make to you what kind of dangerous low-level hacks I install on my Mac?  Should I care what kind of chaos an expert like Ted is messing around with?

    That’s not an attack, but rather an honest question.  The notion that Apple should prevent people from customizing their interface or doing other kinds of low-level things is something I personally don’t get.

    So, since most things that seem inexplicable tend to be a difference in perspective or other missing information, I thought I’d ask. smile

    My question should also not be confused with a specific endorsement for APE, FWIW.

    Bryan
    Editor
    TMO

    Peter Gunther

    I also hate the new Leopard theme.  I run my screen at low brightness levels and I can barely see some items buried in Leopard’s grey themed style.  Is there any other program that can change Leopard back to an Aqua theme?

    mrhooks

    Same here.  So far I’ve stayed away from haxies, even though I love WindowShade from the System 7 days.  But Leopard is so ugly, I’m thinking I have no choice but to install ShapeShifter or some other theme-changing program, if there is one, not to mention CandyBar to get rid of the main culprit of ugliness, the new folder icon.  Here’s hoping everything remains stable with APE running.

    Rick

    I was a big fan of FruitMenu, WindowShade, and FontCard. But I am very disillusioned at Unsanity’s behavior here. It’s a textbook example of how NOT to manage a customer base. Their lack of communication reeks of arrogance and contempt for their users. And the delay in getting leopard compatible versions of these apps out speaks to a core instability of the company that is beyond troubling. Taken together, I need to seriously re-evaluate if I want to adjust my workflow around such a company’s applications. I have little confidence these will be maintained over the long haul.

    Brian

    The only reason I can not update my office to Leopard some 9 months after its release is that we are hooked on Labels X.  Does anyone know of a substitute for this program that will work in Leopard?

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