Problems with Spaces on Mac OS X Mavericks

If you have a Mac with multiple displays, you might encounter a problem where ArraySync only seems to play video on one of them. To fix this, go to System Preferences and choose the Mission Control tab. From there, disable “Displays have separate spaces” and you should be good to go!

displays

Automatically start and stop ArraySync servers and clients

How to automate the ArraySync startup process is by far the #1 question I receive on the tech support email and forum.

I have created two scripts with Automator. One will launch ArraySync server, wait twenty seconds (to ensure the application launches fully especially on cold boot) and then start the server. The other script will launch ArraySync Client, wait twenty seconds, and then launch and select the first item in the server list.

You can download them here.

I’ve tested both of these on two Macs, and all four tests seem to work fine for me. Please try these out for yourself and let me know if they work. I’d like to collect user reports before making them “official” on the ArraySync website.

How to use the scripts

First make sure both your server and clients already have videos selected for your displays.

Then, place the script you wish to use in a convenient location and set it to launch automatically on startup by going to System Preferences -> Users & Groups -> Login Items and adding it to the list.

Finally, set all the systems to automatically start and shut down around the same time. You can do this by going to System Preferences -> Energy Saver and clicking the Schedule… button. ArraySync will obey the system’s quit command, so you don’t need a special script to quit the application. Be sure to set the server to startup automatically a minute or two before the clients to ensure the server is running by the time the clients try to automatically connect.

One more thing…

Before running, make sure your Mac is set to automatically login and that your screensaver, sleep mode, screen dimming and any other settings that may interfere with your presentation are turned off.

See more about this in the forum.

Mac Activation Troubles – Update with Solution

Okay, so earlier today I noticed some people who had recently purchased ArraySync directly from us (rather than the Mac App Store) were sending like 30+ activation requests which is way unusual. A quick check on my newly updated Mac system has shed some light on what’s going on.

ArraySync saves your authentication data inside a global folder located at /Library/Application Support/ArraySync. This has been standard practice for all Mac apps since Mac OS X first appeared over ten years ago. In fact, if you look in there now, you’ll see lots of Apple and third-party data stored there.

When the Mac App Store launched earlier this year, one of the rules was that you couldn’t write here anymore. No biggie, because the Mac App Store builds of ArraySync do not write there (they do not use our in-house activation system). Well, apparently Apple has decided to enforce this rule on Lion, even for apps not sold on the Mac App Store. So, unfortunately, the current version of ArraySync now has a bug :(

Until we can push out an update to fix this, which will probably be rolled up with all the other updates I keep telling you all about, there is a temporary solution. Simply go to your /Library/Application Support folder and inside there create a folder named “ArraySync”. This will magically get ArraySync activation working again on Lion until the bug is fixed. The screenshot below should help explain (the “AuthKey” file is created by ArraySync upon activation):

Feel free to ask any questions if this isn’t clear.

ArrayShaker is now free

ArrayShaker, the utility for splitting up videos into different segments, is now free for the time being. Enjoy!

Apple, the App Store, and Company Name Change Policy

Warning, I’m about to rant about a particularly frustrating issue that may affect some of our customers.

Years ago when I first developed iForum for iPhone, I uploaded it under the App Store account for “Avianware, Inc” – a company started by myself and two other developers who were all developing apps independently but pooled our resources to manage our apps on the App Store. Late last year I also began adding apps to the Mac App Store, ArraySync, ArraySync Client, ArrayShaker and Tilen.

Earlier this year, the original founders parted ways and I filed a new incorporation under a different name, The National Software Laboratory or “NaSoLab”. Apple had originally said that the process for changing the name on the app store (where iForum and four other Mac apps are sold) would simply require the faxing of incorporation papers and dissolution papers (of the old company).

Well now, it seems that wasn’t the whole story. The dissolution papers for the old company do not make any mention of property and products being transferred to the new company, a stipulation that was not mentioned earlier and is now required. Because of this, Apple is so far refusing to allow a simple name change. Instead, they want us to delete all the apps from the App Store, close our existing account, rebuild them all with different Bundle IDs (the way apps are identified to the app store which I’m not allowed to re-use for whatever arbitrary reason), enroll new Mac and iOS developer accounts, re-upload the apps and wait for the standard approval process.

This means two things. First, all our apps (including iForum) would disappear from the App Store, potentially for a few weeks. Secondly, anyone who downloaded any of our apps in the past will no longer get updates. Instead, you’ll have to delete the old version and go re-download the new version.

At this time I’m still waiting for a response from a higher appeal board to give our case special consideration. However, so far it’s seeming less and less likely we’ll be given an exception. If it comes down to it, I’ll be offering ArraySync customers a free personal license to activate the web-download version.

So to all our users, I sincerely apologize for this potential annoyance.

Cross posted on the Info-Mac Blog.

Improve ArraySync playback quality on Windows 7

We’ve been getting bug reports about video quality on some Windows 7 systems. There are two potential, hopefully temporary workarounds to this problem. The first is to put ArraySync into Windows XP (SP3) compatibility mode. You can do this by right-clicking its icon, choosing Properties, going to the Compatibility tab, and enabling “Run this program in compatibility mode”.

The other option that seems to work for me as well is to use a video application to render or export your video in the exact resolution of your monitor. So if your display is 1024×768, then that should also be the resolution of your video.

This doesn’t seem to affect all systems, from my own testing it has been limited to our Intel Atom-based computers. Running in compatibility mode on an AMD Vision chipset actually has the reverse effect. Hopefully this is all temporary and Apple updates it’s QuickTime Windows APIs to address this issue.

ArraySync 1.0.3 now available on Mac App Store

The recent ArraySync update, version 1.0.3, has just been approved and should be appearing shortly in the Mac App Store (if it hasn’t already). Be sure to update and enjoy the much better synchronization algorithm!

ArraySync in MAS: http://bit.ly/faLcFc

ArraySync Client in MAS: http://bit.ly/egjxX0

Recycle unused PCs using ArraySync and older codecs

Not sure what to do with that collection of obsolete PCs gathering dust in the back office? Well wonder no more, because you can put them to work using ArraySync and videos encoded in older QuickTime video codecs.

You may notice that modern videos encoded with H.264 or other contemporary codecs are too much for your old PC or Mac to playback smoothly, but here’s a trick that might save you some money and keep perfectly good systems out of the landfill.

Export your videos using an older codec, such as Sorenson 3, a lower-compression codec that will often play perfectly on your obsolete or outdated computer, albeit take up more hard drive space. Expect your high quality Sorenson 3 version of your video to occupy four times the hard drive space – not ideal for web distribution or storing a collection of films on your primary computer, but often perfectly suitable for a dedicated ArraySync server or client that does nothing other than power a display for this purpose.

In my own little curiosity test, I was able to play an HD 720 video compressed with Sorenson 3 and AAC 256 audio perfectly on an outdated AMD Athlon 2400+ PC with only 256 MB of memory. Lower resolutions would perform even better. I had this setup running for several hours without problems of any sort.

Sorenson 3 and other older codecs are less processor intensive for computers to display, because they have a much lower compression ratio than newer codecs which results in larger file sizes but less work for your CPU to decode and display as a series of moving pictures.

So give it a try, it’s worth a shot!

ArraySync 1.0.3 Now Available

ArraySync 1.0.3 and ArraySync Client 1.0.3 are now available for web download customers, and will be in the Mac App Store pending Apple’s approval.

Work is definitely progressing towards the big 1.1 release, but this update was important enough to push through on its own. Version 1.0.3 brings a huge improvement to ArraySync’s internal synchronization algorithm. Users should now see much more fluid and reliable syncing between server and clients, and also improved performance on systems with more than one display.

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Info-Mac rocks a whole new style

Have you been to Info-Mac lately? I’ve just been finishing up a total redesign of the venerable online Mac user community, and I think you’ll agree it looks fantastic.

The old style was quite a mess of nested tables, old-style image-based everything, and inefficient navigation. Now, everything is streamlined making use of the latest HTML5 and CSS3 has to offer. And navigation has never been easier – instant access to virtually anywhere on the massive website with just a click of the mouse.

So stop by, have a look around, and sign up if you haven’t already.