Part 10 of elf's Apple PowerBook G4 Journal

Paul Thurrott's Blog

Sat Dec 31 09:06:03 2005

I am, as you might know, one of the more prominent Windows-based writers on the Web.
— Paul Thurrott

Paul Thurrott (of Winsupersite fame) got his wife a Mac Mini for Christmas.

In his blog, Thurrott also mentions that Jerry "my computer isn't working" Pournelle switched to Firefox.

There is also a link to "Defending the iPod against those who berate its ease of use and interface" a response by Les Posen to Dave Winer's perplexing rant about iTunes, the most intuitive digital music players I ever encountered, and one of the reasons that started me on the path to switch to the Mac.


The tiger springs in the new year. Us he devours.
—T.S. Eliot

Time has no divisions to mark its passage...
—Thomas Mann

Sat Dec 31 18:21:42 2005

On the eve of a new year, what can we look forward to? Without question, at least in the first few days, when we continue to write "2005", beginning on the 9th, Apple will unveil another future computer appliance designed by Jonathan Ive, CBE, probably built with CPUs sporting the "Leap Ahead" slogan which replaced the tired, "Intel Inside".

What will follow will likely seem anti-climactic; the Google and Yahoo rivalry will heat-up and Microsoft will try harder. More Mac apps from Google— maybe even Picasa. I will likely still be running Panther. Maybe part 2 of "The Digital Way" will appear here.

The gimmick is courtesy Minifesto.

Rip Firefox Extension

Mon Jan 02 12:10:33 2006

Rip, the Remove It Permanently Firefox extension, is useful when you want to rip-out an entire column from a web-page rather than single objexts one by one.

Camino Brower

I still haven't upgraded to the latest Firefox because of that right-click-100%-CPU bug. I browsed around at the Camino site, a more Aquafied browser slowly approaching FCS; it also uses the Gecko rendering engine, and it certainly does look more appealing than Firefox.

<rebug> who has been a Camino fan for 3 years now, recommends getting a hostperm.1 file from Adservers and also getting camitools for automatically updating the host-blocking file.

I initially thought that the "Camino" name was a reference to the cloners in Star Wars: Episode II, but I learned that their planet is called Kamino (however, it may be a veiled reference).

Yonah Ships

Tue Jan 03 11:45:28 2006

Yonah, the designation for the new Pentium-class mobile chip from Intel, is now shipping in single-code (T1x), dual-core (T2x) and low-power (L2x) versions; the fastest is the T2600 clocked at 2.16GHz with the low-end T2300 clocked at 1.5GHz. All the chips have 2MB of L2 cache onboard with the FSB clocked at 667MHz. All the families are available with Centrino bundles that are compatible with 802.11a/b/g.

Is it just a coincidence that the Intel logos have an Apple-white background?

Powerbook Surgery

Tue Jan 03 19:19:27 2006

Step-by-step instructions and photos for dis-assembeling a Powerbook. PBFixIt also has instructions and photos for taking apart a Powerbook— operations too delicate for someone as impatient as me.


Wed Jan 04 10:44:53 2006

iKitty is less a case for the Nano and more of a novelty toy (imagine a product that makes the Nano more awkard to carry) that somehow manages to redeem itself. The Nano controls and screen are accessible via the cat's tummy and the cable is plugged-in via the kitty' port.

“The Complete New Yorker” Gripes

Thu Jan 05 00:00:18 2006

I sent the following email to “The Complete New Yorker” technical support group. It lists the shortcomings of the browser software, which affect workflow and usability:

1. Paging irritation: when using the space-bar to page, pressing the space-bar does not proceed to the next page after all 3 columns are viewed.

2. "Next cartoon" arrow should not be clickable after the last cartoon in an issue is viewed. Currently the word "Loading" appears and nothing happens after the last cartoon is viewed and the arrow is clicked.

3. I would like to be able to continue browsing to the next issue from within the viewer, without having to switch back to the searcher. For example, after reaching the end of the July 1, 1944 issue, I have to switch back to the "Browse by Covers", double-click the cover of the July 8, 1944 issue, then finally click the cover in the Issue Contents browser to finally begin reading the issue. This workflow is very disruptive.

4. It would be so nice to be able to copy the DVDs onto the hardrive so I don't have to keep swapping DVDs.

5. Alternatively, if I search by keyword and I get hits from all 8 DVDs, I would like to be able to copy just the article hits from each of the DVDs on to the HD so I can have the articles with me wherever I go without having to lug The Complete New Yorker DVD case with me.

David sent me a link to a blogger with similar complaints.

OS X IRC Clients

Thu Jan 05 22:40:53 2006

People keep asking about IRC Clients that others use on #macosx. To try to put an end to those frequently asked questions, here is the list of popular clients:

I use ERC running under Carbon Emacs (see screenshot from Part 5).

An extremely unscientific snapshot poll on #macosx at 11:00PM EST reveals: 3 Colloquy users and 5 Xchat users.

2006 CES Keynotes

Fri Jan 06 12:20:07 2006

Bill Gates kicked-off the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show keynotes on Wednesday and with the exception of the announcement of the "Urge" music service (to implcitly compete with iTunes, by also offering a subscription-based all-you-can-listen-for-a-flat-fee service), there was nothing of substance. Friday's 12 noon and 7PM EST keynotes by Yahoo CEO, Terry Semel and Larry Page, Google co-founder and President, respectively, promise to be the most anticipated as both these companies have now supplanted Microsoft as the visonaries of the future. Both companies have clearly proven that the Desktop computer is just a dumb-terminal interface to all the available information in the world.

Coverage of Google CES Keynote

Sat Jan 07 11:59:59 2006

I think we've not done as good a job as we should. We have a version for Mac that's not downloadable yet. We have some teams working hard on getting the other things ported but they're not out yet.
—Larry Page

David sent along a Tao of Mac link with coverage of Larry Page's CES Keynote featuring (an ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS) Robin Williams; a running commentary of the antics is provided by Engadget. Google announced Google Video (for a price you can download NBA games and TV shows from CBS) and Google Pack (a software bundle...ummmm...okaaaaay).

It seems that this was The Best Keynote Evar.

Aside: our bastion host was down beginning Friday night, for some unknown reason, but was back online late Saturday morning, so I was finally able to update my Journal.

Oh yes, I nearly forgot— coverage of the Yahoo keynote announcing Konfab...err...I mean Yahoo Widgets.

Movie Typos

Sun Jan 08 02:03:44 2006

In his audio commentary to “The Name of the Rose” (based on Umberto Eco's best-selling novel), the director Jean-Jacques Annaud, mentions the incredible effort he expended (8 researchers and specialists) to ensure that all the architecture, the costumes and the props (which are now displayed in museums because of their accuracy) were historically correct for the Medieval period. There was one exception, however—a statue of the Virgin Mary in the Gothic monastery which, he pointed out to his producers, looked too Renaissance-like. Even though the rest of the movie was historically perfect, this single oversight, that his producers insisted that no one would notice, caused him to receive 20,000 letters pointing out the "error".

Errors of another type, that only fans of typography like me would notice and appreciate, are documented by Mark Simonson on his Typecasting page. The most common error seems to be the abuse of the Helvetica font.

Reading “The Complete New Yorker”

I should note that I am enjoying browsing through “The Complete New Yorker” not only for the articles (I began by reading the Reporter At Large columns by A. J. Liebling reporting from the beaches of Normandy on D-Day and have moved on to reading some of the many Profiles— Einstein, Le Corbusier), but also for the perspective on the evolution of typefaces, fashions, consumer products, advertisements (tobacco and liquor featured prominently), etc., that the collection provides.

The “Early Majority”

Sun Jan 08 18:44:57 2006

A comprehensive report on the failures and repairs of iBooks and Powerbooks proves the rule of never buying "Release A" products from Apple. So why do people still do it and why will they do it next week when new products are announced? The Reality Distortion Field plays a small part, naturally. But there is also the Diffussion Principle, which the article abstract of Malcom Gladwell's "Annals of Style" column for the March 17, 1997 New Yorker mentions:

Tells about the diffusion study by Bruce Ryan and Neal Gross analyzing the spread of hybrid seed corn in Greene County, Iowa between 1928 and 1941. In the language of diffusion research, the handful of farmers who started trying hybrid seed corn at the very beginning of the thirties were the "innovators," the adventurous ones. The slightly larger group that followed them was the "early adopters." They were the opinion leaders in the community, the respected, thoughtful people who watched and analyzed what those wild innovators were doing and then did it themselves. Then came the big bulge of farmers in 1936, 1937, and 1938--the "early majority" and the "late majority," which is to say the deliberate and the skeptical masses, who would never try anything until the most respected farmers had tried it. Only after they had been converted did the "laggards," the most traditional of all, follow suit.

So, looking back fondly at my adventures with mathilde over the course of nearly a year, my Switch to the Mac would be categorized as being in the "early majority" stage.

Most Hits Evar!

Friday January 6, saw 56 accesses of this Journal— the most ever for a single day (which pales in comparison to 2,768 hits my abacus page got on a single day in October 1996); the average rate being about 30 hits. The majority of readers use Safari, followed by Mozilla and Camino; there are one or two regular readers that use Mozilla under Linux and Windows/XP (probably from work).

When Things Go Wrong, Who Do You Call?

Unix is simple. It just takes a genius to understand its simplicity.
—Dennis M. Ritchie

Other computer companies have spent 15 years working on fault-tolerant computers. Microsoft has spent its time more fruitfully, working on fault-tolerant users.

Sun Jan 08 23:07:14 2006

Despite what IBM, HP, Dell, Microsoft and Apple may believe, persons without an undergraduate degree in Electircal Engineering or Computer Science should not be allowed near a computer. It may seem that I am advocating a return to the mainframe days that saw the birth of a new social class— the Computer Priesthood— that mediated a normal computer user's exposure to the actual machine andlimited it to the remote dial-up teletype. This proposal seemingly flies in the face of logic when within the last two decades beginning with the Macintosh in 1984 and within the last decade (for Windows users) beginning with Windows95, computers have become easier to use!

Yes, computers have become easy to use, since the mainframe days, but they have not become easy to administer! Today, a computer user is required to perform administration duties even though they are not qualified to do so. Administering a computer involves performing maintenance tasks, installing necessary updates and determinining if those updates cause any malfunctions and dealing with problems when things stop working properly or not at all. The typical user, doesn't even understand why a computer requires administration. They usually completely ignore those "annoying pop-ups" about software updates or they tend to apply even the unnecessary ones assudiously. Some are willing to risk postponing those tedious maintenance tasks to some future date when things inevitably begin to go wrong, by which time it's already too late.

In terms of administration, computers haven't changed since the days when they were built of vacuum tubes. They are still highly complex and tempermental devices that are a pleasure to use until something goes wrong, at which time, only the expertise of the priesthood can bring salvation because the computer is itself crippled and unable to diagnose the problem. To a person that doesn't fully appreciate the inner workings of a computer, administration is just magic. If these believers in magic are to administer their computers, it is essential that they understand the complexities of the inner workings of that computer and to understand those inner workings, they need an undergraduate degree.

Administering a computer is no easy matter; if it were easy, then the computer and the operating system itself would be capable of performing the necessary administration duties. Some would argue that computers are complex devices and so the interactions of the various components are so complex that only a human can diagnose the problems that arise and fix them. And then they argue about the cost of designing a self-administering computer; but will the money not be recouped in the technical-support calls not made? If computers could be designed to administer themselves, it would leave us to truly enjoy the time we spend with them.

Adobe Lightroom

Mon Jan 09 09:24:08 2006

Macworld reviews Adobe Lightroom, competition for Apple's Aperture. The most useful aspect is that Lightroom runs appreciably well on a Powerbook while Aperture is much more resource intensive in comparison.

Update Mon Jan 09 23:33:40 2006: A beta copy of Lightroom version that expires in June is available for download; it requires Tiger and having 1GB RAM definitely helps.

Macworld 2006 Predictions from Kevin Rose

Tue Jan 10 09:52:12 2006

Kevin Rose has insider information which predicts the following products to be announced by Steve Jobs today beginning at 12 EST:

Macworld 2006 Keynote Coverage

Tue Jan 10 13:55:37 2006 just after the announcements, viewed from my work computer, amelie

As before, Engadget provided excellent live coverage of Steve Jobs' keynote with minimal network drop-outs. TUAW and MacDailyNews coverage timed-out under the load and I gave up and stuck with Engadget.

To summarize:

Update Sat Jan 14 12:00:28 2006: Photos from Flickr.

Gosling Had A MacBook All This Time?

Tue Jan 10 15:04:21 2006

According to his blog, James Gosling had an Intel MacBook (before today, I mean):

Now that the new Intel Macintoshes are officially out, it's probably safe for me to comment on my experience as a developer in their transition program: it was completely boring - as it should have been. Things just worked. Java code moved over with zero effort. Even big things like NetBeans just worked. In all the time I've had my Intel Mac box, my experience has been totally painless.

Great job!

Update Tue Jan 10 18:06:39 2006: David points out, "Or he had one of the transition Macs that were available since June." I forgot that developers with the transition kit were under an NDA about commenting on the Intel Macs; the logo of the Intel Duo Core also threw me off. And he also does say "Intel Mac box"— he wouldn't call the new MacBook a box.

ExpressCard/34 Slot

Tue Jan 10 15:26:28 2006

The new MacBook has an ExpressCard/34 slot instead of the typical PCMCIA/PC-card slot. ExpressCard (2004 technology) is a narrow, 26-pin PCI Express-based expansion slot for laptops that communicates serially to the PCI Express bus (compare with PC-card technology which is 68-pin, parallel communication).

Ooooooh! Slidy

Tue Jan 10 16:02:37 2006

The death of Powerpoint presentations is nigh! Repent! All shall be forgiven!

Ensure you have a Javascript enabled browser and head over to Slidy, for an example of online, in-browser presentation technology (press the space-bar to go to the next slide). If you want to add audio commentary, then use Lawrence Lessig's ideas. (From Sun BableFish's Blog).

Download Google Earth for OS X

Google Earth is a broadband, 3D application that not all computers can run. Desktop computers older than 4 years old may not be able to run it. Notebook computers older than 2 years old may not be able to run it.

Tue Jan 10 18:13:14 2006

Google Earth is officially available for download now.

The MacBook Cover

Tue Jan 10 21:43:50 2006

ThinkSecret has a gallery of Keynote pictures. If you look at the cover of the Macbook, in the photo titled, Schiller with the Macbook, you can see some imperfections (two at the bottom, one at the top). Are those JPEG compression artifacts or are they some defects on the case itself? The bottom pair seem hinge-related.

No Stickers

Wed Jan 11 08:52:43 2006

It seems like the Macbooks won't be decorated with any "Leap Ahead" Intel Stickers.

Macworld Boston 1997

Wed Jan 11 11:35:48 2006

The Google Video of Macworld Boston 1997 opens, not with Steve Jobs but with the publisher of MacWorld magazine who goes on to introduce "a man that needs no introduction"; he should have just left the stage when the applause grew to a cresendo, but instead decided to stick to the script and point-out the obvious. There are more "oopses" during the presentation.

The importance of this Keynote is that it is the turning point for Apple which begins with return of Steve Jobs as CEO.

Update Fri Jan 13 13:28:29 2006: Continued below...


Thu Jan 12 09:02:01 2006

The Register reports about a close relationship between Sun and Apple and that the possibility of a merger of the two companies was considered and would have happened if not for Scott McNealy's reticence.

The first came when Sun, Apple and Microsoft were set to agree on a common filing protocol. "We had an agreement, but it fell through," [Bill] Joy said, noting that Sun ended up going with NFS— a Joy invention.
Another deal almost happened when Sun tried to move Apple onto SPARC.
"As far as I know we also almost bought Apple once," Joy said. "We almost merged with Apple two other times."
Many Silicon Valley observers have long seen links between Sun and Apple. Both companies make slick, pricey hardware and are counter-punchers in their respective markets. They also have charismatic CEO figures and strong anti-Microsoft streaks.

Comparing Apples and Oranges

Fri Jan 13 00:00:43 2006

In short, Apple used multiprocessor benchmarks to skew the performance advantage that its Intel-based machines enjoy compared to single-core PowerPC G4 and G5.
—Tom Yager

The SPEC benchmarks are the cornerstone of computer performance comparisons. A standard set of application benchmarks are run on both the computers being compared, and an cumulative index is generated that describes the performance (both integer, SPEC_int and floating-point, SPEC_fp). For the comparison to be relevant, great care must be taken to compare similar classes of processers otherwise the generated indices are meaningless.

So I was somewhat surprised (and dissappointed that Apple would do such a thing) to read a post from Tom Yager, criticizing Apple for publishing misleading and perhaps meaningless benchmarks concerning the new MacBooks— they compare dual-core Intel CPUs with a single core G4 and G5.

Of course, it should be plainly obvious why Apple would do such a thing.

WMV Plugin for QT Player

Fri Jan 13 09:16:59 2006

The WMV plugin for the QT Player (and browser plugin) is now available for free download from Microsoft. I have rarely needed to view WMV files but apparently, there is a lot of...ahem...content that uses WMV.

MacWorld Boston 1997, Continued

Apple is about MacOS.
—Steve Jobs, MacWorld Boston 1997

Fri Jan 13 12:36:07 2006

I finally had some time to finish watching the MacWorld Boston 1997 keynote. MacOS8 had just been released 2 weeks earlier (1.2M copies sold) and Steve Jobs talked about the strength of the Apple brand.

MacOS7 was codenamed Tempo, MacOS8 was codenamed Allegro and he joked that MacOS9 was going to be codenamed Requiem— an allusion to how many people felt at the time— that Apple was going to abandon its users and die.

There is also an announcement of the partnership with Microsoft (who bought $150M of non-voting shares) that began because of "some patent disputes" (big laugh from the audience). Microsoft Office (Mac Office 98) for MacOS (audience applause) to be released with a 5 year commitment; Internet Explorer default browser for MacOS (loud boos and "No!"s from the audience). Then Bill Gates comes on briefly (via satellite) to describe Microsoft's commitment, resulting in some applause and a few boos.

Increased Readership

Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one’s luck.
—Iris Murdoch

Fri Jan 13 22:16:32 2006

The readership of my Journal has unexpectedly increased over the past few days: Jan 10 had 74 accesses, Jan 11 had 89 and Jan 12 had 82. It's wonderful! I enjoy writing, but having readers makes it meaningful.

Three Choices

Sat Jan 14 00:18:00 2006

In Shakespeare's play, The Merchant of Venice, every suitor for the hand of the fair Portia of Belmont had to choose one of three locked caskets, each with an inscription describing its contents, but only one containing Portia's portrait; (quoting from act ii, sc. vii):

The first, of gold, which this inscription bears:
Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.
The second, silver, which this promise carries:
Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.
This third, dull lead, with warning all as blunt:
Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.

Using these choices as metaphors for operating systems, the first choice would represent Windows/XP, the second choice would represent Linux and the final choice would represent MacOS (by some strange coincidence, "dull lead" resembles brushed metal).

I am not a person who takes risks, so switching to a Mac was a big risk for me, as it may be for a lot of people. Looking back after nearly a year of using a Mac (it doesn't feel like it's been a year), I would say that it was a risk worth taking.

More Macgirls From Flickr

Sat Jan 14 10:57:53 2006

More pictures of femme Mac lovers and their loves.

There are also Macworld photos. Woah! What flightsim is this?

Some More Reasons to Switch

Sat Jan 14 11:16:22 2006

An excerpt from a recent discussion on #macosx, about new OS X users:

<e1f> stuNNed: why did you switch?
<stuNNed> e1f: not totally, still using linux for server
<e1f`> stuNNed: for desktop then
<stuNNed> e1f: (1) because i support macs at work and wanted to have
          the time to know them better and (2) i wanted something non-microsoft (due
          to the large headaches it gives me) that just worked out of the box,
          unlike linux for the desktop, at this point and (3) i'm a big
          fan of apple hardware and g4 motorola processor
<stuNNed> *specifically g4 motorola processor*

Uno: An Unified OS X Theme

Sun Jan 15 00:30:28 2006

Uno is a skin/theme for all the various (cocoa/carbon, brushed metal/aqua) OS X window title-bars and toolbars that unifies the look wherever Steve Jobs wasn't able to make up his mind about how OS X should look. Needs Tiger.

Spheric Lounge

Sun Jan 15 13:24:25 2006

Spheric Lounge is a group of friends and creative people that meets several times a month in Munich, to jam in a style of music called "electronic ambient". <Flowerbauer>, a regular on #macosx, is one of the members whose contributions to the project are the "visuals" (if you visit the website, the images along the left are an example). He starts off with a few hundred, small video clips which he edits before the actual performance using Final Cut/Motion on a dual G5 and then mixes them live, to fit the music being played, using Gridpro running on a Powerbook; sometimes the output of another Powerbook is mixed via a hardware mixer and then output to a digital projector.

Never having heard of Ambient music, I downloaded one of the tracks, "Next Island", to sample. It is reminiscent of some of Mark Knopfler's soundtrack to "Local Hero"— very serene. I suggested that in the future, the tracks should also include album art.

iMovie5 and iDVD5 Updates

Mon Jan 16 11:54:37 2006

I downloaded the iMovie and iDVD updates which were released in April and May of 2005; I will be installing them later this week. Clearly, I don't believe in automatic software updates.

Intel Mac Count on #macosx

Tue Jan 17 09:34:46 2006

At the present time, <pdkl>, has a new Intel iMac (ordered it at 1PM on the day of the keynote and it arrived yesterday morning— booting: his G5 tower takes 30s, iMac takes 16s; emulated apps run "good enough", native apps are "blazing"; iApps take 1s to load; Word takes 6s); also, <FantasticFoo> has it on order (delivery is scheduled for Friday) and finally, <BlackNTan>, has ordered a Macbook (delivery in February).

Sun Founders Video

Tue Jan 17 15:49:05 2006

The video of the reunion of the 4 founders of Sun Microsystems, where SunApple was discussed, is now available for viewing.

Dual i486

Wed Jan 18 00:00:08 2006

System Info: Model: Unknown "fluffybunny". CPU: Dual i486@ 2.0 GHz. 
RAM: 1.0GB. OS X: 10.4.4. Boot disk size: 233GB.

It's interesting that the CPU is listed as i486.

My .emacs File For Carbon Emacs

Wed Jan 18 17:22:02 2006

Here is my set-up for the Emacs editor, that includes configuration for fonts, window colours, key-bindings, etc. Re-name it .emacs and put in in your home directory.

O wget, Where Art Thou?

Wed Jan 18 18:12:04 2006

I love wget, the command-line web-page/image grabber; everybody else loves wget, except, that is, Apple— Apple only gives us curl (because it's BSD licensed and not GPL). Meh.

Update Fri Jan 20 17:39:43 2006: There is a kind soul that has a binary of wget available for download.

DVD Compressors

Wed Jan 18 22:37:32 2006

A couple of commercial apps that can take a dual-sided DVD (9GB) and compress it down to a single sided DVD (4.7GB): DVDRemaster and DVD2One.

Apple is iPod

Thu Jan 19 01:16:45 2006

Eaton Centre Apple Store Coming

Fri Jan 20 11:45:33 2006

Apple has openings for Apple Store positions (Store Manager, Senior Assistant Store Manager, Assistant Store Manager, Mac Specialists) in the Eaton Centre, 2 blocks away from where I work.

“Why Macs Suck”

Fri Jan 20 15:19:46 2006

Why Macs Suck, a short film by Hunter Crussall. I'm not sure what to make of its surreal nature.

Restructured The Journal A Bit

Fri Jan 20 21:20:08 2006

It's been nearly a year that I have been keeping this journal— it doesn't seem like it's been that long— it feels like I just bought my Powerbook a few months ago.

The Journal was becoming rather top-heavy, so I decided to move the indices to a separate page (linked under "Quick Reference") and keep just the latest month's entries at the top of the Journal.

Why I Haven't Yet Upgraded to Tiger

Sat Jan 21 13:33:13 2006

<matrex> elf, why you still using panther
<e1f> 1. well, tiger costs money
<e1f> 2. i can live without widgets and spotlight
<e1f> 3. i don't mind panther, really-- does everything i want
<e1f> 4. i would have to buy ilife as tiger doesn't include
      it. i use iphoto, imovie and idvd regularly
<e1f> is that enough reasons matrex? :)
<e1f> on the other hand, automator looks interesting, as does
      google earth
<e1f> 4 reasons to stay, only 2 reasons to switch
<e1f> i can live without automator and google earth-- i haven't
      even tried google earth under windows/xp

Update Sat Jan 21 20:39:18 2006: David comments on reason number four, "No you wouldn't [have to buy iLife]. If you do an upgrade then all your applications and user data stay in place." He also agrees that, "if it ain't broke don't fix it."

Fake .Trashes

Mon Jan 23 08:33:06 2006

OS X has the the peculiar, shameful and irritating habit of creating a Trash folder on removable media (CF card, USB keys), in which files deleted from the device are stored for future (possible) undeletion. This .Trashes directory is typically hidden and one doesn't realize what is going on until there is no space to store files on the media.

What I did (as documented earlier), was create an alias command called cfc that I ran manually to clean-up Trashes on my CF cards and thus freeing-up space. Now I found out there is an even better idea (from a discussion on #macosx)— create a file called .Trashes, on the removable media thus preventing OSX from creating a directory of the same name, to store deleted files.

Something Better than URLs?

Mon Jan 23 12:56:19 2006

Is there something better than having to remember an URL? Which is easier to remember?

I would say the Google search term is easier to remember and write down because the corresponding URL has too many case-changes where a single transcription error will result in the document not being found.

Can we come up with something better than Marc Andreessen's invention from 10 years ago, that should never have seen the light of day?

Update Thu Jan 26 11:44:01 2006: David sends a link to some possibilities.

Temperature Monitor

Mon Jan 23 15:34:00 2006

Marcel Bresink has a new release of a Temperature Monitor; the temperature should continuously update, even on the Powerbook.

Another Recent Convert

Tue Jan 24 09:10:08 2006

<speedie> who is in Japan, switched in November 2005, here are his reasons:

<e1f> why did you switch to mac, speedie?

<speedie> because at the time I was working as a government contractor, making
         more money than I knew what to do with :) and the mini was finally a
         cheap mac that I wouldn't hate myself for buying if it sat in the
         closet collecting dust

<speedie> I bought it just as a toy.... but I loved it so much I sold my PC on
<e1f> how soon after getting the mini, did you sell the pc?

<speedie> less than 2 weeks

<speedie> I honestly never expected to fall in love with my Mac like this... I
          was astounded... but it's so perfect for me... I've always loved
          linux, but never really felt comfortable in X, so OS X is the
          perfect merger of elegance and unix power... (I don't know how many
          times I set my PC up for linux dual boot and then never booted

<speedie> I knew on the first day... The first thing I installed was
          firefox... I clicked the download button and I saw this ".dmg" file
          was downloading. By the time I opened google to search for it
          (figuring I'd have to learn how to mount it) it was already
          downloaded, mounted, and presenting me with a happy little window
          saying, "Drag this file to your application folder"

<speedie> Then for the first month or so, I was like a little school kid,
          spending hours at macupdate and versiontracker, just seeing what all
          programs were avaiable for Mac. Actually, oddly enough, I
          work as a Windows sysadmin, and I kid you not, I know at least
          10 people who have bought mini's just here on  the island :)

<speedie> everyone felt like me, "Well, it's $500, I can finally try it out"

Slow iMac Sales

Wed Jan 25 08:41:57 2006

Think Secret is reporting that sales of the new Intel-based iMacs are lower than Apple expected and sales of the PowerPC based computers have also slowed as consumers were perhaps expecting a price cut as new iMacs were introduced. Also, the iMac review by Ars Technica and the Macworld review found that the Macs were not as fast as Apple claimed. It is also possible that the slow sales are due to a lack of third-party native software, since Apple had originally promised that the Intel Macs wouldn't ship until June of 2006— the date that the developers were planning on delivering their software.


Wed Jan 25 14:40:46 2006

SizzlingKeys is a controller for iTunes that allows you to hide the player and control its functions via hotkeys; for example, Alt+Cmd+ArrowRight/Left will play the next/previous song, Alt+Cmd+Up/Down changes the volume. If you're using Tiger, then you will likely want to re-map the default Cmd+Ctrl+Space to play/pause songs, as that hotkey brings-up Spotlight. Thanks to <synd> for the tip.

Menumeters 1.3 Released

Thu Jan 26 00:00:40 2006

A new version of Menumeters, the most totally excellent system monitoring tool, has been released; the new features are:

Herzlichen Glückwunsch, Herr Mozart

Fri Jan 27 09:15:31 2006

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, was born today in Salzburg, 1756. To celebrate, CBC Radio is playing an all-Mozart program, until Sunday. Don't forget to listen to the contest submissions which required entrants to compose and play a variation on a Mozart melody.

Finding Happiness

no·to·ri·ous: known widely and usually unfavorably; infamous.

Fri Jan 27 13:05:58 2006

From a job posting at

The Finder team is seeking an energetic, motivated software engineer to help develop next generation versions of the Finder, the notorious file browser for Mac OS X.

You will be responsible for developing new features of an application that is often perceived by our users as the "face of the system". You will be working on user interfaces spanning various browser views, new advanced search features, navigation and data presentation as well as many other parts of the application.

Having documented the limitations, anomalies and bugs in the Finder, I welcome all the long overdue improvements.


Fri Jan 27 19:11:22 2006

I stumbled across the GUIdebook, "a website dedicated to preserving and showcasing Graphical User Interfaces, as well as various materials related to them", while searching for an image of the Finder icon, for the previous entry.

Intel Mac Benchmarks

Sat Jan 28 09:41:52 2006

<javarants> has benchmarked the Intel iMac he received in exchange for the Developer Transition Kit. The iMac beats the G5 (times ranging from 1.2x to 2.09x faster) in all but three of the tests. His verdict is that the G5 Altivec has better performance than Intel's SSE3 (Streaming SIMD Extensions v.3) engine.

Speech Recognition

Sat Jan 28 20:39:18 2006

I'm completely operational and all my circuits are functioning perfectly.
—“2001: A Space Odyssey

There's an interview with two IBM researchers that specialize in speech recognition, where they discuss the problems with the current state of the technology:

"What's wrong with speech recognition today?" One of the things I see missing is feedback. In most cases, conversations are one-way. When you talk to a device, it's like talking to a 1 or 2 year old child. He can't tell you what's wrong, and you just wait for the time when he can tell you what he wants or what he needs. Today's devices have the same problem. You talk to the device and it doesn't respond. You don't know whether the microphone isn't working or it got some words wrong [and it doesn't understand you]. A person will tell you, "Sorry, I didn't understand this part," or [say], "You're breaking up," while on a cell phone conversation. That kind of feedback is just not available today.

When I introduced my 3 year old nephew to mathilde I showed him the built-in voice recognition, using "What time is it?" and "Tell me a joke", as examples. He got very excited and when he tried it, the computer didn't respond. I lied to appease his dissappointment, by saying that the computer didn't understand his American accent.

The interview continues with, "Expectations are pretty high. It's not that people expect it to be perfect, but people look at Star Trek and expect that any machine listening to you can understand every single word." I hope he means ST:TNG, because the ST:TOS computer was not very impressive; in fact, the HAL 9000 computer is the holy grail for speech recognition.

Recall that HAL had visual feedback— something the researchers said was important when there are other noises/sounds occuring in the environment— sounds like music playing, or the TV in the corner, the construction work across the street or the train going by when you're in the subway.

So the signal-to-noise ratio is very low. Some signal is coming, but the machine is having difficulty. Your visual cues can be a wonderful set of additional information that can be given to that [machine]. And when the two things are put together, [i.e., limited audio supplemented with video,] the signal-to-noise ratio is much better.

Now that Macs ship with cameras built-in, it may be possible to give the computer some improved visual feedback to let it figure out whether it's you talking or whether it's the cat walking over the keyboard and purring.

Five Simple Steps to Better Typography

Following these simple rules will ensure your bodies of text will be as legible as they can be.
—Mark Boulton

Sun Jan 29 21:29:17 2006

Mark Boulton outlines the five steps:

  1. Measure the measure
  2. Hanging punctuation
  3. Ligatures
  4. Typographic hierarchy— size
  5. Typographic hierarchy— weight

Temperature Monitor

Mon Jan 30 13:16:12 2006

I installed the Temperature Monitor and it seems to works. Nominal temparature of the CPU is around 50°C and playing a DVD while running on battery causes it to rise to about 60°C. The graph on the right shows the temperature changes.

Update: Mon Jan 30 21:26:32 2006 At this very moment, the nominal temprature of the CPU seems to be 43°C.

Carbon Emacs for Panther

Mon Jan 30 21:19:40 2006

Eiji Honjoh has a new 48MB DMG of Carbon Emacs for Panther (released Dec 2005). I have downloaded it and will be installing it later this week. The Emacs I currently have has been prone to crashing after a few days of running. Hopefully, the new build will be more stable.


Tue Jan 31 00:05:48 2006

Shiira is a web browser whose aim is to dethrone the venerable Safari. Based on the screen-shots and movies, this early version has certainly proved itself capable of achieving that— it has a built-in RSS reader, tab Exposé, themes, cool page-transition effects, easy migration from Safari and Firefox, etc. I should also note that the site is quite beautifully designed. Shiira requires 10.3.9 at minimum. Thanks to David for this tip.

luis fernandes / G4 PowerBook Journal, Part 10 / Last Modified: Fri Feb 03 17:17:21 2006