"Steve Jobs doesn't need a sales force [in the
corporate world] because he already has one: employees like the
ones in my company."
Business Week's cover story by Peter Burrows titled,
Mac in the Gray Flannel Suit” is about Apple's
indifference to the corporate world:
Millions of consumers are seeing the Mac in a new light. Once an
object of devotion for students and artists, the Mac is becoming the
first choice of many. Surging demand for the machines led Apple to
predict revenues will rise 33% in the second quarter, to $7.2
billion, even in the face of an economic slowdown.
What's less obvious is that the enthusiasm is starting to spill over
into the corporate market. It's a people's revolution, of sorts, with
workers increasingly pressing their employers to let them use Macs in
the office. In a survey of 250 diverse companies that has yet to be
released, the market research firm Yankee Group found that 87% now
have at least some Apple computers in their offices, up from 48% two
Apple is getting help from an unlikely rival: Microsoft. Vista, the
latest version of the software giant's Windows operating system,
looks like it could turn out to be one of the great missteps in tech
with Larry Page about uncertainty and risk-taking. I am amazed at
the genuine optimism at the company— the people there
actually believe they can change the world.
I look around and all I see are miserable people who have lost
Update Sat May 03 09:17:06 2008: I find people in the
digital world to be far more optimistic than those in the real
world. Perhaps because the anonymity that the digital world offers,
gives people a safe harbour from prejudices that are so easily manifest in
the real world.
A couple of handy tips for those coding in C with Emacs. The first
bit of code automatically saves all open buffers (ideally, it
should only save source-code buffers) and starts the compilation
process in one shot; the
function, save-and-compile-program can be bound to a
single key to speed-up the process:
;;; save all files then run M-x compile
"Save any unsaved buffers and compile"
(compile "make -k"))
;;; bind it to a key-sequence (or an F-key)
(global-set-key "\C-cc" 'save-and-compile-program)
The next tip is helpful for those time when you have your source
buffers arranged in a certain way and the compilation-buffer
decides to whimsically re-arrange them; the
comes in handy because it puts the *Compilation* buffer into a
separate frame ("separate window" in modern terminology) leaving
your buffer arrangement alone.
Both these tips were used for many years to make Emacs a more
agreeable development environment.
A few weeks, someone on #emacs mentions how nice it would be if
you could embed a HTML rendering engine (like Gecko) into Emacs
(this is currently not possible (but not impossible) as Emacs has
no hooks) as w3m browsing has its limitations.
The discussion then continued to alternatives: if you can't embed
an HTML engine into Emacs, then the alternative is to embed Emacs
into the HTML engine. This would likely mean using either Flash,
that there is
After the announcement that vi, the arch-nemesis
editor, is already available as a
web-based entity, it does
not bode well for Emacs' technological prowess to be a laggard.
Apple has settled a class-action suit about battery capacity, by
offering all owners who iPods bought before 2004, an Applesotre
credit of $45. Information on how to file a claim is available at:
after the settlement is finalized on June 20.
It is three thousand light years to the Vatican.
—“The Star”, Arthur C. Clarke
I took Thursday and Friday off, expecting the delivery of my
long-awaited XO laptop. Fate (thy name is Brightstar) has conspired
against me, yet again, as the laptop has been stuck in customs for
the last three days (because the distributors (Brightstar), who have
confounded me at every step of the way, did not declare a customs
value for the shipment; the OLPC Foundation volunteers have been
superb in helping me sort out this mess).
As I was reporting the details of my travails on #olpc, I noticed
two nicks with "sj". I cracked a joke about the Jesuits being
interested in the XO, only to be told that they (Boston College is
in the neighbourhood) had in fact demo'd the laptop at the Vatican
(at which point I solemly vowed that was the last Jesuit joke I was
going to make.)
Then, to answer someone's question about Jesuits, I posted a link
to the eponymous
article and as I was browsing it, I noticed that a scifi
Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, featured a Jesuit priest
(Brad Pitt has bought rights to the novel and is planning to play
the priest in the movie). Strangely, there is no mention of Dan
Simmon's novel, Hyperion, which also features a
Finally, the entry for The Sparrow has a link to the
entire text of Arthur C. Clarke's
Star which features a similar plot.
What better way to celebrate the centenary of Ian
Fleming's birth than getting the Guardian's very own 007 to
recreate a great James Bond adventure?
"You can go faster," Duncan says. "The car only comes into its own
when you actually accelerate."
"So you're saying that to truly enjoy the car I have to break the
law?" I say. But I understand Duncan's frustration. I'm an annoyingly
cautious driver. The speedometer of this Aston Martin goes up to
220mph, and I haven't once exceeded 70mph.
"OK, I'll overtake that lorry. But just this once." I gingerly touch
the accelerator. "Oh my God!" I yell.
I'm suddenly going 100mph and the car is so smooth it feels like
30. I've never seen a lorry vanish so quickly in my rear-view
mirror. I feel like Han Solo in hyperdrive, or Jeremy Clarkson. It
feels fantastic. No wonder the rich and boorish love themselves.
—The name's Ronson, Jon Ronson
Also of interest will be the new editions of the entire Bond oeuvre.
This next bit of code from my .emacs is for
automatically updating the TAGS file when it cannot
locate a particular tag (presumably you've written a new function
since last running etags and now you want to jump to
;;; Järneström Jonas ki.ericsson.se> A smarter
;;; find-tag that automagically reruns etags when it cant find a
;;; requested item and then makes a new try to locate it.
;;; Fri Mar 15 09:52:14 2002
(defadvice find-tag (around refresh-etags activate)
"Rerun etags and reload tags if tag not found and redo find-tag.
If buffer is modified, ask about save before running etags."
(let ((extension (file-name-extension (buffer-file-name))))
(error (and (buffer-modified-p)
(y-or-n-p "Buffer is modified, save it? ")
(defun er-refresh-etags (&optional extension)
"Run etags on all peer files in current dir and reload them silently."
(shell-command (format "etags *.%s" (or extension "el")))
(let ((tags-revert-without-query t)) ; don't query, revert silently
(visit-tags-table default-directory nil)))
Reflected is the current screensaver on my Mac. It has a few
options that the user can tweak; however, the defaults are quite
The installation is multi-lingual (Japanese/English) and a bit
eccentric— double-click the .zip, mount the .dmg, open the
"English" folder and copy the .qtz file into the appropriate
folder: "All Users" or "Current User".
article by Joan Acocella in the Smithsonian
Magazine, it occured to me that #emacs was a lot like the NY
she describes— random people walking into a room and asking
for help, or complaining about a problem they're having, and
complete strangers offering advice or helping them solve their
problem, while other clusters of people discuss various random
Another Mac mini has been ordered— 2GHz with Superdrive, 2GB
RAM, keyboard and mouse. This Mac will be used as an experimental
test-bed for integrating Macs in a student lab environment within
the department; the Macs currently in the department are used by
faculty and staff. This year, there was a request to upgrade a lab,
currently populated with PCs, with Macs.
Inspired by an XKCD cartoon, the internet address space has
been mapped. There is
available for sale. I requested my boss to purchase one for posting
on the blank office wall.
Mars Orbiter Photographs Phoenix Lander...
I listened to the Realaudio stream of the Phoenix lander mission
control on Sunday. I found it quite tense listening to the descent
countdown, "...80 meters, 70 meters, 60 meters, 50 meters, 40
meters, 30 meters, 27 meters..." at which point I knew the retro
rockets had fired and it was nearly home. Then I realized that I
had goosebumps on my arms. And then it landed safely.
Macs in Magazines
The Secret Army Grows
A 36 in. Cinema Display box and 3 smaller boxes were delivered to
our mailroom today. The medium sized box is a 15 in. MBP; the
smallest is probably AppleCare (or TimeCapsule?); I don't know what
the large box is (a PowerMac?).
My boss thinks I am leading a secret army of Mac users in the
Book Review: "The Innovator's Dilemma"
I put "King of Infinite Space" on hold to read "The Innovator's
Dilemma" by Clayton Christensen after seeing it mentioned in two
different places within a single week. I rated it: 6++/4 in
WWDC 2008 Preview
I don't know if it would be considered overly dramatic if I said
that tomorrow, the world will be a completely different place,
after the release of the 3G iPhone; and I expect that the Canadian
cellular landscape is about to change (it would shock me if Rogers
didn't offer an unlimited data-plan for $59.99-$69.99 per
As of this morning, here have been no photographs leaked of any
of the hardware that will be announced tomorrow (I expect a feature
confirmation leak by tomorrow morning if the past is any
What is certain is that there wil be a tri-band GSM (UMTS) 3G
iPhone with HSDPA and A-GPS (but will it work without
cell-triangulation?). My boss is interested in an iPhone but only
if it has standalone GPS because of the currently exhorbitant costs
of a cellular data-plan in Canada; cell-assisted GPS was not an
Technica Bingo Card is available for those that like to play
What about FF3 for Panther?
<offby1> noticed that the minimum OS X system requirements
for FF3RC2 was 10.4 Tiger. I sent the following email to Mozilla
asking whether there would be a Panther build when FF3 was released:
I noticed that the minimum system requirements for FF3 RC2 for OS X
is 10.4 Tiger. I was wondering whether when the final version is
released, there will be a Panther build for the few remaining people
still running PPC Macs.
I notice that the Windows build supports Windows Server 2003,Windows
2000 and Windows XP (which was released in 2001) but not OS X Panther
which was released in 2003.
Would it be too much trouble to make a Panther build?
The iPhone 3G will be
available on July 11th, $USD199 for 8GB (black) and $USD299 for
16GB (black and white). Here are
Update Tue Jun 10 13:40:28 2008: Keynote address is
available in Quicktime.
Update Sun Jun 22 13:37:27 2008: The rumours say $30/month
($45 for enterprise with Outlook sync and push) for an unlimited
data plan. This is in addition to a voice plan. There will not be a
Dennis Ritchie, 404
Object not found.
The object /who/dmr does not exist on this server.
Send out the search parties.
The picture of the insect was taken today as I
waited for the morning train.
The violet (love the detail in
the center) was taken a few days ago in front of the Sony Center.
I find that pink, purple and blue flowers photograph vividly
using the Tungsten White Balance
filter on the Canon camera. I
am back to using my S30, as my S60 took a tumble and is
From Fritz's "Metropolis" to Pitt's iPhone
The science-fiction movies of the future will be
—A. O. Scott
Catching up on the New York Times Magazine issue devoted
to architecture, I read A. O. Scott's article,
Now", about architecture in the cinema, where he mentioned the
film, "Code 46",
with Tim Robbins
Morton who is mentioned in two recent news items,
the second of
which, notes that she was at a party for "Synecdoche", when Brad
Pitt made a surprise appearance and showed his long-time friend,
Katherine Keener, pictures of his kids on his iPhone.
Bienvenue à Montréal
You need Flash to watch this
It puts Toronto's tourism ads to shame.
Book Review: "Flaubert's Parrot"
Isn't the most reliable form of pleasure, the
pleasure of anticipation?
— Flaubert's Parrot, Julian Barnes
After some deliberation, I have decided that my criteria for
scoring fiction should be different than that for
non-fiction. While I read non-fiction for pure knowledge, I read
novels for pure enjoyment, but the side-effects are just as
valuable; the most important of which is distracting my brain from
problems I am trying to solve, by forcing them into my subconscious
and providing solutions faster than if I thought about them
(answers usually arrive while I am in the shower or while walking
home from work). Other side-effects of reading fiction include
improving my vocabulary (I write the words down and look them up
later) and adding to my personal database of quotations (first
transcribed into my Hipster
PDA and then typed into my file of quotations).
My review of Julian Barne's novel, Flaubert's Parrot,
which I scored 6/4, is now available
bookshelf; the parrot is a lovely metaphor around which an
elaborate tale is crafted for the reader's enjoyment.
Kerning and Ligatures in Firefox 3
Firefox 3 supports kerning and discretionary ligatures, but Ralf
Herrmann shows that it doesn't
the right thing; the comparisons are made with Safari.
Update Sun Jun 22 08:41:14 2008: David mentioned that FF3
profile support, however, it's disabled by default because of
performance issues on large photographs. In FF3, enable it
via about:config and then
set gfx.color_management.enabled to true. Note that this
support is only useful if the images have a colour-profile embedded
in them, otherwise there will be no visible difference.
No Answers for Movie Fans
A recent discussion of the Cohen Bros. masterpiece ,"No Country
for Old Men", revealed
of the movie, with user-contributed comments that posed even
more questions than it answered.
The debate centers around a pivotal scene, at the end of the movie,
which takes in the cordoned-off crime scene in the motel. The
ambiguities in that scene make the movie all the more interesting
in light of the final monologue that the sheriff narrates.
This is a movie that has to be carefully watched multiple times
and has to be discussed with others because it is so nuanced that
the first viewing leaves one feeling empty to the point of hating
the unsatisfying ending. Once the discussion begins, however, the
hunger for answers and for closure, is fed by all the questions
that begin arising from deep beneath the surface that was only a
moment ago calm and clear.
Slideshow: Giant Mushroom
On the Importance of Testing
There is no substitute for completely empathizing with a complaint
unless you have experienced it first hand. Bill Gates' tests
of Moviemaker for XP; James Dyson tests
of one of his vacuum cleaners (I agree, that the video is a
great demonstration of the durability, but how well do the Dyson
vacuums (in general) actually vacuum dirt? I think that aspect of
the demonstration is just as important— a vacuum that doesn't
perform well might as well be broken.)
What is interesting is the involvement of the CEOs in usability
testing. The advantage of being a CEO is that once you find a bug,
someone else is responsible for fixing it.
Emacs T-shirt Logo
I haven't decided what font to use. I like the American Typewriter
used on the original and the ITC family of the same font used in
the left image. I used Rockwell Bold in the gnu image and it
doesn't look heavy enough.
Update Fri Jun 27 16:45:20 2008: I added a third image with
the gnu face and American Typewriter typeface.
iPhone Plan Rates for Canada
Rogers announced the "
third-world country" "primitive-world" rates for Canada:
The plans (all priced in Canadian dollars, naturally) are $60 a month
for 150 weekday minutes, 400MB of data, and 75 sent text messages;
$75 for 300 weekday minutes, 750MB of data, and 100 sent text
messages; $100 for 600 weekday minutes, 1GB of data, and 200 sent
text messages; and $115 for 800 weekday minutes, 2GB of data, and 300
sent text messages.
Each plan also includes unlimited evening and weekend minutes
(9PM-7AM), visual voicemail, and access to Rogers Wireless and Fido
Hotspots. Sending additional text messages will cost 15 cents each,
and additional data is billed at a rate of 50 cents per megabyte for
the first 60MB, and then an additional 3 cents per megabyte. The
price for extra weekday minutes varies depending on the plan, ranging
from 35 cents to 15 cents.
Update Fri Jun 27 16:34:06 2008: David corrects me, saying
that third-world countries have better terms...
Actually, there are third-world countries that probably
rates than can be found in Canada. The numbers are over a year
old now, but I don't think much has changed.
The other issue is that Rogers makes you sign a three-year
contract: that's a long time in technological terms.
Update Fri Jun 27 18:31:27 2008: My estimate is that there
will be about 10,000 iPhone users, across Canada, in the first
year. I will be pleasantly surprised if there are more (by an order
of magnitude at minimum). This is the land where the Blackberry
(very popular with the corporate sector) was invented, so the
competitive landscape in Canada is not comparable to markets around
the world. RIM's share of the market will inevitably drop after the
iPhone's introduction; the question is whether it will be
significant (by which I mean, more than 10%).
Update Fri Jun 27 18:51:48 2008: Another good point
regarding the lack of an unlimited data-plan, from Jack Kapica who
tries to compare the iPhone plans of various countries:
All Rogers' plans are for a minimum of three years, and
I know one thing for sure: I have no understanding of how much data
I need now, much less how much data I will be needing over the next
three years, or even if my usage will increase or decrease during
As of Sunday, 9:21PM, there were 13,952 signatures on
the online anti-Rogers
petition, complaining about the iPhone rate plans in Canada
(the news of the protests has been
CNN). The complaints are primarily about the lack of an
unlimited-data plan, a 3-year contract and the decision that
evenings begin at 9PM (phone calls made outside of the hours of
7AM-9PM are free; most carriers, however, consider 7PM,
"evening"). It should also be noted that until last year,
downloading 400mb of data on the Rogers network cost about $300;
with the iPhone plan, it costs $30, so technically, their current
rate plan is an improvement.
What follows is pure speculation on my part, about the reasons why
Rogers has chosen to go this route. For the sake of argument, let's
say Rogers announced the iPhone cost $100 and the cheapest plan
cost $10 per month. What would happen? "Everyone" would buy the
iPhone, or switch to it from another carrier. Why is this scenario
impossible? The first reason is cost; the iPhone costs Apple a
certain amount to manufacture and it costs Rogers a certain amount
to sell. The second reason is the cost of the cellular network
infrastructure— the cost to maintain it and provide good
performace. As the number of users begin to approach capacity,
either the network begins to degrade or calls are dropped and
conversations are garbled.
So, given the current network infrastructure that Rogers has had
in place, and assuming they have not upgraded it to accomodate the
introduction of the iPhone, then the only way Rogers is able to
provide good performance is by artificially limiting the number of
users on their network. They achieve this by 1) making the cost of
owning the iPhone appeal to a limited number of (rich) people and
2) by preventing those people from abusing the bandwidth during
prime-time (7AM-9PM restriction).
If my assumptions are correct, then Rogers will not change its
rate plans, at least not in the first year. They will evaluate the
impact of the iPhone on their network and introduce new plans (with
more generous bandwidth) next year.
As I finished writing this post at 9:40PM, I checked again, and
there were 14,063 signatures.