Part 39 of elf's Apple PowerBook G4 Journal

But Wait, There's More!


Tue Jul 01 16:22:46 2008

As of 4:22PM this afternoon, there were more than 23,000 signatures on the online anti-Rogers petition and the site was heavily loaded. I am surprised at the numbers. Even more surprising is that newspaper coverage has increased to all the major papers in the U.S.

And one of the terms of the Rogers plan is an $1100 early cancellation fee.

Rogers has the makings of a PR fiasco on their hands. I look forward to Wednesday when Rogers responds to members of the press.

New, Improved Emacs Splash

emacs design

Wed Jul 02 07:51:44 2008

<zeus> brought to my attention that there was a submission for a new splash screen for Emacs 23, currently in development.

Francesc Rocher has to be commended for the work he did. The hilighting on the edges looks great. As to the comment that the serif on the "S" should be fixed, I agree it would look better if it was tweaked a bit. The "Emacs" text was originally written free-hand with a calligraphy pen and then digitized.

I had originally submitted an anti-aliased splash logo but I think rms rejected it because, at the time, Emacs needed to accomodate 8-bit displays and the image I submitted was a 24-bit image with a shadow.

Rogers: Welcome to 2003


Sun Jul 06 20:43:27 2008

In a long thread on, about Rogers data-plan for the iPhone in Canada, Elizabeth Hamilton, a spokesperson for Rogers, is quoted as saying that the plans Rogers offers for the iPhone are based on the size of an average web page being 130KB:

There are several websites where you can find information on standard wireless usage. Of course, web pages vary in size depending how multi-media heavy they are, e.g. more photos, bigger the size, so sites like CNN, CTV and Ebay are media heavy, as well as sites that are optimized for mobile, such as facebook, google, etc. Our math is based on 130Kb/page, which is the average HTML size according to research. See link The Average Web Page - Preliminary Results And I believe if you review the Toronto Star archives, they're research yielded similar results on or around November 26/27.

The cited report is from research performed in 2003; however, at the bottom of the page (section titled "Further Reading") an updated report (from the same author, Andy King) done in 2008, shows that the average size of a web page has tripled in size since 2003, to "over 321k".

There are rumours that Rogers will announce modified plans (with increased data amounts for the same cost, but still no unlimited cap) in the coming week.

How Much Bandwidth Would I Consume in a Month


Sun Jul 06 22:02:07 2008

I decided to estimate the amount of bandwidth I would theoretically consume in a month (30 days) of using an imaginary iPhone.

WebsiteSize (bytes)Monthly Size (bytes)
Environment Canada (text weather)55,5725,001,480 (3 times/day)
Google search ("iphone")25,3516,084,240 (8 times/day)
Peanuts (Sunday colour)491,4002,000,000 (4 Sundays)
Peanuts (weekday)56,5001,356,000 (24 days)
IMDB search114,900
2001: A Space Odyssey175,9008,724,000 (1 search/day)
Google Maps (main page)626,400 2,505,600 (1/week)
Google Maps (satellite map of address)1,051,000 4,204,000 (1/week)
Monthly Total:46,161,720

That 46MB montly total does not include all the cartoons I read (if I average 3MB/month for each cartoon, then 3 additional cartoons would total 9MB increasing my total to 55MB monthly), nor does it include email usage as I read my mail using Emacs; but with the iPhone, I would likely use Gmail or the departmental webmail client. I have also not included bandwidth of my RSS feed subscriptions read via Google Reader and the bandwidth to read external articles linked in the feeds (I have read 2,069 articles this month according to the Reader's stats, at an average of 150KB/article, that is 300MB).

Note that a single Dr. Who episode on Youtube (5 parts) is about 300MB in size.

OMG! Rogers Changes Data Plans


Wed Jul 09 13:29:50 2008

Rogers has just announced that customers signing up for an iPhone, between July and August, will be eligible for a $30 dataplan with a 6GB allowance!

The article notes that only one store in the Toronto area (at the AMC Yonge/Dundas) will have iPhones for sale; this explains why the Bay/Adelaide Rogers store didn't have any iPhone advertising when I walked by, yesterday.

The only other gripes that remain are the 3-year contract and the free evening calls beginning only at 9PM.

Don't Judge a Type-designer by Their Handwriting


Thu Jul 10 22:22:28 2008

A survey of type-designers, their handwriting and their creations; the diversity is surprising.

iPhone Apocalypse


Fri Jul 11 14:11:09 2008

I am reading reports that the final step in activating the iPhone is failing due to an iTunes error...

iPhone Agent Descriptor


Sat Jul 12 13:44:17 2008

There wasn't a single access with an iPhone or iPod on July 11th. I expect Apple to announce a gift-certificate for those that bought their iPhone on July 11th.

University-wide Apple Computer Program

Sun Jul 13 16:40:17 2008

On Friday, an email was sent to all faculty and staff in the department asking if any "Apple" users were willing to meet, "to discuss which models would best be suited for student and faculty use ... and to make [those] models of Apple computers available to the Ryerson community at additional discounts."

I think there's a Dilbert cartoon about this.


os x

Mon Jul 14 18:10:06 2008

Today, for some reason, the right-hand part of the menu bar (called the "system part") froze— the clock stopped updating at 3:15 and hovering the mouse over it, or over the Spotlight magnifier or over Menumeters showed the Spinning Pizza of Death.

The solution was to use the Activity Monitor to force-quit SystemUIServer— filter processes to SystemUI, click on Info, then Force Quit).

Coke Ad


Thu Jul 17 15:36:04 2008

This advertisement for Coke appeared on a building across the street a few weeks ago. I thought it was quite clever in copying the look of the building— colour of the bricks and the window frames— that it appears on. Note also, the "shadows" below the foot-lights at the bottom of the ad.

Book Reviews: "American Pastoral" and "Austerliz"


Thu Jul 17 15:44:55 2008

I recently read “American Pastoral” by Philip Roth and “Austerlitz” by W. G. Sebald, translated by Anthea Bell.

Imitation is ...?


Thu Jul 17 16:32:55 2008

In February 2007 the Swiss-American artist Christian Marclay was installing a solo exhibition of his work in Paris when he received an e-mail message from a friend about a commercial for the Apple iPhone that had been broadcast during the Academy Awards show.

The 30-second spot featured a rapid-fire montage of clips from television shows and Hollywood films of actors and cartoon characters — including Lucille Ball, Humphrey Bogart, Dustin Hoffman and Betty Rubble— picking up the telephone and saying "Hello." It ended with a shot of the soon-to-be-released iPhone.

Mr. Marclay tracked down the ad on YouTube and watched it.

"I was very surprised," he said recently by phone from London. Like many in the art world he saw an uncanny resemblance between the iPhone commercial and his own 1995 video "Telephones," which opens with a similar montage of film clips showing actors answering the phone. That seven-and-a-half-minute video, one of Mr. Marclay's signature works, has been exhibited widely throughout Europe and the United States.

About a year before, Mr. Marclay said, Apple had approached the Paula Cooper Gallery, which represents his work in New York, about using "Telephones" in an advertisement.

"I told them I didn't want to do it," he said. His main concern, he said, was that "advertisers on that scale have so much power and visibility" and that "everyone would think of my video as the Apple iPhone ad." Mr. Marclay said he spoke with a lawyer after learning of the commercial but decided not to pursue legal action. "When people with that much power and money copy you, there's not much you can do," he said.

The Image Is Familiar; the Pitch Isn't, N.Y. Times

Mozilla Plugin Ideas

Sun Jul 20 08:29:04 2008

I sent the following feedback to Mozilla a couple of days ago:

i have 2 suggestions for mozilla plugins:

1) wiki wysiwyg editor: rather than having to remember/look-up special codes for marking-up wiki pages, how about a built-in editor where text can be marked-up with a few clicks of the mouse.

2) built-in slideshow viewer: many sites have image galleries where the images can only be viewed one at a time. how about a plugin where all the images on the page are gathered together and displayed as a full-screen slide-show.

i am a bit surprised that we are still doing these two things the same way we had been doing them 10 years ago.

To expand just slightly on proposal 1, why can't I just click my mouse on a line in a wiki, change something and click save and see the wiki page updated? Why do I need another window containing a text widget to edit the text that is right in front of me?

Ideas and Money


Sun Jul 20 09:06:21 2008

A posting from Y Combinator with ideas they are prepared to fund.

It would be interesting to see how many of these ideas have lisp solutions.

I was looking at Meraki's (#27 "One reason your iPod isn't made by Sony is that Sony can't write iTunes."— my Sony Vaio laptop came with Sonic Stage, which was the most baffling and frustrating piece of music management software I remember using) website and found a line in Robert Morris' bio quite amusing: "In 1988 his discovery of buffer overflow first brought the Internet to the attention of the general public."

Another Convert: Satoshi Nakajima

Sun Jul 20 19:12:55 2008

Satoshi Nakajima, the lead architect of Win95 and 98, converted to a Mac two years ago, "We love Apple products... you need “love” to be creative," and now develops an application called PhotoShare for the iPhone.

Google Offices: New York and Zurich

Mon Jul 21 15:36:15 2008

A Googler who hangs out in #emacs posted links to a couple of albums showing pictures of the Google offices in New York and Zurich (I like the Zurich ambience; the NY office seems sterile).

Too Many Secrets

i spy

Mon Jul 21 21:44:39 2008

The first hit for the words, "too many secrets" is intriguing. Sneakers is one of my favourite fun movies.

Rules of Sysadmins

i google

Tue Jul 22 21:30:21 2008

The first (an second) hit for the words, "rules of sysadmins" is intriguing; the first hit for "rules of sys admins" is this journal's homepage. I am surprised that I was the first to codify them (on the web, at least).

Forget Innovation, Let's Just Imitate

microsoft apple linux

Fri Jul 25 09:17:27 2008

In a recent internal email, Ballmer said, "In the competition between PCs and Macs, we outsell Apple 30-to-1, but there is no doubt that Apple is thriving. Why? Because they are good at providing an experience that is narrow but complete, while our commitment to choice often comes with some compromises to the end-to-end experience."

Gates would always go on about how Microsoft innovates; now I suppose it's easier to imitate.

There was also a recent statement by Ubuntu founder who said, "If we want the world to embrace free software, we have to make it beautiful. We have to make it gorgeous. We have to make it easy on the eye. We have to make it take your friend's breath away."

Vista wants to copy OS X and Linux doesn't even bother to copy Microsoft products anymore.

"Have You Considered Buying a Mac?"

Sat Jul 26 19:08:22 2008

"Have You Considered Buying a Mac?"— I never imagined I would hear my boss utter those words within earshot, after having used a MAc for only 3 weeks. Yesterday, however, he did just that.

Very often, the faculty in the department consult him before they purchase new hardware; naturally, the first question they are asked is— "What kinds of things are your going to use your computer for?" Sometimes they have a specific hardware vendor (Dell, IBM) in mind and they ask whether a particular model will fit the task they intend for it. This was such a case— the faculty member called to say he was interested in buying a laptop that ran Unix (for doing course-related work; his previous laptop was a Dell with dual-boot Linux/Windows) and also ran Windows (for Office). My boss suggested a Macbook as we have a sitewide license for Office on both Windows and Mac. The faculty member incredulously asked, "Does it have a terminal?" at which point, I rolled my eyes; he wanted to know if gcc was available... at which point my boss explained that OS X was FreeBSD with Apple's own GUI.

After the conversation was over, I expressed my surprise that my boss would recommend a Mac and he said that wasn't the first time he had recommended a Mac. He had recommended a Mac to a woman, who he commutes with regularily on the train, whose (non-technical) son would be leaving for University in the coming Fall. She said that she had heard of Macs but she hadn't really considered them (she was thinking of getting Dell).

At some future date, I will find out what the final decisions in both cases were.

The Secret Army grows.

One Thing Leads to Another: Dracula to Cinelerra


Sun Jul 27 00:45:19 2008

This all started when I was browsing through the audio-visual catalogue of the Ryerson library. I had long-forgetten that Coppola had directed Bram Stoker's Dracula (starring my secret ex-girlfriend Winona Ryder). I began reading the IMDb trivia and found the item about the entire visual-effects team being fired because they refused to do in-camera effects, instead recommending computer-generated ones, particularily interesting which lead to another trivia element that mentioned that this was the first movie to be edited using a "non linear editing system"— a term used for a computer-based editing system— which finally lead to Cinelerra, a free movie editing suite available for Linux and OS X (with X11).

A Giant Leap


Sun Jul 27 09:54:14 2008

If you've ever wondered what it would be like to skip an entire generation of computer technology and leap from the equivalent bronze age to the modern era, then this blog post by Hunter Davies explains the feeling of giving up his 20 year old Amstrad PC for a Macbook with network connectivity.

Verbatim 250GB Firewire Portable HD


Mon Jul 28 07:02:34 2008

I ordered an Verbatim 250GB Firewire portable hard drive from the Apple Store, last night just before going to bed. This morning, I woke-up and I realized I hadn't checked whether the Mac Mini at work had a 6-pin Firewire port or a 4-pin port (which would mean the drive would need an AC adapter). The Mini has a 6-pin Firewire port.

I bought the Verbatim drive based on the positive reviews on the Apple Store. I had also considered the Iomega portable drives but the mixed reviews indicated quality control problems. I was quite surprised that the Apple Store didn't carry any LaCie products in this category. The U.S. store does carry them.

My three year old LaCie Databank USB drive is alive and well.

Update Tue Jul 29 15:49:27 2008: Shipped from Memphis, TN to Winnipeg, MB; estimated delivery is for tomorrow— "the driving distance from winnipeg to toronto is 2,229 km with a driving time of about 23 hours 16 mins".

Update Sun Aug 03 15:14:27 2008: Last night, I timed the backup of my iPhoto directory to the Firelight— 13.91GB took 11 minutes (wall-clock; the copy-progress dialog estimated 13 minutes).

"What is this-- iPhone Day?"


Wed Jul 30 07:21:05 2008

Yesterday, a graduate student (who has a Macbook) dropped by to have his iPhone configured to use the campus-wide Wifi. So my boss took the opportunity to "play around" with the phone (to do things he was unable to do in the store; ejecting the SIM, for example). Before he had completed configuring the first phone, a faculty member (Windows user) came by to have his iPhone configured to use the Wifi— at which point my boss uttered those famous words.

I would not have expected this faculty member to be an iPhone user— it was quite a surprise. Based on this single data-point, I would estimate that Apple will easily meet their sales target for this year.

luis fernandes / G4 PowerBook Journal, Part 39 / Last Modified: Fri Aug 01 00:01:24 2008