Criticism is a study by which men grow important and formidable at a very small expence... but every man can exert such judgement as he has upon the works of others; and he whom nature has made weak, and idleness keeps ignorant, may yet support his vanity by the name of a Critick.
— Samuel Johnson

Is not the utmost brightness of the ideal world soothing to us, while the lightest shadows of the physical world annoy?
—Honoré de Balzac

elf's Apple PowerBook G4 Journal



I began this journal to document my experiences when I bought my first Mac— a 15in. PowerBook G4 on Feb. 7, 2005. It was purchased as a replacement for my 3 year old Sony Vaio laptop running Windows/XP. The primary reason for switching to a Mac was because it ran Unix with a friendly, beautiful GUI; the secondary reason was because stuff “just worked”.

I believe that computers should make our lives easier, leaving us to enjoy those things that are fun.



Filesystem Compatibility


Mon Jun 01 22:51:14 2009

There were a few things I wondered about when I bought a HFS+ formatted Seagate portable drive: 1) is hfs+ written on a PPC computer readable on an Intel computer 2) can I boot off the external drive via TimeMachine 3) can I restore a PPC TimeMachine image onto an Intel computer; e.g. my Powerbook dies and I get a Macbook Pro.

A revealing article on formatting filesystems using DiskUtility indicates that things may not go as well as I had hoped for (or planned).

Palm Pre


Sat Jun 06 21:25:46 2009

The Palm Pre went on sale today. It is the result of mostly former Apple employees. It's greatest innovation seems to be webOS, a replacement for the decrepit PalmOS.

Taking out the Trash


Tue Jun 09 22:39:53 2009

A strange thing happened while I was taking out the Trash today...

I deleted a 700MB file and I accidently picked "Secure Delete Trash". Well, the CPU meter red-lined (I run MenuMeters) and stayed that way for a while. After about a minute, I realized what I had done and decided to cancel the delete, but the Delete dialog wouldn't respond when I clicked on the X. The laptop still remained responsive though. So I switched to Terminal and ran top and found that 72.4% of the CPU was used by an application called Locum. After about 8 minutes, the secure delete completed.

I decided to do a bit of research for Locum and found a great explanation from a Googler called Greg Miller, who even points to the word's etymology.

That's the most fun I've had talking out the trash.

Firefox 3.5


Tue Jun 30 16:19:24 2009

Updated to Firefox 3.5. Everything seems to have gone smoothly. Noscript and Update Every extension updated; the Check Links extension didn't, unfortunately.

I Need A New Mac


Sun Jul 19 01:33:47 2009

If I was going to buy a new Mac today, I would order the 17 inch Macbook Pro because it is currently the only model that has a matte screen option and an Expresscard slot. I need a new Mac because my 1.67GHz Powerbook cannot play HD content (1024x720 H.264 encoded) without dropping frames resulting in choppy playback. And since video cameras now shoot HD I would need a computer that can handle editing HD as I am also considering getting a video camera (perhaps the Flip or something else).

However, what the current Macbooks are missing is support for BluRay (read and writetable) discs even though I refuse to pay $30 for a Bluray movie (I even refuse to buy a DVD that costs more than $10 now). I think buying a latop today with a lifetime of 5+ years requires BD support. I think Apple prefers people to buy HD video via iTunes rather than media so I don't know when BD drives will appear in Macs.

I'm waiting to see if the Tablet is released in October and I think I can wait until January to see what the new Macbooks will offer.

The ASC Podcasts


Tue Jul 21 18:30:35 2009

The ASC now has podcasts by various cinematographers.

The Tablet Cometh


Fri Jul 24 13:15:01 2009

Appleinsider is reporting that the long-awaited tablet will be available (announced?) in 1Q 2010. It will have a PA-designed CPU not an Intel Atom.

The rendering is missing a video camera in the frame.

Emacs 23 for OS X


Sun Aug 02 15:48:46 2009

Ian Eure has provided a stable Emacs 23.1 for OS X. The Carbon Emacs port was deprecated in favour of a unified NextStep port which is currently unusable.

John Hughes, R. I. P.


Fri Aug 07 15:12:09 2009

John Hughes passed away yesterday. Two of my favourite movies that he wrote/directed, are Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Uncle Buck. If I ever felt sad, watching either of those movies would always cheer me up.

Time Machine Operation with Migrating to a New Mac


Wed Sep 02 18:56:38 2009

A faculty member, who owns a Macbook, recently bought a new Mac Pro and wanted all his settings copied from this laptop to the desktop. So he grabbed his Time Machine external disk (which was backing up his laptop) and plugged it into his Mac Pro and looked for some way to restore his latest files back onto the Mac Pro.

He gave up in frustration and called me asking how to do it. So I sat down and tried to do the same thing and Googled for instructions on how to do it and also got frustrated.

We decided that we were doing something wrong because two hours later we still hadn't gotten any further. And I said something like, "We must be doing something wrong because Apple would have thought of this as people buy new Macs everyday and transfer their files and settings from their old Macs on to the new one."

And then I realized that we were going about it the wrong way. We should have been using Migration Assistant! And once we used it all worked out perfectly.

I think Time Machine needs to have some sort of setting that lets users restore an entire computer.

The Tablet


Fri Jan 01 20:26:17 2010

I have been busy with my photography journal so this journal has stagnated a bit.

The Tablet (or Slate), which may or may not be announced on January 26 and which may or may not ship in April, will be the Next Big Thing: 9 years after the first iPod was announced in 2001.

It's predicted to have a 10 inch LCD touch-screen and a camera. No one has mentioned voice-recognition as input. That is my one prediction and wish for this device.

I know my rule about not buying first versions of Apple products but I think I'll buy this device since I've been waiting since 2005 for this thing to appear.

Update Wed Jan 13 22:03:09 2010: The latest rumours say it won't have a camera. That just means instead of buying two tablets, I would buy just one.

iPad in Canada


Wed Apr 14 13:41:13 2010

Apple has announced that due to unanticipated demand for the iPad in the U.S. (and also manufacturing problems) the April international release of the iPad has been postponed to late May.

I was going to buy an iPad for my parents this month, but now with the postponement, I will delay my purchase until, at least July and first see what the iPod Touch upgrade will look like in June. I might even skip the first version of the iPad because of Google's announcement...

When Google announced that they would open source the video codec from On2, I began having second thoughts about buying an iPad (or, at least, the limited usefulness of the current iPad). H264 decoding is done in hardware by the iPad, so if Apple accepted the codec, it would need to design a new asic to handle it.

If Apple announces their acceptance before next Spring (when iPad 2 will be released), then the current iPad becomes obsolete for playing video as most of the internet will move to the Google codec which will become the standard.

Something which was a foregone conclusion before yesterday, now becomes very complex when the near future is taken into consideration.

I was looking at least 5 years (approx. $100/year) of use for my iPad (Apple prefers 2.5 years before it's "not supported"). If Apple decides to postpone choosing an alternative code for another 2 years, it's still not enough of an incentive for me to buy and iPad.

Alternatively, Apple could also support both the H264 and the Google codec in hardware. That is a possibility which makes my iPad purchase more palatable.

And yes, I know I'm breaking rule no.1 of not buying first generation Apple products— I wasn't expecting to pay that heavy a price (quick obsolesence), though.

luis fernandes / / G4 Powerbook Journal