Part 7 of elf's Apple PowerBook G4 Journal


FontExplorer X

Thu Sep 15 00:0:05 2005

One of my favourite blogs, Typographica, noted the release of FontExplorer X, a beta font manager for OS X, from Linotype. FontExplorer X's resemblance to iTunes is not accidental.

The Register's Nano Review

The iPod Nano is the kind of product that just makes you stop and stare— anyone that you show it to just wants to hold it and play with it.
— "The Register"

Thu Sep 15 08:38:50 2005

The iPod Nano is reviewed by The Register.

Andy Hertzfeld

Thu Sep 15 14:45:58 2005

Andy Hertzfeld, a former Apple employee who worked on the original Mac, now at Google, said the following in a recent interview:

The network will continue to drive innovation for the next decade or more. The personal computer itself will become less important as the user's computing world expands into dozens of different devices, all united by the network. The personal computer will continue to morph into more of a communications device than anything else.

In other words, "The Invisible Computer" (as discussed earlier).

ROKR Phone Closeup?

Fri Sep 16 18:09:26 2005

Does anyone remember seeing Jobs show an actual closeup of the ROKR phone during the announcement? I recall that he had a problem continuing music play-back after taking the call but I don't remember him holding-up the phone in his hand to the audience so the camera could zoom-in.

iPod Audiobooks

Sat Sep 17 09:29:09 2005

The trick to get your DIY Audiobooks to appear on the iPod's Audiobooks Menu is to first convert them to AAC (via iTunes, saved with an "m4a" extension) and then rename them with an "m4b" extension and sync. Audiobooks saved as "mp3 songs" will play, but bookmark functionality will not be available.

Finders Weepers

The award trophy.

Finders keepers, losers weepers.

The award for the "Most Frequently Used However Buggy, Useless and Craptacular Application Ever" Award, goes to the Mac Finder.

This reminds me of the X11 terminal program, xterm. I remember reading either the source-code or the man-page and seeing a comment along the lines of, "this is not the way to write a proper X application"; the irony being that without an xterm, precious little could be done in the X environment.

Another Mac Convert?

Sun Sep 18 00:00:12 2005

One of Sacha's blog entries states, "That settles it. I want a Mac when this computer falls apart. =) All the interesting productivity developments are happening on Macs." (she just read about Onlife).

iPhoto 5.0.4 Update

Sun Sep 18 22:11:11 2005

Downloaded iPhoto 5.0.4 Update. Fixes a bug with camera-rotated photos (the Canon S60 auto-rotates; I didn't bother reporting it when I was bitten).

Apple in Print

Mon Sep 19 17:32:10 2005

A panel from Sunday's Non Sequitur features an iBook.

Wiley Miller, the Non Sequitur cartoonist is obviously a Mac user— most of his strips showing computers, feature Macs.

Last Saturday's Globe and Mail newspaper featured a full-page advert on the back of one of the sections (I forget which one, now), for the iPod Nano (disembodied hand on black background, "1000 Songs in your Pocket").

My 6-month Retrospective is Overdue

I now have to look-back 6 months (this is Week 25) and write my thoughts about the Mac experience.

20 in. LCD Comparison

Tue Sep 20 07:04:39 2005

The Dell UltraSharp 2005FPW LCD and the Apple 20 inch Cinema Display use the identical LCD panel from LG.Philips and the (beautifully written) Anandtech review comparing the two LCDs on technical terms at least, is a tie. The Apple display, with the brushed aluminum housing and the Apple Industrial Design we have come to know and love, costs more and looks so much better than the Dell encased in black plastic with a silver base.

Emacs on Aqua

Emacs for OS X done right. However, it uses the Emacs 20 codebase— eagerly awaiting the Emacs 21 port.

Stuck DMG

Wed Sep 21 12:05:08 2005

Just before leaving, this morning, I decided to finally install SMARTReporter. I had a bit of a hiccup as I copied it to my Applications folder as it kept asking for the admin password. Fine, I type it in and it installed. I ran it and configured it to check every 1440 minutes from the default 60 minutes and then I went to eject the DMG. A dialog came-up saying that the application was in still in use. Hmm. OK. Fine. I quit it and tried again. Same thing. Hm. Deleted it from my start-up list thinking perhaps that may have been the cause. Same thing. Hm. IT was time to leave.

When I got to work, I asked on #macosx and <rebug> suggested using lsof /Volume/SMARTReporter to see what process was still using the SMARTReporter DMG file.

Update Wed Sep 21 21:49:49 2005: I feel a bit sheepish as it turned out that I was in the /Volumes/SMARTReporter/ directory in another Terminal (cue Duck Dodgers saying, "Hehe, had the silly thing in reverse").

Nano, pico, femto, ...

Wed Sep 21 17:15:20 2005

One day, you will mistake your MP3 player for pocket-lint and accidently throw it out— this futuristic MP3 player will be a clump of "motes": a CPU mote, a storage mote, an audio codec mote, and a wireless transmitter/receiver mote, which streams the audio to the head-phone mote/amplifier mote clump which is sitting in your ear-canal.

iPhoto 5.0.4 Crash

I was playing with making another PhotoBook last night, after upgrading iPhoto to 5.0.4, and iPhoto hung when I went to print the book to PDF book (SPOD while generate page 22 of 23) and I had to kill it. Of course, I lost the PhotoBook I had been working on for the past hour. Unfortunately, there is no way to save a PhotoBook that is a work in progress, other than quitting and re-starting iPhoto everytime you want to save your work.

Doom 3 Demo for OS X

Thu Sep 22 17:47:23 2005

The demo for Doom 3 has been finally released for OS X. However, I will be waiting a few days to get a connection to the site. It looks like mathilde meets the requirements for playability. I tried playing it on amelie but my video card didn't have sufficient RAM.

Update: Sat Sep 24 09:33:31 2005: It plays! Medium Low graphics quality is occasionally choppy. I dropped the quality to Low and will try again later. I played it just up till the point of entering the Main Reception.

Update: Sat Sep 24 23:49:17 2005 Nearly finished playing it. It's excruciatingly painful to play the game at the point when a door opens (and typically there's a bad guy on the other side just waiting...).


Sun Sep 25 00:00:05 2005

If Doom 3 is at one extreme end of the gaming spectrum, then Infocom's text-adventure games would be at the other extreme; the Zork Trilogy is available for download if you are nostalgic or if your computer can't cope with Doom 3.

I have never played Zork, but I did play (Douglas Adam's) "Planetfall" on Apple ][ computers in the Ryerson Library's Computer Lab. An engine (freely downloadable) is required to play the games; see the Mac OS X Hints article which includes links to z-machines.

Scratch That

Nice and easy does it every time.
— Frank Sinatra, "Nice 'N Easy"

Sun Sep 25 10:57:20 2005

iPod Nano owners are complaining en masse about how easily the LCD scratches. Repeat after me, “Rule No.1: Never Buy Revision "A" Products From Apple.” Some people never learn.

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way To Mars

Something familiar, something peculiar, something for everyone: a comedy tonight!
—"A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum"

Sun Sep 25 12:05:16 2005

I started-up Doom 3 Demo and then I realized I wanted to do something on the Desktop (I have forgotten what exactly, in all the excitement) so I hit Esc and Esc again hoping to quit Doom (but that just skipped the Intro and then I made the mistake of hitting Cmd-H. What happened was that I lost the mouse focus and I ended up with 2 mouse cursors and the operational one was not recognized by the Doom 3 buttons on the screen.

Damn. What do I do now?

Try switching applications. Cmd-TAB? Nope. Cmd-`? Nope. Fn 1 - 12? Nope. Alt-Ctrl-Del? (I was getting desperate). Nope. Shove a DVD in hoping that the DVD Player would rise to the occasion. Nope. Shove my CF card in hoping that iPhoto would pop-up. Nope. Press the power-button, hoping that the Sleep/Power-Down/Cancel dialog would pop-up. Nope. Maybe I can unplug it and pull the battery and let it drain till it shuts-down. But that would kill my uptime. No!     Must.     Preserve.     Uptime.

Don't Panic! Think! Think, damn you! Think!

You fool! This is Unix, you can remotely login and kill Doom. But how are you going to get the IP of mathilde? Well, let's figure that one out when we get to it.

So I walk over to aleph, the VAIO running XP, kick my brother (who's listening to LvB 6th Symphony at ear-splitting volume) off it for a few moments, connect up the network cable, switch to my user-account, and try the old WinSSH profile with mathilde's IP from a few months ago and ... no, the IP is not valid anymore. I bring up the "File Explorer" and click "Browse Network Neighbourhood" and "mathilde (OS X)" icon is there. Woohoo! I double-click on it, enter my username and password and I can browse all my files. So, on a whim, I try to SSHWin again with mathilde as the hostname and I'm in. Wow, that was easy. A ps -auxwww| grep -i doom and a kill later, I have the Desktop back with DVD Player, iPhoto and the Sleep/Power-Down/Cancel dialog all running.

12:22 up 160 days, 14:45, 3 users, load averages: 0.71 0.74 0.79

Preserved that uptime.

Oatmeal Breakfast

Mon Sep 26 09:43:29 2005

4 handfuls "Quick" Quaker Oatmeal
1 handful of chopped dehydrated apples
1 handful of raisins
4 chopped dates
1/4 cup water
1/4 glass of 2% milk

Put the oatmeal in a microwaveable bowl, and add enough water until the oats are submerged by 1mm of water. Microwave for 1 min 5s, remove and stir. Add the milk and microwave again until the oats bubble. Remove and stir; add dates, apples, raisins. Let cool before eating. Serves 1.

Mac OS X for UNIX users

Tue Sep 27 00:00:49 2005

Stian Sřiland, a recent convert to OS X, has an excellent summary page in his blog, with everything an Unix convert needs to know to be comfortable with OS X.

Nano Scratches

Wed Sep 28 09:46:15 2005

Apple's response to the whiners:

We have received very few calls from customers reporting this problem— we do not think this is a widespread issue... If customers are concerned about scratching we suggest they use one of the many iPod nano cases to protect their iPod.

After everyone shuts-up and stops pouting, they can try the InvisibleShield on their Nano. Unlike a case, it increases the bulkiness of the iPod by a few nanometers.

Flawed Music Player

Move along now, nothing to see here.

Fri Sep 30 08:38:59 2005

It started with, a complaints site created by Matthew Peterson because the screen on his Nano broke after 4 days. It ended when the site was dismantled once Apple listened to this complaints and publically acknowledged that a small percentage of Nanos had a manufacturing defect because of the LCD model used.

DVD Media Quality

Apple is a great brand, but they do not make their own discs, instead outsourcing to MXL (Hitachi/Maxell), MCC (Mitsubishi Chemicals), and PVC (Pioneer).
—Blank Media & Quality FAQ

Fri Sep 30 17:05:14 2005

Futureshop is having a DVD-media sale this week and I wanted to make sure the brands (Memorex, Fujifilm) were compatible with the 8x Superdrive. After a bit of seraching I came across Mac DVD-R for the Beginner which linked to Blank DVD Media Quality Guide. The SuperDrive does not like DVD media with a pink substrate (the DVD just gets spit-out after some grinding, seeking, and spinning).

NFS Client and Server

Sat Oct 01 10:08:13 2005

OS X has to do some traditional things— exporting filesystems and mounting remote filesystems— differently. To mount a remote filesystem: "sudo mount remotehost:/path /private/mnt". According to OS X as an NFS Client, the correct way is to use the dreaded NetInfo Manager and perform a complicated dance. Is /etc/fstab deprecated?

When using OS X as an NFS server however, /etc/exports is indeed deprecated and NetInfo is the recommended solution. NFS Manager (shareware) is a front-end to NetInfo— a clear indication that the NetInfo interface model needs to improve.

Correction: after an email from David, OS X does support NFS v.3 according to the mount_nfs man-page.

This whole investigation into NFS started when <mwright> wondered why data transfers via Samba to his Mac workstations (dual G5 with gigabit ethernet) from a Linux box, was 50% slower than to a Windows/XP workstation (4 GB in 23 minutes, from Mac to Linux; 12 minutes from Windows to Linux). He did verify that the ports on the Netgear switch were at full-duplex and not half-duplex.

Where's the Docs?

Thanks for playing. We have some nice parting gifts for you; Phil, tell us what they're getting...

Sat Oct 01 21:45:57 2005

9:42PM mathilde[336] perldoc -q contain
No documentation found for "perlfaq1".
No documentation found for "perlfaq2".
No documentation found for "perlfaq3".
No documentation found for "perlfaq4".
No documentation found for "perlfaq5".
No documentation found for "perlfaq6".
No documentation found for "perlfaq7".
No documentation found for "perlfaq8".
No documentation found for "perlfaq9".

9:44PM mathilde[337] perldoc -f substr
No documentation found for "perlfunc".

Needless to say, I've filed a bug-report.

Update Sun Oct 02 10:52:15 2005: David and several other people on #macosx are reporting that perldoc works for them. Hm.

Update Thu Oct 06 12:30:09 2005: Apple says they're aware of it— that qualifies as a Duplicate, then.


Sun Oct 02 11:03:33 2005

Installed MenuCalendarClock yesterday. Looks nice. I no longer need to run iCal in the Dock and I no longer need the Konfabulator calendar. I have also customized the clock display with an 18 point font which makes the time easier to see.

NoScript Firefox Extension

Mon Oct 03 00:00:34 2005

Installed the NoScript Extension that selectively enables or blocks Javascript, Java and/or Flash on sites. I had requested selective Javascript blocking in Mozilla a long, long time ago. NoScript knows enough to enable Javascript on Google Mail by default— a nice touch.

Sun and Google

Tue Oct 04 08:31:22 2005

A press conference is scheduled for today at 1:30PM EDT to announce a collaboration between Sun and Google.

Update Tue Oct 04 21:56:15 2005: Meh.

Car Ownership

Baby, you can drive my car.
—The Beatles

Wed Oct 05 00:00:36 2005

Maserati Quattroporte.

In his Sunday NYT review of the Maserati Quattroporte, Ted West describes the DuoSelect paddles, situated of either side of the steering wheel, that are used for switching gears in similar fashion to that of F1 racing cars— the left paddle is to down-shift and the right-paddle to up-shift.

...DuoSelect will effortlessly guide you thorough the indignities of rush-hour stop and go. But dare to use the paddles and presto, you are deep in the complexities of la bella Italia.

What does this mean? Here is what it does not mean: If DuoSelect were German, operating a paddle would initiate 200,000 earnest binary calculations, after which the transmission would give you a patronizing nod and do what what it was planning to do anyway. But if you do flip the paddle on the Maser, it does just what you ask. So ask carefully.

After describing, "the ticks and oddities of Italian cars, which endear them to their drivers", he concludes with:

The Quattroporte beckons to those stalwart few who believe a car should have a soul. Such drivers love a car whose individuality is unmistakable. After all, the greatest human personalities are shot through with idosyncracies. Why not a great performance car?

The review would still hold true if one substituted "Apple" for "Maserati", "OSX" for "DuoSelect" and "Mac" for "Quattroporte".

I'm not a driver (I find driving very illogical and unintuitive, mostly because the majority of the drivers ignore or bend many of the traffic rules (a yellow traffic light means stop or clear the intersection if you're in it; it does not mean speed-through the intersection) and I am the sort that cannot cope with fuzzy rules; so I await computer-driven cars as I am willing to trust my life to a (well programmed) computer than to an average North-American driver), but all the people I know (and that's not many) that drive a car and own a Mac, drive foreign cars. Is that just a coincidence or can we statistically correlate the buying habits of Mac users to foreign-car ownership?

Topic for #macosx

Thu Oct 06 21:40:08 2005

*** You have joined channel #macosx
*** Topic for #macosx: Latest: Mac OS X 10.4.2 / 10.3.9 | Security Update
2005-008 | iTunes 5.0.1 | Safari 2.0.1 | iTunes phone | iPod nano | no web
logging w/o approval please | | e1f's
excellent PowerBook journal: | Nano
*** #macosx: topic set by rorx, 21:53:21 2005/09/30

Google Recruiting at U of T

Q: What about Linux and Mac versions of things like Google Desktop? A: We want to focus on what will give us the most impact. Cross-platform thing is 20%-time stuff. Most Googlers use Linux, so it's frustrating having to borrow someone else's computer to try things out.
—Google Recruitment Q&A

Sacha has a summary of the Google recruitment talk she attended at the University of Toronto.

Paul Cézanne

His goal was not to have a mass audience or sales appeal, it was to satisfy himself.

Fri Oct 07 17:59:40 2005

Still Life with Apples, Paul Cézanne.

Paul Cézanne is considered the father of Postimpressionism, an art movement that grew out of Impressionism (practiced by the artists famously featured in the film, Amelie). Many of Cezanne's still-life paintings included apples.

I was searching Google Images for "apple" and the painting on the right, which was one of the search-results, intrigued me. So I decided to take a detour and investigate:

Cézanne is an artist's artist. He was obsessed with form rather than content, so subject matter was always secondary to the act of painting itself. He wanted the methods and skills of the painter to be more important than the image. That meant the subject of the painting couldn't be so dynamic as to overshadow the artist's act of creation. The more he concentrated on this, the less viewer-friendly his works became. But that suited his personality just fine. His goal was not to have a mass audience or sales appeal, it was to satisfy himself.

—“Paul Cézanne: From Impressionism to Classicism and Cubism

TargetAlert Firefox Extension

I, not rememb'ring how I cried out then,
Will cry it o'er again: it is a hint,
That wrings mine eyes to 't.
—“The Tempest”, act

Sun Oct 09 00:00:09 2005

After one too many times of clicking on a link and having a new Mozilla window appear, I went looking for an extension that allowed me to always open a link in a new tab instead of a new window. The closest I could come up with, was TargetAlert— an extension that renders small icons next to various types of links, cleverly hinting at the result of clicking on each link.

Konfabulator Weather Errors

Sun Oct 09 18:03:35 2005

2005-10-09 17:57:24.152 Konfabulator[24681] [The Weather.widget]
Global/onLoad: TypeError: xml.selectNode("/channel/item/yweather:condition") has no properties
(The Weather.kon: Line 1071)

Hm. Perhaps something has changed somewhere on the Weather Channel and it' broken the widget; the error appears every 5 minutes. I closed the widget and started a new one and it hung on start-up when fetching the weather. Looks like the only reason for running Konfabulator is now moot and it's back to Meteorologist (new version released Oct. 1, 2005). Hm, it seems Toronto weather is not displaying properly in Meteorologist either&mdash this may be a problem after all. All I see is a question-mark in a grey circle; the 3-day forecast, however is retrieved properly.

TargetAlert Update: New Tab, Not Window

Jonathan Chan suggests avoiding the TargetAlert Widget because the extra icons added to the document, adversely affect the page layout. He adds:

Firefox 1.5 beta (and eventually release, I would imagine) have the option directly in preferences to force a tab instead of spawning a new window.

If you want to force in the current releases without an extension, try setting "" to int "3". That seems to be the likely setting ... If that doesn't work, you could just fiddle with the number until something happens. ;)

I used about:config to bring up the Firefox configurator and narrowed-down the list of options and found "" and set the value to 3 by double-clicking on it and it worked!

Mon Oct 10 21:02:52 2005:Remember to re-start Firefox so the settings are saved.

I haven't completely disabled TargetAlert but I have disabled the displaying of icons for links that open new windows and for links within the same document.


Mon Oct 10 16:09:37 2005

Today, at around 11:30AM, I awoke mathilde from sleep, and started the dial-up connection. Just as it connected, a semi-transparent window appeared at the center of the display, the rest of the display dimmed and a multi-lingual message stated that I needed to re-start my computer at this time by pressing the power-button for a few seconds.

system.log boot-up messages:

Oct 10 11:34:08 localhost /usr/libexec/panicdump: Error (-1) setting 
      variable- 'aapl,panic-info'
Oct 10 11:34:08 localhost syslogd: /dev/console: Input/output error
Oct 10 11:34:08 localhost SystemStarter: crash reporter (247) did not 
      complete successfully. 

So we are looking at an uptime of roughly 174 or 175 days.

Mon Oct 10 21:04:05 2005

After re-starting, I had to re-enable DoubleCommand.

Fourth Quarter Results

Wed Oct 12 01:12:05 2005

Notes on the conference call from Apple reporting on the fourth quarter results ending Sep. 24, as reported by AppleInsider:

I'm mildly intersted in the hardware upgrades that will be announced today... (Yes, it's 1:30AM— I was up watching parts 7 and 8 of “Band of Brothers”, a most excellent series that follow Easy company, 506 Regiment of the 101st Airborne division, from boot-camp, to Normandy and into Germany.

Apple Announces New G5 iMacs

Command your music, photos and videos from your sofa using the new Apple Remote.

Wed Oct 12 14:16:48 2005

The new iMacs with a built-in iSight camera and the MightyMouse just went online at (USB modem is optional). Here are the first few moments after the announcement os #macosx when the new went live at 2:15PM:

<andrewguy> its up
<vosque> apple updated
<sharkhat> ooo sexy
<e1f> woooooo
<cynic> It's up.
<DrunkenDonut> ooh, teh store is back up
<synd> The iMac is thinner!
<grey> imac looks nice.
<cynic> Also, iPod.
<grey> I don't think it'll age well though. ;)
<sharkhat> HAHAHA "More and Less
           The new iPod boasts up to 20 hours of battery life"
<Sketch> heh, it comes with the mighty mouse
<sharkhat> right
<synd> HOORAY	                                              [14:17]

The Invisible Computer” has arrived.

I was thinking of getting one for my parents, who prefer that I perform all their web-searches and handle all emails to friends and relatives.

Apple Announces New Video iPod and iTunes 6

2.5-inch, 320 x 240 pixel TFT display. With support for up to 150 hours of video and a 2.5-inch color display, the new iPod lets you take music videos and TV shows on the road. The new iPod boasts up to 20 hours of battery life, five hours more than before. Plus, you get a bigger display and one more iPod color— sleek black. iTunes 6. 30GB model is 4.1 x 2.4 x 0.43 inches; 60GB model is 4.1 x 2.4 x 0.55 inches.

H.264 video, up to 768 kbps, 320 x 240, 30 frames per sec., Baseline Profile up to Level 1.3 with AAC-LC up to 160 kbps, 48 Khz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4 and .mov file formats. MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 mbps, 480 x 480, 30 frames per sec., Simple Profile with AAC-LC up to 160 kbps, 48 Khz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4 and .mov file formats.

iTunes 6 can import and play DiVX encoded videos.

PowerBook Sighting

Wed Oct 12 15:47:52 2005

I just remembered that I saw a 12 inch PowerBook on the train this morning; the owner had an Apple-branded carrying case.

iPod Your Car

Thu Oct 13 14:51:50 2005

Earlier, I asked whether there was a correlation between Mac ownership and car-brand ownership. Looking at the “iPod Your Car” page and the cars depicted: Acura, Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Honda, Infiniti, Mercedes, Mini, Nissan; I would venture to say that there is a correlation.

Fri Oct 14 18:31:17 2005

Just a few tools.


4 white headphones sighted today. I did go out shopping today along Yonge Street, though (on most days, it's just people on the train and on Church or Victoria Street)— went to Sunrise Records (didn't have Arvo Pärt's “Lamentate”), Sam the Record Man (no “Lamentate” either), Futureshop (bought a 50-pack of Maxell DVD-R, on sale for for $17.99) and HMV (had “Lamentate” for $23.99, which means I will buy it at for $19.99). Incidentally, HMV is selling the Tintin animated DVDs priced at 3 DVDs for $30 (2 movies per DVD).


Cure for an obsession: get another one.
—Mason Cooley (attr.)

Sat Oct 15 10:05:33 2005

One (tattoos).

Another one (aquariums).

Another Convert

Sat Oct 15 10:38:59 2005

#emacs on

<lawrence> so yes, I've joined the enlightened side
<Lukhas> the enlightened side ?
<lawrence> I have a mac
<lawrence> bought with my hard-earned phd grant

How Apple Does It

TIME looks inside the world's most innovative company.

Nobody does it better
Makes me feel sad for the rest
Nobody does it half as good as you
Baby, you're the best
—Carly Simon

Sun Oct 16 11:15:59 2005

This week's Time magazine has Steve Jobs on the cover, showing-off the VideoPod, with the headline, “What's Next” displayed on the new G5. The story is titled "How Apple Does It" (requires a subscription to read online). In the accompanying photo, the 3 important departments inside Apple: Engineering, Design and Marketing, are represented alongside the general and his lieutenant.

There was a time, not long ago, when Sony was the world's most innovative company; they lost the crown when people couldn't buy a Sony MP3 player because Sony insisted on the proprietary ATRAC file format interfaced via the unbelievably craptacular Soundstage (or was it Sonicstage?) program (it was bundled with my VAIO laptop and I actually deleted it off the system)— even Windows Media Player was better than Soundstage, but everyone just used WinAmp until iTunes showed everyone how.

A Half-step

Mon Oct 17 00:00:20 2005

The VideoPod/iMac G5/FrontRow/Remote Control combination is a half-step. The next step will be to plug your CATV cable directly into your iMac— this is a very difficult step (politically, not technically) because of copyright issues; it will be interesting to see how Apple deals with this.


Tue Oct 18 09:37:25 2005

In last Sunday's NYT Arts and Leisure section, a story on Stevie Wonder mentioned that, "he had been talking to Steven P. Jobs, the founder of Apple Computer, about making the iPod more accessible to blind listeners."

We tend to take many things for granted and it's impossible to realize how lucky we are until someone else points out the obvious.

First iMac G5 in Buffalo

i just picked it up from the Apple store in Buffalo and i was the first to get one there. i walked in and asked if they had any, and they got them in about 10 minutes prior and i bought it before they put one on display!
— posting

Tue Oct 18 17:15:46 2005

The first new iMac G5 sighted in the wild (pictured at right), was in Buffalo, NY; some pictures were also posted. The remote control "attaches" to the bottom-right side of the screen.

Update Wed Oct 19 09:25:10 2005: In reference to the earlier journal entry on car ownership, David, who drives a VW and owns a 17 inch Powerbook, writes:

If you look towards the bottom-left hand corner of the picture that you posted, you'll notice a set of keys to the left of the pen. The big black rectangular-ish thing with the thin silver sliver coming out of it is a key for some kind of VW car. The circle in the key just above the silver sliver has the white and blue "VW" logo.

Apple Announces Dual-core G5, Powerbook Upgrades and Aperture

Thu Oct 20 09:14:43 2005

Two new G5 towers announced: one with a dual-core 2GHz 970 POWERPC cpu and the second with dual liquid-cooled dual-core G5 2.5GHz cpus. The new 15 inch and 17 inch Powerbook models have screens with slightly higher resolutions. The 12 inch got a price-cut.

Apple also announced Aperture, software for the professional photographer, that supports the RAW camera format.

“Resilient Enterprise”

Fri Oct 21 00:00:02 2005

In last Sunday's NYT Business section, Roger Lowenstein reviewed “Resilient Enterprise”, a book about coping with disaster, written by Yossi Sheffi, Faculty of Engineering Systems at MIT; one of the anecdotes was about Apple:

The author recognizes that resilience is sometimes at odds with the modern fashion for cost-cutting. The last two decades have seen a relentless effort by firms to reduce their inventories and thus free up capital. Steven P. Jobs, delivering the keynote speech at a conference in 1999, boasted that Apple Computer had reduced its inventory to a mere 15 hours' worth of supplies. Three weeks later, an earthquake in Taiwan halted production of essential parts, and Apple was up a creek.

After reading the review, I gave some thought about the disaster plan we have in place at work, to deal with losing some critical part of our IT infrastructure— it can be best described as running down the corridors whilst wearing pants over our heads.

iTunes Discovery

And, since you know you cannot see yourself
So well as by reflection, I, your glass,
Will modestly discover to yourself
That of yourself which you yet know not of.
—“Julius Caesar”, act i. sc.ii

Sat Oct 22 09:46:46 2005

I've been using iTunes for nearly 2 years now and I just (!) discovered that the shaded, grey-bar the separates the album art from the playlists, is actually a button that can toggle between displaying the album-art for the currently playing track or the currently selected track. There should have been a menu entry for this functionality as the current behaviour is non-intuitive.

What I haven't figured out is how to delete album-art once it's added to a track. I accidently added the wrong album cover to a track; when I then added the correct album-art, instead of overwriting the track, iTunes added the second cover in addition to the first (the grey button gets arrows added to the ends so the additional album art can be viewed.)

Another thing I don't understand is the meaning of the white arrows in the grey circles that appear next to the column boundaries of Song Name, Artist, Album, etc..

Update: Sat Oct 22 21:56:59 2005: David says they are links to the iTunes Music Store; they can be disabled in General Preferences— he suggested I click on them. Hm, not bloody likely, without knowing what's going to happen.

RIP and Goodbye

Todd Dominey, ripped his entire collection of CDs and then sold the CDs.

However, if he ever misses the feel of flipping through CD jewel cases, he can always install Coverflow (Tiger-only visual album browser which I am unable to try as I am still running Panther) or Clutter (which even runs on Jaguar).


Sat Oct 22 20:57:27 2005

Do you notice any thing missing?

<Jup> suggested trying one of these solutions (ignore the "Sign-up to read the solution" note and just scroll-down). I do have Onyx installed and I've run it a few times before, but it requires a reboot after the maintenance routines run. So I prefer not to run it. I have run Repair Permissions recently, after the icon disappeared, so I don't think re-running Repair Permissions will help.

Update Sun Oct 23 10:57:28 2005: I tried Repair Permissions to no avail. However, running Onyx and deleting the System Caches restored the Network back in Finder (but I also had to reboot).

Finder Re-write for Leopard

I read that the Finder will be completely re-written, for the Leopard release of OS X, to incorporate Spotlight and hopefully fix all the niggling bugs, annoyances and inadequacies and plague it. I may just skip Tiger and upgrade straight to Leopard (if possible, that is).

3-Finger Salute

Ctrl-Cmd-Power will reboot (hardware reset) the computer; if your keyboard lacks a Power button, use Ctrl-Cmd-Eject.

Australia iTMS

G'day mate.

Tue Oct 25 08:36:30 2005

iTunes Music Store opened in Australia.


Many years had elapsed during which nothing of Combray, save what was comprised in the theatre and the drama of my going to bed there, had an existence for me when on a day in winter, as I came home, my mother, seeing that I was cold offered me some tea, a thing I did not ordinarily take. I declined at first, and then, for no particular reason, changed my mind. She sent out for one of those little cakes called 'petites madeleines'.
—“In Search of Lost Time”, Marcel Proust (trans. Moncrieff)

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
—Ecclesiastes, 3:1.

Wed Oct 26 01:12:22 2005

Work, meetings and a particular incident which shall remain nameless, have left me little time to devote to updating my Journal this week. Today's topic is Time. Of particular interest to me are two times: 1) how fast a computer can resume from sleep and 2) how fast it can boot-up.

(One of the Google-sponsored Summer of Code projects was to analyze and improve GNOME start-up time).

Currently, my Powerbook resumes from sleep in under 3 seconds. The new 15 inch and 17 inch Powerbooks ship with "Safe Sleep", aka. hibernation where the system state is saved to disk before sleeping and then restored from disk when it wakes-up— this reportedly takes approximately 10 seconds. How is this an improvement? Yes, it's helpful when you're going to swap batteries or when the battery is close to exhaustion and the laptop shuts down to save your work; but in normal circumstances, most people would prefer to resume from Suspend rather than Hibernation.

The last time I re-booted mathilde (last Sunday, actually) I counted out the number of seconds from the Mac "Bong!!!" to the login-screen appearing: about 30 seconds (I think). I would like to see this improved to about 3 seconds— Instant On! The OS should check-point and save its state every milli-second, so if it crashes or requires a reboot it can restore itself FAST! (The counter-argument is that instead of working on making the OS boot really fast, it should not crash in the first place.) OS X doesn't even check-point itself at all, like Windows XP System Restore does, so the odds of it check-pointing itself every milli-second are nigh infinite— in fact, I have a better chance of winning this week's $40M 6/49 lottery jackpot.

Why does a computer purchased in 2005 take the same amount of time to boot as a computer did in 1995? (The counter-argument is that in 2005, people don't boot their computer everyday— they put it to sleep and it wakes-up from sleep in 3 seconds, so what am I complaining about? Right.)

(I think I'll call my next Mac, madeleine, in honour of Monsieur Proust.)

Update Wed Oct 26 12:04:41 2005: David replies on the topic of checkpointing:

People are working on this even though most mainstream operating systems don't have it yet. The main one I know of is KeyKOS; another one is EROS (which builds on KeyKOS); DragonflyBSD can also checkpoint processes.

The EROS people (from the above link) make the point well, I think:

Suppose you had perfect software and hardware (if you find some, be sure to let us know). Even so, your computer will fail four to five times a year due to random background radiation.

So when your computer fails, do you want to be told that all your files are intact and you can now resume your painstaking work (having lost your latest session), or would you rather have all of your windows, (complete with word processor, web browser, and solitaire) reappear with a few minutes lost work. Take your pick.

Computer programming languages don't help as well; the only language that I'm aware of that has built-in checking of processes is Erlang. Not surprising since it was created at a telco for an environment that needs four or five 9s of reliability.

In general though I wouldn't hold your breath. It takes some engineering effort to build in reliability, and I don't think most people really care about it (see market share of various systems, e.g., Windows, Unix, mainframe, Tandem, etc.).

As for sleep versus hibernate, a compromise would be to sleep first, but if the system isn't used for three days or the battery falls below a 20% charge, hibernate.

When 99% of the Windows users think that rebooting the computer whenever something goes wrong, or after a new application is installed, is a normal part of everyday usage, the likelyhood of getting an OS capable of "Instant On" is small.

Linotype FontExplorer X

FontExplorer X requires 10.3.9. I suppose it's a good time/reason to finally upgrade.

Harry Potter Computers

Wed Oct 26 16:24:52 2005

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
—Clarke's Third Law

Any magic, sufficiently debased, is indistinguishable from technology.
—Rosenbaum's Corollary (in response to Harry Potter)

* e1f notes the distinct lack of computers in harry potter stories
<Riastradh> e1f, yeah, surely they must either have to deal with algorithmagic
            complexity, or perhaps they discovered a model of magic
            computation more powerful than a Turing machine, but that would be
            worth mentioning anyway...!
<e1f> yes, good point
<lucca> a micro-apparating data-bus...
<e1f> but it seems that sufficiently advanced tech is indistinguishable
      from magic
<e1f> so clarke was right, if you have magic, you don't need tech

Wed Oct 26 22:09:06 2005

My IRC comment was uttered about 6 hours before I discovered Rosenbaum's Corollary on the Wikipedia, whilst researching the epigraph for this Journal entry. I don't know who this Rosenbaum is.


Fri Oct 28 14:33:45 2005

Going to give photoDrop a try. I am quite irritated with the current work-flow of putting a screen-grab online:

Yes, I know I can upgrade to Tiger.

Origins of the Species

In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.
—Charles Darwin

Sat Oct 29 21:42:33 2005

David sent me a link to a 2002 article in the Stanford University alumnus magazine, featuring a story about the design of the first Apple mouse, part of the Making the Macintosh project (which is overdue for an update).

From Fonts, Kanji Pictograms to The Ampersand

Sun Oct 30 21:47:11 2005

I was reading a Susan Kare (Mac icon designer) interview (at the Making the Macintosh site) about books that influenced her and she mentioned a book on Kanji pictograms (she also mentions a book with a chapter on hobo-signals; by a strange coincidence I was watching an episode of Sherlock Holmes called the Norwood Builder, where a hobo-signal provides Holmes a much-need clue). An Amazon search moments later, revealed Kanji Pict-O-Graphix and the companion books about Hiragana. Not sure which to get, I popped-in to the #nihongo channel and asked (they said Kanji, and recommended other books) and then discussion turned to, as it invariably does, something completely different: the ampersand.

A great finish to a lovely weekend, indeed.

Tiger 10.4.3 Released

Mon Oct 31 22:03:37 2005

Improvements to Safari: Acid2 and Shockwave, other bug-fixes and feature improvements to Mail. That is all.

luis fernandes / G4 PowerBook Journal, Part 7 / Last Modified: Tue Oct 17 08:44:40 2006