Part 9 of elf's Apple PowerBook G4 Journal


EasyFind— Searching Without Spotlight

Fri Dec 02 22:25:30 2005

Dan Frakes points out a few shortcomings of Spotlight and reviews EasyFind, a free substitute that works with either Panther or Tiger.

Partition Magic for OS X

Sat Dec 03 11:23:27 2005

Partition Magic, for Windows, is a life-saver when you need to re-partition a disk without erasing the data on it. DiskStudio (US$50) is the OS X equivalent.

David emails about another tool:

There's also iPartition of US$45 (CA$53):
Demo version available (won't write changes, but you can check out the UI).

Internet Stats

Sun Dec 04 00:00:09 2005

Searching for some statistical information to include in my upcoming essay (given its current state, it's unlikely to appear in time for tomorrow's publication deadline), I found the Internet News Archives.

According to a TNS Canadian Facts study, Canadian internet usage is as follows:

I guess those that download movies are either satistically insignificant, or they don't answer polls.

G4 Optimized Mozilla Firefox

Sun Dec 04 08:15:08 2005

A G4 optimized Firefox is now available along with a Firefoxy widget set. According to a follow-up comment, it seems to require 10.3.9 and DevTools and there are noticeable improvements rendering "complex pages".

Things to Come

Sun Dec 04 21:01:58 2005

Tom's Hardware has a summary of the upcoming Intel chips. Given the recent rumours that the first Mactels will ship in January and given that the summary, states that the first new chips will be for desktop computers and that the first mobile chips (Yonah) won't ship until mid-2006, it is likely that the Mac Mini and the Desktop systems will appear first.

The Digital Way

Mon Dec 05 13:40:15 2005

Lost at night in an immense forest, I only have a small light to guide me. A man appears who tells me: My friend, blow out your candle in order to find your way.
—Alfred Döblin, “Journey to Poland”

Persons grouped around a fire or candle for warmth or light are less able to pursue independent thoughts, or even tasks, than people supplied with electric light.
—Marshall McLuhan, “Understanding Media”

The Digital Age began at the end of the 20th century when digital computers became prevelant in many aspects of our daily lives lives— first introduced in our schools and at work, then the availability for use in our homes as both as diversions and as a means to take work home. Now in the 21st century, most people carry at least one computer on their person in the form of a cell-phone or a music-player (the iPod is today, what the analog Sony Walkman cassette player was in the 1980s). Having more than one computer in the home became as natural as owning two cars.

The Digital Age has changed how we do many things. People remember appointments, addresses and phone-numbers on a digital PDA and sneer at the retro Hipster PDA users; we listen to perfectly edited digital performances and frown at mistakes at a spontaneous live performance. Even performers sometimes prefer the studio to the stage: April 1964, at the age of 31 and the height of his concert career, he gave it all up and retired from public performance, never to return...The live concert experience was demeaning in his mind, making him feel like a 'vaudevillian'... [Glenn] Gould turned instead to the electronic media. Here, one could 'create' in a controlled environment and ultimately communicate better.
—from “Man, Musician, Myth and Mystique

When travelling, we prefer to find our way by asking the constellation of GPS satellites in geosynchronos orbit, rather than the more sociable exchange of stopping and asking for directions. (As a passenger in a late-model Mercedes with built-in GPS navigation, I noticed that while driving in an underground garage, where the satellite signal was lost, the car used an inertial navigation system to locate itself on the display screen. Everyone can be alone together with instant messaging and chatting on IRC; the standard forums for socializing (USENET, the original digital medium is now a graveyard). Breaking news stories are emailed or posted to chat rooms where discussion and analysis immediately follow. When one cannot attend Apple conferences in person, #macosx on is the place to be for real-time coverage and discussion of new products.

Why do we prefer to be dependent on computers than on humans? Is the Digital Way really easier? Is it because the Digital Way is cheaper and less error-prone? Have we become "digitized"? There are people today that cannot perform simple arithmetic without the aid of a calculator. I find myself reaching for a calculator everytime I need to calculate the sales tax on a purchase; my Dad, on the other, performs even more complex and elaborate calculations completely in his head.

To have his path made clear for him is the aspiration of every human being in our beclouded and tempestuous existence.
—Joseph Conrad, “The Mirror of the Sea”

Douglas Englebart realized that people aren't natural born hermits— they are communications junkies and that collaboration had to be person-to-person communications thorough the medium of the machine.
—Alan Kay, “How The Mind Works

Google, the hub of our digital world, wants to allow everyone to find everything, anywhere on the planet. We are gradually becoming dependent on Google's computers to sort and classify the world's information and present it in digestible morsels— no one wants to search through all 1,592,435,218 documents matching our query; we want Google to tell us the final answer. Google wants you to be able to access all the information in the world, where ever you are in the world— "Google In Your Pocket" is the future. Imagine Google becoming an government-approved essential service like the telephone, or RIM's Blackberry, a guranteed communications infrastructure (the backbone to an effective response in times of disaster). Imagine Google becoming the place where everyone meets.

The seemingly fantastic ability to search vast databases of information (answers to both simple and complex questions) is only possible because we live in the Digital Age. Google can exist because of the revolution that gave us extremely cheap digital computers. My job involves searching for information so I can find answers to problems, would be extremely difficult without Google, which nearly always has the answer to most of the problems I am faced with (as long as I phrase the question properly). I only realized I took Google's availability for granted when I was unable to contact it due to a local network outage.

There was a time when search for information began at the library; in the Digital Age, research begins at or In the last 20 years, the term "Information Age" was used to describe the era; the true Information Age is yet to come, heralded by Google showing us the Digital Way.

To be continued...

A discussion about this essay ensued on around 22:30.

<DemiGuru> e1f`: How from a subject that only interested geeks. IT is
           becoming so integrated with our daily life that we lose sight of what is
           "human" seems like we no longer seek the human aspect out of
<DemiGuru> e1f`: We became "droids"
<e1f`> i prefer "digitized"
<DemiGuru> e1f`: ok
<e1f`> droids have a single purpose
<br0iled> id enjoy reading this essay
<e1f`> they cannot exist outside their programming; humans adapt
<e1f`> is no longer seeking the human aspect, a good thing? or is this a bad thing?
<e1f`> if this is a bad thing, then google is inherently evil as they
       are encouraging the digital way
<e1f`> if it's a good thing, then what are we worried about?
<DemiGuru> e1f`: Of course...We no longer bother seeking knowledge or
           information we expect it to "come" to us. Not to mention enter
           text and have it spellchecked for us
<DigiLife> most people can read what u mean when u do make mistakes
<DigiLife> mystaches
<DigiLife> :D
<br0iled> theres some research being done on memory, how its evolving
          from a person knowing knowledge 30 years ago, to now, where a person
          remembers where to find particular information
<DemiGuru> DigiLife: But spelling implies an agreed standard of
           communication. Where misspelling things lowers the standard
           leaving room for miscommunication
<DigiLife> true that
<DigiLife> communication is sometimes slowed by having to retype
           everything a 1000 times before you can let it be said already
<DemiGuru> Unknowingly we're merging device and human. It doesn't
           need to look artificial for it to be one.
<DrunkenDonut> DemiGuru: I would say pairing rather than merging.. I
           hate it when I forget my cellphone.. Even if it doesn't get
           used a lot, it's always by my side..

Swap iTunes Tags?

Tue Dec 06 22:11:33 2005

I am making a compilation CD of Christmas Music for my Dad and one of the CDs, Canto Noël, Gregorian chants by the monks of the Santo Domingo de Silos monastery, has the Composer in the Track Title field and the Track Title in the Artist field. I wonder if there's an easy way of fixing this (the "OS X Way", with minimal fuss). It should be built-in to iTunes since this is not the first CD where the database entry is b0rked.

Updage Wed Dec 07 08:31:14 2005: I found Artist2Composer, an Applescript, that will do what I want (note: you need Javascript enabled for downloads to work); the key was to search for "id3+tags+swap" and not "id3+tag+editor".

Once I unpack the zip-file, I get a directory with 0-length files. I emailed Doug with the problem...

9:28AM mathilde[254] lsa               ~/Downloads/Artist to Composer \M-F\M-^R
total 16
drwxr-xr-x   9 elf  elf   306  7 Dec 09:28 .
drwxr-xr-x  13 elf  elf   442  7 Dec 09:28 ..
-rw-rw-rw-   1 elf  elf  6148 11 May  2005 .DS_Store
-rw-r--r--   1 elf  elf     0 21 Jul  2002 Artist to Composer
-rw-r--r--   1 elf  elf     0 15 Mar  2005 Assign Shortcut Keys to iTunes AppleScripts.webloc
-rw-r--r--   1 elf  elf     0 27 Mar  2004 How to Install AppleScripts.textClipping
-rw-r--r--   1 elf  elf     0 14 May  2005 Icon
-rw-r--r--   1 elf  elf     0 15 Mar  2005 More FREE iTunes Scripts!.webloc
-rw-r--r--   1 elf  elf     0 21 Jul  2002 Read This.textClipping

Update Wed Dec 07 12:29:07 2005: Doug emailed me a link for a solution.


Wed Dec 07 12:28:14 2005


Madly In Love

Thu Dec 08 08:48:53 2005

If an exchange between two parties is voluntary, it will not take place unless both believe they will benefit from it.
—Milton Friedman

A quote from an appreciation of Nobel laureate Milton Friedman, by Ben Stein in his weekly NY Times column, “Everybody's Business”:

I was a junior at Columbia and madly in love with a girl named Cathy who was in Chicago. On my first visit to Professor Friedman's office, I was lamentaing the fact that Cathy was so far away and that I could never possibly find a girl I loved as much in a small town like New York. "Benjy," Professor Friedman said, "I can tell you as a statistician that if there were only one right woman for every man, they would never find each other. Go out and find someone else." It was a flashing insight (and indeed, I soon found a much more pleasant girlfriend named Mary right across the street at Barnard).


You may say I'm a dreamer,
but I'm not the only one,
I hope some day you'll join us,
And the world will live as one.

Google Earth for OS X (Soon)

Fri Dec 09 00:00:55 2005

AppleInsider (disable JS when accessing) is reporting that a pre-release version of Google Earth for OS X was released earlier this year.

Update Fri Dec 09 18:25:39 2005: From a reliable source, the Google Earth OS X pre-release requires Tiger.

Apple's Viral Marketing Campaign?

Fri Dec 09 09:05:01 2005

I have noticed that nearly every weekend, there has been an article about Apple in the New York Times. Last Sunday's Business section had an article on by James Fallows titled “Mac Programs That Come With Thinking Caps On” (about software to organize and manage information); the other articles (I only subscribe to the Sunday Times) have been chronicled in this Journal. I would deduce that this may be a carefully orchestrated campaign to keep Apple in the news.

A Nano Proposal

Sat Dec 10 09:54:14 2005

Quite possibly the geekiest and cleverest hack yet seen, a marriage proposal was engraved on an iPod Nano. (She said yes.)

Historical Garages

In you live in or near Palo Alto, CA, on Dec. 11-13, there will be tours of the renovated garage (which cost US$1.7M to buy) at 367 Addison Avenue, where Messrs. Hewlett and Packard started their company in 1938. Furthermore, according to the NY Times article by Damon Darlin:

Only a 15-minute drive away at 2066 Crist Drive in Los Altos is the garage where Stephen Wozniak and Steve Jobs buit their earliest Apple computers. More recently, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Stanford University graduates, like the Hewlett-Packard founders, rented a garage at 2232 Santa Margarita Avenue in nearby Menlo Park to start Google.
Though the [Hewlett-Packard] garage was designated in 1989 by state landmark officials as the birthplace of Silicon Valley, that may seem like a bit of exaggeration. Silicon after all, was not used in electronics until after Robert N. Noyce invented the integrated circuit in 1959. He did that across town at 844 East Charleston Road, which is also a state historical landmark.
But, as they fiddled with the oscillators in that garage, the men were hammering out new ideas about how companies should be run, including an egalitarian emphasis on employees' happiness as a means toward generating innovation. That worked not only for their company, but also as a model for Intel, Sun Microsystems and other successful giants of Silicon Valley.

It should be noted that Microsoft is neither innovative nor in Silicon Valley.


Sun Dec 11 01:19:45 2005

It's 1AM Sunday morning and I'm reading a blog written by ex-Google employees. The blog begins with postings from Doug (ex-San Jose Mercury News; worked in Google's marketing department; coined the term "AdWords") and then posts from Ron (ex-scientist from JPL; wrote the translation console; went back to JPL after leaving Google) appear. Both of them worked at Google for less money than at their previous employers.

Ron is the more interesting personality (to the extent that I can relate better to his point of view)— I was surprised to read that he ranks himself in the bottom 25% of intelligent people at Google. Now I definitely know I wouldn't stand a chance in any of the technical departments; I may have a slim chance in some of the creative departments.

It's now 2AM and reading more of Rons' posts it's obvious why he left. To him, working at Google was work— it was a job; the killer commute didn't help either.

Oh yeah, let's not forget Rule #1: NEVER LET A PHD WRITE PRODUCTION CODE (there are very few exceptions to this rule and most of them worked at Bell Labs).

It's now 3AM. I just read the post about the switch of AdWords from MySQL to a commercial database because MySQL lacked some features— I wonder if they considered paying the MySQL developers to add the missing features (which were eventually added in a subsequent version) rather than switching to another database.

IP over Firewire

Sun Dec 11 09:45:12 2005

Panther suports IP over Firewire; this allows a Mac with a network connection (wireless, ethernet, modem) to share it's internet connection with another Mac connected via Firewire (this means that the Mac connected via Firewire can access the internet using the other Mac).

Update Mon Dec 12 18:33:21 2005 David adds:

IPv4 over FireWire (IEEE 1394) is an RFC that any OS can theoretically implement:

AFAIK no such standard exists for USB.

And unfortunately, Apple is moving away from Firewire.

Switching Between Multiple Network Configurations

If you move your Powerbook between multiple networks (home, work, etc.), you can set-up "Locations" via the Network Control Panel, with different settings for each network and you can switch between the settings without rebooting.

Yahoo: The Un-Google

Sun Dec 11 11:34:19 2005

The Globe and Mail's Saturday business section had an article on Yahoo. The main points of the article were that Yahoo has a focused strategy while Google just releases whatever new technology it has invented this week and see if it catches on—"technology is a tool, entertainment keeps people surfing". Google's CEO is from Stanford, Yahoo's CEO is from Hollywood (ran Warner Brothers).

Surfing Habits

Yahoo claims that 95% of page views aren't the result of online searches. This is quite true and I never realized this. I typically go to Google when I need an answer to a problem, or need information on a book or movie review, otherwise my "surfing" starts at Slashdot and Digg (tech news), TUAW, AppleInsider, Thinksecret (Apple news), Wikipedia (brushing up on general knowledge), IMDB (movies), Amazon (purchasing books, DVDs), Google News and random URLs I get emailed to me or are pasted in IRC. My mornings begin with a bookmark of tabs opening up several online comics, and the weather page.

Dating Hackers

The impertinence lies, sir, with those who seek to influence a man to deny his beliefs.
—Eric Liddell

Mon Dec 12 12:32:51 2005

Last night I was re-watching “Chariots of Fire”, the story of a group of English and Scottish runners competing in the 1924 Paris Olympics and how obsessed they are with their quest, to the exclusion of all other worldly things. The beatifully written plot also contrasts two women— Jenny Liddell, the sister of Eric Liddell (she retired to Toronto after her missionary work), who doesn't understand his passion and who would prefer him to give up running and help with the family's Christian missionary work in China; and Sybil Gordon, a singer, who comes to accept and understand Harold Abrahams' similar passion for victory in the lanes.

Women who understand men's passions and can tolerate their neurotic behaviour are a rare breed. If you ever find one, never let her go; and if she has a sister, please let me know.


Mon Dec 12 14:32:03 2005

foXposé is Exposé for Firefox (FF 1.5) tabs.

Publishing Your Blog

Tue Dec 13 08:40:24 2005

Some months ago, I printed out this Journal so my Dad could read it; he prefers to sit back and read a piece of paper, to reading from a computer screen.

So I thought about making a paper version of my Journal formatted like a diary (one entry per page) something that looked similar to the Indiana Jones' notebook in The Last Crusade. What I tried doing was to use the Yearbook theme, one of the older PhotoBook templates (any theme, e.g. Catalog with space for lots of text, will suffice) to test my idea. After a tiresome 10 minutes, I had managed to only create three pages— having to manually cut and paste sections of text from the browser into iPhoto then having to format the font (italics for epigraphs, 14pt bold for the titles, etc.), and the set the text color of each day's title and date. So I gave up.

Ideally, there should be a Diary theme for PhotoBook with some preset styles (Date, Title, Quotation). If one is serious about publishing, there are alternatives; one way is to typeset the book in CSS— “Printing a Book with CSS: Boom!”.

Things That Make You Go Hmmm...

Tue Dec 13 13:55:36 2005

We were having a discussion on #emacs, about faxes and how they are nearly obsoleted by email with attachments and when the discussion moved to Blackberrys, one person from Iceland didn't know what a Blackberry was. I then proceeded to type "blackberry+rim" into the URL field on Firefox and I got re-directed to (as proof, the url history says "http://blackberry+rim/").

Nobel Festivities

No civilization has ever given up its most powerful weapon.

There is no religion founded on intolerance.
—Mohamed ElBaradei

Wed Dec 14 17:57:31 2005

I have been reading Eric Schrock's excellent adventures in Stockholm, at the Nobel Prize Festivities with his family and laureate father (Richard Schrock, for chemistry). I watched the video of the Peace Prize ceremony (to IAEA and Mohamed ElBaradei, whose speech concluded with echoes of John Lenon's Imagine), which included a couple of performances of Bach cello partitas by Yo Yo Ma; the only person in the audience I was able to identify, was Bob Geldof.

New iTunes Library

Thu Dec 15 00:00:25 2005

If you're running out of space and need to move your MP3 files to another bigger disk, "just go to iTunes Library and select a new empty directory as the iTunes library location then select Advanced->Consolidate library; this will copy the mp3s from your old directory to the new one".

Hint by <stain> confirmed by <Necrosan>, who was running out of space for his critically acclaimed albums.

Google Music Search

Thu Dec 15 11:59:31 2005

Searching for a music-related term on Google, provides a page with albums containing the term and links to online music-stores that sell the album. Prepare to be unimpressed with the search-results for "bach".

Ways to use iSight

Thu Dec 15 21:24:37 2005

A page that lists software that support timelapse photography, motion detection and plain webcam usage with the iSight camera. I was surprised to learn that the iSight cannot record video; the bundled software is for chatting only.

Google Terminal

...Bill Gates was asked...Will you do to Google what you did to Netscape? Mr. Gates, the Microsoft co-founder and chairman paused, looked down at his folded hands and smiled broadly, as if enjoying a private joke, "Nah," he replied, "we'll do something different."
—NY Times article

Fri Dec 16 00:29:54 2005

A couple of excerpts from last Sunday's NY Times article, "Can this Man Reprogram Microsoft?", about Ray Ozzie and Microsoft's challenge— Google.

...for the last few months, Google has talked with Wyse Technology, a maker of so called thin-client computers (without hard drives).

The discussions are focused on a $200 Google-branded machine that would likely be mareted in co-operation with the telecommunications companies in markets alike China and India where home PC's are less common, said Josh Kiosh, chief executive of Wyse. "Google is on a path to develop a stack of software in competition with the Microsoft desktop and one that is much more network-centric, more an Internet service," Mr. Kish said, "and this fits right into that."

Now, all Google needs is a web brower.

Additionally, the article has, what is quite possibly, The Understatement Of The Year:

For his part, Mr. Ozzie, is curious about the plans at Google but is by no means obsessed by it. Google, he said, is "obviously a very strong technology company, and we'll see what they do with that."

Bad Sleep

Fri Dec 16 08:54:15 2005

mathilde did not sleep well last night— when went to wake her up this morning, she was warm to the touch and the fan was running (all night, I suppose). I had to power-cycle as there was no screen or keyboard response. There's nothing in the system log to provide any clues to what is amiss. The only thing I did last night was to create a new account and test it out. I did notice that when I fast-switched to the new account, the SPOD appeared on the right-hand-side of the menu where the username, time, date, battery, etc. appear, but I was able to login and logout from the account and switch back to my account.

Of course, this means Repairing Permissions again...

Fri Dec 16 11:58:49 2005: If I recall correctly, this is the second time an incident like this has happened to me. I think the steps go something like this...

  1. Login to an admin user
  2. Create a new "Managed User" with no password; disable all abilities to modify the dock, system prefs, etc.
  3. Fast-switch to the new user
  4. Check if the SPOD appears on the right-hand-side of the menu-items (username, time, date, etc.)

Can anyone reproduce this on Panther 10.3.8 or other OS? Note that if you do get the SPOD, you should logout and re-boot the computer. I will have to see if I can reproduce this myself.

Fri Dec 16 12:25:53 2005: <StarKnight> volunteered to test this under Tiger and found no SPOD; but he wasn't able to delete the new user (It looks like he had to re-boot). This is definitely a bug.


Sat Dec 17 08:00:00 2005

The lack of Journal updates is due to net-connectivity problems coinciding with my week off from work.

Update Wed Dec 21 18:13:08 2005: Connectivity was restored at approximately 15:40 today.

Viral Marketing: Just as I Thought

....and one and a half hours of battery seems precisely designed to frustate a movie watcher. But as a device for taking in a signle episode of a serial drama, sitcom or soap opera, the video iPod seems perfectly conceived.
—David Carr

Mon Dec 19 20:49:40 2005

The Sunday, December 18, 2005 "Week In Review" section of the NY Times David Carr wrote an article titled, "Taken to a New Place, by a TV in the Palm" about how and why the author avoided an acquaintance on the commute home so he could instead watch an episode of his favourite television show, "Lost" on his new video iPod.

This confirms my theory that there is a viral marketing campaign to include at least one article about a product related to Apple in the NY Times.

Larger Screen

The evening before, walking back from Mass, my brother commented on how the small screen of the iPod is not really optimal for watching television and that the whole back of the iPod would make for a better viewing area. By some coincidence, the article mentions...

Apple is working on the next version of the iPod, which could involve taking the vertical device and tipping it on its side, for a larger horizontal image.

The Ultimate Portable Media

As a print guy, I have always thought that magazines and newspapers were the ultimate in portable media— I even learned that fancy subway fold so I could read broadsheet newspapers without bonking my seatmate in the nose to get to the next page.
—David Carr

Magazines and newspapers are the ultimate in portable media. I can fold a section of a newpaper into quarters and slide it into the outer pocket of my parka; when I get to the train station, I unfold it to four-times its size and read it. If the newspaper gets wet in the rain (if I happen to use it as an impromptu shelter during an unexpected down-pour (though Environment Canada's forecasts are accurate enough that I have yet to forget an umbrella when rain is forecast)), I can dry it on a radiator and continue my reading. If I accidently drop the newspaper, I can pick it up, brush-off any dirt and continue reading. I cannot do any of these things with my Powerbook, which is, in infact, a very delicate electronic device, cunningly marketed as the ultimate portable media.


Tue Dec 20 11:24:21 2005

I discovered a new word a few days ago: Fusker.

I also liked this apt description: "screech and hiss mating call of modems", used by Tom Zeller Jr.

The $100 Laptop

Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the MIT Media Lab and the force behind The $100 Laptop was interviewed on Monday's Charlie Rose Show (on PBS 1:30). The argument against The $100 Laptop is that the children would benefit much more if they were provided food, medecine, clean water, the daily necessities; the response to this argument is that daily necessities are a short term solution, education is the long term solution. I would agree emphatically that the solution to the world's problems is education. We are in such a collective mess because of just plain ignorance.

There are currently a small number of laptops being tested. Full-scale roll-out of the laptop will begin at the end of 2006; a consumer model costing about $200 (to subsidise the cost of the $100 laptops) will appear in First-World countries in 2007. The laptop is being manufactured by Quanta, the Chinese manufacturing company that produces the Powerbook, the Thinkpad, etc. Each of the seven countries will get one million laptops (to compare the scope of this endeavour, he said that a total of 450,000 laptops (IBM, Dell, Apple, Toshiba, etc.) will be sold in all of North America in 2005) which they will be then divided into lots of 300,000 and three areas in each country will be saturated with the laptops. One interesting technical point is that each laptop is a node in a mesh network which forwards packets from neighbouring laptops to the nearest access-point which is wired to the net.

Negroponte also said that when the children take the laptop home, it is the brightest source of illumination in the house (in areas where people lack electricity) and immediately becomes the centre of attention; the first foreign word that the laptop recipients learn is, "Google". He also recalled an anecdote told by Seymour Papert, who compared the laptop to the pencil— you can either have a classroom with 25 pencils and children can only use the pencils in that room, or you can give each child a pencil that they can take with them, to write and draw wherever they are.

Apple had offered OS X to the Laptop Consortium but was declined, because it's not Open, in favour of Red Hat.

The question that remains unasked is: why are the laptops not being provided for free? Why do the governments of each of the seven pilot countries have to pay for them?

Interview Process at Microsoft

Thu Dec 22 07:17:58 2005

It's interesting to compare the interview process at Microsoft with the one at Google (as detailed in the Xooglers blog). The impression I got from the questions, problem-sets and puzzles asked at Microsoft, is that it's not important to have a creative solution, as long as it's a working solution.

Mac IE is Dead

She's dead, Jim.
—Dr. McCoy's frequent diagnosis

“...Microsoft will end support for Internet Explorer for Mac on December 31st, 2005...” Jimmy Grewal, who worked in the Macintosh Business Unit at Microsoft, tells it best.

First Yonah Announcement

Fri Dec 23 08:32:00 2005

According to The Register Toshiba announced a "Yonah" (dual-core) based notebook; the shipping date is still not known.

Rumour has it that Apple will use Intel's Yonah processor in their Mactels (iBooks) which are expected to be announced at the upcoming San Francisco Developer Conference in January. Also rumoured are 1GB iPod Nano's which will replace the sold-out (AppleStore at least) 1GB iPod Shuffles.

Microsoft Buys Opera Browser?

CoolTechZone is reporting that Microsoft has completed the purchase of the Opera browser, which Google was rumoured to be after. The impetus seems to be the mobile market (which is dominated by Opera) and not so much a replacement for IE.

So Google will stick with Firefox, then.

Update Sun Dec 25 09:49:28 2005: Opera has denied that neither Google nor Microsoft has bought out the company. No word from Microsoft.

Service Scrubber

Fri Dec 23 17:48:10 2005

David sent me a link to an utility called Service Scrubber, written by Peter Maurer, who also wrote CalendarClock, which I began using recently (free version, without the iCal integration) to replace the OS X date and time in the menubar, and Konfabulator Calendar Widget.

The Emperor's Three Questions

1. What is the best time to do each thing?
2. Who are the most important people to work with?
3. What is the most important thing to do at all times?
—“The Emperor's Three Questions”

Fri Dec 23 20:08:50 2005

The Emperor's Three Questions is a philosophical short-story by Leo Tolstoy.

Update Sun Dec 25 09:06:35 2005: A follow-up from David:

Via an essay called "You and Your Research" written by Richard Hamming of Bell Labs:

> What are the most important problems in your field?
> Are you working on one of them?
> Why not?

Via Paul Graham's latest essay.

“Geometry and Meaning”

Fri Dec 23 21:39:40 2005

From the earliest applications in astronomy, music, and biology, to the design of today's user interfaces and search engines, geometric insights have provided powerful tools and accurate scientific predictions. In Geometry and Meaning, these threads are gathered together and told as a single evolving story. Mathematical models from ancient times to the present are described for the general reader, together with the stories behind their discovery, and their applications in the new and vibrant field of natural language processing.
As well as a historical survey, Geometry and Meaning presents startling new research to the scientific public for the first time. Computers can now learn about the meaning of a word just by reading every day documents, even recognizing ambiguity and idiom. The logic used to explore the meanings of an ambiguous word depends on whether the underlying spatial model is continuous or discrete, and this relates the design of search engines to one of today's great scientific mysteries - the relationship between classical physics and quantum mechanics. In a surprising conclusion, Aristotle, long thought of as a great scientist and philosopher but a poor mathematician, shines through as the unlikely hero of modern geometry.

—“Geometry and Meaning”, Dominic Widdows

For a good understanding of "Geometry and Meaning", read the review by Annalisa Crannell.

If I had discovered this book earlier, I would have put it on my Christmas list— it definitely sounds like it's worth reading (the marketing phrase, "startling new research" is worrisome, though). The first page of the sample chapter looks promising...

...the meanings of words we encounter in documents and corpora may be very different from those given by a general taxonomy such as WordNet— for example, WordNet 2.0 only gives the fruit and tree meanings for the word apple, which is a stark contrast with the top 10 pages returned by Google when doing an internet search with the query apple, which are all about Apple Computers.

It should be noted that I found this book after reading through Noel Franus' blog.

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

Sat Dec 24 00:00:02 2005

These are photos of the Nativity scene built for my nephew and niece, who are visiting us for Christmas. The figurines are made of plastic and I painted them a few years ago with acrylic artist's paint over an enamel base-coat. My Mom and Dad build a new manger every few years— this year, the two sections of the roof are made of bamboo skewers ($1 for approx. 100 sticks) glued together and then tied together at the apex; the grass in the back is raffia ($1 for several handfuls); the walls and floor of the manger are actually a trimmed cardboard box and the floor is covered with a cork table-mat. The wood pile is scratch-built and the hay in the manger is made from twine (used to tie packages) that has been soaked in water and straightned. The lights are the new LED lights so there's no fear of the bulbs heating the raffia and starting a fire.

My nephew kept asking what the wood-pile and the hay (next to the cow on the right-hand-side of the wide photo) are for. I said that the hay was for the cow to eat and the wood was to build a fire, to keep warm at night— now he keeps asking for matches.

Playing Video Clips

Sat Dec 24 14:36:30 2005

In the last five days, I have recorded 1.2 Gb of video clips of my nephew and niece. I was looking for a free utility to join them all up into a single clip but unfortunately all the applications are for Windows/XP. So the next best thing was to look for an applicaiton that played all the clips sequentially as iPhoto is quite apallingly lacking this feature— it can play a slideshow of a selection of photos, but it can't play a selection of video-clips!

I discovered two utilities: ClipLinkViewerX and iPlayMovies. The differences between the two applications is quite shocking— ClipLinkViewerX is spartan-looking with the bare minimum of functionality necessary to play video clips; iPlayMovies on the other hand is visually rich and beautifully designed and fits right in to the Aqua API.

Update Sun Dec 25 09:04:30 2005: Dave suggested iMovie to join clips together. Of course! I keep confusing iMovie and iDVD (I think because the blue icons are somewhat similar).

The Complete New Yorker

4,109 issues. Half a million pages. Yours to search and savour.

Sun Dec 25 12:39:46 2005

Eight DVDs containing all the New Yorker magazine issues (including the ads, cartoons and covers) since the first one, published on Feb 12, 1925— a fantastic gift from my sister.

The installation of viewing software is Windows oriented; autorun.inf files litter the DVDs. For the Mac, one is required to search the DVD for a DMG called Mac_Installation_Double_Click. From then on it's pretty straight-forward; the computer requires a re-boot after the installation (bah, humbug!, in other words, Not Impressed). The installation includes the viewing and search software, the search index and the database of the article abstracts.

I searched for "apple", when I meant "apple computer", of course; the search took about 15 seconds. The earliest article, titled "Bytes and Chips", by Anthony Hiss, dated April 4, 1977, was about Vern Crawford, "an electronics man involved in assembling personal computers".

The kits that Vern and his compeers are working on require a certain basic knowledge of digital electronics, but within six months, according to Carl Helmers, the editor of Byte, the field will be competely accessible to ignoramuses like me: Heathkit, the famous kit people, who already market a color-TV kit that an orangutan can assemble, will offer a computer kit next fall. And in just a matter of weeks a couple of men in their twenties from Los Altos, California, the next town over from Mountain View, will start selling Apple II, which Helmers calls the first appliance computer— a fully assembled brief-cased-size unit, with a large memory and a keyboard, that can play any number of computer games, draw pictures on your color TV and operate like any other computer, using the TV as its display. Cost of Apple II: thirteen hundred dollars.

Looks like the word "compeers" didn't catch-on (Update Mon Dec 26 21:18:18 2005: compeers means, "a person of equal standing with another in a group." I originally thought it was a jargon term related to computers) and that computers still cost about $1000 nearly thirty years later.

It's very easy to get side-tracked when reading this collection— this is an example of a single thread of how one can stray from the path: technology -> Pearl Harbour -> Citizen Kane -> Herman J. Mankiewicz -> Truman Capote -> Groucho Marx. The connections are not obvious, but my search history is proof.

Bugatti Veyron 16.4

Nobody needs a car like this.
—Thomas Bscher, President of Bugatti Automobiles

Mon Dec 26 12:44:08 2005

Richard Feast test-drives the fastest, most powerful and most expensive production car in the world and writes about it in last Sunday's NY Times:

Apple Network Server

Tue Dec 27 09:41:15 2005

I came across an entry for a strange beast called the Apple Network Server in today's Wikipedia main page. A short-lived Apple server that ran AIX.

“The Equation That Couldn't be Solved”

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
—G. B. Shaw

Tue Dec 27 11:46:41 2005

Another book to add to my already long wishlist, “The Equation that Couldn't Be Solved: How Mathematical Genius Discovered the Language of Symmetry”, by Mario Livio, former head of the Science Division of the Hubble Telescope Project. The marketing blurbs say that this book explains group theory to the layman. Chapter 1 excerpt is available online.


Wed Dec 28 15:20:55 2005

Flare is a web-browser that has many features like page zoom, switching tabs with fanciful transitions. I don't know what engine it uses but in an informal test by <Caius> it loaded 4 seconds faster than Safari (19s).

DVD Imager To The Rescue

Wed Dec 28 16:30:01 2005

I copied some data off a 4.7GB DVD onto my external Lacie and I went to make a new DVD by copying the files onto the blank DVD, when the Finder said that the data wouldn't fit. A df -k shows that a 4.7GB DVD has 4505600 1-K blocks available and 4495204 free. Someone on #macosx suggested making an image using either Toast or Discblaze. I remembered that I had downloaded DVDImager (a front-end to mkisofs) and I used that to make an image (drag the VIDEO_TS file onto DiskImager window and wait about 20 minutes for the .img file to be created). I did a ps-auxwww and looked how mkisofs was called:

/Users/elf/Applications/DVD -f
    -dvd-video -udf -V FOO -o /Users/elf/DVD Image/FOO.img /private/tmp/lelandtmploc/

Now, to burn the .img file, run DiskUtility->Image>Burn..., then select the .img file and click OK; when requested, insert the blank DVD. It took 30 minutes to burn the image on the Maxell DVD-R (rated for up to 8x) at 2x speed.


Thu Dec 29 04:51:10 2005

22C3, the Chaos Computer Club Congress, is underway in Berlin. I happened to be awake at 4AM (due to my cold) when <ligi> joined #emacs from the congress, 10AM Berlin time where everybody (at the Congress) was starting to wake up. There will be sessions streamed and there are pictures at Flickr. I was surprised at the number of Macs there; how many Macs can you see?


Fri Dec 30 20:14:17 2005

I was watching TV yesterday, recuperating from my cold, and I came across a comedy show called "Just Shoot Me" where one of the characters had a Powerbook (black keyboard) on her desk but the apple logo on the lid was covered with several Post-It notes.

OwlBoy has a page dedicated to MacGirls— what the dreams of mere mortals are made of.

luis fernandes / G4 PowerBook Journal, Part 9 / Last Modified: Sun Jan 01 13:55:20 2006