Part 15 of elf's Apple PowerBook G4 Journal

Recycle Old Computers

Thu Jun 01 08:48:26 2006

At Apple, our commitment to the environment is second nature.

Apple has begun a new program to dispose of your old computer when you purchase a new Apple computer or monitor.

Crystal Ball

Thu Jun 01 08:54:59 2006

JunIntel releases Woodcrest (Xeon 5100)
JulApple ships Xserve based on Woodcrest
JulIntel releases Conroe (Core 2 Duo, quad)
AugApple ships Mac Pro based on Conroe
Sep/OctApple upgrades Macbook/Macbook Pro
May/Jun 2007Adobe ships CS3

Based on information from Thinksecret and Creative Toolbox.

Superdrive Firmware Update

Thu Jun 01 09:42:22 2006

The SuperDrive Firmware Update 2.0 fixes burning speed to certain DVD media; available for 10.3.9 to 10.4.6. It seems Apple is doing it's best to kill my uptime. Why can't they release everything together? There is no way anyone is sane enough to use OS X in a corporate environment with this kind of haphazard release schedule.

Impressive results of the upgrade, below.

Gisèle Bündchen

Fri Jun 02 18:37:44 2006

A couple of days ago, TUAW posted an article quoting a statement on Gisèle Bündchen's personal website about her having done a photo-shoot for Apple.

It would not surprise me that she would be hired as a spokesmodel for Apple because after having looked at all the photos on her website (the hardships I endure for you, my loyal readers) I found that not only does she use a PowerBook, but the PowerMac G5 is used by her photographer to check photos during his shoots. (I'm not supposed to display the pics, so enjoy them before they find out and ask me to remove them.)

(Aside: someone on #emacs, from Porto Allégre, has a friend who not only went to school with Gisèle but still has her phone number and visited her family recently.

As long as we are dicussing models... I was searching through my image collection and came across some photos from 1998— it seems that my taste in impossibly beautiful women has not varied since then. I still find the ones I saved, quite attractive— (top row) Elsa Benitez, Heather Stewart-Whyte, Filippa von Stackelberg; (bottom row) Melanie Thierry, Winona Ryder and Laura Ponte.

I don't know what these women look like today (except for Winona, of course), and I would rather not know. 99% of beautiful women avoid eye-contact with me (if you saw me, you would too), but last Wednesday, this impossibly tall woman (very likely a model in her early days) made eye-contact (I was quite surprised, but it really made my week!).

Virtual DVD

Sat Jun 03 10:16:42 2006

Virtual DVD looks like a nice utility that enables a VIDEO_TS folder to be seen as a DVD in the Finder so you can just double-clicked the DVD and have it be opened by DVD Player, avoiding the whole "Open VIDEO_TS Folder..." thing.

Firefox Update

Sat Jun 03 10:20:26 2006

Downloaded. Going to re-start...It worked!

SuperDrive Firmware Update Results

Sat Jun 03 12:26:42 2006

Let's just say that the loss of uptime because of the SuperDrive Firmware Update were well worth it. My Maxell 8x DVDs that previously wrote at 2X speed now write at 8X speed. I made a DVD of some family video clips and instead of taking 30 minutes, it took 8 minutes!

Ordinary Sunday

Sun Jun 04 20:12:13 2006

Today began like all the other Sundays— I read the online comics, caught-up on SlashDigg, had a late breakfast, read the paper, and hung out on IRC. After tea, I recalled the Wikipedia mentioning that June 4th was the beginning of the Battle of Midway, so for my afternoon movie, I decided to watch “Tora! Tora! Tora!”, a story of the day that began it all. But before I could start watching it, David sent me an email with the 2006 Hugo nominees (with links to online copies of some of the stories); the annual ritual of choosing the best SF stories.

It just so happened, that a couple of weeks ago I dropped by the Indigo bookstore, in the Eaton Centre, to check-out Vernor Vinge's latest SF novel, Rainbows End; unfortunately, by the second page of the prologue, I was bored and had to put it back on the shelf. I continued browsing through the discount tables and finally ended-up buying “Architecture”, by Jonathan Glancey, one in the Eyewitness Companions series (review to come).

My love of architecture grew from going to work in a city with a varied collection of beautiful buildings, preserved from demolition through the tireless efforts of so many people. It seemed a shame to just walk by them everyday in ignorance at not being able to relate to their silent history in any meaningful way. So now, after reading the first three chapters, I know that Union Station is a Neo-Classical building just by looking at the tops (properly termed, "capitals") of the columns that line Front Street fašade. And that makes all the difference.

Update Mon Jun 05 00:24:25 2006: I throughly enjoyed Connie Willis' novella, Inside Job (not really SF, though; I have to look-up her other books because other than Nancy Kress, I have not enjoyed SF written by female authors). Next, I started reading Burn (forgot the author's name), got bored and now, I am half-way through Robert J. Sawyer's Identity Theft, a Martian murder-mystery.


Tue Jun 06 12:57:44 2006

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.
—Bertrand Russell

chromatic, a Switcher to OS X gives his reasons for switching back to Linux. I can completely understand his point of view and his reasons for switching because I used to share that outlook— he's the type that can't live without an xterm, who prefers to fiddle with absolutely everything so it's just right and who cannot "Think Different"— if you're that sort of person, then OS X is not for you.

Mark Pilgrim also switched back because of "unimpressive hardware offerings" and Rui Carmo had a few comments on the matter.

It seems almost pointless, then, to mention the realities of switching to OS X.

Google Video Player

Wed Jun 07 12:03:18 2006

Standalone Google video player now available for download for 10.3.9 and above. Bravo!



Thu Jun 08 21:24:02 2006

Look into my eyes, look into my eyes, the eyes, the eyes, not around the eyes, don't look around the eyes, look into my eyes. [Snap] You're under!
—Kenny Craig, Hypnotist

This morning, I had an idea for today's entry, and found the perfect epigraph for it, which you see above. However, I didn't have time to write the entry before leaving for work and decided to write it when I got back home.

Well, I just got home, had my dinner and unfortunately, I don't remember what I was going to write about.


Update Fri Jun 09 06:35:42 2006: I just woke up and remembered what I was going to write about! The idea was to use the built-in iSight cameras to implement a prototype focus-follows-the-eyes window management policy, instead of having to use the mouse or Cmd-Tab to switch window focus. This idea came from a discussion of whether having two cursors and two keyboards for input into two separate buffers simultaneously would make one more productive using Emacs (because a concert pianist can play two different pieces of music simultaneously— one with each hand).

The Beautiful Game

Fri Jun 09 06:59:47 2006

Everything is complicated by the presence of the other team.
—Jean-Paul Sartre.

The 2006 World Cup (Weltmeisterschaft) begins today. Google has some some tools to keep uptodate with the scores and stats and the Google Homepage has some widgets that continously update. I have also subscribed to the News Alerts— let's see how well this works. What I really want, though, is live coverage of the games via Google Video.

Update Fri Jun 09 18:55:26 2006: Video higlights at the main FIFA site.

Google Browser Sync

Fri Jun 09 06:53:37 2006

Google Browser Sync is a Firefox extension that allows bookmarks, cookies, etc. to be synchronized amongst various computers (work, home, etc.). I was surprised at the terms and conditions that appear before installation. And having read the FAQ, I would say that it has many limitations and it's not yet ready for prime time.


Fri Jun 09 21:30:23 2006

What a beautiful little app! Download DockArt (written by Gregory Weston), copy the bundle into ~/Library/Itunes/ITunes Plugins, restart iTunes and the green-note-on-a-CD icon you see in the Dock is replaced by a miniature of current song's album-art.

DRM Protest At Apple Stores

Fri Jun 09 22:29:57 2006

If you legally acquire music, you need to have the right to manage it on all other devices that you own.
Steve Jobs

Protests about Digital Rights Management are planned at Apple Stores across the the U.S., tomorrow morning.

Update Sat Jun 10 20:25:40 2006: Pictures of the Cambridgeside Galleria Mall protest.

Google Hires Douglas Bowman

Sat Jun 10 09:24:20 2006

Douglas Bowman, of StopDesign, was hired by Google as the Visual Design Lead to, "establish a common visual language across all their collaborative and communication products". He had already worked as a contractor for Google on the designs for so his employment is now permanent.

At one time, I had suggested that Google hire David Shea as their web designer; I wonder if he was approached.

iTunes Visualizers

Sun Jun 11 10:49:58 2006

My iTunes is mostly minimized at the bottom of my desktop, but I do occasionally enjoy the eye candy visualizations that programmers have cooked-up. I installed two free ones— Fountain Music (options include changing the colours and type of the particle fountain) and RhapsOGL2 (three OpenGL solids visualizers in one: a sphere built from monoliths that disintegrates with the beat; a liquid bubble that distorts with the beat; and a rotating, bulging solid with a tiger-fur texture (?)).

Aside: Is it just a coincidence that Brigitte Bardot's “Un jour comme un autre” generates the most energetic fountain effects?

Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me

Mon Jun 12 12:07:07 2006

Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me” is a NPR radio show, in the traditional BBC Radio style, that is freely available as an iTunes Podcast. Recommended for many moments of hilarity.

New Versions of Google Earth and SketchUp

Mon Jun 12 22:13:41 2006

On the first anniversary of the release of Google Earth, new versions for OS X, Linux and Windows. They simplified the Google Earth user interface (something I had suggested in a feature request— the navigation bar was just wasting valuable screen real-estate and I suggested making it transparent and leaving just the buttons visible; also suggested simplifying the the controls by just leaving the directional arrows and the zoom buttons without the zoom-slider).

Update Wed Jun 14 21:51:04 2006: A MacWorld report from the Where 2.0 conference, where the new version of google Earth and SketchUp were demonstrated; John Hanke, the project manager for Google Earth is a Mac user.

Very busy week at work— no time to blog.

Login Hooks

Fri Jun 16 12:37:28 2006

When a user logs in, a login hook can be used to run a script, that executes as root. Logins/logouts can be completely customized.

iTunes Alarm

Fri Jun 16 14:23:36 2006

iTunes Alarm transforms your iTunes player into an alarm clock (waking from sleep requires Tiger).

No More Fun

Fri Jun 16 14:27:50 2006

Dr. Fun, one of my regular morning cartoons, is no more. My favourite comics were his Star Trek parodies, and his geek-world related comics.


Sat Jun 17 21:43:04 2006

According to all sources, Quinn is the port of Tetris for OS X. The latest version, needs Tiger, even does multi-player via Bonjour. I have tried the Panther version (2.3.3) and it is very well polished in terms of customizability and playability. The author's name does have a familiar ring to it.

A Review of “Architecture: World's Greatest Buildings”

Sun Jun 18 01:26:14 2006

"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door," he used to say. "You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to."
—“Fellowship of the Ring”, J.R.R Tolkein

Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.
—“Essays, Civil and Moral”, Francis Bacon

The 16th century teamaster Sen-no-Rikyu created a garden enclosed by a tall hedge that blocked the view of the sea from the house that stood within its walls. When the client first walked through the garden, he was unhappy, until he bent to wash his hands in a stone basin. As he lifted his eyes from the refreshing water, the sea was clearly visible through a precise gap in the hedge. The client smiled. He understood, intuitively, the clever connection Sen-no-Rikyu had made between the water in the basin and the waters of the ocean beyond, and so between himself and the infinite universe.

From a note about Japanese gardens, in “Architecture: World's Greatest Buildings...

Architecture: World's Greatest Buildings, Styles and History, Architects” (Eyewitness Companions series), by Jonathan Glancey, is written for the reader who will enjoy combining their love for travel with their love for architecture. In the introduction, the author regrets not being able to to catalog every single one of the world's marvels of architecture into a book that is compact enough to fit into a knapsack. So he has limited the catalog to the places he has travelled; at 512 pages, he is an experienced traveller.

The book begins with an overview of the purpose for architecture ("the self-concious act of building, not just with common sense, but with artistry") and the first civilizations that practiced it (Mesopotamia, 5000 BCE) and those that (some would say) perfected it to an ideal (the Greeks). Every page is filled with many full-colour photos of nearly all of the buildings discussed on that page; it has at least one 3-D computer generated rendering of an important building in each architectural era, including a re-construction of the Acropolis (now mere ruins on a hill near Athens). For each architectural period, the book summarizes the key elements that identify the era.

There is, understandably, a slight bias towards English architects— the last building mentioned in the book is the Swiss Re building in London, designed by Norman Foster (I love his ceiling of the Great Court at the British Museum). The Stata Center (the "broken buildings", as my nephew refers to them) on the MIT campus, designed by Gehry are notably absent either because the book went to press before they were completed or the author hadn't travelled to Cambridge to see them in person.

My main reason in buying this book was so I could identify the architectural styles of many of the buildings in downtown Toronto. After reading the chapter on Classical greek architecture, I was able to identify the style and period of Union Station, where I arrive and depart to/from home and work, and the Dominion Building located just one block away. I am not using the book as it was intended, but rather as a primer for learning about architecture (it has an excellent index and comprehensive glossary of architectural terms).

Many of the chapters, including the ones on Asian architecture, will only serve as historical references that complete my knowledge of architecture— I have neither the intention nor the interest of ever traveling to these far-off places (I don't have a Ranger to guide me nor a grey wizard that will rescue me from mortal peril)— I am quite content seeing the world through people's vacation photos.

What's Next

Sun Jun 18 12:00:45 2006

This morning, I was thinking what Mac would I buy, if I were to buy one today. If someone (specifically, a Windows user) asked me to recommend a computer, I would recommend a Macbook— I would mention the ability to run both Windows and OS X simultaneously as a feature. But would I buy one? No. My brother wanted to buy a new Mac; he asked for a recommendation. I told him to wait. There's nothing about the new Macs that appeals to me and the heat that the Intel chips are famous for, is what repulses me.

I really would like my next computer to be a Mac, but Apple isn't really giving me anything worth buying. There are rumours of a sub-compact notebook (akin to the Microsoft's craptacular Origami which suffers from the use of 10 year old technology, batteries, LCDs, CPUs, input methods) announcement in early 2007.

I would be interested in knowing what Woz would get as a replacement for his 17 in. PowerBook.


Mon Jun 19 22:19:05 2006

Update Mon Jun 19 21:57:24 2006: David sent a link to a 2005 LISA presentation by Garett Wollman about the hardships (from an IT infrastructure perspective) he had to endure when two MIT labs had to move (then merge and move) to the New Stata Center. His biggest problem was that the I.T. group was never included in the decision making process when the building was being designed.

When the Electrical Engineering Department moved to a new building in the summer of 2004, we faced similar problems, but on a much smaller scale as one of the people on the building design committee was the head of I.T. in the Department. I think the problems would have been much worse if the University had gone ahead with Calatrava's design. Instead, they changed their minds and chose a lesser-known Canadian architect.

My experience with this whole thing is best summarized by the last scene in the movie “Bridge on the River Kwai”— the camera pans upwards and away from the lone doctor who, surveying the destruction, keeps repeating one word, over and over— "Madness!".

Reducing Downtime

Mon Jun 19 22:15:03 2006

The Best Student Paper Award at LISA 2005 went to Shaya Potter and Jason Nieh of Columbia University for, Reducing Downtime Due to System Maintenance and Upgrades. Apple should look at this method not only for OS X Server, but also for the desktop version. Last time I looked at the calendar, we were well into the 21st century, but the operating systems we run behave like they were designed in the last century.

Is it really too much to ask for all my applications to be restored in the exact state they were in, prior to the computer crash/restart/reboot?


Mon Jun 19 22:39:32 2006

A collaborative game of minesweeper from Google. It includes a sponsored ad from Halliburton for laying mines. How nice!

Mines Installed and Removed
Laying, removing, detecting, hiding. No-bid contract signup online!

Free Utils

Tue Jun 20 08:32:59 2006

Many free utilities from the company that made Audio Hijack— Soundsource enables you to switch your audio input and output sources; LineIn connects line-in to line-out; MemoryCell provides an overview on the RAM being used by each application and Detour to redirect audio from specific applications, with volume control.

Share Your Google Calendar

Tue Jun 20 08:47:44 2006

You can share your Google Calendar with other people.

OS X Feedback

Tue Jun 20 09:02:40 2006

This morning, I sent the following feedback:

Is it really too much to ask for all my applications to be restored in the exact state they were in, prior to the computer crash/restart/reboot?

I understand computers need to be patched, they crash, they have to be rebooted. But all these things wouldn't cause such grief if when the computer rebooted/crashed/restarted I was able to continue working where ever I left-off.

In the real world, if I go home at the end of the day and come back the next morning, my desk is exactly the way I left it the night before.

Going Native

Wed Jun 21 00:00:41 2006

Project Alky aims to convert a Windows (video game) executable to a Mac OS X or Linux executable.

Backlight Visualiser

Wed Jun 21 14:26:28 2006

An iTunes visualizer that uses the keyboard backlight as eye-candy.

Natalie Portman on Sesame Street

Thu Jun 22 19:00:15 2006

Videos of Natalie Portman's appearances on Sesame street are on Youtube. She seems to have lost her voice in the episode where she takes over from Alan in the restaurant. There's another episode from 2003 where she appears with Elmo.

Podcast Reminders

Fri Jun 23 08:27:07 2006

It was only on Wednesday that I remembered that I had forgotten to listen to the latest Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me weekly podcast. It would have been nice if iTunes somehow reminded me to watch it— perhaps by blinking the podcast icon, or offering to insert an alarm in my calendar.

Update Sat Jun 24 09:44:50 2006: David suggests using NetNewsWire, the totally excellent RSS feed reader, to subscribe to the Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me podcasts. Each week when a new episode is available it will appear in my feed. Great idea.

Google Sitemaps

Fri Jun 23 08:39:40 2006

Google Sitemaps is a (beta) service that provides you with statistics about your site. You first need to verify that you are the owner of the site by adding a HTML file (with a name that Google chooses) to the site.

I tried my abacus site, and the result was — "Verification status: Pending verification Last attempt Jun 23, 2006: Our system has experienced a temporary problem. Verification is pending. We will process this verification as soon as possible. Please check back later for an updated status."

So far, completely unimpressed.

NCC 1706

Fri Jun 23 15:26:59 2006

Starship Exeter, designated NCC 1706, is also the name of a fan site that has made 2 episodes of Star Trek fan-fiction. The sets, costumes, props and special-effects are excellent and match those of TOS). The scripts are pretty good and the acting is OK. Podcasts are also available via iTunes.

Two other sites, Starship Farragut (only the trailer is available; special effects are excellent) and New Voyages (stories about Kirk, Spock, McCoy characters; Walter Koenig reprises his role as Chekov as do a few of the other regulars; the best of the lot, except for the incessant music) were also featured in last Sunday's New York Times article about Star Trek fan movies and Paramount's lenient attitudes towards this whole enterprise.

Edge of Outside

Sat Jun 24 09:44:19 2006

The Edge of Outside is a Turner Classic Movies documentary about independent directors— Altman, Kubrick, Scorsese, Wells, etc.— who make movies outside the Hollywood system. They make the movies they want to make, without any studio influence and so have no hope of winning an Oscar, except perhaps a Lifetime Achievement Award.

The series premieres July 5 at 8PM on TCM. A video clip of Thelma Schoonmaker (film editor) talking about Martin Scorsese.

On Vacation

Sun Jun 25 00:00:21 2006

Hence! Home, you idle creatures, get you home! Is this a holiday?
— Julius Caesar, I.i

I will be on vacation for the next few days so the updates will be minimal.

Font Design

Sun Jun 25 19:19:26 2006

Genius, that power which dazzles mortal eyes
Is oft but perseverance in disguise.
—Henry W. Austin

If you've ever thought that designing a font would be easy, Gunnlaugur SE Briem puts those misconceptions to rest with a detailed tutorial that takes the reader through all the steps needed to design a font and points out all the common pitfalls (where the strokes intersect) of the novice designer.

With architecture, it is the mastery of science that keeps buildings from falling down, and the mastery of art that makes them look beautiful. Font design, on the other hand, is not a science and should not be undertaken by someone lacking style.

Automated Revision Control

Tue Jun 27 18:23:26 2006

It's 2006 and we expect the programs we use to manipulate data: document & program editors, photo & image editors, etc. to not lose our work when accidents happen. Most document and file editors make backup copies for this express purpose.

It's 2006 I expect the programs I use to manipulate data to remember all the changes I made to the document, image or photo and allow me to replay these changes and re-create the file at any point in time from the creation to the current state.

There are many revision control systems starting with the simplest, RCS, and progressing in increased complexity of use, CVS, DARCS, SVN, etc. But none of thses systems is integrated into any of the document and image editors so the user can easily replay revision history.

For example, the revision system should be able to show me the places where text was added (in green) and removed (in red). It should allow me to move forwards and backwards through time and show me the exact contents of the file at the various points in time when it was saved.

Once upon a time I had emailed RMS, the author of Emacs, a similar suggestion— I proposed that since Emacs alread kept undo-history, it was just one more step to save this undo-history to a file, thus giving you a history database of changes. To view this revision history, there would be the revhis mode which would show the file changes in colour, and have key-bindings to allow the changes to the file to be stepped forward and backwards in history.


Tue Jun 27 18:38:59 2006

If you need a binary copy of md5sum (doesn't ship with Panther or Tiger— shame Apple!), get xACT which has a (modified) copy of the binary in the manifest.

American Apparel Models

Tue Jun 27 22:52:33 2006

I found a link to American Apparel (browsing a design blog), a company that manufactures their clothing in the U.S. and it has slideshows of some of the models (there a two Mexican models that are standouts). The models, in general, are very natural looking (some bordering on ugly) and surprisingly attractive (is it the clothes? or is it their perfect skin tone?). I seem to recall vaguely that the NY Times Magazine had a profile of the owner/photographer of the company a few weeks back.

Is That A MacBook?

Wed Jun 28 08:17:05 2006, it just looks like a MacBook.

But it's totally white, has an integrated camera, hard-drives with motion sensors, Core Duo, WiFi, Bluetooth...

Well, we're just following the leader.

Configuring DocType

Wed Jun 28 18:30:25 2006

If, for example, you wanted all your .c files to open in Emacs, but you wanted them to retain the pretty Xcode icons in the Finder, there is a page that explains how to modify the DocType plist to achieve this.

Quicktime 7.1.2 Update

Wed Jun 28 19:15:16 2006

Apple has released another update to Quicktime.

Google Web Toolkit Intro

Thu Jun 29 09:16:07 2006

The Register has an two-part introductory tutorial on programming web applications using GWT, the Google Web Toolkit; the Kitchen Sink Demo illustrates all the widgets of the GWT.

Google Checkout Debuts

Thu Jun 29 11:40:28 2006

Google Checkout, for all your online payment needs— one login, one password. You provide the browser, the shopping list and the cash (or credit).

Impressive Resolution

Thu Jun 29 20:33:10 2006

Google earth has released amazingly high resolution footage where people are clearly visible in the shot. The footage is localized around a theme park in the Netherlands, called the Madurodam. Even more impressive are the tennis games taking place, just to the south, where the ball is visible in some of the games.

Update Thu Jun 29 21:56:54 2006: Found an obscured building in the vicinity. This is unlikely to be satellite footage as the image is copyrighted Aerodata, indicating a flyby with an aircraft.

luis fernandes / G4 PowerBook Journal, Part 15 / Last Modified: Wed Jul 05 19:55:17 2006