Part 21 of elf's Apple PowerBook G4 Journal

Google Toilets


Fri Dec 01 00:26:53 2006

The toilets at Google are of the European or Japanese variety (but heated toilet seats in California?). There seems to even be serialized reading material if you forget to bring your own.


software icons

Fri Dec 1 18:42:01 2006

FastIcns is a utility that converts any image dropped into it, into an icon (.icn format).

“Thinking with Type”

design book typography

Fri Dec 01 22:45:51 2006

My Amazon delivery arrived today with a copy of “Thinking with Type”. The first thing you notice about this book is that it is unusually sized. I gave it to the Dad to read, hoping he would glance through it for about five minutes and return it. That was at 9:30PM, it's nearly 11:00PM and he's still reading it; he didn't even watch the 10PM broadcast of CBC News coverage of the Liberal Leadershipp convention taking place in Montreal.

Disco is Stupid

software disco

Sat Dec 02 11:10:52 2006

Last week, David sent me a link to last Sunday's BBC Radio 3 Early Music Show about Thomas Tallis and his composition Spem in Alium. I ended up listening to it about 3 times before deciding to save a copy. To save an audio stream to disk, I downloaded the Soundflower kernel extension, installed it and recorded the show using Audacity.

Since I didn't have my Lacie pocket drive with me, I decided to cut the MP3 on to a CD and take it home. I thought this would be a great opportunity to try-out the recently released, still-in-beta, Disco. I dragged the MP3 file into the application, selected "Hybrid" disk type and clicked on "Burn". I noticed that the burn was proceeding at a rather slow pace and taking a bit longer and I would have expected. Oh well; I wasn't in any rush...

Just to make sure the CD would be readable on a PC, I popped it into my Linux workstation and I wasn't able to explore it. Hm... I then put it back into the Mini and iTunes pops-up asking whether I would like to import this Audio CD into my library. Huh?! Disco converted my MP3 into an audio CD. That's the last thing I would have expected. Is the application being smart; is this a bug; did I miss something in the application preferences?

Not Impressed.

Caution: Using zip for Backups may be Hazardous to Recovery

software zip rsync ditto

Sat Dec 02 11:29:31 2006

A article cautions against using zip for backups because the Resource Fork is not preserved. My backup routine consists of running the following shell alias every month:

/bin/cat ~/My\ Documents/backupfiles.list| /usr/bin/zip -r -@ \
 $(date "+%Y%m%d").zip -x \*dvdproj\* \*Caches\* \*GoogleEarth\*'

It creates a time-stamped ( zip-file and excludes certain directories from being backed-up. I then copy this zip-file to my Lacie. My music and photos are manually backed-up before being added to iTunes and iPhoto.

I will be switching to rsync for backups.

“Now is the winter of our discontent”


Sat Dec 02 11:51:27 2006

"You're too quiet," he said. "The world won't come to you. You can wait as long as you want. It won't come to you. You can wait as long as you want. And then it will be gone."
—The Alpine Slide, fiction by Rebecca Curtis.
Oct. 18, 2004 New Yorker Magazine

Last Wednesday, I was walking down Gould street on my way to work, after having observed the construction progress of the new multiplex theater at Yonge and Dundas, when I happened to glance up and see this tall woman goddess in a red coat. And all I could do was stare at Her as she walked by with scarcely a glance.

I kept thinking about Her all day; I thought about Her the next day and yesterday; today, I'm writing about Her.

The opening of Richard III, sums it all up as only Shakespeare could:

But I, that am not shap'd for sportive tricks,
Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;
I, that am rudely stamp'd, and want love's majesty
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
I, that am curtail'd of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deform'd, unfinish'd, sent before my time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me, as I halt by them;
Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to see my shadow in the sun
And descant on mine own deformity:
And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain,
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.

Google TechTalk: A New Way to look at Networking


Wed Dec 06 18:57:36 2006

I never finished watching the previous video about usability, but I started watching a new one. Van Jacobson begins with the first network, the telephone network (he explains why telephone numbers have 4 trailing digits) and then continues with the creation of the ARPANET and then the Internet as we know it. His idea for the future of the network is that it should be designed to move bits around agnostically— it shouldn't matter how they get to their destination, as long as they get there.

Apple Backup vs. Carbon Copy Cloner

software backup restore

Thu Dec 07 09:21:52 2006

Until Time Machine arrives with the release of Leopard and it is proved reliable, it looks like Carbon Copy Cloner will remain the most reliable method of keeping your disk backed-up (also note the earlier post about zip not saving Resource Forks).

Chris Johnson blogs about Apple Backup 3.1 failing to restore his files after a harddrive failure while Macworld has an article about using Carbon Copy Cloner to create a diskimage on an external Firewire drive and then using DiskUtility to restore it.

Google Techtalk: Apple Automator

software automator

Thu Dec 07 17:40:44 2006

A great demonstration of Apple Automator— programming for dummies. Towards the end, the limitations of adding Automator Actions are made plainly evident. There is no Action for sorting iPhoto images by ranking and to do this the user would have to write some AppleScript. It would have been nice if the Automator could "record" one action the user performed using the mouse and then played it back as an Action.

December 8

"john lennon" forgiveness

Fri Dec 08 08:53:15 2006

The back page of the Nov. 26th edition of the New York Times' Week in Review section had the following full-page ad:

December 8th is near again. Every year on this day, I hear from many people all over the world who remember my husband, John Lennon, and his message of peace They write to tell me they are thinking of John on this day and how he was shot and killed at the prime of his life, at age 40, when he had so much life ahead of him.

Thank you for your undying love for John and also for your concern for me on this tragic anniversary. this year, though, on December 8th, while we remember John, I would also like us to focus on sending the following messages to the millions of people suffering around the world:

To the people who have lost loved ones without cause: Forgive us for having been unable to stop the tragedy. We pray for the wounds to heal.

To the soldiers of all countries and of all centuries, who were maimed for life or who lost their lives: forgive us our misjudgments and what happened as a result of them.

To the civilians who were maimed or killed, or who have lost their family members, forgive us for having been unable to prevent it.

To the people who have been abused and tortured: forgive us for having allowed it to happen.

Know that your loss is our loss.
Know that the physical and mental abuse you have endured will have a lingering effect on our society and the world.
Know that the burden is ours.

As the widow of one who was killed by an act of violence, I don't know if I am ready yet to forgive the one who pulled the trigger. I am sure all victims of violent crimes feel as I do. But healing is what is urgently needed now in the world.

Let's heal the wounds together.

Every year, let's make December 8th the day to ask for forgiveness from those who suffered the insufferable.
Let's wish strongly that one day we will be able to say that we healed ourselves and by healing ourselves, we healed the world.

With deepest love,
Yoko Ono Lenon
New York City 2006

December Blues

"the meaning of christmas"

Mon Dec 11 22:19:35 2006

December is my least favourite time of the year. I find that I am quite depressed during this final month of every year. It's not that I don't enjoy Christmas and the holidays; it's that I don't enjoy the whole gift-giving "business". So, in that spirit of commercialization, I'm going to showcase some ads I have come across while reading New Yorker magazine. These are ads that made me stop and read them. I look at them as works of art, not as enticements to make me buy the products (I tend to buy products on technical and aesthetic merit, not because the marketing department was persuasive).

The first featured ad is for Apple's Airport Express. I like it because it is not like any traditional ad for an electronic gadget. I particularily like the shape and arrangement of the text.

Update Wed Dec 13 06:41:49 2006: fixed image url.

December Blues: VW Ad

"the meaning of christmas"

Tue Dec 12 21:33:08 2006

The second ad is from Volkswagen (2004); it stops you and makes you wonder what the ad is about. You think about it some more and you realize it's a puzzle (why was the key with the letter "G" chosen?).

I just realized an overlay of the filename appears on the ad. Gah!

Update Wed Dec 13 06:41:49 2006: fixed image url.

iTunes Sales Drop and so, on to the Next Big Thing


Wed Dec 13 07:23:15 2006

An analysis of credit-card and debit-card transactions, over the period of two years, has shown that iTunes sales have dropped by 58%. Additionally, the research showed that on average, people bought 22 songs. Digital music sales only make up 4% of the revenue of the music industry.

Update Thu Dec 14 00:15:30 2006: Forrester Research, the source of this report is claiming that it has been misunderstood. Now Apple is publically claiming that the sales are fine.

Oh well, no big deal. I'm sure Apple was planning for this— by this time next month (as rumours claim) the "iPhone" will be be out and Apple would have moved to the Next Big Thing.

I cannot see Apple selling millions of phones on the basis of amazing design alone; the iPhone would have to do something no other phone does— I would not be amazed if the iPhones were capable of video-conferencing. In fact, I would expect something like this from Apple. Now, I don't know if cellular phone service has the bandwidth for real-time video, but what about video over IP? The other question is whether the phone have enough battery power to sustain something like video-conferencing?

I am also quite prepared to be dissappointed and underwhelmed. Overall, I would say I am neutral on the iPhone. And I have gone so far without ever owning an iPod because my old Sony SJ33 PDA serves me quite well. Last week, though, I have to say that I was surprised, when a teen took out portable CD player from his jacket and untangled his headphones. It's certainly possible that the CD player was capable of playing MP3 music files, but I was surprised that it wasn't a hard-drive or flash-based player— come on, it's nearly 2007.

Video Codec Comparison

software video codec h.264

Wed Dec 13 08:31:17 2006

I found a site that has a visual comparison of video codecs that shows how good H.264 really is— a 312MB uncompressed video that is encoded at 163.11kbits/sec is 904.92KB in size and is comparable in quality to a Sorensen encoded video at 256kbits/sec that is 1.38MB in size.

The Archimedes Palimpsest

archimedes mathematics "document preservation"

Wed Dec 13 15:54:54 2006

Western philosopy is just a bunch of footnotes to Plato; western science is just a bunch of footnotes to Archimedies.

An excellent presentation about transcribing text from a 10th century manuscript that has been over-written twice in its lifetime.

Google TechTalk: The Graphing Calculator Story

history graphing calculator

Wed Dec 13 17:03:29 2006

The author of the Graphing Calculator, talks about the development of his software at Apple, while not being employed by Apple.

December Blues: HP Ad

"the meaning of christmas"

Wed Dec 13 21:38:03 2006

Today's ad is from HP (2003); the picture is compelling because it invites you to look closer and wonder what it's about— and when you can't figure it out, you have to read the copy to understand the picture.

It's an ad for a computer company without a computer in sight.

Al Shugart, R.I.P.

shugart drives seagate

Thu Dec 14 00:34:57 2006

Al Shugart, co-founder of Seagate, passed away yesterday. He co-founded Seagate in 1979 with Finis Conner and supplied IBM with 5.25 floppy drives for its PC. I wonder if Finis Conner is the same Conner that made those 75MB (or 100MB) Conner SCSI drives, that shipped with early SPARCs, with spindle lubricant that lost its viscosity over time. When the drives were powered off, they wouldn't spin up again unless they were dropped on to a table from a height of about 6 inches.

December Blues: Microsoft Ad

"the meaning of christmas"

Thu Dec 14 21:56:51 2006

Today's ad is from Microsoft (2003); they make better ads than software. I like the idea of hand-drawn cartoon art overlayed on photographs of children representing, "the future, imagined". I don't particularly prefer this ad over the other versions; it's just that I saw this one first.

Flogging the Gnu Logo Sketch


Thu Dec 14 22:29:06 2006

I did a preliminary sketch for a "flogging the gnu" logo (the disinterest for FTG T-shirts, when I asked on #emacs, was overwhelming), inspired by the slave-ship scenes in Ben Hur.

December Blues: Powerbook Ad

"the meaning of christmas"

Fri Dec 15 21:45:35 2006

By some strange luck, I came across a 2003 Powerbook ad from Apple; I don't have to say anymore.

Update Sat Dec 16 21:45:49 2006: looking at the thumbnail, it occurred to me that it would have looked better if the ad-copy for the 12 inch Powerbook fit the margins of the smaller Powerbook— that's the kind of attention to detail I would expect from Apple.

In case anyone thought that creating double-page ads was easy, tomorrow and Sunday I will showcase bad ads; and one of them is an Apple ad.

Mezzoblue Redesign

website css guru "david shea"

Fri Dec 15 21:53:09 2006

Mezzoblue, David Shea's blog, was recently redesigned. I wasn't particularily fond of the old "blue" Wintermint design— I found it "cold" despite the orange "spots". This design is different; it's also a dynamic design— the colour-palette depends on the displayed photograph; so it remains to be seen whether the variety will be endearing or distracting. I tend to read his blog via NetNewsWire so I miss all the eye-candy. His favicon is still Wintermint, though.

Axis of Ævil

perl cpan

Fri Dec 15 22:03:41 2006

Two of the founders of CPAN have produced a new module.
—<Bill_N1VUX> on #perl

Slow cooker.


software flightgear simulator

Sat Dec 16 08:46:19 2006

A new version of FlightGear is out. I will download and play with it next week, if I have time.

I have yet to try the X-plane demo. Perhaps next week, also.

Le Cinéma


Sat Dec 16 09:27:03 2006

The cinema is a French invention. A French scientist, Étienne-Jules Marey, developed the technology; French manufacturers, the Lumières produced the first commercial movies and, in 1895, held the first screenings; a French businessman, Charles Pathé, turned movie-making into a mass-market industry. In 1910, two thirds of the movies shown in the world were made in France. American audiences watched Westerns, imported from France, in which the Indians wore mustaches. The story of how the United States, over the next sixty years, came to dominate world cinema is largely the story of its rivalry with France.

— Introduction to "Paris, Texas" by Louis Menand in the Feb. 17, 2003 New Yorker magazine

December Blues: BoA Ad

"meaning of christmas"

Sat Dec 16 20:27:37 2006

This BoA ad caught my attention because of the use of a striking colour (the red leather background); that is the only good thing I can say about it.

I'm just trying to understand the mindset of the ad designer(s) when I ask these questions. Does the ad depict a file folder on a red leather table? If it's meant to be a file folder, why aren't the corners rounded and one side shorter than the other? Typically, the file folder will contain pieces of paper; the ad copy is written/printed directly onto the file folder. What is the purpose of that photo of people? What is the point of that gold "button" with beveled edges at the top? I found the headline on the left page difficult to read because of the low-contrast between the red font-colour and the brown background.

New Google Earth 4 Beta Released

Sat Dec 16 21:34:12 2006

Last week, I was thinking of downloading Google Earth 4 because I found a Widget that maps an IP to a geographic location on GE. Now that a new beta has been announced, I will definitely be trying out the latest GE4 next week.

I am Time Magazine's Person of the Year

Sun Dec 17 10:45:25 2006

Person of the Year: You

Well, me and millions of others— anyone who adds content— bloggers, YouTubers, Wikipedians, IRCers and so on, have been selected as Person of the Year.

But look at 2006 through a different lens and you'll see another story, one that isn't about conflict or great men. It's a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It's about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people's network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It's about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.

It's a nice feeling to be recognized as part of the Great Everything; the place where the social outcasts can make a difference by building their own society.

December Blues: iLife Ad

"the meaning of christmas"

Sun Dec 17 21:53:06 2006

I'm sure this 2003 ad for iLife was created with the best of intentions. It began as the right-hand page, targeted specifically to Windows users who respond to the power of Microsoft Word. But somewhere along the development, during a meeting, it seems that someone raised their hand and said, "What if someone mis-reads this ad and thinks thinks that MS Word can now manage photos?" Everyone at the table paused, looked at each other and then scrambled to try fix this. Rather than start from scratch, they added the left page with the huge gobs of ad copy and destroyed the essense of the ad.

If what I just described didn't really happen, then I don't understand what the ad is trying to say in such an obtuse way.

iPhone Released

hardware iphone voip

Mon Dec 18 08:19:08 2006

It's actually a VoIP phone by Linksys, who owns the trademark to "iPhone". If Google had a trademark search, we could have avoided all the speculative hijinks that accompanied the posts that predicted the iPhone would be released today. And all this despite the Wall Street Journal saying, a few months ago, that Apple would not release a phone in 2006.

Let it Snow

software screensaver

Tue Dec 19 08:32:01 2006

Another seasonal screensaver.

Call Automator Actions from the Shell

software scripts

Wed Dec 20 07:55:03 2006

I found a blog entry (via the Sun Alumni Blog Roller) that calls an Automator action to combine multiple PDF pages into a single PDF document.

python '/System/Library/Automator/Combine PDF Pages.action/Contents/Resources/' \
    --output /tmp/out.pdf /tmp/faxPrep/*.pdf

Black Lagoon

anime black lagoon

Wed Dec 20 07:58:55 2006

Browsing through Google Video, I discovered an anime series called Black Lagoon. It's about the adventures of a group of mercenaries riding around in a torpedo-boat in the South Pacific. The violent action scenes are animated with convincing intensity. Episode 4, about a sunken U-boat shows a laptop (definitely not a Mac) but with an Apple GUI that is definitely pre-Mac OS X. I also learned a new term watching the first episode— the Stockholm Syndrome— where a hostage becomes sympathetic with their kidnappers.

DIN 1451 to FE-Schrift


Thu Dec 21 21:42:54 2006

The Wikipedia entry for the video game Half Life notes that the font used to for the title is DIN 1451, a clean, sans-serif font designed in 1936 and used for most road signage and license-plates in Germany until 2000 when it was changed to FE-Schrift, a thorny serif font especially designed to improve the detection of, and the thwarting of license plate forgeries.

ZFS on Leopard

zfs leopard raidz

Fri Dec 22 02:48:10 2006

David sent a link to MacHackers blog that updates us on the progress of ZFS support on OS X. I also searched for a summary of RaidZ, a data/parity scheme that uses a variable stripe width to eliminate the RAID-5 write hole flaw (an inconsistency between the data and the parity blocks (due to a power-failure, for example) results in loss of data when the filesystem is restored).

VMware: Fusion

software vmware

Fri Dec 22 09:25:02 2006

A public Beta of VMware for Mac, called Fusion, is now available for Macs. Nice features include the ability to drag and drop files between OS X and VMware and USB 2.0 support for CD and DVD writers and cross-platform compatibility of of VMWare images. Unfortunately, my Christmas vacation started today and I won't be back to work until the January 3rd.

Shuffle2 Shortcoming

hardware shuffle2 "incipio bud"

Fri Dec 22 10:31:17 2006

Macworld calls the Incipio Bud a Shuffle 2 "must-have". It is a USB plug that attaches to the Shuffle 2 via the head-phone jack, to convert the Shuffle 2 into a portable storage device without having to carry around the dock. It would be nice to see this built-in to the Shuffle 3. If I had bought the Shuffle 2, I would be cursing the need to carry the dock with me if I ever wanted to "mule" some data back to/from work/home. Yes, I want the cake, the icing and the cherry on top.

Opening Bids

ebay "human nature" bids

Fri Dec 22 13:21:18 2006

The annual "Year in Ideas" issue of the NY Times Sunday Magazine noted that eBay auctions that started with an absurdly low opening bid of 1 cent closed at a higher price than those auctions that started at a higher opening price. The explanation for this phenomenon is that an auction's popularity is based on the volume of traffic it attracts and an extremely low opening bid entices many idle bidders. So, given two identical items placed on auction on eBay, the one with the lowest opening bid will sell at a higher price than the other.

Hipster PDA

hardware "hipster pda"

Fri Dec 22 16:22:53 2006

The Hipster PDA or Retro PDA is an attempted backlash against the Digital Revolution; the use of 3x5 inch pieces of paper or card, bound together with a paper clamp or a ring and used as a replacement note-taking mechanism for Personal Digital Assistants. It seems that the oldest documented Hipster PDA belonged to Thomas Jefferson.

In 1996, when the Palm Pilot was released by US Robotics, I was keeping notes on a pad made from a letter-sized piece of paper cut into halves, folded and then stapled at the fold. I especially remember returning from work, on the train one evening and across the aisle from me were two men beaming each other stuff using these ugly green plastic pocket-sized devices. I think I either rolled my eyes or sneered.

It wasn't until the Handspring Visor was released that I bought one. The attraction was not so much the calendar, appointments and addressbook features but the idea that I could carry the digital version of several books in my pocket. The idea of being able to read in the dark also appealed to me.

After experiencing the dissappointment of American engineering of the Visor, I switched to a Japanese engineered Sony SJ33 Clié in 2003. I still use it today for playing MP3s during my daily commute and for storing my encrypted passwords.

I have gone back to paper, using a Postit™ pad with a transparent sheet of plastic on the cover, held together with a small paper-clamp onto which I have clipped my pen. I use this pad for recording any quotable quotes I come across, for making drawings or sketches and for shopping lists. The crab-apple tree leaf was draw over a period of two months (beginning around October), 5 minutes per day, five days a week, waiting for the train on my way to work.

Customize Trash Icons

hint trash icon

Fri Dec 22 19:17:38 2006

A hint to substitute the trash full/empty icons with others. It could probably made into an Automator Action to eliminate the tedious and error-prone steps.

Recent Movies

movies "capote" "constant gardner"

Fri Dec 22 21:19:06 2006


As the movie, set in Kansas, began, I thought the trees looked rather familiar as did the grey morning light. I understood why I felt this way, when I found out that the movie was shot in Manitoba; the trees looked familiar because these were Canadian trees whose branches I had sketched many times.

Capote is a good movie (I started watching it around 11:30 and didn't fall asleep before it finished two hours later). I found that Catherine Keener's portrayal of Harper Lee (perhaps because she's my favourite non-fiction author) was far more entertaining than Philip Seymour Hoffman's character, Capote (Breakfast at Tiffany's was good, but not excellent; I have yet to read the New Yorker magazine excerpts of In Cold Blood); I found her beautiful, elegant, feminine, soft-spoken and intelligent.

In my younger days, I had devised a test to give to prospective girlfriends. It consisted of several questions to which there could only be one correct answer; the few I can remember are— Q: "Who is your favourite composer?", A: "Bach"; "What did Fitzgerald want to name 'The Great Gatsby'?", A: "Trimalchio in West Egg"; Q: "How many Penguins do you have?", A: If she loved literature, she would have to inevitably own at least one book published by Pengiun Press. I never had the opportunity to ask anyone these questions and deleted the list about 10 years ago. Having watched Harper Lee portrayed in Capote, I am willing to settle for a woman that is capable of speaking in complete, gramatically correct sentences.

The Constant Gardner

In an interview included as an extra feature on the DVD, Le Carré mentions that this movie, scene-for-scene, has no equivalent in his eponymous novel but captures the essense of the book better than all the adaptations of his other books. High praise indeed. The Constant Gardner is also a good movie (it also passed the sleep test) and it is the furthest from a Le Carré spy thriller. A Mac Powerbook (running Jaguar) is used prominently by Rachel Weisz's character throughout the movie.

There is a troubling note in the end credits:


Nobody in this story, and no outfit or corporation, thank God, is based upon an actual person or outfit in the real world. But I can tell you this, as my journey through the pharmaceutical jungle progressed, I came to realize that, by comparison with reality, my story was as tame as a holiday postcard.

John Le Carré

Children of Men and Pan's Labyrinth

In today's Globe and Mail movie review section, both Children of Men and Pan's Labyrinth received four stars out of five.

HuginOSX and myDVDEdit

software "dvd editor" "panorama photo stitcher"

Sat Dec 23 12:31:55 2006

A couple of software releases: myDVDEdit is the Mac equivalent of the Windows IfoEdit, a complicated bit of software that makes complicated DVD information editing possible; HuginOSX is a panoramic photo stitcher.

Discovery Channel: iPod


Sun Dec 24 18:06:20 2006

On Dec. 27, at 12PM, the Discovery Channel will air a show about the creation of the iPod.

STS 116

shuttle photos

Mon Dec 25 06:48:29 2006

I woke up early to check if Santa had delivered the rocket pack I and asked for. After being dissappointed, yet again, I was browsing through the gallery of photographs of STS 116, the recent Space Shuttle mission. I found a few interesting pics: a photo of Mission Control gives an idea of how much things have changed since the Apollo 13 days— it looks like the CRT displays are driven by some Unix workstation with a Motif UI; the Meteorological Office definitely uses Dells; on the International Spacestation, they use IBM Thinkpads (partially obscured by a floating Spork; Update Mon Dec 25 14:53:34 2006: they are opening tins of "beef tongue") note also the utility belt the Russian is wearing, the ViceGrip on the wall, above the small shrine and the Lime Lemon Drink packet tucked away at the bottom-left.

Sony eBook Reader Ad

sony "ebook reader"

Wed Dec 27 12:48:26 2006

For the past few months, Sony has been advertising its eBook reader in the NY Times Book Review. There are a series of different ads with a similar theme— a sunlit meadow, a wooden dock leading to a placid lake, a row of seats at an airport lounge, all with the blue sign indicating a person reading.

The very first time I saw an ad, it wasn't the photograph that caught my eye; it was the word "Sony". I'm not impressed with the campaign. I don't think that advertising in the Book Review is going to attract buyers for this product because the type of books that Book Review readers read, are not available on the eBook Reader.

Update Wed Dec 27 16:12:01 2006: I was browsing around their site for available book titles. I wonder why they didn't include 100 Classics from Project Gutenberg with the Reader. Sony, take the entire Gutenberg archive and put it on the download site and make the books freely downloadable. People love free stuff! You would be able to say, "thousands of classics available for free download!" instead of, "hundreds of over-priced books now available for download!"

Oh yeah, if you're a Mac user, you're stuck—

Do we support Macintosh (Mac) PC and Hardware?

At this time our content is currently only available for Windows users. The digital rights management (DRM) solution that we use to protect and deliver our content is not compatible with any other operating system. We do hope that in the future we will be able to offer our content on multiple platforms.

Sony still doesn't get it.

Seymour Papert in a Coma

seymour papert olpc logo

Wed Dec 27 18:50:29 2006

Seymour Papert was injured in a traffic accident in Hanoi on Dec. 8th while walking to a conference; ironically, he was discussing how to model the traffic congestion just before the he was struck. After an operation to remove a blood clot, he was placed in a medically induced coma. On Dec. 18th, he was airlifted to the U.S. and is still in a coma.

Heavenly Bodies


Thu Dec 28 00:00:01 2006

On my way to work, it is a rare pleasure to see ballet dancers hurrying in the opposite direction to the the Hummingbird Center (located at Yonge and Front Street). One can easily identify ballet dancers by their unique "stride" (it would be crude to call it a "duck-like walk"; it would be insulting to refer to it as "a waddle"). Their long hair, sometimes elaborately braided or tied in a simple bun, is also an indicator of their profession, as is their exaggerated makeup and their lithe bodies (which one cannot but help noticing).

If one has a particular fondness for women with perfect physique, then ones choices are narrowed down to: ballet dancer, stripper or showgirl— professions where talent is a balanced measure between physical perfection and ability. However, of the three professions, only one can be considered acceptable when your mother inquires what your girlfriend does for a living.

The featured ad is from a 2003 New Yorker magazine, for the American Ballet Theater. Beautiful lighting, and a unique pose make it appealing; the ad copy is secondary.

“Suicide is Painless”


Thu Dec 28 08:33:49 2006

This morning's email alert (it should be noted that the VIA train doesn't stop at Scarborough station, it passes through at very high speed):

Date: 12/28/2006 8:03:34 AM
To: "GO E-News Alerts"

Due to a pedestrian accident involving a VIA train at Scarborough Station,
both Lakeshore and Stouffville GO Train is affected.

A few days ago, I read an excellent article in a 2003 issue of the New Yorker magazine which, I presume from the title, was the basis of the recent documentary on the "jumpers" from the Golden Gate bridge; one notable statistic: there is a suicide every 18 minutes in the U.S. These are the suicide statistics for Canada.

I also read somewhere that the theme song, “Suicide is Painless”, of the movie M*A*S*H, directed by Robert Altman, was written by his son who was a teen at the time.

TTC Subway public address codes in the 400 and 800 range are also an indicator of a suicide which, according to Google searches, seem to average about 24 annually.



Fri Dec 29 12:10:26 2006

According to Slang: The Topical Dictionary of Americanisms, edited by Paul Dickson, a blurker is, "someone who reads many blogs but leaves no evidence of himself behind."


itunes ipod

Fri Dec 29 12:54:24 2006

I see at least one iPod everyday; they are now as ubiquitous as cellphones. So, this Christmas morning, everyone who got a new iPod or an iTunes gift-card because they already have an iPod, was faced with delays and error messages as they tried to access the online store. I can't imagine anything that Apple could have done to alleviate this situation for just a single day.

The Powerbook Family

powerbook ad

Fri Dec 29 13:47:40 2006

Another simply beautiful Apple ad from 2003 showing all three products (12, 15 and 17 inch) in the Powerbook family. I wonder how many different seating arrangements were photographed before they settled on the final one. I think if the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears was updated today, the Powerbooks could have easily substituted for the three bowls of porridge.

Dell Support vs. AppleCare

support applecare dellcare

Fri Dec 29 19:50:02 2006

Todd Ogasawara had an opportunity to compare Dell Support and AppleCare for support with a dead hard-drive. Surprisingly, Dell Support won with 48 hour turn-around; the lesson for Apple (7 — 10 days turn-around) would be to have a few spare drives on-hand (or, at least, within 24 hour reach) at each AppleStore so the turn-around time for repairs can match Dell's superb performance.

The Cinema Channel

irc cinema freenode

Fri Dec 29 20:45:03 2006

After a chat with LowRez, I created ##cinema, a channel dedicated to the discussion of cinema on If you're the type of person who is interested in discussing the difference between a movie and a film, please drop by.

Update Fri Dec 29 22:51:01 2006: In the first hour of existence, we had a total of 3 people join the channel— two from #web and one from #emacs; the low turnout may be the result of it being Friday and all the film buffs being out at the movies.

The first-ever discussion was about Kevin Smith. When I expressed my lack of appreciation for his movies, there was a subdued disapproval. Kevin Smith is a writer; he writes excellent character studies, but he lacks a good cinematographer. You can take any good Kevin Smith movie, stage it as a play and it would lose none of its charm.

During another discussion, I discovered what happens when Hollywood goes to Britain and makes a buddy-cop movie— you get Hot Fuzz.

Saddam Hussein, R.I.P.

Fri Dec 29 22:59:16 2006

He was executed by hanging just before 10PM EST.

Woman on Train

k-pax "zofia borucka"

Sat Dec 30 12:28:51 2006

In the movie K-Pax, there's a scene with Jeff Bridges on the subway train where he's thinking about the day's events. As the camera tracks down the aisle, you can't help but notice the stunning woman sitting across from him. Just as he looks over to her, there is a jump-cut to the next scene.

The end credits of K-Pax (worth sitting through to the end) list "Woman on Train ... Zofia Borucka". IMDB doesn't have any pictures of her but notes the trivia that she's married to Jean Reno. After a Google search, it is unmistakably her.

Shooting “Casino Royale”


Sun Dec 31 10:24:18 2006

The ASC Magazine has an article on the Cinematography of Casino Royale; the DP was Phil Méheux. The article explains that the opening black-and-white sequence is actually shot on black-and-white film stock because shooting in colour and then bleeding the colour digitally does not give the same look.

RSS Feed Tweak


Sun Dec 31 21:35:10 2006

Since Planet Emacsen began carrying my feed, I decided to make a few tweaks to the configuration. Previously, only the first paragraph of the entry was fed. Also, only the first entry for a particular day was fed. I hope to get the entirety of all the entries to be fed (but it's not working as expected).

Apologies if old entries were resent.

luis fernandes / G4 PowerBook Journal, Part 21 / Last Modified: Thu Dec 21 21:56:46 2006