Part 22 of elf's Apple PowerBook G4 Journal

Google Goes to Manhattan


Mon Jan 01 10:35:51 2007

If they don't have the same social skill or style sense, they're extremely interesting people or else they don't get hired.
—Jane Risen, Google Sales, comments on Google Engineers.

Last Sunday's NY Times Style section had an article about Google's 300,000 square foot Manhattan office on Ninth Avenue (location chosen because it sits on a major fibre backbone). In Mountainview, Googler's get together to socialize every Friday at an event called TGIF; in Manhattan it's held on Thursdays and called "Thank God It's Almost Friday". At Google, you're either in sales or in engineering and at lunch, the two groups are distinctly segregated.

IMDb Data

imdb cinema

Tue Jan 02 20:12:56 2007

We thought it would be nice to have a bot to perform realtime IMDb queries in the ##cinema channel. One of the regulars is modifying his bot (actually, he's interfacing the bot to a perl module POE::Component::IMDB, he wrote), to make HTTP requests to and then scrape the results. I was shocked when he mentioned that the IMDb database is available for download so, "it may be used for free in specific circumstances".

“Homer Goes to College”


Thu Jan 04 08:32:12 2007

I was re-waching an all-time favourite episode of The Simpsons, “Homer Goes to College” (season 5), written by Conan O'Brien, and I noticed that one (and possibly two) of the three nerds that Homer meets, used a Mac. The middle computer is definitely a "1984" Mac and the one on the far right is possibly a Mac (with 2 floppy drive slots).

View from the Mountain


Thu Jan 04 08:46:39 2007

David sent me a link to an article written by David Sobotta, a 20 year sales veteran at Apple, about what we might expect Apple to announce at next week's MacWorld and the rationale Steve Jobs uses to decide whether to enter a market. Here are a couple of quotes:

So what will the converged product— what is being called the "iPhone" (even though that's a Cisco trademark)— look like? He said the really converged, ubiquitous devices would have to fit in your shirt pocket, and be better than either a phone or a computer by itself.
So next week, I'm sure we won't see any kind of tablet computer from Apple. I am 99% confident we will see an Apple phone, with enhanced music capabilities and maybe a few computing features such as email and contacts synchronisation with Macs or through .Mac.

Smiles and Wows— 17 in. Mac Book Pro

mac book pro

Fri Jan 05 15:17:00 2007

Got to play/configure a 17 in. Mac Book Pro that a faculty member bought with his research grant. Smiles and "wows!" all-round when I showed how easy it was to install a printer and demo'd the mouse-based screen-magnifier (Ctrl+ScrollMouse). I am now officially the Mac Guru in the Department and the number of Macs in the Department has doubled since last year.

Update Sat Jan 06 10:42:56 2007: Later in the evening, discussing whether voice-input would help occasional computer users (like our eldery parents) who need to be frequently reminded how to use a computer or whose double-click is not entirely consistent. I demo'd the Mac's Speakable Items feature— "What time is it?", "Switch to Firefox", "Switch to Finder", etc.— which impressed the boss because the Mac could understand both my voice and his voice, without any training.

The Magic Number: One Million Households

product sales dvd cd ipod vhs

Sat Jan 06 10:42:33 2007

The Electronics Industry measures a product's success by the number of years it takes to reach one million households (since the pricing structure of electronic products is designed with that number). The VHS cassette recorder took 11 years; the CD player took 4 years, the DVD player took 2 years, as did the iPod (introduced in Q4 2001, Apple sold 1M units by Q4 2003). Unlike the iPod, which is an Apple monopoly, the DVD player is a commodity item whose price keeps dropping until they can be given away as incentives for other purchases. The following table (Updated Sun Jan 07 04:51:58 2007: with data for 2001-06), tracks the DVD player prices from the original US$1,000 in 1997, to the current price of US$28.

YearDVD Players Sold
(% of households)
Price (US$)
1997 315,000 $900-$1200
1998 1,018,000 $750
1999 4,019,000 (5%) $450
2000 5,000,000 $225
2001 16,700,000 (28%)~$185
2002 (35%) ~$151
2005(75%) $39
2006(81%) $28
By 1999, 88.6% of households (the maximum) had VCR players.

The price of DVD players continues to drop by 1.5% every month. In 2006, approximately 70% of Canadian households had DVD players. A few Sundays ago, I saw a full-page Sony ad in the New York Times for their BluRay player; the entire face of the player is blue.

Two-player Pong

games pong

Sat Jan 06 12:27:40 2007

One of the regulars on #macosx began programming for the Mac in October and he's now released a two-player Pong program (played on one computer). This will eventually become a Bluetooth Pong game so two players can play wirelessly.

Macworld 2007

"macworld 2007"

Mon Jan 08 14:43:27 2007

“The first 30 years were just the beginning. Welcome to 2007.”, heralds the beginning of the future as envisioned by Apple. This future will be revealed tomorrow at the Macworld 2007 keynote (beginning at 12PM EST (not 1PM as previously stated)) given by Steve Jobs.


macworld 2007

Tue Jan 09 12:30:53 2007

iTV renamed Apple TV... wirelessly transfer content to your TV... USB2.0, RCA, Component Video, 720p HD, 40GB HDD, B,G and N wireless, Intel Powered... stream up to 5 TVs from one Apple TV... $299, shipping in Feb. (presentation duration: 12:30-12:40)

Widescreen ipod! "(New Revolutionary) Mobile Phone"... "A breakthrough internet communications device"... Called iPhone!... touch-screen... Mouse/scroll-wheel/multi-touch... iPhone uses iTunes to automatically sync with your PC or Mac...3.5 inch screen with 160 ppi.. 11.6mm thick... 2MP camera... GSM... Proximity sensor to adjust display when next to face as well as ambient light sensor and accelerometer... Changes automatically to widescreen when you move it to horizontal position... Speaker and microphone... runs OS X... Quad-band GSM + EDGE. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth too.... demos 3-way conference call... iPhoto-like software built-in... Seamlessly switches between Wi-Fi networks... Google Maps with GPS (is this on-board GPS or wi-fi or cell-tower triangulation?)

"The Internet in your pocket for the first time ever." Huh? I don't think so. My boss bought a WinCE HP 6545 mobile phone last month (it's already gone back for warranty repair) that does all this.

(1:30PM) Google CEO comes onstage... CEO of Yahoo! comes onstage.

iPhone accessories: comes with headphones with integrated mic. Also has a tiny Bluetooth headset which automatically pairs w/ iPhone... Battery life: 5 hours of talk time/video/browsing. 16 hours of audio playback... 4GB model is US$499, 8GB US$599...ships in June... Cingular only... 2-year contract.

Name change... Apple Inc.

Update Tue Jan 09 15:04:01 2007: New "Get A Mac" ad, Surgery (with a subtly risqué reference to "peripherals").

Apple has Won

iphone "globe and mail"

Wed Jan 10 09:04:42 2007

I was surprised to find that the front-page of the Globe and Mail carried a photo of the iPhone with the caption, "Is this the holy grail of gadgets?". When did the Globe become Apple fanboys? The iPhone isn't even available for sale and it makes the front page! This is a newspaper that employs Matthew Ingram as a technology analyst who cannot write a single analysis without mentioning Microsoft (excepting that one analysis he wrote last year about Google (IIRC)). Apple has won— RIM, Palm, Samsung, etc. might as well close up shop and quit now; Nokia is a contender, though.

Would You Buy a Phone From This Man?

iphone apple motorola

Wed Jan 10 12:20:07 2007

Here are two photos: Photo "A" is from page B1 of the Globe and Mail's Report on Business; it shows a balding, middle-aged man wearing a black turtleneck and blue jeans standing in front of a large projection of a new, revoltionary telephone/music player/web browser. Photo "B" is from page B11 of the same newspaper, showing a balding, middle-aged man wearing a business suit and riding a bicycle on a stage, in front of a table with a stack of ceramic mugs. The man in Photo "A" is the CEO of Apple; the man in Photo "B" is the CEO of Motorola. Would you buy a telephone from the man in Photo "A" or Photo "B"?

Video of the MacTablet


Wed Jan 10 15:52:46 2007

I presume this is from MacWorld. There are no details about the video available on the YouTube posting. It looks a sketch being done using Photoshop with stylus input.

Update Sat Jan 13 11:58:57 2007: This is the Axiotron ModBook Tablet computer with Wacom-enabled pen.

Tiger Multi-session CDs

burning multisession cd

Wed Jan 10 16:32:25 2007

I just found this Tip of the Week on Burning Multiple Times to the Same CD. Why is this setting not default? Why does it have to be manually enabled?

Fortress Programming Language


Thu Jan 11 00:27:52 2007

Sun has released the first version of the Fortress programming language designed for high-performance computing by Guy L. Steele, which includes parallel computation (among other things) as a core design feature.

The Nay Sayers


Thu Jan 11 01:00:18 2007

First, Cisco sues Apple over the iPhone trademark. Second, some reasons why the iPhone may fail (based on the information we know as of now). There are too many unknown variables at this moment to allow us to determine the success or failure of this phone. Remember that it was only announced early because FCC approval takes long and Jobs, "didn't want the FCC to announce it." Third, will I buy one? No, I don't need one. I don't have a cell-phone now. I don't have anyone to call and I don't know anyone that would want to call me where ever I happen to be. If my Clié stopped working, I would buy a Shuffle to replace it or maybe a Nano if it can be used as an alarm-clock. But, if there's a widescreen iPod without the phone (and there will be), would I buy one? Oh yeah, I think so; just for bragging rights.

Career Day

"pc vs. mac"

Thu Jan 11 18:45:00 2007

Yesterday, my boss gave a presentation at his nephew's high-school (for a class of 35 grade 10 students; 15-16 year olds, born after 1990) for Career Day; the guest is invited to speak to students about their career and work. He talked about the engineering profession by first taking a poll about something the students could relate to— their home computers. He asked how many people had computers at home— everyone. He asked how many ran Windows— all but one— a girl who said that her dad had a Mac. I expected no student to have a Mac, so I'm impressed.

As part of his presentation, he played the Get A Mac Ad about computer viruses, not to promote Macs, but to emphasize the vulerability of Windows/XP when compared to Unix— he gave away Knoppix CDs (my idea) at the end of the presentation.

Update Thu Jan 11 22:02:14 2007:He had a very frustrating experience creating his presentation in OpenOffice (switching between Linux and Solaris) with font unavailability problems and especially trying to get the Apple-ad to play full-screen when he clicked on a thumbnail (this involves invoking mplayer with a bunch of options). He got it working, tested it out and when the time came to play it, the audio played while the video played; he quit mplayer and it worked when he tried it again the second time. The other problem was getting the projector to display video from the Dell craptop (running Fedora). He actually got very close to doing the presentation running Windows/XP.

Needless to say, Keynote is the answer.

More Apple Gaga


Sat Jan 13 09:11:07 2007

The day after the iPhone appeared in the Globe and Mail there was a front-page (bottom-left) article about Jonathan Ive titled, “The Luddite that makes Apple look good”. In addition, the editorial cartoon featured the iPhone and a sterotypical nerd wearing short-sleeved shirt with tie, self-repaired eye glasses and a pocket-protector. At least initially, it will be CEOs who will be able to afford this phone and AT&T data-plan.

Cupertino Applestore

applestore clothing

Sat Jan 13 09:55:37 2007

TUAW has a gallery of photos from the Applestore in Cupertino. It looks like a dated version of an average Applestore (dark flooring instead of the ash-blond maple) except that you can buy Apple-logo branded clothing (long- and short-sleeved Ts and hoodies, children's clothing in pink and baby-blue and caps) in colors that match the iPod Nanos. I like the black "I visited the Mothership" T-shirt (I hope it has the Apple logo on the back).

MacBraniac Challenge


Sat Jan 13 11:53:46 2007

Christopher Breen hosted this year's Macworld MacBraniac Challenge. I don't know the answer to any of the questions and as for the last one I don't know if “banner -w 80 hello” in Terminal, with the screen turned to face the person, would have qualified.



Sat Jan 13 23:40:12 2007

While David Bailey's research into the digits of Pi is well known, a little-known factoid resulting from this work came to light in the June 10 online edition of Science News. The column delves into the role of mathematics in "The Simpsons" TV show. In one episode, Apu claims he can recite Pi to 40,000 decimal places, with the last digit being one. To get that detail right, the show's writing team faxed a query to NASA, where mathematician David Bailey— who worked for the agency from 1984-1998, before joining the Lab— obliged with the digit in question.

Today at Berkeley Lab

With PiX, you can calculate the 40,000th (or any other digit) for yourself.

Natalie Portman


Sun Jan 14 00:00:39 2007

A completely gratuitous link to photos of Natalie Portman with her short-hair look (which I like better than her other looks, perhaps because it reminds me of Audrey Hepburn).


Money, Money


Thu Jan 18 21:07:17 2007

First, a note about the euro— for the first time since it's creation, the value of all euro notes in circulation ($828B) has exceeded the value of all U.S. dollar notes in circulation ($753B); the €500 note is becoming the denomination of choice for arms- and drug- smugglers who used to prefer $100 bills, which are now tracked by banks. Second, Apple's 2007Q1 results— record revenue of $7.1B and record net quarterly profit of $1.0B; gross margin was 31.2%; 42% of revenue was from international sales; 1,606,000 Macs and 21,066,000 iPods shipped.


software game pong

Fri Jan 19 13:46:22 2007

netPong is a multi-player networked Pong game for Macs with a motion sensor. It can also be played standalone if there is no one else around. It requires Tiger.

MWSF2007 Google Campout Diary

google mac

Sat Jan 20 10:10:38 2007

Rose Yao, Mac product manager at Google and Mike Pinkerton blog about their adventure camping-out at Macworld 2007. (Google Mac team has almost 20 people). Avichal's Garg's Journal is more detailed, however.

State of The Art


Sun Jan 21 15:46:46 2007

"Check In/Check Out" is a regular column I look forward to, in the Travel section of the Sunday NY Times. Last week, Stuart Emmerich spent one night at the Mandarin Hotel in Hong Kong (which re-opened last September after a $140M, nine-month renovation) where he needed to retrieve a message left for him:

  1. You retrieve a voice mail from your phone, which directs you to the messsage system accessible through your TV.
  2. You turn on the TV, and 10 minutes later— after getting the screen cursor to work properly— you read your text message, which tells you to call the front desk.
  3. You call the front desk, which puts you on hold while they find your message.

And what is it? A reminder that the checkout time the next day is 11 AM.

“Hello, I'm a Mac” T-shirt


Tue Jan 23 20:47:32 2007

I was thinking about the TUAW Applestore photos and I realized that Apple doesn't have Electric Blue T-shirts with, “Hello, I'm a Mac”, printed on the front. I think a lot of Mac users would buy them, I certainly would. But please, Apple, don't make me go all the way to the Mothership store to get one; sell them in the local Applestores or on the web.

Or maybe, I'll make my own.

Power Failure

Tue Jan 23 21:56:43 2007

There was an unscheduled power-outage to our entire building, last night (Physical Plant has not said why it happened) and all the workstations were still hung the next morning as they simultaneously attempted to nfs mount their filesystems when the power came back on; the switches throttled-back the connectivity as they tried to cope. ilsa suffered no ill effects as she's configured to not reboot after a failure.

Singled Out


Thu Jan 25 08:25:50 2007

Some interesting statistics on marriage collected from an article in last Sunday's New York Times "Week in Review". 51% of all women live without a spouse (this includes elderly women who are widowed). Among college-educated women aged 25-34, 59% are married compared to 51% of non-college graduates. For women aged 35-44, the rate is 75% married to 62% unmarried. Among men aged 25-34, 50% of college graduates are married while 47% of non-college graduates are married. In 1960, 69% of men were married; today 55% of men are married. The subject of marriage was covered previously in my journal— to summarize: you might was well marry the first woman that comes along because it is statistically impossible that you would meet your true love, if she even existed.

I don't understand why people get married. I also don't understand the concept of love. I do not believe in true love— in fact, I have very few beliefs remaining. I would love to marry a woman so high above my class ("out of my league" so to speak) just so on my wedding day people would whisper behind my back, that my wife could have done so much better. That would be enough proof that true love does exist. I would then have to re-evaluate my other beliefs.

It Flies!

hardware macguyver ram memory upgrade

Sat Jan 27 20:01:00 2007

Yesterday, I braved the -25°C temperatures to go pick-up a 1GB stick of Kingston RAM for mathilde, from a downtown computer store. I also printed-out the 5 pages related to installing RAM found in the Powerbook G4 Getting Started Guide. I read and re-read the steps required to perform the memory installation, several times. The only tool I needed was a 00 Phillips-head screwdriver. I had no idea how big or small a 00 screw-head was but I was sure that one of the flat-head jeweller screwdrivers I had at home would be adequate. Just in case, I borrowed three Phillips jeweller screwdrivers from work— "small", "medium", and "large".

This morning, I started the laundry, made my tea and read the front section of the morning newspaper before starting on the memory upgrade. I shutdown the Powerbook, unplugged all the cables, flipped it over, removed the battery and... none of the screwdrivers I tried would fit the microscopic screw-heads— all the Phillips-head screwdrivers, I borrowed from work, were too large and the heads wouldn't budge when I used a flat-head screwdriver that fit. KHAAAAAAAAN!!!!!

I brewed another cup of tea and finished reading the newspaper. Then I made some oatmeal and considered my options. Since I would be going to Toronto in the afternoon, I could stop by work and grab the smaller screwdrivers. I was even willing to wait until Monday as I was in no rush.

Late in the afternoon, I had an idea— I should see if my Swiss Army Knife had a tool that would do the job. The knife has a small eyeglass screwdriver that is stored in the corkscrew. I tried to unscrew one of the screws on the side of the Powerbook and it worked! So, I shutdown mathilde yet again and... the screws on the memory-upgrade access-panel wouldn't budge. KHAAAAAAAAAN!

But wait! I thought I should try unscrewing using the tip of the small knife. It worked!!!!! So, if you don't have a 00 Phillips screwdriver handy, you can always use the blade/tip of a knife (that's what MacGuyver would do). I discovered that the bottom third of the threads were covered in Locktite™— which explains why they were so tough to unscrew using normal means.

The rest was pretty straight-forward. I rebooted the Powerbook and checked if the RAM was seen and shut it down again and screwed the access-panel back on. Everything took about 10–15 minutes.

I now have 1.5GB of RAM and it just flies! Well, it seems faster, anyway (it might well be a psychological trick).

Love Is...


Sun Jan 28 09:31:29 2007

Whenever I despair, I remember that the way of truth and love has always won. There may be tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they may seem invincible, but in the end, they always fail.

By a strange coincidence, the Second Reading was from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Based on this definition, I understand why there is so much sadness in the world:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Corinth is a port city in Greece, visited by the Apostle Paul around 50 A.D. He stayed for about a year during which time he formed the first Christian church there. He later wrote letters, which are answers to questions about proper conduct, posed by his followers there, and collected in the three Books of Corinthians.

Also, the opposite of love is not hate; the opposite of love is despair. Updated Mon Jan 29 20:02:21 2007: added Gandhi (assassinated Jan. 30, 1948) epigraph found in the memorable quotes section of the IMDb entry for Gandhi and a link to the official translation of 1 Corinthians.

Panther DST Updates

software daylight savings time dst panther

Sun Jan 28 20:15:47 2007

David sent me an email about a non-Apple originated DST patch for Panther 10.3.9 systems. It would seem that only Tiger systems are aware of the DST changes beginning in March 2007.

Tim Bray: Which Mac?


Mon Jan 29 18:02:20 2007

Tim Bray is thinking of getting a replacement for his Powerbook; he's trying to decide between a Macbook and a Macbook Pro. I'm suprised that he doesn't get much use from the backlit keyboard— I guess I'm the only one that prefers to do computing in the dark far more than is normal; even in my office, the lights are off.

Bill Evans: The Oslo Concerts

music jazz "bill evans trio"

Tue Jan 30 09:16:51 2007

“The Oslo Concerts” DVD documents two Bill Evans concerts— the first with Eddie Gomez and Alex Riel on bass and drums respectively, performed in 1966 (you can view excerpts on YouTube), and the second concert 15 years later, just a month before his death on September 15, 1980, with Marc Johnson and Joe La Barbera.

iPod Shuffle: Now in Colour and Hip

hardware "shuffle 2"

Tue Jan 30 14:29:55 2007

The iPod Shuffle is now available in several colours: hot pink, lucious orange, lime green and sky blue; the same shades as the Nano.

The Hipster Shuffle is a variation on the hipster PDA with MP3 player capabilities.

iPod Shuffle: Now Submersible


Tue Jan 30 22:04:45 2007

SwimMan claims they can convert your shuffle into a submersible version— 100% waterproof— and includes underwater headphones.

Anatol Rapoport, R.I.P.

obituary "game theory" "prisoner's dilemma"

Wed Jan 31 09:14:39 2007

An excerpt from the obituary, in this morning's newspaper, of Anatol Rapoport (b.1911), a mathematician at the University of Toronto:

[1984] saw publication of political scientist Robert Axelrod's seminal book, The Evolution of Co-operation, which asked a simple, yet age-old, question: If living things evolve through competition, how can co-operation ever emerge? A computer tournament was organized to study the relationship of game theory to evolution— a variation on the Prisoner's Dilemma. Entries came from the world's top theorists.

Dr. Rapoport entered a program he wrote called Tit-For-Tat, consisting of four lines of code. It was by far the simplest entry, and it won. Betraying the retributive implications of its name, the program opened by co-operating with its opponent. Thereafter, it played exactly as the other side had played in the preceding game. If the other side had defected, Tit-For-Tat also defected for that one game. If the other side had co-operated, it co-operated on the next round.

"In effect, Tit-For-Tat punished the other player for selfish behaviour and rewarded her for co-operative behaviour -- but the punishment lasted only as long as the selfish behaviour lasted," observed Metta Spencer, editor of Peace Magazine, on the occasion of Dr. Rapoport's 90th birthday. "This proved to be an exceptionally effective sanction, quickly showing the other side the advantages of co-operating... It also set moral philosophers to proposing this as a workable principle to use in real life interactions."

—Ron Csillag

I'll see if I can find some relevant quotes from the book (which is hideously typeset) and post them later.

Defective By Design Protest

fsf vista

Wed Jan 31 11:53:04 2007

The FSF hosted a Defective By Design protest, titled Bad Vista, at the New York launch of Microsoft's XP upgrade— Vista.

Here in Toronto, Microsoft held the launch at an ice-house (a tent with walls made of ice-blocks) at Dundas Square. Yesterday, just before noon, the crowd was sparse (10 people, if you included the homeless people who lined-up for free coffee and then left) but today there was a larger crowd (perhaps 50 people).

Intentional Programming

software language "intentional programming"

Wed Jan 31 23:51:45 2007

There seems to be a marketing campaign for Intentional Programming, a "language" designed by Charles Simonyi, formerly of Microsoft (author of Word and Excel) and Xeroc PARC (author of Bravo, the first word processor). Simonyi left Microsoft in 1991 to form a company to develop Intentional Programming because Microsoft decided to use .NET instead. I first heard of this language today, after reading a gushing review of Simonyi (future cosmonaut) in the Sunday Business section of last weekend's New York Times, written by an editor of MIT's Technology Review, which, by some strange coincidence just happens to have a cover-story about Simonyi.

Expect Slashdot and Digg postings to appear soon. Expect the concept to dissappear into obscurity. I love the idea, but I just think it's too complex to implement.

luis fernandes / G4 PowerBook Journal, Part 22 / Last Modified: Thu Jan 25 22:57:38 2007