Part 30 of elf's Apple PowerBook G4 Journal

Book Review: "God's Secretaries"

book review

Sun Sep 02 10:58:17 2007

At the end of the 1960 movie, The Time Machine, when the scientist leaves for his second journey through time, his friend notices that three books have been taken from the library shelves and poses a question to the housekeeper, "Which three books would you have taken?" Ever since, I have given much thought to my choices— the King James Bible, the complete works of William Shakespeare and the complete adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Conan Doyle.

The KJV is my favourite bible for two reasons: 1) it's freely available as a text file and I have it loaded on my PDA and 2) I love the lyrical sound of the English it is written in. My book review of Adam Nicholson's book, “God's Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible” (Score: 4++/4) is now available on My Bookshelf.

Tomorrow: Touch-screen iPods (99.9% likely)


Tue Sep 04 17:12:43 2007

It's all but certain that touch-screen iPods will be announced at tomorrow's Apple Media Event. The only question that now remains, is whether I will finally buy an iPod; this is the iPod I have been waiting for (if it has Wifi or Bluetooth, that is).

I'm really looking forward to an iPod that can sync and charge wirelessly. We are in the 21st century, after all; I know Steve Jobs won't let us down.

Foleo, R.I.P.

palm foleo yawn

Tue Sep 04 23:18:30 2007

Palm announced that it cancelled the Foleo. *Yawn*.

Would you like to touch my iPod?

hardware ipod

Wed Sep 05 16:53:04 2007

New Shuffles with pastel colours and a (Product)Red; a fat Nano and the piéce de résistance, the iPod with touch capabilities (8GB and 16GB) and (surprisingly) WiFi download capabilities from iTunes; Safari for surfing the web and watching YouTube movies) and (shockingly) NO WiFi syncing with the Mac (aren't you people tired of the USB dock? welcome to 2001) and Starbucks integration (*Yawn*).

8GB iPhone drops to $399 and pisses many people off. The price drop probably means that they made back their R&D investment and the rest is pure profit.

You'll be able to touch your iPod "later this month..."

TouchiPods: [THAchee•pawds] n. synonym for iPod Touch.

Origins of the Species

hardware ipod

Fri Sep 07 07:24:13 2007

The Register has an editorial on the iPod Touch which ends with the following: "Like the LED, the Multi-Touch was invented here in Britain, and becomes another Great British innovation got away. And the team behind the iPod Touch? British again, led by Ken McAlpine and David Tupman [who worked on the Psion]."

Ownership of the Species

Speaking of the Psion— which I think was a marvel of engineering— I learned that a faculty member in the department who has one, recently bought a Mac (and his office is right next to the only other faculty member's office who has a Mac— coincidence?). My boss immediately inquired whether he owned a domestic or foreign car, and was disheartened when the faculty member said he owned a foreign car (the reason he gave for owning a foreign car was because he cared about design). Another faculty member in the room then mentioned that he was going to buy a Mac for himself when Leopard was released— but he drives a Ford with 80,000km on the odometer. My boss found that comforting— because, at last, my rule about Mac ownership correlating to foreign car ownership would be broken.

This morning, my brother asked me whether I was going to buy the TouchiPod. Without much thought, I said no— I really want wireless syncing— remember that picture of the iMac next to a Dell with a mess of cables behind it? Also, Rule No. 0 is: Never buy Rev A. products from Apple. By next February or March, there should be a newer version with more storage and BT.

"Get A Mac" ads win Effie

apple ads

Fri Sep 07 14:24:01 2007

The "Get a Mac" series of ads have won the Effie 2007 Grand Prize in the Computer Hardware category.

Before and After: Form Design


Sun Sep 09 13:48:53 2007

I redesigned one of our departmental forms after reading Before and After Page Design by John McWade. It should be plainly obvious which form is the "before" and which form is the "after". (I always thought the old form looked "fine", but I had to reconsider my perspective after reading the book).

iTunes Temp Files


Mon Sep 10 15:47:38 2007

Listening to the Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me... podcast, I got an error that iTunes couldn't write some file "Error number -#####". So I poked about in ~/Music/iTunes/ and noticed that there were 473 "Temp Files" (Temp File 1 ... Temp File 473). A bit of Googling led me to this article. I quit iTunes and deleted them all along with ._Temp File* using rm; I couldn't use the Finder because it errored when I tried deleting them. I have no idea what's going on and neither does Apple, it seems.

Book Review: "Before and After Page Design"

book review design

Tue Sep 11 17:54:18 2007

My review of John McWade's “Before and After Page Design” (score: 5+++/4) is now on available on My Bookshelf. This book gave me an eye-opening experience on the subject of page design in the same way the Dean Semler's (Director of Photography) commentary on the extended edition of Dances with Wolves gave me about cinematography; I looked at movies completely differently after listening to that commentary.

Plastic Surgery

hardware headphone ipod phone shure

Fri Sep 14 16:44:40 2007

Something I have to keep in mind when I decide to buy an iPod or iPhone is that the headphone jack of the iPhone/iPod is recessed, meaning that some plastic surgery is required on many headphone plugs so it can be inserted into the jack. Belkin, Griffin Smartphone Experts and Shure manufacture extenders to allow headphones to be plugged-in without requiring a bit of plastic to be hacked-off with an Xacto knife. Comparing my Shure hardphone jack to the one in the Flickr photo, I note that the thick exposed part at the base, is covered by plastic on my jack.

There is a good reason for the recessed jack— it reduces stress on the solder connections of the jack and extends the usable life of the device.

"Go ahead, mac my day"

macgirl blog

Fri Sep 14 17:50:46 2007

Nadyne is a user experience researcher, "Microsoft girl in a Macintosh world", who works in Microsoft's MacBU and writes the go ahead, mac my day blog.

Rhymes with "artifice"

One of her latest entries is about a website called Art of Office, a website dedicated to, 'pushing the boundaries of what can be done in Mac Office'.

The Top Ten Things The New Guy From Windows Office Promises Not To Say In The MacBU

From Gavin Shearer's blog post:

10. "Where's the Start menu on this thing, again?"
9. "Wow, that Spotlight and Dashboard stuff sure looks a lot like Vista."
8. "So, why isn't there an Intel Inside sticker on this machine?"
7. "Man, I can't believe you can't use a two-button mouse on OS X."
6. "Anyone know why my Zune isn't being picked up by iTunes?"
5. "Yeah, I don't know what's wrong with my Mac. I think the registry got corrupted."
4. "We design for college kids and hipsters, right?"
3. "Oh, those guys can totally fail. Remember the Newton?"
2. "We make Office for MAC?"
1. "...and I'm a PC."

iPod Touch Surgery

hardware ipod

Sun Sep 16 00:22:44 2007

ifixit has pictures of the disassembly of an iPod touch — available in limited quantities in certain stores. It confirms that the display is glass, similar to that of the iPhone.

It is somewhat dissappointing that calendar events cannot be entered via the iPod. And I'm still waiting for Java support; I don't understand why it's not included as it's certainly more stable and secure than Flash.

Seven Shortcomings about iTunes

software itunes

Sun Sep 16 09:34:23 2007

Simra has enumerated seven deficiencies about iTunes' library management. The reason it "sucks so bad", is because iTunes is designed to operate in an ideal world— music bought from the iTunes Store, ripped from ones collection of CDs and kept in a single library in a single, unchanging, location. Reality, however, is a low-resolution simulation of this ideal— we copy our friend's music collections, download tracks off the internet and as our collection grows, we lose track of the music we already have in our collection. So having a mechanism to find duplicates is a necessity that Musicbrainz fills nicely— it would be nice if it was integrated into iTunes. Improved Spotlight integration would allow "lost" music that was moved somewhere else, to be quickly located and re-inserted into the database.

Always Restore Firefox Sessions

software sessions firefox

Sun Sep 16 11:54:30 2007

For some reason, Firefox wasn't restoring all my tabs after I re-started it. After a bit of googling, I found that setting to "3"— resume sessions always (default is 1, open to homepage)— via about:config, fixes the problem.

iPod Reviews

Sun Sep 16 13:01:29 2007

Reviews of the new generation of iPods:

Update Wed Sep 26 21:48:35 2007: Software update 1.0.1 for the iPod Classic has addressed the clickwheel responsiveness issues, it also decreased audio playback time but increased video playback time. Playlist has an updated review.

I would still recommend an iPod Shuffle if you don't care about video.

The Big Apple

apple mac ny iphone

Mon Sep 17 12:46:39 2007

Yesterday's NY Times front-section photo; the story was about women undergoing preventative masectomies.
AT&T iPhone full-page ad from Aug. 7— the text reads, "They're here. The iPhone is now in stock and ready to go.
And surf. And play. And of course, talk. Visit your nearby AT&T store."

(There was a different iPhone ad on the back page, but I didn't have time to photograph it this morning.)

Powerset: The new game in town

search engine

Tue Sep 18 22:08:03 2007

There's a new search engine being tested by an invite-only group. I would not normally mention a new search engine, however, this one uses a natural language interface— rather than searching by keywords, you would ask questions in plain English. I know what you're thinking: Big Deal. I thought the same thing, until I read that the CTO of this startup is Robert Kaplan, who, according to the article, is the top natural language researcher at Xerox PARC (he's not one of the founders though). If they're any good, Google will just buy them. I still believe that a natural-language-like 20-questions search engine is our best hope.

What is worrisome is that I didn't hear about this on the Net, I read it in today's Globe and Mail newspaper. I say this is worrisome because I have a rule that if you read about something in the newspaper, pretty much everyone knows about it. I have been slightly behind the times lately; I only found out Monday that "The Hulk 2" had been filming 2 blocks away since Friday evening.

The Once and Future Music Industry

itunes music sony apple

Sun Sep 23 12:38:45 2007

Only 10 years ago, companies wanted to make records, presumably good records, and see if they sold. But panic has set in, and now it's no longer about making music, it's all about how to sell music.
—David Geffen

The Sep. 2nd issue of the New York times Magazine has a great article about Rick Rubin, the co-head of Columbia Records.

More Ads

imac iphone "tina fey"

Mon Sep 24 12:40:05 2007

(Left to right): The alternate AT&T ad for the iPhone from the back page of the main section in yesterday's NY Times,
it reads, "Last week: want one. This week: get one"; back-page ad from two weeks ago in the NY Times Magazine, it reads:
"The new iMac. A complete high-performance computer, inside a stunning all-in-one aluminum design. From $1199."
and an 2-page American Express ad featuring Tina Fey and her daughter using a Macbook.

New Game in Town II

itunes virgin amazon olpc

Tue Sep 25 21:29:03 2007

Just as Virgin announced the closing of its online music store (I didn't even know they had one; music was DRM'd) Amazon announced that it was opening AmazonMp3(beta) to sell non-DRM MP3s via the web (1-click shopping for single tracks) encoded at 256kbits, ranging in price from US$ 0.89 to 0.99 per track from a library of 2M songs by 180K artists. Album downloads require a OS specific plugin which is currently available for Windows and Mac, with a Linux version forthcoming.

OLPC also announced that for a limited time (2 weeks) beginning Nov. 12, people in the U.S. could purchase a laptop for $399 which gets the buyer a laptop and donates a laptop to a child in the developing world.


amazon dollar

Thu Sep 27 16:10:06 2007

The Canadian dollar recently achieved parity with the American dollar but it's taking some time for the prices to adjust. For example, The Complete Peanuts 1950-1954 Boxed Set is $USD 32.97 on Amazon.COM and $CAD 37.77 on Amazon.CA.

Even Porsche Canada has dropped prices in Canada by 10% to stop Canadians from buying their cars in the U.S.

Parity II

apple dollar

Sat Sep 29 11:56:12 2007

ProductPrice USD$Price CAD$Difference $
iPod Shuffle798910
iPod Nano14916920
iPod Touch29932930
Apple TV29934950
MacBook Pro19992199200
Mac Mini59964950
Mac Pro24992799300

The table above shows the difference in prices between the American and Canadian online Apple Store. The top 3 price differences are the Mac Pro ($300), the MacBook Pro ($200) and the MacBook ($150).

The faculty member who was planning to buy a Mac when Leopard shipped, is now considering postponing the purchase until January when he hopes the prices will better reflect the parity between the two currencies. This means that my rule (Mac owners drive foreign cars; he drives a vintage Ford) will remain unbroken for another 3 months.

My boss (who is also planning to buy a Mac) just recently discovered Podcasts after the aforementioned faculty member showed him his (first generation) Nano loaded with music, photos and Podcasts. He now installed iTunes (on this XP computer) and downloads and manually syncs the podcasts on his HP phone (he purchased an MP4 codec online so he could play them on the WinCE 5.0 phone). I suggested that he listen to the NPR podcast, "Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me."

luis fernandes / G4 PowerBook Journal, Part 30 / Last Modified: Mon Oct 08 17:56:45 2007