Part 41 of elf's Apple PowerBook G4 Journal

"Happy Birthday to Gnu"

gnu fsf apple drm "stephen fry"

Mon Sep 01 23:05:39 2008

Some weeks ago, after the iPhone AppStore had opened with the DRM'd applications, there was a discussion on #emacs about the Defective by Design campaign to "harrass" the AppleStore Geniuses. I suggested that the campaign would inconvenience Mac users more than Apple corporate. I was asked whether I had a better approach. I suggested using Stephen Fry, a popular commentator and avid fan of Apple products, as a spokesperson for the campaign— fight fire with fire, so to speak. I didn't think anything would become of it...

Imagine my surprise when, a few minutes ago, I was shown a page with a video of Stephen Fry talking about free software!

Unfortunately, I cannot take sole responsibility for the idea of the above video because it seems two other people, Matt Lee (who wrote most of it) and Peter Brown also had the idea. Naturally, it was kept secret at the time I mentioned it, because it was supposed to be a surprise.

Gates/Seinfeld Ad No. 1: Three Takes

microsoft gates seinfeld

Fri Sep 05 08:07:06 2008

  1. Macenstein: "I donít know whether I am supposed to want to buy Clown shoes or Vista, but after watching this, I want to buy both about the same amount."
  2. ZDNet: "I donít get it. And seeing how the punchline was, ummm, Bill Gates adjusting his shorts, I donít think I want to get it."
  3. Gizmodo: "Here's what we took away from it: Bill Gates's jiggling ass is moist and tasty. Don't ask us now, watch the clip and you'll see."

LHC: All We Are

Tue Sep 09 09:50:52 2008

"All we are is dust in the wind", will likely be re-written as, "all we are is bosons in space", the day after tomorrow.

New iPods


Tue Sep 09 23:13:27 2008

New iPod Nano in more colours with accelerometer; new iPod Touch with external speaker and volume adjustment controls; new in-ear headphones with mike; new 2.1 firmware (both iPod Touch and iPhone).


No GPS (likely a 3G Touch feature) or camera (4G Touch feature) for the Touch; still no (encrypted) file storage (likely third-party supplied). My Sony SJ33 Clié is still unbeatable— I carry all my passwords in an encrypted memo, something the iPod cannot yet do. Skype/VOIP might now be possible on a jailbroken iPod Touch.

Keynote video is now available on Engadget had the best coverage with nice pics to compliment the live text. MacWorld and Ars Technica coverage was average. I used an auto-refresh plugin to refresh the tabs every minute.

Gates/Seinfeld Ad No. 2

microsoft gates seinfeld

Fri Sep 12 12:36:35 2008

The second Gates/Seinfeld ad has its moments. The reference to "the mothership" is definitely a jab at Apple. I wonder where they're eventually going with the, "give me a sign" gag at the end. I would love to see the out-takes of the tooth-brushing scene— how many times did Seinfeld spit toothpaste on the mother? The most baffling part of the ad is the pool-filling scene. Corporate Microsoft is mirrored in the essence of the 'dirty tricks campaign' mounted by the daughter to get her room back. Great samba music track.

Update: Fri Sep 12 14:48:12 2008: whilst looking for a good frame to capture, I noticed that the youngest child in the family, seen sitting on the bottom left, is missing from the shot (see image) just after the woman says, "You're in my seat, funnyman".

I had considered not watching the second ad, after wasting my time watching the first one, but when I realized it was 4 minutes long, I took a look.

Big Bang Theory: Season 1


Sat Sep 13 13:50:05 2008

Just finished watching the first season DVD set of "Big Bang Theory", my other favourite TV show; the science jokes, and the socially awkward nerd stereotypes appeal to me. Searching for information about the Born Oppenheimer Approximation (mentioned, in passing as a joke, on the show), I found an article ("Science" website requires subscription so I made a copy) about the science advisor, UCLA physicist David Saltzberg, that the show producers and writers employ, to ensure all the technical dialog is correct.

Mating and coitus (a big bang, so to speak) are frequent subjects on the show, and after watching all the episodes, I came to the realization (I was also influenced by Hitchcock's Rebecca) that intelligence, beauty and wit, which at first, seem like noble characteristics to seek in a mate, have more meaningful counterparts in kindness, sensitivity and modesty. The greater realization was that kindness is the greatest of all, as no one was ever hated for showing kindness, while intelligence, beauty and, perhaps to a lesser extent, wit, have enemies in many circles.


robots toys

Mon Sep 15 17:30:20 2008

Tom Geismar's toy robot collection which was accumulated over a period of thirty years, "includes 135 robots, ranging from a mechanical Godzilla, to printed 1950s tin toys and ingenious plastic transformers, to Japanese pop TV robot heroes and wooden Folk Art characters", is on display at the Seattle Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame.

I currently have two robots in my collection.

Mini Rainbow


Tue Sep 16 13:26:38 2008

A photograph of my Mac Mini, at work, with a "rainbow apple" logo taken from discarded a LaserWriter printer left in a corridor. I nicked a bit of the paint and the edge while prying the logo from the recess on the printer's face. I would guess the printer is about 8 years old and the adhesive is still sticky.

Canon EOS 5D


Wed Sep 17 11:23:17 2008

Canon has finally countered Nikon's D90 DSLR camera which also shoot 720p HD video with the EOS 5D MarkII, a 21.1MP full-frame 35mm CMOS sensor, which also shoots 1080p HD video. I am considering it.

"I'm a PC And I Sell Fish"?

microsoft ad

Fri Sep 19 13:50:28 2008

What the...

Update Fri Sep 19 21:30:42 2008: Muahahah! It just occured to me that there is the possibility that the ad company is secretly sabotaging Microsoft's campaign. It's the only reasonable explanation I have for the incoherent campaign so far.

Good Luck With That

apple microsoft buxton design

Fri Sep 19 23:11:50 2008

Buxton is a well-known designer who joined Microsoft nearly two years ago. His theme is that design is critical to every aspect of computing... Buxton joined Microsoft specifically because of its design failings.
Remix08 Keynote, The Register

Hello, I'm a Mac. And I'm also a Mac

Sat Sep 20 13:51:12 2008

The PC Guy is actually a Mac.

iDVD5 on Leopard

idvd wtf

Sun Sep 21 15:35:39 2008

I was a bit surprised to find that iDVD5 doesn't work on Leopard on my Powerbook. When I double-click on the iDVD icon, a dialog appears: "You cannot use this version of the application iDVD with this version of Mac OS X." There is a discussion on the Apple forums about this— upgrading to iLife08 seems to solve this problem but it also seems iMovie8 doesn't work after the upgrade (minimum requirement 1.9GHz G5)— but iMovie6 works— good grief! What happened to: "It just works"?

The problem is that iLife is not included with retail disks of Leopard (which is what I used to install Leopard on my Powerbook); iLife only ships with discs bundled with Macs.

Another Leopard quirk I found a few weeks ago, was that after inserting a CF card using a PCMCIA adapter, the eject (unmount) button is missing from the Finder. So I have to manually sudo umount -f /Volumes/CFoo the device before ejecting it. I filed a bug report which is still open, so 10.5.5 didn't fix it.

The Newton, the N800 and the iPhone

nokia newton iphone pda tablets

Mon Sep 22 08:20:48 2008

A few hours ago, I started reading about the next generation Nokia tablet whose specs were previewed in Berlin. I then followed-up by reading about Maemo on the Wikipedia, whereupon I stumbled upon a detailed comparison between the current Nokia tablet and the original tablet, the Newton Messagepad. (The Apple representative for one of the independant computer stores we deal with, has a Newton.)

In addition to the descriptions of the Newton interface, I learned that the Newton, like the iPhone, had no filesystem— all the application data was stored in an object oriented database— and there was no cut and paste (but it had drag and drop).

We have a dream of improving the lives of many millions of people by means of small, intimate life support systems that people carry with them everywhere. These systems will help people to organize their lives, to communicate with other people, and to access information of all kinds. They will be simple to use, and come in a wide range of models to fit every budget, need, and taste. They will change the way people live and communicate.

—General Magic Ethos,
Wired, "Bill and Andy's Excellent Adventure II"

Reading further, I found a feature Wired article, by Steven Levy, about General Magic and their PDA, and the animosity between Bill Atkinson and Steve Capp, both of whom had worked on the Macintosh, but Atkinson had co-founded General Magic and Steve Capp, still at Apple (who had pulled-out of the General Magic Alliance), working on the competing Newton.

On the topic of consumer goods, I found this quote particularily interesting in light of the iPhone 3G $199 price-point:

"That's what first brought me into the picture, when he started saying Sony and Motorola," says Bill. "The idea of Apple making a $200 anything was ridiculous to me. Apple couldn't make a $200 blank disk, and for this to become a widespread consumer product it has to eventually get down into that range."

Technically, Atkinson is still correct, the $199 iPhone is subsidised by the cellular carrier.


google android phone

Tue Sep 23 14:37:40 2008

Google and T-mobile announced the G1, an Android based phone, today. There is a video comparing it to the iPhone; it's clear the iPhone has a much more polished interface in terms of responsiveness while the G1 seems to need repeated presses.

Update Tue Sep 23 18:21:08 2008: There is no stereo audio jack on the G1.

Dear Mr. Lorre

"big bang theory"

Tue Sep 23 18:00:34 2008

Dear Mr. Lorre,
Having just watched the first episode of the second season of your most excellent show, "The Big Bang Theory", I would like to note that I was quite shocked when I saw Sheldon folding his freshly laundered T-shirts using a gadget. Instead, I expected him to use the Two-Second T-shirt Folding method.

Perhaps, in a future episode someone could mention the technique to him.

As noted in Vanity Card #10, Mr. Lorre lurks on the net.

Unrecoverable Data


Sat Sep 27 19:23:51 2008

This is what happens to a CD (which is still in
the drive), when you turn a desktop computer on to its side in
preparation for opening it, before the CDROM drive has stopped
spinning. Groovy.

I took the photograph of the ladybug, seen on the desktop background, one morning on my way to work. I happened to be walking by a small bush and for no apparent reason I walked up to it and looked closely and saw the ladybug. I took a single picture (I usually take 3) and walked away. And I didn't realize the photograph came out absolutely perfect until I looked at it on the computer screen a few days later.

Unrecoverable Data II

"he's dead jim"

Tue Sep 30 15:37:37 2008

A rare sight seen from the GO train this morning.
Perhaps it was fortunate that the heavy rain blanketed
the windows with rivulets of water. This fatality happened
about an hour earlier on the Lakeshore line south of the
Ontario Foodland Terminal, just east of Mimico station.
Moments earlier, just as I was about to photograph a
half-dozen police cars parked next to the track, the
west-bound train passed.

luis fernandes / G4 PowerBook Journal, Part 41 / Last Modified: Thu Oct 16 23:08:15 2008