Part 44 of elf's Apple PowerBook G4 Journal

Apple Exuberance


Fri Jan 02 19:35:00 2009

A funny thing happened at last month's departmental Christmas luncheon (which I never attend due to my anti-social tendencies)— this story is based on hearsay from those present at the "social" table, who witnessed the events I am about to describe...

Seated at the "techie" table were my boss (a young guy and a recent Mac convert) and three other faculty members— two of which were young guys and both Mac users, while the third was an old-timer and a PC user. During the course of the luncheon, the subject of the technical conversations inevitably turned to the latest phenomenon— the iPhone. At this point, the old-timer began speaking disparagingly about the device and said that according to recent surveys, the iPhone was the phone of choice for "the uneducated" and those unable cope with technology. Everyone at the table quietly listened to him.

At the end of his monologue, my boss, who is the lead engineer for the department and capably solves all manners of technical problems every day, pulls out his iPhone and says, "But I have an iPhone." At which point rest of the table bursts out laughing, to the infinite embarrassment of the old timer. (It was at this point that the "social" table thought that the "techie" table had enough to drink.) Later, the old-timer paid for my boss' lunch bill.

My boss' conversion to the Apple Gospel and particularily the Book of Jobs, has heralded his evangelical side. He will talk at length about the strengths of the iPhone, to any one who will listen (his HP iPaq is a distant and fading memory). His love of Apple has reached a point where it was very difficult for me to convince him to hold-off buying a Mac Mini over the Christmas holidays because new models were to be released in January. There was disappointment in his face, that I was making him wait to buy a Mac.

My love of Apple also shows through whenever I meet someone who is having trouble with their PC as I recently happened upon a departmental assistant who had brought her Compaq laptop, running XP, to be re-installed because it was "very slow". When I began my conversation with, "Have you considered buying a Mac?", (as I inevitably do) she wondered if Apple was paying me to sell Macs. I asked her if she'd never used a product that she loved so much that she wanted her friends to know about it— sadly, she said, she had not.

The last time she had used a Mac was in college (the OS 9 days) and she thought that "Macs were used by artists and musicians" and she believed that the interface was still the "old" interface she had encountered. I pointed to my boss and said that he was proof that a person with a complete lack of artistic talent used a Mac. But, she wasn't convinced. I said she should drop-in to an Apple store and play with a Mac to see how much they've changed.

I don't think there is a Mac in her future as a computer isn't as great a part of her life as it is in ours. When we return to work next week, I'll ask her if she dropped into an Apple store and looked at a Mac.

Kernel Panic


Sat Jan 03 19:02:59 2009

mathilde, running Leopard 10.5.5, kernel panicked today after waking up from sleep. This is notable for its rarity. The problem was in zmalloc.c according to the problem report which was duly relayed to Apple.

Time to upgrade to 10.5.6.

"Big Bang Theory" Mac


Sat Jan 03 19:13:21 2009

A Mac Classic can by seen in Leonard's closet in one episode of "Big Bang Theory"; a sticker covers the Apple logo. Next to the keyboard is a box for a iPod speaker dock (possibly the Logitech AudioStation Express). In this episode, Penny is going through his closet trying to find some suitable clothes for him to wear for a conference presentation. All she can find are his clothes from high-school.

In subsequent episodes, Leonard was seen finishing a slide presentation with a Macbook Air (even though he still uses his Dell XPS at home) and also using an iPhone.

I decided to post this after reading Steven Levy's article, "25 years of the Mac" in Wired Magazine, where he mentions that he still has his Mac.

Letter from Jobs


Mon Jan 05 09:36:12 2009

Steve Jobs wrote an open letter to the Apple community in which he talks about his health.

Macworld 2009


Tue Jan 06 13:57:35 2009

Notable points in Schiller's keynote, watched on

No new Mac Minis. That is quite a surprise.

My NIS GID Maps to a Weird Name


Wed Jan 07 18:37:20 2009

My reliance on the Finder to navigate my homedirectory is evidenced by the fact that (since upgrading to Leopard, last month) I have only now noticed that my NIS group-ID maps to something weird on my Mac. I did an ls -l today and I was surprised to see...

drwxr-sr-x@  6 elf     4096 Jan  7 18:24 Desktop/
drwxr-sr-x   3 elf      512 Sep  1 21:02 Documents/
drwx------  42 elf     1024 Dec 17 17:39 Library/
drwx------@  4 elf     5632 Jan  7 18:34 Mail/
drwxr-sr-x   4 elf      512 Mar 22  2007 Music/
drwxr-sr-x   3 elf      512 May  9  2007 Pictures/
-rw-r--r--   1 elf  3335651 Apr 28  2005 Simon & Garfunkel - Sounds of Silence - Anji.mp3

I don't know if I should file this as a Leopard bug or whether there's a new convention where ID numbers less than a treshold are being used for system stuff. This wasn't a problem with Tiger, but then I hadn't used the Directory Utility to enable NIS ("Berkeley flatfile 2.0").

The Return of Steve Jobs To Apple


Sun Jan 11 19:51:55 2009

They want me to be some kind of Superman. But I have no desire to run Apple Computer. I deny it at every turn, but nobody believes me.
—Steve Jobs, c. 1997

Steve Jobs sold NeXT to Apple Computer on Dec. 20, 1996 for $430M. The rest is history.

The Exit of Steve Jobs from Apple


Wed Jan 14 18:28:26 2009

Steve Jobs is on leave from Apple until June, for health reasons; Tim Cook is interim CEO. Apple stock dropped to $77 (drop of 10%) in after-hours trading.

My Canon 50D Review

review photography

Wed Jan 21 17:18:58 2009

I have combined my journal entries to create a page with a comprehensive review of the Canon EOS 50D. It including all the custom settings I have made and also a list of my usability complaints.

It is a work in progress and there will be several addendums as I continue to use the camera.

Powerbook G4 Officially Obsolete

Wed Feb 04 22:49:15 2009

The Powerbook G4 will be classified as obsolete after March 17. This means that, "Apple will not provide service parts or documentation for these products and the items cannot be sent in as Mail-In Repairs to AppleCare Repair Centers." The full list of other computers is here.

320 GB Seagate FreeAgent Go Drive

backup drive time machine seagate

Sun Feb 08 12:11:43 2009

The 320 GB (287GB free) Seagate Go FreeAgent portable drive I ordered from the Apple Store back in January, arrived on Friday; it was on backorder. It is formatted for MacOS filesystem, comes with a leatherette travel case, a desktop dock, FW800, FW400 and USB2.0 cables (greyish-white) and a 5 year warranty. I like how it "glows" to life and powers down— it's a nice touch. I'm using it as my Time Machine backup. The silver drive is the size of the small Moleskine notebook. It takes about 10s to mount. It does not support the SMART drive status.

The first thing I always do with all my external drives is to sudo rm -rf .Trashes; touch .Trashes which disables the trash folder on the disk.

I tried an initial speed test of copying my approximately 15GB iPhoto library from the laptop drive (5400RPM) to the FreeAgent; it took a bit over 15 minutes.

It was 26% complete after about one hour (15GB of 57GB completed) and 91% complete in about two hours (52 of 57GB). The level-zero backup was complete into just over two hours. The top of the drive was pleasantly warm. The bottom of the drive is a velvety non-slip plastic.

500GB Verbatim USB2.0/FW Drive

This drive is certainly better than the 500 GB Verbatim USB2.0/FW drive I bought from Staples which died (made a countinuous clicking sound) within a few days. I was EXTREMELY fortunate not to have deleted the EOS 50D photos off my 8GB CF card when I copied them over to that drive as a backup. It also took about 30s to mount under Windows, which was unacceptable when my old 55 GB Lacie, designed by Porsche, takes about 5 seconds. I should note that I returned the defective drive for a full refund and vowed to never buy Verbatim drives again.

250GB Verbatim FW Drive

The 250GB drive is still going despite being dragged along the floor while still attached to my Powerbook via the Firewire cable , when my six year old nephew decided he wanted to play a video game on my laptop.

Michael Beirut and Joel Splosky


Tue Feb 10 21:16:06 2009

A first-person narrative, in the Sunday Times business section, titled ,"Drawing Board to the Desktop", from Michael Beirut, who is a partner at Pentagram, the premiere design firm.

Also, Joel Splosky's office for his company, Fog Creek Software, is featured on the last page in the article titled, "A Software Designer Knows His Office Space, Too".

2009 Oscar Predictions


Wed Feb 18 21:05:40 2009

Nate Silver crunches numbers and predicts the Oscars.

Ledger, Henson, Rourke, Winslet, Boyle, and Slumdog (expected to win in all nominated categories from what I've read).

The iPhone in Japan


Sun Mar 01 08:23:05 2009

It seems Brian X. Chen, a "reporter" at Wired wrote an article about the iPhone's failure in Japan by mis-quoting people and using their quotes out of context.

Nobuyuki Hayashi, one of the people mis-quoted, blogged a long correction to the article. Appleinsider has a summary of the whole thing.

To summarize, despite being limited in features that Japenese use everyday— auto-debit, train pass— the iPhone is selling well in Japan.

Google on Charlie Rose

Sat Mar 07 22:56:04 2009

Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Google VP Marissa Mayer (the person she admires most is Steve Jobs) interviewed on Charlie Rose.

Wolfram Alpha


Sun Mar 08 14:37:37 2009

Where Google is a system for FINDING things that we as a civilization collectively publish, Wolfram Alpha is for ANSWERING questions about what we as a civilization collectively know. It's the next step in the distribution of knowledge and intelligence around the world— a new leap in the intelligence of our collective "Global Brain." And like any big next-step, Wolfram Alpha works in a new way— it computes answers instead of just looking them up...

To accomplish this it uses built-in models of fields of knowledge, complete with data and algorithms, that represent real-world knowledge. For example, it contains formal models of much of what we know about science— massive amounts of data about various physical laws and properties, as well as data about the physical world.


bin unpack

Thu Mar 26 18:26:13 2009

To unpack .bin files (like the Adobe Photoshop Elements RAW support patch) I found UnArchiver to be preferable over Stuffit Expander which, although free, requires one to jump through many hoops (including email verification) before even downloading it.


Wed Apr 22 21:37:57 2009

A few surprises— Oracle bought Sun for $7.4B (the #solaris topic noted "You are all DBAs now. Please leave your clues at the front desk").

The Sun Enterprise 10K was actually a Cray design that Sun bought when SGI purchased Cray.

There was a rendering engine called the Pixar Image Computer.

The mute button on my boss' iPhone fell off. He wanted to glue it back on because he didn't believe me when I told him to go to the Apple Store and that they would give him a new iPhone. He eventually relented and was quite surprised when they agreed to replace his phone and made an appointment for a meeting with an Apple Genius for tomorrow morning, to check that his problem wasn't due to the iPhone being immersed in water or dropped.

luis fernandes / G4 PowerBook Journal, Part 44 / Last Modified: Mon Jul 06 23:43:56 2009