Sunday, June 27, 2004

An insider's review of Sprint's current phone lineup

Confessions of a Cellphone Seller: The Sprint Edition

Gmail's secret weapon: spam filtering

Gmail
A few comments on Gmail:

1. If you're a terrorist and use Gmail, what kind of ads do you see? My wife (Emily) rattled off a few. Be a good "future" spot in Wired -- albeit somewhat dark. Since AdWord advertisers often take keywords and insert them into their displayed ad text, it ought not to be hard to trick Gmail into displaying ads that look something like:

eShopper -- Yellow Cake Uranium at lowest prices!!

2. Their secret weapon is spam filtering. Google will adapt the best standards for both sending-service and author identification, but they'll also implement the practices I've advocated for years (to little applause I might add! :-):

- reputation management of authenticated sending services
- differential filtering based on managed reputations of authenticated sending services

and they'll implement practices others have tried -- including collaborative spam identification.

Google will do collaborative spam identification better than anyone -- they have the knowledge and ability to leverage knowledge about the account owner, semantic ranking of content (junk spam has low semantic rankings), advertiser links (if advertiser links switch from classical music to discount viagra ...), and to combine that knowledge with subscriber identification of spam. When 10 high reputation subscribers mark very similar messages as spam, Google can remove them all.

Put all of these together with the current exponential decay of traditional email (almost 30-40% of my filtered email is now nonsense-spam) and Gmail may be the only messaging service left standing.

Historians will note that anonymity on the net ended the day Gmail recognized that reading email to generate ad links also enabled spam filtering to work.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

macosxhints - Print to an Airport Extreme USB printer from WinXP

macosxhints - Print to an Airport Extreme USB printer from WinXP: "Having just set up my home network, consisting of one Windows XP Pro Workstation (Ethernet), one Apple PowerBook 12' (AirPort) and an AirPort Extreme BaseStation, the only piece of the puzzle missing was sharing my Epson USB Printer.

The PC is fairly noisy, so I didn't want to have to use it to share the printer, especially when the BaseStation can do the task. I couldn't find any documentation on the net about connecting to a shared printer on the BaseStation from Windows, so set about working out how to do it myself. After whipping out the trusty ol' Network Utility and portscanning the BaseStation, it revealed that (among others) Port 9100 was open (Raw LPR/JetDirect).

From here on, it was a simple matter of setting up the PC with the required printer drivers, and setting the port to print to as a Standard TCP/IP Port on 10.0.1.1 (the BaseStation's IP address) using Raw LPR to Port 9100."
The Airport base station is supposed to work with XP if one selects JetDirect. Doesn't work for me. I'll try Raw LPR setup and port 9100. I wonder if I need to turn on WAN printing ... I'll try port scanning too.

Update: I've found the AEBS won't detect the HP if I plug in the USB cable. I have to plug in the cable then reset the AEBS. Annoying!

Friday, June 25, 2004

21 Rules of Software Development

21 Rules of Thumb – How Microsoft develops its Software
6. Beware of a guy in a room.

This is really just a special case of 'Don’t go dark.' Specialist developers who lock themselves away in a room, going dark for long stretches, are anathema to shipping great software on time. Without regard to their individual brilliance, before investing a developer with a significant assignment, it is essential that they understand and agree with the type of development program you intend to run. They must be capable of performing on a team, making their work visible in modest increments and subjecting it to scrutiny as it matures. Some people find this intolerable, and though there is a role for people of this disposition in the software world, it is not as part of a team devoted to shipping great software on time.

There are many pathologies at play here as well as certain healthy patterns of creative behavior. One pathology is a type of savior complex that cannot be satisfied without blowing every single deadline but the last, and then emerging victoriously with a brilliant piece of work five minutes late. A more healthy pattern is that of the true innovator who is truly designing something great, but who has no personal resources left over for anything but the work at hand. Every ounce of psychological, emotional and intellectual energy is being consumed in the work itself. Teamwork, in this case, is an insignificant factor to a person immersed in this sort of creative experience.

But whether or not the cause is healthy or bogus, the results are uniformly fatal to the professional development organization. Beware. Extricating yourself from this trap is nearly impossible.

I am not impressed with Microsoft products in general, but I think these recommendations are important for well defined commercially succesful products -- even if they aren't great products. All 21 are interesting, but especially the above.

For great software I think one needs the opportunity to explore and experiment. That's why Google gives developers one day each week to work on their own initiatives.

Microsoft produces software that sells, albeit within a monopoly framework. Since Microsoft does not really compete, it's hard to say that it meets market needs. Google, on the other hand, does have to compete -- and it makes great software.

SuperCal for ColorSync settings in OS X

SuperCal
Note mention of the Panther bug with contrast enhancement. This sounds like it might be worth a test. Macintouch reader recommends it to set white balance to DVD expectations (Windows).

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Another iBook problem: serviced out of warranty

iBook 2001 (Part 13): "I purchased one of the first 500 MHz 'Dual USB' iBooks in the summer of 2001. I had to send it back for service during the original warranty because the airport reception was dependent on screen position (perfect reception at 90 degrees, no reception at full screen extension). I made the mistake of not purchasing the AppleCare extended warranty.

Last fall, the screen started to misbehave. I would get blue lines across the screen, and the screen would sometimes turn black. This also seemed to be related to screen position, so I went to my local Apple store to see what it would cost to repair. I was told it would be a minimum of $300, and it might not be the video cable as I suspected, but rather a motherboard problem.

Since I figured the whole computer was not worth much more than than that, I bit the bullet and bought a refurbished 17' PowerBook (with AppleCare this time). I knew that newer iBooks than mine had logic board problems, and the repair program had been extended before.

When I saw that the repair program had been extended to include my old iBook, so I took it back to the Apple store and went to the Genius bar to see if I was eligible for the repair program. The genius took a look at it, and told me it didn't seem to have the symptoms of the logic board issue. The store was closing, so he gave me a case number, and told me I could try calling the Apple Support phone number to see if I could get them to look at it anyway.

I called Apple support, and the phone tech had me try a few things. He had me boot into open firmware and try pressing on the corners of the computer. Pressing on the upper left hand corner caused the iBook to shut off completely. That was good enough, and I dropped off my iBook at the Apple store to be shipped off for repair, with the warning that it would probably take a week, possibly two to get it back.

This morning, only two days later, DHL dropped off my iBook, with a repair notice stating that the 'ASSY, Inverter/Sleep Switch' was replaced, and my iBook seems as good as new. The video problem is completely gone."
We justly complain about iBook problems, but the new Dell corporate laptops my company uses make the iBook seem a paragon of reliability.

SendStation - Products - PocketDock Combo

SendStation - Products - PocketDock Combo
I want to use my iPod to backup my laptop PC when I travel.

It's an XP laptop, so I need a USB solution and software that allows XP to read & write to HFS+ file systems. Choices:

MacOpener: http://www.dataviz.com/products/macopener/index.html

http://www.macwindows.com/disks2.html lists a bunch of solutions ...

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Modifying an OS X printer using the CUPS localhost web interface requires root privileges

MacFixIt - Troubleshooting Solution for the Macintosh
The security update of 04-05-2004 made some small changes to cupsd.conf
that have major changes in how the user gets to access it. If you read lines
820-823 you'll see notes about how admin rights in the system group are
required to make do 'administration functions' which are what you are trying
to do.

We found that if we change this back with the following procedure. Open the
file cupsd.conf with a text editor (I use BBEdit, you may prefer something
else). Go to lines 835 and 836 and comment them out (put # at the beginning
of each line).

You'll see that these two lines indicate the auth types required to access the
function. By commenting them out you deactivate them and you'll be able to
make the changes again.

Note that subsequent security updates reinsert these lines and you'll have to
deactivate them again.

I used my root uname and pword and was able to get access. Usual admin pw didn't work. The above is another fix for this problem. The CUPS web access is htpp://localhost:631. It has options beyond the native GUI tool.

I'm also using the shareware app, Printer Setup Repair, to work my OS X CUPS printing problems.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

OS X Printing Problem: Printing to an HP DeskJet 882C on a Hawking Print Server

Mac OS X Panther (10.3.2)
William Brinkley
I followed Guillaume Gete Feb.23 tip: 'It seems the issue is in the CUPS printing server, which creates an incredible amount of temp files in /var/spool/cups/tmp/. Rebooting sometimes helps, but sometimes does not. Therefore, you must log in as an admin, and type in the Terminal : sudo rm -rf /var/spool/cups/tmp/' Unfortunately, my printer (HP Laserjet 4mv) then had'Jobs Stopped' and when I click the 'Start Jobs' icon, the job tries to print, but nothing happened.

After considerable research, and an excellent suggestion from a friend that I simply add another /tmp/ folder, here's the fix for the 'tip' but note: I am NOT a Unix user. The above was my first, and now, most likely, last Unix command on the Mac.

Open NetInfo Manager (Applications/Utilities)

Unlock it (give admin name & pw)

Choose: 'Security-Enable Root User

OK out, using passwords as requested

Quit NetInfo Manager

Log out; log in again as 'root'

Navigate to to /var/spool/ folder

Open the /cups/ folder

Create a new folder: /tmp/

Log out as 'root' and log back in normally.

After the above, my printer allowed me to print the job which had been queued at some point, waiting for the 'tmp' folder (I guess). Hope this helps anyone inexperienced and/or foolish enough to try the above-mentioned tip, as I did.

My iBook has never printed properly to my Win2K hosted HP 882C. Instead I saved jobs to PDF and printed them from the PC.

This irritated me, but I was also unhappy with the way Win2K supported printer sharing for any machine. (One of XP's big improvements on Win2K printing. Any printer hiccup will mangle the Win2K printing services, requiring a command line or Admin tool service stop/restart.) So I moved the old DeskJet to my Hakwing 12PSU print server.

Worked very well for my PCs using the Hawkings tool or IPP printing. Better than the Win2K share!

Then I worked on my OS X machine. I found using http://10.0.1.250/lp3 with internet printing http (Advances setup using Print Center or use localhost:631 and use Samba web client setup) worked well. But I couldn't get CUPS printing to work well. I tried lots of things, including an OS X shareware tool that is supposed to fix bad printing situations. I had best success using the CUPS web client to install a printer accessing the HP CUPS/Linux driver set.

Turns out though that HP now has a native OS X driver (32MB download). So I'll try that ...

UPDATE: The HP driver seemed to work, then stopped working. No error messages -- a print job would start then the printer would go offline. I switched to root and added the printer as root. Seems to work now for all users. I figure a security update changed print privileges and broke the late 2003 driver, HP hasn't updated it. We'll see ...

Sunday, June 13, 2004

SeatGuru.com - Another site for the travel page

SeatGuru.com - Your Enlightened Guide to Airplane Seating
Enter flight info, see best seats.

Need to try Kanoodle and Vivisimo ...

The New York Times > Business > Your Money > Techno Files: How Google Took the Work Out of Selling Advertising: "VivĂ­simo, founded by scientists at Carnegie Mellon University, which clusters search results into useful categories rather than putting them in one big list.

But Google is the clear leader, among competitors like Overture and Kanoodle,"

Software to manage personal imaging project - advice needed

Posted on usenet and in a few others places ... Looking for input ...

I might try askSlashdot too ...
--
I'm looking at doing a largeish (3000+ image) scanning project [2]. For various reasons I'm probably going to hire a student to do the scans and buy a Nikon V ED negative scanner (hard to find btw, most vendors are sold out).

The image acquisition part is relatively straightforward. I'll be keeping the negatives of course. I'll image at about 2000 dpi and store as 99% JPEG. [1]

My main questions are about image mananagement. I've looked at a few reviews of lower end software (iView MediaPro, Microsoft Imaging Suite, Adobe PhotoAlbum, Picasa, ACDSee, etc), and I can't tell if anything does what I want. I've used iPhoto extensively on my OS X machine, but this project will probably be PC based. Here's my short list:

1. I want all the metadata to be accessible, ideally stored using a commercial database structure. So I can directly manipulate image identifiers, image paths, image titles, descriptions, roll information, catalog/album names, etc. I'd be happy with an Access database, a FileMaker database, or an open source database.

2. I'd like very good support of embedded EXIF tags. So the album software should be able to write data to EXIF tabs within the JPEG headers -- such as image title, description, data of acquisition, etc. This data will mirror what's in the image management database.

3. I want the album software to manage unique identifiers, ideally also within the EXIF header. I want to be able to go from any image to its metadata. The album software also needs to manage filename collision. I'd be just as happy for the album software to name every file with a unique identifier and blow away the original file names.

4. I'd like to be able to set a prefix or suffix applied to images in addition to the album maintained image unique identifier.

5. The solution needs to scale to tens of thousands of images and to manage image migration to external media catalogs.

6. I'd like to be able to define a subset of the catalog and burn it to a CD along with a local catalog.

7. I'd like to be able to edit images in an external editor (Photoshop, etc), and have the image software handle versioning (retaining the original).

8. Indexing, searching, keywords, etc are nice, but not the main thrust of this project.

I think these requirements are more typical of high end professional solutions. I hope to cobble something together from a few packages. I wonder too about some of the less familiar open source image management solutions, including some that are web based. I'd guess they'd be more likely to meet my needs.

I don't care as much about integrated image management tools.

Any thoughts from experienced users -- esp. Pros?

Thanks!

john
jfaughnan@spamcop.net

meta: jfaughnan, jgfaughnan, image management, photoalbum, database, photo album, metadata, scanning, imaging, home, personal

[1] In 10 years I may do this again with 2014 technology. Then it will be lossless. I am also consider JPEG 2000 for the better color management.

[2] I have thousands of unfiled family photos. I plan to image the negatives and then manage digitally. I'll discard the prints and keep the negatives. After imaging everything, I expect to delete at least half the images over time.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Biloxi Mississippi Current Local Time - Time Zone - Time in Biloxi MS

Biloxi Mississippi Current Local Time - Time Zone - Time in Biloxi MS

this is an even better travel page for time zone determination

The World Clock - Time Zones

The World Clock - Time Zones

need to add to my travel page ...

No G5 iMac?

Analysts weigh in on Apple's newest Power Mac G5
Yesterday, Apple's Director of Power Mac Product Marketing, Tom Boger, cast aside that policy to say that there would be no PowerBook G5 anytime soon. Boger explained that there were engineering challenges involved in migrating the G5 architecture to both the PowerBook and the iMac. Boger's comments effectively put rumors about Apple's future in those product categories to rest -- a move analysts applaud.

I wasn't expecting a G5 PowerBook, given IBM's production issues. But no G5 iMac?!! He didn't say that, but he lumped the PowerBook and the iMac together.

Ouch.

Apple Remote Desktop 2 w/ VNC

Think Secret - Apple Remote Desktop 2 nearing completion: "Remote Desktop 2 will boast standards-based reporting, task scheduling, VNC support,"

All uninteresting, except the VNC support. Is Apple going to anoint a VNC solution for remote access? That would bring OS X up closer to XP's Microsoft Remote Desktop.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

OS X "System Migration" assistant -- new feature

MacFixIt - New Power Mac G5 models include "System Migration" feature
Introduced with the newest G5s. In the old, old days moving between a Mac took only a few minutes. Moving between DOS machines was about as hard. Moving between Win 3.1 machines became interesting, moving from an XP machine is an ordeal. If anything, an OS X machine migration may be worse.

This is way overdue.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

iPod 3G - disable calendar alarms to increase battery life?

Mainctouch iPod (Part 26)
I had the same problem as Nicolas, regarding my 3G iPod being almost completely discharged after just sitting for maybe 2 days. After hunting through several web pages, the unlikely suggestion of making sure ALL the iPod alarms were set to off greatly restored my battery life.

I can't remember what alarm it was, but it was nothing I was using (or hearing). Apparently, it defaults to on.

The only thing I can see that looks like this is the calendar alerm which defaults to "beep" and can be changed to "off".

Schneier: Witty worm was pretty bad

The Witty worm: A new chapter in malware - Computerworld
Witty was the first worm to target a particular set of security products -- in this case Internet Security System's BlackICE and RealSecure. It infected and destroyed only computers that had particular versions of this software running.

A few things we learned from this worm:

Witty was wildly successful. Twelve thousand machines was the entire vulnerable and exposed population, and Witty infected them all -- worldwide -- in 45 minutes. It's the first worm that quickly corrupted a small population. Previous worms targeting small populations such as Scalper and Slapper were glacially slow.

Close all your firewall ports. Don't buy firewalls from companies that have let backdoors be inserted (NetGear, Linksys, others?). Use a Mac.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

gPhotoShow - simple and elegant

gPhotoShow - Slide Show Maker and Photo Screen Saver Creator

My longtime favorite, I prefer the free version.

Alcohol software: put kid's CDs on server

Alcohol Software is DVD / CD burning software. CD & DVD burner, recorder and ripper
Presumably the main use is illegal duplication of CDs, but I'd just like our kids to access their CDs from the file server, rather than messing with the discs. I don't know if the CD images include unused space, if they don't it may be possible to put all the kids CDs on a single 160GB drive and access them over the net.

David Shayer on OS X disk editors

TidBITS#732/07-Jun-04
... Some people put several partitions on a hard disk. The partition map tracks the various partitions. I damaged the partition map. As with the bad sectors, I performed this test on a real hard disk, since disk images don't have partition maps. Tech Tool Pro didn't detect the problem. Of the other utilities, only Norton Disk Doctor even noticed this problem, although it couldn't fix it....

... Of the 15 damaged disk images, Tech Tool Pro repaired 9 of them perfectly or well enough, and did pretty well on the last disk. That stacks up against DiskWarrior with 12 fixes, Norton Utilities with 11, Drive 10 with 9, Disk Guardian with 5 and Disk Utility with 4...

... I stick with my earlier recommendation for dealing with damaged disks. Try Apple's Disk Utility first (since it's free and isn't likely to create any additional problems), and if Disk Utility fails, hand the damage over to DiskWarrior, which has the best chance of fixing whatever ails your hard disk. And please, keep good backups!
DiskWarrior is $80. At that price I'm tempted to rely on backups and Disk Utility first, then buy it on need.

More startling to me was that nothing can repair partition defects on an OS X disk. I'd gotten the feeling that OS X and Apple doesn't really test multi-partition configurations that heavily ... I'd avoid partitions ...

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Best of the Bags

It's in the Bag - Which carry-on bag is best? By Seth Stevenson
Samsonite Ultra 3000 XLT Sideroller Carry-On Upright Suiter, $139.99 at Ebags.com.

Nothing flashy here. Completely generic, Samonsite-y looks. Yet it's a great value for its price. In terms of functionality, it's not appreciably different from the high-end bags. The Samsonite features oodles of useful pockets inside and out and is again well-appointed with accessory bags and a tri-fold hanger. The wheels are rollerblade style and feel strong. The main compartments are quite spacious. And here's the kicker: Separate, tiny wheels let you crabwalk the bag sideways, to create a narrower profile when you need to squeeze through a tight space. I tested this out in my simulated airplane aisles and was impressed. I could easily picture the Samsonite slipping untouched through a slalom of obese airline passengers, their fat haunches spilling under armrests and into the aisle. The little sideways wheels aren't all that strong and don't roll as smoothly, but they'll do the trick for that mad jaunt from the jetway to your seat. Granted, if the Victorinox and the Samsonite were the same price, you'd want the Victorinox, but the cost difference is way too much to be overcome. Unless you're talking about a bag like …

Tumi Vestry 22-inch Wheeled Packing Case, $295 at Tumi.com.

In the luggage brand senior yearbook, Tumi was voted "Most likely to be stowed in a Phnom Phen airport locker, bulging with stacks of non-sequential U.S. currency." Tumi designs are always sleek, modern, and just a little bit dangerous. The Vestry model is no exception, with its bold, black, streamlined look. It also excelled at each challenge I set for it. It rolled more smoothly than other bags in the walking-around test; did not leak when subjected to the rainy-day test; fit comfortably into my simulated aisles in the fake-airplane test; and seemed to almost chuckle dryly as, during the butter-knife test, I feebly attempted to injure its thick and muscular hide. You can feel the solidity of the construction—the unbreakable zippers and unbendable handle. With its excellent layout of compartments and pockets—including dedicated shoe slots—the Tumi is delightfully packable. It's lightweight, too.

And so we have a winner. One look at this bag and you'll long to strut confidently through foreign airport terminals, Tumi rolling alongside. A tad expensive? Yes. But remember Eddie Murphy's farsighted wisdom. A bag like this will stay with you for life—and that's exactly what you'll want.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Workaround for XP losing WiFi 802.11b connections

Wired News: Windows XP Bedevils Wi-Fi Users
• Go to Control Panel.
• Choose Administrative Tools.
• Select Services. A two-pane window comes up.
• In the right-hand pane, scroll down and click Wireless Zero Configuration.
• Click Stop the Service. A progress bar may come up briefly.
• Click Start the Service. Again, a progress bar may come up.
• Close the Services window. At this point, Fleishman said, the connection should come back.

I suspect it's a problem with certain machine/PC card combinations.

Lookout: search Outlook email

Lookout email search for Microsoft Outlook - Lookout Software
I may REALLY come to like this. It's early to tell and I'm using a beta 1.10 release version. It's only $30, free until release.

Things I like:

1. Very simple, but if you read the manual there's a nice search syntax available.
2. Very, very, fast indexing.
3. Complete control of what gets indexed across multiple PST files. Since I keep very little on the exchange server (makes Palm sync actually work instead of causing endless pain) this was critical to me.

Wow.

Tips on using firewire and USB drives

Panther FireWire Bug (Part 4)
Consider adding a hub, patch-panel, or additional Firewire or USB ports with a PCI card or PC Card, to provide a sacrificial connection. If a port on the hub, patch-panel, or PCI card goes bad, it is relatively simple and low-cost to replace it.

A very good tip.

ConceptDraw for OS X and Windows: but what's the file format?

ConceptDraw is cross-platform software for creating professional-looking diagrams, flowcharts, orgcharts, schemes, and other technical and business drawing for Macintosh and Windows platforms

Macintouch: ConceptDraw 5.2 is a cross-platform flowchart and diagramming application that includes ConceptDraw Basic (a built-in scripting language). The new version features improved performance and enhanced XML for Visio import, with full support of well-formed Visio XML documents. ConceptDraw Standard is $149 (Professional $249) for Mac OS X 10.1.5 and up and Windows.
Good import/export, but what the HECK is the native file format? It kills me that vendors don't tell us on page one if they have YAFF (yet another file format) or if they use something interesting (PDF, SVG, etc).

At last - a review of USB "thumb" drives

Ars Technica: USB 2.0 Hi-Speed drive review - Page 1 - (6/2003)

Reading this review, and thinking about how it's written, it's easy to understand why PC Magazine has a "wasting disease".

Of course, as always, nothing's designed for my needs. I'd like:

1. A place to write my name on the drive case so when people pass it around it gets back to me.
2. When one removes the cap, a way to quickly clip it to the base with a slender line so it doesn't get lost, but doesn't block things. The biggest pain with these devices is losing the cap.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

SplashPhoto - Mobile Image Viewer for the Palm OS

SplashPhoto - Mobile Image Viewer for the Palm OS

The desktop client runs on OS X and Windows. I'm going to try this with my CLIE, I wasn't impressed with what came with the TJ-27.

Update: Looks very good. It also looks a heck of a lot like the Tungsten E photo app. I suspect PalmOne licensed a simplified version of SplashPhoto. I'll probably buy this one.

Deleting Acrobat's annoying toolbars

PDFMaker unavailable in a Microsoft Office application (Acrobat 5.x on Windows XP or 2000) - Support Knowledgebase

The ghost of Acrobat 4 haunts my toolbars. I hope this document, on how to RESTORE the Acrobat 5 toolbar will give me hints on how to exorcise the A4 version.