Friday, December 31, 2004

Tivoli PAL (or iPAL): the iPod speaker accessory of choice?

Tivoli Audio -- Portable Audio Laboratory (PAL) in Basic Black

At $130 the price isn't bad. It's not as flash as some of the iPod speaker accesories, but it's ruggedly made and comes with a great radio. It might be interesting to pair this with an Airport Express and use it as a convenient iTunes and iPod extension.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

The Canon CP-220 dye sublimation printer for quick 4x6 prints

O'Reilly: Tired of Inkjet Snapshots? The Canon CP-220 to the Rescue

A very interesting accessory, esp for printing directly from the camera. Impressively integrated with recent Canon cameras. I could see recommending this to someone who wants to use a digital camera but doesn't want to deal with a computer. Also handy for printing at children's parties.

O'Reilly: Exporting QuickTime Movies with Simple Video Out X

O'Reilly: Exporting QuickTime Movies with Simple Video Out X

Apple has a developer tool that allows QuickTime to be output as a FireWire stream to anything that accepts FireWire digital video input -- typically a high end DVD recorder or a video camera.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Digital Imaging Software Review: Vuescan 8.1

Digital Imaging Software Review: Vuescan 8.1

This comprehensive review doubles as a user's guide for VueScan film scanning. It's extraordinary.

Mousing firefox with the Microsoft Wireless Intellimouse

Firefox Help: Keyboard Shortcuts

Microsoft's software is pretty hit or miss (I could live without them), but I like their hardware. I paid $16 or so for a surplus wireless intellimouse 2.0. Version 5.2 of their software lets me map one of the many buttons to kestrokes. This page lets me know what Firefox mappings are available.

Now I use the small side button to send FF a Ctrl-PageDown, and thus to hop around tabs. Works great, but I may try another button.

Intellimouse s/w allows mappings to be application specific too ...

Slashdot Submissions: Sensor to detect furnace malfunction and send email

Slashdot Submissions
We returned from holiday to find that our furnace had died. Miraculously neither pipes nor radiators were frozen.

The repair service recommends a device that will turn on a light in the window when the temperature dropes below a critical level. The theory is that our neighbor will see this and call us.

That's fine, but I'd rather a sub-50F temperature event trigger email from my server. Then I can route it to my cell phone, etc.

Seems like either a commercial product must exist, or someone must have adopted this sensor/light device to trigger an email message. Of course I'd like something that worked with OS X, but I have a Wintel server as well.

This would be a great Steve Ciarcia article in the BYTE days, but I'm looking for something less ambitious than his recent work.

Belkin KVM switch recommended by a persuasive slashdot poster

OmniView SOHO KVM
Belkin gives you control over four computers--either PS/2 or USB models, or both--from a single PS/2 console. Our audio feature lets you switch between computers sharing speakers and a microphone, without having to unplug and re-plug them. Using the SOHO Series on Sun and Macintosh USB platforms gives you easy, cross-platform control. With its advanced features, such as audio and microphone switching support, the Belkin SOHO Series makes controlling multiple computers easier than ever.

Of particular interest if Apple's headless $500 iMac comes to market.

The OS X Keyboard viewer -- yet another obscure utility that displays special characters and fonts

CreativeBits: OS X: Typing special characters

I wonder about the Mac developers who get stuck doing these utilities. Here's another clever one that's utterly buried in a completely obscure location and probably known to only a dozen people -- yet if you search it out it's a great way to see the effect of using modifier keys and to examine various fonts. The one downside is that it uses yet more space on the menubar, but it's good enough to warrant taking something else (the MacClassic icon?) from the menubar (command-click then drag off menubar* -- but restoring icons to a menubar is application dependent).

One of the most interesting tips I've seen in a while.

* This is one of the more obscure user interface behaviors in OS X. A Ctrl-Click should show a "remove" item on the context menu.

Daring Fireball: An expert's advice on applying OS X system updates and bug fixes

Daring Fireball: Software Update Tips and Voodoo

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Contour Design: iPod hardcase

Contour Design, Inc. - showcase

I've heard some good things about this one.

The Poor Man's Mathematica

Graphing Calculator Users Gallery

There's a long story here. My perspective is that when Apple moved from its 68K Motorola chip to their "hot" RISC PowerPC architecture, they introduced a new mini-app -- the graphing calculator. They made a fuss about it. At the time it reminded me of Mathematica, except even then Mathematica cost hundreds of dollars and this far simpler app was a freebie. It persisted through all of Classic, but vanished after OS X came out.

Now the story of how it came to be, and not be, has come out. And, amazingly, it's back. There's a free version for OS X (works fine in my limited testing) and a $60-$100 commercial version with more features. There's even a book.

I used Mathematica quite a bit 10 years ago, and this is no Mathematica, but I must say it's a very cool tool. I don't do enough math now to judge how useful it would be to an engineer, but it does look like it'd do the job for high school math -- and it's not at all expensive.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Mac OS X 10.3.7: problems with DNS and preferences?

Macintouch - Mac OS X 10.3.7
Updated to 10.3.7 on my 15' alBook and suffered same slow Internet performance that is widely reported on the web. It was especially terrible with my AirPort at home.

The suggestion to make sure you load 'valid' DNS numbers was the only tip I needed. I loaded a different set of DNS numbers and ZOOM it took off. Then I put back the original DNS numbers and ZOOM it keeps on rocking... my previous speed had returned. It was not a new 'valid' number it needed, but simply a reload of the DNS addresses to correct some type of corruption. Even thought they are correct, try erasing, then reloading your DNS addresses and see if it works for you.

Something about 10.3.7 messes up the DNS server lookup process. But it is easily fixed in the Network Preferences panel.

This feels credible. A problem with a .plist file is a typical OS X glitch. Deleting the pref file for network preferences might work as well.

Maintenance tips for OS X: cache deletion on updates

Macintouch - Mac OS X 10.3.7
Jim Wade
I have a suggestion for the readers who are seeing slow start ups after installing 10.3.7.

I recently got around to installing the 10.3.6 Combo update on my 15' TiPB. MUCH slower starting up, mostly after logging in. I remembered seeing a tip somewhere to clear the System and User caches. So I used my copy of Cocktail (but there are other utilities out there as well) to clear/delete the system and user caches. The user cache took several minutes to clear, BTW. Afterwards, the machine was even faster than before installing 10.3.6! So try it with the 10.3.7 update.

It's common to see recommendations to redo permissions after OS X updates. I've found deleting caches to be much more important, and occasionally deleting preference files. Neither is part of routine maintenance. OS X system updates ought to routinely delete all caches -- there's no reason not to start afresh.

I prefer ONYX to Cocktail. I think Cocktail's installation is too invasive, and it behaves oddly when one tries to install as a regular user (needs to be installed and run as a logged-in admin, not as a sudo'd admin, but it doesn't say that...).

Apple tips on selective restore of bundled software

Using Restore discs with computers that ship with Mac OS X 10.3.4 or later

This article is for 10.3.4 or later machines. Several ways to restore or install bundled software. Cite via macintouch.

From the ancient past, words of wisdom

Don Lancaster's Guru's Lair

Lancaster was a geek's geek in the 1980s and 1990s. Here he collects his words of wisdom. They are little dimmed by time, and each reference is a gateway to lost worlds at a time when the world was entering a time of change -- the 1990s.

In the world of tech, this is like opening a lost Egyptian grave. Visit with respect, and practice neo-archeology.

Friday, December 17, 2004

The usual problem: multiple users, one computer, multiple devices (iPods)

How to use multiple iPods with one computer

A common problem with computers and users. OS X is a bit ahead of XP in this regard, but neither have really straightened out the device, data, user conundrum. A good series of workarounds are described here, but they are really workarounds to a problem that's yet to be solved. (Things are really ugly in the XP/PalmOS world.)

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Amazon's customer service number is 1-800-201-7575

Amazon Grace - If you're a holiday shopper, you must read this. ByTimothy Noah: "1-800-201-7575"

The Nokia 6600: a stealthy smart phone

The Super Phone You Can Get for Free - Ditch your Treo for a dirt-cheap Nokia. By Paul Boutin: "Nokia 6600". Runs symbian.

Succinct description of how OS X handles DVD and CD drives -- 10.3.2 had some major changes

MacInTouch Home Page
Mike Mihalik, a veteran Macintosh storage expert at La Cie Ltd., offered more information about DVD technology:

Here are a few clarifications and comments regarding Mike Love's remarks today on DVD support:

1. Mac OS X has a unique way to identify support drives. There is a mechanism called Disc Recording profiles that describe the capabilities of a particular CD or DVD burner. These profiles are the first step in defining what capabilities are provided by a particular drive. These are part of the Disc Burning API.

2. Prior to Mac OS X 10.3.2, only Apple had the capability to update the OS to provide support for new drives. There are various techniques for adding support for new drives within 10.2.x and 10.3.x; one utility to do this is PatchBurn, but this is not supported by Apple.

3. Starting with Mac OS X 10.3.2, Apple provided the capability to install new Disc Recording profiles (DRprofiles), that add support for new drives. These profiles are supplied by some vendors to provide full OS X integration for iLife and DVD SP applications. With the exception of iDVD, support is provided for external and internal drives for iPhoto, iTunes, Finder Disc Burning, and DVD SP 2 or 3.
LaCie provides Disc Recording profiles with each of its drives, and the latest profile can be downloaded from the Optical section of our support website. These DRprofiles are compatible with the System Update process and are signed and approved by Apple.
Other techniques that require patching may NOT survive system updates.
iDVD is hard coded to work only with internal DVD burners. A short search using Google will find the tip to enable burning with external drives, but I'll leave that to others to describe, as it is not supported by Apple or most 3rd party vendors.
DVD SP 1.x had limited burning support, and did not use the Disc Burning API, so it was difficult, if not impossible to add support for new drives; only Apple had the ability to do this.

4. Even with addition of DRprofiles, some applications may still require additional work to support all the capabilities of a particular drive. As a rule, Apple officially supports only DVD-R media, and only recently has added support for +R and +DL media.

5. As for DVD-RAM, this is a particular can of worms, as Apple does not support the latest UDF versions, which is widely used by many set-top DVD recorders. While a drive with DVD-RAM capabilities can surely used with a Mac, lack of full UDF libraries limits the utility of these drives.

So in summary, support for external and internal drives can be a happy experience, provided that products purchased include the appropriate DRprofiles, and the user has Mac OS X 10.3.2 or newer. Users are NOT forced to purchase a new Mac to gain DVD or CD burning capabilities.
LaCie does provide complete solutions for Mac OS X, and the necessary DRprofiles to add support to OS X. Further info is available at: [La Cie Optical Family].

The negative scanning project continues ...

Lasersoft Imaging / SilverFast JobManager

Over the past year or so I've been puttering along on a project to scan negatives. I bought a Nikon V ED for this project (LS-50). A few observations:

1. The Nikon software and workflow is really ugly. I think there's some kind of Adobe Photoshop plug-in option for some of their utilities, but the documentation is beyond miserable. I did get good results, but the software wins some kind of anti-usability award.

2. VueScan looks promising -- much better workflow. For a single license fee one can install a copy on a PC and a Mac -- legally! Downside is their test version produces unusuable images (watermarked) -- so time spent testing is utterly wasted. I don't have time to waste that way. I'd prefer an image-count limited test application so time spent testing isn't wasted. Documentation for VueScan isn't too bad.

3. This link is to SilverFast. They seem to have a "professional" solution, but I doubt they license for Mac and PC alike! It's a more expensive and more "polished" competitor to VueScan. I will try their demo package next.

My goal is to figure out a workflow that will allow me to outsource the scanning work to a local student.

If I weren't so worried about negatives getting lost or damaged, taking them to an imaging service would probably be far more cost effective.

This whole thing smells like something that hasn't quite been packaged for the serious non-professional.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

An essay on building a web browser

How to build a better web browser - UIWEB.COM - Scott Berkun

For those of us who build applications, this is a particularly interesting essay. I'd like to see JoelOnSoftware's comments. The author worked extensively with IE during its formative stages.

I think he's missing out on one some critical issues however. Being a Windows/IE guy he misses issues around portability of data, representing bookmarks in a way that's accessible from multiple sites, extending the browser through shared APIs. I'm sure he knows these things, but they are anathema to Microsoft's culture.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Review of online cut-rate transcription services (offshore)

Twenty-first Century Typist :: mike.whybark.com

Good advice on digitizing video (Tidbits)

TidBITS#758/09-Dec-04
Bring Your Video into the 21st Century -- You know those old videotapes from your VCR and analog camcorder have a limited lifespan, and your best hope for preservation is to digitize the analog recordings. Travis Butler pointed toward a product that will do just that. "If your budget supports it and you have someone with inclinations towards video hobbyism, you might consider the Canopus ADVC 100.

"The ADVC 100 is a converter box that lets you hook a standard video source - composite or S-Video, two-channel audio - to a Mac's FireWire port, and record it with a video capture program like iMovie.

"This is frankly something I wouldn't have bought for myself; at $300 list, it's something I don't use enough to justify the cost. But we picked one up at work this spring to convert our VHS-based training materials to DVD for convenience and durability. The boss gave me permission to take it home and use whenever I want, and I've found a surprising number of old videotapes that I wanted to convert to DVD.

"It's a bit hard for me to judge the ultimate quality of the video circuitry, since I've never used it with a maximum-quality video source; a couple of old laserdiscs are probably the best-quality items I've had, but my laserdisc player doesn't have an S-Video output - only composite. That said, I've never seen anything come out of the ADVC 100 at a lower quality than went into it, and even the laserdiscs over composite look pretty darned good transferred to DVD.

"As a side note, the combination of iMovie, iDVD, and a video capture box like the ADVC 100 makes it easy and relatively quick to put your old videos on DVD; frankly it felt easier than the times in the past I've transferred old records and tapes to CD. And iDVD is capable of doing fairly professional-looking work; I'd like to think the job I did on the original Mind's Eye laserdisc is better than the professional DVD releases of the second and third collections, though that's not too hard.

"For those not familiar with them, the Mind's Eye series was one of the original collections of early computer animation; the second collection (with music composed by Jan Hammer of Miami Vice fame) and later were released on DVD, but the original one never has been so far as I can tell. I'm still not sure why; the best guess I can make is that the animation is relatively primitive by today's standards. I still think it's worth having it available on DVD; even if there weren't historical reasons, some of them were rather cool as works of art."

Denis Jarvis concurred with Travis's gift suggestion of an analog/digital video converter. "However," he said, "I bought a Datavideo DAC-100 for $176, including shipping. This is substantially less than his $300 Canopus ADVC 100, yet it seems well constructed, has similar specifications, includes a full set of cables and has performed well for me.

"During the past month, using DAC-100 with iMovie and iDVD on a 20-inch iMac G5, I have converted my camcorder VHS tapes to several DVDs. I added titles and edited out the boring parts, something I would never have attempted with tape-to-tape editing. With this application alone, I have justified purchase of my new iMac!"

Editing out the boring parts isn't the only reason to make the conversion from tape to digital, as Jeff Carlson learned last year when he watched his 10-year-old wedding video. VHS tape deteriorates over time, so those memories you think are stored safely on the shelf are likely losing their quality. (For an example, see the following Web page.) Although DVD isn't an archival-grade medium (the surface materials wear out over time), you can more easily move the digital data to new media later on without further loss of quality.

The thought of losing the kids' taped videos is not comforting. I need to do this sooner rather than later.

Choosing media for home movies: Verbatim MediDisc DVD?

MacInTouch Home Page
I work in a small post-production studio and we use DVD media for archival purposes every day. Our brand of choice for Data archive is Verbatim's little known 'MediDisc' line of DVD media. This media is DICOM certified for use in long-term medical records storage (including medical imaging) for compliance with HIPPA requirements.

Yes, the media is significantly more expensive than the consumer-grade 100pk DVD-R/ R spindles typically available at retailers such as WalMart & Best Buy, but is saving a buck really worth it when it comes to long-term data integrity?

Furthermore, we store the DVD discs in Tyvek disc envelopes (the same that Apple is now using for software distribution in packages such as Final Cut Pro HD) and place them upright in a light-tight storage container. Tyvek envelopes are currently regarded as the best storage option for protection of CD/DVD recordable media. Information Packaging is a good source for these envelopes.

I'll update with supplier information as I uncover it. I think the market for longlife media is going to improve quickly.

What Mac to buy? Macintouch has very surprising results.

Performance Comparison: eMac G4, iBook G4 and iMac G5

Fascinating results of some serious testing from a reputable source. We've had hints of this in the past. The G5 is fundamentally not that much faster than the G4, and real-world performance is not processor bound. Performance is affected by much more than the CPU. There were significant design compromises to fit a G5 into the iMac, and they have performance implications. Disabling the iMac's power management features helps performance, but it may stress heat management -- and those fans will run. (Of course in Minnesota we can simply put the iMac in the attic -- no heating problems in winter there!).

BTW, I think a similar analysis of various Intel systems would show similar results. Performance nowadays is often about heat, system throughput, memory, hard drives, etc. The CPU isn't the big factor for a lot of functionality.

Implications? The G4 iBook and G4 eMac are very interesting alternatives to a G5 iMac. The major unknown is Tiger. If one wants to run Tiger, should one opt for a G5 iMac? My general rule is that when an OS upgrade is very important (like Tiger -- it's something I want), the best strategy is buy hardware that ships after the OS goes GA and that ships with the OS.

Since I want a new Mac now and I want to run Tiger, I may choose to shop around for a used G4 system, or a new eMac, and plan to buy a new system post-Tiger. Nobody should upgrade from a fairly recent G4 machine to an iMac or even a G5 tower.
... Using QuickTime Pro 6.5.1 and QuickTime Player, we export a high-quality 50-second DV file to MPEG-4 format. Source and target files are on the hard drive. We use the standard "Default" settings.

This is a good real-world test of system performance, and the results are surprising: Right out of the box, the eMac G4/1.25GHz outperforms the iMac G5/1.8GHz system at Apple's standard settings, and the lowly iBook G4 is right on its heels.

If you change Apple's standard Energy Saver options to get "Highest" processor performance, the iMac G5 will outperform the eMac, but there must be some reason that's not the default, and clock speed alone should give the iMac a big advantage.

Apple is using the G5's special "slewing" feature to reduce heat and power drain, and the result is a real bottleneck.

Conclusions

The iMac G5 is a wonderful system, and we'd rather pay a few hundred dollars over the cost of an eMac to get one, but all the Apple hype about the G5 falls a little short when you see the low-cost eMac, with its slower G4 processor, pushing the iMac G5 in performance. The eMac is actually faster in several real-world situations, and that raises some serious technical questions that long to be answered.

In the meantime, you'll be getting a high-performance bargain with either the eMac G4 or iBook G4, and you still can't go wrong with the iMac G5.

If you want the ultimate in performance - or maybe just a super-large screen - the Power Mac G5 is the way to go, although we have some concerns about reliability with the liquid-cooled 2.5GHz model and would probably stick with 1.8- or 2.0GHz systems.

PowerBooks are nice, but pricy. The biggest advantage you get for the extra cost of the 12" PowerBook is the ability to drive a larger external screen in dual-display mode (up to 2048x1536), although the built-in screen has the same 768x1024 resolution as the iBook. [jf: the iBook hardware supports driving an external desktop, but Apple disables this -- possibly for heat reasons, possibly to protect PowerBook sales.]

The 15" PowerBook is an ideal mobile machine, and it can drive a big external screen on a desktop or use FireWire 800 to get disk performance more on par with a desktop computer's. This laptop costs almost twice as much as an iBook G4, however, making it an expensive option for part-time portability, and it's not as compact as the jewel-like 12" models.

The 17" PowerBook strikes us as an expensive alternative to the iMac with better portability and battery power.

One last factor is the G5's support for 64-bit processing, which is supposed to get a boost with next year's Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger". Theoretically, this may be an advantage for G5 models, but the real-world advantage for general applications is questionable at this point.



Sunday, December 12, 2004

TweakXP.com - disable "shortcut to" prefix without external programs

TweakXP.com - disable "shortcut to" prefix without external programs
This tweak stops windows creating the annoying "shotcut to" prefix when creating shortcuts to the desktop via either dragging/dropping or right clicking and selecting send to . This means that you do not need to rename all those shortcuts on your desktop . Here's how -

Start Registry Editor.

Locate the following registry key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer
Modify the data value of the Link value to be 00 00 00 00.

NOTE : For Windows 95, the Link value does not exist by default. Create the Link value as a Binary value, with a data value of 00 00 00 00.

One of the greatest of all windows annoyances. I found this using AskJeeves, it often works where Google gets lost in noise.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Omni Outliner Pro 3 (Beta) - great with MORE 3.1

The Omni Group - Applications - OmniOutliner - Beta

I can't find the page for downloading the Pro beta, maybe they took it down temporarily. It's very impressive. OO Pro is now a full fledged writing tool. I imported some fairly large (20 page+) documents written in MORE 3.1, OO Pro had no problems. It even imported and embedded graphic elements.

Friday, December 10, 2004

MORE 4.0? OmniOutliner Pro

The Omni Group - Applications - OmniOutliner - Beta Download

This app imports and exports in a bewildering list of outliner formats, including all those old Acta and MORE documents. It has hoists, etc. Really, it sounds like MORE 4.0. I'm probably going to buy it when it's available.

Recording sound and transcribing it for OS X

Boing Boing: Excellent transcribing app: Listen&Type

AudioRecorder for sound capture, Listen & Type for transcription.

I have a device that turns my iPod into a recorder. Works very well! (Griffin something.) This sounds very handy for the laptop.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

PalmSource goes Linux -- shades of Apple's Pink

PalmInfocenter.com: An open letter to the Linux community from PalmSource
Today we at PalmSource announced we're going to extend Palm OS® to run on top of Linux. We've written this letter to explain what we're doing and not doing, why we're doing it, and how we're doing it. We'll also answer some likely questions.

... We intend to offer future versions of Palm OS Cobalt as a software layer on top of Linux (specifically, on the Linux kernel plus selected Linux services appropriate to mobile devices). The Palm OS software layer will include our well-known UI as well as a set of middleware and applications that encompass the best of Palm OS. We intend that properly written Palm OS 68k applications will run unchanged on Palm OS for Linux, and that Palm OS® Cobalt native applications using the Palm OS Protein APIs will port with a simple recompile. In addition, Palm OS for Linux will be able to run many third party Linux applications and services (GUI applications will need to use the Palm OS APIs).

... We're not open sourcing Palm OS®; we're going to implement it as a software layer that runs on top of Linux. Our business model will be licensing that layer, with hardware companies that use the layer in a device paying us royalties. We don't charge developers a license fee to create software that is compatible with Palm OS. Our development tools are also free; they are built on Eclipse, and we are a member of the Eclipse Foundation.

While we're not open sourcing all of Palm OS, we do expect to open source some of our code, and will actively seek to invest in the open source community through code contributions and other means.

... We think the Linux platform will become a leading operating system for mobile devices [jf. note they didn't say PalmOS mobile devices only], and we believe the endorsement and support of PalmSource for that platform will greatly accelerate that process. We think the combination of Palm OS and Linux can attract more mobile licensees and developers, create more new devices, and bring in more users than either could on its own.

... The Palm OS layer written for use on Linux will be designed to be portable to any suitable mobile Linux distribution, and we'll expose Linux APIs under the Palm OS layer.

... Together, we'll have the technological and market critical mass to challenge -- and, we believe, beat -- even the biggest proprietary operating system companies in the mobile market. [jf. of course they're still proprietary, but what the heck -- they're not Microsoft]

... We are acquiring China MobileSoft, a leading Chinese mobile phone software company. CMS has been developing a version of Linux with optimizations designed for smart mobile devices, especially around battery management and fast boot time. We will be using that technology as the foundation of Palm OS for Linux (although we will also support other Linux distributions).

The original PalmOS was based on an embedded device OS. Something out of Canada if memory serves. I'd love to know what when wrong with Palm's OS development process.

Apple spent years on OS development during the Classic era. They tried Pink (hence the title of this posting), Taligent (with IBM), the OS-like OpenDoc project (I really liked that one), and the beloved NewtonOS. All more or less failed. Finally they bought NextStep with its Unix based OS. That became OS X.

Now Palm revisits those days. Indeed, I think they've watched Apple and decided Apple's mixed (some would say parasitic) open/closed source strategy is a good one. I thought at first Cobalt was dead, but if they're really following Apple's example PalmSource may keep enough of the Cobalt API to make it worth pursuing -- though I doubt there will be many apps released for Cobalt directly. Sounds like CMS has done a lot of grunt work -- Linux is not known for power management.

It's interesting that they're using Eclipse. They intend to capture developers by allowing them to produce PalmOS and even non-PalmOS (write directly to Linux API) apps that may be repositioned for other platforms.

Clearly PalmSource and PalmOne are going in different directions. PalmSource wants to put their software atop many devices that will come out of Korea, Taiwan, Japan and China -- countries where pen input is very workable (though Korea has a phonetic alphabet -- of which they are quite proud -- and is less pen dependent than China). On the other hand PalmOne has talked of using Microsoft's OS. I'm not impressed with PalmOne's hardware direction -- actually I'm incredibly unimpressed -- so this may not be bad. Maybe PalmOne just needs to go away.

I'm very curious as to what Apple might do with this new picture. Does it change their calculations at all?

Given that the Palm platform has most of its extremities in the grave, this isn't a bad move -- though it feels late in the game.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

RAW format management and Photoshop Elements 3

Macintouch Digital Cameras (Part 3): "...Nikon Capture 4 at $100 is splendid for batch processing. (It's not THAT slow.) A new contender for low-cost entry is Adobe Photoshop Elements 3 at $80, a super editor for RAW files. It has the same Camera Raw 2.3 Plug-In found in Photoshop CS and it supports RAW (NEF files) from Nikon, and Canon and whoever else, all seamlessly. A bargain.

For anyone wanting to understand the RAW format (including Nikon's NEF, which is their flavor of RAW) get Bruce Fraser's excellent book 'Real World camera RAW.' [$23.79 @ Amazon] Once you understand what RAW can do you will never shoot JPEG again."
News to me that Elements has the RAW editor!

Defective Airport cards can disable a Mac (Macintouch)

MacInTouch Home Page
[M.J. Ejenbaum] I had been having a few problems with my 15' Aluminum 1GHz PowerBook, including wake from sleep issues. Today, I ran a backup in the office on my FireWire 400 backup, and then went to work at my home. I decided to run the FireWire 800 backup as well, since I try to keep two (2) separate external hard drives as redundant backup drives. I plugged in the FireWire 800 'cold', i.e., when the PowerBook was completely shut down. Got a kernel panic. Hit the power button, waited 2 minutes, and no startup. Tried to boot from PowerBook G4 DVD which has Panther 10.3 on it, no go. CD would spin up, computer would not start no matter what.

I hightailed it over to the Apple Store in Aventura, Florida, and waited to see the resident Genius for about 10 minutes. He pulled out the battery, and then the Airport Extreme card. Lo and behold, the machine ejected the DVD, and started right up.

He gave me a new Airport Extreme card. All issues resolved. The Firewire 800 backup works fine, the computer wakes from sleep with no problems, and now, I am picking up a network near my residence that I had not detected before. The Genius told me that the bad Airport Extreme cards are responsible for a variety of problems, and one of the first suspects he has.

[Robert Lenoil] I have a Trendware 802.11g PC Card installed on my 500 MHz TiBook, which Mac OS X 10.3.5 treats as an Airport Extreme card because it uses the same Broadcom chipset. Yesterday I closed the lid on my PowerBook, but instead of going to sleep it just hung with the fan still on. After I rebooted, I got a kernel panic as long as the card was plugged in. I removed the card, and installed the Airport 4.1 update. The computer would then boot, but it no longer recognized the card - the PCCard menu showed 'unsupported legacy card' or something like that. I reinstalled the Airport 3.4.3 drivers and the PCCard menu didn't appear at all and Airport didn't see any AirPort card. I plugged the card into a PC laptop and it worked fine, so I didn't think it is a problem with the card itself.

I removed the wireless card, ran System Profiler, and it reported the same results - meaning that it wasn't seeing my card at all. I then opened up the TiBook and found the cardbus connector to the motherboard had worked itself loose. Just re-seated it, and I'm back in the saddle.

Tight integration of hardware and software can have pernicious side-effects. This is an OS design problem. Modern personals are too complex and unpredictable.

If a system seems very unstable, strip it down, boot off a CD, and retest.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Camino - Firefox with a better GUI?

Camino: "Upgrades the Gecko HTML rendering engine from Mozilla 1.0 to Mozilla 1.7, resulting in performance, stability, and rendering improvements"
I don't like the Firefox GUI and font management on OS X. It's ugly. Also FF is slower than Safari on my machine. I'll try this one too.

Migrating from one system to another (OS X)

Mac OS X 10.3.6: "Re: Anthony Burokas question: How to migrate to a new Mac without Setup Assistant. I have done this using the free utility Carbon Copy Cloner.

1. Download Carbon Copy Cloner onto the old Mac.
2. Shut down the new Mac.
3. Connect the Macs with a FireWire cable.
4. Start the new Mac in Target Disk Mode (hold down the T key)
5. On the old Mac, use disk utility to format the new Macs hard disk. (Anthony will need to copy any data he needs from the new Mac first)
6. Use Carbon Copy Cloner to clone your old Mac's hard disk onto the new Mac.
7. Disconnect and restart your new Mac.
8. Reinstall iLife and other goodies from the System Restore disk.

I have done this 5 or 6 times. One time the new Mac wouldn't start up with the OS from the old Mac. I simply used the system CD or DVD that came with the new Mac and did an Archive and Install."
Nice discussion, but this is all way harder than it ought to be. In the old Classic days sytem migration was trivial. XP, btw, can handle a similar transition by mirroring then doing a repair install. Neither solution is really satisfactory.

Monday, December 06, 2004

The Omni Group - Applications - OmniOutliner - Beta

The Omni Group - Applications - OmniOutliner - Beta
Coming soon! OmniOutliner Professional has in-depth outlining features like folded editing, named styles, clipping service support, audio recording, saved templates, and much more.

Sounds more like .... MORE 3.1 (Symantec). I'll write and ask if they're going to import MORE files into the Pro version.

SAFT plug-in for Safari -- looks well worth testing

haoli

$10. Worth a test given the feature list. I wonder if it would work with Omniweb ...

OS X firewire problems: occult solutions

MacInTouch Home Page:
About a week ago, I decided to add some new music to my 4G click-wheel (40 GB model). I placed the iPod in the dock and waited for the appearance of iSync and iTunes. And neither appeared. The iPod did not mount. Took the iPod out of the dock and put it back in. Still no joy. Checked all cables and connections (FireWire in my case) and nada.

I'm running 10.3.6. and iTunes 4.7, plus latest updaters for iPod on a MDD 1.25 ghtz G4.

So I ran the Apple Hardware test and it reported a problem with my FireWire bus. (I have no other FireWire peripherals.) The diagnostic suggested that I read over my warranty information and get in touch with AppleCare.

So I went to the Apple website in search of a link with which to do this. Decided to check the Knowledge Base and, lo and behold, I found an article about FireWire problems. The article suggested that I shut down the machine, disconnect the power cord and all peripheral inputs EXCEPT for the FireWire line, and wait at least five minutes and then reconnect everything and then boot up.

I followed this procedure and the FireWire bus came back up. iPod mounted normally and has done so since. No explanation in the article as to what causes this or how the fix works, but it did work.

Firewire is too bizarre to live. It reminds me of SCSI.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Xcelis: cell phone to VOIP

Xcelis

This peculiar service is primarily useful for making international calls via a cellphone. In my case I all Canada several times a week. My employer has no trouble with personal calls on my corporate cellphone -- but not with calls to Canada! So if I switched to a corporate phone, this service could be very interesting.

OS X Setup Assistant Use

MacInTouch Home Page: "Following up on discussion of Mac-to-Mac migration, Steve Chambers suggests a trick that could be a big help when you have multiple disks on an older computer, only one of which will appear in FireWire disk target mode:

Actually you can copy the Setup Assistant to the old Mac; it runs just fine. Then you have access to all the drives and Apple's migration utility."

What the heck did gmail do to spam?

Thursday, December 02, 2004

The magic that makes Google tick: ZDNet Australia: Insight: Software

The magic that makes Google tick: ZDNet Australia: Insight: Software
Quality of search results: One big area of complaints for Google is connected to the growing prominence of commercial search results -- in particular price comparison engines and e-commerce sites. Hölzle is quick to defend Google's performance 'on every metric', but admits there is a problem with the Web getting, as he puts it, 'more commercial'. Even three years ago, he said, the Web had much more of a grass roots feeling to it. 'We have thought of having a button saying 'give me less commercial results',' but the company has shied away from implementing this yet.

I want that button! Great article on google's infrastructure.

Spyware and licensing - the stupidity of EULA contracts

Claria License Agreement is Fifty Six Pages Long

This web site is worth a quick read. A libertarian would enjoy this. Legal action against spyware companies will be very difficult; it's a libertarian world out there.

Buy a Mac.

Global Moxie :: Big Medium - Perl based web content management system

Global Moxie :: Big Medium

I may try this one out. I like the RSS features.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Getting Things Done and Managing Email with Lookout for Outlook

GTD: The Fallow's summary

A month or so ago I posted about the Fallow's summary on GTD. (see link). Here's a revised update. (PS. Too bad Blogger doesn't support trackback links!)

Getting Things Done (http://www.davidco.com/).
See also:

Atlantic Online | July/August 2004 | Organize Your Life! | James Fallows
David Allen's book. (This is a bit dated, he needs a new edition.)

1. If you can do it in two minutes, just do it.
2. Get everything out of your head. Appointments, tasks, notes, contacts -- get it into one place (eg. Outlook).
3. Tasks have three important relationships:
the minimal context needed for the next action (ex: anywhere, phone, desk, computer, network, office ..)
the project(s) that contains the task
date of next action
4. Tasks always have a next action. Identifying and executing 'next actions' is critical.
5. Record tasks/ideas at time they are recognized.
6. Weekly review of about one hour. (This takes me at least 2 hours but I'm trying to speed my review.)
7. Tasks don't have priorities. (Personally I use priorities on tasks but Allen assumes if a task is scheduled then it should be done. I see his point.)

How I handle email (using Lookout)

(Note this works for any email solution that supports full text indexing. I think it would work for OS X Mail in Panther, it will definitely work in Tiger.

Lookout for Outlook:

1. Install Lookout. Note this is an early product and has some rough edges. I force a complete index rebuild every night. Still, value is enormous. It has not affected my system stability.

2. Read message. Follow GTD protocol as above (see book too). Then either:
- delete
- create task and save
- save

3. If a task is needed, I create a task by dragging the message to the Outlook task icon. Outlook creates a task that incorporates the message content (text only).

4. If the message is to be saved I
- edit the subject line to be more descriptive of the message
- rarely I edit the message text or subject line and add terms I'd use for a Lookout search.
- drop the message in my "Save" folder (that's it). I don't use subfolders anymore and don't spend time filing anything.

Update 3/2/05: This related article talks about environmentally-induced ADD.

More lists of favored OS X apps

The multi-tasking Mac is always running - The Unofficial Apple Weblog - apple.weblogsinc.com

Mac OS X Power Tools: Change the UNIX short user name

Mac OS X Power Tools

Sometimes needed for some backup/restore issues. Very risky.

The Mac OS X Power Tools "Superb Software" List

macosxpowertools.com

A list of all the apps recommended in a recent OS X book. I can vouch for most of those that are bolded.