Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Beyond DRM: iPod, SONY car radio and cheap memory sticks

When I reviewed my new Sony Car FM/CD car stereo unit I wrote:
... I'm experimenting with leaving some old thumb drives or adapted CF cards in the car with specific excerpts from my music. I also now have 4 mixed AAC and MP3 CDs with music and podcasts arranged in folders -- for children, me, etc. Note a 2 GB thumb drive is usually under $30. Techbargain and similar sites often point to sales on these things. I'm looking for a short usb extension cords with a right angle turn ...
The experiment has been a great success with a $30 2GB SD card and reader ($15 if the rebate really pays off). I haven't been able to locate a 6" USB cable with a right angle connector, but the standard 6" cable is working well.

The stereo plays AAC very well, and iTunes is a great staging platform for both burning AAC/MP3 CDs and transferring multiple playlists to the 2GB reader/card combo. The one restriction, of course, is that DRM doesn't play in this world -- I'm now buying CDs to replace the 10 or so fairPlay DRMd tunes I want to keep.

The next step is to start taking the SD card from the car into my office. I stick it in the laptop, configure iTunes to reference the tunes in place rather than import them, and drag and drop the folders into iTunes. In less than a minute the entire Library is created [1]. I connect my headphones and play from the laptop.

So, where does this leave our three iPods? Hmm. I bought a new car stereo primarily for use with my 4G iPod, but now I find I don't bother with it in the car. The AAC/MP3 CDs and memory stick are far more rugged and I don't care if they're lost, stolen, or broken.

iTunes remains invaluable [2], but our Shuffle is now less useful. I wouldn't buy a Shuffle again, I'd spend the money on an SD card that I can use for music or in my camera. The Nano is still great for exercise and general portable play. The full-sized iPod is not suited to exercise but it plays videos [3] and I'm still very fond of it for travel.

The SONY car radio is having a very interesting effect. I suspect I'm not the only one that will notice this. People don't replace their car stereos all that often, so this will take a while to percolate, but the writing is on the wall. DRM is clearly doomed for music, but I think video DRM has a few years of life left [4]. Ultra-cheap solid state storage devices are going to have lots of interesting effects [5]. Apple might as well give up on the Shuffle (stupid cradle) now, or make as a mobile storage device with iTune [5]. The Nano has some legs I think, but the Apple phone better work. I know I hope it will!


[1] The sound quality is not as good as my iPods -- they have a better D/A converter than the Dell laptop I have at work. When I redo the SD drive I have to wipe the Library to avoid 'missing tunes', but that takes only a moment. I could import the tunes, but they use up a lot of space and it's tricky to avoid wasting space on the corporate backup server.

[2] There's nothing to stop Microsoft from licensing AAC and providing a competitive alternative on the Dell laptop; Apple doesn't own AAC and there's no fee for playback use with AAC. If the Zune continues to flounder I think they'll cave.

[3] More on why, surprisingly, we've actually found a use for video on the iPod, and why we may end up willingly buying DRMd video/tv via the Apple store even as we've abandoned Apple store music.

[4] Apple better start thinking about a video-FairPlay solution for vans though!

[5] iTunes could begin to support named external media to make the workflow smoother for removable music storage devices.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The OS X Image Capture/iPhoto EXIF orientation tag bug bites Apple TV

Some photos may not be rotated correctly when viewed on Apple TV is an old bug with EXIF orientation tags in Image Capture and/or iPhoto. I don't think Apple every acknowledged they'd messed up the EXIF tags for thousands of photos across thousands of customers (eg. millions of corrupted EXIF tags).

Apple should provide a utility to repair the damage.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Primary Keys: IDs versus GUIDs

I need to get a life. This actually made sense to me:
Coding Horror: Primary Keys: IDs versus GUIDs

...You can generate IDs anywhere, instead of having to roundtrip to the database...
The article, comments, and links are a good mini-tutorial on a relatively esoteric aspects of managing data -- how should one generate a unique identifier? This one advantage solves a problem for my work life ...

A use for my Apple remote

Sometimes the kids don't want to turn off the MacBook when their time is up. Now I can zap it from across the room ...
Stupid Apple Remote Tricks | Macinstruct

...Simply hold down the Play/Pause button and your Mac will go to sleep. To wake up your Mac, press any button on the remote...
Our Mac screens lock when they sleep, so this is a sleep and lock function for us.

(found via TUAW)

My singular war with Adobe Acrobat Update Manager

[9/25/08: skip to the end for Adobe's recommendation for OS X users]

For years I've had trouble with Adobe Acrobat Update Manager. I think it's something to do with the version Adobe distributes for large enterprises. The updates don't work, and I get messages with words like these:
"Adobe Acrobat Update Manager" "resuming a download" "file on the server" has changed
Every month or two I try a Google search looking for a fix, but I never find anything. I'm the only person in the world hit by this bug.

If you find this post when searching, you're probably in the same club. Send me a note and maybe we can figure this one out...

Update: apparently all I had to do fix this was blog about. Today I got the usual update manager dialog, but this time it actually downloaded a fragment of a file before it quit. The file was broken, but the file name was visible:
A Google search on that pointed to an Adobe download link. The download went very, very slowly, but the file was intact. I was able to then update Acrobat Pro to 7.05. After restarting Adobe Update Manager tried AGAIN to do the update to 7.0.5, but this time it downloaded the file where I told it to and it did the install (nothing was changed since I was now at 7.0.5). So it's working -- for the first time in ages. So now I'll see what happens.

Update 11/26/07: This Adobe download link provides one with all the 7 series updates. A few related tips uncovered in this latest version of the adobe wars:
  • be sure that you choose to retain the "installer files". If you don't, life will be heck. During the initial install there's an option to delete these. Don't.
  • If you try to be careful, and you don't install Adobe's troubling plug-ins, you also don't install the default Adobe PDF printer! I chose to install the plug-in for Office and it's probably not a bad idea to install the Visio plug-in too. I avoide all Outlook 2003 plug-ins because I think Outlook 2003's add-in (plug-in) architecture is very unstable.
  • Be very careful not to install Adobe's automatic updater. It's pure evil.
  • Adobe 7.0.5 was the only cumulative updater. So a fresh Acrobat install of 7.0 Professional is very painful requiring multiple updates and reboots.
There's a good reason I don't let Adobe on my OS X machines -- neither reader nor Acrobat.

Update 9/25/08: Incredibly Adobe Updater still has the same problem, but a helpful reader did get a pretty quick answer from Adobe:
I found your page when searching for the same problem you had with your Adobe Updater (...file on the server has changed). I didn't see a solution so I ended up contacting Adobe and they responded in 4 hours with this:

The following steps will clear the Update Manager preferences so that the utility will recheck what updates have been installed:

1) Close all applications.
2) From the Finder select Go > Home.
3) Browse into ~/Library/Application Support/Adobe
4) Move the folder named Updater5 to the Trash.
To launch the Update Manager manually:
/Applications/Utilities/Adobe Utilities/Adobe Updater5/Adobe Updater.app

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

My personal spam blacklist: Gourmet, SONY, Canon and more

One of the more recent developments in the war on spam is the rise of spam from legitimate companies with real email addresses. These include companies I've previously liked (Canon) as well as real companies I've never done business with.

The good news is that, for this group and for political organizations, Blacklists work great. You block their addresses, and they don't bother you any more.

This is my personal Blacklist as of today. Canon is the newest addition. To get on here a legitimate company or political organization has to keep sending me spam despite my clicking a remove-me link. If a persistently spamming corporation doesn't have a one click remove-me solution they go right to the list.
theclubbingforum.net (no, I have never been a customer)
I'll update this post as I add more brick and mortar corporations with serious spam problems. Of this list I was most impressed with Gourmet.com -- they were relentless spammers. SONY media was almost as bad -- heck, come to think of it, they were all really bad. Canon went to the Dark Side about two months ago.

FullerScreen for Firefox

It's supposedly Windows/Linux only, but I really want this for OS X. I'll give it a try and see if it blows up!

Disruptive Innovations - Products - FullerScreen 

Yet another add-on to Mozilla Firefox from Disruptive Innovations... This extension enhances the Full Screen mode into a really full screen mode, hiding the remaining toolbars and statusbar and making them visible again when the mouse pointer hits an edge of the screen.

ScribeFire: a Firefox extension blog editor

I've been surprised by how few good blogging tools there are. There's BlogJet (disappointing new release) and Microsoft's Live Writer for Windows, but none of the OS X tools I've used (Ecto, MarsEdit) have worked adequately with Blogger [1]. I most often use Blogger's BlogThis! bookmarklet, but there's no similar bookmarklet for our corporate Community Server blog tool.

I'm one of those weird users who likes paying for good software, but there's nothing to buy that I like. (I paid for BlogJet 2.0 and I'm not a happy customer just now.)

So I'm interested in this Firefox extension: ScribeFire (previously Performancing for Firefox). As an extension it should work for OS X and XP. I'll update this post with my experience.

[1] In particular they expect that the user always posts from one machine that holds a database of posts. Sorry, doesn't work like that.

Update: It's not too bad, but when I tried to edit a post it created two posts. There are better options for Windows, but I might persist to see what can be done for OS X.

Update: I thought it was double posting on edits, but I was ignoring the 'post as edit' button. That did the trick. So far it works well for OS X and blogger. I'm very interested and will post more.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Convert WMV (Windows video) to MP3 (or AAC) audio

Our corporate audio-conferencing vendor records phone conferences as WMV -- a video format. Since we'll listen to these in the car (iPod, car stereo, etc) this is not very functional.

I had a hard time finding out how to convert them into MP3, but once I'd figured it out I somehow found this article: convert wmv to mp3. I swear the Google search didn't work 3 weeks ago!

In any case, this is how I did it using stuff built into XP and iTunes for Windows:
1. Open in XP's built in Windows Movie Maker. Yes, it's on your drive! Right click on a WMV file and choose Edit.
2. Add as a clip to Movie Maker. Despite step #1 you need to do this manually.
3. Save move, but choose the audio-format only (WMA). Choose as high as you can because you're going to encode it again. (Click link to see options)
4. In iTunes, using advanced setup options, change iTunes import from AAC to 64kbps VBR MP3. (see also)
5. Drag and drop to iTunes. iTunes will conver to MP3. Drag and drop from desktop to upload as desired.
Update 1/17/08: I think MovieMaker may have changed since I first wrote this post. The trick now is epxlained here. Drag the imported movie to the Audio/Music timeline (NOT the audio timeline -- the post is wrong there). Now choose Save Movie File, then "My Computer" then "Show More Choices" link then "Other Settings" then choose "High Quality Audio".

Monday, March 19, 2007

Aperture: working on images that aren't accessible

This one blog post convinced me of the value of managing images outside of Aperture:
Editing Offline Images - O'Reilly Digital Media Blog

... The best part of this strategy is that you can still do quite a bit of work on your images even when your large external drives aren’t hooked up. You can’t make image adjustments to your photographs, but you can keyword and rate. This means you can edit your shoots down to your selects without the master images being available. And, you can also figure out which images should be rejected and deleted out of your image library forever...
This is a huge advantage for me. I can work on metadata from a laptop without the fear of losing a massive image library.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Configuring an OS X Mac box when simplicity is strongly preferred

I configured a Mac Mini for my mother last December (2006), and wrote up my configuration notes as I went along. It was a harder task than I'd expected, the modern Mac is very engaging, but it is not as user friendly as, say, MacOS Classic 6.
Configuring an OS X Mac box when simplicity is strongly preferred

... This is a very terse guide based on notes I took when I was configuring a Mac Mini for my mother's use. I also wrote up a less terse tutorial for here, a PDF version is here.

If you're setting up a machine for someone who needs a very simple and user-focused system you will find some ideas here. If you're not a Mac guru, however, this will not be very readable...

This has worked pretty well for my mother over all. It's been a very reliable setup. She has limited vision, so I paid a friend $25 (to cover his costs) for a massive 19" CTR and we run that at 1024x768. I think the next step for her would be to buy a 39" HD TV and use it as a monitor from 4 feet away ...
I'll point the Take Control eBooks folks to it as I think this would be a great eBook topic:

Expose tips and tricks

macosxhints.com - 10.4: A couple of Expose tips has some interesting tips in the post and comments alike. I didn't follow them all, but I'll give them a try on my Macs and update this with any I like.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

My network MFC scanner works with OS X 10.4.9 Image capture

A year ago I bought a Brother [1] networkable multifunction device the MFC-7820N. I wrote a series of short articles all stuffed into one blog post about various issues and solutions for XP and OS X. I like the machine, but it's strictly for geeks. We have a long way to go before this type of device works reliably for the non-geek [2].

Anyway, today I discovered OS X Image Capture will pull in a scan over the network! Neat. I don't know if would always do that or if it's the result of various updates. Anyway, I added a note on how to do it at the end of the old blog posting.

[1] There's no connection to the typewriter company my father new in the 1950s or so. All these old brand names have been bought up by Chinese companies.

[2] I think Apple would have to resell it with their software to make it regular person friendly. At twice the price of course!

Unsanity.org claims every OS X update is a game of russian roulette

It's an incredibly claim, made by a company that specializes in an OS X "hack" (called a haxie). The claim is that each time you apply a significant OS X update you run the risk of being hit by a known OS destroying bug.

It sounds like my usual pre-update practice is not a bad way to avoid this alleged bug:
  1. Download full update for major updates so it's stored locally.
  2. Do a "safe start" to trigger the routine diagnostics then shutdown.
  3. Reboot machine into my admin account (no startup items, simple account).
  4. Run the update and walk away from the machine.
  5. When the update is done, restart.
  6. After this restart is done do a full shutdown.
By contrast, Gruber's is more minimalist. He logs out, then logs in holding the shift key (suppresses startup items -- I didn't know that one!). My admin account has no startup items so I don't need to worry about them.

Gruber and the Unsanity article both agree that you should not do anything while an update is running. As is often the case, the harsh part of the following is the claim that Apple has known about this bug for at well over a year -- and hasn't fixed it.
Unsanity.org: Shock and Awe: How Installing Apple's Updates can Render Your Mac Unbootable and How You Can Prevent it

... When you see the "Optimizing System Performance" phase of a software update, Mac OS X is really updating prebinding. Updating prebinding has a very, very nasty bug in it (look at _dyld_update_prebinding). If multiple processes are updating prebinding at the same time, then it is possible for a system file to be completely zero'd out...

... I've been tracking this particular bug for about 18 months now. Most of the real "random" failures reported on various Mac OS X "troubleshooting" sites after a user has installed an Apple software update are actually manifestations of this bug...

... Every single time you install an update to Mac OS X whether it be an iTunes update, a QuickTime update, an update for daylight saving time, a security update, an Airport update, or an actual Mac OS X update, you can be hit by this bug. In order to prevent yourself from being smacked in the face by this bug, follow this simple rule: When "Optimize System Performance" appears during the update process do not touch your computer and definitely do not launch any applications. Just back away from your computer box as if it were a swarm of bees...

... The worst sign you've been hit by this bug is an inability to boot after installing a Mac OS X update. Sometimes the little wheel will just keep on spinning. Other times you'll get to the point where you should see your desktop but all you see is a blue screen (because [the] loginwindow is repeatedly crashing due to a missing library). The "easiest" sign is an application will crash either at launch or when you do a specific action and the console.log /Applications/Utilities/Console (or a crash log) will spew out a message about dyld that says: "Reason: no suitable image found." and then sometimes "file to short" [sic]. The file is too short because it is zero-length...

... This bug has been filed with Apple, along with steps to reproduce it 100% of the time (at least in my testing). It was marked as a duplicate, which means the bug was already in Apple's system before I filed it. And since it is duplicate, I don't know what is going on with it. Yes, before anyone mentions it, I know prebinding is deprecated. However, Mac OS X still does it when installing Apple updates...
The full article has some diagnostic steps to try and discusses recovery . I think for most people recovery is to boot in firewire mode, remove data, and reinstall.

If this if for real, and it's really been 18 months, Apple is not showing its best face ...

Friday, March 16, 2007

Phil Bradley's functional classification of Web 2.0 applications

"I want to" Web 2.0 is organized by goal, such as "collaboration" or "communication". It's a handy way to see what's being developed in different domains.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

ScanHelper: route scan output to the desired application

Scott Gruby has written a small application to allow OS X users to quickly swap which application should be used for scanning. I'm guessing it looks to the software that controls the scanner like a client application that accepts scans, but it's really a router to a scanning application:
ScanHelper is a small application that places a menu in the menubar that lets you select which application should be used for scanning. Simply tell the ScanSnap Manager to use ScanHelper and then ScanHelper routes the scans to the selected application. You can now easily select a destination right from the menubar. I’m releasing this as free software, but if you like it, please buy my ReceiptWallet application.
This sounds clever! I'm going to try it. Gruby suggests you buy his ReceiptWallet product if you like it.

One Number to Rule Them All

Pogue writes about a unified phone numbers scheme: One Number That Will Ring All Your Phones - New York Times. Free for up to to two numbers.

My thoughts:
1. The real play here is for identity and reputation management. That's where the conquer-the-world ROI Is.

2. Others will do this.

3. Your number lasts only as long as the startup

4. The switching costs are very high. So if you commit and the price goes to $400/year don't cry. Let me repeat: you are signing a contract in blood.

5. It will be buggy and unreliable. That won't fly well.

6. Various vendors have sold this sort of thing for years, but it's always been very expensive.

7. I'd wait for Google.
Update 3/26/07: I signed up with GrandCentral.com after all. Why? Well, in part to preserve a username that I wanted. However, I also figured out why this useful for me now.

Nobody wants to carry two cellphones, but if you get a corporate phone you either need to carry two phones or be tied to a phone number that you lose when you switch jobs. GrandCentral solves this problem. I can get the corporate phone, but publish a number I own that redirects to the corporate phone. The number stays with me, even if the phone doesn't.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

DateBk for PalmOS: the DST fix

I don't do much new PalmOS any more, but I still rely on my T2. That might change when the iPhone is real, but for now I use my old apps every day. One of my favorites is Pimlico DateBk, a product that deserves better than the decaying Palm platform. I'm on version 5 and I don't feel driven to upgrade, but the time feature on v5 is out of whack. Happily, DateBk's rules for time zones are data driven, and one can simply edit the data. This description is for DateBk6 but it's the same for DateBk5:
DateBk6 FAQ's

USA has changed DST rules for 2007 - what do I need to do if I'm using TimeZones?

All you need to do is edit the WORLD TIMEZONES memopad record that has all the timezone information including the rules for handling Daylight Savings in different parts of the world. The default data in that record uses rule 'A' for the USA and for 2007 it should be defined as:

.A 2103 1111 US Std. - for 2007 (old value was: .A 1104 L110 US Std.)

2103: The '2' says the "second" day of the week, the '1' indicates Sunday, and 03 indicates the month of March. 1111: The '1' says the 'first' day of the weeks, the '1' indicates a Sunday, and 11 indicates the month of November. So DST runs from the second Sunday in March through the first Sunday in November for 2007.

You can also just download the current release of DateBk5/6 and unzip the dbSetup.prc (dbSetup6 for DateBk6) file and run that to re-install the World Timezones database as that now includes the correct information for 2007.
I realized after posting this that he mentions an update to DateBk5, the version I use. I installed that dbSetup as per the above directions.

Coding Horror builds a new PC

It's been years since I built my XP box, and it's likely I'll not build another one (Apple doesn't work that way.)

Even so, I like reading about a state of the art build like this one?Coding Horror: My Work PC, or, Taking Your Own Advice. The systems came it at $650, including a 10,000 rpm drive.

Keyword Assistant updated for iPhoto 6.0.6

iPhoto has had a small update, so my copy of Ken Ferry's indispensable Keyword Assistant has put itself into safe mode.

Happily, Ken was right on top of this update. KA has been updated:
Software: Keyword Assistant

This version requires iPhoto 4.0.3 - iPhoto 6.0.6 and Mac OS X 10.4.8. It runs natively on Intel- and PowerPC-based computers. See the changelog for what's new.
As with all prior versions, you need to switch to an Admin account to install KA. I've complained about this to Ken (at least it should provide a helpful error message), but it's hard to bellyache too much about a free product.

PocketDock AV: every cable solution for an iPod

AppleInsider pointed me to: SendStation - Products - PocketDock AV. It'd the ultimate dock/cable solution for an iPod, including S-video output. It's primarily of interest to anyone doing video out from an iPod. It will cost $37 when it's really available. I'm tempted.

How to extract images from resistant outlook emails (img src is cid)

I received an unusually interesting email of alleged comparative planetary sizes from a colleague, but I was unable to extract the embedded images. When I saved the HTML I found text like this (angle brackets changed to [] due to Firefox/Blogger limitation):
[img id="MA2.1171429358" src="cid:part2.02060304.06000606@earthlink.net" datasize="32941" border="0" height="423" width="754" /]
A Google search resolved the mystery (Where is imagedata). If you use Microsoft Word as your Outlook text editor, this is how images are embedded. It has the interesting side effect that the images cannot be easily extracted, that may be intentional. I wonder if there's a way to use the apparent embedded identifier trace the image back to an email account ...

In any case, I transiently switched my Outlook editor to Word 2003 and I was able to individually (but not all at once) save each image as a separate BMP.

TextEdit can contain mutiple PDF documents

macosxhints.com - Embed multiple PDFs in one TextEdit document. TextEdit is a bit of a playground for Apple's OS X developers. There are quite a surprises in it.

If you have several PDFs you'd like to organize, dropping them all into a single TextEdit document is one way to do it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

How FairPlay Works

Schneier pointed to this very well done description of Apple's FairPlay, including a nice discussion of AAC:
How FairPlay Works: Apple's iTunes DRM Dilemma

Protected, purchased content is locked within iTunes; songs are not scrambled on Apple's server. This speeds and simplifies the transaction by delegating that work to iTunes on the local computer.

The result is an authorization system that does not require iTunes to verify each song with Apple as it plays. Instead, iTunes maintains a collection of user keys for all the purchased tracks in its library.

To play a protected AAC song, iTunes uses the matching user key to unlock the master key stored within the song file, when is then used to unscramble the song data.

Every time a new track is purchased, a new user key may be created; those keys are all encrypted and stored on the authorized iTunes computer, as well as being copied to Apple's servers.

When a new computer is authorized, it also generates a globally unique ID number for itself and sends it to Apple, which stores it as one of the five authorizations in the user account.

Apple's server sends the newly authorized machine the entire set of user keys for all the tracks purchased under the account, so all authorized systems will be able to play all purchased songs.
I didn't realize AAC was used by satellite radio. The essay also explains why Job wrote his anti-DRM post. The writing is really on the wall for DRM.

How to escape your mobile phone contract

You can die, move out of the coverage zone, make lots of calls from a location that's costly to your carrier, find a hole in the contract, or use a contract trading service.

A very handy referece: Getting Out of a 2-Year Cellphone Contract Alive - New York Times.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Apple messed up the DST switch.

[Update 3/12/07: I think this was probably a transient glitch early Sunday am, perhaps due to a very heavy load on Apple's time server. My other machines had the right time. A commenter had no problem with 40 different machines!]

So, it wasn't so straightforward after all.

My fully up-to-date iMac says it's 8:54AM CDT in the twin cities now.

It's actually 7:54AM CDT.

Blogger things it's 5:53AM, but that's because I'd never switched this blog from PST. Google has DST right, but Blogger makes me make the CST/DST choice myself.

Apple should be very red right now. Humiliating I'd say. (Ok, so I was a bit harsh. Sorry.)

Update 8:00AM: I switched off the automatic time setting and it reset itself to the right time, then I switched it back on. So some kind of bug in how the system clock was supposed to reset. I wonder if the Intel machines did better. (yes, they did)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Shutterfly provides print services for Picasa

I've used both Picasa Web Albums and SmugMug for photo services. I've favored SmugMug for several reasons, including that they're much more serious about color profiles, password protection, backup services, unlimited uploads, and they're less expensive [1]. On the other hand Picasa has much better iPhoto integration. (I use PictureSync with SmugMug.) Most of all, however, Picasa hasn't offered print services.

Tonight SmugMug was very buggy. Not just one repeated bug, but several nasty time consuming bugs. I became seriously annoyed, and went back to Picasa. They offer print services, now, and one of my very first photo vendors, Shutterfly, is a featured provider. (I probably still have old albums on Shutterfly.)

So now Picasa offers reasonable print services, even if they may not be the equal of SmugMug's. On the other hand, Picasa has never been as buggy as SmugMug was tonight...

I'm still moving back and forth, but I'm going to use Picasa for a while. Sure SmugMug wins on big by the feature count, but time-eating bugs are intolerable. Also, they're incredibly late with good iPhoto integration.

[1] In fact an old blog posting of mine still generates sufficient SmugMug referalls that the service is free for me. If I really do switch I'll have to turn that link off, but maybe SmugMug will fix its bugs.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Windows Live OneCare: quarantined TightVNC and blocked Microsoft's Advantage update

I was unable to update Microsoft's finkware tool "Windows genuine advantage". I disabled Windows Live OneCare's active scanning and the update finished.

So Live OneCare was blocking Microsoft's update?!

I decided to see what else it was doing. Turns out it had "quarantined" the installer files I had for two VNC products because:
"This program has potentially unwanted behavior ... Remote Control Software ..."
Wow. Anything to do with VNC will evidently be quarantined by OneCare. It's just too risky for regular folk to have.

I'm so glad I mostly use OS X.

Retrospect error -556

My creaky old copy of Retrospect Professional for Windows was returning "error -556": Can't access volume Users on iMacG5, error -556 (backup client: network interface unavailable). Retrospect couldn't find its Clients from the Configure menu either.

I figured it was something to do with "Windows Live One Care". I disabled scanning and firewall, quite Retrospect (necessary), restarted Retrospect, and it found the clients. I then re-enabled everything, but Retrospect could still find the clients. (I did incidentally enable "Network Discovery" in Live One Care -- it had been disabled, but I didn't expect that to make much difference).

So I don't know what's wrong. I'm hoping it's not some odd effect of my relatively new gigabit switch.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Sony Car FM/CD Head Unit: iPod/Audio-In/USB Car FM/CD Stereo: a review

The stock cassette/CD player ("heat unit") in our 10 yo Subaru wagon hiccuped the other day. That was all the excuse I needed, I began shopping for something with an audio-in jack. I'd gotten tired of using the iPod through a cassette adapter -- they kept wearing out and I hoped a better interface would get better sound out of my feeble stock speakers.

I couldn't find a cassette/CD player with an audio in jack. In fact, it was hard to find a cassette player at all! That's a shame, as we've quite a few books on tape. What I found, instead, was the Sony In-Dash Player (CDX-GT610UI) for $170 with installation (+ $40 for wiring harnesses I didn't know about! Clearly the margin on the harness is enormous.).

I'm not an easy going consumer, and I've found a few warts (especially when listening to podcasts), but I still like it. Here's an edited marketing blurb, emphases mine:

52 watts x 4 peak power: Sounded very good until my speakers started rattling. A big improvement on my original player.

MP3/WMA playback: MP3/WMA/AAC and ATRAC3Plus on USB mass storage, CD/CD-R and CD-RW. The max supported bit rate is 320 kps. I've tested with CD-R Joliett format around 715MB, burned by iTunes at only 680MB (data disk, not mp3, because both AAC and MP3), and Disco burned Hybrid CD. All of them played. There was something quirky about displaying the albums, I think I had to wait until the entire metadata of the first tune scrolled by to be able to scroll albums. I've tested with a USB thumb drive and that worked very well. Of course DRMd media (ex. FairPlay AAC) won't work. You have to burn those to a regular CD then re-encode them, or use a transcoder that does something similar.

Satellite-radio/iPod ready: ...XM™ and SIRIUS satellite radio compatible... more on the iPod below

Set of pre-amp outs: A set of pre-amp outputs..

Detachable face: The fluorescent design face flips down and is detachable...

Remote control: Can do everything on the face plate, but the remote may be handy.

Auxiliary input

Installation instructions: A vehicle-specific wiring harness, antenna adapter, installation kit and in-dash player wiring harness are required to install this in-dash player. Use our car audio fit guide to find the accessories that fit your vehicle.

XM™ and SIRIUS Radio require a subscription, tuner and antenna.

I had the installation done by Circuit City. It was a bit hard to schedule the install, but they did a good job over an hour or so. I was surprised by a $40 charge for two wiring harnesses, one that's vehicle specific and one that's device specific. I suspect Circuit City's "free" installation is paid for by the harnesses. The original harness was left in the car. The CC installer told me they'd switch the old player back for free if I sell the car. I didn't get the install tool or directions back, you may wish to ask for these. The iPod cable was routed through the glove compartment.

The Circuit City web site, by the way, implies you need one harness. That's wrong.

I plugged in my iPod and it started up playing some great Jazz (default is "resume mode"). It sounded fabulous. I thought I had a new car. Evidently the speakers have been underutilized for a decade. I did notice that I had to spin the volume dial a bit to crank it up, but there's lots of ceiling -- more than my speakers can handle. Here are my comments so far:
  • I could detach the face plate easily, but I had a very hard time restoring it. I had to put the top right corner in first, then the bottom right, then I could lay in the left side

  • You can use the iPod with the aux in or through the iPod cable. The latter charges, has a bit better sound, and has a much weaker UI -- but it's easy to control while driving. On balance I think I prefer using the iPod cable; the ease of pause/skip/replay while driving outweighs the clunky UI. I select my Playlist before I plug in the cable. I'm going to rename the Playlists I most often use in the car so they'll be at the top of the SONY's alphabetic sort. If you study the manual and use Playlists I think you can make the SONY UI work tolerably well - except for podcasts (see below).

  • the preprogrammed equalizer modes are silly

  • support is supposedly via www.sony.com/xplod (awful web site)

  • the USB connection is powered, so you might be able to run a USB powered hard drive with a single cable. A car is a tough place for a hard drive, but it sure is tempting. Be careful, I tried charging my despised Motorola RAZRZ with mixed results. The phone detected a "data cable connection" and started charging, but when I unplugged it neither the USB drive nor the CD were working (the tuner worked). I had to turn off the car for a couple of minutes to restore everything. I think I crashed the sound system.

  • I've experimented with leaving some old thumb drives or adapted CF cards in the car with specific excerpts from my music. I also now have 4 mixed AAC and MP3 CDs with music and podcasts arranged in folders -- for children, me, etc. Given the limits of the unit's interface, I advise having no more than 4 folders/device. A half-dozen CDs each with 2-3 folders is just right for many purposes. I keep my podcasts on the thumb drive since they change often.

    I tried a 2GB "thumb drive" but it "wasn't supported". The Windows 'remove hardware' utility may explain the issue. A standard "thumb drive" shows up as: "USB Mass Storage Device/Generic USB Flash Drive ...", but this 2GB SD card/reader shows up as "USB Mass Storage Device/Generic- SD/MMC USB Device". I think this "thumb drive" holding a SD card appears to the SONY to be a "hub", and the manual explicitly states that USB hubs are not suppored.

    I also found a problem with copying music from OS X; OS X creates hidden "dot" files on SMB shares to hold metadata and resource forks, the radio treats these as tracks but can't read them. The symptom is that the player seems to skip every other track, this is annoying but not serious.

  • The volume dial is the "select" control and the source button is also power on.

  • The "resume" support works very well. I switch from the CD-R to the USB and it plays where it last left off.
Some notes from the all too easy-to-lose manual
  • set the clock
  • press and hold select button
  • press repeatedly until clock-adj
  • press seek + to get hour indication
  • rotate the volume control to set hour and minute, press Seek +/- to toggle time unit
  • press select to complete.
  • a reset button is located behind the front panel. RESET if buttons don't work or CD won't eject. If the unit loses power, you need to reset on startup. (ex. disconnected, battery dies, change battery, etc.)

  • if press seek twice within 1 second and hold on the second press it will "skip tracks continuously"

  • the setup options change based on the selected source. A bit confusing!

  • press and hold DSPL to change display brightness

  • BTM is "best tune mode": press and hold and it will very quickly autoassign the first 6 stations to numbers 1-6. Probably best when traveling, switch to FM 3 for example. I don't know if it will remember what station was last assigned, if it did you could auto-assign 12 stations between FM2 and FM3. Save FM1 for memorized using the standard "press and hold" number to memorize.

  • iPod starts in 'resume mode'. So you can select on iPod where you want to start, then sleep, then connect and it will play. Press 1/2 to enable the repeat, shuffle, and scan functions. 1/2 also skip and (if held) skip continuously. Mode changes album -> artist -> playlist. During play 3/4 give options to repeat or shuffle track/album/artist/playlist/all. In non-shuffle play hold 5 to enter scan mode, play 10 seconds of each track. (Press again to stop scan?)

  • Press select button to get balance/fade/subwoofer and to customize equalizer curve (spin dial) and to enter setup and change setup menu options. Volume dial selects. I turned off "beep" but I'm still getting an annoying 4 tone warning when I turn off the ignition. It's a reminder to remove the face plate, but I don't want it. I don't think this can be disabled. You can also set "Local-On" here, that limits radio pickup to stronger stations. (Note: to get the radio options you need to select radio in source.)

  • USB (thumb drive - Flash Drive only?, etc) mass storage device. Press 3 or 4 to move between track, album, shuffle album and shuffle track modes. Select shuffle off or "orff" to return to normal play mode. Folders show up as albums. Max 512 albums, 65,535 tracks.

  • CD: Folders show up as albums. Max 150. Max 300 tracks and folders. 32 char for names is safest. Don't use multi-session CD.

  • iPod's supported: all recent, first generation Nano and beyond, 3rd generation iPod and beyond, iPod photo.

  • Error messages:
    OFFSET error message: it's broken. Bring to dealer. (Try reset?)
    OVERLOAD: bad USB device
Some iTunes notes for use with this device
  • You can burn your Data CDs from iTunes, mixing MP3 and non-FairPlay AAC. iTunes prefixes each file item with a number and puts everything in one folder. Note you can't create an MP3 CD from iTunes if your music is AAC, but this car stereo doesn't care. AAC is just fine. I prefer to define my Playlist in iTunes, then drag and drop the files to the desktop, organize them there into folders as desired, and then burn the CD from the desktop. There's an iTunes bug with this, if some files don't make it restart iTunes and drag 50-100 at a time.
  • iTunes can change your ID-3 tags to different versions or adjust character strings for you.
Update 5/7/07 and 7/26/07: What's not to like?

Now that I've used this device for a few months I have a few nits and one nasty.
  • nasty: The engineers weren't thinking about podcasts. The UI is optimized for navigating 3 minute tunes, not 60 minute programs. For example, the fast-forward and rewind buttons work with fixed 15 second increments, and if you slip a bit and press twice you hop to the beginning of a podcast! You can spend 5-10 minutes pressing the button as you try to find your way back to the last 10 minutes of the program (best to do this while waiting for lights to change!). Even if you're using an iPod, you're stuck with this UI because the SONY iPod interface disables the iPod's native controls. SONY should have had the fast-forward and rewind intervals scale, so if you keep pressing it would start to jump at 30 second, 1 minute, 5 minute and 10 minute intervals. This has become a bigger issue the more I use the unit. It's an interesting example of how a device incrementally adapts to new technologies. I think there were examples in early cars of devices that really only made sense in horse drawn buggies.
  • nasty nit/nasty: For weeks I thought some insane marketing droid had betrayed the engineering team and forced a marketing message to blink whenever the device was off. It was so irritating I began to fantasize about hacking the ROM. Mercifully, a comment (see below) put me out of my misery. This is the demo mode. Page 12 of the user manual tells you how to disable it. I turned this into a "nit" when I figured the "demo mode" was my mistake, but I've since learned this is the default setting. Grrr. So it's nasty nit.
  • nit/nasty: Be careful to use true USB "thumb drives", anything that "looks" like a hub (ex. removable SD card in some holders) won't work. I don't know how well a USB hard drive will work, but a car is not a great place for a hard drive.
  • nit: Every time you turn off the ignition it chirps 4 times. This can't be disabled. It's reminding me to take off the face plate, but that's a pain and I don't bother. There should be an option to turn this off.
  • nit: It would be nice to have a dedicated "play/pause" button.
  • nit: You need to really study the manual to get full value from this, but that's an inevitable consequence of a product that does so much. It's generally well designed.
  • nit: Silly equalizer presets.
  • nit: the display is not very effective. I don't really need to know the song format - ever. They could have made significantly better use of the limited real estate.
Update 8/20/08:

I've now been using this device for over a year. I suspect SONY doesn't sell the original model number by now. My original conclusions stand up well. I would add these from longterm experience:
  • I've never had to deal with the reset button.
  • You do need to keep the manual around. It's easy to forget how to adjust bass, treble, etc.
  • The head unit iPhone cable won't charge iPhone 2.0. This is because Apple removed "firewire" charging from iPhone 2.0; many care devices turn out to use the 12V firewire option (since cars use 12V electrical systems). This is a royal nuisance, though I wonder if Apple removed firewire charging to reduce the risk of electrical problems that have been found in some iPod devices.
  • The embedded software that controls a connected iPod/iPhone is quite awkward and can get confused by a video device. I prefer to choose my playlist, etc prior to connecting my device, then use the head unit only to pause and play.
  • The fast forward and rewind controls are inadequate for navigating podcasts (ex. on my USB thumb drive). It takes too long to move through 30 minutes+ of audio. SONY needed to add an "acceleration" behavior.
I hope SONY will resolve some of the above limitations in a future release. I still very much appreciate the unit and I'm glad I bought it.

Update 5/5/09: The Griffin Firewire to USB converter works for me. I can use my car stereo connector again.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Screen capture to clipboard

Another bloody kb combo to learn:
Apple - Pro - Tips - The Secret Screen Capture Shortcut

...Okay, you probably already know the ol’ Command-Shift-3 shortcut for taking a screen capture of your entire screen, and you may even know about Command-Shift-4, which gives you a crosshair cursor so you can choose which area of the screen you want to capture. But perhaps the coolest, most-secret hidden capture shortcut is Control-Command-Shift-3 (or 4), which, instead of creating a file on your desktop, copies the capture into your Clipboard memory, so you can paste it where you want.
It works.


Cmd-Opt-Eject to lock screen

OS X now uses hibernation instead of old-fashioned sleep -- at least on MacTel machines. Risky, it's easy to shut a laptop, sling it into a bag, and walk off with the hard drive still spinning. (The way too small sleep indicator on the MacBook contributes to the problem.)

Worse, hibernation mode means someone can browse the disk image and extract the content of memory -- including usernames and passwords.

So this OS X Hint tells users how to: Disable Safe Sleep for faster sleep on lid close.

Personally I'll skip this one, but from comments I learned how to lock a screen quickly from the kb: Hold Command-Option and then tap the Eject button. The machine doesn't go to sleep any more quickly than tapping Power-S, but the lock is instantaneous (if you have the machine set to request a pw on wake from sleep). Handy when you're trying to get the laptop away from the kids. It doesn't work on every laptop apparently, but it's fine on my MacBook Core-2 Duo.

Export a book as a QuickTime movie in iPhoto 6

Another undocumented iPhoto feature:
macosxhints.com - Export a book as a QuickTime movie in iPhoto 6

...Create a book in iPhoto. With the book selected, Option-click on the Play button. The slideshow settings panel appears as it normally would. The difference, however, is that when you click the Play button in the panel, you're prompted to save the slideshow as a movie. Pick a save location, name the movie, click Export, then wait. No need to invoke iDVD...

Amazon S3 and a Firefox based file manager

Coding Horror: Using Amazon S3 as an Image Hosting Service is another excellent CH article and comment collection. S3 is said to be a favorite startup storage facility. CH describes a Firefox based S3 file browser.

Windows NTFS almost has basic file system indirection

Shell-Shocked :: Windows Symbolic and Hard Links. It's in there, it just doesn't work very well. Reminds me of NTFS forks, which include MacOS-like resources and other alternative file streams.

I think WinFS was supposed to replace all of this semi-hacked technology. If Vista had really come with WinFS, I'd have been seriously interested in it.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A tutorial on website bandwidth, RSS outsourcing, and image outsourcing

Coding Horror: Reducing Your Website's Bandwidth Usage is an excellent, brief, tutorial on the state of the web art. Among other things, I learned about image outsourcing with Imageshack, why people use FeedBurner (outsource the RSS burden), the huge cost of badly written RSS readers, HTTP compression (ok, I knew about that, but it's rarely mentioned), JavaScript and CSS optimization. An excellent reference to keep at hand.

I do need to learn more about FeedBurner. There's evidently a reason it's so popular.

Update: check out the comments too. S3 is mentioned a content host a few times.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom: Impressive

I'm impressed. I tried Adobe - Photoshop Lightroom (OS X) when it was in beta and I wasn't that keen on it, but it's come a long way. Editing tasks are quite fast on my G5 iMac, certainly faster than Aperture, but even quicker than iPhoto. You can actually edit a date in Lightroom, which you can't do in Aperture (still). (Ok, so there are bugs in dates prior to 1600 or so ...)

The relatively small number of keyboard shortcuts are just right to make quick work of editing. I quickly got the hang of ~, R, G, Cmd-U, etc. The auto-correction and several tools for saving and applying sets of editing operations worked quickly and well.

I don't see the powerful querying and image management tools I used during my Aperture trial however. They may be there, I haven't finished looking at the app yet.

If Adobe had decided to support migrating from iPhoto I'd be strongly tempted to buy it. Of course they didn't. Lightroom is not a good option for anyone with a great deal of metada in iPhoto, but it may be the best bet for just about everyone else. This 1.0 release of Lightroom seems better put together than Aperture 1.52.

Did I mention the user interface is clear and readable -- unlike Aperture's bizarre non-Apple GUI?

Apple needs to get in gear. They're already losing a race that's barely started.

Update 3/8/07: I've found my first nasty bug. On occasion Lightroom reports it cannot import an image. It may even say it can't be read. On a retry Lightroom reads it. Image Capture, iPhoto, etc have no problem with the same image.

Jon Udell tackles the multiple calendar problem

Jon Udell wrote some fabulous columns for BYTE magazine in its heyday [1]. He always looked harder and farther than anyone else. So I'm delighted to see he feels the multi-calendar pain, and he's writing about it ...
Calendar cross-publishing concepts � Jon Udell

... The private URL [Google Calendar] is what we’re looking for. And in particular, the iCal flavor of the private URL. That’s what other calendar programs, including Outlook, can latch onto to subscribe to this calendar. The URL that Google produces starts with http:// and, when you plug it into Outlook 2007, bingo, there’s the family calendar nicely merged in with the work calendar...
Huh!? Outlook 2007 will integrate an iCal source with the work calendar? Maybe Office 2007 isn't all bad after all.

This does mean that family events go into the work world, which I dislike. I'd much rather have the work events to to a secured family calendar, but of course my employer doesn't care for that. Jon says Outlook 2007 will publish to a WebDav server:
... When you publish your Outlook calendar to WebDAV and then try to subscribe from Google Calendar, you’ll fail if the calendar is secured with HTTP basic authentication. (However, Apple iCal will succeed in this case.) If you instead allow anonymous access to the WebDAV-hosted calendar it’ll work in Google Calendar, but only if you alter the sharing URL produced by Outlook, changing webcal:// to http://...
Hmm. If I sign up for .Mac I get a WebDAV server and a family Calendar sync. If I can also integrate my work calendar ...

The multi-calendar problem is driving me bonkers. I remember the blessed days when I could sort-of-get Outlook to selectively sync certain categories with my Palm. Back then, I had a full calendar view on my Palm and at home, and a work only view at Work. Alas, an immense number of bugs and design flaws made me give up on that solution; I've had two cursed calendars ever since. The problem is all the more painful given that there was once a pretty decent solution ...

[1] There's nothing like BYTE in the world today. I'm convinced its demise set back progress in personal computing by several years. I'd always felt Microsoft's relative enmity (PC Magazine wrote whatever they wanted, so they got the goodies) was partly responsible for BYTE's demise, so it's a bit ironic that Jon now works for the Empire.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Vista is slow. How to make it tolerable, the perfomance penalty of antivirals, and OS X rules

Coding Horror is a Windows guy. So when he says that the default configuration of Vista is substantially slower than XP, you know there's a problem. It turns out, however, that you can configure Vista to behave a bit like OS X, in which case it's about as fast as XP. Until you add anti-viral software, then it's slow again.

I particularly appreciated the comments on antiviral software. I'm surprised this doesn't get more attention, any serious geek has loathed the performance drag and bugginess of antiviral software ever since it came out. I had to retire my mother's Win 98 box, for example, not because it was too slow to run Firefox, but because it was too slow to run Norton Antivirus. One of the reasons OS X is faster and more stable than XP is because you can use it quite safely without antiviral software. Here's more from CH (emphases and annotations mine):
Coding Horror: Choosing Anti-Anti-Virus Software

... For best performance, the first thing I do on any new Vista install is this:

1. Turn off Windows Defender
2. Turn off Windows Firewall
3. Disable System Protection
4. Disable UAC

I've had friends remark how "slow" Vista feels compared to XP, but when I ask them whether they've disabled Defender or UAC, the answer is typically no. Of course your system is going to be slower with all these added security checks. Security is expensive, and there ain't no such thing as a free lunch. [jf: I'd say OS X is still a free lunch. For now.]

You might argue that three out of these four security features wouldn't even be necessary in the first place if Windows had originally followed the well-worn UNIX convention of separating standard users from privileged administrators. [jf: I'm amazed that some people run OS X as an admin. There's no reason I can think of to do that. It's just dumb.]...

... If you're really serious about security, then create a new user account with non-Administrator privileges, and log in as that user. This isn't the default behavior in Vista, sadly. Post install, you get an Administrator-But-Not-Really-Just-Kidding account which triggers UAC on any action that requires administrator privileges.

...Vista is probably the first Microsoft operating system ever where you can actually work effectively as a standard, non-privileged user. As a standard user, you get all the benefits of UAC, Defender, and System Protection.. without all the performance drain. [jf: This is how OS X works, except escalation to admin privileges is available when needed at the cost of entering a username and password. It's no bother, I rarely switch to my admin account.]

... Speaking of retrograde, band-aid, destroy all my computer's performance security, the one security feature Vista doesn't bundle is anti-virus software. And nothing cripples your PC's performance quite like anti-virus software. This isn't terribly surprising if you consider what anti-virus software has to do: examine every single byte of data that passes through your computer for evidence of malicious activity. But who needs theory when we have Oli at The PC Spy. Oli conducted a remarkably thorough investigation of the real world performance impact of security software on the PC. The results are truly eye-opening:

Percent slower: Boot CPU Disk

Norton Internet Security 2006 46% 20% 2369%
McAfee VirusScan Enterprise 8 7% 20% 2246%
Norton Internet Security 2007 45% 8% 1515%
Trend Micro PC-cillin AV 2006 2% 0% 1288%
ZoneAlarm ISS 16% 0% 992%
Norton Antivirus 2002 11% 8% 658%
Windows Live OneCare 11% 8% 512%
Webroot Spy Sweeper 6% 8% 369%
Nod32 v2.5 7% 8% 177%
avast! 4.7 Home 4% 8% 115%
Windows Defender 5% 8% 54% [jf: Microsoft's product. I bought this on the theory Microsoft would be most likely to limit performance hits]
Panda Antivirus 2007 20% 4% 15%
AVG 7.1 Free 15% 0% 19%

The worst offenders are the anti-virus suites with real-time protection. According to these results, the latest Norton Internet Security degrades boot time by nearly 50 percent. And no, that isn't a typo in the disk column. It also makes all disk access sixteen times slower! Even the better performers in this table would have a profoundly negative impact on your PC's performance. Windows Defender, for example, "only" makes hard drive access 54 percent slower...

...I've never run any anti-virus software. And Mac or Linux (aka UNIX) users almost never run anti-virus software, either. ..
I don't agree with removing antiviral software from an XP box, though I do disable antiviral realtime software when I need to do major database work. Sooner or later some goof-up happens, and before you know it the machine is a spambot. I do think that Windows 95 or 98 users might be able nowadays to go without, a lot of viruses won't run on such old machines and OSs.

I may end up switching my Parallels Win2K VM to Vista Lite if I can get a cheap license, so it's nice to have this recipe at hand.

StuffIt Expander: A parasitic spawn and hideous evil

My new MacAlly keyboard came with stuffit compressed drivers. I almost returned it. StuffIt, once a respectable product, became a scourge under new ownership. It's buggy, adds no value to native solutions, can break the native OS X zip archive, and the distribution process requires one to sign up for spam.

I kept the keyboard, because it's about 10 times better than the egregious junk Apple ships, but I did pass on my concerns to MacAlly. Alas, they didn't seem to get the problem.

All of which is to say I found this blast from an ex-"Apple Genius" very validating:
ungenius - Third Party Apps

... I have some special words about StuffIt Expander, though. StuffIt Expander is a scourge upon our industry and should be viciously and stubbornly squashed, mashed, neglected, and uninstalled from all encountered computers at every opportunity. With the prevalence and openness of ZIP, up to and including its status as the default archiver for OS X, and The Unarchiver there is absolutely no reason to inflict this hideous evil upon another soul. Expurgate it from your repertoire and don't hesitate to call upon the services of a licensed exorcist if necessary.
If you ever see .SIT on a file you download, send the vendor this link or a link to the Apple Genius site. If you can suggest better links please add them in the comments below. We need to get vendors like MacAlly to see the light.