Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Hyatt on XUL and Mozilla

Surfin' Safari
So what is XUL anyway? It is an XML language whose tags consist of:

(1) layout primitives (tags like hbox, vbox, grid and stack)
(2) widgets (tags like menulist, menubar, toolbar, and button)
(3) commands, keyboard accelerators (tags like command and keyset)
(4) xul templates (for UI binding to back-end data, represented as RDF)

Hyatt's 1-2 page description of Mozilla's XUL implementation is by far the best concise description I've seen anywhere. He understands this material, and he can communicate it. Quite a neat little artifact that he seems to have tossed out fairly quickly.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Special Education Learning Disabilities ADD/ADHD: Remedia Educational Software Products, Remedia

Special Education Learning Disabilities ADD/ADHD:
Remedia Educational Software Products, Remedia

Updating Classic with Panther install

Panther: Mac OS X 10.3: Part III: "Updating Classic

Don Hurter
With the Big Day upon us, I offer the following tip for people upgrading to 10.3 who still use Classic on an occasional basis. You can create a disk image (using Disk Copy) and install OS 9 and all support files there, including Classic apps if you so desire. This way, all your OS 9 material will be contained inside the image when you're not using it, yet fully accessible when the image is mounted. There are more instructions for how to do this on any of these pages:


I need only minimal Classic support, so I weeded the system folder down to the bare minimum by hand (why does the Apple Video extension still get installed these days?) For this I only needed a 300MB disk image, although others might choose 500MB just to be safe. I then put the image inside ~/Library/Classic Support (which is a folder I created just for this), but the image can reside anywhere. One neat trick with all this is that the disk image will mount automatically if you ever try to launch a Classic app. Another benefit with keeping the image size down is that you can burn it onto a CD for backup (although you'll need Toast if you want to make it bootable, as I did). And when you upgrade to 10.3, you only need to copy the disk image to your new installation and everything will still work fine... "

Friday, October 24, 2003

Altec Lansing inMotion Portable iPod Speakers

The Apple Store (U.S.): "This tiny, ultra-portable, battery-operated stereo system is the first powered audio system designed exclusively for the iPod. A highly efficient amplifier powers four full-range micro drivers to deliver a full spectrum of pure, distinct sound, while the revolutionary MaxxBass technology allows listeners to enjoy deep bass without lugging large speakers around. Best of all, connectivity is as easy as placing your iPod into the built-in dock or connecting it through the auxiliary port."
Em -- I want these for Christmas :-)!

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Apple - Discussions - SMB shared iTunes Lib: Dual Mac/Win Client

Editing a single SMB share iTunes repository from Mac and Windows iTunes clients.

I have iTunes 4.1 installed on a Win2K and WinXP box and on an iBook. The tunes all sit on a single SMB share. As a fairly expert OS X and Windows user who's been using iTunes for about 6 months, I feel it's blown away the entire PC music management world. Hence this question.

Has anyone tried the terrifying experiment of pointing every version of iTunes at the same iTunes library? Does the whole thing explode?

Thus far I've one machine (the iBook) that manges the main library and does the burning. I dropped the library folder on the other machines to build their view, so they each have their own repository.

For various reasons, depending on compatibiilty with the photo Vault feature of my iPod, I may switch the library management to the WinXP machine, redo my iPod with FAT32[1], and also sync my iPod there.

If I do that, I have two options for library management:

a. Point iTunes 4.1 on the other machines to the main machine and manage the respository from any machine.
b. Use Microsoft Remote Desktop from the other machines to control iTunes on the XP machine and share the library to the other machines.

Anyone experiment with option a? It seems by far the riskiest.


meta: jfaughnan, jgfaughnan, iPod, iTunes, LAN, mixed LAN, wireless LAN, shares, server, music server, 802.11b, ethernet, configuration, mixed architecture

[1] I'll put an HPFS+ image on the iPod drive for mounting on a Mac, but be able to use the iPod with a USB cable as a very large "thumb drive". An iPod that's a PC mountable USB drive, a firewire mountable HPFS share, a music box, a Photo Vault, a recording tool and a lightweight PIM is an intriguing proposition.

Friday, October 17, 2003

IPod now stores photos and sound

The Apple Store (U.S.)

Apple did a great job keeping the photo storage capabilities top secret, they've been LONG anticipated.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

The Tungsten E: Palm's latest version of the Palm V (Razor)

Palm - Support - Palm Tungsten E Handheld
My Usenet postings on the T|E

I'd been nursing a Palm Vx along for years. Finally it began an accelerated digitizer death spiral -- the usual way a Vx dies. (I think some internal epoxy gives way, it's an old manufacturing defect.) Since my OTHER Vx had recently done the same thing, I had to act fast. Fortunately I'd anticipated this, and I'd researched enough to figure I'd go for a Tungsten E.

Impressions and notes below.

0. It's a huge leap from the Vx to the T|E. In particular there have been 3 big changes, ordered here by how big an impact they've had on me:

- Palm OS 5: small impact, had to replace EasyLaunch and X-Master with non-free (but valuable) alternatives.
- Grafitti 2: medium-big impact, had to buy TealScript to recover.
- Data Model changes to base applications: BIG change, I'm still working through the implications.

1. PocketMirror Pro 3.1.5 sort of works with the new Palm apps but it doesn't support the new features (larger text limits, etc). In testing I've had an unusually large number of mini-disasters when synching to both the Palm Desktop and Outlook, however I was then using an earlier version of DateBk5 (which has since been fixed to work around bugs in the new OS and major changes to application data models). Currently, after much tweaking, I can sync Tasks (To Do) and Memos (Notes), but appointments and contacts are one way from Outlook to Palm.

The built-in Palm conduits do not support category-specific selective-synchronization -- a critical (and vastly underappreciated) requirement for synchronizing a personal PDA with a corporate Exchange server.

2. The TE is about the size of the Vx, but it's lighter and flimsier. Made in China and it feels like it. OTOH the Vx was almost $400 or 450 when it came out and the TE is $200. We'll see. It's definitely pocketable. The cover it ships with has nylon threads that make quite a mess of the front of the TE.

3. Battery life is similar to a PocketPC, nothing like the Vx of old. The screen, the CPU, the memory, even the OS all seem to contribute. I suspect that after the first year of use, as the LiOn battery ages, the T|E will discharge after about 6 hours of unconnected regular PIM type use (eg. not music, communications, networking, etc). Since a new LiOn battery costs a significant fraction of a new PIM, and the battery is not designed to be replaced, the T|E device has a maximum lifespan of about 18 months.

If you have a laptop at hand, keep the PDA plugged into a USB cable when not in use.

From Palm's point of view this corrects the biggest defect of the Vx: despite their defects they still lasted too long. No recurring revenue.

In addition to the fundamental power drains, there are software bugs and design flaws that drain the battery. Under some conditions I can't identify the TE "wakes up" from an alert then doesn't return to sleep. The front keys are not as well designed as those of the Vx or m500, besides being ergonomically less effective they are always activated when the TE is pocketed. This drains the battery and may have other obvious bad effects. You need to active the Keyguard feature. This basically disables the auto-on features of the buttons, and it even makes turning on by the power switch less effective (extra click).

Lastly the Palm doesn't come with adequate controls to manange screen brightness. Happily Dimmer works very well and is inexpensive at about $10. It helps quite a bit. Turn off beam receive as well.

Bottom line: it's wasteful and environmentally harmful, but one must be resigned to replacing this device every 12-18 months. All the more reason to spend $200 instead of $500 for the T3, which has similar problems.

4. The ROM is not upgradeable. So don't expect to put OS 6 on this device! Since the device has an effective lifespan of about 18 months (see battery, above) you should plan on switching to an OS 6 device in a year.

5. The Palm Desktop has changed quite a bit. The Mac version has a huge variety of ways to browse tasks (love it!) and the calendar has categories. The T|E calendar categories are compatible with the very latest beta version of DateBk5.

6. Migrating from an existing install takes some care. You need to go to the web site (link above) and carefully follow directions. Palm should have made this easier, but at least they're documenting problems that have been longstaniding and undocumented. (Going from a Palm to CLIE and vice-versa is twice the fun.)

7. The Tungsten E power brick is 8 oz. It's not as compact as a the Vx travel charger, but not as bad as I'd expected. The T|E does recharge, SLOWLY, via the USB sync cable. So if you have a laptop you could try plugging it into an "awake" (not sleeping) laptop overnight to charge. Be sure to disable "stay awake in cradle" and turn off the T|E when charging.

8. Why can't Palm standardize on their #$!#$! side rails. The TE won't accept the Vx or m515 covers. Is this incompetence or a desire to squeeze more money from long suffering customers? I think a mixture of both, the margin on the cases and covers is probably very large. I miss the lovely cover I had for my Vx, it was the perfect balance of pocketability, protection, convenience and usability. The TE's rail is not well designed. After only a few weeks of use the standard cover is sliding in and out of the rail.

OTOH, the TE WILL accept m5xx styli.

9. The TE will NOT work with the Palm "universal connector" (so much for their promises of eternal fealty to the connector). See #4 above. However it uses a STANDARD 5-pin mini-USB connector (same as the CLIE, but I'm not sure the slightly odd looking CLIE cable will charge the T|E), so the sync cable is cheap to replace. Not bad. I've bought several cables for $6 to $10 apiece, and I use them at work, home PC, home iBook, traveling, etc. It's great to be able to buy sync cables in bulk!

10. The infrared beaming between the Palm(tm) Tungsten(tm) T3 and the Palm(tm) VII and VIIx are not compatible. In general enough data structures on the TE have changed that beaming items to any device is somewhat problematic.

11. The bundled applications have changed quite a bit. There are relatively few in ROM applications. The CD comes with many applications from external vendors (Windows only), in many cases they replace older Palm applications. The Palm calculator and Palm Expense application have both been replaced by aftermarket items (which I like less), however they're still on the CD (X:\Palm Desktop\Device Apps Common: Calculator.prc and Expense.prc). Depending on how well your desktop installation performed (results vary) these apps may be in your desktop Add-In folder. I think there are also associated prc files for each that provide english language help files.

Older apps, especially security and encryption apps probably won't work. TealLock gave me a free upgrade! A lot of Palm software vendors are offering free or very low cost updgrades to OS 3 applications.

I had to upgrade a lot of my favorite Vx utilities. CIC's WordComplete, for example, TealLock, JFile, DiddleBug, DateBk5. Upgrade costs were minimal or absent. My version of WordComplete was OLD, for example, but CIC gave me a free upgrade. I did have to buy TealScript (Grafitti 1), TealMaster (OS 5 hack management) and TealLaunch (replacement for EasyLaunch); they set me back $45. (So the real cost of the T|E for me was closer to $260.)

12. Grafitti 2 sucks. Happily TealScript is one answer. It seems to work, but I've had to manually retrain a few problematic characters. TealScript and Jot/Grafitti 2 remind me of the true genius behind Grafitti 1. There's far more to G1 than meets the eye.

13. DateBk is my utterly critical app. Unfortunately when Palm changed the data model for the standard applications they broke a lot of aftermarket products, including DateBk. They also apparently introduced some nasty bugs. Happily CESD (DateBk's author) has worked around most of the problems in beta versions. DateBk5 fanatics should delay purchases of the T|E or T3 until a final compatible release of DateBk5 appears.

14. Mac users have a much better desktop app than windows users have. OTOH, Mac users lack the small tool for updating phone link scripts. Mac users can download phone link data from: http://www.palmone.com/us/support/downloads/phonelink.html

15. On the Mac when you add a photo it's automatically sized to the TE display and each image is about 30KB. They look decent. On a PC the entire image is stored. My images are 1.5-3MB EACH, so I'll be using the Mac to put images on my TE. I created an iPhoto album called "Palm". I move photos in and out of there, and every so often I 'select all' then drag and drop them onto the Palm image/mp3 installer droplet. Very easy.

(Yes, I know some people consider the PC approach to be preferable, but the Mac allows you to store full size photos on the Palm as well as providing the great little photo sizer.)

17. The screen is almost painfully bright. Dimmer is great (see battery life discussion, above).

18. I don't like the replacement for the up/down buttons. It looks pretty, but it's ergonomically stupid.

19. You can register Documents To Go, or you can simply install and let it get it's updates. If you register you can download the full installer for the newer version. It sounds like D2G will be one of the biggest advantages of this device; it offsets some of the things I need to replace. Get the latest version, some earlier versions causes a crash when included in the system search.

20. The TE will not sync with the standard downloadable Desktop 4.1, you need the new conduits. Both old and new conduits are installed with Desktop 4.1 on the TE and T3 CDs, you can't download this installer so don't lose the CD!

21. I experimented with associating colors with categories in the Palm Desktop. I have about 10 categories in my calendar, and midway through this process the color of the appointment text was set to the background color. In addition, I couldn't click on any appointment! It turns out nothing is "wrong", the problem is design flaw! When you bring up the categories list to assign colors to a category, you are SIMULTANEOUSLY specifiying which categories to show (ALL vs. a selected category). This mixed action mode is asking for trouble, in my case the day I looked at had no appointments in the filtered category. (The colors remain, but the text vanishes.)

Tungsten E: terrific review from an end user

Tungsten E - Jeff Kirvin
The Tungsten E comes in plastic bubble packaging like the low end Zires rather than a cardboard box. Personally, I like this, since it's easier to see the actual unit and you don't have as much to lug home. The thinner packaging is made possible in part because the Tungsten E doesn't come with a cradle, or even the connector to use with a cradle. The bottom end of the E sports a standard USB "mini-B" type connector and a round DC power port. The port is a standard 5 volt/1 amp port, the same one used by many Samsung cell phones. While I'm sure the E will sell in sufficient numbers to spawn a line of chargers of its own, for now you can pick up chargers for the Samsung A460/A500 and use them with the E. I've got a Belkin car charger that works great. I use the car charger whenever possible, but I have to say that reports of poor battery life on the E are greatly exaggerated. I wasn't too impressed myself at first, but after setting the IR keyboard driver to auto-disable after five minutes of inactivity significantly improved my battery life. I get about 5.5-6 hours now, similar to other color devices with 900mAH batteries.

Since the Tungsten E power adaptor is a monster, most people will need something better.

Monday, October 13, 2003

WiebeTECH - SATA DOCK - IDE to SATA device

WiebeTECH Micro Storage Solutions - SATADOCK

"Provides support for ATA-5 drives, allowing capacities to 120GB. Designed for easy drive attachment and removal. 1.5 Ghz transfer rate - really zippy! Uses the Silicon Image SATA bridge. May be used with Apple's new G5 computer's motherboard Serial ATA ports. (Perfect for transferring old IDE drives to your new computer!!) May be used with Serial ATA port equipped PCs. Available with or without +12V/2A adapter."
This company has a lot of neat devices. Handy way to add a new IDE drive without dealing with IDE bus limitations to a mb w/ onboard SATA.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Canopus Analog to Digital Converter


Seems higher quality than most of the competition. Firewire!

ALL-IN-WONDER 9600 PRO: analog video digitizing


The 9600 and 9800 sound interesting. Cost is about $250 for the 9600. Might be a good fit for my Intel P4 mb, it comes with onboard video that's one can disable and replace with a new video card.

If this has good reviews I might start doing home video sooner than anticipated. They bundle the Pinnacle software, which has a pretty reasonable rep.

One Intel doc hints that I could use XPs dual monitor support with this card and the built-in Intel graphics. That would justify a new flat panel monitor! Could get costly ...

Friday, October 10, 2003

Director's Cut Take 2 - analog to digital video conversion

Director's Cut Take 2 - Video capture and export made easy!

iPod 1.1: How to Scroll to Any Point in a Song

iPod 1.1: How to Scroll to Any Point in a Song: "1. From the Now Playing screen, press the Select button (in the center of iPod). A diamond symbol indicates the point in the song that is selected.

2. Use the scroll wheel to go to any point in the song. The diamond symbol moves as you scroll, and the elapsed time and time remaining indicators change.

3. The song continues playing from the point where you stopped scrolling. You may also press the Select button to continue playing."

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

macosxhints - Palm wireless networking via USB attached IrDA adapter on a Mac

macosxhints - Palm wireless networking via IrDAWow. This is really obscure! Cool though.

Using XP Automatated System Restore (ASR) to restore backups from network?"

Google Groups: View Thread "Use ASR to restore backups from network?"
ASR backup sets are to be stored on tape devices, removable media, or a
fixed drive that will be available at restore time. Storing an ASR backup
set on a network share is not supported by Microsoft...

But...it is possible...Go through the ASR process...the restore process
should hang at the point when NTBackup is called to start restoring data
back to your system. At this point, you will need to a map a drive to the
share and point ntbackup at this share. If you are needing to load drivers
at this point for a NIC....you may be at a dead end...

See also Microsoft's article on how to restore. I'm going to test this one out ...

Microsoft's selected XP articles: Professional How-to Articles for IT Pros

Windows XP Professional How-to Articles for IT Pros
Not really very high level, but overall worth reading for the home IT expert.

Program Compatibility Wizard in Windows XP: how to support older software

301911 - HOW TO: Use the Program Compatibility Wizard in Windows XP
This looks promising for some of our kids older game software.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Win2K Resource Kit Downloads

Free Tool DownloadsMany of these Win2K Resource Kit apps work in XP as well -- use at your own risk.

Another independent email service ...

FastMail: Fast free or paid IMAP webmail with SMTP, POP & IMAP accessI've seen some recommendations for this. Might be worth a look. Not sure what the .fm domain means. I think an email service based in a country or region with severe anti-spam laws might be interesting.

Friday, October 03, 2003

Palm/Palm Pilot: Updates on Chapura and Sync Exchange/Outlook

Palm/Palm Pilot: Personal Experiences and Tips

Latest tips on ongoing desperate attempts to get Outlook and Exchange and Palm to be nice in their treacherous 3 way synchronization dance.

1. Prior to a Chapura/Palm sync, hit F9 key to force a synchronization between Exchange and Outlook.
2. Set up Chapura to slow sync (sync at multiple machines - even if you don't).
3. Set conflict resolution so Outlook wins (don't duplicate).
4. Backup Outlook data to unsynched folders in case all data gets trashed or duplicated during a sync process.
5. Outlook XP (2002) has a different approach to synchronization, make sure all the chapura folders are included in the All Folder (F9) synchronization group.
6. May be safer to leave Outlook/Exchange connection state at "Automatic" rather than manual!
7. When sync problems occur, after cleaning up Outlook set next sync to overwrite the Palm completely.
8. If Exchange/Outlook sync problems occur, turn off offline use, delete the OST folder (in user/local data ...), turn on offline use again. Get synchronization working from Exchange to Outlook (check sync status for each Outlook folder using the sync tab, # items on server should match # on client) then set Palm sync to overwrite Palm data from Outlook.
9. Keep all clocks synchronized and correct, (really Chapura should set the clock on the Palm). Don't change timezone settings when traveling.

It's just coincidental that Outlook/Exchange seem to play poorly with Palm ... I'm sure ...