Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Apple - iMac G5 - expensive!

Apple - iMac G5

I'm not thrilled. Too expensive when one adds adequate memory, bluetooth, wireless, etc. The standard package should have included 512MB memory, wireless and bluetooth.

How well is that panel going to pivot when half a dozen cables hang off the left of the display back?

Arghh. I have a bad feeling on this one. (Of course I liked the cube which flopped. On the other hand I've liked all of Apple's recent devices until this one.)

Monday, August 30, 2004

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Abridged Table of Contents

I came across this via a link to Bayes Theorem (see prior post). The index lists all the topics that are to be covered, it looks like about 80% or so are covered (based on two samples).

Not all the entries are readable by a non-specialist. The Bell's Theorem entry was, to me, incomprehensible.

It reminds me of a massive hypertext encyclopedia of philosophy I came across about 7 years ago. It was a european project. I wonder where it is now (I couldn't find it via Google).

I look forward to reading a history of these projects in about 20-30 years.

Bayes' Theorem - a decent discussion!

Bayes' Theorem

I've taught on Bayes Theorem to graduate students on several occasions. I've never felt I really communicated the underlying subtlety, complexity, and power of that mathematical beastie.

This essay would have helped me.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Inspiration for Palm OS

Inspiration for Palm OS - Business applications

Inspiration is a venerable software package put out by a small company. It started life as a business/productivity application for mind mapping and graphical thinking then found a niche in K12 education.

One of its peculiarities is that the Mac version can import MORE 3.1 files.

Now they have a version for the Palm. I'm not sure what to make of this. This is one application that seems well suited to a 30" LCD, not a 2" LCD.

Inspiration/Palm syncs with Inspiration Windows. Not sure about Inspiraton Mac. There are very few apps that have versions for Mac, Windows AND Palm.

There is a free trial. I'll give a try. You can download the Palm app for EITHER Mac or Windows.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Quantum Teleportation across the Danube -- Hacking God's Computer

Science & Technology at Scientific American.com: Quantum Teleportation across the Danube Demonstrated
Scientists report today in the journal Nature that they have successfully teleported photons more than 600 meters across the famous waterway.

Rupert Ursin and his colleagues at the Institute for Experimental Physics in Vienna fired a laser through a barium borate crystal to generate two pairs of photons. One pair is entangled, which means that if something disturbs the state of one, the other feels the effects as well--even when they are not physically connected. By separating the entangled pair, the scientists successfully transported information about the state of one photon to the other. Using fiber-optic cable laid under the water in sewer pipes, together with microwaves sent across the air above the water, three distinct states were teleported across the Danube. Over the course of a 28-hour experimental run, the system was correct 97 percent of the time.

I think this is incredibly freaky. We're hacking God's own computer.

I feel about quantum teleportation and entanglement the way my great aunt felt about electric lights. Utter magic.

New Lost iPod Service - LostiPods.com

New Lost iPod Service | iPoding | What's that in your pocket?
The service allows one to register an iPod by serial number.

I liked the suggestion of using one's email address as the iPod name!

I do follow the other suggestion, I have a "note" with my personal information on the iPod.

Center for Cooperative Research: Generating history as it happens

Center for Cooperative Research
The Center for Cooperative Research seeks to encourage grassroots participation and collaboration in the documentation of the public historical record using an open-content model. New technology developed during the last decade has changed the nature of information production and distribution in two very important ways which are both fundamental to the Center's objectives.

Firstly, new technology has decentralized the processes of information production and distribution, allowing the public to exert greater influence over the content and direction of the published historical record. Control of the production and distribution of information has slipped from the exclusive grip of large media conglomerates and is being appropriated at an increasingly fast pace by people at the grassroots level, whose previous lack of access to the means of information production and distribution prevented their ideas and knowledge from reaching the masses. This historically significant restructuring of the relationship between the producers and consumers of information is due to the fact that the dissemination of information to a large audience no longer requires large amounts of capital investment. Consequently, this process can no longer be easily monopolized, controlled, or filtered by a small elite group.

Secondly, Internet technology has created an environment where public collaboration in the production of information can take place at a level of efficiency comparable—if not superior—to that of the capital-intensive efforts of hierarchically-structured, private enterprises. This collaborative “open-content” model is politically and economically significant because it enables grassroot efforts to compete on a near equal footing with private industry while contributing to and enriching the intellectual commons.

I came across this site while pursuing an Agonist thread on the Feith/Franklin/Iran/Israel/Pentagon/Rumsfeld scandal. This site made an interesting contribution.

So there's something here.

Fascinating. Another emergent phenomena.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Rhythmic Gymnastics

RG - Information

Dave Barry mentioned something about an olympic sport that involves waving a ribbon on a stick.

I thought he was joking.

He's not.

And I though skijoring was exotic.

Beach volleyball and inline skating are utterly traditional by comparison.

A bug in Microsoft word: history and consequences

Anatomy of a Software Bug
The story of this problem begins with a basic design decision made when Richard Brodie was Word’s primary software architect. Brodie came to Microsoft along with Charles Simonyi after working at the Xerox PARC where he’d worked on Bravo—their version of the GUI word processor. A number of the ideas used in Word came from that early effort. Brodie joined Microsoft in 1981, began work on Word in the summer of 1982, and finished version 1.0 in October of 1983. You can read about much of the story in Microsoft First Generation by Cheryl Tsang.

A fantastic essay. I'm subscribing to this guy's blog.

Word is about 22 years old. It has followed the usual path of software, reaching its apex of power and elegance by age 10 (1993) and then descending into senescence and beastliness. Even unto old age, however, it inherits the consequences of decisions made in its earliest days.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

A fascinating discussion of mind mapping and productivity software

ResultManager - the GTD mind mapping tool

I have a longtime love of this type of software, but I look at file formats first. I don't like closed source file formats for data management.

Tricks of the Trade - for all trades

The Morning News - Tricks of the Trade

With any routine under seven minutes (which is almost all of them), you only really need one thing: a good closer. And there are only two things you really need to know about a great closer. First, it needs to be impressive. That sounds obvious, but most beginning jugglers think “difficult” and “impressive” are synonymous. Your closer must look hard, but there’s no real reason it has to be hard. Secondly, you should intentionally blow your closer on the first two tries. If you get it on the first try it looks too easy, but if you “miss” it a few times it looks harder and builds tension.

A few of these tricks are very specific to unusual trades, but most of them are either obviously useful (use a potato to remove the base of a broken bulb) or contain broader lessons -- such as the juggling example. Well worth studying!

The Elder Geek on Windows XP

The Elder Geek on Windows XP

One of a bazillion of reference sites. This one has useful entries such as this services guide.

Desktop access to Microsoft's indexing service

Google Groups: View Thread "Local query tools on Windows 2000 Professional?"
Are there any query tools I can use on Windows 2000 Professional
to query an IS catalog?

I find "My Computer / Manage / Services and Applications /
Indexing service / catalog / Query the catalog" somewhat clumsy.
Is there any way to make a shortcut to this query form?

I'm not running a web server, I just want to search for
documents on my own laptop. "Start / Search / For files or
folders" doesn't seem to actually use the IS catalog (it's
painfully slow).

There are a number of great responses to this question. This is a rare find.

Exotic features in windows xp search engine: incorporating 3rd party filters (PDF)

Because of a change in the way filters are loaded in Windows XP,
third-party single-threaded filters do not load. The Acrobat PDF iFilter is
an apartment model filter. Here is a workaround, but make sure you backup
your registry before attempting this.

1. Click Start, click Run, type "Regedit.exe" (without the quotation marks), and then click OK.
2. In the left pane of Registry Editor, right-click HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT, and then click Find.
3. In the "Find what" text box, type "pdffilt" (without the quotation marks).
4. In the right pane, right-click the ThreadingModel key, and then click Modify.
5. In the "Value data" text box, type "both" (without the quotation marks), and then click OK.
6. Locate the following key:


7. In the right pane, right-click the DLLsToRegister key, and then click Modify.
8. In the list of DLLs, select pdffilt.dll, and then press the DELETE key.
9. Click OK to close this window, and then click the Close button.
10. Restart Indexing Service.
11. Force a full rescan of the directory with the PDF files.

Jack Blalock (MS)

I haven't tried this, but it's worth remembering. Microsoft's indexing service is very raw in XP SP1.

Boing Boing: Bad moods boost memory

Boing Boing: Bad moods boost memory
... grumpy individuals expressed better critical thinking and communication skills

I suspect the communication part applies only to didactic communication -- not persuasion.

Those who know me will appreciate that I am now awaiting their plaudits.

Marxism -- look for a reinvention ...

Marginal Revolution: What is valid in Marxism? (Five things)

The author is hardly a raging Marxist. He was rising to meet DeLong's challenge. I've thought for a while, however, that the pendulum was swinging from the triumph of capitalism in the 1990s. (Ok, this is not an original observation. Tony Blair's "third way" etc.) I wonder if that will start to reach the US.

Sprint PCS Info - Content - an alternative web site for sprint info - firmware page

Sprint PCS Info - Content

Interesting site! An alternative to sprint. This page lists all their firmware upgrades.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Flickr: Organizr: works on firefox, safari ...

Flickr: Organize your photos.

I read it's a Flash application. Seems to work as well on Safari/Mac as on Firefox/XP. The controls don't have the elegance of native aqua controls -- but that's a tiny nit.


Flickr has won my heart. Now Google will buy them ...

Review of Apple Airport Express and Interesting Alternatives.

Roaming charges: Hardware hunger hits Wi-Fi
The AX, along with D-Link's PocketRouter and Netgear's two specialized APs, are in many ways templates for the kind of products I expect to see more of from mainstream computer companies. All four enhance a user's ability to use the computer that he or she already has by adding both functions and value. And you can do things with the new AX that you couldn't do before, at a price point that is less than the previous cost of separate hardware solutions. And the AX's internal antenna has nearly the same range as the rabbit ears do.

With all four of the solutions profiled here, the key is how the hardware, by integrating with the user's software, has become part of the overall solution. AX needs iTunes as much as iTunes needs AX; and together the two deliver a more complete solution to the user. In the end, the user gets better and more for less. Not a bad deal, when you think about it.

Lots of fun for geeks!

Senior Travel Advice: Your only internet resource!

If one searches on advice for senior travelers, one finds lots of web sites marketing to active able-bodied seniors. There's not much providing advice on travel for seniors who may be significantly disabled by visual problems, motor problems, cognitive limitations, etc. The only way I found this useful resource was by limiting my google search to ".gov" sites.

So here's my contribution. A few travel tips for seniors disabled by time or disease. It will likely apply to many healthy seniors over age 80. Some of these tips apply to child travel (not a very kind comparison, but I'll be senior too one day -- I hope!), some to travel by disabled persons.

1. In the US ticketing agents can provide passes to allow one to accompany disabled seniors to the gate. Highly recommended!

2. The better US airports provide good shuttle service between gates and security. Try to learn how this works in advance; sometimes airport employees are not very supportive.

3. Northwest offers a fee-based companion program to help seniors go from ticketing to their plane seat. Other airlines offer less sophisticated services for free. Use these where available.

4. Passing security is tough -- even when traffic is light. If possible screen elders in advance. Encourage use of running shoes (no metal). Don't use metal braces. Watch for body implants (most now are non-magnetic). Remove coins, slim down bulky wallets, remove keys, etc. Consider a neck bag for carrying ID, boarding pass, passport, itinerary, help page (see below), etc.

5. In addition to the official itinerary provide a written document with plainly written directions, contact information for local help (children, friends) etc. Include advice on where to go if lost or separated. Provide a cell phone number that seniors or others can call to get assistance.

6. Meeting points on arrival are tricker than departures. There may be many meeting points and, it may be hard to know where elders will appear. Ask the airline for advice, ask about their escort services if any. If possible meet where seniors leave security rather than at a baggage claim.

7. When purchasing tickets work with a human agent on seating arrangements. Ventilation is better at the front of planes. Try to get the same seats in both directions. Consider sending seniors a seating map. Encourage seniors to take advantage of pre-boarding and to be ready for the pre-boarding announcement.

8. Hotels usually have special rooms for disabled persons near the main desk. Ask for them. When registering, look for a way to indicate that the room occupants will need special assistance in the event of an emergency.

meta: elder, geriatric, old, senior, travel, airplane, air travel, airport, tips, advice

Friday, August 20, 2004

Everything iPod

Nice site for iPod stuff. They promise a new iPod Boombox!

Thursday, August 19, 2004

William Pfaff's stories ...

IHT: Article Search
Now that firefox works with the IHT I'm going to start reading Pfaff again.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

PowerBook fan problems - resetting PMU

Macintouch - Mac OS X Panther (10.3.5): "
Alan Sopczak
I am a service provider and have seen the fan issue on PowerBook 17's and 15's. The solution which worked for me, appears to be as follows: (this worked on my 17 and on a number of other machines) - reset the power manager.

1. If the computer is on, turn it off.
2. Reset the power manager by simultaneously pressing and then releasing Shift-Control-Option-Power on the keyboard. Do not press the fn (Function) key while using this combination of keystrokes.
3. Wait 5 seconds.
4. Press the Power button to restart the computer.

This seemed to settle down the temperature the unit was running at and the fan does not come on now.(Except when playing a very graphic intensive game)."

Diversity in wireless networking solutions

Slashdot: News for nerds, stuff that matters: "Roger Ryder writes 'D-Link announced the AirPlus G DWL-G730AP Wireless Pocket Router/AP, a pocket Access Point for travelers. It can be powered by a USB cable and works as an 802.11g access point, client or router. A 3-way configuration switch on the bottom of the unit changes the mode of operation. In AP mode, the DWL-G730AP can be used to create a wireless network in a room where a single Ethernet port is provided. In Router mode, it can be used to share a single broadband Internet connection. The internal DHCP server automatically assigns IP addresses to ensure everyone in the room can connect to the Internet. It supports VPN Pass-through and firewall features including Network Address Translation (NAT) and MAC filtering to protect your wireless network from malicious attacks. When set in Wireless Client mode, the device allows connection to an existing wireless network, without having to install complicated drivers or additional software. For added mobility, the DWL-G730AP can be powered over USB if power outlets are not available. Similar devices are available from ASUS, SMC, Apple's AirPort Express and Netgear.'"
Fascinating! This is an area of complex innovation.

When AppleCare doesn't work -- go to Customer Relations

Macintouch: Technical Support Issues
Antony Widoff's problems with AppleCare: The AppleCare people (even the supervisors) have very limited powers. Instead, call Apple's Customer Relations department (AppleCare should be able to provide the number for that). Their supervisors have essentially limitless powers, and can arrange things (replacement machines, refunds, on-site repairs, other compensation) that AppleCare cannot.

When my then-new week-old blue and white G3 started crashing constantly, I took it to a local Apple authorized service provider (AASP) who held it for two weeks and then did nothing to it because "MacTest Pro said it was fine". (Even AppleCare's own tests failed, but he didn't do those, relying solely on MTP.) Since I didn't have a car at the time, getting the machine to and from an AASP was a hassle, so I called Apple and demanded that something be done.

AppleCare could only advise me to take it in to an AASP again. I went through all the AppleCare supervisors and got nowhere. Finally, I called customer relations and politely but firmly pled my case, and by that afternoon, the customer relations representative had arranged for on-site repair by a different AASP, plus sent a free upgrade to Mac OS 9 for my troubles.

VNC for OS X


VNC is growing in the OS X world. It's been blessed by Apple as part of their remote control software. This seems to be the preferred server.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Life in the wild wild web -- the unpatched XP machine has 20 minutes to live?

Slashdot - survival of unpatched systems
The Internet Storm Center published a graph showing historic trends for the "Survival Time" of unpatched, unprotected (windows) computers connected to the internet. Turns out, this number dropped from about 40 minutes last year, to 20 minutes this year. The survival time is calculated as the average time between reports for an average target IP address. If you are assuming that most of these reports are generated by worms that attempt to propagate, an unpatched system would be infected by such a probe. The data is collected from a large number of networks with different types of upstream protection. So if you are on an unprotected cable/DSL line, you may see probes much more frequently. Either way, 20 minutes is not long enough to download patches. The Honeynet Project did publish a paper with some stats back in 2001.

This seems a bit extreme. Did they mean a machine running a server? I find it hard to believe a unpatched Win 98 machine would die that fast. I'll have to run a test someday.

It does explain why Microsoft is pushing XP SP2.

Buy a Mac.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Dan's flash recommendations

Dan's Data letters #122 (page 2): "Can't get a 550EX? Consider a 420EX. Can't afford that? Consider a Vivitar 850AF, or Sigma EF 500 DG, or Promaster 5550DX, or something. Anything you can angle up to bounce off the ceiling (assuming the ceiling isn't 30 feet up and dark brown...) is better than on-camera flash, provided it integrates with your camera's auto-exposure, or you've got your exposure act very thoroughly together and can set things up manuall"

Sunday, August 15, 2004

USB powered speakers: save a cord on your PC speakers!

usb powered speakers - compare prices, reviews and buy at NexTag - Price - Review
Great idea, esp for a laptop. Whether sound is better than laptop analog depends on the DAC. SONY SRS-T100PC travel speakers look great, but Amazon user had them die just after the warranty expired. Also, their sound seems less good than the SONY battery powered analog travel speakers.

SendStation - Products - PocketDock Line Out

SendStation - Products - PocketDock Line Out
This is a quite interesting product. The iPod standard analog out amplified to suit headphones. It works for speakers built for a headphone signal, such as most travel speakers. It's the wrong signal strength for a stereo system however, for that one should use the 'line out' signal from the iPod cradle (do not use the line-in for vinyl however, that's apparently an oddball standard).

This device is a more compact and less costly alternative to the cradle. It also allows an iPod to be charged with a standard 6 pin firewire cable. If you already own a Firewire cradle that's not being used, this is a real bargain at $30.

What I want in my next iPod, however, is a digital output option. Then I can bypass all the amplification and DAC issues and take advantage of digital speakers.

Boing Boing: Recycle your PC equipment at Office Depot -- one item at a time! (until Labor Day)

Boing Boing: Recycle your old electronics at Office Depot
Office Depot is doing a promotional event with HP in which the store will offer free electronics recycling through Labor Day for residents of the continental US.

According to the Office Depot web site there's a limit of one item at a time and they really mean PC equipment (eg, what they sell). No TVs and no appliances.

It's a good deal in any case, it normally costs $25-35 to legally dispose of CRT. Of course if I make the trip I'll buy something at Office Depot as well.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Friday, August 13, 2004

Dans Data review of using USB to charge external devices

Review: USB mobile phone charge cables

Written in 2001, updated 2003. A very extensive discussion of using the USB 5V output to charge phones and more.

palmOne Desktop 4.2.1 for Mac - Download

palmOne Desktop 4.2.1 for Mac - Download

A way to avoid the annoying registration/email/spam collection step.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

AirPort Express: Toslink converter

Wireless Networking (Part 25): "If your stereo has a Toslink optical input and you already have a conventional Toslink optical cable, Radio Shack part 15-1584 is an adapter that fits on one end of a Toslink cable to adapt it to the 3.5 mm mini optical jack on the Airport Express. Price is only $3 to $5"

Reports are that the analog output is poor quality, so optical is much preferred.

X1.com -- search files and outlook -- a review

X1 instantly searches files & email. For Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora and Netscape Mail.

I took another look at this since Fallows wrote of it recently in the NYT. It's a product of Bill Gross, a Caltech undergrad classmate of mine. He made his initial fortune on a Lotus Notes module (long forgotten).

It's not quite ready for primetime. Some odd bugs and behaviors. Sent my CPU usage through the roof. Every time I hit the letter 'e' when searching in the file tag it jumped to the email search tag!!

Now it's quieting down after I tweaked the options:

1. Turned off all outlook/email/contacts indexing. Lookout works great for Outlook, and X1 doesn't search notes or tasks (meaning it's not useful for me).

2. Removed all the quick key entries for email. That stopped the 'e' problem, so now I can search for terms containing the exotic letter 'e'.

3. Restricted indexing to a subset of directories and to files under 2MB. In some directories limited indexing to file and folder name. If nothing else X1 may be fast way to locate directories and files.

4. X1 ONLY does stem searching. It doesn't do substring searching. This is a reasonable compromise for document indexing, but for finding folders/directories substring searching is feasible and necessary. So it's not as good for navigating directories as WCD (for example).

5. I need more control over what NOT to index, preferably using regex to define directory paths and files to exclude. X1 is indexing all of the FrontPage index files.

Given the above it might be useable. I have a LOT of content to index.

Debugging OS X: kernel panic log

Mac OS X Panther (10.3.5): "David Dunham
R B Cook wrote [Aug. 11]: '...he gets kernel panics approx. every 20 minutes, ... This is the best 'crash transcript' he could relay to me over the phone...'

I don't have any help with the kernel panics (I've upgraded two machines to 10.3.5 so far), but he'll probably find a file 'panic.log' in /Library/Logs, which he could e-mail, instead of trying to read off the screen...

You should send kernel panics to Apple. You might not have access to bugreporter.apple.com, but I'll bet pasting it in to www.apple.com/macosx/feedback would be a slower alternative."

USGS National Map Viewer

National Map Viewer Wow. I rarely come across a new site that's so interesting. Requires a modern Java client, on OS X needs the very latest update.

OmniWeb 5 and interesting features

MacInTouch Home Page: "The Omni Group released OmniWeb 5.0, a major update to its Mac OS X web browser. The new version includes tabs, workspaces (saved collections of windows), saved browsing sessions, site-specific preferences, RSS newsreading, enhanced bookmark management (with filtered views and history), keyword shortcuts, ad blocking, bookmark synchronization using WebDAV servers, page marking (for quick returns), HTML source editing, spell checking, and more. OmniWeb is $29.95 for Mac OS X 10.2 and up."

There are some neat features on this list, especially for users who don't want to, or can't, upgrade to Tiger. Once Tiger comes out both OmniWeb and Firefox will become more competitive with Safari -- since Safari upgrades will be tied to Tiger.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Debugging OS X kernel and other deep crashes (needs two machines)

Macintouch Mac OS X Panther (10.3.5)
Panther Freezes

Steve St-Laurent
No, the 10.3.5 update does nothing to resolve this issue. Same pattern: iTunes plus heavy network activity (a file copy from a server, for example) causes a freeze. When did this mess start?

Rohan Lloyd
If you're not afraid of getting under the hood, this is the best way to track down what is causing the freeze and reporting it to Apple so they can fix it.

If you've never used the Terminal before, or don't know what I'm talking about, please don't just follow the instructions and blame me when something goes wrong.

* Enable remote debugging on your target machine by running the following command and rebooting.
$ sudo nvram boot-args='debug=0x144
* Download the KernelDebugKit from: http://developer.apple.com/sdk/#Kernel
* Mount the KernelDebugKit on a remote machine (not the one that is freezing)
* When the freeze happens, trigger a Non Maskable Interrupt (NMI). On a PowerBook you do this with Cmd-Power (google for other machines)
* On the remote machine, start gdb, and attach to the freezing machine:
$ gdb -x /Volumes/KernelDebugKit/kgmacros
(gdb) target remote-kdp
(gdb) attach ???.???.???.???
* Get a stack trace of all processes:
(gdb) showallstacks
* Report the bug to Apple including the stack trace: http://bugreporter.apple.com/

There's an earlier blog posting of mine about the lockup. A Macintouch contributor says it's related to a fairly deep VM/HFS+ bug. This is a good description of how to debug OS X kernel issues.

Troubleshooting OS X: the role of receipts

MacInTouch Home Page
[Greg Cook] I also had difficulty with the java 1.4.2 install error saying I needed Java 1.4.1 first. The problem lies in one of the receipts. Delete the file /Library/Receipts/QuickTimeJavaUpdate.pkg and Java 1.4.2 should install just fine.

A new debugging approach, in addition to repairing permissions, running fsck, deleting preference files, clearning caches, testing in a new user, etc.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

For sale: Canon PowerShot S230 3.2 MP Digital ELPH Camera with 2x Optical Zoom

Amazon.com: Camera & Photo: Canon PowerShot S230 3.2 MP Digital ELPH Camera with 2x Optical Zoom

I'm selling our much loved Canon s230. This camera was purchased @ March 2003 and is no longer under warrantee.

I'm selling because I've replaced the s230 with a later model Canon s410. The s410 is 4 megapixel and 3 times zoom, it's a nice improvement on the s230, Even so, the s230 looks better that the s410 and I prefer the s230's smooth trigger action.

This would be a great starter camera or a second camera. It is very compact, very rugged, takes great pictures and comes with a very compact travel charger. Made in Japan and feels solid. Very good condition. Only oddity is sometimes the CF memory compartment door doesn't pop open, I have to delicately help with a thumbnail. It's been like that since day one, I noticed Canon put a much stronger spring in the later model s410.

I am selling the camera, camera case, and flash card in a package:

- 256 MB CF flash card: $30 (these sell new for $50)
- leather case (fits very nicely): $8 (selll new for $12)
- s230 camera plus all accessories including data cable, AV cable, charger, CDs, manual, etc: $202
- shipping: $10

TOTAL: $250

Note for purposes of comparison the s410 with case and memory card and shipping would be: $410.

Jon Udell: Bloglines

Jon Udell: Bloglines

Jon Udell likes bloglines too. A very strong review with some interesting background.

Lookout for Outlook Download: it's back!

Lookout for Outlook Download

I use Lookout every day. It was briefly unavailable, but as Fallows explains -- it's back!
In the face of bitter blog-world complaints, however, Microsoft reversed course and agreed to make Lookout available again. It is one of several intriguing free utilities in the Sandbox section of Microsoft's Web site.
This is a great application.

Keyfinder retrieves your Product Key (cd key) from registry

Keyfinder retrieves your Product Key (cd key) from registry: "The Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder is a freeware utility that retrieves your Product Key (cd key) used to install windows from your registry. It has the options to copy the key to clipboard, save it to a text file, or print it for safekeeping. It works on Windows 95, 98, ME, NT4, 2000, XP, Server 2003, Office 97, and Office XP. This version is a quick update to make it work with Windows Server 2003. "

Erwin Waterlander, WCD Wherever Change Directory

Erwin Waterlander's WCD - Wherever Change Directory

This is much more impressive than appears on first look. It's a cross-platform text mode program that does what Norton Change Directory did, but with far more control on what's indexed and how. It also allows wild card searches -- which is very, very cool. Combine this with some personal conventions for naming directories and there are great productivity gains. It's too powerful and complex for most WinXP users (it's really more for the UNIX/Linux user), but it's a Source Forge project that could be integrated into many Norton Commander like clones -- or into a Mac OS X AppleScript application! (There's an OX port.)

Erwin's web page doesn't mention how to integrate Windows Explorer with WCD. I was playing with all kinds of trickery, but he gave me the very simple and elegant solution. It's easy to understand what's happending in the Win9x version, but to change the current directory in WinXP one must use a batch file intermediary. Read the Win9x version first to understand the WinXP version. Once the current directory has been changed the command "explorer ." opens the current directory. There are more options for the explorer command I'll probably add, but this is a good starting point. Here's Erwin's advice:

I used this script to run explorer after wcd (on windows NT/2000/XP):

@echo off
wcdwin32.exe %*
echo explorer.exe . >> %HOME%\wcdgo.bat

If you use the dos32bit version on windows 95/98/ME this script will work:

@echo off
wcd.exe %1 %2 %3 %4 %5 %6
explorer.exe .

Erwin Waterlander
Eindhoven, The Netherlands
www: http://www.xs4all.nl/~waterlan/

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Faughnan-Lagace Herald: The New Version with an inline frame embedded style controlled blogroll.

Faughnan-Lagace Herald: Local and International News

Ok, I got the iframe and the css stuff working. It doesn't look too bad in Firefox, Safari, IE 5.2/Mac and IE 6/PC. I'm impressed. I ended up putting the styles I got from the blogroll page into a separate page. Then I included that page in the iframe. So I was able to get around the style/iframe problem.

When I'd included the blogroll in the iframe I'd had to use blogline's alternative inclusion method (php); that method returns a fully formed page. Since I've introduced this level of indirection I now use the javascript method.

I will tweak the text background, borders, and sizes. In general I like things that are lighter and more easily readable. It's good enough to start with though. There's only one glitch, the second cell of each list is empty. I suspect that's a bloglines glitch since it happens with every browser.

Inline frames and style sheets

Using inline frames (iframe elements) to embed documents into HTML documents
Continuing my adventures with the blogroll, I got the iframe working and I got the style code working, but the style in the host document doesn't affect the content of the iframe. So, how can one apply a style across the iframe boundary?

Alas, it's not simple -- as this document makes clear:
The embedded document is displayed according to what's applicable to it, not what's applicable to the embedding document ... a style element in a document applies only to the document where it appears, not to any embedded document. .... If there are style sheet rules which should be applied both to the embedding document and to the embedded document, it is best to write them into an external style sheet and use a link element to refer to it in both documents... the dimensions of the inline frame can be affected by a style sheet for the embedding document. Similarly, the border around an inline frame is a matter of the embedding document.
Uh-Oh. I've got a bad feeling about this. I don't control the code of the blogroll, so I can't use either of these approaches!

It does look that if one uses an inline frame to hold a blogroll, one has no control over how the blogroll contents display. I think I might have do some indirection. I might try this:

1. Create a document I control that holds the blogroll and has a style sheet.
2. Include THAT document in the iFrame.

More later ...

Controlling blogroll appearance for bloglines in my news page (DIV and blogrollmain)

Blogrolling - Customizing look and feel with CSS

Bloglines, the web-based tool I use to manage my RSS/Atom subscriptions, supports inclusion of a subscription list as a "blogroll". I've added my bloglines subscription to my longstanding family news page, by embedding a "hidden" page of mine in an iFrame on the news page.

I don't quite like the text layout. There was mention of some DIV tags that one could use to control layout, so I googled on "blogrollmain". This page tells me what I need to know, I should be able to make them look good on FireFox, IE, and Safari. (Any browser that doesn't support iFrames will just show a text message, so it's pretty backwards compatible.)

Update 11/19/05: I've revised this post a bit with some links. The method I invented has worked very well for over a year. To see how it works, view the HTML of these two pages:

IFRAME and embedding a blogroll

Remote Scripting with IFRAME
I wanted to embed my blogroll from bloglines.com into an IFRAME on my news page. I couldn't quite get it to work in the time I had to waste. This looked like the most interesting reference though. I think I'd have to create an empty iFrame. then modify the standard bloglines blogroll inclusion code so it wrote to the empty iFrame.

Pogue on Verizon: his favorite carrier

Pogue's Pages
Now, T-Mobile, in my experience, isn't noticeably worse than Cingular, AT&T or Sprint; the phenomenon I'm describing is a testimony to the superiority of Verizon's national range. In four years of writing cellphone reviews for the Times, I've often found myself carrying phones from several different companies-and where there's a difference in reception, Verizon nearly always wins. (Consumer Reports's much more scientific testing arrived at the same results.) Which made me realize three things.

First, I can't believe the gall of AT&T Wireless's new newspaper ads. They show a full-strength, all-bars signal indicator along with claims that suggest that AT&T has the best cellular coverage in this country. In my experience, that's pure wishful thinking.

Second, tech reviewers seem to ignore the fact that the carrier you choose may actually be more important to your happiness than the phone you choose. Coverage, pricing and customer service will probably mean a lot more than this bell or that whistle. Every phone review ought to include this warning in bold red type: "NOTE: You're not just buying a phone; you're buying a carrier."

Finally, it's too bad you can't get the best phones with the best coverage. I love the signal coverage of Verizon Wireless, but man, are its phones boring.

...So I asked a Verizon spokesperson: What does Verizon have against high tech?

She emphatically disagreed with my "good coverage, boring phones" premise. She said that Verizon simply tests its phones much more thoroughly than the other carriers, who may actually be trying to compensate for their smaller networks by offering trendier phones. And she pointed out that Verizon will finally offer its first Bluetooth phone-with a 1.2-megapixel camera and video capture, no less-on August 11 (called the Motorola 710).

Incidentally, Pogue's site is a great resource.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

IMatch image management: talk about an open approach

photools.com IMatch Overview - Import and Export
Wow. They are SERIOUS about letting data flow in and out. A big plus. I also looked at ThumbsPlus for image management on the PC. It uses an Access database, so it's very easy to get data in and out, but I found the scanning workflow awkward. I was using a beta so I couldn't consult the help files to learn more.

IMatch costs $50, so it's not extremely cheap. I do like their attitude though.

Maybe they'll do a Mac version :-).

Update: Still not quite right for my scanning project, the workflow is too awkward. SnagIt may still be my best bet, together with some renaming tool. (SnagIt bogs down with even small image collections because the browser regenerates the thumbnails on each viewing.)

One surprise with both ThumbsPlus and IMatch is one can't create an EXIF header for an imported JPEG. One can edit existing EXIF data, but one can't add new data. This is very annoying. I'd like a scanned image to have an EXIF data for when the image was taken, not the date it was scanned!

Servant Salamander File Manager - Norton Commander Clone #452

Servant Salamander File Manager - Homepage
Cute. Commander -> Salamander, Master -> Servant. I'll test this one too.

Any application that spawns as many clones as Norton Commander has, over 15 years since it vanished, was doing something right.

Update: It's missing the critical Norton Change Directory feature, but the developer tells me it's high on their priority list. WinNC.Net is missing it as well. Only Total Commander has it, but their implementation is a bit awkward. Given the size and complexity of modern drives I think to be useful today NCD would need to be constrained to a given directory structure. I believe the WCD utility allows this.

Update 10/12/04: I ended up primarily using WCD to find directories along with some extensions the developer suggested that unified WCD with Windows Explorer. As for Salamander, I discovered there was some kind of Windows extension loaded on startup that lived in my TEMP folder. I don't like that kind of uninvited guest -- even if it is probably fully benign. I uninstalled Salamander.

Total Commander - another Norton Commander derivative

Total Commander - home
Now I'm uncovering an array of these clones. And, if I type a few names into Google, I start discovering more of them.

This one is a tiny executable. It's a text mode windows program, so a bit ugly by modern aesthetics. Very fast. It does have the Norton Change Directory feature I need, though again that's not pretty. The desktop integration is a bit odd -- I don't see an obvious quick key to get to the desktop though it is a menu option.

It's not as elegant as the original, but it might work. I'm starting to get a list of the alternatives.

Bug Me Not Firefox Extension: the cyber war continues

Digital Media Minute - Bug Me Not Firefox Extension
BugMeNot.com is a nifty online service that allows you to bypass compulsory registration at many popular sites like Business Week and the New York Times for example. As cool as the service is, it can be annoying to use as once you get to a site that requires registration, you must open a new window to visit bugmenot.

But now a BugMeNot Firefox Extension is available that will make searching this resource possible by simply right mouse-clicking on the site.

This is a paradigmatic hacker solution to a stupid real-world problem. Like most such solutions it's somewhat ethically dubious, and comes with a peculiar risk.

Almost all news sites require registration of some sort now. I could handle this for a few sites across which I used the same authentications, but I can't do it when my username must vary, especially since I regularly use at least 3 machines. It's completely impractical. If the news sites all used the (evil) Microsoft Passport tool I'd be ok with that. If they all agreed on a central authentication authority, I'd be ok with that. Yes, they all want to spam me -- but that's ok. That's what my Yahoo address is for.

So now I'm using BugMeNot. It works very well. It's also something that IE will never be able to do.

Risk? Ahh, there is risk. I'm using the same credentials as many other people. Some of them will use them on not-nice web sites, or may be guilty of crimes of one sort or another. Of course they won't have a fixed IP address, but I do. So when Ashcroft invokes his Patriot act to trace down a credential, they may come for me.

Welome to 2004, 20 years past Orwell's 1984.

FireWire Depot - FireWire 1394a 1394b hardware

FireWire Depot - FireWire 1394a 1394b hardware
Good resource, a web site/vendor devoted to firewire solutions. The SATA bridge is interesting.

Macintouch: Recording Audio on an OS X machine

Reader Report: Recording Audio

A great series of reader reviews covering use of the machine alone (iBook), use of an iPod, and use of a separate Olympus or SONY recording device (USB or CF based).

WinNc.Net - Norton Commander Clone - Filemanager for Windows

WinNc.Net - Norton Commander Clone - Filemanager for Windows
Every so often I get so irritated with Windows XP that I search for anything that would help. Something like ... Norton Commander. NC was a DOS 2.1 (maybe earlier) file management application. It was brilliant. Even OS X isn't quite as good for file management ... ok, OS X is better -- but not THAT much better.

One of the best featurse of NC was it built a tree of directories, so one could navigate instantly based on character matching.

Under OS/2 I used FileCommander, an NC clone, but it didn't quite make the transition to Win2K.

Today I came across this Norton Commander clone. I'll give it a try. XP's file manager was never very good, and it's completely collapsed in the face of my hard drive.

Now if only Google toolbar would add the ##@! full text indexing we were promised. (I hear MSN might get there first ...)

Of course Longhorn is supposed to solve all these problems. I'm not holding my breath.

Update: Uh-oh. There's no "norton change directory". The DOS version of NC built a directory tree index, one could navigate to a folder/directory through a dynamic string match (type more characters, jump around the tree. The author of WinNC.net is very responsive --he says they've received few requests for this feature. A classic problem with customer-driven product development -- the customer can't ask for what they can't imagine. NCD/NC was a work of genius.

WCD is a cross-platform text-only command line implementation of NCD. I think it could be nicely integrated with WinNC.Net and I've suggested that. In the meantime I'm going to see if I can figure a way for WCD to drive Windows Explorer.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

macosxhints - A collection of tips on accessing Windows file servers from OS X cleints (SMB Shares)

macosxhints - A collection of tips on accessing Windows file servers

The list is a good one, mostly familiar to me, except this one tip of unclear value:

"Set your Windows workgroup/resource domain and WINS server:

1. Find out your Windows resource domain for workstations in your office and local WINS server address. (Ask your desktop computer support people.)
2. Launch the 'Directory Access' utility (in the /Applications/Utilities folder).
3. Click the padlock icon in the lower left of the window and authenticate as an admin user.
4. Select SMB, and press Configure.
5. Set Workgroup to your Windows resource domain, and WINS server to your WINS server IP address, and press OK.
6. Press Apply and wait for a few seconds.
7. Restart your Mac."

Looks like OS X 10.3.4 has trouble with playing DVDs on some machines

Apple - Discussions - DVD Player and/or drive craps out on DVDs

Interesting discussion. It looks like this might be a fairly new problem -- either 10.3.4 or a bit earlier. On some machines DVD playback stutters about 1/2 to 3/4 way through commercial movies. I wonder about a CD/DVD driver problem. Doesn't appear to be hardware related.

OS X 10.3.4 intermittent system freezes (iTunes, others): VM and HFS issue

MacInTouch 8/3/04
Rohan Lloyd nailed down a widespread Mac OS X freezing problem [discussed in our iTunes reports], which is apparently a known Apple bug, and noted his workaround:

The 'iTunes Freeze' that some readers are experiencing (well described by Jim Pollock) sounds like a problem I have experienced that is not related to iTunes.

I recently started getting system freezes with the same symptoms (system would hang, iTunes would periodically play about 5 seconds, mouse would move but nothing else)

I reported the problem to Apple, they got me to get a kernel stack trace when it happened and confirmed that it was a known problem related to VM and HFS that they are working on.

It's got nothing to do with iTunes, it's just that iTunes has a realtime thread playing audio that periodically runs out of data and has to wait till a non realtime thread fills up the buffer from disk. (at least that's my guess at what's happening)

About the same time I downloaded and tried out hfsdebug. When I look at the Volume header of my root volume:

$ sudo hfsdebug -v -V /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD

I saw that it had 'serious inconsistencies'

kHFSVolumeInconsistent (volume has serious inconsistencies)

After a backup/re-format/restore over a week ago, I haven't had the problem again (fingers crossed).

Monday, August 02, 2004

Apple - Discussions - DVD Player 4.0 skipping and stuttering during commercial movie playback

Apple - Discussions - DVD Player and/or drive craps out on DVDs: "DVD suttering halfway through disk ( msg # 4.: Posted Aug 2, 04 4:24 pm )  New!

I'm using 10.3.4 on an iBook 600. I played quite a few commercial DVDs on this machine using 10.2.x. Yesterday, for the first time, I tried to play a commercial DVD using 10.3.4.

Shrek was fine half-way through. Then it began stuttering severely. It was unwatchable. I never saw an error message. The DVD is fine in a dedicated player.

Any thoughts on how to debug this? If 10.3.4 no longer supports commercial DVD movie playback on my iBook that's a rather severe loss of functionality for me.

meta: jfaughnan, stutters, skips, skipping, play back, playback, Panther, DVD Player 4.0.