Thursday, September 30, 2004

Cannot start Microsoft Office Outlook. Unable to open the Outlook window. The set of folders could not be opened ...

Microsoft Outlook: Cannot start Outlook 2003 after reboot
I have recently installed Microsoft Office 2003 on my XP Pro client. I do not use Microsofte Exchange Server. Since upgrading from XP Office Pro I find that whenever I restart the client I lose access to my Outlook 2003 files. After restarting and attempting to open Outlook I get the following error messge:

'Cannot start Microsoft Office Outlook. Unable to open the Outlook window. The set of folders could not be opened. The server is not available. contact your administrator if this condition persists.'

This is no help of course because I am the administrator. I find that I cannot even use a backup of the .pst file because the existing Outlook.pst file is locked and and cannot be renamed, deleted or accessed in any way. If I attempt to use the scanpst utility it says that the file is in use and cannot be opened. In order to correct the problem I need to:
1. Restart in safe mode
2. Run scanpst.exe on the Outlook.pst file and fix errors (errors are always found)
3. Rename the file. If I do not rename it the file will still be locked when I restart and Outlook will still not open.
4. Restart XP in normal mode
5. Rename the file to Outlook.pst
6. Open Outlook and all is well.

The problem is consistent but I cannot find what process is locking the .pst file. Can anyone help. I cannot find any reference to this problem at MSDN.

I got this problem after a complex issue related to outlook sync mode vs. OST mode. I'm going to try scanpst after backing up.

Update: See

In older versions of outlook one could context click on the outlook icon to get access to the configuration data editor. In 2003 there's a mail icon in the control panel. Didn't know that!

Update 1/24/05: Bad Dog posted a more detailed fix in the comments section. Here it is:
Run Outlook from a command line with the /cleanprofile switch appended to the command.

To find the correct command line, right click on a shortcut for Outlook and go to Properties. Copy the information in the Target field and Paste it to the command line. If there is already a command option, remove it and add /cleanprofile after the closing quotation mark. (Add a space before /cleanprofile)

For example, go to Start: Run. . and enter something like "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\OFFICE11\OUTLOOK.EXE" /cleanprofile .

Then add a new profile. Be sure to check the check box for "Set as default profile". Note: You cannot see this option unless you click on the "Options >>" button.

This should fix the problem.

How to switch XP machines without doing a full reinstall and reconfiguration of OS environment and applications: Mirror and Repair Install

Usenet thread on this topic
I was able to migrate from one laptop to a very different laptop using the drive mirror and then repair install method. I created an XP SP2 slipstream CD. Here are the overall steps and them some important references. I used some of the techniques from Thurrott's site and some from TACKtech.

Here's the overview on switching machines without reinstalling software.
0. Create slipstream XP boot disk w/ updates and service packs. Have product key.
1. Prepare or acquire CD with all drivers for new system
2. Recipient drive must be formatted.
3. Mount source drive on machine -- create image on bkup disk.
4. Put source drive back in old machine.
5. Mount target drive, apply image.
6. Return to new machine.
7. Boot from new install CD. Do Repair Install.
8. Uninstall unwanted software (often drivers).
9. Turn off indexing.
10. Remove "dead" hardware items.
11. Reboot, begin driver updates and installs.
12. Apply post-SP security updates.
It does work. I have web documents on how to create the slipstream boot CD -- that step is a bit odd. The repair install is pretty straightforward.

IF one already has the drivers and the slipstream CD and the recipient drive has been formatted -- then one can go from the old machine to fully operational on the new machine in about 4 hours of machine time and about 1 hour of personal time. Versus about 20-40 hours of the time it takes me to fully recreate my work environment using a conventional approach.

Key references:

2. (I didn't see any different behavior with different volume labels)


meta: jfaughnan, jgfaughnan, machine transfer, migrate, change, platform, microsoft windows xp, slipstream CD, boot CD, install, update, mirror

Outlook file locations

Microsoft Office Assistance: Outlook file locations: "The following is a list of data store and configuration files used by Microsoft Outlook. Some of the folders might be hidden folders. To view them, do one of the following:"

Web page complains when I use Firefox!

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Creating bootable Windows 2000/XP/2003

Creating bootable Windows 2000/XP/2003 Disc (Nero 5.5) (Windows 2000/XP/2003) - TACKtech Corp.

Another approach, this one supplies the boot image and uses Nero 5.5. It also provides a list of volume labels:

such as ...

Windows XP Professional (SP2) VLK/Corporate/Volume VRMPVOL_EN
Windows XP Professional (SP2) Retail VRMPFPP_EN
English Windows XP Professional (SP1a) Upgrade X1APCCP_EN

Making a Bootable XP SP2 CD

Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows: Slipstreaming Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (SP2)

I'm definitely going to try this!

How to Perform a Windows XP Repair Install

How to Perform a Windows XP Repair Install

A very interesting set of pages about repair installs, in place updates, changing activation keys, etc.

How to change the product key on a Windows XP SP1-based computer

328874 - How to change the Volume Licensing product key on a Windows XP SP1-based computer

I actually have a completely ethical reason, not involving any bad actions, to need to change the product key associated with my XP Pro installation. Good to know it can be done!

Google Local Search

Google Local

Google has redone their local search. The big addition is the maps. I can't tell who the map provider is; they've been deemphasizing their relationship with Yahoo. I'm very curious as to what Google will do with maps and location -- Yahoo has really dropped the ball here. They could have done so much more.

When specifying location use the complete address, not just the city. If you do the latter, Google searches from city center.

Microsoft has broken something in their backup software

Error returned while creating the volume shadow copy:80042301

Not clear what's happening here, but sometime in the past few months it seems a windows upgrade broke the shadow copy mode. Regular backup mode works, but one can see this errror message in the log.

This MCSE note says:
If you're using an NTFS volume, try the steps listed below:

Open Regedt32.exe and navigate to the following key:


Change the "UpgradeInProgress" value to 0.
Unfortunately, there's no such key in my registry. The closest one is "SystemSetupInProgress" and it's already set to 0.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

The Luminous Landscape: A very SERIOUS digital photography site

The Luminous Landscape

More than any mortal would want to know. The intersection of geeks and digital cameras has produced some extreme results.

FixIt Guides for Apple Laptops

FixIt Guide Series: Laptop Repair:

Broke your computer, but can't afford $100/hr to have someone fix it? Want to upgrade your RAM or hard drive, but don't feel comfortable diving in without any experience? The FixIt Guide Series is your solution. Each FixIt Guide has detailed disassembly instructions that walk you through the process of easily accessing and replacing components in your PowerBook or iBook.

iMac G5: Bluetooth

Hardware: iMac G5 Developer Note
Bluetooth is available as a build-to-order option, which is installed by Apple at the time of purchase as a fully integrated module. Accessing the Bluetooth capabilities without purchasing the integrated module will require a third-party dongle that may not support all present and future features supported by the internal module.

When the Bluetooth option is included on the factory order, the Bluetooth antenna is internal to the enclosure.

Very strange. Why didn't they make it standard?

iMac G5 Developer Note: The hardware details

Hardware: iMac G5 Developer Note

Geek literature.

Monday, September 27, 2004

EXTREME photo editing

TidBITS: Editing Photographs for the Perfectionist

Forget Photoshop. This guy uses about a dozen special purpose photo tools. Good uses for a G5 -- I wouldn't try any of them on a G3.

Next week he threatens to discuss ColorSync. That I want to see. (The Horror, The Horror ...).

Migrating an XP install from an older computer to a new computer -- the radical mirror and repair option

Beginners Guides: Cloning WindowsXP -

I'm going to try this. Sounds risky.

Getting Things Done: integrating the Outlook add-in with Palm synchronization across multiple machines

Getting Things Done Outlook Add-In Support Site

GTD is the latest geek fad. It translates "anxiety into action" and makes productivity very much like a flowchart. Geeks like flowcharts and methodologies -- esp. if they render the world of social interaction more programmatic.

Heck, I'll give it a whirl. Problem is, I sync Outlook with my Palm and I took ten years off my life getting all the outlook/exchange/palm bugs working. I use Chapura's KeySuite for synching my Palm to Outlook/Exchange at work, and PocketMirror for synching to Outlook at home. (I'll skip the part about using iSync to ALSO sync with my iBook -- I haven't dared go there. Yet.)

I also have all kinds of ways to use Categories that aren't compatible with GTD. Also, GTD expects to OWN Outlook -- it doesn't know anything about PST files outside of the core Outlook files. I keep all my data in local PST files.

Then it occurred to me -- the Chapura KeySuite Palm app can sync with multiple Outlook folders. I can use GTD without disrupting its operation.

GTD owns my OST (root folder). KeySuite sync is set so all task/notes/contacts from that folder overwrite my corresponding Palm folders. So no exchange issues. Those items are read-only (for now).

My PST folders (contact, tasks, etc) continue to sync with the Palm. They work the same as ever with their own categories.

And, of course, I continue to use Lookout voraciously, updating its index hourly and rebuilding completely at every opportunity.

The best revenge on Outlook is to crush it mercilessly with programs and techniques that make that abomination useful. Too bad Word is unredeemable.

iMac can be hacked to support montior spanning

The Cult of Mac Blog
The new iMac G5 will drive an external monitor (monitor spanning), as long as you're willing to zap the firmware with this Screen Spanning Doctor script, according to the AppleInsider forums.

Of course, the operation is not endorsed by Apple, and there's a risk of frying the machine.

I can say for sure the hack works on the eMac. I zapped my 2003 eMac -- a nerve-racking process -- but it worked well. It also reportedly fixes up iBooks and the G4 iMac.

I'm sure this voids the warrantee -- so probably not something to do immediately. A good use for an old CRT?

iFire adapter for Apple Pro speakers

Griffin Technology: "Adapter and Amplifier for Apple Pro Speakers"

Provides 18 Watts to drive Apple Pro speakers (Harmon Kardon). I need to look at those speakers. I don't think they work with the G5 iMac. This won't work with most PC firewire laptop adapters -- they don't provide enough power. Might work with an iBook. I'd worry about burning the firewire bus.

Adobe's file format for raw digital camera images: DNG

Digital Negative (DNG)

Be interesting to know how "open" this format really is. Adobe is not known for its charity.

An open raw image format would be valuable.

Update: Slashdot coverage was very positive about Adobe's spec. It's an extension to TIFF, basically it's a spec for metadata that describes the RAW file and a spec for embedding that metadata in TIFF. I think it might even be applicable to compressed files (JPEG2000, JPEG) wrapped up in a TIFF wrapper. It may give TIFF new life. Sounds like a real plus.

Amazon A9 search engine discount/incentive

MacInTouch Home Page: "I was shopping on Amazon today, and found a link explaining the A9 discount reported earlier. It is exactly 1.57%, chosen because it is pi/2. Amazon's explanation is that it is 'sharing the pi' it gets from ad revenue. It also mentions that you have to keep using the search engine regularly in order to continue receiving the discount (or more likely, simply use it before every purchase)."

Sunday, September 26, 2004

iBook, Temperature Monitor and G3 temperatures

MBS: Temperature Monitor

The most comprehensive sounding temperature monitoring solution yet. This is why it's so hard to find something that works on my iBook:
The following Macintosh models are definitely supported by Temperature Monitor, because they are equipped with dedicated temperature sensors:
• Power Macintosh G4 (Mirrored Drive Doors)
• Power Macintosh G4 (FW 800)
• Power Macintosh G5
• PowerBook G4 (12-inch)
• PowerBook G4 (15-inch FW800)
• PowerBook G4 (17-inch)
• XServe
• XServe (Slot loading)

For all other models, there is no easy answer: Analysis of over hundred Macintosh systems shows that there is no one-to-one-relationship between model name and support status possible. Apple appears to have shipped Macintosh product lines with same labels but different hardware inside. For example, in the product series known as "Power Macintosh G4 Cube", some systems are capable of providing temperature values and others are not. The computers known as "iBook (Late 2001)" may have a PowerPC 750 cxe v 2.4, or a PowerPC 755 v3.1 inside, and so forth...

Unfortunately, this means it is impossible to predict if Temperature Monitor will run correctly on your hardware. Your only chance is to let the software analyze your particular computer.

It is very likely that your hardware is capable of providing temperature values even if it has no temperature sensor if your computer uses one of the following processors:
• PowerPC 745 (G3)
• PowerPC 750 (G3)
• PowerPC 750cxe (G3)
• PowerPC 755 (G3)
• PowerPC 7400 (G4)

Your Macintosh system is very likely not capable of providing temperature values if it has no temperature sensor and uses one of the following processors:
• PowerPC 750fx (G3)
• PowerPC 7410 (G4)
• PowerPC 7450 (G4)
• PowerPC 7455 (G4)
• PowerPC 970 (G5)
The Temperature Monitor FAQ has some interesting information about the history of Mac temperature measurement, and how OS X has changed over time. I wonder if my iBook fan stopped working because some OS X update decided there was no way to know the temperature on this machine!
...Computers built by Apple before 2002 are usually not equipped with sensor technology and therefore cannot be supported. In a few cases, sensors are indeed available, but they are not accessible by Mac OS X. Not the operating system but a self-contained control device monitors the readings in this case. [jf: That external sensor or "control device" was apparently accessible from classic, but since Apple was discontinuing its use they apparently didn't bother to put code into OS X to access it.]

Some older G3 or G4 systems can be equipped with processors containing a so called "Thermal Assist Unit (TAU)". This is a technique to acquire temperature values directly on the chip die and compute it by the processor itself. However, this technology is very inaccurate and only works correctly if each processor is calibrated. Motorola specifies that the readings supplied by such processor types can be off by 12 degrees Celsius (21,6 degrees Fahrenheit) from the actual values. For IBM G3 processors there can even be a difference of 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit) between the measured and the true values. Due to this problem, the processor manufacturers have disabled the TA Units for later product generations. Up-to-date versions of the G4 series no longer support temperature measurement on the chip die. Here, real sensors have to be used.

... If your computer contains a processor with TAU but is not displayed by the application as software sensor with the name "Mach Kernel", Mac OS X has detected your processor as being "not capable of providing temperature readings". The application has to respect this information and cannot change this.

After an operating system update the CPU temperature is no longer displayed. Is this an application error?

No, in this case you are using a processor with TAU. Because - as mentioned before - this technology is very inaccurate, Apple has tightened the checks in the latest operating system versions whether the processor is capable of measuring temperatures or not. If you update to such an operating system, Mac OS X might qualify your processor as "not capable of providing temperature readings" although it was accepted in earlier versions. The application has to respect this information and cannot change this...

I have measured a high reading x. Is this normal?

Apple doesn't publish any specifications for the temperature values measured at individual sensor locations. In most cases however, the answer is "yes". All up-to-date Macintosh models automatically shut down or enter sleep mode if one of the readings exceeds a critical limit. For this reason it is impossible that your computer can be damaged in an overheat condition.

Regarding concrete temperature values the following facts are known:

For computers with G5 processors, the design limits for temperature and fan speeds can be read out by using the MPU information panel of the application. The maximum on-chip temperature for the PPC 970 is 85 degrees Celsius (158 degrees Fahrenheit), for the PPC 970FX it is 105 degrees Celsius (221 degrees Fahrenheit).

The cooling system of the "Power Mac G4 (Mirrored Drive-Doors)" is designed to hold the temperature of the processor board in a range of 58 to 60 degrees Celsius. Under full load the values can go up to 70 degrees Celsius (158 degrees Fahrenheit). After that point, the critical limit has been reached.

Most older G3 or G4 processors are designed for a maximum operating temperature of 105 degrees Celsius (221 degrees Fahrenheit).

G4 processors of type 7455 or later (typically used in Macintosh systems with 867 MHz and above) are designed for a maximum operating temperature of 65 degrees Celsius (149 degrees Fahrenheit). This limit applies when directly measuring the on-die temperature. Because the sensors are often mounted in some distance from the processor and measure cache memory temperature at the same time, the displayed value can be higher than the value measured at the actual chip die.
It turns out that the iBook series came at a transitional time in Apple's temperature monitoring methodology, as Apple moved between its classic-oriented approach to the G4 world. A combination of sensor type and OS X release may determine support a temperature monitoring utility.

One interesting possibility is that my iBook fan stopped working because of a change in OS X! Earlier versions of the OS respected the unreliable G3 on-chip temperature readings, later versions disregard this. This may explain why a Classic utility does work on my iBook. Of course that may or may not affect whether the fan works. If the OS controlled the fan response, and it stopped tracking CPU reported temperature, the fan would never start. Of course if fan control is local (as in all PC systems) even if the OS stopped tracking CPU temperature the fan would still work.

It appears that the G3 CPU will tolerate temperatures as 105 degrees Celsius! In other words, boiling hot. Temperatures in that range would likely produce a burning smell from inside an iBook. Some Motorola chips will shut down or go to sleep near that temperature.

The iBreeze cooling stand is $30. It's starting to look better all the time.

Thermograph Classic and ThermographX: measuring iBook CPU temperature


I'd hoped to measure the temperature of my iBook CPU -- esp. since the fan seems to have become stuck, immobile, dead, defunct, etc.

Unfortunately ThermographX doesn't support the iBook. I couldn't find any OS X utility that does. However, the old Thermograph does! Unfortunately it requires booting into classic, and there's nothing I can run in classic that stresses my system at all. So my CPU in classic reads out at a happy 20-25 deg C.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Xbench: Diagnose performance issues with OS X

Xbench: Comprehensive Macintosh Benchmarking

Free and very nice. I found my iBook had an xBench score of about 35.1. After running the test I clicked submit, and was able to view my results in context. They turned out to be quite typical -- so my slow performance at times is probably related to application issues rather than hardware or global OS issues.

By comparison the G4 iBook scores about 2.5x as fast as my 600 MHz G3. A nice gain!

The original G5 is about 5.5 times as fast at 175. There are no scores on the G5 iMac, but I'd guess it's only 30% faster than the high end G4 -- say 120. So 3-4 times as fast as my G3 iBook.

Rescuing a wrecked iTunes Library -- one approach

Usenet: Larry Bickford
... from the iTunes Help menu comes this info: 'If you throw away the iTunes Music Library file, your songs will no longer show in your library even though the song files are still in the iTunes Music folder. To make your songs appear in the library again:

Drag your iTunes Music folder (by default, located inside the iTunes folder in your Music folder) to your library in the Source list.' (They mean, to the open window where the songs used to appear)

'You will see the songs in your library again, but you won't see any of your original playlists (playlist information is stored in the iTunes Music Library file).'

Ok. I REALLY vaporized my iTunes Library. Miraculously, I was able to recover it. As bad as the following sounds, I did have good backups and could have recovered by other means, but because of my peculiar setup I went ahead as though I didn't have the backups.

My peculiar setup

1. I have two iTunes Libraries. The music files for each libary are located in separate folders on a Win2K machine. (Primary home file server.)
2. One iTunes Library is managed by iTunes/PC. Another is managed by iTunes/Mac (primary library).
3. In the past I've created references to the iTunes/PC files in iTunes/Mac by first disabling the "move imported to folder" advanced option then dragging and dropping the folder holding the iTunes/PC files to the Playlist of iTunes/Mac. This works and does not move files or create duplicates of existing entries.

The disastrous Act

In the process of debugging some iBook performance issues I created a new User, ran iTunes and pointed iTunes to my iTunes/Mac SMB mounted library. Oops. The Playlist and library was now empty! I returned to my regular user account and mounted iTunes. Uh-Oh. Playlists were out of date (curiously, not empty) and the tunes count was low. I knew I had about 2000-2100 tunes on the iPod, there were only 1984 in the library. Even this list was not correct, many were "dangling references" that could no longer be resolved. (Error message: not in library)

The diagnosis

I'd overwritten the XML file on the SMB share containing the Library metadata. I suspect some data is also stored in my user Library on the iBook -- that would be incorrect as well.

The initial recovery

I restored the XML files at the root of the SMB iTunes/Mac share from a backup that was about 12 hours old. I could have also tried using the backup XML file iTunes keeps around, but restores from my hard drive backups are very fast and easy.

[As is shown below, this didn't work as well as I'd expected it would. It took sometime to figure out what had happened. Retrospect lists its "snapshots" in order of oldest to most recent, and I took the top snapshot on the list! So my backup was a month old, instead of the copy that was 12 hours old. That explains why I had to go on to more involved repairs as noted below. SAD!!]

The residual problem

Ok, Now I had 1984 tunes listed in iTunes. I'd had over 2000 on the iPod however, so I knew I still had a problem. Furthermore, when I did sync to the iPod I received messages that some tunes could not be found by the Library. So the Library had a reference to them, but the reference was wrong. These showed up with an exclamation point next to the song name in the library; unfortunately one cannot sort a library on these first row "error icons".

iTunes/Mac did list an example of a missing tune, and I was able to see it was still safely in my PC SMB iTunes library folder. I just couldn't get to it.

The resolution?

First I did and drag and drop to refresh my iTune's Mac's copy of my iTune PC maintained library items. That added a few references.

Then, based on the above usenet post and my past experience, I navigated to the SMB share holding my entire iTunes Library. I dropped it into an empty area on my Mac iTunes Playlist menu. The iBook ran through all the files and then initiated a "copy". I was curious what would happen, since it would be "copying" back to a folder where the physical files existed. In fact it did NOT create any duplicates, and, based on the execution speed I was quite sure no copying occurred. Instead it added 53 new Library entries. So I was back up to 2037 tunes, which felt right. Evidently it added entries only for the Tunes it couldn't match on the server. The old "dangling" references were still there (exclamation points in column 0), but so were valid entries for the same tunes. I searched on Date Added to figure out what had been added, then sorted on name and filtered by album. That was I was quickly able to find and delete the danlging entries. I added ratings and other minor data that are not stored in the Library XML files.

But is it all resolved?

Well, not quite! After sync I had 2076 songs on my iPod and 2037 in my Library! Hmm. More detective work needed!

Update: After syncing again the iTunes/iPod gap shrunk to about 7 items. I painfully isolated the "dangling references" (later I found an AppleScript that does that automatically! -- See Doug's AppleScripts). I ended up with 3-4 more tunes on the iPod than my iTunes collection. Someday I'll clean the iPod totally and reload it.

iBook 500 - Disassembly and hard drive replacement Instructions

iBook 500 - HD Replacement Instructions

I may need to clean out my dual USB white 600 MHz iBook -- and see if the fan is stuck. This page and

provide some guidance. Might be a chance to replace the HD too ...

MBS: Temperature Monitor for OS X machines

MBS: Temperature Monitor

Unfortunately my G3 dual USB iBook lacks a temperature sensor.

OS X optimizatons: An accessible and well written article

Making An Operating System Faster

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Bose SoundDock for iPod

With an IR remote to boot. This might fit in the kitchen!

Microdoc - Parts - iBooks - including the little plastic feet

Microdoc - Parts - iBooks

Six feet for $5.00! A bargain. (kw: rubber, screw covers, base, Mac, feet, foot)

Hit TV: 2006 - Unreality TV - Home

TV takes a new direction in 2006. A role playing virtual reality community game is displayed in real time on TV. No player knows when he or she will be on TV.

You read it here first. (Ok, maybe not first.)

RyncX & RsyncXCD for OS X - Documentation
RsyncXCD_v2.1 has been released. It is based on the latest release of bootCD. This CD allows you to pull down from your network server a loadset image folder to a machine that has only its hard drive and CDROM as possible boot sources. This CD will let you connect to your server as an Mac OS X client, and cleanly install your image folder onto a volume that later you will boot from. For best results with older machines, burning at 4x or slower speeds is recommended.

Rsync is a tool of legendary power. This may make it very useful for the rest of us. Especially handy for backups across a wireless LAN.

macosxhints - Create bootable OS X clones via the command line and using rsync

macosxhints - Create bootable clones via the command line

Very esoteric -- but likely to be a useful reference at some point. I use Carbon Copy Cloner. A Cocoa Client for Mac OS X A Cocoa Client for Mac OS X

Reports to follow is very fashionable. And quite fascinating.

Portraits and Prints for iPhoto

Econ Technologies:Portraits and Prints

Now that I have an outstanding Canon Pixma iP4000 printer, this $20 shareware app has become very interesting. iPhoto does NOT do a fantastic job with printing. I'll try it and report back.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Powers of 10 -- updated version of the old demo

Molecular Expressions: Science, Optics and You - Secret Worlds: The Universe Within - Interactive Java Tutorial

This version of the old powers of 10 demo goes from 10 million light years (10**23 meters) to 100 attometers (10 ** -16). It stops at quarks -- too bad -- it would be interesting to continue to the Planck length.

I'm struck again by how self-similar the views are until we drop down to a terrestrial scale.

how to add an Airport express to extend (WDS) an Airport Extreme network

macosxhints - Airport Express WDS with third party NAT / DHCP: "This hint describes how to add an Airport express to extend (WDS) an Airport Extreme network that uses some other (wired) host (e.g. a broadband router) to provide DHCP and NAT. The Airport Express Assistant will let you set up WDS automatically, but it insists that the master airport uses NAT and DHCP, and has a static IP address, which means you have to form a separate subnet for the wireless portion of your network. "

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Anthony J Faughnan's CaringBridge web site - aj

Son of Joe and Joyce Faughnan (friends, presumably distant relatives too!)

43 Folders: OSX inventories, tips & hack collections

43 Folders: OSX inventories, tips & hack collections

Nice intro to an interesting set of OSX fans -- their favorite products and tips.

EXIF editor for Windows

RoboPhoto v3.1 - EXIF Editor.

Exif Jpeg header parser and thumbnail remover (OS X)

Exif Jpeg header parser and thumbnail remover

The only program I've heard of that can attach an EXIF header to an existing JPEG. I wonder if it can fix duplicate rotation tags!?

They reference this article -- one of the very few anywhere on the EXIF file format

I liked the explanation of the EXIF orientation tag from the reference:

The orientation of the camera relative to the scene, when the image was captured. The relation of the '0th row' and '0th column' to visual position is shown as right.

0x0112 unsigned short 1

Value 0th Row 0th Column
1 top left side
2 top right side
3 bottom right side
4 bottom left side
5 left side top
6 right side top
7 right side bottom
8 left side bottom

ZVOX: powered speaker units -- legacy of the iPod

ZVOX Stereo and Home Theater Surround Sound System For Your TV, PC, CD or MP3 Player - Built-In Speakers, Amplifier and Powered Subwoofer!

This looks like a product niche with a future. The amplifier and speakers are an integrated compact unit. Clearly the expected input is an iPod or other hard drive device (cell phone etc).

A bit big for the kitchen unfortunately.

iPhoto comment focus/type lag bug

Apple - Discussions - Type lag on comments - is this a common bug?

A problem with entering comments in iPhoto after typing a title.
I HAVE found where the cursor goes wrong. It goes to the image.

So if one follows this sequence:

1. Type title (need to type a full title to get the effect.)
2. Hit tab -> Highlights Date field
3. Hit tab -> Cursor in comment field -- BRIEFLY. Then vanishes.
4. Hit delete -> IMAGE disappears. (implies image has focus at that point)

or, instead of #4 do this:

4alt. Hit arrow key -> selected focus changes to NEXT photo.

So the image grabs focus from the comment field after one tabs from the date field into the comment field. Focus only rests briefly in the comment field.

Here's the question for iPhoto users who don't have this bug --

When you TAB out of the date field, where is your 'focus'?

Merging iPhoto Libraries: yet more techniques

macosxhints - Reunite iPhoto libraries with Rendezvous in iPhoto4

Update 1/05: I now have a much better discussion of this on my personal digital photography/iPhoto page.

Merging iPhoto Libraries, the easy way:

1. Make sure you have enough free space two times the size of your library to merge in on your hard drive.

2. Using DiskUtility (in OS X 10.3), create a disk image large enough to hold your library once. Name the opened volume 'iPhoto Library'.

3. Using TextEdit, create a file called IPHOTO.XML and place it inside the library. The file should contain this text:

(xml removed because it's invisible in blogger -- see original posting)

4. Copy your library to this disk image and name it 'iPhoto Libary'. If you're done, the folder structure should look like this:

iPhoto Library (Disk image)
\- IPHOTO.XML (Textfile)
- iPhoto Library (folder, containg all your iPhoto stuff:)
- Albums (folder, pretty empty)
- iPhoto.db
- AlbumData.xml
- Library.iPhoto
- 2004 (folder, containing subfolder for each month day)
\- 05
\- 31
\- DSCF0001.JPG
- ... (many more pictures)
- Data (folder, containing files '1.attr' and '1')
- Thumbs (folder with Thumbnails)

5. Inside Disk Utility (in OS X 10.3), choose the menu 'Images > Convert...' to create a read-only copy of your disk image.

6. Mount that new image and iphoto is happy! drag-and-drop the CD onto your library to import your photos!

This great thread described several techniques, this one resembles the iPhoto image technique I described some time ago. What's new here is the creation of the xml document!

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Nikon is making my camera ... now

PhotographyBLOG -:- Home

I was hoping someone would make this camera -- next year. Nikon has really stolen a march on Canon with this one. It's not an SLR (I don't want an SLR), but it's a CMOS sensor and the camera incorporates vibration reduction. Too bad it's not JPEG2000!

This really raises the bar. Wow.

ManOpen for OS X

ExtraBITS: "
So, if you're like me, and occasionally need to refer to a man page but are annoyed by the user experience of working with man pages in a Terminal window, check out Carl Lindberg's ManOpen 2.4, which is a free Mac OS X application for viewing man pages in normal Macintosh windows. It's a simple program, but has a number of useful features, including: "

Photokina: toys for boys

Introduction: Photokina 2004 Show Report: Digital Photography Review

A bit odd -- this show is every 2 years -- not yearly. Manufacturers currently track it with their releases. So the next giant leap in digital photography will be Sept 2006.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Macintouch: DataViz MacLink Plus announcement

MacInTouch Home Page: "DataViz released MacLinkPlus Deluxe 15, the latest version of its file conversion software. This release adds text extraction from PDF files, a new graphics translator for Photoshop, improvements to other graphics translators (BMP, JPG, PICT, TIFF), conversion of word processing and PDF files to text and transport to an iPod or iPod mini, decompression support for StuffIt X, and updated translators for Word 2004 Mac, Excel 2004 Mac, and WordPerfect 12 for Windows. MacLinkPlus Deluxe 15 is $79.95 for Mac OS X 10.2 and up."

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Enough storage to load most of Microsoft Office 2020 ....

Sun Microsystems - Feature Story - ZFS File System
Sun engineers wondered if the 64-bit capabilities of current file systems will continue to suffice over the next 10 to 20 years. Their answer was no. If Moore's Law holds, in 10 to 15 years people will need a 65th bit. As a 128-bit system, ZFS is designed to support more storage, more file systems, more snapshots, more directory entries, and more files than can possibly be created in the foreseeable future....

... To efficiently use all of this capacity, file systems grow and shrink automatically as users add or remove data. Administrators can set quotas to limit space consumption and reservations to guarantee future availability of space. ZFS also provides compression to reduce disk space and I/O bandwidth requirements.

Logically, the next question is if ZFS' 128 bits is enough. According to Bonwick, it has to be. 'Populating 128-bit file systems would exceed the quantum limits of earth-based storage. You couldn't fill a 128-bit storage pool without boiling the oceans.'

When you need to think outside the trap

Normal For Us: The Miller Twins - About the Film . OPB

Ok, so these are not "average" parents. Maybe most of us can't rise to this level. On the other hand, when one feels trapped and doesn't want to "take it any more" ... here's inspiration.

If you can't win, then change the rules.

Jon Udell: LibraryLookup: place library order via Amazon page

Jon Udell: LibraryLookup (Build your own bookmarklet)

Jon Udell is brilliant. I've been a fan since the glory days of BYTE where he was a senior editor. Now he's got a bookmarklet that orders library books from Amazon pages. Jon has always written that we've yet to fully leverage the web opportunities that we've had since 1999 or so -- here he again proves his thesis.

(Bookmarklets, are coming into their own, probably because most browsers now finally support a core portion of JavaScript -- the new universal cross-platform language. Brendan Eich (sp?) must be very amused.)

Very big Dantz Retrospect bug (OS X)

MacInTouch Home PageJust a quick warning to Mac OS X users running Retrospect 6.0.178. If you're backing up an entire drive and hope to restore it one day, do NOT do an incremental backup. This version of Retrospect doesn't recognize when symbolic links have changed the file to which they point. So it doesn't back them up.

This is unlikely to cause problems for personal home directories and such, but it has a disastrous effect when restoring a complete Mac OS X install, if you've done any software updates after your first backup in the set. You'll need to reinstall the OS.

The easy solution (until Dantz issues a fix) is to force Retrospect to backup ALL files, not just changed files.

(The technical reason for the problem is that when Apple updates frameworks in software updates, they update symbolic links named 'Current' to point to the new version. Retrospect backs up the new version, but fails to back up the updated symbolic link. Thus, on restore you end up with the new version, but the old symbolic link -- pointing to a no-longer-present version.)
Wow. I wonder if this is true for older versions too. Maybe I should give up on using Retrospect for a full system backup -- and focus on a data only backup. I can use CarbonCopy Cloner to do a clone periodically, and otherwise only backup the user directory.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Airport Express and Third Party Routers

Airport Express and Third Party Routers

An elegant web site dedicated to Airport Express interoperability with 3rd party routers.
BBC NEWS | Americas | Americans flee as hurricane nears
Tim Forster, of the UK charity Oxfam, on the island of Grenada, said: 'This is the worst devastation I have ever witnessed.

'Ninety percent of houses have been torn to pieces and there is waste strewn across the whole island.'

I've read that this season represents a return to historic hurricaine patterns, and that the global warming component is relatively small (but growing). I wonder how confident climatologists are in those statements.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Capturing video on a Mac - EyeTV

Capturing video on a Mac - EyeTV

This author likes EyeTV. Interesting reference on how the capturing and publishing was done. Focus on TV capture -- using Mac as a PVR.

Monday, September 13, 2004

MacTheRipper: backing up the kid's DVDs

All you need on the mac is mac the ripper (decss for the mac) which is free and dragon burn--9.95 for a competitive upgrade.

The only other thing you might need is a compression program if the movie is more than the one-sided dvd capacity (single side capacity is 4.7GB, some movies come on DVDs that are double sided and can be up to 9.5GB -- but most consumer DVD drives won't burn double sided DVDs), but mac the ripper lets you extract only the movie and not the extras if you want.

Works good to back up the kids dvd's that they inevitably ruin.

Mac the Ripper removes Macrovision protection, so you can copy from DVD to tape. It will be good to have a way to backup the kid's DVDs, or to play on the VCR (rather than buy another DVD). All legal so long as its our use.

Update 1/2/06: the original site has been shut down, but one can download 2.6.6 via VersionTracker.

Formating a hard drive as FAT under OS X

FWFL_User_Guide.pdf (application/pdf Object)

Your SmartDisk hard drive can be formatted and partitioned using Apple’s Disk Utility, located in your Utilities folder. Under Disk and Volumes Selected, select the appropriate drive, and click on the Partition tab. Under Volume Information, expand the Format field and choose Free Space. Click on the Erase tab, expand the Volume Format Field, and click MS-DOS File System. Click Erase and wait for the Erase to complete. Your drive is now ready to be connected to a Windows operating system.

I didn't think this could be done any more under 10.3, but I didn't choose the "Free Space" tab. I need to test this.

SmartDisk Drives: Firewire FireFly and CrossFire

SmartDisk - Capture, Share and Preserve Digital Content

I've heard of some good results with these. I need to figure out who makes their bridge chips. I did see this on their web page, it means they don't use the dreaded Oxford chipset:
We are aware of reports that using the newest release of Mac OS X, "Panther," can result in data loss when used with certain types of external FireWire hard drives, notably those built with certain type of chips.

None of SmartDisk's FireWire hard drives use these types of chips. Therefore your SmartDisk FireWire hard drive should not be affected by the problems reported with Panther. No hard drive firmware update is needed (or is available) for SmartDisk's hard drives.

OS X: failure to mount a CD, cannot eject CD

OSXFAQ - Technical News and Support for Mac OS X
Every once in a while a CD would not mount on the desktop but would be visable by disk utility. It would happen with original CD's, Data CD's, Music CD's and burned CD's.

I would try restarting etc... nothing would get it to show up! I tried restoring the permissions, nothing. Disk utility was not finding any problems either.

Finally out of desperation I decided to log in as a fake user and see if that user could see the disc... and it could!

I never had this problem -- until very recently. Some update has messed up drive mounting.

I wonder if this plays a role in the problems many have with mounting firewire drives.

This tip does work, but not if one uses fast user switching to switch to an already logged in user. It's only on initial login that the drive can be seen, and ejected or mounted!

macosxhints - Use Disk Utility to repair FAT32 formatted disks

macosxhints - Use Disk Utility to repair FAT32 formatted disks: "You can use Disk Utilty in Panther to repair MS-DOS (FAT32) formatted disks."

Apparently it can fix disks that data recovery systems have problems with. Weird.

macosxhints - SMB mount failure workaround

macosxhints - SMB mount failure workaround
What I could do was create a folder in my home directory (let's call it XYZ) and then, in Terminal, use the following:


Replace the words in CAPS with the appropriate ones for your circumstances. This essentially mounts the share and connects it to the named folder. Which when double-clicked on will browse that share.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Kanguru Slim FC-RW - Flash Card Burner, Portable DVD Player and CD Burner!

Kanguru Slim FC-RW - Flash Card Burner, Portable DVD Player and CD Burner!

A complement to a digital camera when traveling. Fringe benefit is use it to view DVDs in the hotel room. Main benefit though is burning CD without laptop, review pictures on hotel TV.

Filehand: Another fulltext indexing solution, including PDF

Filehand Home Page

Interesing. I love Lookout, but I need something for the rest of my file system. I'll try it next week.

Snippets 1997 - before there were blogs

Snippets Explained (Version 2)

This is one of the oldest and least reconstructed pages on my personal web site. Google found it very quickly. It was first authored in Feb 1997 (my site began @ Jan/Feb 1995, initially at the University of Minnesota).

This site was about creating quick bits of information with a simple ontology to organize their publication. It was to be a cross between the fragment oriented PIMs of the 1980s and early 1990s and the web.

I didn't have the expertise to build the right solutions, and I had other priorities. I forgot about those "snippet" pages. Until I stated messing with Ontology, fragments, keyworks ... then there are my blogs, esp. Quick Notes ...

Yeah, there's a resemblance.

Tinderbox, though, is closest to the snippets vision (though I don't use it; Quick Notes + Google is good). is interesting though. Gotta figure how to work it in to the mix...

Here is my set of collaborative bookmarks, with appropriate recursion to this Quick Notes Blog. I like the way the tag list is growing. I use jfaughnan and jgfaughnan to tag my work.

See also my next post, on snippets. - very fashionable - collaborative bookmarks

Collaborative bookmarks with an emergent ontology. Very fashionable. I signed up of course.

Making dish sponges last longer

Safety Tips for Your Kitchen
When exposed on the highest setting of an 800 watt microwave oven, a dry, cellulose
sponge was disinfected after 30 seconds. A wet sponge was disinfected after 60 seconds.

I can't vouch for disease prevention, but I am positive this makes the sponges last longer. We were going through sponges at a great pace -- due to their tendency to develop an ... errr ... odor (note to our few guests -- we use a dishwasher for your dishes). Zapping the sponge every few days now gives it a reasonable lifespan.

Why I won't be buying PC computer games

Big City Games - Official Site - FIM Speedway Grand Prix
Minimum System Requirements

Windows® 98/ME/2000/XP
Pentium III 500 MHz or equivalent
128 MB RAM
500 MB Hard Disk Space
DirectX compatible Graphics Card with 16 MB RAM
DirectX Compatible Sound Card
DirectX 8.1 or Higher
56k Modem for Internet play

The 7 yo and I are racing around the hardware store. He catches site of a pile of cheapo games, and at $5 a shot I weaken and grab this one.

Lesson #1: The cost of purchase is not related to the cost of ownership.

Go to blackboard and write 1000 times.

Without looking I assumed this was some discarded game from the 1990s. Something that old has a ghost of chance of running on the kids Win98 game machine or my the family Win2K box. (I don't let those stability destroying suckers onto my personal XP work machine.) Wrong. It's vintage 2003. Those "minimum requirements" are laughable.

I sort of got it running -- if one had extreme patience. A 20 minute install copied 350MB or so of data to my drive. The first time I tried it on the Win98 machine it promptly exceptioned with a "chrome ....dll error". I located a 1999 update to the old video card and it installed. Didn't show parts of the interface dialog boxes though -- probably some missing video functionality.

The next install was on a vintage 2000-2001 machine running Win2K. In theory it well exceeded the minimum specs -- after I updated DirectX from 5 to 9c. In practice the video didn't show (I suspect it needed a more recent version of Windows Media Player -- although that wasn't in the minimum requirement list). The game ran like molasses -- I suspect it really needs a fairly high end modern 3D graphics card (I'd set the display options to pretty minimal).

Finally I uninstalled and gave up.

Beyond RELEARNING lesson #1 for the THOUSANDTH time, this experience inspired a new conviction. NO MORE PC GAMES. I'm not willing to invest in the PC hardware to run them -- in particular I'm not willing to upgrade my hardware every 1-2 years.

I'll be educational software that's cross-platform (Mac/PC) IFF I know I can trust the recommended hardware specs. Otherwise I'll get a dedicated game box and keep the game stuff away from the PCs.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

iView MediaPro 2.6 - converts iPhoto libraries?

iView MediaPro Weblog » New Release: iView MediaPro 2.6 (Windows, Mac)
New 'Getting Started' dialog includes option to convert iPhoto libraries as well as links to online learning resources.

Here's what the manual says:
Mac: In the Getting Started dialog, check Import iPhoto Library. MediaPro will automatically find the iPhoto library for the active operating system user, launch iPhoto in the background and import all original photos into a new catalog. This feature only works with versions 2 and 4 of iPhoto.

The new catalog contains references to your photo files that are still inside the iPhoto library folders. If you wish to move these files out of the iPhoto library, you can select all the images in the catalog and select Transfer to Folder in the Action menu. Choose Move files, reset paths, delete orginals. This will move your original images to a folder of your choice, sets the paths to the new location and delete the images from your iPhoto library.

To free up additional hard drive space, you could delete all the proxy images (thumbnails) created by iPhoto. To do this, simply trash the iPhoto Library folder from the Pictures folder. Or you could leave them where they are and have media in both iPhoto and iView MediaPro.

The new MediaPro catalog will also containsyour iPhoto albums as MediaPro Catalog Sets (in the Organize Panel). Your catalog also contains any metadata (such as EXIF digital camera data, comments or keywords) that were assigned to your images in iPhoto. The chart above details how iPhoto annotations map to iView MediaPro annotation fields.

Sounds very interesting. It leaves iPhoto pictures in place to start with, so it's easy to experiment with. This is a big deal, until now iPhoto has been a one way street. Since iView MediaPro runs on Windows too, it's potentially a way to move iPhoto content to Windows.

Update: I imported a 900 image iPhoto Library. It took an hour or so, but it did a nice job. I think one loses image sequence from albums. Also many images which I'd rotated now were malrotated. I think this may be related to a bug with Image Capture -- it duplicates the EXIF orientation tag and creates conflicting values there.

This is indeed very interesting. I may allow me to have a single view into ALL of my iPhoto Libraries for example.

OS X 10.1 and Firewire Drive Mount/Sleep Issues? Results with my VST and Oxford 911 Drives:

OS X 10.1 and Firewire Drive Mount/Sleep Issues? Results with my VST and Oxford 911 Drives:
I have seen zero problems mounting my portable VST 12GB drive (firmware v56) and my AC powered Oxford911 bridge based case kit drive with onboard IDE formatted IBM 75GXP 60GB drive (the one used in my review and build guide posted here on the Firewire articles page.) used with my G4/500 DP system running 10.1. No problems with them after waking from sleep either. (I repeated these tests over half a dozen times.) The drives were still mounted and usable.

So 3 years ago on a very early version of OS X firewire worked better?

Cooking For Engineers

Cooking For Engineers

Recipes for geeks.

Friday, September 10, 2004

SPOD/beachball shutdowns on OS X

macosxhints - How to cleanly shut down when things go wrong

1. reboot
2. Kill coredservicesd
3. shutdown then reboot

Canon releases iP6000D and iP8500 PIXMA printers in the US

Canon USA Consumer Products - Printers

Figures. I gave up 2 days ago and ordered the IP4000. Now the iP6000D, iP5000, iP4000R and iP8500 are out. The iP6000D replaces the i960. It's a "six" (five really) color system. The ip8500 it's an "eight" (seven really) color system.

The product naming and sequencing is very confusing.

I think the iP6000D may be a "pure" photo printer, whereas the iP4000, iP4000R and iP5000 clearly print both photos and documents. The iP4000R has integrated 802.11G support, the iP5000 is faster than the rest. The best photos in this $140-$200 group come from the iP6000D. For our family purposes the iP4000 may suffice.

The iP8500 is in a different category. It exceeds the photo printing of the iP6000D while still doing document printing; and it's faster than the iP5000 for similar resolutions. It's also almost twice as much.

Maybe I won't return the iP4000 after all. It may be about right -- I can replace it with next October's models ...

Gmail runs on Apple xServe boxes?

PBS | I, Cringely . Archived Column
Gmail, itself, runs on Apple xServe 1u boxes.

Cute of Cringely to just toss that one out. Apple hasn't said anything about this. I think most folks assumed GMail ran on Intel/Linux boxes.

The beauty of Symlink and SymbolicLinker - OS X


Now that I had my big external drive, the next step was to download and install the OS X development tools. Tons of utilities, documentation, AppleScript studio -- you name it.

So I try the install -- and discover it wants to install on my boot disk! Sigh. The original Mac didn't have these problems -- but OS X is more like Windows. Paths matter. Not all progress is linear. Losing the innate indirection design of Mac Classic is quite sad.

But the documentation mentioned "symlinks". This is a Unix thing, too "advanced" even for my O'Reilly OS X Unix book!

Symlinks come in two forms. One is like a Microsoft Windows shortcut/alias. That's a "soft link". Main limitation is it holds a hard coded path. Move the destination and it breaks. Just like Windows.

Other form is a "hard link". BAD. DANGEROUS. Stay away. Ask no more.

There is risk even to a softlink. Some non-Apple deletion tools get confused by a soft symlink and delete the originals. The trashcan knows better.

Symlinks are created via the terminal. It's probably not too hard, but SymbolicLinker 1.1 is freeware and is very safe and convenient. I downloaded and installed it. Lovely, thank you Nick.

So I moved the "Developer" folder I'd started with to my new external drive, and used SymbolicLikner to create a symlink. It created an item with the name "Developer symlink". I can't change the name. I moved it to my boot disk. Then I continued the install. Worked perfectly.

These look like handy ways to get around a number of odd things that require installation on the boot disk. Symlinks exist at the BSD level, so they're transparent to most Cocoa applications.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Workplace OS. Pink. Taligent. Longhorn.

Scobleizer: Microsoft Geek Blogger
As I, and other evangelists, showed off Longhorn to developers we kept hearing the same thing:

"This is cool."

"Oh, wait, it's Longhorn only?"

"Yep," I'd answer.

"Uh, call us after it ships and you get X marketshare." (X being a variable between 0% and 100%).

That's basically what Mozilla answered too, and they weren't alone.

Then there was Joel Spolsky's rant about how Microsoft was losing the API war. Out of all the developers who write blogs, his is the most influential in my mind -- one link from his blog recently sent 12,000 readers -- and his rant caused more conversations internally among the geeks (devs and testers) than anything I've seen written all year. I've been reading his new book this weekend, by the way, and it gives deep insights on Microsoft and software development and management culture.

Then there's the constant meetings with non-geek customers that I kept having. "Can you help me get my system back working? I keep getting these bizarre popups every few seconds..."

I got just that question again while traveling this weekend. Translation: non-geek customers are asking for better protection against malware, spyware, etc. They care about that a lot more than if they can do some cool new video or 3D trick on screen.

Another point of view? We were making the wrong bets based on where the industry is going. Sales of Tablet PCs has been going up lately. And notebooks are white hot.

One thing, what matters on Tablet PCs? Battery life, and low heat while giving decent performance. Now, what happens when you need a better graphics processor? Less battery life and more heat. Longhorn's Avalon was going to require a beefy graphic processor (look at all the demo machines, we barely could get the latest builds to run on a top-of-the-line Alienware machine).

Translation: Longhorn wasn't aimed at the sweet spot of the market anymore and our customers were telling us to go in a different direction.

Another point of view? Remember when a group of us tried to go off and build an app about two months ago with the product teams? That was a turning point for me. I saw that Avalon was pretty easy to work with (I even understood that). But WinFS was very difficult. Only the best teams actually got something done there. And we were working off of a script that basically told us where everything was.

That told me that WinFS needed more work. Plus, when I asked about certain scenarios (servers, networks, adding in weird devices, etc) the team didn't have strong answers that made me feel good...

Workplace OS was IBM's fiasco. Pink was Apple's fiasco.Taligent was IBM AND Apple's fiasco. Longhorn is Microsoft's fiasco. Each of these projects was immensely complex, and each tried to tackle fundamental problems in the representation of data -- especially data about "people, places and things".

What's differnte about Longhorn is that it's also the first massive project to run ahead of Moore's Law. The graphics and WinFS layers assumed massive processing power -- the classic Microsoft approach to forcing hardware and software upgrades. The big mistake was assuming Moore's Law would continue to hold. Well, it's not holding when power availability is a constraining factor. Given sufficient power (one or more household outlets) one can handle the power needs and heat output (liquid cooling!) of a Longhorn system. Lacking a power cord, Longhorn won't fly.

Microsoft isn't going to just delay Longhorn for a year. Gates is going to kill it. They may claim to release "Longhorn" one day, but it will be a marketing illusion. They'll release WinXP SP3 and call it Longhorn.

If there's one thing Gates absolutely excels at, it's shooting a failing horse. He kills massive projects fast and efficiently, and without a shred of sentiment. It's a weird and unique talent. Don't be fooled by the internal Microsoft statements and the press releases. Unless Gates has undergone an unlikely transformation, Longhorn is utterly dead.

Want malware protection? Run Safari, OmniWeb, or Firefox on OS X. This is a nice get well gift for Steve Jobs.

DivX for Mac - compress video to hard drive or server images

DivX for Mac: "Works with Your Favorite Video Software

The DivX codec is a plug-in designed to work within any QuickTime-enabled video application. With it installed, you can encode movies in one easy step or reduce the size of your current video files to store on your hard drive or on standard CD-Rs."

iPod and OS X firewire problems

Macintouch iPod (Part 27)
Slow Transfer Speeds

William Price
Edward Walters wrote "Has anyone experienced slow transfer speeds with a 40 GB 3G iPod while using an external Firewire drive?"

Definitely. This is almost certainly the same bug as this: "Syncing iPod over Firewire with iSight can cause your Mac to "freeze"".

It's still not fixed yet in 10.3.5. Unfortunately, this KB article leaves one with the impression that the problem is specific to the iSight when in fact the problem appears entirely generic. Having anything at all hooked up to Firewire at the same time as an iPod often results in extremely slow transfer speeds to the iPod. I've experienced this with scanners, external drives, and especially the iSight. I've only seen kernel panics and system freezes with the iSight, but the basic problem occurs with almost anything.

Also, the problem occurs with all incarnations of the iPod, and is not related to iSight firmware updates. I can only assume it's a generic Firewire driver bug.

Greg Weston
When I bought my G5 earlier this year, I ended up using a pair of drives to shuffle content around between that, my iBook and the Sawtooth that was being sold off. I noticed that if I had the drives chained to each other, transfers between them were blazingly fast, but if I had them both plugged directly into the G5 it was so slow that it was actually faster to copy from one of them to the internal SATA drive and then copy again to the other external.

Rob Worman
Until recently I had an extremely similar problem. Here was my setup:

-Stock G4/500 Cube
-bargain Firewire hub (powered...)
-160 GB drive in a bargain Firewire enclosure (also powered...)
-15GB 3G iPod

If I connected the iPod (or an iPod Mini) to this setup and tried to transfer data between it and the Firewire harddrive, the transfer would go along fast enough for about 30 MB, and then slow to a glacial pace that was almost too slow to measure. Searching online forums pointed to a lack of sufficient power on the Firewire bus, so the first component I tried replacing was the hub. No difference.

So I returned the hub and exchanged it for a new (Macally-branded) Firewire enclosure for that 160GB drive, and that made all the difference in the world! The problem is definitely gone.

Sigh. Yet another OS X firewire problem. Sounds like hubs don't work, but chains might. I do get the feeling Firewire may be on teh way out.

DVD Backup for OS X

DVD Capture

Some of our kid's DVDs are getting pretty beat up. I need to make new ones. Yeah, that's still legal -- despite the best efforts of our corrupt legislators.

What I should have bought for my firewire drive

LaCie - FireWire Hard Drives - Design by F.A. Porsche
For what I paid in CompUSA for a cheap hard drive, plus the enclosure cost on OWC, I could have bought this drive from LaCie. Sigh.

Update: I've confrimed that the 160GB LaCie Porsche works beautifully with my iBook running 10.3.5. Sleep, awake, mount, dismount, no problem. I'm buying one.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004 The Missing Digital Photography Hacks - Interpreting camera histograms The Missing Digital Photography Hacks
A good exposure will typically display information across the entire width of the graph. Shadow information is on the left side, highlights are on the right, and midtones are, well, in the middle. The particular shape of the graph depends on how the light is distributed throughout the picture.

What you want to be leery of is when the graph information bunches up on one side or another. A graph heavy to the left usually indicates underexposure with the image appearing dark (move exposure compensation to 1). If everything is scooted over to the right, that often indicates overexposure with blown highlights and washed out shadows and midtones (move exposure compensation to -1).

As you become experienced working with the histogram, you'll begin to correlate spikes in the graph with various intense tones in the actual picture. And when you open your shots in your favorite image editor, such as Photoshop Elements, you can adjust the photo's tones using the histogram display in the Levels dialog box (Enhance > Adjust Brightness/Contrast > Levels). Think of it as another way to look at your pictures.

Life in the dark ages -- of 1900 America

Marginal Revolution: Which countries face a medical cost crunch?
... the level in China would be comparable to that of the U.S. in about 1900. At that time the average American male suffered from six chronic medical conditions, and it was very likely that at least one of those six was debilitating, meaning the person could not work.

Wealthy enough not to die, but lacking the technology to avoid exterme suffering. The average american back then was relatively young as well ...

An amazing quote. I wonder if it's true.

Microsoft Outlook Categories: Tips and References

Microsoft Outlook Categories

Rarely has a potentially useful feature been so incompetently implemented for so many years. Outlook categories belong in the Microsoft Hall of Shame -- dwarfed, of course, by Word Style Sheets.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Password generator: site specific passwords

Password generator
This is bloody brilliant. Talk about a modest guy -- Nic doesn't put much on this plain page -- except a JavaScript tool that
will concatenate two fields and MD5 them. The idea is that you choose one master password to secure all your others, and then generate passwords for each site, server, router, &c. by putting a completely obvious name for that resource in the "Site name" field.

It doesn't work with IE, but IE's unsafe on the public net anyways. I love his comment on IE "... too long for Internet Explorer which I believe to have been written by trained otters" A harsh slur on otters though.

macosxhints - Use wildcards to build iPhoto smart albums

macosxhints - Use wildcards to build iPhoto smart albums

? and * are wild cards in smart albums
[] are escape characters to search on wildcards

macosxhints - Keyword Assistant -- iPhoto keywords made easy!

macosxhints - Keyword Assistant -- iPhoto keywords made easy!

If htis works, it will be tremendous. I'll test and update here.

NASA's earth observatory image collection: for when your desktop needs a makeover

EO Newsroom: New Images Index

macosxhints - Paste multiple bookmarks into Safari

macosxhints - Paste multiple bookmarks into Safari

If you paste a text block containing URLs into a Safari bookmark folder, it will create separate bookmarks for each url.

macosxhints - Queue songs into iTunes' Party Shuffle from the Library

macosxhints - Queue songs into iTunes' Party Shuffle from the Library: " If you are playing songs using iTunes' new Party Shuffle playlist, just control-click any song in your iTunes library and select 'Play Next in Party Shuffle'. The song will appear in Party Shuffle next to the song currently playing."

macosxhints - Delete photos from an iPhoto album and library

macosxhints - Delete photos from an iPhoto album and library: "If you want to remove a photo from a specific album and from the entire library at the same time, all you have to to is:

1. Select the photo
2. Hold down Command and Option, then press Delete."

Apple - Mac OS X - Supported Devices - Hardware Compatibility List

Apple - Mac OS X - Upgrade - Digital Devices

This page referencing supported devices with OS X is surprisingly hard (for me) to find.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Firewire 800 vs. 400 speeds: not as large a difference as one might expect

250GB FireWire 800 Drives
The test that showed the greatest difference between FireWire 800 and FireWire 400 involved simultaneously reading and writing a large file to the same drive, which is what happens during file duplication. When duplicating a 1GB file, the FireWire 800 drives completed the task 38 percent faster than the FireWire 400 drive. When duplicating a folder filled with 1GB of files and subfolders, the FireWire 800 drives were 23 percent faster. When copying a file from the internal boot drive to the external FireWire drive, the FireWire 800 drives were 30 percent faster than the FireWire 400 drive. Other tests didn't show as much of a difference. The FireWire 800 drives copied a 1GB folder of files to the internal boot drive 17 percent faster than the FireWire 400 drive. Backing up the same 1GB folder from the internal drive to the FireWire 800 drives with Retrospect was a bit more than 9 percent faster than with a FireWire 400 drive.

For what I'd be doing it looks like an external Oxford bridged Firewire 800 device is really not significantly faster than Firewire 400 device -- even on Mac with Firewire 800 support.

OWC Mercury Elite Pro Firewire 400 + USB 2.0 Combo Kit - FAILS!

Other World Computing- Item Info

[5/05: see also this later discussion.]

Now this might be a contender. OWC is a longstanding Mac vendor with a good reputation. This enclosure has an Oxford 911 chipset -- known to be problematic but at least familiar. They don't bundle Intech but they mention it. The price seems right at $90. It's fanless but they mention heat (at least!) and it has obvious cooling holes. They claim support up to 500 GB (meaning hot drives).

It's one of the few Firewire 400 enclosures sold these days -- so no need to buy a Firewire 400/800 cable or adapter. Includes firewire cable. Also, I have a genuine Apple cable floating around unused.

OWC provides a web page for downloading an Oxford updater.

The assembly directions show real metal in contact with the drive -- so there's HOPE that it won't cook the Maxtor.

All good signs. I'll research further.

Update: I've ordered this drive. They provided an OEM version of the Intech software for $10 (no lifetime updates of course) so I bit on that too. Also a clearance special on a 2.5 drive case, open box, USB only -- for $9. Shipping was $5 for next-day UPS. If this works OWC has made a big fan!

Update: Were I to do this all over again, I'd probably buy a LaCie drive/enclosure unit together. That said, I'm pretty happy so far with OWC. This is not a big operation -- the return address on the plain box had a person's name on the label - presumably the owner, shipper, assembler, etc. The case box was plain white, and completely bare of ANY directions, warrantee, etc. I presume this was a packing error as the web site has quite good assembly directions. In any event this isn't rocket science, Everything was in the box, including extra screws.

Assembly was much more intricate and solid that the CompUSA drive-destructo unit I used last time. Ventilation is interesting and a bit more complex than I'd imagined, it looks like there are a series of plastic baffles to keep dust out. In this case the drive sound is audible in a quiet room. This is a feature -- it means the drive is not completely sealed from the world. The drive/case never gets more than mildly warm. Wow.

With the cheapo cruddy enclosure my large file copy test failed and locked up the system. With this enclosure/bridge set the test completed very quickly and without error. The cheapo enclosure's Prolific PL3507 bridge, and//or the extreme heat, caused delayed and incomplete eject/dismounts. This time the drive promptly dismounted and spun down instantly.

The case is rugged, attractive and very stable with solid and protective bumper/drive stands. It has a slighly eerie bluish glow from the front diode -- an effect wasted on old guys like me.

I'm a happy customer -- even if there weren't any instructions in the box!

Update: This once this looked like a good solution, but it failed the mount, dismount and sleep tests.

In contrast, the LaCie 160GB firewire drive passed all the tests. LaCie does NOT use an Oxford chipset. I think the Oxford chipset does not work properly on many Macs.

Given OWC's 15% restocking fee and the hassles of shipping, I may just use this enclosure with my desktop XP machine. I'm going to buy a LaCie 160GB for my iBook.

Lessons for Firewire and the Mac:
1. It's very problematic -- due to chipset/software issues.
2. Avoid Oxford and avoid Prolific chipsets.
3. Buy an integrated drive/enclosures, don't try to get a random drive to work even with a non-Oxford, non-Prolific chipset.
Update 5/14/05:

The saga continues, now with a new twist. I use removable Vantec drive bay catridges containing 3.5" hard drives for our home LAN backup. I rotate on cartridge off-site. I've been using 80GB Western Digital WD800 ATA drives, but they're no longer large enough. I bought 200 GB Seagate Barracuda drives as replacements. Alas, they didn't work in the Vantec cartridges though they work well in a regular drive bay.

Then I put the 200 GB Barracuda in the OWC Elite Firewire/USB kit. It worked fine. Then I tried the "sleep test". It passed! So ... the scorecard looks like this:
  • OWC firewire enclosure + Maxtor DiamondPlus 9 200 GB: works, but if laptop sleeps drive dismounts (rudely)
  • Vantec enclosure + Seagate Barracuda 200GB: doesn't work at all
  • OWC firewire enclosure + Seagate Barracuda 200GB: works and sleeps
  • Vantec enclosure + Western Digital WD800 80GB: works

Intech SpeedTools Utilites for MacOS X - Problems with Firewire!

Intech Software Online:Product Info:SpeedTools Utilites

After my firewire debacle (see prior posts) I have a renewed interest in this sort of product. This does a lot of different things, including allowing one to create huge FAT32 drives from OS X.

It's not cheap at $90, but it may be bundled with some drives.

It includes the very interesting SpeedTools Device Tuner (for Oxford chipset bridged firewire enclosures)
DeviceTuner was initially created to solve the problems of a particular FireWire device’s ability to transfer data reliably over a FireWire bus. Being unable to copy files to or from a FireWire hard disk, for example, is a common symptom of a larger problem: less than optimal signal quality on the FireWire bus. This can be caused by a myriad of factors, but regardless of why it happens, DeviceTuner can likely help.

FireWire troubleshooting education can quickly become quite complex. Therefore, if you have interest in the "nuts and bolts" of how this product works, Intech strongly recommends that you download the Device Tuner User's guide from the link near the bottom of this page.


Controls FireWire payload sizes on an individual or global basis
FireWire "Safe Mode" for maximum compatibility

Data is exchanged between FireWire devices in discrete packets of various size. Currently, these packet sizes (called payload) can vary from as little as 4 bytes to as much as 4096 bytes. Most FireWire devices default to anywhere between 1024 to 4096 bytes per packet to achieve maximum speed. This works well for most devices connected to Macintosh computers. However, as more devices get added to a FireWire bus, signal quality can degrade below the threshold that will allow larger data packets to transfer reliably. Furthermore, older Macs (like first generation PCI Power Macs) using older PCI FireWIre host adapters seem to also frequently have marginal signal quality which result in data transfer errors with larger packets.

In situations like these, DeviceTuner can make the difference between data transfer errors and perfect data transfer. Device Tuner allows you to restrict the maximum size of a data packet that a given supported device will use. It works by overriding the payload sizes negotiated between the MacOS and the device. Unfortunately, this tactic does not work with all devices, especially early FireWire disk drives. Note: Be aware that there is always a tradeoff: the lower the packet size, the slower the maximum speed, and visa versa. In a very real sense, Device Tuner does NOT solve the bus's underlying signal quality degradation problem. It just allows you to reduce a device’s FireWire bus payload by reducing packet sizes below the levels which manifest data transfer problems.

This reminds me all too much of my ancient PowerBook 165 SCSI bus experiences. Sigh. One needs the very best cables -- all from one vendor. The very best devices. The very best patience ...

Lessons from the abortive OS X external firewire enclosure debacle

Quick Notes Blog: September 2004

So, what did I learn? Or, in the first two instances, learn again?

1. Don't confuse cost of purchase with cost of ownership.

The $50 enclosure was about $100 too expensive -- and that's only because the probems showed up immediately. In other words, if they paid me $50 to take it it would still be too expensive.

2. Pay in proportion to importance.

The main utility of an external Firewire device would be to hold all my images -- which have swamped my 15GB internal iBook drive. Those images are very valuable. Even with the redundant backup methods I use (optical, off-site, on-site) I shouldn't have risked them with a low-end primary storage device.

3. Firewire is a problem.

Firewire is primarily a Mac solution. It's been around for over five years. There have been problems with every release of OS X. There have never been consumer oriented true firewire devices -- only ATA devices with 1394 bridges. There have been several cycles of firmware updates.

After a while, one should catch on that there's something wrong with this picture -- especially when implemented on a laptop. Maybe Firewire is just not suited to the consumer marketplace. Maybe USB 2 really is the better solution (too bad my iBook is USB 1!).

End of the Line for my cheapo CompUSA OS X drive enclosure: Prolific PL3507 Combo Firewire Device

julian/blog � Prolific PL3507 Firewire Device

I bought a cheapo $50 usb/firewire enclosure at CompUSA, stuck in a very cheap Maxtor 200GB drive and started having problems.

I couldn't identify the chipset on my Mac, but XP did well with the properties tab on the drive manager utility. It's a
Prolific PL3507 Combo Device (1394-ATAPI rev1.10) IEEE 1394 SBP2 Device
The Taiwanese vendor site has been rumored to have firmware updates in the past, but as of today there are none listed.

Searching the net I found several similar loooking enclosures sold under different names, typically from $50-$80.

Other web searches found bad news on every front with both the Maxtor drive and this chipset. The Maxtors don't seem to work that well in Firewire enclosures, and this ATA-Firewire bridge chipset is notoriously problematic under every possible OS. So the enclosure is going back to CompUSA.

When I pulled the drive from the enclosure, the enclosure felt cool to the touch. The drive, however, was too hot to hold. It even smelled slighly burnt. Although the enclosure has an aluminum exterior, the innards are plastic. There is no conductive channel between the drive and the enclosure. The extereme heat alone may have caused the problems I was seeing. I suspect the drive would have died within a few weeks.

Firewire is clearly problematic. I wonder if the technology is fundamentally flawed -- Apple has had problems with these drives under OS X since day one. Maybe that's why the new iMac only supports Firewire 400 and not Firewire 800. Perhaps Apple is resigned to switching to USB 2 or a future alternative.

PS. After scanning the Macintouch Firewire report I'm thinking I don't want to attach anything but the most costly and exotic blessed firewire device with cables from heaven to my lowly iBook.

The firewire bug website for OS X

Original Firewire Bug
So how do I figure out which chipset is IN my cheapo firewire case? Hmm.

Firewire Direct 3.5 inch drive enclosure

Ultra III 800 FireWire 800 USB 2.0 hard drives and enclosures for DV, Digital Audio, Digital Video & Graphic Pros

They bundle MacDrive.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Orange Micro FireWire 800/USB 2.0 Hard Drive Enclosure

FireWire 800/USB 2.0 Hard Drive Enclosure

I've bought from them before and they provide firmware updates. The drive probably requires a Firewire 400/800 adapter to use with a Firewire 400 device.

Firewire vs. USB power supply

Review: WiebeTech FireWire DriveDock and Super DriveDock: " USB's power rail is good for a flyweight half an amp at five volts - 2.5 watts. This pretty closely matches the needs of laptop hard drives; they all run from five volts natively, which is why they can work in single-wire external USB enclosures. But it's no good at all for running more demanding devices.

Full-spec FireWire can deliver serious voltage and hefty current. All the way to 40 volts at 1.5 amps, from the original spec. That's 60 watts, baby, and even after losses in DC-to-DC conversion to the 12 and 5 volt supplies that desktop drives use, it ought to be plenty to run two or three full sized drives. 3.5 inch hard drives, CD or DVD readers or writers; no problem."

Sharing a drive between Mac and PC. Sigh.

File Systems Overview
In theory, FAT32 volumes can be about 8 terabytes; however, the maximum FAT32 volume size that Windows XP Professional can format is 32 GB. Therefore, you must use NTFS to format volumes larger than 32 GB. However, Windows XP Professional can read and write to larger FAT32 volumes formatted by other operating systems.

I bought a 200 GB Maxtor for $100 and a firewire/usb enclose for $50. Handy way to move data around, extend my iBook, etc. (Enclosure is crummy, I'll buy a better one later.)

I figured I'd format the beast as FAT32, which both XP and Mac can read and write, and store my Mac data on OS X disk images (which I love).

Except XP/2K can't format FAT32 beyond a measly 32GB.

And OS X can't write to NTFS formatted drives. There's a way to create large FAT32 formatted drives using OS X, but there's a further limitation. FAT32 formatted drives are limited to 4GB files -- so a large image won't work.

Microsoft is really pushing to move to NTFS. Great file system, but it's totally closed. Hmm. Coincidence?

I wonder if XP can read NFS formatted drives?

iMac details: it's sounding more and more interesting ...

Joswiak: 'True to What an iMac Has Always Been About'
Q: How do you remove the back?

There are three screws, and they're captured so they don't come out at all, so you don't need to worry 'Oh my God, where did that screw go?' Loosen the screws, and the back will simply come off, downward first, and the back is off -- you now have full access to the machine. AirPort is easy to add. The antenna are embedded in the computer, so all you have to do is get your AirPort card, plug it in, push the antenna jack in, and you're off and running. You can put up to 2GB of RAM inside, with standard 400MHz DDR memory.

Q: What about the rest of the machine's insides?

The power supply isn't a brick left out on the floor, it's all integrated inside. It's really amazing, because this is the most compact design we've ever done for an iMac, yet it's the most accessible. It's very easy to service this, which is why you see tabs, because it's easy enough for a service person or even a customer to self-service on this product. There are even four indicator lights on the motherboard that an Apple Care person will tell you to look at the lights, and depending on what's lit up, can tell you the state of different sub-systems.

Q: Anything special about the ports?

You have standard analog audio out, but it's also one of the combo jacks like we have on the AirPort Express that allows you to do digital out as well, so you can do 5.1 surround sound, for example, from DVD Player.

The best article on the new iMac so far. I like the power brick being internal -- the main cord is a standard plug.

The strangest omissions are no GB ethernet (would have cost very little) and having to build-to-order for Bluetooth and pay $50 extra. Bluetooth is integral to its elegant design and minimal cords. This is so odd I have to figure it was a desperate attempt to hit a price point. Bluetooth added after purchase is external only!

The 400 MB/sec rather than 800 MB/sec firewire may be related to technical issues. It does include USB 2.0. This doesn't give one a warm feeling about the future of firewire.

It's easy to add an Airport card, so that needn't be an initial purchase.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Most interesting feature of the iMac: it's user serviceable

iMac G5 parts you can install yourself

The Apple Product Cycle

The Apple Product Cycle

This is almost a parody, except it's spot-on accurate. Apple, flaws and all, occupies a unique place in geek culture.

Canon PIXMA iP5000, iP6000D and iP85000 photo printers

Canon Australia - Canon launches high-end PIXMA printers

I was ready to buy the Canon i960 printer after my crummy HP 882c cartridge finally died. I've been ready to trash that beast for months, but I needed to run the cartridge down.

Then I realized the i960 is a year old, and the price is falling daily. It's about $150 on Amazon now.

Sure enough, a set of even better printers is coming out. Canon is having a smashing year.

I need the iP5000. But do I need the iP6000D? I expect the iP5000 will be $250 in the US. They've announced it in Europe and Australia, but I can't believe they'll miss the US Christmas market. It's not available until October where it's been announced, which makes me wonder about availability.

Friday, September 03, 2004 News - Health - Spiceless Atkins diet 'bores you thinner' News - Health - Spiceless Atkins diet 'bores you thinner'
Weight loss is not due to metabolic changes or persistent satiety but rather due to dull food.

Maybe, but they're missing what my friend Jim Horn noted -- it's far more work to prepare Atkin's compliant food than carbohydrate food, and it requires refrigeration so it's less snackable.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

SONY 802.11 card in iBook - how to

Use Sony Vaio WIFI card in iBook !

How to revert from OS X 10.3.5 to 10.3.4

Archive and Install Mac OS X 10.3, then update to Mac OS X 10.3.4
One needs room to do the archive and install of course.

Apple KB: Matching Mac OS ROM File To Mac OS Version

Mac OS: Matching Mac OS ROM File To Mac OS Version: "Matching Mac OS ROM File To Mac OS Version"

Will this 803.11g card work in an iBook? | Wireless Card PCWA-C300S
Apparently some older SONY 802.11b cards may work in Macs. I'm sure we'll find out if this 802.11g card works in iBooks.

iMac G5 may not be a good video editing option

MacInTouch Home Page
The new iMac's 7200-RPM serial ATA drive should provide very good disk performance, but demanding audio and video tasks normally need multiple drives, and the iMac G5 offers only FireWire 400 for that application... and it's problematic to use FireWire drives simultaneously with audio/video transfers.

This will be something to watch.