Friday, October 29, 2004

Subdomain, parked domain and add-on domain's HelpDesk - Powered by v2.0.1

Network Solutions Advanced DNS Manager

Network Solutions Advanced DNS Manager

This took a Google search to find. Network Solutions web site is pretty bad.

The traditional approach to moving a domain to a new provider is:

1. Give new provider domain name
1. go to network solutions (for example)
2. change where DNS server address from old provider to new provider.

The alternative approach is documented on this page. In this case Network Solutions takes over the DNS functions and one tells Network Solutions which machine to point to.

It feels like it comes down to who one trusts more, and to whom should one give power over a domain.

US National Security Agency Systems and Network Attack Center (SNAC) has released its 100-page Security Configuration Guide for Mac OS X 10.3.x.

"Opener" Malware: "While we're talking about security, it might be worth noting that the US National Security Agency Systems and Network Attack Center (SNAC) has released its 100-page Security Configuration Guide for Mac OS X 10.3.x.

While some of the NSA's recommendations are understandably more restrictive than are required in most settings, overall, the guide represents an excellent collection of security practices, while applying tools and techniques specific to Mac OS X.

The guide is available here: applemac/osx_client_final_v.1.pdf"

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Nice review of OS X backup solutions - Articles - Backing Up Your MacThe author liked Sync, a shareware app. He specifically excluded Retrospect (which I use). Sync sounds like it might be good for a redundant backup solution.

I do daily full backups with offsite rotation every few weeks, but I also do alternative drive imaging every month or so. I'm a bit paranoid about backups. In the last 15 years backups have saved my skin at least six times, including at least 3 complete system failures. Not to mention numerous restores of several files saving hours of work.

Now if I could only create a good and affordable offsite continuous incremental network backup solutions ... I'm hoping Google will help one day ...

Keyhole: will Google do an OS X client?


Keyhole was recently acquired by Google. They're a marvelous fee-based imaging service -- but they require Windows clients. If Google opens up their services I wonder if other clients will appear?

WiebeTech white papers -- firewire 800

WiebeTech Micro Storage Solutions - MEDIA

Some pretty good white papers from WiebeTech, including a 10/04 document outlining why FW 800 won't go anywhere. The author predicts FW 400 will continue for the next 2-3 years, but it will be replaced by SATA II connectors. FW 800 will fade away within a year.

He claims FW 800 is a much better spec than FW 400, but it failed to acheive critical mass -- in part because the original claims were overblown and in part because of disastrous problems with an OS X release.

He doesn't discuss my experiences -- many firewire peripherals are plagued by sleep/wake problems with some versions of OS X and some Apple hardware.

Interestingly he says FW 400 ports are very vulnerable to being shorted. It's apparently a basic design flaw. Seems related to power-up drains -- from now on I'll power-up my drive before I connect it to my iBook.

AMD launches Personal Internet Communicator - $185 for the world

Geekzone, mobile forums

A sealed WinCE PC with XP extensions. Ships with browser, spreadsheet. Sealed, fanless, robust. $185 price point. apps - I like Foxylicious

Dell aphorisms IDC: Handheld Market Declines 3rd Consecutive Quarter

I think Dell makes fairly lousy products that cost too much. Their web services are poor and their customer support worse.

Dell is worth billions, I'm worth .... ummm.

Anyway, here's a list of (somewhat repetitive) alleged Dell aphorisms, taken from comments to the above story. Keep in mind that these may be more what the Dell company "says" than what it "does". Emphases mine.
Between 1984-87, Michael Dell managed to take his company from a $1,000 hobby to a $160 million business. In 1999, it was worth $18 billion and had experienced a 36,000 percent growth. Dell is a 'Good to Great' company. Michael Dell exhibits the type of leadership that a 'Good to Great' company should have.

Dell's Big Picture:
1. Build a business on what people want instead of what you think they want:
A. Listen to the customer.
B. Respond to the customer.
C. Deliver what they want.
2. Success is a matter of learning and identifying core strengths.
3. Every new growth opportunity has a level of risk.
4. Try to identify potential problems early and fix them.
5. Pace investment to match progress.
6. If there is a way to get something done more quickly and easily, try it.
7. Eliminate the middle man.
8. Opportunity is part immersion and part instinct.

Dell's Competitive Strategies:
1. Faster speed to market.
2. Superior customer service.
3. Commitment to produce high quality and high performance product.
4. Rapid entry to the internet. The PC was going to be the business choice for the future.
5. Surround yourself with smart advisors. If you hire good people they will bring other good people to the organization.
6. Dell's Two Golden Rules:
A. Disdain inventory.
B. Always listen to the customer.
7. Always sell direct.
8. Build your infrastructure as you grow. Slow and steady growth with a focus on liquidity.
9. Communication is the most important tool in recovering from mistakes.
10. Interject functional excellence and maintain accountability.
11. Segment by customer. Segmentation offers the solution to rapid growth.
12. Maximize strengths to improve profit.
13. The quality of information is proportional to the amount inventory. Focus on getting quality information and decreasing inventory.
14. Information Technology must reduce obstacles to the origin and flow of information.
15. Achieve velocity by selecting the minimum number of parts that will cover the largest portion of the market sector.

Dell's view on company culture:
1. Mobilize around a common goal.
2. Invest in long term goals
3. Don't leave the talent search to human resources.
4. Cultivate commitment to personal growth.
5. Get involved.

Dell's list of Don'ts:
1. Don't be satisfied.
2. Don't waste precious resources.
3. Don't play hard to get.
4. Marry high tech and high touch.
5. Don't forget that customers have different fears, questions, and sensitivities.

Dell's beliefs about the customer:
1. See the big picture.
2. Run with suggestions from the customer.
3. Always think bottom line (find ways to help the customer cut costs).
4. Make yourself valuable to the customer.
5. Be a student.

Dell's guidelines for communication:
1. Don't underestimate the value of information.
2. Communicate directly with the customer.
3. Work toward increasing demand verses supply.
4. Think real time.
5. R&D must deliver value-added stuff for the customer.
6. Get online and learn from the customer.
7. Focus on the customer and not the competition.

Desktop Flickr client for OS X

Kula: 1001

I'll report back on how well this works!

Opener worm for OS X

McAfee Inc.

The first significant OS X security threat found in the wild. It's not yet clear how it spreads. I should probably stop running OS X as admin and switch to running as a regular user.

Macintouch suggests some fixes. I'm waiting a few days on implementing those.

Update: One of the preventive measures for this class of worm is to change the privileges on library/StartupItems. I'm waiting for word from Apple on that one. The other measure is not to run as admin. That means if something tries to install, you get a pw request. I set up a new admin account and made my regular account non-admin. My new admin account has a very short username, so it's fast to type it when authenticating.

I have to authenticate to delete or install apps, but it only takes a minute. OS X Panther works very well this way, much smoother than Jaguar. I did notice some operations seem slower, but that might be my imagination.

Broadcast audio via OS X over the net

Rogue Amoeba - Nicecast for Mac OS X - FAQ

Combined with a Griffin iMike this might be a very nice way to broadcast meeting audio -- without the cost of most solutions.

Delicious Library: bar code your llife

Delicious Library

Shades of the RFID world to come -- when one knows a great deal about things in the physical world (RFID tags on mountains?). Years ago I wondered about bar coding journal articles, so I would look up the information online rather than enter it into my article database.

This app takes that idea MUCH further. They use the bar codes already on books and objects as a unique identifier to join the physical item to online data. Of course, as with CD track databases, consumers will build the data as they scan. You can use an iSight camera or a USB scanner to read the bar codes.

Very, very interesting.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Jumsoft: OS X outliner and project management software


It's only version 1.0. But it sounds interesting. There's almost too much software like this for OS X -- interesting, innovative, and risky. Risky because a lot of intellectual work can end up locked down in an unsupported file format. My main question about Process will be around the file format.

LaunchBar interview -- a great piece of OS X software From NEXTSTEP to Now: An Interview with LaunchBar's Norbert Heger

I adore LaunchBar. I really miss it when I suffer with my XP machines. It wasn't until I read this article, however, that I realized it's supposed to index my folder names. I'd never bothered to use it beyond its basic program launcher capabilities.

Turns out it was indexing my folder names -- but the data was lost in the noise of indexed address book entries, bookmarks, file names, etc. Fortunately I've had lots of experience with indexing software over the last few months (mostly on XP -- Lookout and several others). From that experience I've learned:

1. Full text indexing of email works great. In fact, the easiest way to locate a file on my work machine is to find it as an attachment, identify the file name, and then find the current version in my file system. Why does email indexing work better than full text indexing of the file system? In a word ... metadata. Email has tons of metadata -- people's names, all kinds of dates, surrounding text, subject lines, file names, etc. Way better than any currently popular file system, and all "free".

2. Full text indexing of the file system isn't as useful as I'd have thought. Too much noise.

3. Full text indexing of folder names is VERY useful -- especially as one learns to create descriptive folder names. They provide a sort of enclosing metadata. (Yes, categories as in gmail work as well or better, but folder names are what one gets nowadays.)

4. I don't use bookmarks very much. I use them for a few frequent things, otherwise I search Google and/or my blogs. (I want a searchbar that integrates google search with searching my blogs and bloglines subscriptions.)

So I applied that knowledge to launchbar:

1. index all application names
2. index names of folders
3. ignore most everything else.

What do you know ... it's twice as useful as it was! Just by doing less -- and more.

LaunchBar's configuration UI, btw, could use a bit of work.

O'Reilly Mac OS X Innovators Contest 2004

O'Reilly Mac OS X Innovators Contest

One of the reasons I went to OS X was the promise of innovation. That promise has been realized. There's an amazing amount of interesting software for OS X. O'Reilly has done a great job with this series of articles and with this year's winners.

Update: Maybe not as great a job as I'd thought. One of the winners is called "Process". It's a simple project/task manager with outliner features. It's supposed to allow one to link to "sources" (documents). Problem is, the link is a unix path -- not a Mac file reference. So if you move the source file, you break the link. This won a prize?!! Give me a break.

Role playing games and robotic simulants -- the future of games and the evolution of mind

Fantasy Economics - Why economists are obsessed with online role-playing games. By Robert Shapiro

I was discussing this topic with a colleague today. He mentioned how one company used "sweatshop" low wage Mexican game players to outsource the tedious work of building initial assets in many role playing games.

That led me to the next logical step -- robotic players. I was inspired by an old science fiction satire about a world in which the costs of production had fallen so far that consumption became a duty rather than a privilege. Only the rich could afford to live without constantly consuming goods. The protagonist breaks the viscious cycle by building robots to consume things. Ok, so it's not the same thing at all -- but that's how my brain works.

I don't mean simulated players within the game -- the game wouldn't allow that. No, simulated players outside the game. They don't have to strike keys, but they need to generate keystroke and mouse motion signals. They don't have to read the screen, but they need to be able to "interpret" the digital stream representing onscreen objects.

Observed within a game the avatar for such a simulated player might seem clumsy ... even a bit "mindless'. Or they might seem oddly smooth but "stupid". They would, however, react with lightning speed to certain stimuli. They could kill game-rabits and the like very well. They'd never advance far in the game, but they could earn a lot of low level script.

And there could be a lot of them. Thousands. Millions.

Just like robots in the real world. Or just like frogs.

Of course the game masters might come up with tricks to detect robots. mini-Turing tests that would a robot would fail. So the robots would get smarter. One human might manage a hundred robots, constantly on call to solve Turing tests the robots could identify but not resolve. The robots might be supplemented by rats responding to a rat-VR version of the game. Eventually rat tissue plated out in growth chambers would play a role.

And so it goes.

Eventually the robots/simulants become a part of the game. Other simulants compete with them. Some get their own tv shows.

And do it goes.

Status.Blogger.Com -- not great status!


This page is available even when, as happens too often, blogger and blogspot are unreachable. This page shows some significant outages over the past few weeks, and it certainly does not capture all the issues I've seen.

Blogger is going through a rough patch -- the worst I've seen since the google acquisition. Do they need to put a moratorium on new blogs until they get a handle on these issues?

Tuesday, October 26, 2004 best way to find watches

Watches - Find, Compare, and Buy at

This is impressive. I found it via a blog I read. They've built a very rich data model for common objects, such as watches. Given this extensive range of attributes there are many, many ways to filter thousands of items to find the handful one wants. Building this must have taken a great deal of work, though some was done by parsing text descriptions.

This needs some evaluation. For buying watches there's no beating it. (There are THOUSANDS of wrist watches out there.)

PC Hell: Spyware and Adware Removal Help

PC Hell: Spyware and Adware Removal Help

Defined Contribution / Medical Savings Accounts (

Selection Time (
Before you commit, it's a good idea to read through the list of frequently asked questions ( posted by the federal Office of Personnel Management. Even if you work in the private sector or are shopping for an individual policy, the questions should prepare you for a talk with your agent or your employer's benefits staff. This is especially important for individual policy buyers, since they'll likely be dealing with salesmen who may biased toward their own product.

Here are some reasons you may find an HSA tempting:

• You own the money in the account even if you retire or change plans or employers.

• Tax-free withdrawals may be made for expenses such as prescription drugs, a doctor visit for a sinus infection, setting a broken arm and physical therapy prescribed by a doctor. (See the IRS list at

• Unused funds and any interest they've earned can be carried over, without limit, from year to year. (You can even spend set-asides on nonmedical expenses. But do that before age 65, and you'll pay income tax on the funds used plus a 10 percent penalty.)

In the original model there wasn't a big gap between the cash portion and the indemnity portion. These incarnations with large gaps are much more suspect. They penalize illness too severely.

The article misses the most important question. Does the plan have an associated PPO with negotiated cash rates? If consumers pay "retail" fees for medical costs they'll blow through their cash portion in no time. Cash rates have been artificially inflated by the discounts demanded by payors.

Blogger and Blogspot -- slow and slower

Blogger: Create your Blog Now -- FREE

I think both Blogger and Blogspot are succumbing to their popularity. Performance is degrading at a fairly steady pace.

Monday, October 25, 2004

PhotoBooth: Select iPhoto images and crop as needed for transient printing

Stunt Software - PhotoBooth

I need this software! Too bad it's going to cost me $20, but it's not like there's much competition. I'd hoped Portraits and Prints would do this -- but they missed the boat. (Too bad, it would have been an easy add for them).

Lets one browse the iPhoto library, choose images to print, then crop as needed for printing.

Update 1/05: Portraits & Prints apparently does something similar, but as of 10/04 they didn't ship wtih the right template. I'll have to check back and see if they've bundled the template.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Hosting things to watch out for!

Top 10 Web Hosting Reviews: Personal and Business
Call your webhost, simply having only a email address is a sign of a fly-by-night operation.

Nice list of things to watch out for! doesn't provide phone access. Hmmm.

Here's the full list (nice site -
In order to help you avoid getting scammed by the unscrupulous hosts that do exist, we have tried to put together the 'tricks' used by such companies to try to grad your cash:

Unlimited bandwidth or Unlimited Webspace - it is simply impossible for a company to offer unlimited bandwidth, unlimited webspace or both. The economics do not add up to any sort of profitable business. The scammers ar trying it. As hosting companies and their associated technologies are themselves limited (i.e. bandwidth or hard disk space), unlimited offerings are a marketing ploy. Often you will find clauses embedded deep within the company's terms of service contract that negate the unlimited offering.

No Contact (telephone, email, etc.) - some hosts simply make it impossible to contact them by any means possible. Call your webhost, simply having only a email address is a sign of a fly-by-night operation.

Long term contracts only - while cheaper plans may warrant an annual only plan, some hosts provide annual service exclusively. There is no guarantee that even though you have paid them for 12 months that you will get 12 months of service. Please avoid long term contracts greater than 12 months of service.

Domain Name Registration in the webhost's Name - some hosts offer to register your domain for you, legally register the domain in their own name! Therefore, if you try moving off, you will lose the domain because it was done in their name. This is a scam that we hope is quickly going away, but watch out for it.

No Money Back Guarantee - every respectable host offers a money back guarantee (30 day minimum)

Complicated uptime Warranty - some hosts hide behind their Terms of Service with complicated uptime guarantees such as the customer must report the downtime.

Webhosting -- this is a killer business

Top 10 Web Hosting Reviews: Personal and Business

I can't recall ever finding out so much information so quickly. Armed with two data points I'm sorting this out very quickly. Two of my early choices are in the top 4 on this site.

Startlogic (this is a sister site to iPowerWeb run by the same people, I'm downrating them for doing this)

I'll check out a few more reviews and decide who I like. I'll look mostly at the clarity of the support site, quality of the documentation and FAQs, and read some more reviews. At this level features don't matter so much to me -- except I like the LunarPages WAR hosting. Overlal LunarPages is pulling ahead.

Looking for a new hosting service

I'm looking for a new hosting service. I've used softcomca ( for years, but their prices are high for what they offer and I always have problems with their FP extensions being enabled on my site -- I don't want those darned extensions!!

Some alternatives


Both of these offer vastly more than my site. Lunarpages allows one to install WAR files (ie. Blogject, Zope, etc)!

Searching on these two companies (a very sneaky technique -- if you ever want to find good reviews about a service or product, search on both the product and a competitor -- eliminates 99% of the junk and almost all ads) found this comment:

"LunarPages, DreamHost, iPowerWeb, and AvaHost"

So LunarPages and DreamHost are very well ranked, as are iPowerWeb and AvaHost.

Now when I search on the above I also see some interesting Google AdWords listings.

This doesn't look hard at all.

Update: I ended up with Lunarpages. I paid for a year in advance, but they have a 30 day MBG. They had the best description of their overall services and they were the only site to mention spam filtering options for email.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Site Studio: FrontPage LITE for OS X

Site Studio

Now this is innovative. It's a cross between a simple content management system and something like FrontPage. The application uses a variety of templates and forms to design an "web site". The site is a single XML document (looks like an OS X plist document). It can reference images and files. You click a button to generate HTML locally or to upload the HTML.

It could be used easily by schoolchildren or non-techies. There's a limited WYSIWYG editor for some web page work.

It reminds me a bit of all the creative site creation tools that came out on PCs in the 1990s. Most went away. A few mutated to become very high end tools, and FrontPage just mutated (period). This shareware tool harkens back to a lost era.

I'm not quite sure how I can use it, but I'll play with it for a while. Maybe I'll figure out a use. I don't think there's any way to use to import an existing web site.

Find a word based on a description of the underlying concept

OneLook Reverse Dictionary As we boomers age, we need to incorporate this thing into our cell phones.

jux2: Google is not what as good as it used to be

jux2 Search for special education faughnan
Google has problems. JUX2 is a metasearch tool with a novel feature -- it shows what Google misses. Turns out, Google misses a LOT. In particular it's not indexing Blogger's blogspot very well.

I think there's a problem with Google.

Google's advanced search operators

Google Guide: Using Search Operators (Advanced Operators)

Review: iPod battery replacement, iPod repair services

Wired News: Pumping Up the Power of the IPod

A Wired Magazine report on iPod battery replacement for 1 & 2 G iPods. They also mention some repair services. Apparently the firewire connection in 1/2G iPods was badly designed and fails after > 1 year (out of warranty) of use. The repair is difficult. Interestingly one of my 3 replacement 3G iPods from Apple (AppleCare) had a bad firewire port -- you could charge it but not sync it.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

VNC over SSH for OS X

macosxhints - Use an office Mac from a home Mac
Maybe I'm missing something, but this seems overly complex if you have ssh access to the gateway host, and just want to connect with VNC to an internal host.

Why not just use ssh port forwarding?

ssh -L 5901: workfw

Then, just connect your vnc client to localhost/ port 5901, and it will go through the ssh tunnel to the internal host (

Sigh. I need to play with this. I still don't quite get it.

OS X and using CUPS drivers with a print server

macosxhints - Print to a Brother HL-1430 via a Linksys print server
Primary tip is about a specific model of printer, but methods are generalizeable.

Tracking space usage on an OS X drive

macosxhints - Another means of getting a disk usage summary
In addition to the script method, the comments reference other solutions. I'll use at least one of them.

The Google Browser

The New York Times > Technology > Google Envy Is Fomenting Search Wars
'If you drive by the Google buildings in the evening,' said a person who has detailed knowledge of the company's business, 'the lights that are still on are the ones on the floor where they are working on the browser.'

They deny it of course, but Google is doing a browser. I'm interested in the P2P VOIP and distributed backup parts of their browser. Too bad it will be Windows only.

Alternatives to Google indexing

The New York Times > Technology > Circuits > State of the Art: Google Takes On Your Desktop
There's more power and flexibility to be had in programs like Blinkx (, free), Lycos Hotbot Desktop (, free), Enfish (, $50 and $200) and DT Search (, $200).

This is odd. I've tried several similar programs, such as FileHand and X1. I've never heard of these despite searching for them. This is a search failure! (I do use Lookout VERY heavily -- it's my right hand these days.)

OS X Hidden Files: what they do (the "." dot files) - Articles - Trash or Treasure: Hidden Files Exposed

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Mac OS X has built-in drive cloning capabilities

Backup your Mac - KerimWiki
Duplicate your Drive

To make a full backup to an external HD, follow these steps:

1. Select the external drive in the Finder and choose "get info" from the file menu. You will see an option to "ignore ownership on this volume." Make sure that this is NOT checked. If this is option is checked then your backup won't work!!!
2. Launch Disk Utilities
3. Run "repair permissions" on your start-up drive.
4. Click on the "restore" tab (in Disk Utility). Yes, it should be named "backup/restore" not just restore but that's how it is!
5. Drag-and-drop your start-up drive on to "source" and your external drive on to "Destination", go ahead and check "erase destination."
6. Click "restore". It is really backing up your drive on to the external drive, not "restoring" anything, but whose to argue with the folks at Apple.

That's it. Go have a cup of coffee.

When you come back it should be done. You may wish to select your external drive in the finder and give it another name, since it will now have the same name as your start-up drive and thus will confuse the system. Otherwise just unhook your drive and leave it till you need to do another backup. If you want to test it out you can go into the "start-up disk" preference pane in System Preferences, select your backup drive, and click "restart." It should boot up from the external drive as if you were running off the internal drive. Don't save anything here (this is just your backup drive), but look around to see that everything is working as it should be! If you are ever in any trouble you can use your backup drive this way and then "restore" to your internal drive!

What is it with OS X and documentation? Apple has a LOT of capabilities they don't market very well. I'm definitely going to try this one. I may partition my external drive so that I can image this to a boot partition and keep the rest for other uses. Also experiment with drive images. CarbonCopyCloner is another approach of course.

Make Acrobat Reader 6 Load MUCH faster

Sanjay's Coding Tips :: Make Acrobat Reader 6 load faster
My Acrobat 5 Reader installation started acting up again and I was dreading the move to ver6 especially after all the troubles I had from installing it the last time around. However, Darrell Norton came to the rescue with a great little trick to make Acrobat 6 load as fast as the old ver5:

It is all the plug-ins that are enabled by default slowing Acrobat reader down.

1. Go to C:\Program Files\Adobe\Acrobat 6.0\Reader
2. Create a new folder called Optional (if it doesn't already exist).
3. Move all files from the plug_ins folder to the Optional folder.
4. You're done.

The trick works great and changed my Acrobat startup time from 15-25 secs to about 2 secs and I don't really think I'm missing any real essential functionality.

I tried this with Adobe Acrobat (full version, not reader). Load time was instantaneous, but the Plug-Ins don't work (Optional didn't do the trick). I'll add them back in as needed.

I wonder if this would work with other Adobe products -- like Photoshop Elements?!

I wonder if this works for Adobe Photoshop too?!

Monday, October 18, 2004

4 megapixels is enough?

TidBITS: Sense & Sensors in Digital Photography
In short, 4 million pixels carry all of the useful information that you can put into an 8' x 12' photograph. Finer detail than this will matter to technical aficionados making magnified comparisons, and it may matter for scientific or forensic tasks, but it will not matter for ordinary purposes. The same holds for larger prints because we don't normally view larger photographs from only 10 inches away. It holds even for the gigantic images in first-run movie theatres. The digital processing used routinely for editing and special effects generates movies with no more than 2,048 pixels of information from left to right, no matter how wide the screen. The vertical dimension differs among cinematic formats but is typically around 1,500 pixels.

Ok, I'm convinced. In practice 8 megapixels would be great since it gives room to crop still print 8x12.

I want an 8 mpixel sensor with low noise at ISO 1600 and excellent color range.

TidBITS: Colour & Computers

TidBITS: Colour & Computers
Colour Profiles -- It is possible to spend a lot of time and money calibrating equipment to absurd levels of precision. Since fudge is a basic ingredient of profiles and colour-matching, ICC profiles from different sources will give different results, and there is no way to tell whether you will like a profile without buying it and trying it. Fortunately, most people don't need to profile their printer at all and can get by fine with the default settings. Long ago Microsoft and HP proposed, and the computer industry adopted as a formal standard, a colour-matching technology that's simpler than the full ICC standard while still being sufficient for most people outside the graphics-arts industry. All devices are assumed to be able to produce a range of colours that will fit within a range or 'colour space' called sRGB. A standard set of numbers defines every colour within this space. All devices are supposed to interpret those numbers sensibly. It is the norm for photos on the Web, and most commercial printing services use it, so I've set my Mac to use sRGB by default (ColorSync Utility > Preferences pane > Default Profiles tab > RGB Default pop-up menu).

Most inks on most papers are limited to the range of sRGB, although some do exceed sRGB's range. From some inks a larger colour space defined by Adobe, called 'Adobe RGB,' allows more vivid colours. The difference is likely to matter in print competitions and some corners of the graphic arts trade, but it not clear to me that it would matter elsewhere. Using a larger colour space incurs a cost: it is likely to require 16-bit colour, which requires more storage and processing time...

...In any case, be sure to set the gamma to 2.2. That is the de facto standard for working with colour. The Mac's standard of 1.8 was intended to make a grey-scale monitor look like a printed page.

Years ago, when I was trying to understand color profiles and realizing how ugly this was, I corresponded with an Apple ColorSync engineer. He said: use sRGB everywhere. I've followed that advice. It works. More recent versions of iPhoto even honor sRGB.

I haven't set my gamma to 2.2, looks like I should. I do wish Apple would give up on the 1.8 gamma.

Why device driver software is so bloody awful ...

dcardani: Scanner Suck
Several months ago, Jon Rentzsch wrote an article in his web log about how awful his Canon LiDE scanner was and why he returned it. Apparently it drew a lot of attention, so earlier today he posted a followup about the current state of things. His conclusion:

...after reviewing the marketplace again, I purchased an Epson Perfection 1670 Photo scanner. It requires an external power brick, can't seem to be turned off save unplugging it, but it works and comes with a sane Mac OS X native TWAIN driver. It's not rock, but it's not suck. Apparently, nonsuck is the best the scanner market currently offers.

This hit home with me because I was once involved in creating a scanner driver that wasn't very good. Here's my story.

Several years ago, I worked for a company that got business by lying to its customers and competing on price. They would tell their customers that we could produce a piece of software in an area that we had no expertise in, within a very short amount of time and for very little money. As a result, we got lots of contracts, but rarely produced anything of very good quality, or pleased the customer, except when my exceptional coworkers pulled off a miracle and achieved something beyond their capabilities.

So one day the boss told a potential customer, a Japanese producer of fax and scanner equipment, that we could write them a driver for their USB scanner device for relatively little money in relatively little time. They agreed. Then he came to me and asked 'Can we write a driver for a USB scanner really quickly?', to which I replied 'Hell no.'

I had absolutely zero experience writing drivers of any type, and USB was a new technology at the time. Apple's implementation, I soon found out, had a few bugs, too. Further, while devices like keyboards, mice, and modems had completed specs for USB compatibility, the USB consortium had not yet finalized their scanner specification. (Looking at the USB home page, I'm still not sure it's been finalized.) Oh yeah, did I mention that the scanner was brand new, and the only technical documentation for it was 3 sparse pages of Japanese poorly translated into English?

Needless to say, I spent the next month or two frantically reading Apple's USB docs, manipulating their sample code, and debugging my horrible driver and TWAIN component. In the end I cobbled together something that mostly worked, but did several things the USB Manager docs specifically said not to, simply because I didn't have the time to figure out the correct way to do it.

Fast forward to today where companies are outsourcing much of their software development to companies in 3rd world countries who compete on price, and the situation is just as bad. Actually, it's a little worse because now everyone in that market believes they have to use the cheapest developers available, since they aren't able to make any money on their hardware, and you're pretty much guaranteed to get absolute crap no matter what. (That's not to imply that offshore companies are any worse at writing scanner drivers than those here in the states. Just that when you hire developers on price instead of skill, as I was hired at the time, you get what you pay for.)

Why a business would produce a piece of hardware for which they don't know how to write the software themselves is a bit of a mystery to me, too. It points to the fact that they don't actually design products, they just make something to sell and hope the competition goes out of business before they do. I fully expect to see this trend get much worse in the coming years, as more companies fall prey to the myth that outsourcing development saves money, and the government makes it less and less profitable to hire people for what they're actually worth.

I think it's a complexity problem. The technical world is too complex for most people to figure out, so scams of every sort run wild. Buyers don't seem to care if their purchases work, so why should vendors? As usual the trade magazines (PC World, etc) collude in this deception.

To their credit Microsoft seems to be significantly improving the quality of device drivers. Canon LiDE 30 Followup Canon LiDE 30 Followup
A good reference for anyone looking at buying a Canon scanner. As much as I like Canon, their software is awful. It's bad on Windows, but worse on the Mac.

VueScan is a good Mac workaround.

OS X backup report: Retrospect alternatives

Backup on the Mac: Part 2

SuperDuper is mentioned a few times.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Scantips advice on VueScan

VueScan - Film Scanner software
VueScan is an easy program to use, it is largely automatic, and its defaults are preset for the goal of achieving best results with the most accurate color. If it seems difficult to use, you're likely diddling too much, trust it more, try the defaults. All you really need to set is scan mode and perhaps film type, and it can do the rest. You can size the preview and histogram window as large as you like.

You may sometimes want to tweak Brightness to affect midrange brightness (VueScan Brightness works as a multiplier to Gamma, same as any histogram Midpoint control). But otherwise, the main tone setting you may want to change is the Color Balance. Depending on the image content, one of these may be better than the others.

White Balance adjusts the RGB settings to try to make the image look white, often very desirable. Auto Levels adjusts the RGB settings from the histogram maximum data values, which then map to white. If the scene lighting was sodium lamps or an orange sunset, Neutral probably works best. Images without neutral colors such as gray or white, perhaps images of all green foliage or flowers, may not like White Balance mode, but more nearly typical images (people and places) likely will love it. Then the Auto Black and White Points clip away the specified percentage of the total pixel values. VueScan's defaults clip minimally, if at all, to retain the full data, to NOT discard shadow detail, giving all the range that a negative can give, perhaps a flatter image than you are used to, but it's all there.

You can set the Auto Black and White Points for greater contrast by clipping more, say 0.5% at Black. My own preference is to use the defaults for its magic (good color balance), and tweak contrast later in Photoshop (retaining that data allows choices). For typical scenes, following up with Photoshop Auto Levels (0.5%) is often fantastic. That clipping often enhances image contrast and colors perfectly, but sometimes it's the wrong thing to do. It does discard some shadow detail that VueScan tried to retain.

I'm trying VueScan to see how it will work for scanning a large volume of negatives and prints. I'm outsourcing this work so I want something very simple.

I'm impressed so far. It's very fast and it's very simple. Much nicer workflow than flipping back and forth from TWAIN. It scans directly to the image. Lets me control file naming pretty well. Mac and OS X versions.

A few downsides:

1. In demo mode it watermarks all images. Annoying. I hate scanning for testing and scanning again later.
2. I don't see how to make it use the native TWAIN drivers (if I wanted to do that).
3. Doesn't use a standard windows help file.
4. Install puts it in c:/ drive root. Annoying. I moved it.
5. Had some problems. Apparently known conflicts with logitech mouse.

Cleaning scanner glass

FAQ 3 - Email, Cleaning

My Epson 1660 glass has never seemed clean -- even when I bought it. Finally it occurred to me to search on how to clean the sucker (top and bottom, scanner disassembles easily).

Scantips is an old time favorite web site. They mentioned pure alcohol. Cheapo 70% isopropyl alcohol worked great (pharmacy grade). Patten was clean for the very first time.

Interestingly the scans really don't look all that different.

Sifry's Alerts: Oct 2004 State of the blogosphere: Big Media vs. Blogs

Sifry's Alerts: Oct 2004 State of the blogosphere: Big Media vs. Blogs Terrific visual of sources favored by bloggers. The list of reference pretty much follows what I read and post about, starting with the NYT at the very top. Midway down though I start to see sites I'm not familiar with, but clearly need to learn more about.

12,000 new blogs every day?

Sifry's Alerts: State of the Blogosphere, October 2004
... there are about 12,000 new weblogs being created each day, which means that on average, a new weblog is created every 7.4 seconds

Assuming each of the new blogs has only a single posting and allowing for load times, there's no way to even read the inital postings of every day's new blogs in a single 8 hour day.

Technorati monitors about 4 million web logs (I'm not sure it monitors this one). A storm of postings.

Integrating blogs, PDAs and snippets of information


I figured I could use AvantGo to snarf down my Quick Notes entries and put them on my CLIE (PalmOS).

It sort of works, but the pages basically choke the CLIE. It takes 1-2 minutes for a single archive to load and scrolling is tough to. I might try again if I switch to the single-post-per-page method (unfortunately those posts have "Potemkin Permalinks").

PS. Blogger is SLOW these days.

The Fallows Summary of Getting Things Done (GTD)

The Atlantic Online | July/August 2004 | Organize Your Life! | James Fallows

This started as a blog post on what James Fallows' wrote about David Allen's "Getting Things Done" methodologies. Now It's morphing into my short summary of the method, inspired by Fallows' article. Here's the latest version.
1. If you can do it in two minutes, just do it.
2. Get everything out of your head. Appointments, tasks, notes, contacts -- get it into one place (eg. Outlook).
3. Tasks have three important relationships:
- the minimal context needed for the next action (ex: anywhere, phone, desk, computer, network, office ..)
- the project(s) that contains the task
- date of next action
4. Tasks always have a next action. Identifying and executing 'next actions' is critical.
5. Record tasks/ideas at time they are recognized.
6. Weekly review of about one hour. (This takes me at least 2 hours but I'm trying to speed my review.)
7. Tasks do NOT have priorities.

I'm still putting priorities on my tasks, but I can see the logic of a method that dispenses with priorities.

Ideally our software would make it easy to do the following:

1. Assign tasks to one or more projects and be able to view them quickly by project.
2. Assign tasks to minimum-required-resource (eg. place): nothing, phone, desk, computer, network, office ...
3. Assign priorities to tasks and projects.
4. Assign dates and notes to tasks (almost all software does this, more or less).
5. Link tasks and projects easily to messages and appointments.
6. Allow editable access to this data on a PDA.

Outlook doesn't do these things very well. Unfortunately. I sort-of-fake-it by:

1. Using Allen's Outlook Plug-In. (The software is crude in some ways and I think it's troublesome, but it gets around many of Outlook's inadequacies.)
2. Using Chapura Key Suite to sync the Outlook data to my PDA.

How to disable Windows iPod mounting ...

Apple - Discussions - DISABLE Windows iPod mounting ...

From a posting of mine:
This might be a first.

There are lots of posts from folks who can't get their iPod to mount on their PC. I don't have that problem.

My problem is I DON'T want my iPod to mount on my PC. I want to use my desktop front firewire port simply as a convenient charger for my iPod. Here's the deal.

I use my iPod with my Mac and it's HFS+ formatted. I do have iTunes on my PC, but I use it in a weird and unsupported way to burn music I later move to my iBook managed SMB/NTFS hosted iTunes library.

So I have iTunes on the PC and that's fine. But I want my PC to ignore the iPod and just charge the device.

At this time when I plug it in the PC launches iPod Manager and offers to reformat it. I have to cancel out (better not hit the wrong key!) then go to the drive list and "eject" (dismount) removeable drive E. Then I can use my iPod while it recharges.

I used XP services to disable the "iPod service" (stopped it and set to manual start). That may have gotten rid of the dangerous offer to reformat the iPod. XP still mounts the iPod as a removable disk, so I do have to eject before I can use it. That's not bad -- I can live with it. Be great to prevent that happening though.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Radified:Guide to ASPI drivers and Force ASPI

Radified: ASPI layer drivers updated with Force ASPI [ForceASPI v1.7]
I think XP SP2 may have broken ASPI support for an old scanner of mine. I'm still working through this.

iBook rubber / plastic foot replacement

Apple - Discussions - Lost a rubber foot
Some f/u on the feet, and a bit of a sad (sniff) story.

Zachary sent me a foot (for free!). I tried to attach it, and it was obvious there's no way it was going to fit (read on!). I figured he'd sent me a foot for a 14' G3 iBook or a G4 iBook. I saved it to give away to someone else

So, regretfully, I searched around the web. I could see this site had the same 'non-fitting' feet. So I looked further and found this site:

They offered the feet for $5 EACH plus $7 (minimal) shipping. (Versus $5 for a packet of 6). But since they were G3 12' iBook feet I ordered them. Ordered 3 in fact, since that made the postage more tolerable. One as a spare, one to give away.

They caame, and they were are exactly what Zachary had sent me. Rubberish on top, platic on the bottom. Obviously won't fit.

As I puzzled and stared at my iBook, a dim bulb went off deep in my cranium. I realized that what appeared to be a foot receptacle was, in fact, the plastic collar that remains when a foot is snapped off.

I unscrewed the receptacle and popped off the plastic remnant, then screwed the foot fitting back into the iBook. Now the foot snapped in with the greatest of ease.

Gordon Bell (of Microsoft) on Standards

A Time and Place for Standards

On the one hand Gordon Bell is a famous name in computing. On the other hand he works for a monopolistic empire built upon dirty tricks and proprietary data structures; a company famed for perverting standards. A company trusted by noone with any sense.

It's like a member of Ghengis Horde arguing for pacifism and regional autonomy.


Friday, October 15, 2004

My PBFixit Coupon Code

PB FixIt Customer Survey
Your coupon code is: SURVEY111
Your code is good for 5% off any PowerBook FixIt order in the next 30 days.

I'm not going to use this code, so first one to try gets 5% off a PBFixit order.

Schneier on Internet Explorer

Schneier on Security: Schneier: Microsoft still has work to do
I think it's foolish to use Internet Explorer. It's filled with security holes, and it's too hard to configure it to have decent security. Basically, it seems to be written in the best interests of Microsoft and not in the best interests of the customer. I have used the Opera browser for years, and I am very happy with it. It's much better designed, and I never have to worry about Explorer-based attacks.

Nice Review of desktop data indexing (other than Google Desktop)

Keep an Open Eye » Following Leaders

Google Groups for Google-Desktop-Search

Google Groups : Google-Desktop-Search

You can't erase a hard drive with an external magnet

Dan's Data letters #128
There's a simple explanation for hard-to-erase magstripes; they're the newer "high coercivity" type.

Old-style low coercivity magstripes are essentially the same material as is used for cheap ferrite cassette tape; they have a coercivity of only about 300 Oersteds. That means a 300 Gauss field is enough to wipe them. You can easily get that from a plain ferrite magnet, or an electromagnet you can make in ten minutes with some wire and a nail and a lantern battery.

Floppy disks score 720 Oersteds, higher coercivity tapes (DAT, 8mm video tape...) can score as much as 1400-odd Oersteds, and high coercivity magstripes are as tough as hard drive platters, in the few-thousand-Oersted range. Some high coercivity stripes apparently manage as much as 4000 Oersteds, though I think ISO Standard 7811 only specifies 3000. Magstripes are, of course, easier to wipe than a drive platter with the same coercivity, because you can lay a magnet right down on top of a magstripe; they don't have an aluminium casing around them like a hard drive.

My giant rare earth truncated pyramid fridge magnet has a real live 7000 Gauss field strength at its small end, which is way more than is needed to wipe any magstripe ever made. The part I grabbed is the big end, but that's quite likely to still manage better than 4000 Gauss.

Ok, maybe an immense magnet could do it. These are neat numbers to find. It turns out modern mag stripes are much harder to damage than the ones we had years ago.

Fujitsu ScanPartner 15C Flatbed Scanner Reviews at

Fujitsu ScanPartner 15C Flatbed Scanner Reviews at

A rather nice review -- I'd have said exactly the same thing. This old machine is a real problem for XP SP2 though. Key point is that a reliable document feeder is EXPENSIVE, and the home user doesn't value document feeders enough to pay what it costs to make a reliable one.

palmOne Tungsten T5 Handheld will not charge via USB cable palmOne Tungsten T5 Handheld Review
The USB cable alone will not charge the handheld from the computer, you must attach the AC cord.

One would hope they had a good reason for this decision.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

macosxhints - 10.3: Skip disk image checksum verification

macosxhints - 10.3: Skip disk image checksum verification
defaults write skip-verify true

I did this. Does seem faster. Oddly my network drive mounts seem faster too, but I assume that's an illusion ...

iMac G5 - upgrading the bundled drive

iMac G5: "I recently purchased a iMac G5 from Amazon using the link from your site. I plan on upgrading the hard drive when it arrives and it appears to use a standard SATA 3.5' drive. Has anyone else upgraded the hard disk in their G5 and if so whose product did they use?

[Apple's 160GB drive for the 20' model is a Seagate ST3160023AS, the same drive used in some Power Mac G5 models. There may be faster drives available, however. -MacInTouch]"

RDC 1.0.3 is out (Mac to Windows remote control)

MacInTouch Home Page
Microsoft's free Remote Desktop Connection Client 1.0.3 enables Mac OS X (10.2.8 and up) to connect to a Windows-based computer running Terminal Services or Remote Desktop Services and work with programs and files on that computer. According to Microsoft, the new version includes the following changes:

Remote Desktop Connection Client 1.0.3 for Mac provides improved stability when you minimize the client window and when you copy and paste data from the client window to Macintosh applications. Stability is also improved for users of Mac OS X 10.3 and later, and when Remote Desktop Connection Client is used on Macintosh computers with PowerPC G5 processors.

RDC is one of Microsoft's most impressive works, one of the few areas they lead in.

Slashdot | Tracing the Evolution of Social Software (Collaborative tools)

Slashdot | Tracing the Evolution of Social Software

We need a new study -- the archeology of software. There's immense invention and richness in the world of pre-1990 software -- most of it lost and forgotten. This is the beginning of understanding what's been done.

Google Desktop Search Download

Google Desktop Search Download

I've been waiting months for this ...

Update: Ok, so it's a bit disappointing. No way to control where the index file is stored. It doesn't seem to index anything but the c: drive (that's quite surprising, maybe something is wrong ...). Doesn't seem to index even a mounted drive-file associated network share. Oddly enough, some VPN software is incompatible with GDS.

Yeah, it's "beta", but Google's so-called "Beta" software is generally pretty good.

There's a good chance, however, it will improve quickly.

Retrospect 6.5 - creating a disaster recovery CD

There's a link on Dantz's web site for creating an OS X boot CD:

A tutorial on preparing a disaster recovery CD for Windows 6.5 pro:

And these directions: Retrospect 6.5 - creating a disaster recovery CD
Creating a Disaster Recovery CD : Retrospect’s Disaster Recovery preparation wizard can save a CD image file which you can later use with CD-R authoring and recording software to create a CD. The file is an image of a CD in the ISO 9660 format, which all popular authoring software can use to record, or "burn," a CD. Though most authoring software has the capability to burn a disc from an ISO image, some programs do not have an intuitive user interface for this feature and some programs poorly document this feature. The following is documentation for the most popular CD authoring software, detailing how to burn a disaster recovery CD from the image file saved by Retrospect.

Easy CD Creator (Adaptec/Roxio): Start Easy CD Creator and cancel any wizard that appears. From the File menu, choose Open CD Layout. In the file selection dialog, change the shown file type from Easy CD Creator to All Files, navigate to the disaster recovery ISO image, select it, and click Open. In the CD Creation Setup window which appears, select your desired CD recorder, leave the write speed and options as they are, and click OK to begin recording your disc.

CD Extreme (Sony): Start CD Extreme. At the default CD Starter window, click on the CD Extreme button/combo box in the lower right to go into the full application. From the File menu’s New Job submenu, choose Global-Image or Other Image. Click the ’...’ button at the far right of the Disk Image File area. In the file selection dialog, change the shown file type to Other Image, navigate to the disaster recovery ISO image, select it, and click Open. Click the Burn button to begin recording your disc.

Nero Burning Rom (Ahead Software): Start Nero and close the new compilation window, file browser window, and any wizard that appears. Choose Burn Image from the File menu. In the file selection dialog, change the shown file type to All Files, navigate to the disaster recovery ISO image, select it, and click Open. Click OK if Nero informs you it does not recognize the format of the image file. Nero presents its Foreign image settings dialog, which should have default settings of Data Mode 1, block size 2048 bytes, other values zero, and boxes unchecked. Click OK to work with these settings for the ISO image. Nero presents the Write CD window. Click Write to begin recording your disc.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Speak like an Sciencefictian

Boing Boing: A talented speech therapist attended ...

Science fiction fans are alleged to have a characteristic pattern of speech. Sounds like geek/engineer speak to me. Guilty thereof.

Points for Safari over Firefox/Mozilla

Faughnan-Lagace Herald: Local and International News

Safari is often criticized for being less standards compliant than Firefox/Mozilla, but on this page it wins out. Both Safari and IE correctly refresh the iframe-embedded page, Firefox/Mozilla caches it until one manually clears the FF cache.

Now if Safari would only render recursive menu tags in a reasonable fashion ...

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Canada411 - Canadian Directory Services (Yellow Pages)


This actually took a few minutes to find!

USB Bluetooth Adapter (Class 2) - $40

USB Bluetooth Adapter (Class 2)

Reasonably compact. Still likely to get whacked off the side of a laptop. They might as well bundle it with some memory (thumb drive) given the size and shape.

Apple selling used machines as new?

MacInTouch Home Page: "used Apple computers are apparently being sold as new ones"
Sounds like the problems were not subtle. I wonder if this is legal. Macintouch is collecting stories.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Limitation of Apple's OS X setup Assistant system migration utility: Kernel Extensions

MacInTouch Home Page
Following up on issues with Apple's new Setup Assistant (included with the iMac G5, Power Mac G5, and other new Macs), we realized that it has at least one critical limitation: When you use it to migrate from another Mac system, even one that's up to date with the latest Mac OS X software, Setup Assistant apparently excludes kernel extensions ('.kext'), causing certain applications to fail. A perfect example is PGP Disk, which needs /Library/Extensions/PGPdiskDriver.kext to function. Another is Kensington's MouseWorks.
You'll have to manually re-install these applications, but it's not obvious which they are. You can search for 'kext' in the Finder, which is a start. You can dig deeper using Terminal to issue Unix commands. For example, you can type

kextstat -k

to list active kernel extensions. ('kextload' and 'kextunload' provide dynamic control over the loading and unloading of kernel extensions, but dependencies among extensions could create technical issues that may be very tricky to navigate.)

Digital Photo Copy Cruiser Plus: Burn CDs of images

Digital Photo Copy Cruiser Plus

One of the big fears of traveling with a digital camera is losing images -- especially if one doesn't also travel with a laptop, or one doesn't have a CD burner in the laptop. (The latter is rare now, but sadly I bought my G3 iBook without a CD burner. I really ought to start looking for used G4 iBook or even another G3 with a CD burner ...)

There are several products like this emerging -- probably all using innards for the same Taiwanese/Chinese manufacturers. They make it possible to travel with a digital camera and without a laptop. They are particularly appealing because they have their own internal LiOn battery.

The idea is that every few days one burns two CDs from every memory card, then erases the card. Mail one CD home and keep one with you. (Distributing images to friends at parties/etc is probably another "feature", not sure how well that would work in practice.)

Next best thing is to have an iPod to backup images on -- especially if one travels with an iPod anyway. Problem is current iPods require an expensive, bulky, and kludgy add-on to pull in digital images. I hope the next generation iPod will work with any memory card reader or mini-USB camera connector. We'll see -- Apple has has had a surprising amount of trouble figuring out digital images (witness their underfunding of iPhoto development).

There are other hard drive image stores, analogous to the iPod, but like the iPod they are not as safe as mailing CDs. Luggage does get stolen.

This is going on my "to consider" shopping list. I may wait until the price competition gets fierce -- or until they incorporate a DVD burner as well. I will also look for a manufacturer who gets the "power brick right" including. They key thing will be either:

1. recharge via USB 2 cable (there are lots of compact USB 2 charging devices on the market).
2. have a very compact and elegant power brick (but #1 is better).

Most vendors of these sorts of devices mess up on the power brick/adapter/charger.

So things to look for:

1. replaceable or standard LiOn battery (such things exist - as in digital cameras. Wouldn't it be radical for such a device to use the same LiOn battery the camera used? Nahhh.).
2. external compact LiOn charger or USB 2.0 charger
3. DVD burning support (futuristic, takes more power, more complex, etc.)

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Google AdSense - Preview Tool FAQ

Google AdSense - Preview Tool FAQ
The Google AdSense preview tool is an addition to the right-click menu for Windows Internet Explorer 6.x, allowing you to preview the ads that may show on any web page. With just a few clicks, you can see what ads may appear on your new web pages, or make an educated decision on whether to add AdSense to your existing site pages.

Other features include:

Check the destination of ads that are on your page: ads displayed in the preview tool are in a test state, so you don't have to worry about accidentally clicking on an ad. Clicks and impressions are not counted against the ads that display within the preview tool.

View sample ad formats and colors: create previews of formats and color combinations within the preview tool. Choose from 2 different preview formats, plus a 12 ad spread that allows you to view more available ads at once.

Preview colors on your page: the 'Preview' feature of the Color Options menu allows you to see what new color combinations would look like on existing AdSense standard ad units, right on the page. By simply selecting new border, background, or text colors from the preview tool, and clicking "Preview," the new colors will be temporarily applied to the standard ad unit currently on your page.

Geo-targeted locations: select the geo-targeted location from which to view ads, allowing you to see what users in Canada will see, even if you live in Japan.

AdSense providers aren't allowed to click on AdSense ads; this preview tool does get around that. Unfortunately it's IE only (yech). Google needs to get away from all these IE only solutions.

Review: Xitel INport - Dan's Recommendation for sound input

Review: Xitel INport

Digitizing tapes and LPs, a relatively good solution to sound input. (Years ago I bought a high end sound card that was supposed to allow good sound input -- awful interference problems!). USB input. An industrial version of the Griffin iMic.

Quicken -- the LAST straw - Quicken software Official Site Home, See Your Complete Financial Picture in Minutes

When I download my US Bank information into Quicken 2002 it creates split transactions for every item based on an old memorized paycheck transaction. No matter how many times I mess around with memorized transactions, I can't make QKN 2002 stop doing this.

I've used Quicken since version 2.0 for DOS. Over the past 15 years or so it's, in general, become more complex and less reliable. (Exception: For about 4-5 years in the middle of that interval Quicken routinely corrupted data files. That got fixed.)

It's just a crummy piece of software junk now.

I'm back to spreadsheets.

The Celestia Motherlode: Holy Cow.

The Celestia Motherlode: Home

Unbelievable. A repository of celestial data sets that drive a virtual universe explorer -- Celestia. Mac Movable Type Blog

Focus on Macs

I'd forgotten about "". Turns out, it's still out and about.

It came up on a Google search, and on inspection it looks interesting. I'll add it to my bloglines collection.

Paragon CD-ROM emulator

CD-ROM emulator

Third in the series of the CD emulators. One problem with emulation on Windows is the darned drive letter issue. Mac Classic was immune to drive letter confusion. Unfortunately OS X isn't as good about this as Classic was (the biggest single step backwards between OS X and Classic).

SoftDisc: Mount CD Image on Windows XP

CD emulator and CD image maker - SoftDisc is the virtual CD software that lets you copy a CD to an ISO image file.

Competitor to Virtual CD.

Virtual CD: Mount CD Image on Windows XP

Virtual CD Drive Emulator Info and Download

One of 3-4 tools that brings some of the OS X built-in image handling capabilities to Windows.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

American Express | Statement Delivery Options - We're Sorry... (and sorry, and sorry)

American Express | Statement Delivery Options - We're Sorry...: "We are currently experiencing technical difficulties. Please wait 15 minutes and then retry your request. "
I've been getting the same error message from American Express for five days. It's had to communicate how very unimpressed I am.

Ten years ago when Quicken maile dme a diskette of credit card transactions every month I had no problems. It just worked. It worked for years. Things have never worked as well since.

AMEX has had years of problems with their systems providing online banking support. I wish I knew who did their IT work -- so I could avoid them like the plague!

Disk Imaging for Mac OS X and putting CDs on an iPod

AFP548 - Disk Imaging for Mac OS X Made Easy

This is a rather technical article on an esoteric topic; but it puts a lot of useful information together.

In a much simpler vein, it finally occurred to me that I could put images of the chilrden's CDs on my iPod. Using Disk Utility I easily turned 6 children's games CD into images stored on my iPod. Creating as CDR, compressed or read/write image all worked, but compressed took a long time to open. One or two occasions I had to "dismount" the CD (not eject) using Disk Utility in order to isolate "Session One". I think used the create New Image menu to specify "Session One" as the source.

This is all legal -- they are four our use. We still have the CDs, but it's much more convenient to run off my iPod rather than hunt down the vulnerable CDs. Faster too.

I suspect I can do something similar on my PC, but I don't know how! Disk Images are a natural part of OS X.

Bloggler's Potemkin Permalinks

This is the "permalink" to a post in my test blog (authored using blogger).

Test Blog: OriginalName

Here's the "permalink" after I edited the subject line in the above post.

Test Blog: NewName

Try both. The first now fails. The second will work until I revise the subject line.

These are not Permalinks -- they are Potemkin Links. They look "permanent", but they're fake.

Blogger doesn't support true Permalinks on their post pages.

This is a poor practice. Blogger is encouraging widespread broken links.

There are at lest two things they could do instead:

1. Blogger supports true permalinks on non-post page blogs. They should create a new template tag that would support these old-style in-context links. I prefer in-context permalinks anyway.

2. Blogger could support indirection, so the old link would redirect to the new link.

iFire and Apple Pro speakers

ATPM 10.02 - Review: iFire

Apple sells Apple Pro Speakers for their G4 machines. I don't think they're supported on later model G5 machines, so they don't have much of a future. They require an unusual audio connector that provides firewire-level power as well as ditigal sound output.

As the G4s move into the twilight unsold speakers are being dumped on the market. Dealmac listed a Small Dog computer price of $15 for demo models (open box) with a $3 shipping credit.

Turns out other machines can use these -- if one buys a Griffin iFire. Griffin's site has a very limited description, but the this and this review gives a much better picture. The iFire is mouse-sized converter that gets its power from a firewire port -- or a an iPod charger or other firewire-type power source. It has a standard analog audio in jack, so it's doing D/A conversion . It's a bit disconcerting that the iBook/iPod is translating the digital music to an analog output, then the iFire is converting the analog signal to a digital signal for these speakers, which in turn translate it to an analog output (sound waves). Seems like one could do with fewer D/A conversions. Good thing I'm not an aesthete. We do need to get better about digital output.

Too bad the AirPort Express doesn't support these speakers!

I've ordered both the iFire on the Apple Pro speakers from Small Dog. The combination was $50 (I'm surprised Small Dog isn't bundling them), but this is still a good price. I'll either use them with my iBook and/or iPod in the kitchen (powered off my iPod charger) or upstairs powered from the firewire PCI card in my XP machine. In both cases I'm getting a compact set of speakers and I don't have to fuss with yet another power brick!

These aren't really travel speakers, they're a peculiar niche product of high quality compact sound sources.

I'll update this posting after I get my toys.

Update: I got my speakers from Small Dog computing today. They came without packaging, manual, etc. They were dusty, dirty, and spartan. They work just fine though, and a damp cloth made them look fine too. The iFire is smaller than I'd expected, it's a bit thicker than an iPod mini. I never read the directions, it was obvious how to hook it up. I experimented with putting the speakers on my iBook, but for now they're on my XP machine upstairs. The PCI firewire card (Orange Micro) is powering the iFire, in turn the iFire is managing the speakers. It's quite compact and much neater than traditional PC speakers (no power brick!).

They're not the greatest speakers for rock and roll or R&B (limited bass), but Jazz sounds terrific (good mid-range). - Comparable applications for Windows and OS X - Articles - From Windows To OS X: The Applications

The list is interesting in both directions. He understated the choices on the PC, but I still found some PC apps of interest to match the OS X apps I use. (I need to work on both platforms.)

Friday, October 08, 2004

BestBuyCable - Serial ATA (SATA) Cables and IDE Adaptors

BestBuyCable - Serial ATA (SATA) Cables and IDE Adaptors

A very wide variety of cables, mostly inexpensive. I would be careful about low cost firewire cables.

Laptop Speakers: Nice job assembling views of Amazon and other products

Laptop Speakers

This appears to be a meta-vendor site. They aggregate products in a value-added fashion, incorporate some reviews, and point to the real vendor. Nice job on laptop speakers -- best collection I've seen.

Outlook OST File Recovery - ExchangeRecovery (was ost2pst.exe?)

OST File Recovery, Repair Orphaned Offline Storage Files, Recover Corrupted Data

This is a fairly costly tool for recovering from a number of Outlook/Exchange synchronization disasters. I think it was derived from ost2pst.exe. The latter can be downloaded from several sites, though I wonder if the distribution is legal.

It will, among other things, convert an "orphaned" OST file into a useable PST file.

OS X Services: there's stuff there I need to look at! Copying tables from Safari

Safari 1.2 (Part 5): "Don Andrachuk wrote: 'Actually, Safari, at least in Panther, already has that capability and more: Just select the page elements you wish to copy in Safari, pull down the Safari:Services:TextEdit menu and select New Window Containing Selection. An untitled TextEdit window will be opened containing styled and formatted text, graphics and *live links* based on the Safari page's content.'"

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Email Aliases in Apple Mail ( Email Aliases in Apple Mail

Ok. So what does this mean?

BlogJet - File Hosting

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Formatting a drive for OS 9 drivers when host machine cannot boot OS 9 (Mac OS X)

MacInTouch Home Page: "Following up on the issue of lost Mac OS 9 disk support, readers offered a workaround that uses the Unix command line:

[Wayne Linder] The only computers that will show the option to place Mac OS 9 drivers onto a hard drive while formatting are computers that will boot Mac OS 9 themselves. However, you can do this via the Terminal via the diskutil command. Here's an example, assuming you want the drive to be named Bob and the BSD name is 'disk1:' (findable under System Profiler - look for BSD Name under the interface of your connected drive).

sudo diskutil eraseDisk HFS Bob OS9Drivers disk1

That should result in a newly-formatted disk with Mac OS 9 drivers. The usual caveats apply while mucking around in the Terminal.

[Samuel Smith] Any Mac OS X Panther Mac can format any drive with Mac OS 9 disk support (OS9 Wrappers); you just have to use the command line.
To do it, you must login with an administrator account. Open Terminal, and type df - you will get something like this:

Filesystem 512-blocks Used Avail Capacity Mounted on
/dev/disk0s9 156286104 131354216 24419888 84% /
devfs 222 222 0 100% /dev
fdesc 2 2 0 100% /dev
1024 1024 0 100% /.vol
automount -nsl [247] 0 0 0 100% /Network
automount -fstab [250] 0 0 0 100% /automount/Servers
automount -static [250] 0 0 0 100% /automount/static
/dev/disk1s9 156286104 130560384 25725720 84% /Volumes/ABEHD
/dev/disk2s3 157013088 29323962 127689126 19% /Volumes/SamHD1
/dev/disk2s5 233152182 72232390 160919792 31% /Volumes/SamHD2

Note the /dev/diskxxx name of the volume you wish to reformat - for example, ABEHD is /dev/disk1s9.

* Open Disk Utility
* Select the volume (not hard drive) you wish to format and click on the unmount button
* Go back to Terminal
* Type in:

sudo newfs_hfs -w -J -b 512 -v volname /dev/diskxxx

where volname is the human-friendly name that you see on the desktop and diskxxx is the device name shown by the df command above. So, to reformat ABEHD:

sudo newfs_hfs -w -J -b 512 -v ABEHD /dev/disk1s9

The -w adds the OS9 wrappers
The -J makes it journaled
The -b 512 sets the block size to something smaller than the default 4096 so you can fit more files on a disk. If you prefer the default then don't include the -b 512. If you set the blocksize to smaller than 4096, it will complain that it is not optimal but will still work. (I don't think you can set the block size to anything smaller than 512 which is the sector size on most drives.)
* Go back to DiskUtility, select the grayed-out volume, and click the Mount button.

Voila, you have a hard drive with Mac OS 9 wrappers."

Sun's Java Apps page

Remote Apps Webpage

For years every installation of Sun's Java runtime environment for Windows has included a Java WebApp tool. The tool goes to this page and installs the Java apps (.jnlp) referenced here. The page includes the developers email address in the footer; it's not very fancy.

It seems like an irresistible target for hackers. I hope that server is awfully secure.

I tried seeing what the apps do nowadays. When I checked years ago they were worthless toys. It takes a very long time to install them now ...

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

On the unreliability of AMEX services ...

Our System is Not Responding

* You may experience intermittent delays. We apologize for this inconvenience.
* While we are working to correct the problem, you can:
o Try again by hitting the Back, Refresh or Reload buttons on your web browser
o Come back later

This is the 2nd time in four days I've tried to pay my AMEX bill and found their system is down. I'd like AMEX to owe me $10 every time this happens to compensate for the hassle. Multiply that by a million customers and maybe they'd invest in better systems.

GraphicConverter beta fixes OS X induced duplicate EXIF orientation tag

GraphicConverter beta release
context menu item to remove double orientation tags added

This is the 2nd or 3rd feature I've asked Thorsten Lemke about that he's added to GC. You don't get that kind of service from Photoshop! I hardly ever get the chance to send the guy money, since he asks for a pittance of an upgrade fee only once every few years.

One of the previous requests I had was for a quick way to create copies of images that were cropped for printing. Thorsten added a feature that makes quick work of chopping large numbers of images for making 4x6 and other print styles.

This new feature fixes a problem Apple inflicted on users of their Image Capture utility. In several versions of OS X the Image Capture utility duplicated the EXIF orientation tag while auto-rotating an image. So images ended up with the original tag plus an EXIF=1 (top left) tag. This confused some image editing and printing software. Basically Image Capture corrupted the JPEG EXIF header on cameras (Canon for example) that sensed image orientation and modified the orientation tag. Some versions of iPhoto tried to rotate the image a 2nd time and really mangled things.

Apple quietly fixed this in an OS X release, but they never released a utility to repair all the images with corrupted tags. Now there will be one with the next release of GC.

What a great piece of software. Please charge me an upgrade fee Thorsten!

My adventures with Blojsom

Quick Notes Blog: October 2004

Ok, I give up. I burned about 4 hours learning about the state of blog servers. I liked Blojsom because it installed under a java web server (Tomcat) and because it's the starting point for the future OS X Tiger integrated browser.

Ultimately though I gave up on it. I can see why Apple is going to use it in Tiger, but for now:

1. This is WAY too raw for a non-engineer to setup and run safely -- unless one has a lot of time to learn about it. For example -- there really doesn't appear to be a way in the GUI admin console to DELETE a post. Hmm. That's kind of a major omission. I also removed the "default" user since I wasn't using it -- uh-oh, That destroyed my site. I'm sure it's easy to fix by editing the config files directly -- but that's not going to work for me.

2. Most of the blog clients I tried had one problem or the other working with it. I think everything in the XP world of blogging is raw. OS X apps are much more mature and better tested.

3. There don't seem to be any true bookmarklets for Blojsom. That's critical. My potential users are NOT going to install software and they are NOT going go to a special site to create a posting.

I've spent way too much time on this problem -- including running through a few open source syndication servers. I think there are some good solutions, but they require far too much installation overhead for my uses. I suspect the integrated Tiger server will be JUST what I want, but I'm not going to buy an OS X server for my employer (even if they permitted it!).

Really, what I want is something that combines the brilliant simplicity of Google's Blogger with the ease of installation & initial setup of Blojsom.

Update: Just as I was about to pull the plug I saw very quick responses to my inquiries from the Blojsom's developer. They may address some of the key issues and are evaluating the problems I ran into. Maybe they just needed a grouchy end-user like me.

I think Blojsom has the right approach. Tomcat/JBoss with a WAR web app is the right deployment for a lot of small business and corporate settings -- and only Blojsom does this. If they can address the key issues they'll have a product they can sell, as well as provide free via the BSD license.

So I won't quit just yet -- especially if they can build me the bookmarklet they've promised!

Chronicle Lite Supports Blojsom

Chronicle Lite Supported servers

Blojsom Mailing Lists

Mailing Lists - Confluence

Ok, here's where support is!

WordPress: A bit more support than most

WordPress Support

This is really the wild west.

Blojsom: Blogging client setup

Blogging client setup - Confluence

I've been trying to figure out why it's hard to answer obvious questions about Blojsom, such as how does one #$@ post.

The answer seems to be:

1. This is a really new project. This page was updated 9/22.

2. Since OS X Tiger has incorporated Blojsom that's probably taken a lot of resources.

3. The author is working on 'Confluence' which seems to be a commercial derivative of Blojsom.

Anyway, I'm still looking for a bookmarklet, but I'm beginning to suspect the blogger BlogThis! bookmarklet could be reworked to handle Blojsom. Except if it were that easy, why can't I find a hundred examples?

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The Apache Jakarta Tomcat 5 Servlet/JSP Container - Tomcat Setup on Windows

The Apache Jakarta Tomcat 5 Servlet/JSP Container - Tomcat Setup

These are not super user friendly web sites. I assume the download package ending in .exe is the windows installer package :-).

Blojsom quick start

blojsom Quickstart - Confluence

1. Install latest version of JRE from (1.4.2)
2. Install Tomcat
3. Drop WAR file into Tomcat.


UPDATE: In order for the blog to display on any machine but the one it's installed on, you have to configure the URL in the weblog settings with the fully specified name. Otherwise you get part of the blog -- but no style sheets. Looks ugly.

Defaults to port 8080. I need to figure out how to change that to port 80.

I'm figuring out what blog tool to use and looking for a bookmarklet or firefox extension.

Open Source Blog server bundled in OS X Tiger

About blojsom - Confluence

This looks very intriguing.

David Mattison's Tiki Wiki Hut : Blog Authoring/Publishing Software

Welcome to David Mattison's Tiki Wiki Hut : Blog Authoring/Publishing Software
Another comprehensive collection. I think I'm getting to the end of scoping these things.

Best (so far) directory of blog software

Blog Software Breakdown

Why doesn't anyone put dates on anything any more? Still, this is pretty neat.

ONE/Northwest KnowledgeBase: Offline blogging tools - Zempt and SharpMT for Movable Type

ONE/Northwest KnowledgeBase: Offline blogging tools

First of all, this is an interesting knowledge resource. Secondly Blogger holds up rather well in terms of the simplicity/functionality wars. Thirdly, the blogging/RSS/syndication world is still very raw.

Update: Sigh. Really dated.

ecto blog

ecto blog

At the moment probably the most popular OS X client. I think NetNewsWire is moving into this space.

Weblogs Compendium - Blog Tools

Weblogs Compendium - Blog Tools
Omits Plone.

Weblog tools (owned server): Plone and School Content Management Systems

Webloggy Websites for Schools - Plone

Google rules: RSS feeds for email activity

Micro Persuasion: Gmail Adds Atom Feeds
Gmail has added Atom web feeds, a format that's akin to RSS. The feeds include a summary of each new message in your Google email. See screen grabs. In addition, the service rolled out a more robust contact interface that nicely lists all your contacts the related messages that live in your archive as well as the ability to forward your messages to any other email account.

We don't need a messaging client. We need an activity client that tracks activities across web sites, email, phone mail, etc. It needs notification rules and escalation rules, automated responses, metadata generation ...

Monday, October 04, 2004

BugMeNot - bypassing site registration

Subverting registration policies. Good topic for an ethics debate. The Firefox extension no longer works, but one can get login data from this site.

Completely removing Chapura KeySuite -- recovering from an Outlook Profile change

Synchronize Outlook with Palm OS handheld...

KeySuite has worked much better for me than about 6 previous solutions, but I really scrambled it when I had to change Outlook Profiles (delete old, create new) on one machine. Back to the nightmares of duplicate tasks, sync errors, etc. Problem was KeySuite 3.2 didn't quite manage the Profile change -- it "thought" I was synchronizing with two profiles on two machines. It actually tried to handle this, but sometimes it got severely confused.

Problem was, I couldn't make KeySuite "forget" about the sync settings. Turned out they were in the "Key ..." folders in my Palm data folder. (Worse problem -- I had TWO Palm data folders and chose the wrong one to work on ...). So deleting those allowed me to start over properly.

These full uninstall directions are more complete than the ones on Chapura's site, but the key step is removing the KeySuite folder from Outlook and removing the above mentioned data folders.
To completely uninstall KeySuite, please complete the following:
1. To remove KeySuite from the computer:
2. On the PC, click "Start/Settings/Control Panel" or
"Start/Control Panel" and double-click the "Add/Remove Programs" icon.
3. From the "Add/Remove Programs" window, highlight KeySuite from
the programs list and click the "Add/Remove" or "Change/Remove" button and click "Yes" to uninstall KeySuite.
4. Open the Folder List view in Outlook by clicking on "View/Folder List".
5. On the "Folder List", right-click on the KeySuite folder and click "Delete KeySuite".
6. Right mouse click on your Start button and go to Explore. On the C: drive locate the Palm folder
7. In the Palm Folder go into the folder that is some form of your name. In that folder locate the KeyContacts, KeyDates, KeyTasks and KeyNotes folders and delete them.
8. Now, under Program files locate the Chapura folder. In the Chapura folder delete the KeySuite folder and the Forbin folder if you have one.
9. Close the Exploring window
10. Go to Start/Run and type in regedit and hit OK
11. Hit the (+) sign next to HKEYCURRENT USER
12. Hit the (+) next to Software
13. Under software hit the (+) sign next to Chapura and delete the Key folder.

To remove KeySuite from the handheld:
1. Tap on the "Applications" icon (picture of a house) on the bottom left and tap on the "Menu" icon located directly below the "Applications" icon.
2. From the menu bar, tap on "Delete".
3. From the "Delete" screen, highlight "KeyToday", "KeyContact", "KeyDates", "KeyNotes", "KeyTasks", KeyAlarmLibrary" and "KeySuiteLibrary" one at a time and tap "Delete" and then tap "Done".
Note: Some older handhelds may not list "KeySettings-CpKS".
4. Synchronize the handheld one time. Now, reinstall the KeySuite software and sync twice.

Exceptional Review of Sony Ericsson T39m

Compare Prices and Read Reviews on Sony Ericsson T39m at

Bluetooth phones - sync list for Palm

Here's PalmOne's list of supported phones.
* Sony-E. T68i
* Sony-E. T610
* Nokia 3650
* Nokia 6210 (requires connectivity pack)
* Nokia 6310
* Nokia 6310i
* Motorola TP280i
* Ericsson R520m
* Ericsson T39m
* Ericsson T68
* Philips Fisio 825
* Siemens S55

Another way to help choose what to replace my old Samsung with.

VNC sharing w/ OS X and XP

MacInTouch Home Page
Gary Ralston describes a cross-platform, screen-sharing system he worked out, using VNC:

It took a while, but I found a workaround with VNC for a Windows machine to screen-share my Mac running Mac OS X 10.3.5. While free, the solution is inelegant - you have to set everything just so to get the connection working.
On the Mac, we ran Share My Desktop 1.2 . On the PC, we ran TightVNC.

On the Mac:

1. Set the Mac to 1024x768, Thousands (256 or millions will fail)
2. Launch 'Share My Desktop'
3. Enter port 5901 (VNC uses ports 5900 and higher, one port for each monitor, as far as I can guess)
4. Enter a password
5. Press 'Share My Desktop'

On the PC:

1. The PC seems less sensitive to bit depth and resolution settings. We got it to work with 16 and 32 bit at 1024x768.
2. Use Tight VNC client - try fast and best compression versions.
3. In Tight VNC preferences, reduce the default compression to get an acceptable picture (we used a setting of 5 with good results between machines connected via cable modems. 9 is pretty pixilated.)
4. Address the Mac using the public IP address, a colon, and '1' (so (This works fine behind a router - forward public port 5901 to the local IP address of your host Mac)

I've done something similar. Microsoft's RDC is much better for controlling a Windows machine.

Hello. Bloggerbot and Google GBrowser.

Hello : Introducing BloggerBot

They still don't have a good OS X solution. I'd looked at Flickr, but I'm thinking this makes more sense for photosharing. I might even install the peer-to-peer client on my mother's machine -- though that's probably asking for trouble.

Hello's original design was around a peer-to-peer model. That requires installing an instant-messaging client on each machine. Obviously a dumb idea -- until Google incorporates that peer-to-peer component into their GBrowser (in which case photo sharing will be a relatively modest piece of the puzzle).

In the meantime Google has kludged a semi-clever interface layer between Hello and Blogger that allows one to share photos with non-Hello users via the good old fashioned web.

To use it, do this:

So you'd need to do this:

1. Download Hello and create a Hello account.
2. Create a Blogger account -- accept the default of the Blogspot server. This is pretty easy too.
3. Implement the Hello/Blogger integration (The "BloggerBot" looks to the Hello server like any other peer-to-peer client. It exchanges messages with the Hello server and creates Blogger posts, then updates the Blogger server - in my case, blogspot.)
4. Upload photos and add comments.
5. Point users to the Blog URL.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Apple Store's bewildering speaker selection

The Apple Store (U.S.)

A bewildering array of iPod speakers and accesories. I do wish my iPod had a digital output (Maybe the newest iPods have this?).

I'm particularly interested in compact firewire powered speakers.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

GBrowser, Google, Microsoft and Netscape Constellation

Could a 'GBrowser' Spawn an 'MBrowser'? - Mary Jo Foley (Microsoft Watch)
When Sun first fielded Java, it was 'just' a programming language. Then Sun expanded it into a 'platform' by adding other layers of software to the Java core.

It seems that Google is embarking on a similar path. In addition to providing a search engine, Google is now offering Web mail. It acquired photo-storing/sharing vendor Picassa. And in the not-too-distant future, Google could add a browser to its repertoire, as well....

Microsoft's focus on Google could become even sharper if rumors pan out regarding Google's intent to become a browser purveyor. The company has registered the ',' '' and '' domain names. And if you piece the clues together, as some company watchers are doing, the Google browser won't be any old browser. It will be more of a development and operating environment, allowing users to work offline as well as online. Some might even go so far as to call it a 'platform.'

...My bet? While Opera, Safari and Firefox seemingly weren't enough to convince Microsoft that the company should find a way to swallow its antitrust arguments and release a new version of IE, Google's entrée into the market might be. I wouldn't be surprised to see Microsoft release some kind of stripped-down browser (IE Lite, though they won't call it that) some time in the next year-plus.

This is very familiar to anyone who remembers Netscape Constellation (1996, almost 10 years ago!). Constellation incited Microsoft to crush Netscape forever. Now the hand of Netscape is thrusting out of the grave. Microsoft will need to redouble their efforts to acquire or destroy Google.

Mary Jo Foley also notes that Microsoft has decided that it will fight hard to keep closed their networking communication protocols. In other words they have declared that the "lock-in" between their desktop and server solutions is critical to their business models.

Between Google and Linux Microsoft's paranoia must be working overtime. Of course a few billion dollars and an armada of lawsuits should suffice to defeat both of these enemies. (The only real concern is China. If China decided that it needed Linux as a matter of national security, that might be hard for Microsoft to overcome.)