Wednesday, March 30, 2005

PowerPoint crash when attempt to insert an image from the desktop

When I attempt to insert an image into a PowerPoint 2003 file and navigate to the desktop, PowerPoint crashes with this lovely message:
Runtime Error!

Program C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office11\POWERPNT.exe

This application has requested the runtime to terminate it in an unusual way.
Please contact the application's support team for more information.
A few google postings seem to point a finder at Adobe Acrobat and its infamous spyware like installation of an array of Office extensions.

This Acrobat article doesn't mention the bug but I'm going to try some of its suggestsions ... PDFMaker is unavailable in a Microsoft Office application (Acrobat 7.0 on Windows) - Support Knowledgebase.

I'll post an update when I figure this out.

Update: When I examine the Adobe certificate VeriSign certificate used by PPT it's listed as having expired over a year ago. Interesting.

Update: I rebooted and found that trying to open ANY file from the Desktop (ONLY the desktop) caused this error. This time I was asked to send a report to Microsoft, and on doing so was directed to a web form asking for my name and phone number. Curious! I also discovered that I'd somehow set my PPT open dialog box to the "Preview" mode. I switched it back to "Details" and the error went away. So it's something about the code used for "Preview" by Microsoft Office 2003. THAT makes me wonder not only about Acrobat, but also about Yahoo Desktop Search (YDS), a product licensed from X1 that includes a variety of file viewers. Sometime I'll look at my XP error logs ...

Update: I'm increasingly suspicious that this bug is from Yahoo Desktop Search and it manifests when using the preview mode of the Office 2003 open file dialog box. YDS is in beta and I checked the filename for the current download -- I'm many versions behind. I'll update.

Monday, March 28, 2005

TCP and UDP Ports: Apple's view

"Well Known" TCP and UDP Ports Used By Apple Software Products: "'Well Known' TCP and UDP Ports Used By Apple Software Products"

This is a good list for all platforms, but it also covers apple products and their special ports.

PictureSync for OS X

Holocore / Mac OS X Software / PictureSync

Via Macintouch.
PictureSync is a convenient utility that simplifies batch uploading your photos and video clips to online services, - directly from your image-management application or files, and without losing your own valuable annotations and metadata.

Features :

» Image resizing
» Suports most file formats and movies
» Customise annotations used online
» Upload directly to albums
» Specify image upload order
» Automatic rotation (with EXIF)
» sRGB conversion (with ICC profiles)
» Use multiple services

Webshots FotoTime
Flickr Smugmug
Vimeo Buzznet

iView Media Pro
IPTC annotations
Drag and drop (IPTC annotations)
It's $10 donationware. If it actually does what the author claims it's worth more than that for me. I'll try it out.

Update 8/31/09: I used PictureSync for several years and I got my $10 out of it -- but it died.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Sharing an iTunes library between multiple users

macosxhints - Use two iTunes libraries and one Music folder

I prefer the techniques that use an alias to the music library (see comments). I've done something similar for years. The trick is having the file paths match in the xml files.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

GoodPage HTML editor and site manager - supports WebDAV


I'll try it.

Best advice ever on Macintosh RAM (via Macintouch)

Bad RAM (Part 4)

This is way better than anything I've ever read. Thanks Trevor and Macintouch.
Trevor Inkpen

Apple does not manufacture RAM, they purchase RAM wholesale from companies like Samsung, Hynix, Micron, IBM and Elixir. They do not and have never used Crucial RAM. (Crucial bases their advertising on the fact that Crucial is owned by Micron, who does sell Apple some RAM). You really can't say that a particular brand, 'Kingston' for example, does or does not work in Macs. Each company has hundreds of models, only one or two are correct for a given Mac. Kingston only guarantees their KTA- series memory for use in Macs. Their PC-generic KVR- series are specifically not guaranteed for Macs. Most bad reports result from using the wrong model RAM in a Mac.

One poster alluded to third-party RAM meeting or exceeding Apple's specs. There's a problem with this. A given RAM module that works in the PowerMac G5 may fail in the iMac G5 - despite having the same paper specification, in practice the two Macs have different tolerances. 'DDR PC3200 CL3 JEDEC compliant' does not adequately describe the criteria for compatibility. The RAM's internal organization and the programmable logic make the difference. It's like saying that a wheel for a Ford has to be 'steel, 14' diameter and 12' wide', without specifying the bolt pattern.

There is no way to look at specs and determine accurately if the RAM will be Mac compatible, the only way to be sure is to test it. Buy RAM only from a seller who guarantees that the RAM has been tested and is compatible with your model Mac.

Choosing PC Generic RAM (including Kingston KVR-, Crucial non-Apple models and any number of other brands) has a problem - the brand of chips used, and the design of the memory board sold under that part number, is liable to change without notice. And these changes can make them fail on Macs, especially 'sensitive' models like the Mini, iMac G5 and 1st gen. Aluminum PowerBooks. So, if your buddy buys RamCo ABC2345 memory and it works, you could buy the same RamCo ABC2345 part next month and it wouldn't work because it was a different design.

So it is impossible to predict whether a RAM part will work in a Mac UNLESS the seller provides a written guarantee that it is compatible in your Mac. (Auction sellers, PC shops and big-box and online discounters are less likely to provide reliable compatibility information). It's also impossible to make a blanket statement that 'Brand Y' is good, or bad - because it is down to choosing the correct model.

Finally, keep your Apple RAM so you can reinstall it when you send the Mac in for warranty repair.

More on the great capacitor scandal -- Nichicon

MacInTouch Home Page

Macintouch has been tracking capacitor and motherboard failures on Apple's G5 machines. Now they expanded to reporting on Dell issues. Macintuch really does journalism. They use their readers as reporters and deploy their own editors and investigators. An interesting and underappreciated model!
Ron Royer reports that the current rash of iMac G5 failures may be caused by a bad batch of Nichicon capacitors that is also causing Dell computers to fail:

I don't know if you have seen this, but other manufacturers seem to have this issue too... Postings from

"I work as a network engineer/administrator at a company in Washington DC, with about 600 installed workstations. As many as 200-300 of those are the GX270 models, which are 2.4-2.8GHz P4 machines.

We've had a rash of motherboard failures on these machines. I only recently had a chance to inspect a dead board before it was returned to Dell, and it turned out to have swollen Nichicon caps.

I finally had a Dell tech admit that they were aware of the problem and were replacing boards under warranty (the corporate machines usually have 3-year extended service plans). As of today we have 7 new boards on the way to us and at least 15-20 more have already failed. (I'm pretty sure that the GX270 boards are OEM-built by MSI.)

I'm just posting this for information, and to see if anyone else has seen this in a large-scale IT operation, especially with Dells."

"Well, we did 12 boards today, and we have 6 more to call in. I spot-checked some of the bad caps, and they all seem to be Nichicons with the same lot numbers and about the same date range (early 2003). All the replacement boards that were installed had Rubycon caps instead.

I did notice a few boards where, while the caps looked identical, not all of them were bulging. There is a picture of this here: [Dell Motherboard Capacitor Failures]

I'm starting to agree with the idea that this is Nichicon's own quality control problem, rather than the same batch of bum electrolyte as last time. I also think that the lousy ventilation inside the Dell small-form-factor case speeds up the failures, since they don't like to waste money on things like fans."
The G5 interiors run hot -- as do small-form-factor Dells. I think the Mac Mini is quite a bit cooler. This problem may be a combination of high temperatures and manufacturing problems. Are computer manufacturers running at temperatures that exceed manufacturing specs for their components?

I also wonder if setting the iMac to 'full performance' mode might accelerate this problem.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Login Delays and Damaged Font Caches on Mac OS X 10.3

Daring Fireball: Login Delays and Damaged Font Caches on Mac OS X 10.3

One of the great weaknesses in OS X is the propensity to "corruption" of caches, preferences and other items. I makes me wonder how strong the unix underpinnings of OS X really are.

I've been experiencing login delays, so I'll check this out. I'll also see if Panther Cache Cleaner or its ilk deal with this. (ONYX has been having bugs recently.)

Apple recommends monthly full charge and discharge cycle for LiON battery products

Apple - Batteries

Both iPod and laptop:
Exercise Your Machine

Lithium-ion batteries need to be used for maximum performance. If you don’t use your device often, be sure to complete a charge cycle at least once per month.

ChronoSync for backup

Econ Technologies, Inc.: "ChronoSync also makes an excellent, lightweight file backup utility, making it easy to keep duplicate working copies of your precious files. Using the scheduling capabilities, you can devise quite sophisticated backup strategies. Hourly, daily, and weekly synchronizations can be scheduled to make sure that, at any instant, you have a working copy that you can revert to for any reason. Backup to external storage devices or other computers including Mac OS 9, Windows, Linux, or any operating system Mac OS X can mount to."

- supplement to Retrospect, backup user folders to mounted image over network

Saturday, March 19, 2005

One person's view of digital camcorders

Using the Sony TRV900
This page represents my collected knowledge about the TRV900, some other cameras, the latest models, and digital video in general.
I love this type of page. One person's view based on their own experience. The TRV900 is a legend, the lessons here are generalizeable.

SimplyDV: Canopus ADVC-100 Analogue to Digital Video Converter

SimplyDV: Canopus ADVC-100 Analogue to Digital Video Converter

A well regarded A/D converter. An alternative to replacing my Hi8 with a digital camera.

Another Hint on merging iPhoto Libraries

macosxhints - Merge old iPhoto libraries on CD with iPhoto 5 libraries

If you drag and drop an iPhoto library to a CD, the 'magic XML' file isn't created and iPhoto won't recognize the archived library for importing.

This hint discusses several workarounds, and also digresses into problems with copying OS X symlinks from CD. A finder copy may not handle the symlinks, which are relative symlinks, correctly. Using ditto or archive seems to do the trick.

Good discussion, even if it illustrates the problems with iPhoto. It would help if there was some documentation.

Friday, March 18, 2005

The horror: letterbox camcorders, iMovie, DVD, old TVs, oh my, oh my

This is a long and quite tortured post. Read at your own peril. I started down this road because I was trying to figure out if it made sense to try to capture video on my new camcorder at a 16:9 aspect ratio (widescreen) instead of the old, generic 4:3 ratio that works well on TV. In particular, I decided I'd try to figure out which aspect ratio used the data acquired by the CCD most effectively. I'd rather not use 16:9 if I can help it since iMovie 2 can't handle that ratio. (iMovie 5 can -- see iMovie HD Help: iMovie HD automatically adjusts footage to better fit the screen but I don't have my new G5 yet.

Now, after some very helpful comments, I'm still not sure of the answer. I'm not confident I can infer the physical geometry of the chip all that well, and it seems like the chip can capture more resolution than the camera. I think I'll end up using 4:3 for now, and when I get my new G5 with iLife 5 I'll study the frame data size using both methods. The pixel count may be my best guide to which format makes the best use of the sensor. Despite the complexity of the 16:9 format (can't play back on a non-widescreen TV without some iDVD trickery) it does compensate slightly for the dismal wide angle lenses in today's cruddy camcorder market.

If you want to read more, here's the essay ...
Groan. I thought still camera digital vs. 35mm film aspect ratio wars were bad, but this is worse. I highly recommend this site as a resource on this topic, it's also a uniquely great guide to buying a camcorder. I'll start with old-fashioned TV and move on from there ...

Older TVs display images in a 4:3 (width x height) ratio - 1.33. Not coincidentally, this is the ratio of an 640x480 VGA display (4:3) and most consumer digital cameras. The TV came first, all else followed. Sort of like the wheeblase of roman carts allegedly determining road widths in some way.

Except that in the film world 35mm was already around, which is roughly 3:2 - 1.5. So printing consumer digital camera images to "standard" 4x6 prints is a pain, but the images display well on older 4:3 monitors (but not newer widescreen LCD displays!).

In the movie world things have varied over the past century, but even the 35 mm 1 3/8" (diagonal) has ruled:
In May 1889 Thomas Edison had ordered a Kodak camera from the Eastman Company and was apparently fascinated by the 70mm roll of film used. Thereupon W.K.L.Dickson of his laboratory ordered a roll of film of 1 3/8"(ca. 35 mm) width from Eastman. This was half the film size used in Eastman Kodak cameras. It was to be used in a new type of Kinetoscope for moving images on a strip of celluloid film, which could be viewed by one person at the time.
But, you say, if movie film is 3:2 (1.5), why are modern movies shown as 16:9 (1.78) in theaters? All I can guess is they are filmed as 1.5 but are then somehow masked to be 16:9. If my brother were around he'd explain it to me.

Now to a reasonably modern mid-market camera -- the Optura 50. The sensor on the Optura 50 is 1/3.4. That, apparently, is a measurement in square inches -- so the sensor is 0.3 inches squared. That's in the "higher range" of single sensor cameras (which is why the Optura is less "zoomy" than the Elura -- if lens size is fixed a bigger sensor means less magnification. Tragically the Optura still has crappy wide angle coverage.

But what's the aspect ratio of the sensor? My main clue is the recording pixels for the still camera, which maxes out at 1632 x 1224 (1.33 or 4:3) [1]. That's our old TV 4:3 aspect ratio; so the sensor is shaped like an old fashioned TV. Given that aspect ratio and the surface are of 0.3 sq in then the working sensor is about 0.84 x 0.63 inches (sorry for all the US units!). (This assumes the still camera uses the entire sensor -- this is a reach and in retrospect is an unreliable assumption.)

So how does the camera manage to produce 16:9 letterbox output -- with all its associated editing and display problems (need iMovie 5.01, need to define project, lots of hassles everywhere) -- when the physical aspect ration is 4:3?! (I don't really know, but if you assume the sensor is phsyically .84x.63 inches then ...)

Ahh, that's the bad news. The camera must be using only a part of the sensor and adjusting the display appropriately. You can get a good idea of how much is being thrown away by looking at the size of the image on the swing-out LCD viewfinder -- in 16:9 widescreen mode there are black bands above and below the display. If my math is right then the camera uses the full width of the sensor but only 75% (0.47/0.63) of the height. So almost 25% of the sensor data is being disgarded in order to produce that spiffy letterbox effect.

Now if a camera had a true 16x9 sensor that would be a different story!

Update 3/20/05: And NOW, for a contrary opinion!! I'm leaning now to the conclusion that the real constraint is iMovie. So I'll stay 4:3 until I ready to try iMovie 5, then switch.

---- Footnote -- on resolution ---------

[1] The still images are 2 megapixels - idiotic toy camera. The spec sheet says the movie 1,230,000 pixels or 1280x960, so much less than the still camera. That's apparently typical for a mid-range consumer sensor; the image stabilizer uses up some of the pixels that are available for still camera use.

Now, consider how TVs work (this site is also useful). With 525 scan line NTSC video the usual image displayed is only a 480 lines high, of which 240 are displayed at any one time (alternating240 at 60/sec, so a 480 at 30/sec). In data terms this is roughly equivalent to a 640x480 display or about .3 megapixels.

Obviously the sensor can capture a higher resolution than NTSC can represent. So where does all the extra resolution go? Seems like a waste.

PS. This data was kindly posted in response to my query in an Apple support forum, its based on SONY data:

Maximum playback resolution for different camcorder video sources:

8MM - Up To 240 Lines of Resolution
8MM XR - Up To 280 Lines of Resolution
Hi-8 - Up To 400 Lines of Resolution
Hi-8 XR - Up To 440 Lines of Resolution
----- the NTSC signal standard maxes out above here -------------
D8 (Digital 8) - Up To 500 Lines of Resolution
Mini DV - Up To 530 Lines of Resolution
High Definition - Up To 1080 Interlaced Lines of Resolution

Updated 3/19: trying to correct my most egregious errors.

Progress in consumer electronics is not linear

In fact, sometimes progress moves in reverse. The entire consumer camcorder market has gone to seed!

Consdier the Optura 50

Last year Canon's mid-range cameras had a reasonable wide-angle lens and S-video analog input.

This year Canon's mid-range camera have no S-video and mediocre wide-angle (thought the Elura 90 has a wide angle adapter in the box).

The high end cameras have S-video and mediocre wide-angle and lots of noise at low light levels. The wide angle adapter is yet more money.

The zoom is very annoying. At least they post their 35mm equivalents

f=4.6-46 mm, f/1.8-2.8, 10x power zoom
35mm equivalent:
Tape: 4:3 recording: 47.8-478 mm
16:9 recording: 40.9-409 mm

A 48mm lens is basically a standard lens. So there's no wide angle at all. Zip.

Most of the video I do is of our kids in the house. The only use for a 10x zoom (or a 20x zoom in the smaller sensor Elura 90) is for a close-up of nasal hair.

Update 3/19: I pursued this further with a usenet thread.

Paul Rubin kindly filled me in. He recommended I look for a used SONY TRV 900.
There is no mystery. The consumer market wanted camcorders to also be able to take megapixel still pictures, which means megapixel sensors, smaller pixels for a given sensor size, which means less light hitting each pixel, which means worse low-light performance. The TRV900 came from before the era of megapixel stills, so it had big pixels and good low-light performance. The VX2100 similarly doesn't take megapixel stills because somewhat outside the normal consumer market (it's a semi-pro camera popular with student filmmakers and the like), so its users don't want that feature.
And Ptravel added some more grim news about what's happened to camcorder sensors:
The VX2000/2100 uses, if I recall correctly, 1/3" sensors. I think the TRV900 used 1/4" sensors. The current line of consumer camcorders uses sensors as small as 1/6". Remember, too, that light sensitivity will decrease logarithmically rather than linerally as sensor size falls.
So the mystery is solved. It was good product management and stupid consumers that destroyed the consumer camcorder market. Still camera capability is a marker for a camcorder that can't handle low light situations.

Update 3/20/05: A plaintive letter to SONY in Jan 2003. Two years later, things are worse.

Raindance VOIP conferencing - with spam included

Video conferencing, net meeting, and web conferencing solutions Raindance

The Raindance website doesn't mention this, but they're a VOIP conferencing solution with integrated video. I was on one of their calls recently, a 3 way international call using phones. One speaker was a bit echoish but overall quality was good.

They offer a non-audio free one-to-one meeting service; roughly comparable to Microsoft, AOL and Yahoo's. Unfortunately when you sign up for the free account you give full rain for them to spam unmercifully and sell your contact information to the lowest of the low. Wow. If I were the CEO of Raindance, a publicly traded company, I'd have an absolute cow about this. How the heck would they ever hope to attract corporate customers for their non-free (not cheap) services if they spam on evaluation? Sigh. Of course I have them my trash account.

It seems to have installed a Java client on Firefox, but I won't be able to test it with distant colleagues given their terms of service. It really amazes me what some companies think is good business.

Here's the blurb from their web site:
Raindance Meeting Edition offers you the flexibility of several account levels, each providing the same powerful web conferencing features, but set for different meeting sizes and prices. All accounts include:

* Unlimited online meetings with easy-to-use video and web conferencing features
* Integration with Microsoft Outlook for automated invitations and meeting information
* A range of collaborative features that improve participation, enabling you to share applications, present documents, share browsers, chat and whiteboard online

Neat Image /Mac: photoshop noise-reduction plug-in

Neat Image /Mac :: features

A small business photoshop plug-in for noise reduction. I'll try the free version with Graphic Converter.

REC.VIDEO Google groups/usenet posting: Video degradation with S-Video analog transfer vs. A/V mini-jack connection

I posted Google this question to usenet (google groups)

How much quality is lost when a @1998 SONY Hi8 analog camcorder transfers Hi8 output with a high-quality (Monster $40) RCA (video composite, 2 audio) to a mini-video jack cable VERSUS using a high quality S-video cable with a separate audio-only RCA to mini-jack cable?

Here's the background if needed:

I have a @ 7 yo SONY analog Hi-8 camcorder with S-video I/O. I just bought a Canon Elura 90. I have 30 days to return the Elura if I want something else.

Here's the problem. The 2005 Elura 90s don't have S-video input/output [1]. They use an all-in-one mini-jack connector for analog I/O -- similar to what digital cameras use.

One of the main things I want the Elura to do is reasonably high quality conversion of my legacy Hi-8 tapes to digital format. I'll then edit the digital tapes over time on my purchase-pending G5 iMac and burn DVDs to archive.

[1] Instead they have a still camera capability. Arghh.


I've been told that if you're going from 8MM (or, shudder, VHS) to Mini DV the signal degradation impact of the composite video connection (mini-Video jack aka Video mini-jack to RCA plug composite) isn't that great. The source material is crummy to begin with.

Hi8, though, is a much higher quality source. It has 80% of the resolution of a mini DV digital capture. My experts tell me that the composite video has a significant impact in this setting.

The best solution would be the analog 3 channel RGB to analog 3 channel RGB input. That would require a professional level Hi8 camera and a pro level digital video camera. Next best is S-video, which is what I'll be getting.

I bought the camera from a high-service vendor so they didn't blink when I explained I wanted to swap out for the Optura 50 which does have S-video analog I/O.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Another dark day in the history of the governance of the United States of America: Paygo is gone

The New York Times > Opinion > Editorial: Sham Self-Discipline in the Capitol

It doesn't compare to de facto governmental sanctions of torture and pointless and self-defeating brutality, but neither is it a bright spot in the history of the United States of America:
Paygo was at the heart of the last display of honest, bipartisan budget discipline in the 90's. A proposal by Senator Russell Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, to restore this obvious force for good was rejected, 50 to 50, in the Senate. That vote provided a sad answer to one of the major budget questions this week as the world watches for believable evidence that the government might begin to rationally confront its own profligacy.

George Wedding on a future HDTV solution w/ Mac Mini 2.0

Macintouch: Mac Mini (Part 8)

A Macintouch reader submits a very detailed article on what's needed for Mac Mini 2.0 and HDTV integration. A great introduction to the entire domain. I've no personal experience, we'll get HDTV @ 2010 at the very earliest.

How to plug in an Apple computer -- first the AC, then the computer?!

Wow. I'd never have imagined this one! This business of embedding computers throughout complex hardware has some substantial limitations. Hmm. I wonder how far that meme extends.

Apple machines are infamous for controlling hardware via software. My PC has a simple thermal sensor that controls fan speeds, but on a Mac fan speed is the responsibility of low level OS code. My PC does simple error checking on memory at the hardware level, the Mac expects error free memory. PCs power supplies are brain dead, the Mac has a 'power management unit' with its own OS and firmware.

Which approach is better? I'm sure there are good arguments for Apple's approach (not to mention it makes cloning very hard ...), but my experience is 'stupid is better'.

The story of the PMU is illustrative. As reported in MacInTouch (from Desktop and Portable Systems: A Guide to Supporting, Servicing and Troubleshooting Apple Computers):
While skimming the book, we noted some interesting tips about power management, including the non-obvious, but apparently critical, issue of exactly how you connect an AC adapter:

* The PMU [power management unit] is a computer within a computer. It has memory, software, firmware, I/O, two crystals, and a CPU.

* If you connect the AC power adapter to the computer before you connect the adapter to an electrical outlet, you can make the Power Manager software unusable. Symptoms of issues with the Power Manager software include startup problems and the inability to shut down the computer (the computer restarts spontaneously after shutdown.)
Oookaaay. A few comments:

1. Ever wonder whether you should connect your iPod to the charging cable and then the cable to the firewire port - or vice-versa? Given the above, this may a choice between devil or the deep blue sea. Do it one way and mess up the iPod, the other and mess up the iBook!

2. Generally one tends to do the "right" thing -- plug an AC adapter into the wall, then connect it to the portable (iBook, etc). But what about people who like to power up via a surge suppressor? That used to be common practice. I wonder what that does?! What if there's a power failure and the power comes back on again? What if you accidentally disconnect the AC adapter and plug it back in?!

3. Wouldn't it be nice if Apple documented this somewhere?

4. Clearly, computers aren't ready for use by normal people.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Google maps revolution: Annotating the planet

Jon Udell: Annotating the planet

Jon is a big thinker. He's very excited about Google maps and what this will mean.

TypePad Features

TypePad Features

DeLong uses TypePad.

Finding an alternative to blogger

Movable Type

Movable type now owns TypePad, Movable Type and LiveJournal. I'm looking first at these as I try to figure out how to replace Blogger. I'm also looking at OS X clients and seeing which services they tend to support.

Dark side of Apple: why you shouldn't bother with AppleCare

MacInTouch Home Page

More on Apple's increasingly dismal customer service -- this time it's their 'bad RAM' policy. At this rate they'll rival SONY.

The bottom line is that it may be preferabel to work with a non-Apple Apple authorized service center. Instead of paying for AppleCare, look for a credit card insurance program and look for a private service center to work with.
I run an Apple Authorized service center, and on occasion, we need to send laptops into Apple for various reasons where they will not allow us to do the repair, or it is not cost effective for us to do the repair on our own.

I can verify the fact that if non-Apple RAM is installed in a machine, it is Apple policy to pull the RAM and send it back with a nasty note. This happens 100% of the time.

In many cases, they pull the memory, send the unit back to us, and the problem has not even been addressed. The most insane case was a PowerBook G4 that had a broken hinge. You guessed it, bad RAM caused the problem. It is now policy to remove non Apple RAM before sending any unit to Apple for service.

Outlook: Gregorian vs. Lunar - the rematch

Weirdest error message of the year, from Microsoft Outlook 2003

Cannot import vCalendar file.

This error can appear if you have attempted to save a recurring Lunar appointment in iCalendar format.
To avoid this error, set the appointment option to Gregorian instead of Lunar.
More information about this error message online.

How a firewall works Exploring the Mac OS X Firewall

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Ejecting a stuck CD in OS X

OSXFAQ - Technical News and Support for Mac OS X

There are several odd OS X weaknesses. One of them is trouble ejecting CDs or DVDs. In some states, esp. with fast user switching, a CD fails to mount and it cannot be ejected through standard means. The CD is "stuck" in limbo.

This page has a number of tricks. The one that recently worked for me was to fire up Disk Utility. There, and only there, I could see the CD. Then I was able to select it and eject it.


StickyBrain is a pretty active OS X personal information manager. I'm interested because it syncs with Palm, so it might work with my Samsung i600 phone. I also read on Macintouch that it supports some kind of iPhoto browsing. I'll update this post if I try it out.

Monday, March 14, 2005

O'Reilly: Turn Your Mac into an Audio Transcriber

O'Reilly: Turn Your Mac into an Audio Transcriber

AppleScript solution.

Recovering data from a corrupted os x image file

MacInTouch Home Page: "Steve Cooper managed to recover a lost FileVault image with some extra effort:

I had a FileVault image that was corrupted in such a way that I couldn't get access to its contents. The solution finally was to mount the image using Disk Utility (which was the only thing able to mount it, though even then it didn't appear on the desktop) then use Data Rescue to retrieve the files from it."

DCOM 10021 - one answer, but it's not free!

Windows XP: dcom error on xp after upgrade

My WinXP SP2 event monitor shows regular occurences of DCOM 10021 error. I figured this would be easy to track down on the net, but the ONLY possible answer is at the Experts-Exchange site. That site used to be free, but it costs money now.


The public net has failed me!

The only clue is that it may be related to upgrading a Win2K Pro machine to XP Pro.

Update: I should have scrolled down below the ads. Looks like Experts-Exchange does post the answers after a while. The link referred me to Looks like this will be a pain to hunt down. Of course Microsoft's support site had nothing -- hmph.

Update 2: This is looking better. The EventID site is very useful, unfortunately it's part of the "invisible net" (not accessible to search engines). I don't have McAfee installed, but these descriptions are interesting:
If you have a McAfee product installed and you have recently applied Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2, then see the link to "McAfee Support Solution ID: KB37954" for information on how to resolve this problem.

Eric Ritchie (Last update 12/15/2004):
I found this error to be a DCOM issue resulting from improper Launch and Activation permissions for the McAfee Framework Service in DCOM configuration. To resolve the issue, I searched for the registry key mentioned in the event description (which turned out to be McAfee's Framework Service). I then opened the Component Services Administrative Tool, and opened the properties of DCOM Config.\Framework Service under Computers\My Computer. Under the Security Tab, I found that the Administrators Group was missing from the Launch and Activation Permissions (Custom Tab). Giving the Administrators group full access corrected the issue.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Phil Bradley's functional guide to search engines

Phil Bradley: Finding what you need with the best search engines

Phil is a librarian with a special interest in search. His blog has been quite interesting lately, this is one of his most recent subjects. It's a functional guide to search engine selection. Based on a classification of purposes he suggests seach engines to use.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Blogger was a mess today!

Blogger has had good and bad days over the past 8 months, but the past few days were the worst ever. One of my postings was replicated six times; after the sixth occurence Blogger went down completely for about 18 hours. Their status site,, had no report on any part of the outage.

I wish I were paying for Blogger so they'd be in fear of losing my business. Another disadvantage of a free service!

Guide to buying a Dell display for a Mac

Cinema Displays (Part 6)

Nice review and guide. Dell seems to be capturing the flat panel computer display market.

Monday, March 07, 2005

MetaFilter profiles infamous London Underground Map(s)

Stand clear of the closing doors | MetaFilter

I've given a lecture on computational visualization at the U of MN for the past two years. It's a fun talk. The London Underground map features in my lecture, thanks to this collection of links I'll have a better story next year.

NYPL Digital Gallery: 275,000 images and counting

NYPL Digital Gallery

Bookofjoe pointed out that the New York Public Library now provides public access to their digital image repository:
NYPL Digital Gallery provides access to over 275,000 images digitized from primary sources and printed rarities in the collections of The New York Public Library, including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints and photographs, illustrated books, printed ephemera, and more.
Wow. It's been a while since such a large repository has been connected to the web. It reminds me again how far we've come since Paul Kleeberg first showed me the minutes of a city council meeting in Australia using a Gopher client back around 1994. Even so, we're only at the start of this journey.

Launchers for Mac OS X: LaunchBar, Butler, Quicksilver and more Launchers for Mac OS X

This was published 4/04 but I just came across it. Quicksilver has since gone into general release. Great discussion.

Google Desktop Search lays down another card

Google Desktop Search Plug-ins

When I tested out various desktop search tools Google Desktop search looked pretty feeble. I use Yahoo's relabeled X1 product -- it's not perfect but it's pretty acceptable on reasonably modern hardware.

But now Google has laid down another card - GDS plugins that extend its functionality:
This plugin is a web spider ('Kongulo' is Icelandic for spider) that crawls websites you specify and makes them searchable via GDS.

Kongulo follows links in HTML frame, image and anchor tags. It obeys robots.txt and knows basic and digest HTTP authentication. It can be run continuously, checking for updates to previously crawled pages, and uses the If-Modified-Since HTTP header to minimize transfers when doing so.

You can provide a regexp to limit crawls to e.g. your intranet domain.

This version does not have a graphical user interface and can be run from the command-line only.
Note my emphasis. This is a personal version of a corporate indexing tool. I'd guess it wouldn't scale to a large corporation, but who knows? In the meantime I'd use it to index my blogs so I can find stuff in them.

The product itself is interesting, but it emphasizes two things:

1. GDS might have a future.
2. When you build a product around Plugins, you gain a lot of power.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

A strange bug with Microsoft Office Outlook and Access 2000 and Palm HotSync and PocketMirror and ...

Microsoft Office Online Home Page

I wanted to consolidate and manipulate about 1100 contacts stored in an Outlook file. The history of those contacts is probably valid here. They've been through a myriad of applications over the years: FileMaker Pro on a Mac. FileMaker Pro on Windows. Palm Desktop/Mac. Palm Desktop/Windows. PocketMirror. PocketMirror Pro. Exchange. Outlook.

And that's the short list.

I export them from Outlook into Access. So far so good. In Access I can parse, manipulate and clean-up the data.

Except my queries don't work. I query 'not null' and get records with empty fields. I know Access 2000 had problems (2003 is better), but this is ridiculous. It can't be that buggy. The fields, however are empty. I run all the database repair utilities -- no effect.

Or are they?

I export all the data to a delimited file. Then I use a text editor to set the character set to ANSI and save the text file as PC format. They I reimport. Now all the queries work.

My guess is that there were 'illegal' characters in those fields. I know Access 2003 can handle UTF-8 data, maybe there those characters would have rendered in some way. In this case, they didn't. They were there, but Access couldn't get at them and couldn't delete them.

The risks of moving data between a LOT of platforms ...

Friday, March 04, 2005

Utility for import into OS X Address book

turingart - AB Transfer - OS X address book import utility:
'AB Transfer' imports from any file source, while 'AB Transfer Pro' (*) imports from databases too. The following database systems are planned as data sources: FileMaker, Oracle, SyBase, MS SQL Server, generic ODBC, MySQL, Postgres, SQLite."

Acrobat 7 and various PDF related Safari bugs

Macintouch report: Acrobat 7

Macintouch had a bunch of reports on PDF dispaly in Safari. Here are some fragments.
From Adobe - a whole bunch of workarounds for numerous bugs:
Chris Gulker, Adobe

Here is a recipe that should make Acrobat or Reader 7 show PDFs inside Safari windows (please note that Acrobat/Reader 7 require Safari 1.2.2 or newer on Mac OS 10.3.x):

1. Quit Safari (this is important).
2. Launch Adobe Acrobat 7 or Adobe Reader 7, whatever you want to use within Safari
3. In Acrobat or Reader:
Choose "Preferences..." from the Apple menu item
4. In the Preferences dialog:
Select "Internet" from the list on the left
...if all the items in the top section are disabled, you have Mac OS 10.2.x. Acrobat and Reader do not work inside Safari in 10.2.x.
5. Check (or leave checked) "Display PDF in browser"
Select (or leave selected) the first item in the menu to its right.
6. Click 'OK'
7. Choose "Detect and Repair" from the Help menu
... you should see "Adobe PDFViewer" as one of the options
8. Check (or leave checked) Adobe PDFViewer
9. Click "Continue"
... "missing components were repaired" or
"No missing components detected" should appear.
10. Click "OK"

You should now be set up to see PDFs in the browser. Launch Safari and test.

If it still doesn't work, here are some diagnostics to perform to help figure out where the problem may lie; some have solutions and some would need further investigation:

(1) Make sure Safari thinks our browser plug-in is there and is the only one for handling PDFs

1. Launch Safari
2. In Safari:
3. Choose "Installed Plug-ins" from the Help menu
... you should see a section titled "Adobe Acrobat and Reader Plug-in" - you may need to scroll to find -and it should contain several lines, the most pertinent being:
application/pdf :: Acrobat Portable Document Format :: pdf
... if you don't find this, then somehow the Safari plug-in that is connecting Safari to Acrobat/Reader is not being correctly installed.
4. In that same browser window, Find (command-F) "application/pdf" (no double-quotes). ... you should find *only one* of these, and it should be in the section titled "Adobe Acrobat and Reader Plug-in", in file
... if you find more than one, then you have another plug-in that is interfering. Delete that other plug-in (then quitting and re-launching Safari) should make PDFs appear in the browser using
Acrobat/Reader -- although I don't recommend deleting a plug-in without first understanding why it's there. Plug-ins are in /Library/Internet Plug-Ins
In that same browser window, Find "pdf"
... you should find several, but they should all be in the section titled "Adobe Acrobat and Reader Plug-in". If you find "pdf" in another section, specifically in the third column of the table under "Extensions", then again you have another plug-in that is interfering with the connection between Safari and Acrobat/Reader (see above).

(2) In Finder, make sure our plug-in exists and isn't duplicated: / Library / Internet Plug-ins / AdobePDFViewer.plugin There should be only one copy of it; there should not be any copies in the following directory:

/ Library / Internet Plug-ins

(3) More advanced: check for errors in the console

1. Quit Safari
2. Launch / Utilities /
3. In Console:
Command-K to clear the console (this doesn't delete anything in the
actual log: it only temporarily clears the window).
4. Launch Safari
5. In Safari: Navigate to a PDF
... check in the console for error messages that indicate a problem.

(4) Even more advanced: check Acrobat-Safari connection infrastructure

1. In Finder
Right-click on / and choose "Show Package Contents"
2. Double-click on "Contents"
... you should see a folder labeled "Frameworks"
3. Double-click on "Frameworks"
... you should see many aliases that start with "Adobe"

We are working to put these procedures in the Adobe support knowledge base.
and a few others:
Very annoying but easily fixed. Go into AcrobatReader 7's prefs/Internet - switch off the use-AR7 Browser Option tick boxes.

Larry Macy
Say What?? Why are these folks having this problem?? Oh Yeah Apple hid this one: In QuickTime Player, open QuickTime Preferences (or From System Preferences), click on the Advanced tab, click on MIME Settings, click on the disclosure triangle for Images - Still image files, scroll down to PDF Image and check it. It is unchecked by default (Why?? Ask Apple). All PDF's will show in Safari just dandy. Been there since 10.3. something.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

We'll always have Paris

Yet another Google curiousity. They've introduced a "movie" operator.

Try it out.

Google Search: movie:we'll always have paris

Speculation on a future iPod

Next-Generation iPod Details Unveiled : Multimedia Devices : MobileMag

PortalPlayer makes the chipset for the iPods. They put out an announcement that MobileMag has commented on. In the past Apple has punished partner announcements of this sort, but I don't know if this one will merit the full Jobs fury.
Apple has kept the wraps on their upcoming 5G iPods very very tight, with almost no information surfacing except scattered rumors. Today PortalPlayer announced the release of their next-generation PP5022 System-on-Chip, could this be the mark of the new 5G iPods? We think so.

Current 4G iPods, iPod Minis and iPod Photos use the PortalPlayer PP5020, a predecessor to the new PP5022. The PP5022 is specifically designed for enhanced features on hard-disk drive-based personal media players (iPod?) and offers triple the battery life of the PP5020....

The chip will also support a USB 2.0 host controller and transceiver; this will offer compatibility with peripheral devices such as digital still cameras and printers. You will be able to connect your 5G iPod to your digital camera, download the photos, then connect it to a printer and print your files.

In addition to USB 2.0 high-speed Device support, there is On-the-Go support; FireWire Link Layer integration; dedicated ATA-66 enhanced IDE bus supporting up to four devices; 4-bit SDMMC controller; consumer CD I2S port; 8/16-bit expansion IO; B/SIR infrared; TWC 3-wire controller; 4 channel, 8-bit ADC; 4 channel, 8-bit PWM/FM; up to 48 GPIOs; dedicated 16-bit memory controller for two banks of 2.5V or 1.8V SDRAM. I’m beginning to think this thing would be a waste in a 5G iPod, maybe put it in a smaller Mac Mini.

Performance on the PP5022 will top that of any chip in any media player, the architecture integrates dual 32-bit ARM7 CPUs with zero wait state and four-port 128 kilobyte iRAM and six DMA channels that connect through multiple high-speed internal buses. Simply put, it will offer peak performance on high demand operations while maintaining ultra low power consumption. The high-performance interface will increase download speeds, improve performance when transferring a large number of music files and when managing photos.

Phone sync and USB charge cables - great selection (boxwave)

BoxWave - miniSync - Retractable Cable - Sync and Charge USB Cable!

This is the ever popular retractable cable with specific phone adapters. Much cheaper than phone travel chargers and syncs as well.


1. USB 2 may provide more power than USB 1, some device may not charge on USB 1 properly.
2. Some phones don't charge via USB at all, even when the cable works.
3. It takes a long time to charge via USB, most people do it overnight.

Setting CPU Processing speed on a mac

macosxhints - A script to set CPU processing speed

Several different techniques. I'll try this! Might help with battery life, fan noise, etc.

Fix for Acrobat 7 bug: cannot display PDF in Safari

Macintouch report - Acrobat 7

I've run into this bug. On my 10.3.8 G3 iBook installing Acrobat 7 results in blank pages instead of a PDF display when I open a PDF file in Safari. Here's a fix I'll try:
"For Safari, Acrobat 7 attempts to 'take over' the chore of displaying PDF's from the default program. For some reason, this does not work, and Safari is left unable to display PDF's at all.

I would bet good money that Tom will find the following file on his system: /Library/Internet Plug-Ins/AdobePDFViewer.plugin

If he deletes that file, Safari should then be able to display PDF's again (via

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Darik's Boot and Nuke: wipe a drive completely

Darik's Boot and Nuke
Darik's Boot and Nuke ('DBAN') is a self-contained boot floppy that securely wipes the hard disks of most computers. DBAN will automatically and completely delete the contents of any hard disk that it can detect, which makes it an appropriate utility for bulk or emergency data destruction.
It's a pain to safely discard a hard drive, or a laptop for that matter. It's quite hard to get rid of the data. This open source utility, available for Mac or PC, will do the work. I prefer not to think of what constitutes a need for "emergency" data destruction.

Facial recognition biometrics: static by cell phone and dynamic by desktop video

Slashdot | Face Recognition Comes to Cameraphones
Japanese company has developed face recognition software for camera phones that it says can authenticate users within one second of clicking the shutter.
This is very neat if true. It could be an inexpensive way to add biometrics to a lot of devices.

A still camera on a fixed workstation is of limited utility however. What would be very cool would be dynamic facial biometrics; an algorithm that worked based on how a face moves when speaking a passphrase. (The passphrase would be public, indeed it would be posted on the workstation.) I have a hunch that that biometric would work quite well.

But why do this instead of the still image? Because a video device on a fixed workstation has other uses -- especially when integrated with the very new standards for streaming audio and video. In a year or so we ought to have the ability to deliver quite decent videoconferencing at low costs to workstations. Combining biometrics with conferencing is a good business solution.

Another free business idea! Remember, you can't patent or copyright it now.

DigiBarn: Re-visiting and revising the famous Bushy Tree diagram of the lineage of visual computing systems

DigiBarn: Re-visiting and revising the famous Bushy Tree diagram of the lineage of visual computing systems

Cocktail: maintaining an OS X system

Cocktail - a perfect mixture for Mac OS X

ONYX (free) and Panther Cache Cleaner (shareware) are two alternatives. Cocktail is shareware (not free), but has reputation for being trouble free and has been around a while. Panther Cache Cleaner used to have an odd installation configuration.

Phone Samsung i500 (Sprint) Cell Phones: PCS Phone Samsung i500 (Sprint)

I wanted a semi-decent business-market phone at a reasonable price that would allow me to sync and manipulate contact data on my Mac. I didn't plan on going to a PDA/phone for a variety of reasons, including my opinions of the cost/technology/capability ratios.

To my surprise I ended up with the Samsung i500. It's a pretty good implementation of a phone with very well done old-fashioned Palm PDA extensions; and the price was within my range (the phone is being sunset, so the price was much lower than a Treo or Samsung i600). As a PDA it's comparable to a Palm device of @2001 (a good year), as a phone it's comparable to a fairly basic and slightly bulky analog/digital device.

Here's my review.
I ordered the phone, had it activated and changed my service plan. I'm still breathing. It was about an average level of trouble -- typical of life in the modern world. (My wife claims the staggering complexity of modern life fully explains why young adults refuse to leave home these days. I think she has a point.)

First the phone, then some brief highlights on what was surprising (suppressing boring and pointelss details).
Phone: Samsung SPH i500

This is the last of the classic Palm OS devices. Turning this phone on was a surprising trip to the good old days. It has an IR port! It has Graffiti ONE! I don't think any other device sold today ships with the much mourned version of Graffiti best known for the unique trait of actually working. It is a Grafitti-centric device, as God meant a Palm to be.

Most people will compare this to the Treo 650. The Treo costs about $600 list, this one was about $450 list (more or less, pricing on these things is diabolically confusing). Either way, if you don't have a current Sprint contract, and you sign up for a fresh two year locked-in contract, you get $150 back. The Treo 650 is a newfangled Palm that dispenses with Graffiti and opts for a keyboard, and it's a PDA first and a phone second. The i500 is a phone first, but also quite a decent little PDA.

The Treo has the new PalmOS that's slightly more Outlook friendly but less reliable overall. Amazon reviews suggest a high hardware defect rate for the 650 (the 600 may be better). In contrast the i500 had quite favorable reviews.

The i500 is not a new phone, I think it came on the market about 1-2 years ago. It's nearing the end of its lifecycle so prices may fall. It may also become hard to find accessories, so stock-up.

The phone is smaller than the Treo by a good bit, but wider than most modern phones. It's substantially bigger than the more costly and fashionable Motorola RAZR for example. Compared to my 2-3 yo Samsung phone it's significantly slimmer and lighter but a bit wider. It feels flat and actually is comfortable in a pocket. The fixed stubby antenna might be damaged in a pocket however. Reception is much better than my old Samsung; sound is clear but voices have a slight metallic quality. You can't do Caller ID until you open the phone -- the later version of this phone (PocketPC/Mobile PC version) does have an external LCD dispay. This phone cures the curse of older Samsung phones -- the errant volume adjustment. Buttons on the right side of the phone still raise and lower volume; but they now have no effect when the phone is closed.

It wasn't initially clear how to switch this phone to vibration mode. The manual describes navigating to an obscure preference setting, but it also mentions that the 'vibration' and 'silent' modes are set by lowering volume. I'd call this a bit of a usability glitch; it's not obvious to me that "vibrate" is a volume setting. Anyway, if the phone is in idle mode using the keys on the right side you can drop volume to "vibrate" or "silent".

The phone/address book integration seemed good on first use (but see update, below). There are a plethora of ways to interact with stored numbers, including quick keys, address book (typical palm), voice dial, and a curiously different phone specific four number short list (seemed pretty worthless and confusing, I swapped it for a diffeerent "plug-in"). The built in software is standard Palm stuff, the Samsung authored phone specific tools are less polished and responsive than the PalmOS tools. I have a CLIE PDA and I'd thought I'd be using this as a phone with a great contact/dialing list, but I like it better than I'd expected. I might end up giving up some of the advanced features of the CLIE and making this my phone/PDA for the next few years. The screen is pretty good, a slightly small and squashed version of the standard screen. It's a smaller screen, so there are more pixels/cm.

I mentioned one odd exception to the phone integration. Here's what the full manual says about the speed dial numbers:
Note: When you perform a HotSync operation, make sure you use the default setting of “Handheld Overwrites Desktop” or else the Speed Dial numbers will not be synchronized.
Anyone who's used a Palm or other PDA knows how dumb this recommendation is. In my testing with the normal sync setting editing a phone number on the desktop and then synching did not cause me to lose the speed dial number settings.

This is a business phone, not a fun phone. It feels solid and well made. There's no camera and ring tones are not a strength. It came with two batteries (shock) - thin and standard and an extra stylus. It comes with a brief manual, on the CD is a 200+ page tome (Adobe Acrobat format). There's a travel charger that can plug into the phone or into the sync/charge cradle; a very nice touch. There's no travel sync cable, but a retractable sync/USB charge cable is widely sold. I report back how well it charges via USB, I don't think the cradle charges with a USB only connection.

The software CD comes with Windows software only. I have a Palm Desktop 4.1 for CLIE, this ships with roughly Desktop 4.1. The install program is very polite, you can choose to install PocketMirror (bundled), Palm Desktop, or just the USB drivers. I just did the USB. The phone ships with a quite inadequate paper manual, the full manual is a PDF file on the CD. I actually read the full manual, which is how I learned to record a phone conversation (p. 38 - it's a menu item on the option menu for a call).

There's no software for Mac, but I had Palm Desktop 4.2 for Mac from another Palm of mine. That worked fine, it synched with no trouble (OS X 10.3.8). I synched with the old Mac Palm desktop, not with iSync/Address book (I'll try that later, should work as well as any Palm device.) Missing Sync sells software to support this device if you don't have Palm Desktop.

There's not much other software on the CD, other than PocketMirror (no value on a Mac) and some plug-ins for the Samsung phone screen. The Windows CD has an installer for the "plugins", but if you browse the Windows directory you'll find two PRC files. Put ONE of those on a Mac, double click, and you can install them manually. I liked the calendar plug-in. If you don't like the plug-in you delete it and can get back to the default screen view.

When I plugged this device's USB cable in (via cradle) OS X recognized it immediately as a CDMA modem. I expect it will work well as a wireless modem. If you try to sync without having the cradle plugged into an outlet the sync button on the cradle won't work. Sync does work if you start it from the Palm's internal sync application. The cradle feels like a weak spot in this product. You must tilt the top of the phone forward to remove it from the cradle; if you try to pull up you will break the cradle. I don't feel like this cradle will last forever. I may use it primarily to charge the batteries and sync via the $14 retractable cable I've ordered.

More updates to follow, but first -- Sprint.

Verizon has a good reputation, Sprint doesn't. What can I say, it's too much hassle for me to switch and Verizon didn't have a phone I liked. I think all these companies are evil anyway -- Europeans do so much better than we with wireless providers. A few tidbits from my Sprint expriences:
  1. Sprint's website doesn't work properly with Safari. It mostly works with Firefox. Idiots.
  2. The phone was $150 more at the Sprint store than at the Sprint web site. I think it's being sunset and the store price was a few weeks out of date.
  3. To get the rebate you have to sign up for a PCS Vision plan.
  4. When I called the operator swore there was a much better plan for us. Free and clear, lower rate, adjustable rates, etc. So she said. We'll see. What she forgot to mention, however, was that when we switched plans we also got a new contract! That would annoy me except I'm getting used to life in the modern world. Rule #1: no matter how careful you are, these companies know this business better than you do. They'll get you sooner or later, so close your eyes and think of England. I needed the contract anyway to get my $150 back, but it would be nice to have been told first.
  5. The phone is configured to make it very easy to go online, where you pay by the KB at an outrageous rate -- unless you have a plan internet access. I changed the Palm setup to make that less automatic (changed button assignments).
Update 4/10/05: In many ways the phone has held up well, but it's now apparent that it falls short of excellence. The phone/PDA integration looks good -- until one tries to actually use the directory to make calls. Sigh. This is so bad words fail me. Two quick examples:
  1. The number lookup defaults to searching by number rather than name. (Huh?)
  2. The name lookup assumes each person has only one number. Of course in the Palm directory there are 3-4 numbers per person.
  3. The quick lookup has one sort order -- by sequence in which the shortcut number was asssigned (eg. not by name).
There's more, but it's too depressing. This phone should have been excellent, but some serious product management screw-ups make it merely useful.

Update 1/15/07

My wife's i500 died. Since she needs ePocrates, she stole my phone and I bought a Motorola RAZR v3M. I was able to migrate her data and applications from her old phone to the new one through Missing Sync (OS X). For reference, the steps are:
  1. Perform a hard reset to wipe all data:
    Press and hold the Handheld Power button located on the side of the phone, then use the stylus reset tool (unscrew the stylus to access the reset tool) to press the reset button.
    Remove the stylus reset tool from the rest hole and wait for the Palm Screen to display, then release the handheld power button. An Erase all data screen is displayed confirming the hard reset.
    Press the up scroll key on the front of the phone to perform the hard reset.
  2. Calibrate digitizer.
  3. Place in cradle, press sync, select old user name from Missing Sync dialog. Sync twice so ePocrates updates its database.

Bypassing Sprint's Claire

Sprint PCS Info - Content

Claire is Sprint's virtual person. She's widely despised*. If you want to bypass Claire, this page gives a list of alternatives. It's hosted by an enthusiast web site for Sprint sufferers and has a good collection of guidance. Assuming they don't use PayPal, I'll make a donation.

* Claire is a fine name used by, among others, my sister.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Tales of Future Past: a place to browse

Tales of Future Past

Via Boing Boing -- this wonderful web site of mid-20th century visions of the 21st century. Lets of wistful fun.

Macs & Cell Phones: Macintouch report

Macs & Cell Phones (Part 4)

This Macintouch report is a bit dated, but note the comment on the USB interface cable.
If Suzy is looking for a Sprint Palm OS Phone with analog ability, the Samsung i500 in combination with MarkSpace Software's Missing Sync would provide the ability to sync with Address Book or Palm Desktop. Unfortunately Sprint has been late to market with Bluetooth, offering only the now discontinued Sony T608. It does sync nicely, and has analog, but is marred by a quirky interface and bugs.

Sprint does now have the Motorola v60v, which is voice only (no Internet features) but I speculate would sync with address book over a USB cable since iSync works with every other v60.

Another option is BitPim, a sync software project in beta, which offers support for a wide variety of phones over USB. People have had varying degrees of success with it.

By the way, USB interface cables for many phones can be found at Radio Shack under the brand FutureDial, for about $20. Suzy can search through forums like the ones at or or the Yahoo Mac cell phone board for deeper info.

Understanding SSH

A great series on SSH - The Unofficial Apple Weblog -

This blog links to "Brian Hatch’s series of articles on SSH at SecurityFocus".

OS X 10.3.9: the last for my iBook?

AppleInsider | Apple seeds Mac OS X 10.3.9 7W72

Up until now 10.3.6 has been probably the best overall version of OS X. I'm on 10.3.8 w/ my G3 dual USB iBook and I don't have enough problems to drop back, but people happy on 10.3.6 probably shouldn't update.

I'm hoping 10.3.9 will be a good end point for my iBook, however. Below is the AppleInsider description.
In a seed note accompanying the latest build, Apple reportedly told developers to focus their testing efforts in the following areas: Bluetooth, DVD Player, FireWire devices, Modems (both internal and external), Networking, Printing, Safari, Terminal and USB devices. The company also asked that developers assess the 'general system usability and reliability.'

Apple also listed approximately 30 areas of change and enhancement that are already reflected in build 7W72. Some of these improvements include various video driver fixes, improved Directory Services performance, Java garbage collection optimization, 'wake from sleep' performance improvements, and a new version of the Mac OS X kernel (7.9.0).

Mac OS X 10.3.9 will also usher in bug fixes to the following components: Automounter, Object Exchange over Bluetooth, Fax and modem, FireWire OHCI software, Password server slapd, SmartcardServices compatibility, setkey command line tool, Navigation Services, USB FHCI, and USB 2.0 hard drive mounting.

Sources tell AppleInsider that Mac OS X 10.3.9 is slated for a release in late March or early April.
Note the change in kernel - presumably from a 7.8.x version to 7.90. Superstition has it that changes on the second digit are big. My hunch has been that some of the SMB share and firewire problems need to be addressed very deep in the OS -- maybe this is where that will happen. I'd figured Apple wouldn't mess with the deep insides until 10.4.

I'll be extra slow to adopt 10.3.9 given the "big" (superstition) kernel version change, but it sounds promising. 10.3.9 will likely be the last OS update for my iBook, I doubt a G3 will be able to run Tiger well.