Monday, October 31, 2005

Mac OS X 10.4.3 Update: Beware!

The OS X 10.4.3 Update (Delta) has been released. I believe the 3 people who read this blog know this is a BIG pile of bugfixes. It would be astounding if it didn't cause some people serious trouble.

I have been keenly awaiting this release, but I will chain myself to the mast to avoid installing it until at least a week has passed. This is not a minor update. I'll let my good friend Andrew do some testing first ... (Andy prides himself on installing every Apple OS and product update without hesitation ...)

Note one fix is to completely disable Quartz Extreme:
Disables Quartz 2D Extreme—Quartz 2D Extreme is not a supported feature in Tiger, and re-enabling it may lead to video redraw issues or kernel panics.
Quartz extreme was a major Tiger pre-release feature. I hope this doesn't mean it's been bumped completely out of Tiger! A bitter pill indeed.

LaunchBar 4.1b1 has Search in Spotlight option

I wrote Objective Development a month or two ago requesting Spotlight integration in their Launchbar application (Launchbar alone is sufficient reason to use OS X over XP). They told me the work was underway. I guess I wasn't the only customer to ask!

Now it's out in beta. I'll report on how this goes as soon as I install it. This might make Spotlight really useful for me.
LaunchBar 4

LaunchBar 4.1b1 is a Mac OS X launcher with drop-down menus, shortcut keyboard access to menu items, and launching of bookmarks, email addresses, files, and applications. This beta release adds new options for opening items, support for color labels, improved iTunes support, improved Address Book support, a Search in Spotlight option, a Look Up in Dictionary option, faster startups, and other changes. LaunchBar is $19.95 for non-commercial use ($39 for business use) for Mac OS X 10.2 through 10.4.
Update 11/1: Fabulous. Heavenly. Suddenly Tiger is worth something. The Spotlight syntax now makes sense. I can do phrase searches. I can do Boolean searches. I've removed Spotlight's keyboard shortcut and assigned the Spotlight Windows shortcut to F2. Launchbar again owns the cmd-spacebar key.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Roku SoundBridge vs SlimDevices Squeezebox

It's great to have choices.

1. The Roku SoundBridge decodes AAC on the receiving device, the SlimDevices Squeezebox decodes AAC on the server -- and streams FLAC.. Roku has an iTunes license, Squeezebox doesn't.

2. Squeezebox is tightly integrated with the OpenSource SlimServer with a web client interface. SlimServer can stream to iTunes or to the Roku SoundBridge (not documented).

3. SlimServer in my limited experience seems to demand a lot of machine resources, and is a bit flaky.

Decisions pending ...

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Fixing a broken WDS wired to wireless bridge on an Apple Airport Express

Subtitle: Who is Henry B, and why has he posted about 35,000 times to Apple's support site?

I recently bought an Apple Airport Express (discount) to stream AirTunes music to my compact AudioSource amplifier (inputs are Airport Express and iPod, output to local Mission and remote AudioSource speakers). I was unhappy with the usability of AirTunes (though TuneConnect is helping!), so I decided to investigate a SlimDevices Squeezebox. I figured I'd hook the Squeezebox up to the wired ethernet port on the Airport Express, and use the AExpBS simply as a WDS network extender and a wired to wireless bridge.

Problem was, when I tested with my iBook, the bridge didn't work. The iBook reported the ethernet cable was not connected. Research led nowhere (several sites mentioned that the AExpBS didn't support bridging using WPA encryption, but that's dated, it does now). In desperation, I tried Apple Discussions.

It worked. "Henry B." (level "four", @35K posts), who I hope is a pseudonym for many persons, came up with a response that worked:
Apple - Discussions - WDS bridge not working

...I should be able to use an AEX in WDS mode to connect an ethernet device to my WLAN, using the the AEX as a bridge.

It's not working here. All theWDS settings seem fine. I can stream to the AEX and use it extend my WLAN. If I plug an ethernet cable into it, however, no joy. My iBook says there's nothing plugged in.


1. Do a factory reset of your Airport Express to get it back into a known state per:

2. Make sure your Powerbook, Airport Extreme Base Station, and Airport Express are all - for now - in the same room.

3. With your Powerbook connected to the wireless network of the Airport Extreme Base Station (prove it by making sure you have internet access) run the Airport Admin Utility. We are going to have you clean up some settings on it first:
  • make sure the Base Station is running firmware version 5.5.1. If not ...
    install firmware 5.5.1 on the Base Station:
    and 6.1.1 on the Airport Express:
    WPA on a WDS network works perfectly with these firmware versions.
  • under the Airport tab, make sure you have NOT checked the box to "create a closed network"
  • under the Access Control tab, remove ALL table entries
  • under the WDS tab, remove all entries and uncheck all boxes
Then update settings to the Airport Base Station.

4. Make sure you have the Airport 4.1 update installed on your Mac:

5. Now run the Airport Setup Assistant. Use its guidance to configure the Airport Express as a new base station that "extends" the existing wireless network created by the Airport Extreme Base Station.
Incredibly, this worked. The bridge was restored. I noticed two things with this process:
  1. After I'd installed the firmware 'downgrades' on both base stations I couldn't connect wirelessly to the Airport Extreme, I had to reset it first.
  2. When I ran Airport Setup Assistant it complained that I didn't have IPv6 enabled (it's disabled on my older 10.3.9 machine). I skipped that step and it then hung after locating my base station. I went back and enabled IPv6 and it completed successfully.
Was it the firmware downgrade that did the trick, or was it enably IPV6 on the iBook?
I wonder if bridging from wired to WAN using a WPA encrypted WDS configured Airport Express Base station requires IPv6 ...

In any case, it's a relief not to have to call Apple tech support!

The latest programming fad: Ruby on Rails

I guess I have to figure out what this one is. O'Reilly is always the best source: Rolling with Ruby on Rails.
What is Ruby?

Ruby is a pure object-oriented programming language with a super clean syntax that makes programming elegant and fun. Ruby successfully combines Smalltalk's conceptual elegance, Python's ease of use and learning, and Perl's pragmatism. Ruby originated in Japan in the early 1990s, and has started to become popular worldwide in the past few years as more English language books and documentation have become available.

What is Rails?

Rails is an open source Ruby framework for developing database-backed web applications. What's special about that? There are dozens of frameworks out there and most of them have been around much longer than Rails. Why should you care about yet another framework?

What would you think if I told you that you could develop a web application at least ten times faster with Rails than you could with a typical Java framework? You can--without making any sacrifices in the quality of your application! How is this possible?

Part of the answer is in the Ruby programming language. Many things that are very simple to do in Ruby are not even possible in most other languages. Rails takes full advantage of this. The rest of the answer is in two of Rail's guiding principles: less software and convention over configuration...
OS X Tiger includes the Ruby interpreter.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

MacWorld: Secrets of Safari

MacWorld did secrets of Firefox a while back. Now they do Safari. News to me! I never even noticed the 'add to iPhoto Library' feature.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Controlling Apple AirTunes with SlimServer, or how I was turned to the Darkseid

I've been around long enough to know how pernicious and nasty these DRM (digital rights management) schemes are. I knew sooner or later they'd turn me to the Darkseid where one skirts the edges of the foul abyss of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. (DMCA badness befouls both Republicans and Dems alike.)

So my 3,500 iTunes tunes are 99.99% from our large CD library. Only a few are AppleStore FairPlay DRMd. Still, they are largely AAC, which is theoretically an open (mp4) standard. All the same, I've been cautious.

Good. Because Apple has broken their implied contract. The contract worked like this:
1. We will grudgingly accept Apple's four DRM scheme as the best of a bad bunch.
2. Apple will provide us solutions that work.
With their failure to provide a half-decent remote control solution for iTunes/AirTunes Apple has left us with no good way to stream music from a server based iTunes library to an AirTunes speaker. Even the Keyspan remote is a weak solution. We needed an Apple solution at least as good as the SoundBridge and SlimDevice solutions; Apple has persistently failed to provide.

So it's with a clear conscience that I now skirt the twilight zone of SlimServer, the iTunes LAME plug-in, and even (dare I mention the word?) JHymm (though the last is least important). Solutions that are legal today, but certainly unpleasing to Apple.

Thus far the results are remarkably better than my attempts with AirTunes (I walk upstairs to adjust the volume?!), TuneConnect (no playlists, still this is very promising) and NetConnect (disappointing). At the moment SlimServer and iTunes are running on my iMac upstairs in a background user session. SlimServer is reading in AAC files, transcoding them using the iTunes LAME plug-in, and streaming them as high quality .mp3 files to iTunes. iTunes is then transcoding them to FLAC (I think) files and streaming them to my remote AirPort Express, the music then plays on my speakers. I can control play from a web browser on my iBook, or I could use the Java softsqueeze app for remote control. This cost nothing, though it all works better if one buys the Squeezebox hardware remote.

Weird. Kludgy. Hard setup with a few odd bugs I had to work around. Limited documentation. Had to download and install several pieces. It will all work better, of course, the further I move from Apple's DRM vision.

I hope they're listening. Apple has the capability to provide a great solution, but they're choosing to really irritate their customers.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Spotlight can now index OpenDocument files (OpenOffice, NeoOffice/J)

NeoLight (NeoOffice Spotlight Importer) - Spotlight Plugins: "A plug-in that allows Spotlight to index metadata and content within the files created by NeoOffice/J and It is compatible with documents generated by NeoOffice/J 0.8.4, NeoOffice/J 1.1, 1.x, and 2.0 (OpenDocument)."

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Kensington Stereo Dock for iPod

The alternative to using Apple's new integrated cradle: Electronics: Kensington 33164 iPod StereoDock Charger and Transmitter for iPod, iPod Mini, iPod Nano or iPod Photo.

I wonder if it really charges the G3 (rest can charge via USB).

Aperture -- not for the iMac?

I'm getting bad vibes about Apple's Aperture.

The video card in the iMac I bought a few months ago is not supported. In fact, neither is the video card in the iMac they're selling now.

Here's the supported list:
One of the following graphics cards: ATI Radeon X800 XT Mac Edition; ATI Radeon X850 XT; ATI Radeon 9800 XT or 9800 Pro; ATI Radeon 9700 Pro; ATI Radeon 9600 XT, 9600 Pro, or 9650; ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 or 9600; NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra DDL or 6800 GT DDL; NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT; NVIDIA Quadro FX 4500
My 3 month old iMac has an ATI Radeon 9600. The new iMac has an
ATI Radeon X600 Pro (17-inch model) or X600 XT (20-inch model) graphics processor with 128MB of DDR memory.
And yet the G4 PowerBook's card (ATI Mobility) is on the list.

Did Apple explicitly decide to shut out the iMac customer base? If they did, they will lose me as a customer.

Update: My buddy Andrew dug deeper in the tech specs and found a different list. Looks like this was a marketing error. The iMacs qualify. Phew. I want this software!
  • ATI Radeon x600 Pro or x600 XT
  • ATI Radeon X800 XT Mac Edition
  • ATI Radeon X850 XT
  • ATI Radeon 9800 XT or 9800 Pro
  • ATI Radeon 9700 Pro
  • ATI Radeon 9600, 9600 XT, 9600 Pro, or 9650
  • ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 or 9600
  • NVIDIA GeForce 6600 LE or 6600
  • NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra DDL or 6800 GT DDL
  • NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT
  • NVIDIA Quadro FX 4500

Keyspan AirTunes remote (Airport Express) Electronics: Keyspan URM-17A Express Remote Control

This is the only hardware device I know of for controlling AirTunes play. The only software option that works for me thus far is TuneConnect running on an iBook.

5G iPod (vPod) is really a very impressive audio iPod

Top Ten Things Techies Wanted to Know About the 5G iPod is a great summary, just the kind of things I'm interested in. Bottom line is, video aside, the 5G iPod is a very impressive audio device. They may have dumped firewire to free up some interal real estate.

Part of the article was a discussion of 'dots per inch' on a range of displays. I thought that was a fascinating reference all by itself. I have a vague memory that the original Mac SE was 80 dpi (I think printer was roughly the same resolution!). We really haven't come very far in terms of screen resolution.
Apple Cinema Display 20”: 99.05dpi (20” screen)
Apple Cinema Display 30”: 101.6dpi (29.7” screen)
Original Black and White iPods (1G-4G): 102.4 dpi (2” screen)
Apple iPod mini: 105.7 (1.67” screen)
Sony PlayStation Portable: 128dpi (4.3” screen)
iPod photo/color/4G: 141 dpi (2” screen)
iPod nano: 147 dpi (1.5” screen)
iPod 5G: 160 dpi (2.5” screen)
Creative Zen Vision: 216dpi (3.7” screen)
If this is right then you can actually get more on a Nano screen than a Mini screen or the original iPods (1.5*147 vs. 2.0*102). Seems unlikely ... - Clear Instructions on How To Do (just about) Everything

I was researching speaker connections when Google took me to this site: - Clear Instructions on How To Do (just about) Everything.

There's an RSS feed for the 'how to' of the day. I liked 'how to buy an island'.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

AvantGo RSS Feeds for Palm and PocketPC

I used to be a big AvantGo fan -- back when my Palm had a future. I'd almost forgotten about them. I'm surprised it's taken them this long to add RSS support: AvantGo Adds Support for RSS Feeds

AvantGo Adds Support for RSS Feeds
Posted By: Ryan on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 11:19:59 AM

iAnywhere today announced the beta release of new RSS (Really Simple Syndication) features for its AvantGo mobile Internet service...AvantGo users can now add any RSS feed to their account, without installing additional software, and then synchronize using a wireless or desktop Internet connection to receive the feed items in a format optimized for their device.

* Easily view new RSS items/articles: AvantGo RSS channels include all active items in a feed. Any new items since a user's last synchronization are noted next to the channel name on the AvantGo homepage and appear in bold text within the RSS channel.

* Save RSS items: To save an item, the user simply selects the disk icon next to the item title, with the ability to save up to five items per RSS channel.

* Easily share photos: If an RSS feed channel includes photos, a "Slideshow" link will appear at the top of the channel homepage. Users can select the Slideshow link to easily flip through the photos in the feed. Since photos are already delivered to the device during AvantGo syncs, users can share pictures from their mobile device without waiting for each image to be retrieved over the wireless network. Users of photo sharing sites that offer photo feeds can make AvantGo their mobile photo album.

* Channel personalization: Users can adjust channel settings to optimize feed subscriptions, setting the maximum allowable size for the channel and whether or not to include images. Users can also modify the link depth setting, which tells AvantGo how many page levels it should crawl when synchronizing the channel.

* Easily subscribe to RSS channels with AvantGo's AutoChannel for RSS: Users can take advantage of the AvantGo AutoChannel for RSS bookmarklet which enables easy on-the-fly subscriptions to a site's RSS channel. When a users is on a page that includes an RSS feed, a browser bookmark can quickly add that page into AvantGo for RSS.

* Publishers can create a button that enables users to quickly add their site to AvantGo: Content publishers such as bloggers, online media and magazines can use an AvantGo button creation tool to generate code for a button to place on their Website, making it easy for readers to take the site's feed mobile.

The beta version of iAnywhere's new AvantGo for RSS service is immediately available for AvantGo 5.7 users. AvantGo for RSS supports RSS versions 0.91, 1.0 and 2.0 and Atom syndication formats. Supported devices include Palm OS 5, Windows Mobile Pocket PC, Symbian OS UIQ and Symbian OS v6.1 Series 60.

A web site dedicated to OS X Automator with the domain name What?

Automator - Downloads

Apple Aperture: iPhoto replacement?

I've been wating for Apple's new Aperture photo software for a few years now. At $250 (educational, I teach) I'll likely buy it -- unless it's unbearably slow. (Hardware requirements are immense, either Aperture is a fundamentally stupid piece of software or the requirements are for working with tens of thousands of 30MB raw images.) DPReview has a good summary.

The key specs are here:
Photo Management

* Work with thousands of projects
* High-performance database
* Organize photos into projects and albums
* Include up to 10,000 “master” images per Project with as many “versions” as needed
* Create albums from any combination of images
* Combing photos from multiple projects into albums
* Search using Smart Albums based on metadata queries
* One-click archival and backup
* Backup to multiple drives concurrently
* Aperture tracks backup status and location of all images
So albums can span projects. If there are thousands of projects, with up to 10,000 master images per project, that's at least 10 million images per database. Now we're talking.

If it does the above, and it can capture most of my iPhoto metadata, and the performance demands are really about RAW workflow, then it's bye-bye iPhoto for me.

PS. What the heck does this mean? "Create alternate versions without using extra disk space". Somehow it stores a 'diff' for derivative images?! Now that would be seriously impressive.

Update: Ok, I just saw this. I am going to own this software.

Works Flawlessly with iPhoto
Aperture works seamlessly with iPhoto. You can browse your iPhoto library without leaving Aperture, and you can choose to import:
  • Individual photos
  • Albums
  • Folders
  • Film rolls
  • Your entire iPhoto library (complete with keywords, titles and other metadata)
PS. Odd note today. I was scanning the O'Reilly Mac blogs and I read this reprinted there ars a part of an Aperture "blog roundup".

Update 12/2/05: Now that Aperture is out, the manual is available. Aperture doesn't import iPhoto smart albums. The manual doesn't say how iPhoto handles the original vs. changed image in iPhoto.
Importing Your iPhoto Library

When you open Aperture,a dialog appears that enables you to import photos from
your iPhoto Library. The organization of your iPhoto images and albums is maintained, as well as each image’s name, EXIF information, keywords,ratings, and any adjustments applied to images.

You cannot import slideshows, books, and Smart Albums from your iPhoto Library.

Note:You must upgrade to iPhoto version 5 or later before you can import photos
from your iPhoto Library into Aperture.

If you choose not to import photos from your iPhoto Library right away,you can import them later.

iPhoto 5: the secret Apple documentation

Apple has knowledge base where they hide some of their advanced iPhoto documentation. Here's a link to a relevant page, unfortunately their data sort goes from oldest to newest.

iPhoto kb technical articles, sorted by date

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Rave review of G5 iPod -- and a very handy audio tip

I love the earbuds in a cup trick ...
The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW)

...Speaking of the screen, lets get back to it for a second. I watched an entire episode of Lost, holding the iPod in my lap while on the train and I could see everything clearly with no squinting necessary. There's no need to hold the screen right up to your eyes, as some people have claimed would be the case. Then, after I arrived home, I propped up the iPod in the kitchen as I cooked dinner. I simply turned the audio up all the way and dropped the earphones in a little cup (nice acoustics trick there for a lo-fi amplifier) and could hear everything nicely as I cooked up my steak for dinner.

Firefox -- the advanced guide

Good reference. MacWorld is showing promise these days.

Macworld: Feature: The power user's guide to Firefox

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Cringely thinks Apple has an Airport Express replacement coming

Cringely, one of my favorite tech writers for over a decade, is as addicted to Apple watching as any geek. One of his recent columns had the slightly whacky claim that Apple was going to sell a wearable headmount display for the video iPod by the end of this year (he was reaching there -- I think this is weird enough that it will have to be pioneered by kids first).

More to my interests, he's been speculating about an Apple Airport Express replacement ...
PBS | I, Cringely . October 13, 2005 - Seeing Is Believing

... When the Apple experiment is complete and successful, we'll see the movie studios sign on, at which point Apple will finally announce that Video Express, which is the component still required to practically link this new video system to your TV. That rash of products will also include Apple's much faster 802.11n version of its Airport access point, which suggests that the Video Express will be 802.11n as well, which figures.

And of course that's when Apple will start selling Sony flat panel TVs in its stores. I don't think Apple will do its own brand of TVs like Gateway, Dell, and HP have done. They'll stick with Sony, which makes sense for a ton of reasons including undermining any thought Sony might have to competing with Apple in the video distribution business.
The current high-speed standard is 802.11g. It does not have the capacity to stream even lo-res digital video -- even if it were compressed. (The current Airport Express requires an uncompressed digital audio stream)! So it makes sense that a video compatible replacement would be 802.11n.

netTunes: remote control for OS X iTunes

I've been dismayed Apple's fumbled execution of the AirTunes vision. Then I came across netTunes ($20).

NetTunes is a "simple" remote control application for iTunes. You install it on server (one) and clients (multiple). It 'captures' the iTunes screen on the server and delivers it to the client. In other words, it's a "classic" raster based remote control application -- save that it only works for iTunes.

I've been testing it over a (slowish) 802.11b LAN with the client running on an iBook and the server running on a G5 iMac. I made two key preference settings:
  1. Set for fastest display (ie. uglier but fast).
  2. Set remote display to scale to size of client display (very important since my remote display is 1680 x 1050 and my local display is 1024x768) rather than downsample remote display.
And the result? Well, it's not lighting speed and it's not beautiful, but it does seem to work. I tested swiching users on the server (no apparently problem) [OOPS. Fast User Switching is indeed perilous. Further testing indicated] and I tried putting the client to sleep and restarting (took a few moments to reconnect). If it holds up in further testing I'll gladly pay $20.

Update 10/15/05: No, this one doesn't work. Once I'd registered ($20) I could do enough testing to show that the Fast User Switching is incompatible with netTunes server. The author had told me that beforehand, but I was having enough success on the 30 minute trials that I decided to give it a shot. It seems to work, but if one does something to open a new window the server dies. NetTunes really does require that iTunes run in the foreground session. That makes it of limited utility for me. I'm told that it work very well with folks using a headless Mac mini as a dedicated media server.

Update 10/23/05: I kept on using NetTunes, but things didn't get better. Even when iTunes was running in the GUI user session a screensaver would make it unuseable. The final straw was some new system instability and iTunes lockups. Probably unrelated to NetTunes, but the timing was bad. I removed the server.

The Apple AirTunes vision -- not really ready for primetime

[This post strains the blog metaphor. It's partly chronological, partly revised. In summary I was initially very unimpressed with the Airport Express and AirTunes -- but I'm beating it into submission.]

Apple's AirTunes vision sounds good -- on the web page:
Apple - AirPort Express

AirTunes Unleashes Your Music

... AirPort Express with AirTunes brings your iTunes music in your Mac or PC into your living room — or wherever in your home you have a stereo or a set of powered speakers.(1) All you have to do is connect your sound system to the audio port on the AirPort Express Base Station using an audio cable (included in the optional AirPort Express Stereo Connection Kit) and AirTunes lets you play your iTunes music through your stereo or powered speakers — wirelessly. iTunes automatically detects the connection of your remote speakers, so you just have to select them in the popup list that appears at the bottom of the iTunes window and click play.(2)

Enjoy your playlists, set iTunes to shuffle through your entire library or repeat your favorite songs over and over again — however you like to enjoy your music on iTunes, you can now enjoy it that way through your stereo speakers, wherever they’re located in your house.

Buy more than one AirPort Express Base Station and connect one to every stereo or set of powered speakers in your house — one to your stereo in your living room and another to a pair of powered speakers in your kitchen, for example. Its small size and affordability make it perfect for having more than one. Imagine being able to play your iTunes music on whichever speakers in your house you prefer.
Ahem. Ok, now back to reality. iTunes will stream to one AirPort Express Base Station (AExpBS). So you might have 3 of 'em attached to powered speakers, but only one will play at a time. So much for music throughout the house!

In any case, it doesn't work all that well. Even when I stream to the AExpBS from a powerful server I get occasional pauses in the music (even with a large buffer set in iTunes -- I think the problem is that the AExpBS needs a much larger internal buffer - but see below, later I fixed this). The biggest problem, however, is the lack of remote control for iTunes (see below for workarounds).

The situation Apple ought to be encouraging is a media server holding music and Apple devices controlling that. For example, music on a G5 iMac, control via an iBook. One LAN with multiple Apple wireless devices. Well, that's what I tried:
  1. G5 iMac with iTunes running in a Tiger login session, connected to AirPort Extreme Base station by 10 Mbps wired ethernet. iTunes is sharing Library.
  2. AirPort Extreme base station configured for 802.11 b networking.
  3. AirPort Express Base Station attached in bridge mode to the wireless LAN, with speakers.
  4. G3 iBook with 10.3.9 connected via 802.11b to WLAN, with iTunes running locally. iBook streams to the AirPort Express Base Station.
So what did I discover?
  1. Well, the above seemed pretty obvious to me, but when I wrote it down it occurred to me that very few people are going to be geeky enough to configure this.
  2. The fundamental setup is stupid. The iBook isn't acting as a remote, it's actually streaming the music. Way too much work for something that runs on a battery. The iBook should be controlling the application running on the iMac. [1]
  3. There were (initially) glitches and pauses in the music. Their are multiple bottlenecks in the situation I could improve (switch my ancient 10Mbps hub for a 10/100), but I suspect the G3 iBook is a key problem -- especially since I use WPA on my LAN. The G3 just doesn't have the firepower to do all the encryption and streaming -- especially since it's running multiple simultaneous users. [2] Actually, the problem persisted even after I eliminated the G3. The Airport Express really needs a large internal cache; which, of course, would make it impossible to synchronize output between multiple base stations (sometimes analog is just better!). Additionally, I've been told that the Airport Express requires an uncompressed audio stream -- this vastly increases the burden on even a perfect network. In reality, there are a lot of moving parts on a wireless LAN with two interacting base stations, not to mention my neighbors' WLANs.
I'll figure something out. I tried switching to running iTunes on an XP server and using Microsoft's pretty decent 'Remote Desktop Connection' client to connect from the iBook to the XP -- but RDC let me down. iTunes/Windows would stop responding when accessed via RDC.

[1] There's a neat 3rd party AppleScript application that does something like this, but it doesn't support use of remote speakers! Also, it's very early in development. This needs to be an Apple product. I also tried using 'Chicken of the VNC' to connect to the iMac's embedded Apple Remote Desktop Client, but 'Chicken' blew up. Might not have liked the large display area.

[2] Ok, so this is cruel. Bottom line though is that the media server should be streaming, the iBook should be a remote. Apple needs to provide the thin client solution I've been whining about for years.

Update 10/15/05
  • Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection didn't work as well as I'd expected! It was fine when I used it with a new invocation of iTunes, but I couldn't reconnect to a running version.
  • I went looking for TuneConnect so I could ask the author about enabling control of remote speakers. That, however, led me to NetTunes. This $20 shareware app seems more like what I need -- remote control of iTunes. So see my NetTunes review. [I registered NetTunes -- but it turned out to be incompatible with both Fast User Switching and with my OS X photo images screen saver. So it bit the dust too.]
  • This stuff is really not ready. The Jobs reality distortion field has been working overtime when it comes to AirTunes.
Update 10/16/05
  • Savvy users, I'm told, are using Mac minis as headless media servers, with remote control via NetTunes. iTunes is quite happy to work with a shortcut in place of the standard iTunes data folder, so one can in theory have iTunes on the mini and iTunes elsewhere manipulate the same data set. God knows what happens if both try to edit the db ath the same time!
Update 10/18/05
  • Slimdevices Squeezebox2 is looking better all the time. I'd need eed to get rid of that pesky DRM of course. Why can't Apple manage something like this? They have a very interesting discussion on the impact of streaming audio on wireless LANs:
    What kind of impact will Squeezebox2 have on my wireless network?

    While streaming music, Squeezebox2 will use some network bandwidth. The amount of bandwidth depends on the bitrate of the audio file. MP3 files use up to 320k bits per second, AIFF, WAV, AAC and other formats may use up to 1.5M bits per second, but since Squeezebox2 supports FLAC, this can be reduced to around 800k bits per second on the fly. A solid 802.11g network can generally support around 15-20M bits per second of data, even though it's rated for 54M bits per second. This means that you can support more than one Squeezebox2 on an 802.11g network, but the number depends on the audio data rate and how busy the network is otherwise.

    I've switched the WLAN from mixed 802.11 b/g to 802.11b and simplifed parts of my network. Airport Express is skipping less. I've seen this before -- 802.11g smells more and more like a failed standard. Now we all wait for 802.11n.
Update 10/19/05
  • Things are looking better. My network reconfiguration (moved iTunes files off server to iMac, switched to 802.11b/locked, reset to default channel configuration) seems to have eliminated the skipping problem. Esoterica though, most won't have a chance with this.
  • NetTunes often works even with Fast User switching. It's not supposed to and it's very fragile, but if I connect, make my changes, don't cause any windows to open, and disconnect I can sometimes escape alive. In fact since it's incompatible with my screen saver, it works better this way. NetTunes is really for remote control of a headless Mac Mini.
  • TuneConnect is back up front again. It can't control speaker selection, so I have to remember to leave iTunes directing output to the Airport speakers - but otherwise it's a decent little remote. It DOES work fine with fast user switching on the media server, I've even had several clients connected simultaneously. Main annoyance is that it's designed to work with a string matched set of tunes -- not a playlist. Sigh. I'm hoping the developer will fix this.
Update 2/18/06:

TuneConnect failed. Fast User Switching breaks remote AppleScript. Now I'm trying PatioTunes. It does look like the web server method is the only one that really works. I do love embedded web servers.

Update 8/10/2008:

I ultimately gave up around 5/06. Now the iPhone has an iTunes remote control app ....

Friday, October 14, 2005

Best Free Web based Applications

nedwolf - Best Free Web Applications

A wonderful list, I'm familiar with most of these.

Panther secrets: I'm so behind the times

I run Tiger on the iMac, Panther on the iBook. I came across this old article by chance, and was amazed about the things I didn't know: Macworld: Feature: Panther Secrets Declassified. The Mac is like that, full of odd abilities.

BTW, the old hack for enabling hidden calculator views in Panther doesn't seem to work any more, I wonder if some Panther upgrade broke it. The hidden views display as silvery metallic windows. These were never officially supported, so I can't complain too much. It does make me want to look again at Tiger's calculatory though.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Security at $6/month:

When you use an open hotspot, your network traffic is available for any other user to sample. Passwords can be easily captured.

Unless you first set up a VPN connection. Then, regardless of what network you're on, your traffic is secure. Most of us, however, don't have a VPN server. That's why is interesting. Use their server for $6/month.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Apple remote works with iPod universal cradle - what about AirPort Express?

First, I will vent about my iMac. I bought my 20" about 2 months ago. Now it's utterly obsolete. Gnash. Weep.

I'm not interested in the iPod video for now, though I could see using a future version to stream video to in-car monitors when we travel. I am, however, interested in the Apple Remote. For me it was the most interesting part of the presentation:
The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW)

This may not be the biggest new Apple product of the day (not by a long shot), however, it is long overdue. Apple has released the Universal Dock that will fit all versions of the iPod that have a dock connector. iPod photo owners need not hang their heads in shame because of their less than svelte iPods now.

Besides embracing all iPod models, this dock works with the new Apple Remote control (bundled with the new iMacs, and available for purchase separately) so you can control your iPod from across the room. Pretty sweet, and all for $39.
So the universal cradle works with the Apple Remote, eh? Might be just the ticket for the new compact multi-room home stereo setup I'm assembling. If it's wireless [jf: it's not] with decent range it might work just swimmingly. The next thing I want is an add-on to my existing iMac to enable the Apple Remote and/or a version of the AirPort Express that works with it. I wonder how long I'll have to wait for the latter ...

Update 10/13/05: Alas, won't work. It's IR. From Macintouch: "[Ray Sanders] A tidbit picked up on the ars-technica forums... The new remote control is IR. The new iMac has no IR receiver per se. It appears that they use the iSight cam to receive the IR from the remote. Some of the wags over there *really* want to hack the iSight driver so as to do IR imaging." I love the use of the cam to do IR, I wonder when they'll add gesture control (raise hand to control volume?). Maybe the remote will become obsolete ... IR is very retro; I generally like IR but it won't work for my scheme ...

The Palm T|X: Please Palm, just go away ...

From a review of the new Palm T|X: - Palm T|X

...The USB cable alone will not charge the handheld from the computer, you must attach the AC cord...
A PDA that won't charge via USB 2? That's so 1990. Some Chinese startup ought to be buy the company (as they did PalmSource). Please, someone put Palm out its misery. Leave me with my memories of their glory days ...

Update 11/1: An Amazon reviewer writes: "Battery is quite good, long lasting and charges fast through the USB cable, even from my old ThinkPad A21 at home."

Macintouch readers: iBook G4 has hardware bug affecting system stability

The good news is the Apple community is good at spotting hardware bugs. The bad news is that there are a lot of hardware bugs. Does Apple have more than Dell? Is it less responsive than Dell? I suspect the answer is probably 'about the same'. In the meantime I'd hold off on buying a G4 iBook for now. Too bad, I really like the iBook line.
MacInTouch: timely news and tips about the Apple Macintosh

A big bug with the iBook G4, extra memory and AirPort prompted a number of notes from MacInTouch readers:

[Brian Behrend] There is a huge bug with the new iBooks. When using moderate to heavy network usage via Airport, the iBook will become unresponsive and the cursor becomes jumpy. The problem has been isolated to having additional RAM installed. Apparently it doesn't matter what brand or type, not even the size matters. There's a huge thread on the Apple discussion boards regarding this but no solution has been reached as of yet.
It's very frustrating since Photoshop is more or less unusable with 512MB, and copying files to the network is unreliable with 1GB or 1.5GB installed. The general workaround is to only use Ethernet to copy files to servers or download large files from the Internet.

[MacInTouch Reader] Apple claims that the latest revision of the iBook supports up to 1.5GB of ram, but when that much is installed, Airport ceases to function properly and the whole computer lags. Dozens of iBook owners have reported the issue for over a month without a response from Apple, leaving them with malfunctioning laptops.

[Marijn Raven] A lot of iBook owners (the new 1.33 12" and 1.42 14") complain about the loss of Airport signal, together with slow mouse movement. At this thread you can read more about this issue. Perhaps your readers might benefit from this feedback.

[MacInTouch Reader] I think you should bring up an emerging issue with the new 2005 iBooks.
I just bought a 2005 12" iBook G4/1.3 GHz. I moved over my 1 GB RAM module, which had been used by a 12" 1Ghz model without any problems (RAM is from OWC).
Shortly after using the new computer, I noticed it get very sluggish. Using TOP in the terminal didn't show anything, but using Activity Monitor showed that the kernel_task was using over 75% of my CPU.
At the same time, I would lose my Airport connection. Many people are noticing the Airport losses before noticing the kernel_task overload, and so a lot of the discussion is "my AirPort has died".
The only ways I've found to reliably trigger the overload is through the use of BitTorrent or SoftwareUpdate. Large file transfers to a server trigger it about 50% of the time. I have not have a problem with itunes when consolidating files on a sever, or using it to change ID tags on a server...
I wonder if the bug is related to the type of wireless encryption used. Tiger supports a pretty wide range of encryption options beyond the classic (and dysfunctional) WEP.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Marware iPod cases

The Nano versions aren't available until the end of October. The silicone wrapper is $9 -- much cheaper than others.
Marware Laptop and iPod Cases - Apple iPod Accessories and mini iPod Case Styles

Is this the solution to my home amplifier problem?

Updated 10/10/05.

Today I briefly thought this Class T Amplifier would yet me put assemble a two-room speaker solution with an iPod/AirPort Extreme input in a very confined space. Alas, some native suspicion and a very persuasive negative Amazon review led me to investigate an alternative that appeared on Amazon's 'what people bought instead' list.

I ended up ordering the AudioSource Amp 100 2-Channel Power Amplifier from Amazon. There was one review, and the reviewer was looking for the same thing as me. This amplifier is only 8"-9.25" deep (numbers vary) and it accepts two inputs and sends output to A/B speakers. It even has a volume control. Very simple. $140. Seems just right. My only worry is the depth. We'll see!

Now I have to buy the AirPort Extreme (after the 10/12 Apple product announcement) and two pairs of speaksers -- bookshelf and mounted.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Nano Hard Case

At $25, an affordabel Nano hard case. I'll watch for reports...

Iceframe for iPod Nano

Is OS X Preview the biggest feature in Tiger?

Spotlight is buggy, but it is pretty good. Nonetheles, OS X Preview may be a serious contender for the most valuable component of OS X. Annotating a PDF, or completing a PDF form, usually requires the $$ Adobe Acrobat application. As of Tiger, "Preview" (awful name) does this and more:
View and create annotations to a PDF document from Preview.
DNG File Format Support
Open files in the new Adobe DNG (Digital Negative) format.
Fill out and print PDF forms.
Image Keywords
Add, remove and modify keywords for images.
JPEG2000 Support
Open files in the next generation JPEG2000 image format.
OpenEXR Image Format
Open images stored in OpenEXR file format.
RAW Camera Image Support
Open images in the RAW file format used by Canon, Nikon and other models.
Image Correction
Adjust colors, exposure and more, thanks to Core Image.
PDF 1.5 Document Compatibility
Take advantage of PDF 1.5.
Screen Capture
Capture screen shots and more using features previously available in the Grab application.
Slide Show
View an elegant full screen slideshow of images opened in Preview.
I tried the slideshow! Neat, but I couldn't figure out how to stop it ...

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Darik's Boot and Nuke: sterilize an old computer prior to donation or sale

I've found a home for an old machine, but how do I wipe the drives? I'd read a while back about this utility, and Google found it for me. I'll report on how well it works.
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.
I assume by "emergency" destruction they're referring to a scenario I'd rather not think about too much.

Update 10/10: Seemed to work perfectly. Downloaded the zip, ran the executable that creates the floppy, rebooted, hit enter, selected drives to wipe, accepted the default (medium security). Took about two hours to wipe two drives simultaneously. Of course I don't know how good the erasure is, but I'm betting it's pretty good. I trashed the diskette, I've no need to keep a 'loaded diskette' in the house. I give away a machine every few years.

kw: Linux, diskette, disk, wipe, clean, purge

Saturday, October 08, 2005

QuikTime FS - full screen quicktime for free

MacWeaver - QuikTime FS: "The free version of QuickTime Player will not play full-screen movies. QuikTime FS is an application that when run enables people who own the free version of QuickTime Player to play their movies in full screen mode!"

Friday, October 07, 2005

Google's RSS reader - no threat to bloglines

Google has a web basedRSS/Atom Reader. I imported my bloglines OPML file. I don't get it. It feels like a terribly clumsy and ugly news reader.

Bloglines is far ahead.


craigslist: minneapolis / st paul: to add to my news page

craigslist: minneapolis / st paul classifieds for jobs, apartments, personals, for sale, services, community, and events will be added to my news page soon.

Brother MFC-7820N: my cumulative review and experience

Update 2/10/06: Please see an excellent comment below posted @ 2/9/06. It appears Brother has fixed the Bonjour bug in its newest releases, and the Brother support site now mentions the bug with the XP SP2 firewall. (The device can't communicate with the scanner software, and produces a misleading error message about a problem with the ethernet cable.)

I had complained previously about a "bug" where the fax was picking up incoming calls despite being disabled. It turned the home security system we "inherited" has a hidden modem used by the security company. Under certain conditions our home security system modem answers the phone! It has nothing to do with the MFC.

Brother was slow to pay my rebate, it took over 8 weeks. After months of use I do think this device actually works better with OS X than with XP SP2; but I expect the newest release will be a very good buy. Remember to deal with the XP SP2 firewall problem though.


I just bought a Brother MFC-7820N 5-in-1 Network Monochrome Laser Multifunction Center from I think it might turn out to be a good device, but there's a very nasty bug that prevents the ethernet interface from working with a Mac. It's fixable if you know the magic trick. From my Amazon review:
OS X - rather nasty setup problems, October 7, 2005

I have both XP and OS X Tiger (10.4.2) machines on my home LAN. I installed the brother to both machines. In both cases I downloaded the very latest software patches from Brother's site.

The XP install went rather well, but I realized too late the downloaded drivers didn't include the OCR software. Annoying. I'd recommend doing the CD install first then downloading and updating from the downloads.

If you install XP SP2 you install a firewall. The firewall blocks the scan to machine capability. I have disabled it for now. If you don't disable the firewall, you get a spurious 'check cable' message.

The OS X install was another story. Actually, this is pretty outrageous. Bonjour (was Rendezvous) install didn't work at all. The printer didn't appear in my network display (Printer Setup Utility, Print Center).

It took about a half hour of late night hacking and googling and amazon review reading to figure out that Brother misconfigured the printer. They didn't define something called a 'mDNS' name. Without this name Bonjour/Rendezvous doesn't work. [Update: turns out the place I vaguely remembered this from was a quick posting I'd put up 6 days before I wrote this. If you lived my life you'd understand.]

How do you define this? Well, to make a long story short, dig through the CD and find the help file called ALL_EngNet.pdf. Chapter 7 describes the browser interface. Use your browser and the IP address of the brother to get the web UI. You need the admin un of 'admin' and password of 'access'. (This is publicly downloadable, not secret, you can chang pw.) Then from the home page click Network Configuration then click on configuremDNS, then name the machine (BrotherMFC works). Now you can add it as a printer.

It's astounding that Brother doesn't even mention this on their web site help files. It's a pretty darned serious bug.
A few other comments on the problematic Mac software:
  1. If you install the default Brother Control Center software, you have to configure the printer for every user (one time on initial login). Each time you get to choose the scan to machine option. If that works at all it's a system level option, so this doesn't make sense. (In fact it seems to work though ...)
  2. The PC gets a full configuration utility, the Mac uses a web tool (works fine) that is documented in an exceedingly obscure place. As of October 2008 the OS X downloaded utilities does install a "remote Setup" application that is supposed to do the same thing as the web UI. It starts but crashes after about 10 seconds. I run as a non-admin user, I didn't test it as an admin user.
  3. The PC gets a well known OCR package, the Mac gets something called Presto (OCR on the Mac is not a big market).
  4. I took a different approach with my 10.3.9 iBook. I downloaded just the CUPS and PPD drivers from the 7820N support site. I installed only those on the iBook. I was able to quickly see the Brother printer and the drivers installed seamlessly. I didn't have to deal with the 'Brother Control Center' complexity and odd behavior. With 10.5 you don't need the printer drivers, but you still need to install TWAIN drivers for scanning: I re-enable the 'scan to server' button with OS X 10.5.
  5. To clarify (someone asked): I am able to print, scan and send fax from my iMac. I haven't tried receiving faxes on the iMac. I also was able to get the scan-to-Machine button to work from the MFC, I was surprised that worked.
  6. The web interface includes an interesting report page: (on my network). From that I see that I've printed 6,460 pages and that my drum is at 58% of its lifespan. I've changed toner 3 times (I'm about out of my 3rd, so I'm getting an average of 2,100 pages per cartridge. Of course the 1st cartridge is always a "starter" cartridge, so that understates the full cartridge performance. I was amazed to see I'd scanned over 1,000 pages. I've had 25 paper jams, most recently (see update, below).
The documentation error is particularly annoying -- they provide quite a bit of documentation, they should have referenced the Mac web configuration in the install document.

A few hardware notes (updated as I learn more):
  1. It's very noisy when printing and starting up, but it quickly goes into sleep mode. In sleep mode it's louder than my (very quiet) iMac, but it's across the room from me.
  2. It comes with a 'starter' toner kit good for 1500 pages, rather than a full 2500 page TN-350 toner cartridge. Kind of a sneaky move but common in the printer industry. The cartridge lasted about 6 months with light use. (see update 11/16/08 below about print life extension trick). Brother does not recycle used cartridges; by contrast HP used to. Changing the cartridge is a bit odd. You pull out a module that has the cartridge and the print head, swap the cartridge, clean the print head (don't touch it, read the directions!), and reinsert both. If Brother were to stop making the TN-350 cartridge the MFC-7820N would be worthless; when buying a printer it's always worth seeing how hard it is to find a replacement cartridge. It's a good sign if it works with many different machines. This one fits eight Brother printers and one Brother fax machine.
  3. Compared to the 11 yo LaserWriter Select 360 it feels really flimsy. Of course the 360 was an utter tank. I finally gave up on it because it was getting hard to find high quality toner cartridges, and because the 360 had become the noisiest fan in my office.
  4. In limited testing I'm pleased with the sheet feeder and photocopying.
  5. I finally realized that the client side Mac software interface is a small icon in the top bar. Once I defined a custom B&W scan that takes a set of pages and scans them with great speed into a multi-page PDF in a preset folder ... well, I'm really warming to to this device. To my amazement the button on the MFC will scan to a folder on my Mac (setup using the 2.1.3 Brother control center).
  6. The fax send seems to work very well both from the main machine and from OS X (print to fax -- not sure the address book works though - Mac OS X Hints references a bug with manually entered fax numbers).
  7. 10/12/05: I was asked about scan speed. I scanned 10 pages 300 dpi B&W in 90 seconds, so about 9 seconds a page. Good for my purposes, I think the new Fujitsu SnapScan sounds pretty impressive for persons needing heavier duty document scanning. I do B&W for document scanning because it compresses exceedingly well. I'd do color or gray scale document scans if the vendors supported JPEG2000 compression within PDF. (Adobe supports this in the latest version of Acrobat).
Update 11/8/05: Pierre-Etienne has submitted this related tip for Brother MFC-420CN: (Incidentally, the undocumented telnet capability without a password is a bad security practice.)
Thanks for your postings on the MFC configuration problem. It pointed me to the right problem (no mdns name) but not the right solution since my Brother MFC-420CN model doesn't have a web interface.

However, digging deeper I found that all Brother MFC Network printers have a telnet interface!

Just telnet to the ip address, enter password (mine wasn't "access" but was nothing at all... just entering nothing as a passwd worked). Now:

set mdns enable
set mdns name xxx
show mdns

Wait a few minutes for things to refresh and the deed is done.
Update 1/24/06 - the "check cable' bug. (2/10/06 - yes, it's the firewall)

  • pushed the scan button and the printer LCD panel replied "check cable".
  • Cables, hubs, etc are fine.
  • If push scan button and select machine name in drop down list for scan to file, Brother is unable to connect to PC
  • Power cycling etc doesn't make problem go away.
Update 6/12/06:

I ran into a problem where I couldn't set the print resolution in OS X. The radio button control was malfunctioning -- every button was set. I checked the support page (cryptic location) and found a firmware update and one page with instructions for a CUPS driver, another with instructions for a BR-Script driver.

The firmware update took a long time to run, but it completed without a problem. Those things scare me.

It turns out that both driver pages download the same installer: brxubprt11c.dmg. This in turn contains a mis-spelled package: BrotherPriterDrivers. (Broken english litters all of the Brother updates.)

Ignore the directions. If you've followed the above instructions, or installed the firmware update, Bonjour discovery should work. You can choose to install either the CUPS or BR-Script driver. I had good luck with the CUPS driver so I stayed with that. The bug, btw, was fixed.
  • The name of CUPS driver is "model name + CUPS v1.1"
  • The name of BR-Script driver is "model name + BR-Script 3".
Update 12/28/06: Firewalls and Ports

OS X Firewall seems to manage the MFC-7820N connection well enough, but on XP Firewall services (Windows Live One, for example) break functionality with obscure error messages. Brother's website has a ridiculous technote on this that advises users to disable their Firewall software. As if XP wasn't dangerous enough to use in the first place. The end of the tech note does, grudgingly, specify the UDP ports that need to be open - Port 54925 and Port 137.

Update 3/17/07: OS X Image Capture will control this scanner

I don't know if this is new with 10.4.9, but I discovered today that OS X Image Capture will drive the scanner. In Image capture it's Devices:Browse Devices. You'll see the Brother. Click on use Twain. Now you can scan from it into Image Capture. Nice!

BTW, I've been using this machine for over a year now, and it's really worked well. It's complex and the corporate support is pretty flimsy, but it's impressive.

Update 5/20/07: With OS X 10.4.9 if network configuration changes may need to power cycle the MFC and transiently disable the OS X firewall to reestablish connectivity.

Aren't networks wonderful? They're bad enough all by themselves, but adding in a firewall makes things worse. Then add multi-user workstations ...

Advanced firewalls notify users of failed attempts via the GUI, but the base XP and 10.4 firewalls don't. In any case today the MFC couldn't scan to my iMac and my iMac couldn't drive the scanner. (Open control center, click the file, try a scan, get a "can't communicate" message.) Here's what I did:
  • power cycle MFC
  • turn off OS X firewall
  • use the Control Center scan to file to re-establish a connection (scan anything, doesn't matter what)
  • re-enable the firewall
  • now everything works.
You'd think I could use the OS X firewall logging (see advanced options in the firewall control dialog) to figure out what's failing, but there's a bug in 10.4. You need to be an admin to view that log and 10.4.9 doesn't provide the GUI 'escalate to admin' option. That's a bug.

Update 7/10/07: I've tracked down an old, intermittently annoying, bug. I'd found over the years that the scanner would stop printing; I had to power cycle it to fix the problem. Print jobs hang at 16% or so from OS X. Today I realized this happens after faxing, which we rarely do. If I buy another "all in one" I'll try to remember to test for post-fax functionality.

Update 10/19/08: When I installed 10.5 it installed its own printer driver. Seems to work. On the other hand, the sheet feeder is jamming. I'll try cleaning things out, but I suspect it's come to the end of its life after 3 years of mild use. I mourn for my Apple LaserWriter Select 360; after ten years I had to get rid of it because nobody made toner for it any more. Incidentally, I found a fix for problem of the printer reporting a paper jam that cannot be cleared. Another article describes my problem but doesn't have a fix.

Update 10/28/08: I re-enable the 'scan to server' button with OS X 10.5.

Update 11/6/08: The printer has a pretty strict standard for toner levels. When the toner declines past a set level it stops printing. Today I went to order a new cartridge and found, at the very top of the reviews, this superb tip:
I get 800 to 1100 extra copies from each cartridge.

After the "Toner Life End" message appears, it refuses to print even one more copy.

Remove the cartridge and find 2 clear plastic port holes, one on each side. The printer shines a light through these to decide when to shut you off...

Cover one or both windows with a small piece of masking tape. I get about 3400 copies per cartridge instead of 2400....

... There is also another fix for the toner end of life error message that supposedly works - Open the front cover, not touching the drum, and press options. Press option 2 - to not replace drum ...
I used the masking tape fix.

I'll order a new cartridge, but there's no rush now. I'm amazed, by the way, to find that Amazon still sells this exact printer. I'm not used to modern products with this long a life cycle.

Update 12/27/09: I am printing to this from 10.6.2. I didn't install any drivers. More interesting, Snow Leopard's Image Capture is pulling scans off the device!

Update 1/11/10: I was having pretty severe paper jams, so I figured it was finished. The problem resolved in testing. Turns out, like me, it's saggy. On a flat surface it's good, but I had it on a short bookcase that didn't support it properly. It needs support in its dotage.

Update 1/23/10: If you create an managed account with limited application access, you'll get a series of annoying error messages from the Brother software. The messages refer to applications found in Library\Printers\Brother\Utilities\Server such as LOGINserver, NETserver and USBserver as well as "Control Center". These apps, incidentally, do not show up as login items. There may be a way to enable them in Parental Controls, but I did it the hard way. I kept logging in the managed account and entering "Allow Always" with my admin password until they finally stopped appearing. It took four logins.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Galerie for iPhoto

The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW): "So I pulled out one of my favorite Mac apps ever, Galerie. It's a totally simple, completely free, solid app for building photo galleries from iPhoto albums. It uses CSS to build the galleries too, which is a plus.

Actually Galerie works with more than iPhoto. Pretty much any set of pictures, audio, or even movies is fair game. It includes a comment system and counter, plus a pretty good collection of additional themes. There are lots of other features, like EXIF support, but just try using it and you'll see what I mean. Very snazzy."

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Rember: freeware memory test utility for OS X

Kelleycomputing's Rember is a freeware GUI for the memtest command line memory testing program. A good thing to run after you add memory to a Mac, especially 3rd party memory. Mac's are particularly demanding of DRAM (too demanding).

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Fog Creek Copilot: $10 for a day's use

FogCreek is a s/w development community best known for content authoring environments. They've got a big reputation though, thanks to the writings of the founder and CEO, Joel Sposky.

Now they've announced a new service - a remote control application. It allows a machine running Win98 or higher to be controlled by another Win98+ machine: Fog Creek Copilot Home. I've used many similar products, and this is the best price/value usability combination I've seen by far. Does it work? I don't know, but based on Fog Creek's reputation I'd trust it.

I'll probably use it on my mother's machine shortly. Will update here with review.

Update 1/5/06: I've not tested it yet, but in correspondence with Fog Creek I was told they're working on changing the app to make control even more automatic (so my mother doesn't need to do anything) and are looking at adding Mac support.

Modify AAC files with chapter and other settings - AudioBinder

AudioBinder - Advanced GUI for ChapterTool. A GUI wrapper for an OS X cli tool. Sounds great! I'll try it out.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Lovely short review of the Nano

It's just very well done.

Todd Dailey - Weblog - Blog Archive - A few seconds with the iPod nano

How to restore a scratched Nano to mint condition

Todd Dailey, who's blog I've added to my bloglines list, has two great posts on making a Nano (or other plastic device) look like new again:
I wonder how these techniques would work on scratched eyeglass lenses. The Novus article suggets there's been a small 'remove the plastic scratches' industry struggling to emerge. The Nano may cause it to bloom. Talk about the law of unintended consequences.

Update 1/9/06: Macintouch suggested some other options
Jonathan Alvarez

I recently bought an iPod Nano and like all the others mine had some scratches. the screen was blurred so I did some research about all these cleaning products that will get rid of the scratches. But these products were marked at a high price.

I realized that I had a product called "5 minute optical flush" which is for car lenses but it does the same thing and you can pick that up at auto part stores for around $10 its half the price and does the same thing

Laine Lee

I've devised a method for removing light scratches from the viewing area of the iPod with video models... (see posting, this one was too complex for my tastes)

Brother MFC-7820N printer setup

I'm considering buying one of these -- so I checked out Apple Discussions. Good coments, with one tip:
Apple - Discussions - Brother MFC-7820N printer setup

Apparently, these Brother MFC-7820N models didn’t ship with a default mDNS name, which means they won't show up in Printer Setup Utility and Safari. If you can figure out the IP address of the printer in order to load the configuration page in Safari, then you could probably set the mDNS name to something, and all will be well.
Update 10/10/05: later I bought this device and ran into this bug. Did I remember this ultra-quick posting I'd done a week before? Of course not. Dementia. It's later than you know ...