Saturday, April 30, 2005

Macintouch index of Tiger updates to common Mac software

Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger: Compatibility Updates

RAW data in digital cameras and the fight against standards -- and especially Adobe DNG

RAW storm in a teacup? Dave Coffin interviewed: Digital Photography Review

As in cameras, so in every domain.
9. Is there a place for a standard 'Open' RAW format or does that raise too many issues to do with the sharing of proprietary image processing between competitive manufacturers?

Adobe Digital Negative (DNG) is a great format -- I totally redesigned dcraw for maximum DNG compatibility. But you won't see much enthusiasm from the camera makers. This Joel essay explains why:

Photoshop and digital cameras are complements. Adobe wants to commoditize the digital camera, and the camera makers want to stop them.
Camera vendors want to lockin customers to their cameras and their software. If they could do it they would ensure that photographers pay a regular fee to retain access to their images -- forever.

The only way this will stop is if people start buying cameras based on their support for Adobe's (public) DNG format. I know it would weigh heavily in any buying decision I would make -- but I'm hardly a typical consumer. (BTW, Adobe is no more noble than the camera vendors, it's just that in this case Adobe's interests are aligned with consumer interests.)

Friday, April 29, 2005

Do not update OS X systems to 10.3.9

Apple - Discussions - 10.3.9 problem with multiple users

This is a nasty one. Systems start having login problems - non-admin accounts can't login. On my 10.3.9 system I haven't had this problem, but I've discovered folders in ./Library/ that have a non-admin owner and the admin group has read-only privileges. This doesn't make sense.

Repair permissins doesn't fix the problem. I suspect it has something to do with the 'floating ownership' behavior in OS X -- that may have been broken in 10.3.9.

Based on the desccriptions of this problem in the Apple discussion forums, and the lack of a fix for over a week, I'd recommend NOT updating to 10.3.9 until this is fixed.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

The ultimate Tiger/Unix/MacOS review and tutorial

Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger : Page 8

I'm a geek, but I am not in this league.

This is extraordinary. It's sort of a review, sort of an OS tutorial, sort of a UNIX tutorial, and basically a display of geek versimilitude. The UNIX file permissions and ACL tutorials are among the best I've seen anywhere, and they're only one "chapter" in this book.

The ACL description makes me think the old problems with repairing permissions may finally go away -- someday. It's not really a part of 10.4.0 standard (server only).

Meanwhile, it looks like there will be some pretty significant speedups with 10.4.1
There's one final barrier to hardware-accelerated bliss. Quartz 2D Extreme is disabled by default in Mac OS X 10.4.0. That's right, the whiz-bang new technology you just read all about is not actually used in Tiger unless it's explicitly enabled using the Quartz Debug application. Even then, it only applies to applications that are launched after it was turned on. It also appears that Q2DE is re-disabled when you quit the Quartz Debug application.

Why develop something as impressive as Quartz 2D Extreme and then leave it turned off by default? My inquiries to Apple have gone unanswered, so I can only speculate about the reasoning behind this decision. My best guess is that all of the bugs could not be excised from Q2DE in time for Tiger's launch date, and that it will be enabled by default in a subsequent update—perhaps as early as version 10.4.1.
For most of us very happy with Panther, 10.4.1 will be the real Tiger, and this is what our ace reviewer recommends:
If you're still running Jaguar or earlier, you really owe it to yourself to upgrade to Tiger. It'll be the best $129 you've ever spent on an operating system. If you're happy with Panther, I strongly recommend going to an Apple store and checking out Tiger in person. Chances are good that there'll be at least one or two features that you'll decide you need, if not right way, then soon. As with any new release, it won't hurt to wait for version 10.4.1 or later.

Overall, Tiger is impressive. If this is what Apple can do with 18 months of development time instead of 12, I tremble to think what they could do with a full two years—let alone the length of time it took for Mac OS X 10.0 to first ship. The productivity of Apple's Mac OS X development team has increased tremendously since 10.0; they're now firing on all cylinders. While I dearly wish someone would steer them in the direction of the eternally neglected Finder, I can't help but be proud of the little OS team that could.

Mac OS X started its life as the most ambitious consumer operating system ever produced. Apple abandoned its existing, 16-year-old code base for something entirely new. Out of the gate, Mac OS X was a technical curiosity with few applications, and a performance dog. A scant four years later, Tiger is a powerhouse that combines the best Unix has to offer with a feature-rich, user-friendly interface. The increasingly capable bundled applications are just icing on the cake. We've come a long way, baby.
Lastly, as I read about the various advanced functions of the OS that Adobe won't touch (needs to stay cross-platform) I keep thinking "iPhoto Pro", "iPhoto Pro", "iPhoto Pro" ....

Take my money Steve, even if you are getting weirder and more manic.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Picture Arena: OS X photo management software imprts iPhoto images

Producttour > Import // Picture Arena - next generation digital picture management for MacOS X // IOSPIRIT GmbH - for creative minds ..

Dynamic iPhoto™ album import

On startup, Picture Arena is dynamically importing your existing iPhoto™ albums, including comments and thumbnail data. As this import is dynamic and happens at each startup of Picture Arena, they are always up-to-date and you don't have to delete and reimport them each time you have made a change to them or added new albums. If you want, you can permanently convert your iPhoto™ albums into Picture Arena albums, though, and benefit from all of Picture Arena's features for these images, too. The extensive support for iPhoto™ albums in Picture Arena gives you the best out of two worlds and the flexibility to use Picture Arena as either an extension, a replacement or in combination.
Brave words -- interoperating with iPhoto seems brisky. They have a free download. I doubt the import routine will import original images (vs. current) or keywords. BTW, this is a German company, so the sometimes awkward English is no reflection on the quality of the product.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Problems with my hard drive backup -- Vantec cartridge incompatible with Seagate Barracuda 200GB drives.

I outgrew my 80GB backup drives in my Vantec EZ-SWAP cartridge (see Backing up a mixed OS X and Windows 2000 Home Network) and confidently ordered two 200 GB Barracude ATA drives. I was sure it would be a half hours work (max) to swap out the 80 from the Vantec and put in the 200. Wrong. The 200 GB Barracudas don't work in the Vantec cartridge, though they work fine as regular drives.

The BIOS recognizes the Seagate perfectly during initial startup. The hang occurs after the POST is complete, when Windows starts up. The yellow and green lights on the front of the drive light up and the system waits about 20 seconds. Then the system continues and the Windows splash screen appears with its progress bar. The progress bar continues to move, but the system never gets past this point.

I hear a 'zuttt' sound every 20-30 seconds when these drivers are powered up in the Vantec.

I've tried many tricks, including configuring the Seagate as a 32GB drive using the jumpers. I've tested with two identical Seagate drives, two different IDE cables, two different controllers (Paradise and MB IDE). I've tried Master and cable-select configurations. I've confirmed that the Vantec EZ-Swap continues to work very well with my 80GB drives. I've confirmed that the drives work fine outside of the EZ-Swap cartridge.

In short, the 200GB Seagate Barracuda ATA ST3200822A appears to be completely incompatible with the Vantec EZ-Swap.

The Vantec support people actually answered an email, but they've had no ideas. My guess is that the Seagate can't tolerate the minor signal degradation created by the IDE cable splices to the cartridge.

Backing up Blogspot sites with Teleport Pro

Teleport Pro -- Offline Browsing Webspider

Blogger has an official way to backup one's blog. Problem is, it's slightly ridiculous and it produces a huge document.

I tried using an OS X personal spider (SiteSucker) to suck down my blogspot site, but it started failing with a download error after page 300 or so. So I located my ancient copy of Teleport Pro (windows, alas) and fired it up. It worked perfectly, creating several thousand pages and localizing all the URLs pointing to internal blogspot pages.

I'm impressed. Incredibly, you can still buy Teleport Pro at this site. It's not the most intuitive application, but it works great.

Update 11/25/08: I ran into a 65K limit for URLs when using Teleport Pro with the 2008 version of Gordon's Notes. There's a more advanced spider sold by the same vendor, with a $30 updgrade discount it's $165. I'm going to look around for alternatives. Also in 2008 Blogger did introduce the ability to export blogs in a Google defined XML format.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Hard Drive Cooling for 10 Cents - Hard Drive Cooling for 10 Cents

He mounts an 80mm fan over his drives using a cheap hardware bracket. Note these larger fans are much quieter than the small fans sometimes sold for hard drives. My Vantec case let me install an 80mm to blow external air over the drives ...

OS X and all its bizarre keyboard shortcuts

macosxhints - An OS X keyboard shortcut reference

Well, probably not all of them. A complete collection is probably impossible, since they vary between machines and OS versions. One imagines an immense grid in several dimensions ...

The comments reference other collections, including Apple's. I've printed them into one big pile in my desk -- useful for when the Mac isn't working.

A psychoanalyst could make much of the Mac keyboard fetish -- especially since the Mac was born of a the mouse world. Single button mouse, one trillion keyboard shortcuts ... hmmm. Compensation perhaps?

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Skype gets interesting: inbound number and voice mail

SkypeIn and Skype Voicemail Beta

Skype is a popular (too popular?) Voice over IP (VOIP) solution. It's primary use is cheap long distance calls, technical conferencing, and low cost conferencing. There are several similar alternatives.

Now, however, Skype is getting .... interesting.

They're offering users a 'unversal number' that can be reached by external phones (hmm. What does it do with fax calls?). Calls can go to voice mail or get routed to the Skype client (if it's connected). Cost is about $60/year for one number and voice mail, but I'd expect a variety of hidden fees also exist.

If they also provided programmable routing (route to my mobile phone, route to my home phone, etc) I'd have signed up already, but given their infrastructure it doesn't seem far fetched to expect routing in a future release.
SkypeIn provides an affordable, flexible alternative to costly mobile phone roaming charges with SkypeIn personal numbers. SkypeIn customers can receive inbound calls to their Skype client from ordinary fixed telephones or mobile phones while they travel worldwide, providing seamless interconnectivity without having to pay costly roaming charges. Skype Voicemail enables users to manage incoming voicemail messages, making their Skype usage more ubiquitous...

... SkypeIn customers choose a country and area code and are assigned a regular telephone number... Users may purchase up to three numbers from their home country in Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States during the beta period.

Skype Voicemail customers can receive a voicemail message up to 10 minutes long from any user or traditional phone. Skype Voicemail customers may record their own personalized voicemail greeting, playback their messages, even while offline, and send incoming calls to voicemail if they away, offline or simply busy on another call.

SkypeIn and Skype Voicemail complement Skype’s first premium service, SkypeOut, which allows global calling to public telephone numbers for local rates....
All Skype services are pre-paid, apparently they lead the industry in credit card fraud.

10.3.9 has a significant java bug

Best places to read about it: OS X hints: macosxhints - A fix for broken Java after 10.3.9 upgrade and Apple.

Overall 10.3.9 sounds promising but imperfect. I'll wait another week.

Update: Sounds like it's caused by having java running somewhere (other user space) preventing the update. In theory this is allowed, but in practice here's the superstition I follow for major OS X updates (XP updates, in my experience, have not required this sort of superstition):
1. log in on my very plain admin account (no odd configuration, no startup items, etc). Run PCC (or similar) to flush caches.
2. shut down, restart and login again to admin
3. run the update
4. shut down and restart
I sometimes "repair privileges after #4, but I think that's less important.

AutoIt: Scripting language for Windows apps


In DOS days I did far too much using Microsoft's Batch programming "language" (still a surprisingly useful skill). In OS/2 days I was fond of ReXX (spelling?). At various times since then Microsoft has had a variety of batch or scripting tools; they've never been very well accepted. Even AppleScript, often forgotten, has gotten more traction. (Recently AppleScript has become very useful, and it will be even more central and critical in Tiger.)


AutoIt is one partial solution; open source and free. No 'build by recording' mode unfortunately (that peaked w/ AppleScript classic). Correction (thanks to a comment by the author of the scripting utility! see below) -- AutoIt has a recording tool - ScriptWriter. It is included in the SciTE distribution of AutoIt. I'll try it out and comment here. AutoIt is starting to feel like serious tool.

I've also used Hot Keyboard Pro, which is only a partial solution.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Does 10.3.9 resurrect the iBook CPU fan?

Mac OS X 10.3.9
This was a very, very good upgrade for me thus far. The .7 and .8 upgrades for me went from bad to worse. Notably in networking, sharing printers, Finder weirdness, among other things. All of that is now fixed! and what's more important is a noise that I heard that I hadn't heard since .6 update ... the CPU cooling fan...IT'S ALIVE!!!!!!

I thought for a few months that my iBook was turned into a convection-cooled device (as the infamous Cube) since the CPU fan never went off. Ever since I upgraded to .9 it's all (the CPU fan included) running again.
Ok, if this is true then I'll upgrade. I too have noticed how quiet my iBook fanhas been for a while. Quiet is good, but hot is not so great.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

OS X 10.3.9 includes Safari 1.3

Surfin' Safari

wow. This didn't get much discussion in the release notes! 10.3.9 includes a major Safari update. I wonder what else is in there. I'm waiting a few days before installing.

BlogAssist: make Safari a better Blogger client

BlogAssist is a clever OS X menubar application that applies simple operations on text in the clipboard to speed entering HTML. It's particularly relevant to blogging, especially when working with Safari and Blogger (Safari is not well supported in Blogger, so one has to type HTML directly).

For example, you could copy a URL from a web page, choose the Web Link option, paste the result into a blog comment, and then replace the placeholder display string. In other words:
1. Select text and copy into clipboard (btw, it's easy to forget to copy!)
2. Apply BlogAssist operation (operations can be user modified or defined via menubar.
3. Paste into text area.

via TUAW.

Bloglines may be out of commission


As of this morning my public blogs are gone and I cannot login. I hope they have good backups!

Update: They're back.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Cringely likes Simple DNS Server

PBS | I, Cringely . April 14, 2005 - A Cup of Bandwidth

Cringely likes JH Software's Simple DNS Server. Actually, the entire article today is full of advanced network tips and hints.

"... This easiest of all DNS servers to implement requires almost no customization at all and runs beautifully behind my firewall, providing DNS service to every machine on my network. It worked just the same over the bootleg wireless links."

SSHFun: connect your laptop to a home machine

MacInTouch Home Page

"SSHFun 0.4 is an AppleScript Studio application designed to establish a secure connection between Macs. The application tunnels ports 548 (Apple File Share) and 3031 (Apple Remote Events) through port 22 (Secure Shell, SSH) using Terminal, allowing SSHFun to operate inside a secure environment. SSHFun is free (donations accepted) for Mac OS X 10.3."

nVu - more good news on this FrontPage replacement

MacInTouch Home Page

nVu is getting close to release.
Nvu 1.0 Preview is an open source web authoring application based on Gecko, the Mozilla layout engine. It includes WYSIWYG page editing, integrated file management via FTP, HTML source editing, tabbed views, a CSS editor, and other features. This release adds support for HTML 4.01 Strict and Transitional and XHTML 1.0 Strict and Transitional, automatic disabling of UI elements not allowed by the DTD of the current document, new Help contents, and other changes. Nvu is free for Mac OS X 10.1.5 and up, Linux, and Windows.
In addition to working with OS X, it's also bundled with Linspire.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Core Data: the most interesting part of OS X Tiger

Developing with Core Data

This, to me, is the most interesting part of OS X Tiger -- though Tiger's metadata model is also very interesting.
Core Data, new in Tiger, completes the Cocoa vision for building well-factored applications based on the Model-View-Controller (MVC) pattern by providing a strong, flexible, and powerful data model framework...

...Firstly, in the same way that Interface Builder vastly simplifies creating user interfaces, Core Data lets you quickly define your application's data model in a graphic way and easily access it from your code. Secondly, Core Data provides an infrastructure to deal with common functionality such as undo and redo and data persistence, allowing you to get on with the task of building innovation into your application.

... The technically correct way to describe Core Data is as an object-graph management and persistence framework...

... Core Data builds on some of the concepts of enterprise-class database application frameworks, such as the Enterprise Objects Framework in WebObjects...

...All changes to the objects managed by Core Data happen in memory and are transient until they are committed to disk. To commit changes to the data model to disk, simply send a save: message to the managed object context. This behavior preserves the traditional document semantics that users expect in document-based applications.

... In Tiger, Core Data support three different kinds of data store formats to save managed objects contexts to. These formats are:

* XML file format
* Binary archive file format
* SQLite database file format

Each of these formats has its strengths and weaknesses. The XML format is a good testing format as it is fairly human readable. The binary format is not human readable, but provides better performance than the XML format. Both of these formats are atomic—in other words, the entire data model is read from disk and saved to disk in a single operation.

The last format, the SQLite format, is the most scalable and fastest. SQLite is an open source embedded database that is included in Tiger and has many properties which make it an ideal data storage layer for Core Data.
I have a feeble hope that we'll get a "pro" version of iPhoto based on this framework that will actually, maybe, perhaps ... work.

Dreamhost: a high quality OS X friendly ISP

MacInTouch Home Page
Dave Yost: About a year ago on MacInTouch I learned about DreamHost. I moved my web sites there and never looked back. In addition to all their other features (not to mention their low prices), as of yesterday I can now access my 2.4GB of DreamHost disk space in the Finder via AppleShare! [Another good, Mac-friendly hosting provider is, one of this site's sponsors. -MacInTouch]

A Better Finder Rename (OS X): now creates NTFS compliant names

MacInTouch Home Page
A Better Finder Rename 6.9 is a contextual menu module for renaming multiple files with numerous options, including regular expression substitution and the date and time from a digital photo's EXIF metadata. This release can not only convert Macintosh files names to legal Windows NTFS file names, but also take into account limitations of the SMB Windows file sharing service. A Better Finder Rename is $19.95 for Mac OS X.
NTFS compliance is a significant issue nowadays when sharing photos. This feature justifies the update for most of us paid users.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

SiteSucker for OS X: transfer a remote web site to a local machine

I've used similar software on my PC. I'd like to see if I can use this to create a local version of my Blogger pages. It has a great versiontracker rating.

AppRocket: A LaunchBar clone for Windows?

Candy Labs - AppRocket

LaunchBar 3 for OS X was an essentially perfect application. Yeah, I know about QuickSilver. There's even a LaunchBar 4.01 which is supposed to be a nice update -- but why mess with perfection? I paid for LaunchBar and I love it.

I've looked without success for a Windows equivalent. Today I idly typed in an old google search 'launchbar for windows'. It returned AppRocket, now on version 1.2.

On first inspection this is basically a clone of LaunchBar 1.x. Alas, it didn't work for me. On an initial test it didn't seem to be detecting directories or folders (!?!)*. I assumed this was a glitch of the initial (very long) indexing process, but before I could retest AppRocket threw an uncaught exception and crashed. The crashed process continued to consume 40GB of drive space, but I was able to eventually restart XP. (BTW, I thought .NET apps weren't supposed to do that sort of thing any more ...)

It looks like I'll stick with my home-brewed WCD-powered folder-navigator solution for now. I'll try again with 1.3.
* One would assume any application designed to support navigation would do at least as well as Norton Change Directory (later integrated into Norton Commander 3.x) -- the perfect application for folder navigation (vintage 1989). Incredibly, application designers consistently ignore the metadata implicit in an enclosing folder. Several 'file location/navigation' utilities for Windows that I've evaluated completely ignore directories! Even some of much celebrated full text search programs don't return matches on folder/directory substrings! (Yahoo Desktop Search, my current somewhat-favorite, does match on directories.)

I do find it fascinating that truly superb ideas in software can be quite successful, then vanish and never be fully implemented again. Compared to what we attempt to do today, NCD was a trivial, utterly simple application. And yet, there's no reliable modern equivalent available on the dominant Windows platform. I think we can only explain this sort of market failure by comparison to the idiosyncratic "choices" of systems ruled by the peculiarities of evolution and natural selection.

5/21/06: I did eventually buy a later, more stable, version of AppRocket. It's ok, but it's definitely not in the same exalted class as LaunchBar. Worth the money though.

Update 6/07: I forget what happened, but I soured on AppRocket. Buggy I believe, and in the end far inferior to LaunchBar. Later, I think, Google bundled similar functionality into their desktop search engine.

Monday, April 11, 2005

How to create an annotated multimedia Google map

HOW-TO: Make your own annotated multimedia Google map - Engadget -

I assume someone will shortly automate this process with a handy software app. A fascinating overview of how open standards benefit from network effects.

Free visuals and stock photographs

Where To Find Great Free Photographs And Visuals For Your Own Online Articles - Robin Good's Latest News

An excellent overview of sites that have free photos available for use in presentations. A great way to spice up corporate presentations.

iDVD and image distortion

Macintouch iPhoto (Part 13)

This Macintouch article was written for iPhoto export, but this is really a global issue with 16:9 vs. 6:4 vs. 4:3 video. The idea of "using a mask" in QT Pro to transform video is new to me, but sounds generally applicable.
Albert Poon

iPhoto 5 added the ability to export slideshows with the Ken Burns effect included. However,iPhoto 5 exports slideshows to iDVD as 720 x 480 QuickTime movies. iDVD is expecting 640 x 480. When iDVD imports the 720 pixel wide movie, it squeezes the image and distorts it.

To quickly change the aspect ratio for the slideshow movie and have your pictures appear right, open the movie in QuickTime Pro and simply add a 640 x 480 mask to the video track and resave the movie. Now import the resized movie that conforms to the size iDVD is looking for.

OS X DMG utility (disk image)

FreeDMG product page

I often create disk images, including some for iPhoto Library "merges" and others for storing OS X files on an SMB share. This utility should be very useful.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

iDVD is complex, this site helps

Make sure you are using the latest QuickTime, and as always, work with high quality source material (properly sized photos [640 X 480] for slides and/or properly processed digital video [ 720 X 480] for movies). iDVD 4 & 5 now use the same encoding technology used in Compressor 1.2 and DVD Studio Pro 2.0.5…the same codec as Apple’s professional video utility, ‘Compressor’.

Compressor uses a 2-pass VBR encoding method that first analyzes the entire file and then uses that data during a second pass encoding stage to intelligently distribute bit allocation per frame. The result? An optimized MPEG-2 file with consistent visual quality.
Ok, this is complicated. Good site.

MaxEmail: send/receive fax service.

Do you know the MAC number of your hardware?

MacInTouch Home Page

Good advice in Macintouch (from a reader). In addition to storing the serial numbers of devices, also recard the ethernet MAC address. That number uniquely identifies most laptops and most theives won't touch it.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Free FullWrite Professional is still out there

Free FullWrite Professional™ Document Processor

Dave Trautman's site allows one to download a full copy of the last version of FullWrite Professional. If MORE 3.1 was the ultimate outliner (OmiOutliner Pro 3.x may rival it now), then FullWrite Pro was the ultimate wordprocessor. Like MORE, it's now available for free.

It apparently runs in the OS X classic emulation mode, though it gives a FOND error message that can be ignored. I remember FW Pro as a monster -- it required megabytes (at least one) of hard drive space and maybe 1-2 megabytes of memory. It really strained my SE/30. It was also buggy when I used its full features in the earlier versions, but it was an astounding wordprocessor. It was also a quite decent outliner.

Friday, April 01, 2005

iPod sound quality: Shuffle > iPod 3G > iPod Mini > iPod Photo?

Opinion Column: Shuffle's Got a Secret

Fascinating. There's more to an 'mp3 player' than a hard drive.
The iPod shuffle's near-perfect rendering of the square wave means that it uses push-pull output instead of the single-ended, capacitor-coupled output found in just about every other player. You just can't get this kind of audio performance from a single-ended circuit. I find Apple's audiophile approach exciting on several different levels. You can hear the improvement; will Apple incorporate the same technology in future hard drive players? And technologically, it's fascinating. My inner geek wants answers to half a dozen questions, including how they're generating the negative power supply voltage and whether they've gone with a capacitorless design. I've asked Apple, but so far the company is mum.

I believe I proved that my ears were right: Several other hard drive players edge out older Apple players, but the iPod shuffle does them all one better. I think I also proved conclusively that the iPod mini's output capacitors are woefully undersized, as some audiophiles have been saying since Apple introduced the device. I also found that the iPod mini has lots of harmonic distortion—everywhere but at the industry-standard 1-KHz measuring point.
A Macintouch article claims the newer iPod Photos have sound quality substantially worse than the older iPods. I'm glad the audiophiles are starting to test these things out.

Freeverse : Bumpercar 2.0 OS X WebKit Child-safe browser

Freeverse : Bumpercar 2.0

via Macintouch:
Freeverse Software's BumperCar 2.0 is a web browser for children. The browser filters objectionable web content, limits the sharing of personal information, forces Google to use a "Safe Search" mode, includes parental controls, and more. This release has been completely re-written using Apple's WebKit for enhanced stability, speed, and compatibility. It also adds new home page options for a wider age range of children, safety settings available across all accounts on the computer, and other changes. BumperCar is $29.95 for Mac OS X 10.3.
I want this. I also want the old, long lost, aftermarket shell that put a fun and childproof wrapper around Mac Classic. Alas, that company went under.

Home PBX: Asterisk


Jacob Reider directed me to this one:
Asterisk is a complete PBX in software. It runs on Linux and provides all of the features you would expect from a PBX and more. Asterisk does voice over IP in three protocols, and can interoperate with almost all standards-based telephony equipment using relatively inexpensive hardware.

Asterisk provides Voicemail services with Directory, Call Conferencing, Interactive Voice Response, Call Queuing. It has support for three-way calling, caller ID services, ADSI, SIP and H.323 (as both client and gateway). Check the Features section for a more complete list.
He's put a home PBX in his basement. This is one of the more astounding Linux developments I've come across; it feels like the start of something quite interesting. I wonder if we'll see an array of low cost embedded Linux capabilities of this sort.

No wonder the phone companies are working hard to destroy VOIP telephony.