Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Google maps and traffic: includes MSP

I was playing with Google maps on my phone the other day, and I was surprised to see it included traffic flow data for the twin cities metro region. I just checked, and now it appears on the standard google map for the twin cities as well.
Official Google Blog: Stuck in traffic?:

.... I'm happy to tell you about a new feature on Google Maps that can help. For more than 30 major U.S. cities, you can now see up-to-date traffic conditions to help you plan your schedule and route. If you're in San Francisco, New York , Chicago, Dallas, or any of the other cities we now include, just click on the traffic button to show current traffic speeds directly on the map. If your route shows red, you're looking at a stop-and-go commute; yellow, you could be a little late for dinner; green, you've got smooth sailing....
The Google integration is very nice, but I'm most impressed with how it works on my phone. The MN DOT provides a similar service with integrated webcam views.

Monday, February 26, 2007

MacBook: won't startup unless plugged in

My MacBook sounds rather grimly like all of these. I wonder about those MagSafe adapters ...

Here's how it went:
1. Went to use it and it was shutdown! Surprise.
2. Pressed power, it started to boot, I heard the optical disk spin up, then nothing. This is the same behavior one sees when a battery is completely depleted -- the Mac starts on its internal battery, recognizes there's insufficient power to continue, and shuts itself down.
3. Attached adapter, glowed green, booted.
I went through a few of these cycles. Sometimes it would start unplugged if I pushed the power button a few times, sometimes on one push, but, after much back and forth, nothing would start it if unplugged. No response at all. At that point I'd drained the machine's internal battery.

Along the way I reset the PRAM and PMU to no avail and uninstalled Parallels RC 3.

Tonight I mirror the drive and tomorrow it goes to the Apple Store. I'll try leaving the battery out overnight for the heck of it. I assume it's a hardware issue. I certainly don't need this, but then, who does?

Update: Now the apple menu battery icon has a black X through it, and the drop down reads "No batteries available". The 'about this mac' profile showed "no battery".

Sounds like this is a common MacBook battery flaw. Sometimes it's a defective battery, sometimes a defective motherboard. I hope it's the battery of course, but when I push the battery charge button all five indicators light up.

Update 2/27/07: I work about five minutes from an Apple Store, so replacing the battery only took a few minutes. That did the trick. So what happened? Well, the battery might have simply been defective, but I wonder if there's not more to it. These LiOn batteries have internal computers and embedded operating systems that work to keep them on the right side of spontaneous combustion. Maybe that monitoring system detected some 'out of spec' behavior and shut down the battery -- for good. In other words, the noble battery terminated itself to save the mother ship. Mechanical apoptosis, in other words.

Or maybe it just blew a fuse.

Update 4/22/07: Rumor has it there's an association between battery death and running Parallels. Perhaps coincidence, but worth watching.

kw: apple, macbook, battery, adapter, adaptor, power, startup, start-up, bootup, boot-up

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Building a PC: a recent quick review

I have built my last few PCs, and I've been happy with how it worked. I may never build another though; all but one of the household machines are Macs now. Still, it's good to get a quick summary of the current state of the art. I'm surprised to learn that the 10K rpm Raptor boot drive made such a big difference, but I'll buy it. For what I do the onboard video, however, is not really an issue. It would be different if PCs, for example, made use of the video card for RAW image rendering (maybe under Vista?).

PS. I like Coding Horror, but he really doesn't know much about OS X or Macs. Contrary to his recurrent postings, for an expert user OS X is a much better computing experience than XP. I think it's a better experience for the novice user too, but both OS X and Vista are lousy options for novices. For the novice OS X wins primarily because of Apple's hardware and the absence of the antiviral software hassle, not because it's enormously better than XP. No comments on Vista, I've not used it.

Update 7/24/07: CH has a cumulative summary and a set of suggested configurations.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Odd OS X bug: can't share the shared folder

There's a longstanding and mysteriously ignored flaw in OS X File Sharing.

If I connect to one of my Macs using afp, I can browse all the folders belonging to the user I've connected as. I cannot, however, browse the shared folder -- as any user!

I wonder why this only annoys me ...

Update 4/14/07
: I thought I knew a fix for this, but I was fooled. If you create an alias to the Shared directory and put it in your home directory, it looks like a remote client can get to it. Wrong, OS X simply redirects to the local shared directory!

I wonder again why I'm the only person who seems to notice this ....

Update 4/15/07: I've been looking at this from a few angles, and this is a real wart. My guess is that the Shared folder is a kind of kludge that was stuck into the OS as a temporizing measure. There's no standard way in OS X (non-server) to create a network share that everyone can access! The one folder available for local shares is not network accessible! (Insert more exclamation marks.) Grrr.

See also: the Parents folder.

Update 9/3/08: This was fixed in 10.5

End of the line for the 35mm full frame sensor?

Canon's latest pro camera uses an APS sized sensor:
High-end Canon SLR counters Nikon | Tech News on ZDNet

As with the 1D Mark II, the sensor is the APS-H size that shrinks the field of view by a factor of 1.3 compared with traditional 35mm film SLRs. That means a 50mm lens on a Mark III has the field of view of a 65mm lens on a traditional film SLR. (The APS-H size is right between the APS-C sensor, which has a 1.6 crop factor and is used in Canon Rebel XTi and 30D SLRs, and the full-frame sensor, which matches 35mm film and is used in the 5D and 1Ds Mark II...
Curious. Why introduce another sensor dimension?

Multiclick iTunes album column to subsort - Sort by album and artist or year in iTunes 7 on the Album column to sort by album (as you would expect), then click again to sort by 'Album by Artist' and again for 'Album by Year.' ... play whole albums at a time, but ... keep artists together."
Why doesn't Apple ever document stuff like this?

SpyMe: another remote control app for OS X

SpyMe2 is presumably another VNC based remote control app, though the main page doesn't mention VNC. We're still waiting for something like Windows terminal services (RDP).

I might try it. Inexpensive.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The NYT Permalink Generator

I'll start using this in my blog posts:
TidBITS - Create Permanent Links to the New York Times

... because the New York Times considers itself as the newspaper of record, back in 2003, they worked out a deal with Dave Winer of UserLand Software to provide permanent links in RSS feeds generated through the Radio UserLand RSS aggregator. That said, it would seem that the New York Times is running its own RSS feeds now, so there's no obvious way to find a permanent link to an article you're reading on the New York Times Web site...

...use the New York Times Link Generator, written by Aaron Swartz of the social bookmarking site reddit. Just feed it a link to a New York Times and it returns a version of the link that will remain free for the foreseeable future, though of course the Times could always change their policy. There's also a bookmarklet that you can use to generate a permanent link from the current page when you're on the New York Times Web site.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Hard drives: everything is wrong

I'm used to this sort of reversal from medical science, not computer hardware. Google research says we don't undersand hard drives all that well.

In brief:

1. They're much less heat sensitive than we thought. Once a drive is "mature" heat doesn't have much of an impact on lifespan.
2. After a drive emerges from its infant mortality period, it's not much affected by use. So contrary to everything I've ever written, there's no great need to spin down a USB attached drive.
3. If a drive is found to have any defects on initial testing, it is 10 times as likely to fail as a defect free drive. I'd read that Apple selects server drives by buying conventional drives and tossing out any that have defects. Makes sense. If you buy a new drive, and find a mapped-out defect (may need special software), maybe you should consider returning it ...

Friday, February 16, 2007

The router/javascript bug - this feels big

This feels pretty serious to me. In retrospect, of course, the attack is obvious. I suspect many security people have known about this vulnerability.
Symantec Security Response Weblog: Drive-By Pharming: How Clicking on a Link Can Cost You Dearly

...The attackers create a Web page that includes malicious JavaScript code. When the Web page is viewed, this code, running in the context of your Web browser, uses a technique known as ‘Cross Site Request Forgery’ and logs into your local home broadband router. Now, most such routers require a password for logging in. However, most people never change this password from the original factory default. Upon successful login, the JavaScript code changes the router’s settings. One simple, but devastating, change is to the user’s DNS server settings...
Since I'm a geek I have two inline routers from different vendors with different admin passwords (the password you use to connect to an encrypted WLAN is not relevant here) and, I think, usernames. There are probably two other people I know who do this. I'm not even sure I changed the un/pw on my mother's router -- nor would I necessarily know how! Her primary router, which is where her DNS information comes from, was installed by her cable company.

In the near term browser vendors will be scrambling to see if they can hack in some fix that breaks javascript for this purpose, while not disabling it for every purpose. I'm interested in what Schneier will say.

I don't believe my Airport Router has a web interface, so it's probably immune. Even if it weren't, Apple has a distribution mechanism that allows effective updating of their routers. There's something to be said for that ...

Most browsers, btw, will 'memorize' passwords. I presume that's not exploitable here.

PS. I assume it's obvious to my handful of geeky readers, but a robust WLAN password is of no help here. This is all about the router's admin pw.

Update 2/16/07: I underestimated myself. I did change my mother's router's admin pw.

Update 2/24/07: Schneier has an article. He agrees, it's impressive.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A document management program for OS X

The author of ReceiptWallet has created a general image management package for OS X. The idea is to manage scanned documents.

... DocumentWallet is a Mac OS X program that allows you to scan in and manage your documents. When you scan in each document, you enter a few pieces of information about the document such as the title, category and sub category (as well as fields that you define) and then you can quickly and easily locate your documents. You can view the documents right on the screen, print them, email them, or save them as PDFs. In addition to the powerful search built into DocumentWallet, you can organize your documents into collections. These collections can contain whatever you want and even better than that is the ability to create smart collections that automatically create collections based on whatever criteria you like. For instance, you can create a smart collection that contains all of your manuals for your electronic components or one that contains documents for a certain case...
I think he needs to deliver one solution that manages 'receipts' and documents together. Two products is kind of odd.

I did test ReceiptWallet. I imported 200 receipts and discovered there's no way to cancel a mass import. You can only cancel one at a time. I had to kill the app. It's not a big design flaw, but it did tell me the program is still early in its evolution.

Update 2/16/07: I mentioned the problem with canceling imports to ReceiptWallet's developer, and it's been fixed for the next minor release. That's why I love small developer projects. Also, Jacob Reider pointed to Yep in the comments. I'll watch his blog to see if he adds more information there.

Parallels global sharing: now an XP virus can destroy your Mac

By now quite a few people have noticed that OS X Parallels beta allows a non-admin user to read-write-delete anything on the drive. A recent statement on the Parallels blog feels a bit defensive:
The Official Parallels Virtualization Blog: Upgrade your XP virtual machine to Vista with RC3

Global Sharing shares the your entire Mac file system. It is important to note that Global Sharing is DISABLED by default.
A malign XP process can now destroy an entire OS X system. I don't understand why there's not more of a fuss about this. Of course I'll disable "global sharing", but the affair forces me to recognize how extensively Parallels bypasses OS X. I wish Apple were interested in doing a virtualization layer that respected the primary OS ...

Dapper - a tool for extracting website data

Jacob Reider used Dapper in a PBX/CallerID applet he built. New to me, so I visited the URL he provided. It looks like a productized version of the tools people build to do mash-ups. It probably creates a DOM-like model of a web page and then provides an API to manipulate that data. Here's an excerpt from the FAQ:
Dapper: Frequently Asked Questions

What is Dapper?

Dapper is a service that allows you to extract and use information from any website on the Internet. For those familiar with web services, you can think of Dapper as an API maker. For the rest of you, Dapper allows you to build web applications and mashups using data from any website without any programming.

What is a Dapp?

You can think of a Dapp as a "black box" which represents a specific type of page on a specific website on the Internet. The Dapp provides access to the content of that specific website in XML. This XML can then be used in any way you like, including in your next application. Furthermore, Dapper provides a set of tools to transform this XML into other formats, including RSS, email, and Google Maps...
If I get a chance, I may see if I can use it to create an RSS feed for Dyer's archaic web site.

A revised! AirPort Extreme 802.11n review from Macintouch

[Update: The Macintouch reviewer was measuring performance across a NAT interface. It turns out that NAT translation is slow in consumer devices, and it becomes a real bottleneck for connections. Most of us would never notice this, since we probably use a switch for wired devices and we do NAT translation only to connect to the Internet. In most circumstances Internet connections are so slow NAT translation is not an issue. The revised Macintouch review is favorable, as are most reviewers.]

Macintouch reviewed Apple's new 802.11n router: Review: AirPort Extreme 802.11n. It's pretty negative, though they tried to be kind. Slow, quirky, hot. Bleh.

I'll wait for version two.

One side-comment caught my eye:
As a side note, USB disks we attached never spun down when idle. This maximizes AirPort Disk's availability — a client will never have to wait for a disk to spin up — at the cost of increased power consumption.
The power consumption is trivial, but this also shortens the life of the drive. Another negative!

[Update: A Google study on hard drive longevity claims spin down has no effect on drive lifespan. Even so, I like spin down just to reduce noise.]

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Yahoo Pipes - a Googler's review

Matt Cutts works for Google. His review of Yahoo Pipes is both positive and relatively easy to follow:
Matt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO - Review: Yahoo pipes

As every decent UNIXhead knows, pipes let you combine small command-line tools easily by routing the output of one tool into the input of another tool. ...

The idea of Yahoo Pipes, as far as I can tell from a quick look, is to allow that same pipe behavior on RSS feeds. The system also outputs RSS urls. There are operators like sorting, counting, truncating, etc. If you wanted to make a mash-up of different feeds, this would be a neat way to prototype it.
So if you have a set of RSS feeds, you can manipulate them through Yahoo Pipes. I can't think of a personal use case yet, but I'm working on it ...

Monday, February 12, 2007

Gecko vs. WebKit - an insider's perspective

I mostly use Firefox these days (the extensions and Google toolbar), but I have use Camino and might switch back. If Google ever adopts Safari as a first rate client I'd even give it a try.

So I was quite interested in this insider's view of WebKit vs. Gecko:
Sucking less, on a budget: Chicken Little 2.0

... Gecko is a strength. Camino would be nowhere if its rendering engine sucked. Gecko has had the benefit of more than 8 years of development, and as part of that development, testing and exposure. AOL paid for QA to ensure that it correctly rendered over 98% of the net when they wanted to embed it in the AOL client. Anybody who thinks writing an HTML engine is easy is dead wrong. You spend years getting the last few percent, but it's in the last few percent that you make your users feel like they no longer have to worry their browser will be unsupported. To throw that away would be dangerous, it's what keeps us relevant. We say "Mozilla power, Mac style" for a reason, because it's true. I can't use Safari because the sites I care about just don't work. You can't overlook that.

Gecko is a liability. The architecture from day one was light years better than what we had (a grad-student project gone horribly wrong), but by no means was it well-designed. The horrible misapplication of COM, misguided pre-optimization, a singular focus on Windows, and a variety of other serious design flaws made Gecko difficult to understand and in some cases impossible to fix. The learning curve is immense (think Mt Everest), just ask my students every year; the look of terror in their eyes is proof enough. Gecko is as impenetrable and bloated as it is fast and compatible. WebKit, on the other hand, is sleek and svelte. It's approachable. It's really easy to fix bugs. If you ask developers which they'd rather work on, the ones who pick Gecko should get their heads examined.

New blogger: Changing the subjet does not change the url!

Google has finally seen the light. The original Blogger didn't use semantic identifiers for posts, they used a number. You could change the subject and the URL didn't break.

Blogger 1.x used the title as the post name. Change the title, you changed the URL and broke any links.

Blogger 2 uses the title as the post name, but it's a one time operation. You can change the title and the URL remains the same. This is a GREAT improvement.

For example, I corrected the title of this post but the URL shows the old title. I'd prefer a meaningless identifier for the URL, but this is an acceptable alternative.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Utility to charge a RAZR from an OS X machine

The world's worst phone became a little less crummy today. Scott Gruby, an experienced Mac developer, has a utility that will allow an OS X machine to charge the phone:
Scott Gruby’s Blog :: Charging a Motorola RAZR over USB

The Motorola RAZR has a mini USB plug on it for charging and hooking to a computer which is great as I have lots of those cables lying around. Unfortunately it won’t charge over USB from a Mac out of the box. Luckily, I know some tricks and someone told me the magic to get it to charge. I whipped up a little program that tells the RAZR (or any other Motorola cell phone) to charge over USB....

... The app is pretty simple; place it in your applications folder, launch it and set it as a login item. Whenever you plug in your phone, it should start charging. If your machine goes to sleep, it will stop charging. (For those curious, all the program does is open and close the USB interface on the phone.)
Easy to install, easy to uninstall. I'll definitely try it. Scott asks that, in return, we take a look at his receipt management software. I'll give that one a try too.

BTW, this app is not easy to find! Scott published it in November 2006, but I couldn't find it on versiontracker. I only know about it because Scott mentioned it in a comment on a post of mine. Scott's blog is also an underappreciated gem, I've added it to my bloglines collection.

Update 2/7/07: Nina Love (see comments) was able to charge her RAZR from her MacBook apparently without installing this utility.

Friday, February 09, 2007

StuffIt Expander: bypass evil email harvesting

StuffIt Expander is nasty stuff. Some versions mangle zip files, the installation is very ugly, it's very hard to remove, the vendor harvests email addresses and is an infamous spammer -- bad news.

Unfortunately, some vendors still use .sit files. As a rule, I don't buy from them. If you're stuck, you may be able to download form the above link without surrendering your spam-mail address.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

RSS to email and RSS for the old web

Amit had two related posts worth keeping for reference:

How to generate email from an RSS feed


RSS notification for non-syndicated web sites

I'm going to try the latter with Dyer's news site.

Update: alas the links Amit recommended for rss monitoring of a web site both failed me. One is no longer working the other is very complex to configure.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

BlogAssist now on services menu

Dejal - BlogAssist has been on my system for ages, but I've made little use of it. I'll try version 2.1 of this html tool. Only web tools that work with services can use the service option -- so Safari or Camino only.

USB adapters for the evil 2 Gen Apple iPod Shuffle

The 2nd generation iPod shuffle uses yet another proprietary apple connector (YAPAC). Yes, another dongle on the desktop, another usb port taken, another thing to lose, another device to carry when traveling.

Sure Apple could have used a mini-B USB interface instead (the original shuffle used a full-sized USB connector, the original iPod used a standard firewire connector), but that would have been insufficiently greedy (aka unfair to Apple shareholders and stakeholders). Apple makes a zillion dollars off their ownership of the full sized iPod interface. They needed another proprietary connector for devices that are too small for the current iPod connector.

Grrrrrrr. This alone is reason enough to buy a Shuffle alternative -- if anyone would make one that played AAC encoded music. (Apple does not own AAC, they own FairPlay. Most iTunes users with any sense do not rely on FairPlay encoded music.)

Those of us who bit (I had a $50 certificate burning a hole in my pocket) really want a mini-USB adapter that would permanently sit on the base of the Shuffle. It would extend the Shuffle about 1 cm and would include both a mini-B connector, a insertion point for the earphones, and a small ring for string, chain, etc. Ideally it would let one charge the Shuffle and listen to it at the same time (if the Shuffle would allow that).

Maybe Griffin will make one for us -- if Apple lets them! I'm sure to do this legally one has to pay a license to Apple. For now (until Apple shuts them down?) there's a big honking full-sized USB connector from Incipio. The $6 price is right, but it is too big and too ugly for longterm use:
IncipioBud - USB adapter for the 2 Gen Apple iPod Shuffle

Ken Tidwell (via Macintouch)
If Apple shuts out any US manufacturer (Griffin?) of the device we want, then maybe we'll see a lbac
Works for me - says the product is out of stock*, but the page/link, with images, etc. loads right up. However, using their search for 'IP-300' fails, as it does for other items that are also currently listed as OOS.
IncipioBud - USB adapter for the 2 Gen Apple iPod Shuffle

The IncipioBud allows you to easily connect a iPod Shuffle to any USB port without having to use the relatively large iPod Shuffle Dock (included with your iPod Shuffle)... The IncipioBud is the perfect travel companion, taking up virtually no space in a bag or pocket. No need to haul around the Dock and cables that came with your iPod Shuffle, just pack the IncipioBud and a user all set. The IncipioBud also comes with a convenient lanyard loop on the side so you can attach it to backpack or laptop case.

This tiny adapter weighs in at only 5.6 grams and measures a mere 47mm X 16mm!

* Small
* No Cables or Clumsy Cradle to take with you
* Works with Both Mac and PC
* Allows you to Charge off of one of our USB charging solutions

This Google search phrase '2g shuffle usb dongle' returns several by other outfits..., including an endgadget article for one from a vendor by the name of 'Thought Out', which discusses how Apple legal wolves were after them over something iPod related back in 2005.
If Apple shuts out any US manufacturer (Griffin?) of the device we want, then maybe we'll see a black market in a future mini-B version. I'll buy this one for now!

kw: adapter, converter, dongle, USB, mini-B, iPod Shuffle, 2G, 2nd generation, 2gen

Monday, February 05, 2007

The mysteries of Microsoft Access: Built-In Functions

I rag on Microsoft all the time, but my dark secret is I'm a power-user of many of their products. Only a true geek can know the darkness at the heart of Microsoft software.

The darkness varies. Word is bad to the bone. Outlook is a complex mix of hacks and insights, kludges and cleverness, a slouching beast with thwarted aspirations to nobility. Excel has kept its pure Mac heart in the company of demons. PowerPoint is simply dumb. And then there's Microsoft Access ....

Access is the most complex of all, a broken veteran of too many wars, too many gunfights, too many shady deals, too many dark betrayals ... and yet ...

Access can still do yeoman's work. If you learn its twisted paths, where to go and where to fear, it can chew through gigabytes of data, transforming strings, exposing relationships ... There's a fierce engine behind a tinsel town facade. It is also very strangely documented -- not the least because it's a house of cards and mirrors built upon a half-dozen dead "strategic" technologies. There are vast amounts of information buried in the peculiar not-quite standard help files, but it's all piecemeal. The web resources are often little better.

Take Access Built-In Functions for example. You can write some very fast and powerful tranformations of text strings using these, none of my 3 books on Microsoft Access discuss them in any detail. A web search turns up a few references, but nothing definitive. Microsoft's site has almost nothing.

Almost, but not quite nothing. Here, at long last, is the Alphabetic List of Microsoft Access 2003 Build-in Functions. Here's the list by category. Here's a discussion in the context of expressions.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

BlogJet 2 - don't upgrade yet

BlogJet 2 is now available with some nice improvements on the prior version:

Post Management and Searching

BlogJet now stores your posts in the cache, so you can access thousands of your posts in a blink of an eye (even with no connection). Finding posts is now easier because of the instant search, which shows results as you type.

Alas, it's NOT ready. I upgraded based on past experience and it through an access violation within minutes of my using it. That's bad coding.

I'd give it another 2-3 months before upgrading.

Update 3/21/07: The latest release is and it didn't work with Blogger correctly a few weeks ago. I'm going to try Microsoft Live Writer for a while.

The new blogger: One HUGE fix

It's been a long time since I had anything kind to say about Google's blogger. It's been a long painful slog since Pyra sold out. One of the first things Google did was make the blog title a part of a post URL, so editing a title typo broke links. It was downhill from there.

Into this dark morass shines a wee bit of light. The new blogger editor search works. What? You thought it worked before? Wrong. The old search was "phrase search" only, so "paradox fermi" would not find "fermi paradox". The new search is, at a minimum, implied-boolean word search -- it may be even smarter than that. Hallelujah.

I love the tags of course, and I'll be making extensive use of them to tie posts together. I'll also be gradually migrating to the new template editor.

Gosh, it's good to have something nice to say about blogger. Maybe Google will even fix the URLs one day.

The secret and tortuous path to submitting a blogger bug report

Google makes it almost impossible to submit a bug report. This page tries to help:

The Real Blogger Status: It's Called Blogger Support - Not Blogger Mindreaders

In my case they lost one of my 15 blogs when I migrated from Blogger old to Blogger new. I did something wrong, there was a bug in the old blogger, and the conversion makes it impossible to correct either bug. Getting help from Google/Blogger is a matter of tricking the bot into moving the request up the ladder. It's not easy ...

Friday, February 02, 2007

Bose QuietComfort 2 Noise Cancelling Headphones - product defect is causing sidearms to crack

I was a wee bit surprised tonight to see that a chunk of plastic had fallen off one arm of my Bose QuietComfort 2 Noise Cancelling Headphones - Headphones and Headsets. On closer inspection there are cracks along both sides of the headphone arms.

Turns out this is a manufacturing defect. Bose will send me a new set (though I’ll be paying shipping one way). Annoying, since I’ll miss ‘em.

If you know someone with a pair, suggest they look for significant cracks.

Update 2/22/07: Bose sent me a new kit, it took about 2-3 weeks for the exchange. I'm glad to have them back, and pleased with Bose service. I wonder if Minnesota weather might have played a role in their demise; I'll avoid freeze-thaw cycles in the future. Since Bose did well with this one, I'm going to look at buying their new earbud headset ...

Thursday, February 01, 2007

My iPod shuffle impressions: the cradle from heck

Last year I modified a first generation iPod Shuffle for my mother. I've been pleased by how it worked. This year, a $50 Apple settlement check burned through my pocket and I bought myself a 2nd generation shuffle. Alas, I missed the new ones by a day, so I got the crummy old ear buds.

As usual, I'll update this review as I work with it. Comments:
  • lovely packaging
  • I hate the cradle. It's another stupid proprietary connector to clutter my desktop. The device is too small for a full iPod connector, but Apple could have put a mini-B USB connector in it. That would have been a compassionate act of great good karma, but instead Apple stuck us. It's enough to make me think fondly of Vista.
  • Did I mention I despise the cradle? There's no audio out. The only thing worse than sticking me with YAC (yet another cradle/connector) is omitting the audio out. So you can't charge and play.
  • nice decals
  • I failed the IQ test. I assume that's what the cryptic directions are. "Red dot: on while any button is pressed when hold is off".
  • It plays music.
  • It mounts on my desktop so I can, in theory, use it as a thumb drive. If I carried the stupid cradle.
  • Miserable cradle.