Saturday, July 30, 2011

Google+: Circles are for both access control and subscription lists

The Google Reader UI lets me manage people who post once a year and newspapers that post 100 articles a day.

For example, the NYT Science feed is in both my Science folder and my NYT folder. The Science folder I read closely. The NYT folder I scan, and I "mark all as read" after picking a few interesting headlines.

So Google Reader can handle all kinds of traffic volumes, but G+ used to overwhelm me. A few high volume posters were clogging my read. Then I finally realized I'd misunderstood Circles.

Circles, I thought, were about access control. I thought Circles defined collections of people (once we called these mailing lists) who were able to read what I posted to them (notify and access).

I was partly right. Circles are access control. Circles, however, also define subscriptions or streams. They are, in this sense, analogous to the folders in Google Reader, where each person is a 'blog'.

It's not hard really. Circles are just collections of people. Those collections of people can be used for both access control (who you post to) and who you read (stream) [1]. So a person may be part of a Circle I post to, but I may rarely read their high volume posts (Guy cough Kawasaki cough).

Most of my posts are to "Your Circles" or "Extended Circles". That's a big set. On the other hand, my primary "stream" is a set of people who post a few times a day and have something interesting to say. I call that circle "Conversational".  "High Volume" is made up of the yackers with thousands of followers.

With the G+ web interface Streams are on the left side, but only the first ten or show Circles created display there. "Conversations" wasn't showing until Google+ added Circle ordering. Now "Conversations" is first on the list.

On my iPhone's it's not obvious how I csan follow my "Conversations" stream. It's buried away in the app's oddball UI. Here's a rough guide:

  1. Tap Circles
  2. In Circles screen there are two tabs at the top: People and Circles (yeah, that's weird). Tap the Circles tab.
  3. Tap a Circle ("Conversational" in my case)
  4. In "Conversational" there is a list of people, and at the bottom of the screen there are 3 buttons/tabs to press. Press Posts. There they are.

Did I mention that the UI is as incoherent as post-Jobs OS X (ex: Lion)?

I think Google could have done a better job of explaining this. Looking at their iPhone app I suspect they didn't fully understand Circles themselves.

[1] Fellow Geezers, think radio station.

PS. I still want iTunes style "Smart Circles".

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Apple's $1000 docking station

Anyone can sell a laptop docking station for $1000.

Only Apple can make something that seems almost worth it ...

Apple Thunderbolt Display (27-inch) - Apple Store (U.S.)

With just one cable, connect any Thunderbolt-enabled Mac and get 27 inches of high-resolution screen space, high-quality audio, a FaceTime HD camera, FireWire 800 and Gigabit Ethernet ports — and a Thunderbolt port you can use to daisy-chain additional high-performance peripherals such as hard drives and video capture devices...

... The Thunderbolt Display includes a MagSafe connector that powers and charges your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air. The connector sits on your desk, ready and waiting. No need to unwind the cord to the power adapter that came with your notebook. Leave it exactly where it is, in your bag.

Yes, it's insane.

And yet ...

If I wanted the best of all worlds, and I was single, the combination of an 11" MacBook Air and the Thunderbolt display would almost make sense. Hang storage and peripherals off the display, plug in power and Thunderbolt cable, and the MacBook Air becomes a serious iMac contender. Disconnect and travel with an ultraportable.

A 27" iMac is $1,700. An 11" MacBook Air is $1,200. Together they come to almost $2,900. The MacBook Air and the Thunderbolt Display together are "only" $2,000. Really, cheap by comparison.

Heavens, but Apple is Satanic.

PS. Anyone remember the Powerbook Duo? Aka MacBook Air 1.0, but with 3 much cheaper docking station options.

Restoring an XP backup (.bkf) file in Windows 7

Based on a long history of problems with copying GBs of data over the LAN, I decided to move my data from a corporate XP box to a Win 7 box using XP Backup. That old utility is stone simple, but for me it's been fast and reliable.

I mounted a share on the W7 machine then ran backup to put every bit of my old machine into a .bkf file on the new machine. From there I'd unpack at leisure. In a month or so, once I'm satisfied I've not lost key data in a crevice of XP, I planned to delete the .bkf file.

Naturally, I did a small test first.

Obviously, or I wouldn't be writing this, the test failed. Windows-7 no longer supports restores from XP backup files.

I was open mouthed. This is the sort of middle-finger gesture I'm used to getting from Apple. Whatever their many, many faults, Microsoft has always been kinder to data. The formats are usually proprietary, but at least they're supported.

I couldn't believe it, so I looked further.

Happily, my faith was justified. You can now download a Microsoft Win 7 utility that will restore from a .bkf file. Description of the Windows NT Backup Restore Utility for Windows 7 and for Windows Server 2008 R2. It worked for me.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lion: the curious case of the stingy desktop pictures

My copy of Snow Leopard has seven folders of desktop pictures, about 35-40 images.

OS X Lion comes with 14 images total. Stingy and weird.

It's not the only odd thing about Lion. OS X 10.7 feels like post-Jobs Apple; a compromise mashup between OS prosumer and OS lite. More on that in a future post.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Viewing Mac OS X Parental Control files

One of the many signs that OS X parental controls are half-baked is that Snow Leopard's default log tool doesn't actually .. you know ... display the site history. It's not just Snowie, this is old incompetence.

I'd wondered if there was any way to actually view the sites visited; perhaps a way to load the records in another tool. My Google searches found nothing, but a question on the most illustrious site brought a comprehensive answer.

The answer was excellent even though I started out with a misleading question ...

OS X stores Parental Control logs in /Library/Application Support/Apple/ParentalControls/Users/[username]/year/month with the extension .data.

For example, contains usage data for the 15 day of a month.

The log files are system read/write only. To access them one must change permissions or use terminal.

I would like to be able browse these files. In an Apple discussion I found a reference to using a "SQL" add on for Firefox to browse them. I guessed this meant SQLite Manager for Firefox, but I the SQLite browsers I've tried can't open the file.

The file is binary, but in a text editor it shows typical Apple .plist header.

I suspect a form of SQLite, or Core Data (which I think can use SQLite).

Does anyone have information on how to browse these files?

My question was misleading because the date-specific .data files are a red herring. The real data is in / ....

osx - How can I view Mac OS X Parental Control files with format .data? - Super User (answer from Daniel Beck)

These date-specific files are regular binary plist files created from a Core Data object graph. Open with Xcode 4 or Property List Editor (comes with Xcode 3), or any text editor after you convert it to XML using plutil -convert xml1 -o filename-xml.plist in Terminal. The content is pretty much useless though, unless you know how to load it again.

Much more interesting is /Library/Application Support/Apple/ParentalControls/Users/username/ This contains the user-specific applications, web sites and chat protocols in a SQLite container format. Open e.g. using Base, other tools here and here. The date columns are seconds since a date and time in early 2000.

For me, comparison of the GUI value and experimentation showed the 0 value to be Jan 2, 2000, at 2:00:00 AM. Dates shown are May 18 according to the UI. I suggest you focus on this file only; I believe the others are simply helper files for internal data structures.

Incidentally, Daniel Beck lives in Germany has 770 answers on superuser.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Google Voice and merging app and non-app Google accounts with the same user names

This is painful. I hope you don't have to understand it. It may help you to know that you will probably lose data if you merge accounts. In some cases you will be better off to avoid account merging.

If you're reading this, however, you probably do need to know how it goes. Before you begin, consider reading a post from November 2011 2010 - Why you may want to wait on the new Google Apps services - identity collisions.

Here's the problem, which Google calls conflicting accounts.

Consider the Google Apps domain "" and a user "". Hal uses google mail at, but he doesn't actually have a Google Account. He's merely a Google Apps person.

A year ago Hal wanted to sign up for Google Voice. To do that he needed a Google Account. So he signed up for one using his email address for his username. Note he won't get email this way, but he can get everything else Google provides.

Meanwhile, Google wants to unify their infrastructure and unite their Google Apps accounts with their Google Accounts. Every Google Apps user will now get a Google Account and most Google services (I don't think G+ is available for Google Apps users however).

Eventually Google moves to the new infrastructure. Now we have a problem. The username now has two potential Google Accounts. The old one with Google Voice and the one Google just created.

This has to be resolved. Hal can either change the username for his older Google Account, or he can discard his old account and merge a very few services into his new Google Apps Google Account.

Phew. Reread until your head hurts.

Anyway, I'm now doing this for Emily and my son Tim, both of who have to resolve this conflict now that Google has forcibly upgraded our family domain to their full service range. (Which is mostly good, except for this merger business).

It turns out this works pretty well for Google Voice -- except you lose any old GV contacts.

You begin the process by logging into your Google Voice account with your preexisting Google Account credentials. Then you're told you can either rename or merge. If you merge you can still access your old data (for a while) under a new username of the form:

You're walked through a series of screenshots as below:

Note that 8 months after Google started down this road they still can't migrate most products:

Here's how it looked after its done.

Tim really only used Google Voice, so his migration is pretty simple. Emily used a few services, I'll have to do manual data migration for these. Losing the Google Reader records are particularly painful. In particular "...  this process will only move your feeds, and will not move your trends, followers, people you are following, folders, shared links, or other information associated with your Google Reader."

Really, it's a pain. I expected Google would manage this better, but it is what it is.

Update: I ran into several small and medium bugs during the process. The worst bug is that Google continues to route logins to the conversion screens even after conversion has been completed.

In the end the primary data losses were with Google Reader and iGoogle (bookmark list). I think some of the bugs may be related to other changes Google is making to switch to G+

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Contact Sync and Database.sqlite3 corruption bring and my fast iMac to its knees

Sometime over the past two weeks my relatively new iMac seemed to lose steam. It was slow to respond, lots of beachballs. Felt like it was occupied, but Activity Monitor didn't show anything obvious.

I think OS X was caught in a sync loop involving Spanning Sync, OS X iSync and MobileMe sync all synchronizing between OS X Address Book, my iPhone, MobileMe Address Book, and a subsection of Google Contacts. That setup has worked well for about a year, but it's fallen apart now.

Looking at the Spanning Sync logs a few contacts were being updated constantly. Nothing special about them I can see.

I'm afraid my Contacts Unification program has died. With MobileMe on the way out, and with Google frantically tweaking Contacts for their social/G+ initiatives, and Apple doing its own Lion and iCloud contact management I don't think this is going to come back. I'll need another approach.

For the moment I've set MobileMe sync to manual and disabled Spanning Sync. I may do a manual sync every few days. My iMac is working again.

Synchronization is Hell.

Update 7/22/11: This morning I received a warning from Carbon Copy Cloner about a physical read error with Library/PubSub/Database/Database.sqlite3. Interesting ...

07/22 08:25:58 rsync: read errors mapping "/Users/jfaughnan 1/Library/PubSub/Database/Database.sqlite3": Input/output error (5)

07/22 08:26:22 ERROR: Users/jfaughnan 1/Library/PubSub/Database/Database.sqlite3 failed verification -- update discarded. (51)

Disk Utility didn't find any physical errors, so I assume Database.sqlite3 has been corrupted.

I put Database.sqlite3 in the trash, logged out and back in, then deleted it. recreated it, went from 7MB to 2MB. Safari and both felt much faster. I then downloaded the most recent version of Onyx, restarted as Admin, then ran all the cleanup and automation scripts. At the moment the machine feels about 10 times faster.

Even though sqlite3 is a core part of OS X Data Management, but it's hard to find much about how it's actually used in most apps. I found one page that listed apps that use SQLite databases, but those apps are listed as storing data in different locations. I found a couple of references [1] that suggest this is where and Safari store their RSS feeds.

One article mentioned using this command to fix this sqlite database:

/usr/bin/sqlite3 ~/Library/PubSub/Database/Database.sqlite3 vacuum

Using that search string brought up more interesting articles:

The second link is from 2009, and it sounds very much like what has been happening to me in OS X 10.6 ...

I am syncing, on several Macs and several user accounts, information such as Calender, Mail Rules, Bookmarks, etc. After recently updating to Safari 4.01 and OS X 10.5.7, all of a sudden I had all very bad Safari performance -- including constant freeze situations. After being ready to delete the impacted user, I realized that there were some issues with the database.sqlite3 file in the Library » PubSub » Database folder. The PubSub folder is used for tracking RSS feeds, and it seems my problem resided there.

After deleting the database.sqlite file, and resetting the Mobile Me information, the freezes and crashes stopped...

Deleting this file did not actually remove the feeds from and Safari.

Looking at my feeds I see I've been tracking my Google Reader shared item feed. That is an enormous feed; I think I've been pushing the limits of what RSS subscription can handle. I deleted all of my Feed subscriptions from Safari and, then I delted all the data in ~/Library/PubSub/Feeds and I deleted Database.sqlite3 (again). On logout/login it was recreated with a size of 74kb (empty). is now blindingly fast and my system is healthy again.

I won't be using's feed reader features any more. They don't scale. I use Google Reader, but to archive some of my feeds I'm going to buy a dedicated standalone feed reader.

Update 7/24/11: I created an archive of my Address Book, cleared the iSync database then restarted MobileMe. It told me it was going to add 843 records. Coincidentally, that's how many I have. I went ahead anyway, since it's surprisingly easy to save and restore Address Book archives (I have about fifty versions saved). In fact I ended up with 843 that look correct on spot check. Curiously, both MobileMe and my laptop say I have 842 contacts. So there's something broken somewhere in iSync. It's easy to see why Apple dropped iSync (so far) from Lion. Synchronization is, honestly, and truly, Hell. This has underappreciated implications for health care interoperability incidentally.

The massive security hole in Google two factor authentication

I've been using Google's two factor authentication for a few months. It works reasonably well for the core Google App suite (gmail, calendar, contacts, etc) from a web UI if I use Chrome.

Even there, however, there are bugs. Even on machines I don't authorize for '30 day use' I sometimes connect without a request for an authenticator token. I think this is improving, but there's still no way to de-authenticate a '30 day' machine from the Google Account.

Beyond the core services though, there are lots of problems. The worst of these is Google's "Application Specific" password framework. It's the software equivalent of medical malpractice.

The problems start with the misleading name. There is nothing Application Specific about these passwords. If you write one down, or if one is captured by a keystroke logger, it works with most (all?) Google services. The same password can be used with an IMAP client to download email or with Google Chrome to sync passwords. If you know one has been lost it can be revoked, but of course by then it's too late.

The only sense in which these "additional passwords" are "application specific" is that Google has us label them by application. This is worse than worthless, it's misleading.

I find I have to use these "additional passwords" very frequently. Today, when I tried enabling Google Sync in the very latest Chrome release, I was asked for one. That was on a less-trusted machine, if a keystroke logger were running it would have been lost.

Obviously, I'm disappointed. Actually, I'm kind of appalled. This smells like a marketing maneuver. Somewhere in Google there are security people contemplating honorable seppuku.

1Password fails to sync - they have problems

Synchronization is Hell.

I know that, so I wasn't surprised when 1Password became increasingly messy. It had multiple logins with different passwords and I don't think it was synchronizing correctly from desktop to iPhone. I decided to start over.

Fortunately I've never trusted 1Password, so the "source of truth" for my passwords is a 15yo FileMaker Pro database with about 1,600 records. It's not only a credential story, it's a history of the WWW (as we used to call it.) So I deleted everything in 1Password desktop and did a sync to my iPhone. There's no UI indicator that sync is happening, but shortly thereafter there were about 3,200 records on my iPhone and 1,600 on my desktop.


So after some messing about I hit the "reset" button in 1Password/iPhone and tried to sync with the OS X app overwriting the iPhone.

Nothing happened. There was no error message, but clicking on the sync button didn't do anything.

Google eventually took me a to a very long 1Password tech support thread. It's sad reading -- clearly 1Password is in trouble. Towards the end I saw something promising ....

How to Sync 1Password on Mac to my iPad - AgileBits Forums: "defaults write ws.agile.1Password ShowWiFiSyncAuthAutomatically -bool YES"

Terminal hacks usually work. This one did. When next I started the desktop app I got the dialog for entering my 'secret codes' and I was able to sync. Everything is clean for the moment.

Obviously, 1Password doesn't meet my tests. My guess is that their too ambitious for their technical abilities. They've tried to make synchronization automatic and invisible, but they failed to provide a manual option for when things go wrong. Sync is Hell, things will go wrong.

What I really want is the old FileMaker Mobile app for the Palm. There's nothing like it now; the closest today is Bento's ability to sync desktop and iOS device. I'd go for Bento, but there's no iOS encryption option. So it doesn't work.

For now, 1Password is my least bad option. I can't recommend it for anyone else however.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Google Apps: the long list of Google products

Eight months ago I suggested waiting before moving Google Apps users onto Google's integrated identity platform.

Tonight, a few months after successfully migrating one of my Google Apps domains, I tried our family domain. Google's introduction is pretty confident ...

You've probably heard that Google is about to make more of its services available to organizations with Google Apps accounts. Well, we're ready!..
Sounds good. So I went for it and got ...

Google Apps - Server error...

... We are unable to process your request at this time, please try again later.

Right. Maybe not quite so ready.

Oh well, quality is so 20th century. Glad Google doesn't get hung up about things not working. Maybe that's why the list of Google services can get to be so very long ...

  • 3D Warehouse
  • Android Market Publisher Site
  • Blogger
  • Chrome Web Store
  • DART for Publishers
  • DoubleClick Customer Resource Center
  • DoubleClick DART Enterprise
  • DoubleClick for Advertisers
  • DoubleClick for Publishers
  • DoubleClick Search
  • DoubleClick Studio
  • FeedBurner
  • Fusion Tables
  • Google Ad Planner
  • Google AdSense
  • Google AdSense for TV
  • Google Advertising Professionals
  • Google AdWords
  • Google Affiliate Network
  • Google Analytics
  • Google App Engine
  • Google Base
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Google Books
  • Google Checkout
  • Google Chrome Sync
  • Google Code
  • Google Custom Search
  • Google Desktop
  • Google Finance
  • Google Friend Connect
  • Google Groups
  • Google Hotpot
  • Google in Your Language
  • Google Latitude
  • Google Map Maker
  • Google Maps
  • Google Moderator
  • Google News
  • Google Places
  • Google Public Data
  • Google Reader
  • Google Sidewiki
  • Google Squared
  • Google Subscribed Links
  • Google Translator Toolkit
  • Google Voice
  • Google Webmaster Tools
  • iGoogle
  • Knol
  • Merchant Center
  • New Service
  • orkut
  • Panoramio
  • Partner Program
  • Picasa Web Albums
  • Shopping List
  • User Managed Storage
  • Web History
  • Website Optimizer
  • YouTube
  • YouTube CMS
  • YouTube Partner Syndication
  • YouTube Promoted Videos

I like "New Service" myself.

I'll try again tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Tagging in OS X - OpenMeta

I'm a metadata kind of guy, so I did a quick review of OS X OpenMeta. Links are below.


OpenMeta applications

    Alas, Apple hasn't played along, and Michael Tsai teaches us that OpenMeta Is a Hack. A clever hack, but too risky for me.

    Email applications that let you edit received emails - esp subject lines

    Outlook lets me edit subject lines (undocumented, there for 10 years, just click on subject line and type. Yes, there's no UI indication that it works. Yes, it works.) It even lets me edit sent or received email bodies.

    These are killer features. Gmail doesn't do this, despite my many requests.

    I didn't realize Eudora, a program I used heavily throughout the 90s, did the same thing ...

    Macintouch - Applications

    MailTags -Eudora lets you edit received emails, which I found handy for making notes and changing the subject line. I really missed this in Mail. MailTags doesn't let you edit the email, but you can add a note and change the subject line, and more. The interface is simple, there when you want it and out of the way when you don't.

    So, what's this MailTags?! It sounds interesting, but I don't see how it changes the original subject line. I do see Google's partial IMAP implementation doesn't support MailTags metadata.

    Review: Seattle Sports Dry Doc Waterproof Digi Case for my iPhone

    Jen Wieczner told a story of a friend lost, perhaps but for the sake of a waterproof phone case ...

    When Technology Can't Save You - Jen Wieczner - Technology - The Atlantic

    ... four others, including my friend Tyler Lorenzi, 23, treaded water while the river swept them downstream. Around the same time their fellow sailors were pleading at the door of a strange residence, a tugboat found their overturned vessel and called authorities. Near a ship graveyard known as the Ghost Fleet, Tyler was eventually pulled unconscious from the James; he passed away in the hospital. Another sailor, Alexander Brown, 24, drowned. Tyler, a graduate of Northwestern University, worked as a research engineer for the National Institute of Aerospace, a division of NASA; Alex was earning a doctorate in engineering there.

    I didn't know Alex, but Tyler was generous, selfless and warm, and gave hugs without hesitation ... He was dashingly handsome, strong in the way of someone who got that way by going about his regular business, with perpetually tan skin and flushed cheeks, the kind that mark someone who is comfortable outdoors and spends much of his time there...

    ... According to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, which investigated the accident, none of the boaters were carrying cell phones on the fatal night, or at least none that still worked. After Tyler's death, I wondered about what went through the boaters' minds -- tech-savvy young people who worked and studied at NASA programs -- when they fell into the water: Did they immediately realize the gravity of the situation? Dependent on their technology on land, did they reach automatically for their phone before reality settled in? What must it have been like to realize that their means of communication - and hopes of rescue -- were quite literally dead in the water?

    ... Motorola calls its Defy SmartPhone "life-proof," because it's water- and dust-resistant; its new Brute flip phone is designed to meet military standards for "extreme elements," including "blowing rain," "salt fog" and liquid immersion. RIM, which manufactures Blackberry devices, says, "While it is possible that BlackBerry could work after being submerged in water, RIM does not recommend doing it," and adds that in a recent Yahoo News water test, BlackBerry did just fine.

    Needless to say, iPhones are not water resistant. They are notoriously water sensitive [1].

    You can, however, buy pouches for $10-$25 that will keep the phone working underwater. You can even use the phone in the pouch.

    I tested a cheap one at home. Here's my Amazon review ... John Faughnan "John G Faughnan"'s review of Seattle Sports Dry Doc Waterproof Digi 02 ...: ""

    I purchased and tested the Seattle Sports Dry Doc Digi Case. The Digi Case 02 appears to be the same case with different attachment device.

    I filled the case with a paper towel and then submerged it for 30 minutes in 1 foot of water. The end of the paper towel was slightly moist when I recovered. Most phones, even an iPhone, would probably still be ok at that point.

    It looks to me like a new Digi Case, carefully sealed, would protect against a quick dunk. This one is fine for keeping my phone in a non-waterproof bike bag or for insurance on a hiking trip that could involve a stream crossing. I would want something more robust (and more costly) if I were going on a canoe trip.

    An iPhone is useable through the case -- the touch controls work.

    For an iPhone 4 to fit best, it's probably worth removing any other case. Larger pouches work with a case on the phone.

    [1] We inherited a friend's iPhone 1 after it visited a white porcelain bowl. It worked well as an iTouch for my son, save for the lack of a speaker. One day, after about 1-2 years of use, the external speaker started working. I do not understand this.

    Sunday, July 03, 2011

    Lessons from sharing our team videos

    In a burst of foolish optimism, I volunteered to do some videos of our team pitchers and share them.

    This turned out to be much harder than I imagined. It's one of those tasks where each step has multiple options, but only a few choices really work.

    Along the way I tested and abandoned MobileMe's video gallery [1] and Karelia Sandvox [2]. I briefly considered then discarded Picasa Web album video sharing.

    I did figure out a path that works. Two of 'em actually. I'll share the easy one first.

    The easy option

    Use an iPhone. Take short clips. Don't edit. Upload. Share links.

    The much more painful deluxe option

    The deluxe option assembling multiple video fragments from a Canon dLSR HD video camera into a one video for each pitcher, then embedding them in a web page.

    If I ever do this again, this is what I'll do for the deluxe option.

    I. Getting the video

    1. Bring a tripod (!) and an external microphone.
    2. Have the coach use the external microphone to narrate comments.

    II. Use iMovie and share via YouTube hidden links

    This was the first time I used the new iMovie. I read a few pages in the surprisingly well done Portable Genius Guide to iLife (see [3]).

    1. Each player gets one Project/Movie.
    2. Edit in 3:4 ratio -- this is the pitcher we're working on.
    3. From iMovie share to YouTube as "private" at the highest available resolution.
    4. In YouTube change these to "hidden".

    This is time consuming. It took about 10 minutes for each clip to create a movie and upload. An alternative would be to export as .mp4 (NOT default .m4v) then bulk upload overnight [4]

    III. Share images using Blogger and MarsEdit or HTML markup

    1. I tried a few web page editors, but, as noted above, I didn't have much luck.
    2. Instead I used YouTube's embed code (iframe markup) and pasted the embed text into the MarsEdit HTML view for each video. It was tedious but gave good results.

    - fn -

    [1] I'd not tried it before. Now I see why Apple gave up on the Galleries.
    [2] Crashed on me during my video uploading attempts. Could be just bad luck -- pretty much every OS X app I use crashes sooner or later. Almost like 10.6.7 is an unhappy host OS. Still, bad timing.
    [3] iMovie notes

    • Clip Library is a pool of shared clips that can be included by reference in multiple Projects (movies). Clips can be stored in iPhoto, Aperture 3+ or iMovie. I think Clip processing is smoothest if they live in iMovie. Clips can be split, reorganized, rated, merged. Even deleted, though that's not obvious.
    • A "project" is a movie.
    • In a clip or a project/movie click to set start point, space to play
    • click then drag to create a frame within a single clip (can't span clip): Click into  this frame and drag and drop to the Project area. It took me forever to understand this. I kept thinking I had to edit the clip first.
    • Native export is .m4v -> evil, vile, worthless, foul spawn of satan. Want .mp4

    [4] The settings to make this work are not obvious. I got decent results when I used Export to Quicktime, MP4, then set data rate to 4096, image size 768x576, Fit within size for crop, and "best quality" encoding mode in video options.

    The unremarked defects of Apple's newer iPhone cables

    I've not seen this mentioned anywhere. Time to remedy that.

    We have a collection of about 8 iPhone/iPod USB cables. The older ones locked onto devices. The newer ones have friction locks.

    All of the old ones are in great shape.

    Two of the three newer ones are damaged. The cables separate from the connectors at both ends.

    Clearly, something went wrong. Looks like a manufacturing defect.

    I wonder if it's fixed with newer cables.

    Why I hate video: Format, codecs, DRM and m4v vs mp4

    My version of iMovie exports (09), by default, .m4v. (emphases mine)

    The M4V file format is a video file format developed by Apple and is very close to MP4 format. The differences are the optional Apple's DRM copyright protection, and the treatment of AC3 (Dolby Digital) audio which is not standardized for MP4 container.

    Google's Picasa service doesn't support .m4v ...

    Video Upload Requirements : Video - Picasa Help:

    ... Uploadable Video File Types .3gp, .avi, .asf, .mov, .wmv, .mpg, .mp4, .m2t, .mmv, .m2ts ...

    Neither does YouTube ...

    Supported YouTube file formats - YouTube Help

    WebM files - Vp8 video codec and Vorbis Audio codecs

    .MPEG4, 3GPP and MOV files - Typically supporting h264, mpeg4 video codecs, and AAC audio codec

    .AVI - Many cameras output this format - typically the video codec is MJPEG and audio is PCM

    .MPEGPS - Typically supporting MPEG2 video codec and MP2 audio


    .FLV - Adobe-FLV1 video codec, MP3 audio

    Heavens, but I do hate video data standard issues.

    It's the patents, it's the DRM, and above all, it's Apple. Data formats and DRM are at the core of Apple's great flaw -- a deep addiction to data lock [1].

    [1] Pro video customers of Apple's Final Cut Pro are learning all about what Apple's data lock means.

    Update 7/5/11: Two wikipedia articles on Apple's ProRes 422 and ProRes 4444 and these additional articles help capture the full horror of the 2011 state of video codecs -- and the complexity of the video editing workflow. There is nothing analogous to JPEG or even JPEG 2000. See also ...

    FCP X didn't add anything new to ProRes (mercifully). It will do "native editing" on h.264, which sounds interesting.

    Karelia Sandvox fails

    I've been looking for a general purpose personal OS X website creation tool for years, ever since FrontPage effectively expired @2000. iWeb was a feeble contender but it died a year ago.

    Yes, this is a terrible market.

    My most recent trial was Karelia's Sandvox; I tested an earlier version in 2006.

    Sandvox looked like a contender. It's been around for years and is being actively updated. It has a trial version.

    It failed under 10.6.7. It had several weaknesses and one fatal error. The weaknesses were that it uses a proprietary database store (no native HTML edit) and that when I searched help and the web for "embed video" and MobileMe I found nothing.

    The fatal error was that it crashed when uploading a page with several embedded videos to MobileMe. I got a classic "quit unexpectedly" dialog.

    There's not much going on in this corner of the tech world. Anyone have something that works?

    Saturday, July 02, 2011

    Google Plus Circles don't have readable feeds

    File this one under ominous -- Google Reader can't handle Google Plus feeds.

    You can see this with Andy Hertzfeld's "public circle":

    Google Reader can't find the feed. I thought the https was the problem, GR can't do authenticated feeds. So I tried Safari.

    Safari does treat the "circle" as a feed, but the post list it shows doesn't match what we see in the web UI.

    My web searches didn't turn up anything on this, which is kind of interesting too. It's not subtle!