Archive for the 'Apple' Category

Snowed In.

March 8, 2008

It would be easy for me to waste the rest of the evening. We are snowed in. I have not seen this much snow since 1978. Our street is impassable. Our driveway was plowed three times earlier but is now also impassable.

For someone like me who enjoys being indoors, this is not entirely bad. I have spent the day reading or watching TV and of course playing with my computers.

The computer experience has not been entirely positive. One of my file servers went down. I think I’m going to keep it down. It was the first one I built and I don’t really need it any more. I am fairly certain that I identified what was causing problems. It doesn’t seem to be playing nicely with the external drive I attached to it. Additionally, my Linux box is acting up. It won’t open a terminal. Instead, it crashes back to the login screen. Useless!

I have been playing with the Python programming language. Every now and then I get the urge to learn something completely new. This is definitely in that category. The book I have is on version 2.4. It relies on software accessories that do not seem to be compatible with the current version of Python which is 2.5.2. It figures. So I am bumbling through the book trying to figure this out as best I can.

In other computer-related activities, I spent some time looking at laptops online today. I know that I am very much used to having the flexibility of a laptop all the time. Because of the snow, I ended up leaving work early and not going back on Friday. This caused me to leave my laptop at work. It is my work laptop anyway but because I currently do not have a personal laptop it’s the only thing I have for portable computing. I want a new personal laptop. I looked at the Macbook Air and a host of other laptops including Dells and Fujitsus. I definitely think I want something light but useful. The Air is beautiful. I wonder how useful it is, though.

Otherwise, I am enjoying a weekend where I do not have a lot of structured and planned activities. It is rare for me. Strangely, I still have no desire to do any gaming. This is really odd.

Waiting for the iPhone without the phone.

July 5, 2007

I’ve been telling people that as cool as the iPhone looks, I just don’t need a new phone right now.  I would, however, greatly enjoy a new iPod with all the same features as the iPhone without the phone part and with an iPod style hard drive.  It is inevitable that this product is coming.  People know it too.  Leo Laporte has discussed it on TWIT, for example.  Veronica Belmont says it will be out before Xmas.

I would really, really love to have an iPod that syncs itself wirelessly and has that great iPhone screen.

It’s not that I wouldn’t mind having an iPhone, it’s just that my Blackberry does everything I need quite well.  Even though Verizon is not cheap, I really don’t want to trade it for AT&T.  I already carry an iPod around with me so I don’t mind keeping an extra gadget.

So how about it Steve?  When can I buy an iPhone without the phone?  When can I buy the next generation iPod?

Repurposing an Archos Video AV320.

September 3, 2006

Years ago, when I got my Archos, I was thrilled. I thought I’d finally have the ultimate portable movie machine to take on trips and otherwise use for my casual movie watching enjoyment. Unfortunately, getting movies on the machine was kind of a pain. While I did eventually build up a library on it, it was kind of temperamental and the battery life was terrible. Ultimately the screen developed a white line down one side and the battery quit working altogether.
I considered selling it broken on eBay, but the tinkerer in me, limited in skills though he may be, decided this little device had too many great parts to just let go of.

For one thing, there’s a 20 Gig Hitachi Travelstar hard drive. I took the Archos apart and extracted it. I bought a 2.5” USB enclosure for it at CompUSA. Now I have a handy, portable 20 Gig drive to play with.

There were some other parts on the Archos I’d like to make use of. It had some extensive video outputs. I once watched Jack Nicholson in the movie Chinatown on a hotel TV on output from the Archos. Perhaps I can use that for a future device.

The sad but true fact is, however, that my 60 Gig iPod with video is everything the Archos wasn’t. It’s smaller and the battery life is pretty good. With my external battery pack, it’s virtually inexhaustible. Plus, it plays movies on televisions like a charm. The iPod is a much better piece of equipment and I expect to continue getting years of use out of it. Especially considering that I have the extended warranty so when it breaks again, I’ll just get another one instead of having to repurpose it.

Microsoft Rebooted My Computer While I Was Away.

July 13, 2006

Before my trip this week, I wanted to do some work on my computer that required overnight processing.  Before I set everything up, I clicked on install updates because it was flashing.  It did its thing and then told me it needed a restart.  I put it off because it was late at night.  I figured I would restart it the next day.  Normally, it just pesters me until I click ok, but it’s always required my assent to reboot.

The next morning, I came downstairs to find that my project was trashed.  There was a little message on the bottom right of my screen that said that an installation had taken place that required that my computer be rebooted.  In other words, it did it by itself.  I’ve never had that happen before and it really irritated me.

Like most computer users, I want to have 100% control over my computer.  In hindsight, I wished I’d taken the time to reboot the machine, but again, it was late and I wanted to go to bed.  Microsoft seems to be trying exercise more control over the machines that run it’s operating system.  It’s had a lot of scrutiny recently with it’s verification program that frequently calls home.  This is heavy handed.

It’s not going to take much of a heavy hand from Microsoft for me to switch to other operating systems.  I have an iMac and I have a machine running Ubuntu.  I’ll grant you that neither of those operating systems do everything I need them to do right now.  But it’s things like this that gives me the incentive to learn how to make the other operating systems do what I need to do.  I own many copies of Windows, but I’ll migrate away from it if it starts getting in the way of the work I need to do.

Topics for Friday Night Party Line for July 7, 2006

July 4, 2006

Here are the topics for this week’s FNPL.  We didn’t get to two of the topics last week, so we’ll try to work them in on Friday.  It looks like we might have a big crowd this week, I hope you’ll join us!

–What is the hardest physical labor job you’ve ever done?  Did you enjoy it?  How did you get the job?  Why did you leave?

–What is the nature of motivation?  Is it genetic?  Does the environment cause it?  Why do we like to do the things we like to do? Why do we like to do some things and then move away from them and on to other things?

–Schadefreude means taking delight in the misery of others.  Have you had this experience lately?  Tell us about it.

–Planes, trains and automobiles (and also bicycles, snow mobiles, etc.)  Given all the time in the world, what’s you’re favorite mode of transportation and why?

–Speaking of transportation, China launched it’s Sky train this week connecting Bejing to Tibet.  At some points, it is 16,000 feet above sea-level and rests on permafrost.  What great engineering projects would you like to see the U.S. government undertake?

–Did you see fireworks on the 4th of July?  Did you light your own fireworks?  Do you like fireworks?  What’s you’re favorite?

–According to O’Reilly radar People like Mark Pilgrim and Cory Doctorow are switching from OSX to Ubuntu.  Is Ubuntu the operating system to rule them all?  Will security threats to Windows drive everyone to Ubuntu?  (Co-incidentally, I’m setting up an Ubuntu box this week).

–YouTube = star maker?  I heard on Cranky Geeks that NBC gave a consulting deal to a girl they found on YouTube that recorded herself doing the Numa Numa dance.  Is this the new reality tv?  If you want to be a star, should you just put yourself on YouTube?  Should we all shoot ourselves now?

–Home improvements revisited:  If you could do one thing to your house or property (or apartment) and you had a $150,000 budget, what would you do?  Why?  Would you do it yourself or hire people to do it?

–Poolside reading (or just summer reading in general).  What’s on your list?  How are you making time to keep up on your reading?  What have you read so far?

Ubuntu Part Two.

July 3, 2006

A few months ago, I downloaded Ubuntu and I had trouble with the download right off the bat.  I ended up going with a Debian distro.  I played around with that for a while, but it really didn’t give me what I was looking for at the time.

Last week, I picked up a book on Ubuntu that came with a distro disk.  I’m going to install it on a computer and since I have entirely different reasons this time for using Linux, I suspect I will stick with it for a while.

You see, I’m having security problems with my Windows machines.  I’ve had two worm attacks in the last two months.  I took care of both worms, but the last one has damaged the infected operating system so badly, that I’m going to have to nuke the drive and do a fresh install.  I should have no data loss though, just time. 

This brings me back to Linux.  If I can get proficient enough with it, I’ll try to set up a box as a firewall coming into my network.  In the meantime, though, I just want to have a box I can use in case I have some sort of Windows Armageddon where all of my Windows boxes go down at once.  That would be crazy bad.  At least if I have one Linux box and my iMac upstairs, life will go on.  For example, I could still do Friday Night Party Line by hosting Skype on OSX and recording it the Linux box in Audacity.  Email, word processing and everything else is a piece of cake!

Of course it probably won’t play Oblivion.  Curse my moment of weakness in picking up this beautiful game. 

iPod goes the way of all things.

June 19, 2006

Last night, I got the unhappy iPod screen on my 5th Generation 60 GB unit.  Then, tellingly, I heard the “click, click, click” sounds of a dying hard drive emanating from it.  I had to face the truth (with apologies to Monty Python).  It's passed on. This iPod is no more. It has ceased to be. It's expired and gone to meet its maker. This is a late iPod. It's a stiff. Bereft of life, it rests in peace. [It’s] pushing up the daisies. It's metabolic processes are now history! He's off the twig! He's kicked the bucket, he's shuffled off his mortal coil, rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible! This is an ex-iPod.

Being a poster child for iPod dependency, this event upset me greatly.  My Scooba had similarly given up the ghost earlier in the week and had been shipped back to the good people at iRobot for a swap out (the pump quit).  Two crucial gadgets going the way of all things in one week is hard for me to take.

Amazingly, I had free time today to visit the local Apple store at lunch.  My friend David went with me and we discussed what we thought they would do.  We both figured the answer would be that they would ship it off someplace and that I would have to face the prospect of being iPodless for an indeterminate period of time. 

I had to make an in-store appointment to be seen because they were very busy.  I did this and David and I went to lunch.  Upon returning, the young man at the genius counter immediately told me they could swap out the unit.  I could not contain my joy!  The $30 restocking fee seemed inconsequentially small to have my iPod back.  Besides the iPod itself costs as much as a dishwasher.  $30 is nothing.  I even went further and extended the warranty.  I don’t normally do that, but hey, I’ve already killed one unit, why tempt fate?

So I have my shiny new iPod ensconced in it’s Lexan case and I could not be happier.  Incidently, I only use it for Podcasts and movies.  I’ve never loaded a single song on it.  Now I just need my Scooba back so I can have clean floors again.

Friday Night Party Line Podcast.

March 25, 2006

With the help of a few friends, my first foray into podcasting is finished and available for download.  It’s the perfect thing for a long drive as it’s nearly an hour long.  But for your time, you’ll get to hear several interesting people talk about the new TiVo Series III, home improvement projects, domestic versus imported beer, hybrid cars versus electric or hydrogen, internet social gatherings and the delay of Microsoft’s Vista OS.  It’s certainly better than listening to a cattle report fade in and out on your car’s AM radio.  It can be found here

I have submitted it to iTunes as well and it’s now under review.

The RSS feed can be found here.

Thanks again to Droobie, Ilana, Nathan, Allie and Doug for making this so enjoyable. We really could have talked for several hours more!

Stick a fork in OSX, it’s done.

February 17, 2006

Apple’s OSX’s days are numbered. Soon, it will just be Windows and Linux. I agree with Dvorak. The thing that I don’t buy, though, is that Apple makes “premium” computers. In my view, there is only one thing that Apple does really well: aesthetics. They make really pretty things. These things are not necessarily the fastest, but they are nice to look at and fairly easy to use. I’ve gushed about the iPod before. My iMac, not so much. It’s like that Hak.5 video on how the G5 was supposed to be so freakin’ fast. It’s not. It’s slow.

That being said, my iMac is the most popular computer among the non-nerds in my house. I think it’s the gorgeous 20-inch screen and the relative ease of use. Plus, its location is good in the piano room. But the cost of the thing! Good lord! It cost three times what a PC with more power costs.I’ve never been comfortable with OSX. It’s like a second language to me. I speak Windows. I can’t help it. I was raised on DOS and went on from there. OSX is just alien. Plus the mouse isn’t that precise. Now I’m just whining.

But Dvorak is right. OSX is a doomed OS. Windows will take over and rightly so.  Switching to Intel chips clearly sets the stage.  The ink on the deal with Microsoft is probably already dry.  In a very short time, Vista will be found on Powerbooks, iMacs and Power Macs.People will still have a choice.  Linux will continue to gain popularity but OSX is bound for the same fate as OS/2 Warp.  Maybe OSX fans will get lucky and Apple will make it open source in a few years.    


Spoiled Whiner Boy.

January 19, 2006

Can I whine a little bit? Can I? I was actually looking for an SNL clip to play here from the Doug and Wendy Whiner sketches. I suppose even using that as a pop culture reference (early 80s) dates me…  I’m old!


So today I tried to buy a Treo 700w from Verizon (to replace my Treo 600). A very nice lady explained to me that I would have to wait until May if I wanted to get one for $499 because my 2 year phone discount time had not expired yet. I could of course pay $619, for it. So now I have to wait until May!


I was listening to TWIT and they were talking about Writely, the internet based word processor. I never bought a word processor for my iMac, (because I mostly use my PCs) so I thought, “Cool! I can just use Writely and save a buck!” Guess what? It doesn’t work with Safari!


[but it does work with mozilla and some others, but I’d have to download them. Waaa.]

Let me tell you, if that’s all I have to complain about in life, I am one lucky bugger!