February 18, 2008

Extended Family

Three generations of Apple laptops. MacBook Air. Macbook Pro. Titanium Powerbook.

mbair-compair1.jpg

I’m really amazed at the MacBook Air. It’s tiny. It’s light. It’s fast.

mbair-compair2.jpg


mbair-compair3.jpg

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February 6, 2008

Tap. Tap. Is this thing on?

In the span of three days, five undersea communication cables have been severed — cutting off the internet and phones to Iran, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Bahrain.

Seriously— no one has come to the conclusion that U.S. submarines are down there tapping the lines? Hello?

From Slashdot:

The idea is, you cut the cable at point ‘A’, and make it look like it was an accident (ship anchor, etc). Then, before they fix the cable, you trot on down the cable a few (tens of) miles to point ‘B’ and cut the cable there, too. But now you splice in a repeater that copies everything sent over that cable and sends it …to you! When the cable is fixed at the original spot, comm traffic starts up, and no one is the wiser.

Map of the cuts.

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October 29, 2007

10.5

Best Mac OS install. Ever.

In less than 2 hours I had a clean Leopard installed with Mysql, a fist full of Perl modules and —gasp— DB::MySQL without issue through CPAN. Building Perl mods was wicked fast— and not a single one choked with makefile problems. I’m amazed.

The secret to the DB::MySQL install… DB::MySQL can’t find the default location for MySQL’s dynamic libraries. A simple symbolic link and it compiles without issue:

$ cd /usr/local/mysql/lib

$ ln -s . mysql

Chicken baby easy.

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October 26, 2007

Installing Leopard…

Not sure I dig the Aurora Borealis theme...

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October 25, 2007

Leopard. Roar.

Index Unix20071016-1Getting ready for tomorrow's install of 10.5. I think I'm going to do a complete wipe and clean install of the OS; however I don't seem to be able to find any informaiton on if it's going to be easy to get ImageMagick, MySQL and DBI::MySQL complied. The Fink and DarwinPorts package managers don't seem to be ready for Leopard, and it's unclear to me if these packages will compile from source. This might be a problem... or at least a very difficult weekend.


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September 26, 2007

Amazon MP3s

Amazon's MP3 store full of lower-priced, higher quality, DRM-free MP3s that seamlessly download and add themselves to iTunes is going to give Apple a run for their money. I'd expect a ACC/MP3 price war before the holiday season.

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August 9, 2007

iPhone pics to .Mac

I just installed iLife '08 and tested out the iPhone picture posting to my .Mac gallery. It took about 3+ minutes for my keyboard image to show up online. The gallery is some slick javascript-- but far too large of a load. You could never view it easily on the iPhone over EDGE.

Sharing the posting email address has some interesting community opportunities. I can see at a party everyone posting their pics in real-time to someone's gallery. Unfortunately, you can't comment on the images in the .Mac gallery.

I REALLY wish I could post to MovableType instead... or at least an .Mac API that would allow me to pull the images for display on my server.

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August 8, 2007

Open-Apple-Q

Wired 1 20070807

The new Apple keyboard has dropped the Command key Apple logo. Daringfireball notes:

Scutt McNulty, among many others, observes that the Apple logo is no longer on the Command key on the new keyboards. There was no Apple logo on the original Macintosh keyboard, either - just the cloverleaf.

There's a long tradition in that button. The ][s had Open Apple/Closed Apple keys. Here's the //c keyboard in 1984 (my first Apple).

The Closed Apple button died with the Macintosh. Mac IIs (Mac II, IIx, IIcx, IIci, IIsi, IIfx, IIvi, IIvx, Performa 600) had just the Open Apple key, as well as the earlier Compact SE line and Plus (with extended keyboard). The only Macs to not have Apple keys were the 128 and 512 and Lisa- which had an non-functioning Apple logo embossed in place of the left command key.

I've owned many of these machines and I remember lamenting the loss of the Closed Apple key- a completely different functioning command key (that could act as a right joystick button).

I'm so old I still tell people to "Open-Apple-Q" to quit an application. I've never in my life said "Command-Q". Someone should make tiny  stickers for the new keyboard's ⌘ key.

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July 19, 2007

Unlocking the iPhone

Thanks to the devs at #iphone, we have just successfully unlocked Duncan's iPhone for use with his existing business SIM card. The chicken baby easy hack required a little terminal work. Instructions here.

Added bonus. As the jail script ends, the iPhone owner is presented with the following alert:

p.p.s I have no idea how "My Humps" could possibly have gotten set as your ring-tone. ;)

Funny stuff.

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July 3, 2007

iPhone reflections

Iphone Recussion2
Still haven't had a full day to play with my new iPhone. Friday when I was at the beach, Duncan and family waited in line to get them. Duncan struggled all weekend to overcome activation hurdle after hurdle. In house full of server driven linux thin clients, he had no iTunes. With a used Mac, iTunes worked but the business account restriction began. Dunc wasted hours on the phone trying to get at least one of the iPhones to work. By Sunday afternoon my number was successfully activated on one of the iPhones. Duncan is still out of luck for his iPhone. More than a tad frustrating to have blown the whole weekend for nothing... and then to hand off the only working iPhone to me. We're still working hard to find a away to activate his iPhone on it's business account

I got my first hands on my iPhone yesterday, but had to put aside to deal with a crazy Monday work load. I'm still exploring. Initial observations:

  • As Duncan noted, you can see why there are no business accounts. What IT department is going to roll-out iTunes on every corporate desktop so the employee can activate an iPhone themselves? Corporate accounts are going to have a different activation scheme that will allow provisioning of iPhones long before they're handed out to employees.
  • I REALLY miss chattermail's color coded Summary view. It's far too many clicks to check the new email messages in each of my four email accounts.
  • Mail does not appear to use IDLE with non-Yahoo IMAP accounts. Huge bummer.
  • I do not believe web-apps are a replacement for real apps. Form-heavy webpages are a bit of a bear in the little Safari.
  • However, Safari on a phone blows me away. Not only is it amazing to have full sites at your fingertips, but the user interaction that allows you to enlarge block level elements to full screen is genius. It appears that not only does Safari recognize <div>s as a "double-tap-zoom-to-screen" container-- but also cells in HTML 4.0 table based designs. The thumbnail/multiple tab site management is flawless. A killer GUI implementation for a tiny screen.
  • I have far too many bookmarks to deal with on the iPhone. Why can't I pick and choose my bookmarks folders like the rest of the iTunes managed sync items?
  • Looking for a bookmark to load is so consuming when you too many, that I find I'm leaving multiple frequently used websites open at all times on the iPhone.
  • I'm surprise the camera isn't half bad in decent light (sample). Or a least it's twice as good as the Treo's. Also a surprise was the Aperture integration-- both for loading your Aperture albums onto the iPhone with iTunes and removing your iPhone camera shots with Aperture.
  • The UI is like butter. It's amazing. You can do everything with one hand-- or just a thumb.
  • I do miss physical buttons. Walking to work today, I had to keep pulling it out of my pocket to advance to the next song. On my Nano I can do this in the pocket with just touch and feel.
  • For some reason I feel nervous pulling it out in public. I have a crazy feeling I'm going to get mugged in Philadelphia because of it.
  • If you are in another app (safari, mail, etc), how do you pause the iPod music? Or advance? There are a lot of clicks needed to do either if you're not in the iPod on the iPhone.
  • I like to be able to Copy and Paste.
  • I'd like to see the iPhone printing to Bonjour printers on our WiFi network.
  • 1 out of every 3 iPhone Safari loads of this site look like this. I haven't figure out what the deal is. Maybe this will push me to finally redo studio2f.
  • Finally, how is everyone getting such crisp interface shots? I'm having a hell of a time taking photos of the UI.

Despite any grips above, and some Treo habits I have to get over-- this maybe be the greatest phone I have ever owned. I cannot wait until the hacking begins and native apps can be added to it.

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July 3, 2007

Aperture and the iPhone

Iphone-Apertureload

This was a happy surprise. I assumed iPhoto would mount the iPhone to retrieve the camera photos, but I was shocked when I booted up Aperture and my connected iPhone showed up as import volume. There's not much to the EXIF for the camera (EXIF after the jump)

More ...

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June 29, 2007

Happy iDay

Even our mayor is camped out for an iPhone.

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June 26, 2007

80gb iPhone

Iphone Size001

Odd that this got overlooked in editing. At 6:20 into the iPhone activation video, the iPhone's storage size is displayed as 74.40 GB. That's a big phone.

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June 26, 2007

No business iPhones

No iPhone for business users confirmed. I just got off the phone with AT&T business customer service. To ensure I didn't do something stupid-- like waiting in line for hours Friday night, only to find out I can't upgrade-- I decided to call customer service in advance. Despite having a business account that well out of it's 2 year contract, this is what AT&T told me:

The iPhone will not be available to business accounts. We'll be happy to open a new consumer account for you and transfer your business account's phone number to the new account, but you will be unable to add or upgrade to an iPhone on your AT&T business plan.

The answer was roboticly read from a script by the customer service rep. She's been repeating this to corporate users for days. With the iPhone providing Exchange Server push, Word, Excel and VPN support, I'm shocked they're holding it back from corporate customers.

Very disappointing to say the least. I guess my Friday night is now free.

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June 18, 2007

Technical difficulties

We got back at 1am this morning to find out that while in Hong Kong and Winnipeg the ISP for this server managed to assign my static IPs to another customer. Packet hi-jinx ensued. We'll now resume our regular broadcast.

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May 9, 2007

Tivo-tastic

I just added a 500GB external to our HDTiVo with the new kickstart hack. We went from 40 hours of high definition video recording to 98 hours. 927 hours of standard def television. Now there should always be something on... and I won't lose the Planet Earth episodes I've been meaning to watch. Giddy-up!

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April 12, 2007

The state of tape archiving on OS X

For years I've backup my photos, user directories and client projects to tape using Retrospect. Running on a simple OSX box and safely archiving all of our desktops and laptops to an Exabyte 1U 10 tape Autoloader. The number of times I've been saved by going back to the tapes after a drive failure or accidental deletion has been priceless. Retrospect has been a reliable work horse... Unfortunately Dantz/EMC have abandoned the product-- an Intel/OSX server or client don't exist. EMC announced a compatibility patch that will be released after Leopard ships. The last life support before it's DOA. I've begun searching for a replacement.

For the past 3 months I have struggled to get the only other popular Macintosh "enterprise" backup solution to work: Tolis Group's BRU Server. It's been difficult to say the least. Their support takes days to respond, usually with little help. The console application (a RealBasic skin to a heap of Python scripts) is buggy and unresponsive at times.

I have yet to get more than 5 tapes written without the BRU crapping out with cryptic errors or loosing track of the barcoded tapes. Tolis support always seems to pass the blame onto a tape-drive hardware problem... despite the fact that the VXA drive works fine with other vendor's backup solutions. I'm not the only one with these issues (note: thread will probably be deleted). Of course the 30 day trial expired while I was struggling to get it running... which pushed me to purchase the app. Bad move.

Other BRU shortcomings:

  • Out of the box it can't backup DHCP clients that have renewed their lease and have a new IP. That's crazy. We have laptops coming and going all the time at home and in the office.
  • It can't do priority backups-- ie. when a laptop appears on the network and hasn't been backup for X days, begin a backup immediately.
  • It can't stage backups to multiple locations.
  • The bruxpat file that defines what files to exclude in the backup lives inside the BRU Server Agent Config Tool.app package. In the Applications directory. There's no way to have unique bruxpat in each user directory. This should be .bruxpat and should live in the root of each user's home directory. At the user level you should be able to define that's getting backed-up and what is not.
  • I'm not sure how permissions are handled, because I couldn't restore a complete user directory to a new machine without a mess of ownership issues. And that's with me setting the new user with the same UID in NetInfo in advance. User and Group permissions were identical.
  • The tape overhead is crazy. a 200GB staged archive takes up 5 60GB tapes. 300GB of tape is required to backup 200GB of data? This is with compression: both BRU and the Exabyte hardware.
  • I can't seem to find out how to restore a single file to a location of my choosing-- without BRU writing the file with the complete path from it's original location. I don't need 10 directories with a single file in the last one-- I just need the file.
  • I'm also missing something big... how do you do a complete restore containing all of the latest files (all the incremental and the original full job)? I appears you have to restore the first full job, and then restore each incremental backup job one by one to get a complete "last snapshot."

Surprisingly, our Linux 30 day trial of BRU runs much better (with the same functionality limitations). It's just the Mac OS X version that I can't get working. I'm back to square one. There are a heap of simple backup/cloning apps, but not many that archive to tape and can backup network client computers. I'm going to investigate Arkeia, BakBone, Atempo. Maybe one of them will allow me to implement my Tower of Hanoi strategy. Just kidding.

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April 9, 2007

No Juice

A month and a half until the iPhone and my Treo has crapped out again. Much like my last trip to Europe-- I can no longer charge the phone. The last charging problems mysteriously vanished a two days after arriving back in the U.S. This time I haven't been so lucky. As of Friday, I can individually charge batteries inside the cradle, but I cannot charge the phone itself using usb, it's cradle or with it's dedicated power cord.

I'm not sure what to do. I guess I'll get a cheap GSM phone to told me over until June. It seems crazy to get a Treo 680 for a month only to be replaced with the iPhone.

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April 2, 2007

Apple TV: First Impressions

Appletv

We spent a good portion of this weekend playing with a new Apple TV. I loaded it with 6GB of music and 18GB of previews from my entire Aperture library. I also downloaded my first iTunes Video— the complete first season of Showtime’s Weeds. We “burned” through the Weeds episodes in no time. The rest of the weekend we found ourselves mesmerized watching slideshows of long forgotten parties and lost friends.

Overall the Apple TV is excellent. Classic Apple. It works flawlessly and is easy to use. The initial wireless sync took forever even with a new N Airport. I’m actually thinking I might get another Apple TV. One I can pre-load with music and photos, then take down to our beach house where we don’t have a music library. The second one I’ll plug right into my network with ethernet for the first sync.

Some initial observations of the Apple TV:

  • Apple TV requires a HDTV set— yet the video is only 720p. I have a 42” 1080p TV, and on it the quality of iTune’s Weeds was pretty poor. Far from DVD quality.
  • The remote needs some basic Tivo-esque functionally— like a 10 second rewind for movies and TV episodes.
  • Photo slideshows using iTunes playlists as the soundtrack, rock. Literally. One of my biggest complaints about TiVo Desktop was that you couldn’t have music with a slideshow.
  • My other TiVo Desktop complaint was the low-res quality of the images. I’m blown away by how great my photos look on my television. It’s using the full Aperture preview and scaling it to the screen with amazing quality. Every digital picture I’ve taken from 1998 until now in one easy to view library— displayed on a 42” screen in my livingroom with music and the Ken Burns Effect. Amazing.
  • The only two slideshow/playlist features that I think are missing: the ability to advance to the next song mid-slideshow; and the ability to view an index page of all the images of the slideshow a la the Finder’s slideshow index.
  • There’s some catches with pushing the Aperture library on to it. I haven’t quite figured it out, but it appears top level blue/yellow folders with projects inside them are not transfered. Having never really explored the Aperture/iLife integration— I assume only top level projects, albums, books or websites in Aperture get transfered to iLife (and thus, iTunes and the TV).
  • Finally, I really wish it had a DVD player… then I could get rid of one more component in my home theater… and one less interface/input switch for my wife to have to manipulate…

The photo viewing experience was so great that we’re thinking of inviting all our friends to come over and watch. A photo party where we laugh really hard looking back at the last 10 years of road-trips, boat charters, weddings and beer fueled hi-jinx. Not unlike the carousels of 35mm vacation slides your relatives would torture you with— but with cocktails.

And yes, Marty— you need one of these for your new home theater and your massive iPhoto library.

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March 29, 2007

Plug holes.

A why didn’t I think of that moment. Grommets that are USB hubs. Genius.

Belkingrometgear

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January 23, 2007

Get iTunes?

I stumbled upon get-itunes-2007.com in a adwords ad on Runometer. If you want to get iTunes— I suggest you get it from their source. From the FAQ:

Do I need Windows Media Player to play the tracks? Yes. We strongly recommend the use of Windows Media Player (Version 7 or higher) to playback the tracks that have been downloaded. There are other players available on the net that support the wma format but the version upgrades might not be as up to date as the Windows Media Player. However, you don’t need any software player on your computer to play/sample the tracks onsite. The site offers a embedded player which pops up as you click “play this track”.

I’d suspect the Apple legal hammer is going to come down hard on this site.

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January 12, 2007

Must have iPhone applications
Hand

The Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field is weaking and I'm starting to realize the iPhone may not be the world rocking phone I'm hoping for. Of course, I'm going to get one... and I'm counting on that at the moment the iPhone is vaporware-- and when it finally ships it could be radically different feature wise than what Steve demoed on Tuesday. However, as it stands now, there's some important applications missing. The word is out that unlike RIM and Palm (whom have never worried about 3rd party apps "taking down the cell network"), Apple is not going to let outside developers make the iPhone a better device.

Here's a list glaring applications I think are missing and could be easily built by Apple or third party developers-- most of them I can't live without on my Treo650, and many have OSX counterparts that surely could be thinned down to run on the iPhone.

More ...

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January 9, 2007

Embedded OSX

Dsc 0179Apple has never let outside developers inside the iPod party (the Nike+ kit was developed by Apple). I hope the iPhone isn’t a closed platform. By the look of the iTunes syncing interface for the iPhone, I can’t see a way to upload new apps. The Treo developer community is what makes the Treo such a powerful smartphone. There’s an app out there that does just about anything- including Excel and Word. The ability to have iPhone apps would allow this phone to truly be revolutionary. Worst case, it needs Java, but I’m not seeing a Virtual Machine button on any of the iPhone menus. And as Marty pointed out (and Palm has known until recently) without Exchange Server support it’s not a business phone.

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January 9, 2007

Apple, Palm and RIM

The fallout:
Aapl-Rim-Palm

Comments from Treo users:

“Palm cannot continue to exclude wifi and use touch as thickness excuse”
“5 hours talk, 16 hours just listening to audio. Palm’s done.”
“Dinosaurs treo - tks apple, now that is a phone!!!”

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January 9, 2007

Apple Inc.

“Apple will be the next Sony, not Sony, but like Sony”. Jobs said that years ago. They’re now much bigger than a computer company. they’re a lifestyle company. I need time to digest the iPhone information. It’s too much to process. It’s going to be a long wait until June.

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January 9, 2007

iPhone and Cingular

There seems to be panic in the cult of mac that the iPhone is a Cingular exclusive.

I wouldn’t be so worried about the Cingular deal. The copyright office has ruled that cellphones can be unlocked without violating copyrights (Section 5). You can also rest assured, if the iPhone is on Cingular, it’s a standard GSM phone that will work on any GSM network around the globe.

I’d bet Apple is going to sell the phone the same way Palm sells Treos: Dirt cheap with a 2 year Cingular contract or full price unlocked at the Apple store to be used on the carrier of your choice. The exclusive will be that Cingular will be the first to offer it bundled with service. That’s all. you’ll still be able to buy it unlocked without service at full price and use it where you like: tmobile, vodafone, orange, just not sprint or verizon— they’re not GSM.

Not much longer to wait…

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January 8, 2007

MacWorld thoughts

Mw OnemorethingDeja vu. The cycle repeats yet again. Last year the rumors were an Apple TiVo and a Cellphone. This year it’s iTV and the iPhone.

iTV

I’m hoping that the iTV is a NAS from Apple and not a just a wireless content streaming device. I think it’s a must if Steve expects everyone to start buying HD content from the iTunes Store. Where are all those 3GB movies going to live? In your user account? A 802.11n wireless box with jumbo packet support and hardware RAID. Connect the RAID right to your TV. Stream from your Mac to it’s array of disks. It’s definitely not going to be a TiVo time-shifting live-television recording magic box… it needs CableCards to pull that off.

iPhone

I have a gut feeling this might be the big show letdown. If it does happen, I hope it’s a lot more than just a MP3 player/phone hybrid. I’m in need of a replacement for my Treo650 and aside from Mac syncing, email and a web browser on my phone is must. All the mock ups have been way off the mark— if you’re going to fake it, understand we’d be lucky to see a LCD in the thing in with more than 96dpi. You’re not going to have a functioning user interface with 8pt menu type on a tiny phone.

Airport Extreme +

All current Mac are shipping with 200MB/s 802.11n wireless cards. I think it’s a no brainer that the base stations are going to be upgraded to the faster speed.

iPod Accessories

I still don’t know why the iSpeaker wasn’t a Sonos type of device. Airport Express already does iTunes streaming over WIFI. The iPod HiFi should have had an Airport Express built in to allow multi-room wireless listening. All the speakers getting audio streamed to them from the iTV/NAS… Probably not going to happen.

That’s it.

We’re also guaranteed iLife ‘07 and speed bumps. Maybe new iPods. For sure a Universal Photoshop bake-off. And then there’s always the hope for one more thing… At EST tomorrow we’ll be blinded by the coming Apple eclipse.

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November 17, 2006

ARD 3.1

Ub Remote Access
Apple’s excellent Remote Access VNC manager is now Universal Binary. Added plus— custom lock screen images finally work as advertised! I’ve been waiting for that bug fix for ages. Makes managing a remote kiosk a lot easier.


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July 13, 2006

Nike+iPod−(batteries) = ???

Nike+iPod Nike+iPod goes on sale today. I’m really amazed that no one seems shocked that the device is considered disposable. The receiver is powered by your iPod but the sensor contains a non-replaceable battery. For $30 I expect more than 40 days of use out of it. I understand that 40 days is huge— you’d have to be Terry Foxing it across the country for it to run out in 6 months. Still, you can’t purchase the sensor separately. When your sensor dies the whole kit is kaput.

I try to run a few miles every morning— and I wear a pedometer all day (averaging 12,000 steps/day). I’d purchase a Nike+iPod in a second if there was an attachment for other shoes. I have terrible overpronation and need far more ankle stabilization than Nikes have ever provided. I understand the Nike need for cross product tie-ins with shoes that have sensor holes in them— but Apple would have benefited by having a sensor pouch that could be woven into into the shoe laces of any running shoe.

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May 4, 2006

Please pardon our appearance…

I’m doing some spring cleaning, including consolidating bandwidth and network connections. This server does round robin load balancing. I changed the ISP on one of the internet connections, and the TTL delay getting the new IP into circulation has causes some hickups. The studio2f domain kicked over to it’s failover site. Everything should be smooth sailing now. Knock on wood.

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April 27, 2006

Aperture in trouble?

Apple AperatureThinkSecret reports that the Aperture development team has been fired and the future of the application is in doubt. I find statements such as Aperture is “Apple’s most heavily criticized and bug-ridden software release in recent years” greatly exaggerated. I’d argue at launch, Shake by far the most belly-aching Apple app.

Version 1.1 is rock solid and fast on my original 2003 Dual G5. I have the middle of the road ATI 9800 Pro. 10Meg D200 RAW images render instantly without issue. I still believe Aperture is breakthrough application. Nothing exists within the photo management space that solves large image workflow huddles. In my experience, Aperture is feature complete and miles ahead of Lightroom.

I agree that Aperture has some fundamental structure issues— such as RAW updates and new camera support being provided by operating system updates and not application updates. That means new photo hardware that hits the market every month can only get supported by Aperture four to five times a year. That’s a terrible lead time to be a cutting edge application. Aperture will always be playing catchup to new hardware.

I’m still concerned that the soft proofing rendering intent seems to be either Relative Colorimetric or Absolute Colorimetric. Both of these rendering intents clip colors to pull the image into the destination profile. If Apple had provided Perceptual Colorimetric then the image’s out-of-gamut color would be compressed (instead of clipped) when displaying the proofed image. This is the “Posterization” effect many have complained about. I understand that Aperture is an example of a “Late Binding Workflow” where the largest gamut possible is maintained until the image is printed or exported. Aperture should allow the user to select their rendering intent (just like Photoshop and every other graphic design application).

These are easy fixes. Version 1.2 doable. Not worth throwing the .app out with the bath water. I truly believe Aperture is a revolutionary application. I’m using it for real work a couple of times a week. Don’t forget how far iPhoto, iMovie and iTunes have come from version 1.0. Aperture is only going to get better and better.

UPDATES

Some unverifiable “inside” info: I was on the team…, Bullshit, It Started At The Top

Threads: Slashdot, ArsTechnica, dpreview, Apple Discussions (12:00PM: threads regarding Aperture’s demise have been deleted by Apple moderators)

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April 13, 2006

Aperture 1.1

Apple AperatureAperture 1.1 is here with a heap of bug fixes and new features.

Apple has dropped the price on the retail package to $299— and amazingly is offering current owners that purchased it at $499 a $200 rebate.

I’m happy we didn’t get screwed for beta testing this software.

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March 1, 2006

HDTiVo?

Big” announcement from TiVo coming tomorrow. Lets hope this is better than Apple’s “Fun” announcement yesterday. And please please please be the Series 3 — available for order and shipping tomorrow afternoon. Woo-hoo!

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February 28, 2006

No high-five for the iPod Hi-Fi

This is the big announcement? An ugly speaker with a poorly integrated iPod dock? Apple has all of the components available to build a multi-room expandable Sonos type system.

I don’t understand why this thing doesn’t at least have an AirPort Express built into it to stream music wirelessly. Wouldn’t be simple to also allow iTunes streaming— and open the market up to include those without an iPod?!? What about multiple Hi-Fis in different rooms all playing the same thing from your iPod?

Home stereo. Reinvented. Not. This type of item is better left to the hundreds of companies already making this product.

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February 7, 2006

MiniNoc

This looks like a great weekend project. String a couple of Minis together with 400MB IP over Firewire and you’ve got yourself a tiny home NOC. Small on space and small on price. I’d be interested to see how many requests it can handle.

Even more fun when the Intel Minis arrive and you can cluster a heap of them with RedHat.

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February 1, 2006

While supplies last…

I’m amazed at this one… Buy Motion for $99 and upgrade to the $1300 Final Cut Studio Universal for only $199. A $1001 savings on the top of the line high definition studio software:

The upgrade provides you with the full suite in Universal format (Intel & PCC). I’m sure this loop hole (or remaining stock of Motion and Soundtrack) won’t last long.

Neil notes: the $99 motion is for the upgrade, and the full version is sold out everwhere, and thats 299.00. My local apple store had one left. FCP Studio for $500? Still an 800 dollar savings.

Stock of Soundtrack Pro and Motion 2 can still be found if you look hard enough.

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January 12, 2006

Aperture: 10.4.4

Apple AperatureMacOS X 10.4.4 arrived after Tuesday’s Keynote with no Nikon D200 support. Apple has also been deleting threads regarding RAW support from their support discussion boards (including a thread by yours truly).

It’s my feeling that tying RAW converters to the OS is a mistake. The D200 has been out for a month. Somehow it missed the 10.4.4 update and now will not be included until 10.4.5 in 3 months. That’s 4 months to support Nikon’s most anticipated new hardware.

With Adobe LightRoom (which supports the D200 now) RAW conversions are part of the application. With simple application updates new camera can be added. New cameras can only be added to Aperture every 10.4.x update rollout. During the 3 months of waiting for the D200 to be supported, new cameras from other manufacturers will be released— and they in turn will miss the 10.4.5 update.

Apple is always going to be playing catchup with new photo gear.

Also missing from 10.4.4 was Linear DNG file support. DNG seems like a no brainer as would allow users with cameras that are not supported by Aperture to convert their unsupported RAW to DNG and then import them into Aperture.

Update: Apple is also censoring posts that mention Aperture’s competitor, LightRoom (1, 2).

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January 9, 2006

Aperture vs. Lightroom

Apple ApertureNot willing to lose market-share, Adobe released a free (as in beer) beta of their photo workflow management application Lightroom. It’s not quite as slick as Aperture— and much slower. The big hit for me is that it does open D200 RAWs natively.

I have directories full of D200 photos I’m waiting to import into Aperture as soon as it’s supported (heres to hoping for 10.4.4 tomorrow at MacWorld). Since adopting the Aperture workflow, it kills me to go back to the iview/nikon capture/photoshop dance. Lightroom and Aperture each have their own major weaknesses and strong points. It’s going to be a good showdown as both develop out of beta status.

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December 21, 2005

Aperture: Will RAW updates hose image versions?

Apple AperatureA recent thread i’ve brought up on the Aperture Support Board:

  • RAW conversion algorithms are part of the OS - and will change when needed by OSX system updates (not Aperture updates)
  • RAW files are never touched or physically converted in Aperture. (The non-destructive editing bit)
  • Image editing, color correction, sharpening are never applied to the original RAW. They’re essentially “hints” to be applied when the RAW gets rendered next time you view it.

That being the case, if I process hundreds of RAWs in Aperture— tweaking exposure, color balance, sharpness- what happens if the base RAW conversion is changed at a later date?

If Apple pushes down a 10.4.x update one day that renders Nikon D100 RAWs brighter, sharper and more color correct than it did when I began using Aperture— then won’t all of the work and image corrections I’ve done so far be totally out of wack? If the base RAW rendering is altered then the versions will be applying the wrong corrections.

Is non-destructive image editing is going to come back to bite me if the RAW conversions change dramatically to respond to all of the complaints about the current conversion quality?

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December 16, 2005

Aperture: Nikon D200 RAWs

Apple AperatureMy D200 is here— and Aperture can’t read the RAW files. I hope Apple rolls out an update soon.

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December 5, 2005

Aperture: Reviews

Apple AperatureAperture is getting hammered with bad reviews. I think everyone is forgetting— Aperture is not a replacement for Photoshop. It’s not for image creation or photo retouching. Aperture is a workflow tool to quickly assess images and catalog them. It’s basic image adjustment tools are not trying to be photo editing tools.

It’s summed up perfectly in the comments on Slashdot:

Photoshop is the darkroom. Aperture is the light table.
If you don’t understand this, you’re not the target market.

That being said, aside from my few hickups- like ordering a book- I’m blown away. It’s 100x faster at opening and viewing RAW images than Nikon Capture and iView Multimedia. The speed I can flip through RAW files, delete the bad, tag and rate the good is worth every penny. Time is money.

I’ve yet to see the RAW rendering problems others are complaining about. Photoshop’s RAW support and the DNG converter have always done a crap job at rendering my camera images. Even after calibration with a Greta Megbeth card— I get consistently better results from Nikon Capture.

My current workflow goes like this:

  • Download the images from the Camera
  • Open and catalog the images in iView Multimedia. iView takes forever to open a RAW image, so all my image selection is done with thumbnails at 640x480. The originals are never viewed at 100%
  • Open the selected images from iView in Nikon Capture.
  • Tweak the RAW settings.
  • Open in Photoshop

This process can take hours to deal with a 2GB compact flash card. On a dual 2.0ghz G5. It’s ridiculous.

With Aperture harnessing the power of the GPU instead of the CPU, I’ve been able to fly through a full compact flash card worth of images in seconds. One click and I have the RAW at 100%. Tweak the exposure and open in Photoshop in a blink of the eye.

Aperture’s default rendering of my D100 RAWs is under exposed, but dead on with color. A far better result then I have ever had with opening RAWs in Photoshop or converting them with DNG Converter. Aperture is not as good as Nikon Capture at rendering the RAW exactly as I intend it… but Nikon Capture takes 15 secs+ to open an image, has a horrific UI and is prone to crashes working with multiple files. Hand tweaking the exposure on all the images can still done faster in Aperture than the iView -> Nikon Capture -> Photoshop dance I was doing up until last week.

Without waiting Aperture queues up commands and multitasks. While the images are importing from multiple locations at once (directories, cameras, cards, iphoto) you can start immediately reviewing the results, dumping the bad, meta tagging the good. No matter what Aperture is doing, you can continue working-the-workflow.

It’s version 1.0. It’s going to get better. It’s going to get even faster. It’s going to probably one day get the Photoshop tools everyone is bitching about. It’s pretty damn fantastic for what it does right now— ease the workflow, tag and catalog RAW images in realtime.

It’s not a Photoshop replacement.

Note: You can be sure I’ll be singing a different tune if it can’t read the RAWs from my D200 when it gets here in a few weeks.

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December 4, 2005

Aperture: Book Ordering

Ordering a book I was presented with the following two dialog boxes. Clearly this application was not made in Cupertino. I have no idea if the order was sent to Apple, if it’s still uploading or if it was canceled. There’s no progress dialog. Just these two dialogs… And they’re all Greek Japanese to me. Anyone have an idea what they say? I’m a little surprised Apple would ship Aperture without all the translations done.

Appdialog1

Appdialog2

Dashboard’s translation widget gives me this on the second dialog box: “Receiving ?? ? The mark network path connected line, after the nature “heavily under test” one it is heavy the new sending? Plan.”

Plan, indeed.

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December 1, 2005

Aperture: First impressions

Apple AperatureAperture is incredibly slick. It tears through 6MB D100 RAWs like buttah.

I installed it on one of the lower spec machines: first generation dual G5 with an ATI 9800 Pro. Right off the bat I had some bad mojo: The install went fine but Aperture crashed half way through importing my iPhoto library. A corrupt image it couldn’t handle (from my treo) was the culprit. Removed the rogue image and the library imported fine. It scared me that Aperture could be typical version one Apple software. Half baked and buggy.

Not the case at all. Aperture is rock solid. Wicked fast with RAW images. It’s the most intuitive and well thought out pro app I’ve used (I’ve never thought Final Cut was all that intuitive). I really hope this UI raises the bar for all apps to come.

After a full night of playing around with it I built a book. Photobook construction is 100 times better than iPhoto. Pages can be redesigned. A la Keynote, page items try to snap to grid or align with other objects. This thing is going to radically change the event/wedding photography world.

Some first night observations:

  • In all my years of Photoshop, Quark, Illustrator, InDesign… this is the first app that truly needs dual displays. A 30inch Cinema display just isn’t enough

  • Unlike iPhoto, images are not stored within a directory hierarchy as individual files. They’re stored within a package within a package. To the end user you see one massive file. Corruption to that file would essentially be devastating. Loss of all images and data. (note: the thought here is that Aperture is actually a database. You can’t see the file structure of an Oracle DB, and you can’t see the structure of Aperture. It’s setup like this to manage the multiple image revisions… Take iView Multimedia for example. Removing an image from the catalog path and iView has lost the picture. Aperture manages the original, meta data and multiple image alterations. Changes and meta would be lost if an image ever went missing. For those that must find the original files… control click the Library file and “Show package contents”. You need to do this a second time get to the files within the Library package.)

  • That being the case, Library files can be backed up to “Vaults.” However Vaults cannot be a network volume. So much for backing up to my secure RAID or to an off site location. To securely safeguard your image library Aperature needs Vaults saved on portable firewire hard-drives that you take off-site. However current portable external hard-drives can’t match the storage of my Terabyte RAID.

  • I’ve loaded 200 images into Aperture and my Library (and Vault) is 1.2 GB. I have over 20,000 digital photos going back to 1998. I shudder to think how large that library is going to get… and the Vault isn’t going to fit on a portable Firewire drive.

  • Meta tagging your images is smooth and slick. It’s just going to take me MONTHS to try and tag the attributes of all of my images. It’s a daunting task, but the rewards when it’s done are well worth the menial data entry monkey job.

  • Despite all the the bitching that white balance is based on 18% grey cards— I haven’t seen a white balance problem

  • I can’t explain this one… but I swear my pictures look better. I think the thumbnails and images are more saturated and sharper than iView, Photoshop or Nikon Capture produce. I’ll need to do some testing on this.

  • Two progress bars popped up at different times with all of their dialog text in an Asian character set. I have yet to be able to reproduce this. I’m thinking this app was not made in Cupertino.

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November 28, 2005

Aperture docs

Support documents and manuals for Aperture are now online.

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November 2, 2005

Sync this.

Missing Sync 5.0 rocks. So hard.

Finally my Treo can sync playlists and tunes with iTunes, photos with iPhoto, to-dos and events with iCal (with your custom categories!). Address book contacts sync their photos. Whole directories can sync between your phone and your harddrive. The MemoPad can be searched with Spotlight. It even mounts external SD cards on your Mac’s desktop.

This is how iSync should have worked from the beginning with Palm devices… and don’t even get me started on Claris Organizer Palm Desktop crap. There’s no need for any of those hotsync/palm apps and processes to hobble your Mac.

The new Missing Sync is one of the most rewarding upgrades I’ve ever done— and it makes my year old Treo 650 100x more usable and fun. Best $29 I’ve spent in ages.

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November 1, 2005

Nikon D200

The D200 has been officially announced. It’s quite the camera. There’s already a couple of shops taking pre-orders with shipment expected in 4 weeks. It’s the perfect complement to your new copy of Aperture!

Expect to see my mint condition D100 and accessories (3 batteries, multifunction grip, case) on Ebay soon.

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October 28, 2005

Aperture

Apple AperatureI’ve flip-flopped back and forth on whether I should buy Aperture. It’s as pricey as Photoshop ($500), and is essentially just iPhoto, iView or C1 hopped up on the junk and all “pro-interfaced“out.

What makes it so appealing is how it simplifies the RAW workflow. The silly photos I shoot and post here are actually a pain to work with. My D100 captures 6MB images. Those images take upwards of 60 sec per image to process (download from the card, organize, convert from RAW, Photoshop/edit, archive). Processing the photos on a 2GB compact flash can take almost and hour— and after a weekend or trip I’ve filled 4 compact flash cards. (This is one of the reasons the old photoserver hasn’t be updated in a year). What makes Aperture amazing is that apparently it can parse and manage those processor intensive images in realtime.

Time is money. Even-though I’m an amateur photographer— and this is a pro tool— my need for the profession workflow is still there. I have close to a Terabyte of photos on this server’s RAID. Digital photos going back to 1998 and spanning +/-6 different cameras. Until I moved to a digital SLR, processing and organizing JPEGs was a breeze. Now shooting RAW, my dual 2.0Ghz G5 is really pushed to its limits.

Photo blogs are going crazy with leaked photos of what will DEFINITELY be my next camera: the Nikon D200. It shoots 10MB RAWs. I shutter to think what it’s going to take to manage those photos. Aperture’s realtime RAW processing is the only way I can see my joy of photography still being enjoyable.

The steep price of “just a workflow tool” is tough to swallow. I’ll still need Photoshop. Aperture is available for $50 off, free shipping and no tax at Amazon. Best deal I’ve seen.

A new camera and a new piece of photo management software that costs as much as most people’s cameras… Thank god my G5 and video card meet the recommended specs- or I might also be headed down the road of needing (or wanting) a new machine.

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October 14, 2005

Ebay goodies

Get your Christmas shopping done early. We’re unloading more goodies on Ebay. The kids will love this stuff when they find it under the tree! What kid today wouldn’t die for their own mini-GBIC fiber optic transceiver?

Track all the exciting auction action with our RSS auction feed.

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October 12, 2005

TiVoPod

What’s missing from making the new fat video iPod actually phat: TiVo2Go on the Mac. I’m not paying $1.99 to watch Lost on my iPod. I already have it on my TiVo. As John Gruber said:

I already get these shows with my cable TV; paying for them again in a crummy low-res format strikes me as a bad deal — like paying for songs I already own on CD.

The long promised TiVo2Go for Mac has been MIA due to a lack of DRM on Apple’s platform. The DRM is now here. iTunes does Rendezvous. TiVos do Rendezvous. It’s a no brainer. Import the TiVo video files, encrypt them with the iTunes video codec — and they can be played on 5 Macs or iPods. Joanne could load up on TiVo’d shows before her weekly Amtrak trips to New York. I’d buy it in a second.

RIP Firewire. The new iPods can neither sync nor charge via Firewire. At least the Nano could still charge with it. USB 2.0 doesn’t seem quick enough to me for moving movies around.

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October 12, 2005

More Ebay items

Perfect for the holidays. We’re selling a Linksys Gb Ethernet SX Mini-GBIC SFP.
Fun for the “Hole” family.

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September 24, 2005

Treo700w

The new Treo runs Windows Mobile? What a dissapointment. As it’s not easily going to sync with a Mac, is susceptible to virus and has a poor UI… I think next phone is going to be Symbian based.

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September 10, 2005

Nano tunes

I just picked up the 4GB Nano at the Apple Store in Delaware (tax free!). It’s pretty amazing. It’s almost too small. I have a terrible feeling I’m going to leave it on the Acela to New York.

I’m a little shocked that you can no longer use Firewire to sync. Firewire can only be used for charging. Firewire 400 was pushed so hard by Apple. Then Firewire 800… now it seems to be falling to the way side. USB 2.0 takes 3 times as long to sync as Firewire 400.

I hope it’s just the case of that the 1394b chips where just to big to squeeze into the tiny Nano case— and not that Apple is walking away from Firewire. It would be extremely lame that Firewire was being phased out because so few WinTel machines have Firewire ports. I can understand maximizing profitability and building for the lowest common denominator— but that shouldn’t hobble the Macintosh experience.

I wasn’t so far off with the trademark issues. I’m surprised Apple would make a branding move like that without surveying the marketplace.

I need to get home to sync with my iTunes to really try it out. I’m also interested to see it next to my brick-thick 5GB first generation scroll wheel iPod.

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September 7, 2005

Nano nano

Ipod Nano Release Mork from Ork. I’ve been keeping it real with a 1st generation iPod. The thick one with a scroll wheel that actually spins. People are amazed at it… to the point of one person telling me it’s not an iPod.

The drive has been replaced twice- (joanne seems to be tough on ipods). With a tiny form factor and compact flash instead of a crash prone drive head, it might be time to upgrade to the Nano. I just need to decide on white or black.

Update: Hmm… Trademark issues? There seems to already be a Nano in this space. Apple is definitely creating confusion in the marketplace with their naming.







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August 29, 2005

Technical difficulties

My provider is having backbone issues… and I’m dropping of the net every few minutes. Who’d have thought that a major ISP with serious VOIP offerings didn’t have redunant backbone connections? Not only are their network users offline— but every business using their VOIP solutions has lost their phones. Smooth.

In addition, Thursday’s Movabletype 3.2 upgrade hit a hitch. There’s apparently a rare bug that I’ve been bitten with that craps out mt-xmlrpc.cgi posts with blogging clients.

Basically this site is having a hard time staying online.. and when it is up— I can’t easily post to the blog.

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August 2, 2005

Mighty Mouse

Another shocker from Apple. First Intel based Macs and now a two button mouse. Pricey for a wired mouse at $49. The design seems a little retro-fitted to me. Why wouldn't they design it so side buttons acted as separate buttons?

For the same price, the Logitech MX1000 (my personal choice on both my desktops) is wireless, rechargeable, has 8 buttons, a scroll wheel and a “friggin laser-beam.” It's the best mouse. Ever.


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July 20, 2005

Disaster recovery drill

Lessons learned: no matter how great you think your data backup plan is— until you test it, there’s no guarantee it’s going to work. Case in point, for the last 24 hours Studio2f has been down. Despite daily tape backups, RAID5s and rsynced mirror drives I’ve had the first real outage of this server in 7 years.

What happened:

  • The boot drive to this server (running OSX 10.4) failed. Not the overly protect RAID5, but the simple single boot drive that contains the OS and Apache.

What went wrong:

  • The boot drive should have been rsynced to an external firewire drive every night, providing an instant swappable backup. Cron apparently hasn’t been running this cloning task since May.
  • The daily tape backups have safely captured important delta data (web pages, configurations, photos)- however the catalog files that tell Retrospect where to find the files on the tapes just happened to live on the drive that failed. All of the tapes had to be reindexed to build new catalogs. Reindexing 30GB tapes takes hours. Per tape. It looks like rebuilding the catalogs for all of the tapes in the backup has taken about 18 hours.

In the end:

  • The only data lost was system updates 10.4.1, 10.4.2 and a single blog post on the Walnut Street water main break
  • Important backup routines (like daily MySQL dumps) have been running fine, and I’ve got a snapshot of the databases from 20 minutes before the failure.
  • Studio2f is back up and running, but the time to get it online was much longer than I would have ever expected.
  • If the cloned external backup drive was up to date, I would have been back online in less than 60 seconds.
  • If I hadn’t lost the Retrospect catalogs for the tape backup, I would have been back online in less than 20 minutes.
  • Actual time to get back online: 22 hours.

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July 14, 2005

Fios is on it’s way

Duncan has spotted a Fios deployment a block from his Mainline house. At 15-30MB/sec— for half the price of 7MB dsl— it’s some serious bandwidth.

I’m currently having a little scuffle with my current provider over the quality of service— when Dunc gets wired, I’ll probably move this server onto his racks. Verizon plans to have all of Eastern PA rewired with fiber by the end on 2005. Hopefully it won’t be long until it reaches Center City Philadelphia.

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July 13, 2005

Technical difficulties

We’re having some connectivity issues. Which unfortunately knocks out not only the site and email… but also the VOIP lines.

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July 12, 2005

iPump you up

PumpPod. An interesting idea… Using iPhoto slideshows to build workout instructions you can watch on your iPod. Just about everyone has an iPod in the gym…why not an iTrainer? Too bad it’s not video and I still don’t understand why you can’t run Keynote presentations on the Photo iPod. Seems like another no-brainer.

I’d be curious of the size of the PumpPod images… if they’re at least 640x480 you’d also be able to use them to workout in your living-room watching them through the HMO on your TiVo.

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June 29, 2005

Packet priorities

I’m having QoS problems with the VOIP line. I just stumbled upon the HBB1 Broadband Booster— which sounds like a scam… but in fact it supposed to do some pretty clever packet sorting and prioritizing. For the low price of &69.99 it might be worth a try.

Once I get the call quality back up— it’ll be time for Asterisk on OS X- and some serious telephony at JJG and Studio2f.

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June 23, 2005

Cuts so deep

The pain of being on the bleeding edge. After successfully unlocking one Cingular Treo650 with the new Palm firmware… the second Treo - mine - might possibly be completely hosed. Ouch.

Update: third time’s a charm. My Treo is updated and running. Bluetooth handsfree with a Lexus LX470 finally works! DUN works! 10MB of reclaimed memory. It’s like a new phone!

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June 6, 2005

OSx86

Macs will soon be running Pentiums instead of PowerPCs. That’s a huge shocker. Every release of OS X has been secretly compiled for Intel x86 for the last 5 years. That must have been a tough secret to keep.

Who’s going to want to buy obsolete technology? PPC Mac sales will tank until the Intel based hardware arrives this time next year. That’s going be a rough 4 quarters. There better be something insanely great waiting in the wings.

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June 5, 2005

McIntel Inside

I spend a weekend away and hell freezes over. WWDC on Monday is going to be interesting show.

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May 19, 2005

Upgrades/downgrades

Last night I ran fiber to the JJG offices. The network speed is unbelievable— and our TiVos can now transfer shows between each other almost in real-time.

I also finally made the long-planned telephony switch in our loft and the JJG world headquarters. Out goes Verizon, in comes Vonage. In the past month of partial use we cut our phone bill by $175. The complete switch to VOIP I’m expecting to save over $250/month.

On the flip side of the infrastructure upgrades and cost savings— all that saved money will go to replacing the motherboard of Joanne’s iBook. She cracked the mobo last night somewhere between NYC and a bar in Philly where she was meeting with Jake Dobkin of Gothamist. Doh. Lets hope AppleCare covers it.

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April 29, 2005

Dorkus Malorkus

Installing Tiger

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April 4, 2005

Please stand by…

One of the drives in this server’s RAID has failed. Things are going to slow down for about an hour while it rebuilds itself.

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March 24, 2005

This one goes to 11

Yamaha YSP1 (photo from Yamaha.com)
Our second Yamaha YSP1 42 speaker Sound Projector just arrived. The first one suffered a broken grill during shipping. This speaker is mammoth and can easily be damaged traveling FedEx Freight.

We’ve yet to plug it in and hear the sound quality. Unfortunately it’s not mine— it’s for the (re)build of our family cottage on Lake Ontario. Duncan is on spring break, so if I can carry it— I’ll try to sneak it home and give it a whirl this weekend. Amateur office speaker porn after the jump:

More ...

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March 10, 2005

MemoryToGo credit card vulnerability

click for full size It’s 2005 and there’s still online merchants that just don’t get it? Beware of MemorytoGo.com. Their totally insecure site publishes complete credit card numbers (with billing addresses and expiration date) on non-encrypted webpages— easily viewable by not only you but by the crafty l33t people that steal credit card numbers (click the thumbnail to the left).

To add the the scariness — I placed an order with them for a 1 Gig memory upgrade for the surprising free Mac Mini I received. After not receiving the memory Next Day, I check my order status and was SHOCKED to see my full credit card available to the world to intercept. I immediately contacted them— and the first thing they said was that Next Day orders hadn’t been processed because their online store had crashed (maybe they said “went down”?) yesterday, and they’re just getting to processing orders now. Wait a minute— what do you mean went down? I hope that doesn’t mean that their obvious disregard for end user security lead them to be hacked as well.

I forcefully requested that my credit card be removed from their site ASAP, and was told “we can’t do that, the [clear text] credit card number is needed for the accounting people.” Wha? After arguing with me that this wasn’t a threat- and repeatedly telling me I wasn’t listening to them… they reluctantly assured me my credit card would be taken down in a couple of hours— after they reached their web developer. You have to be kidding? And is just mine coming down or are they securing the whole site?

I’ve alerted American Express Merchant Services, but feel like I got the blow off from them. I hope something gets done. If you’ve shopped with MemorytoGo.com— beware, your credit card numbers and personal information are exposed to the world.

Update: A day later and this site is still publishing American Express card member’s identities, card numbers and expiration dates in clear text— just waiting for a Man-in-the-middle attack. The lack of action by American Express is shocking. Membership doesn’t have the security privilege.

Update 2: Three days later and Memorytogo.com has just deleted my order… Aside from placing a new order, I can no longer confirm that everyone’s credit card numbers are exposed on unsecured pages— though it appears they still aren’t using SSL, so my guess is that credit card information is still being published in clear text over the internet. It’s also 2 days after I wrote and called AMEX. No response from them. We should setup a test: Someone place an order, and everyone else try to snag the card number and expiration date. Just kidding.

UPDATE 3/18: Memorytogo has now begun encrypting with SSL the account/order status pages. Their CEO left a message to let me know that their web developer says “it’s always been that way.” Clearly from the screen shot above— it hasn’t. Either way, their site is now partially secure— the account login page is not encrypted, so your account username and password are passed over the net in clear text and can still be intercepted. This could give packet sniffers access to your encrypted account pages. I can’t confirm- but hopefully they’re keeping credit card numbers offline now.

For the record: aside from this partially corrected problem— I didn’t mention that they did fulfill my order, and I happy with that aspect of their service.

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March 10, 2005

Update: Free Mac Mini works?!?

Yesterday out of nowhere a brand-spanking new Apple Mac Mini arrived at my office. The Mini shipped directly from Apple. Apparently— although it’s not noted in my status on their site— I’ve successfully completed the Free Mac Mini scheme.

I’ve been extremely skeptical of the whole concept of the “free” sites (see earlier program damning posts). As Duncan noted, this may be just as much a ponzi as a pyramid. I signed up for 2 free Mac Mini programs to prove or disprove their legitimacy. Here’s what I learned:

  • The process took over 2 months
  • The successful program did not alert me of winning a Free Mac Mini. You’d think they’d shower you with marketing materials to reinforce their plan’s benefits and rewards.
  • The Macintosh shipped directly from Apple- it was not altered in any way by the marketing company (ie. no spyware or branded desktops or case modifications)
  • Out of the two companies, one discredited almost all of my referrals as fraud. I find that hard to believe. After disqualifying many of my successful referrals, they prompted me to generate more referrals to make up for the lost ones. I have a nagging feeling they’re using this tactic to generate extra leads above and beyond the requirements. This would lower their product costs by increasing the marketer’s ROI.
  • The successful account generated 89 referrals. Of the 89, only 11 successfully signed up for offers before my account was completed. 12.3% success rate (Fox News style margin of error: +/- 12.3%).
  • Most successful referrals didn’t complete their offers for weeks- probably until their account received a few successful referrals and a free Mac Mini was within sight. So there’s a catch-22 here: Your referrals won’t complete an offer until their referrals complete and offer, and so on. Weeks after sign up I observed waves of completed offers.
  • That being the case, the free Mini company may still be receiving successful referrals after my account has been closed and my offer completed.
  • I personally completed my offers with the Audible.com (I happily downloaded some audiobooks for my iPod including the Daily Show’s America The Book: A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy) and the free eFax offer (I have now cancelled the free eFax account).

Some notes on the very cool Mac Mini:

  • The Mini’s surprise arrival caught me off guard without an extra keyboard or mouse. BYOKM. Doh!
  • The thing runs HOT! I put a ThermoCron on the back vent, and it was blowing 190°F
  • The DVI/VGA convertor does indeed have output or analog conversion problem. I plugged the Mini into a 15“ Sony Trinitron that is normally a second monitor to my Powerbook. The Mini (via the convertor) produced a muddy dark image. There’s more on this issue here.

As soon as I get a keyboard and mouse, I’ll put the Mini through the ringer at the Studio2f proving grounds. Thanks to everyone that supported this completely unscientific ”verification“ of the FreeMini programs. I’m really surprised it worked. After all my trash talking, I guess I owe an apology to the Free companies— however, I still find it hard to believe that this is a sustainable business model.

Best of luck to all of you on your referrals.

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February 15, 2005

Treo 650 roaming notes

Some observations (and to dos) from my first trip with my new Treo 650:

  • EDGE: Philly clearly does not have EDGE. The Treo 650’s internet is twice as fast as the old 600 in Philadelphia at 56kbit/sec, but it’s going to get even faster when EDGE rolls out. On the Roger’s Wireless EDGE network in Quebec I consistently had transfer speeds of well over 125 kbit/sec (6.804s latency). The speed was amazing. Pages in the tiny Blazer browser loaded in the blink of an eye.

  • Bandwidth: With that kind of speed, bandwidth gets gobbled up fast. You have to have the Cingular unlimited bandwidth plan for an extra $19.95/month. I’ve also decided that I need to build a set of low bandwidth templates for Movable Type on Studio2f. The site needs to poll the browser on the way in and serve up a thin version of the content. When I do a cellphone/Treo blog post, I check to the site to see if the entry published correctly— because loss of the GPRS signal or network glitch while uploading and the image gets corrupted. As it is now, this page can have over 600k on it. A slimmed down version coming in under 50k would be prefect.

  • MoPho: This weekend the free MFop went down and that stopped me from being able to post live cellphone pictures from Carnival. It was bummer. I can’t bitch, because MFop is a wonderful FREE service, but I think I need to revisit how I mobile blog. The current Treo blogging apps are too buggy— and I can’t find one that can successfully upload an image. With the aid of Dunc-IT, I going to roll my own mail-to blog posting system.

  • Security: Movable Type’s basic setup uses unencrypted clear-text passwords. That scares me on untrusted networks. The home-rolled mail-to MFop style blogging solution is going to receive Mo-Phos on one of our servers and post the MT entry over the VPN that connects to Studio2f. Likewise I’m going to start SSH tunneling all logins.

  • DUN: I have to get the bluetooth dial-up-networking hack working on the Treo. The EDGE connection in Quebec proved that DUN is going to rock, and will be a viable, useful network connection ANYWHERE. Aside from working on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, I’d much rather post images from my Nikon D100 than from the Treo’s camera.

  • Camera: The contrast sucks. The Treo’s camera takes decent pics for a crappy cellphone cam, but they’re always washed out. There must be a hack like Qset that can kick the contrast up a notch.

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February 9, 2005

Cable control

I regularly have friends that ask me why they’d want a TiVo when Comcast/Time Warner provides the same features. I go on about the stellar user interface, home media options (photo and music libraries), and unlimited expandability. The truth is, this is why you want a TiVo over a cable DVR: cable companies control what you can time-shift.

I fast forward commercials. Can you? One day after the networks put the squeeze on the cable providers you may not be able to. It’s only going to get worse. Soon they’ll stop you from recording specific shows (already pay-per-view). Yes I know, TiVo is dying. So is Apple… now at $80 a share.

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February 4, 2005

Treo 650
treo

Testing 1..2..3

My Treo650 is scheduled for delivery today— so expect to see a lot of test blog posts this weekend

Update: It’s here and it rocks. So hard. The display is the highest resolution LCD I have ever seen. The interface is 100% smoother and slicker on this screen. It’s has much faster interface response than the loner 600 I’ve been using. I’m happy as a clam.

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February 1, 2005

Can’t get something for nothing: Free Minis

My experiment into the legitimacy of the free-crap sites seems to have puttered out. I’ll give it one more try and then I’ll call the whole thing an enormous scam. To sweeten the pot and support the scientific method:

  • I’ll give a Gmail invite to the first 2 people to sign up and complete an offer here. Completed. See comments below.

  • And that’s not all Bob! I’ll give a Gmail invite to the first 4 people to sign up and complete an offer here (different ratio: easier offers— including the free efax offer— vs. higher referral requirements (12)… yet somehow this site feels more legit to me).

When you fully complete an offer email me at free-mini-my-ass(at)studio2f(dot)com with the email address you used to sign up (and the email email address you’d like the Gmail invite to go to.). I want to check to see if completed offers reliably get credited to the referrer’s accounts.

What I think is happening is that most people’s completed offers never get registered… so they get you to keep pushing new users into the pyramid and boost the advertisers’ return- and very few free products ever given away.

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January 31, 2005

Powerbook decisions

What to do? I’m stumped. I’ve been waiting for a new Powerbook to be released for ages. Today’s offerings aren’t G5s or dual-core G4s… they’re just modest speed bumped old Powerbooks. My options are:

  • Keep my current 500mhz Titanium Powerbook for meetings/road trips and buy a $500 mini as my work machine to hold me over until the G5 Powerbooks arrive (July?). Come July, convert the mini into a server/one-wire station at the beach or cottage.
    Magic 8 ball: Ask again later

  • Buy a new 15“ 1.65GHz Powerbook and be pissed as hell when a new chip/architecture comes out in July.
    Magic 8 ball: Unclear

  • Buy a new 15” 1.65GHz Powerbook— try not to be pissed as hell. Try not to break it. Ebay the sucker when the G5/G4 dual-core Powerbooks come out.
    Magic 8 ball: Outlook not good

  • Keep my current boat-anchor Powerbook and wait it out.
    Magic 8 ball: Don’t count on it

I have plenty of hardware- a Dual G5, an upgraded sawtooth, a pismo, a Dell tower. It’s just that the dog-slow Tibook has become my primary machine. February could end up being a heavy new hardware expense month, as I’ve just placed an order for a Cingular Treo 650 to replace my current phone.

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January 24, 2005

Laying cable

Futureproofing 1

Dunc and I are headed to Prince Edward County tomorrow to pull this bundle through the newly framed cottage (replacement for the old cottage). Coaxial, CAT5 and fiber all in one easy to snake cable. It’s going to be a chilly job— with freezing winds coming off Lake Ontario into the unheated work site.

I’ll be back by Thursday morning thoroughly chilled to the bone. I have another new business meeting Thursday afternoon in NYC and I hope to have better luck getting there.

More ...

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January 22, 2005

Free Mac Mini Deux

I posted a entry on what I thought of the new Mac Mini- and it got swamped with comments linking to free-mac-mini marketing sites. I got fed up and blacklisted all free-urls and questioned the whole legitimacy of the program.

Out of curiosity I decided to sign up with a well filtered email address and put it to the test. Prove the legitimacy once and for all. I did that 5 days ago. As of today I’ve got 8 of the required 10 referrals. That shocks me. I’m surprised 8 other people went into this program behind me. With 2 more referrals, theoretically I’ll have a free Mini. At the rate I’m going I’ll be able to confirm or deny the legitimacy of this program… and I may actually end up with a free Mini.

I still don’t understand the economics of the program. I can’t imagine that each advertiser is recouping the $50/lead. Especially eFax. Completing the eFax promotion is free. There’s no way they’re recovering their acquisition costs. If you don’t cancel after 30 days— at X cents a fax if you stay on their program— how long will it take for that to add up?

I’ll clearly document the whole process and we’ll see if you can really get something for (next to) nothing.

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January 13, 2005

Free Mac Mini?

What’s with these free ipod/free mac mini people? Someone posted a link to them in the comments.

Engadget say’s they’re legit… but it seems very pyramid scheme-y. As I calculate it— If you need 10 people to sign up, and each one of them needs to get 10 people to sign up for you to get your Mac Mini, then you’re going to have to wait for 100 people to complete the offer. Right? Good luck.

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January 12, 2005

Mac Mini: Less is more

Apple Mac Mini image (c) apple computer
Yesterday’s Mini is an impressive offering. $499 for tiny mac that runs OS X. Additional Wifi, Bluetooth and DVD burning makes it a steal. It’s going to be a huge hit. $500 is less than a hard weekend of partying in Manhattan. At this price, we should have a Mini for every room— and I think that’s the idea.

It occurred to me that something was missing here— and I’m starting to realize this may be the first piece in a larger plan. It’s been said the Mini’s target is PC iPod users that could be swayed to the Mac if there was a cheap offering. If that’s the case then the Mini is lacking a major feature that tips us off to it’s future…

More ...

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January 7, 2005

Expo Frenzy

The cycle repeats again. The cult of Mac is in a frenzy. Tuesday is Steve Job’s MacWorld keynote— the traditional launch pad for new Apple technology.

Rumors have flooded mac sites of a $500 mac, Apple Tivo, cellphone, office suite, flash based ipods, sirus satellite ipods and an audio break out box for electric guitars and bases to plug into GarageBand. Many of the rumors have been countered by Apple lawsuits that tend to lend some of them credibility. The latest is that the live webcast of Steve Job’s keynote has been cancelled (as a punishment to the rabid mac fans?).

In the last few days Apple has either been playing PR games or doing an odd job at damage control (great analysis of the damage rumors do).

All I want from Steve is a new Powerbook. G5 please.

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January 3, 2005

A flat-panel steal?

Does anyone know anything about the Olevia LT30HV 30“ HDTV-Ready Flat-Panel LCD TV? $1,389.94 seems a little too good for a 30” wall mountable HDTV ready television. There’s got to be a catch.

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December 15, 2004

RAIDing party

The server will be going down tonight. I’m installing a NetCell SyncRAID connected to 900GB of external hot-swappable storage. I’m building a SATA RAID from scratch with a Burly 5 bay enclosure. At this point I’m only using 3 of the bays to run RAIDXL (same as RAID3: 2 striped drives with a third parity/checksum drive). This setup should provide great speed and data protection. The empty drive bays will provide hot-swappable off site backups, and allow my future storage needs to grow well over a Terabyte.

Drives are cheap these days, and it’s more cost effective to build your own RAID than to purchase one. Between my design projects, my photos, my friend’s photos and the Final Cut Pro segments I’ve spliced together for JJG’s clients, I’m running out of space. A couple a years ago I suffered some terrible drive failures hours before I had to catch a plane to Stockholm. Data was lost forever. Panicked flight across the Atlantic. Huge data recovery bills. Never again. The small price of this setup provides a touch more protection to my data.

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December 8, 2004

The Corporate Fallout Detector

To truly alter shopping habits, this clever device needs to be distilled down into a net service you can use from your cameraphone. Much like the cellphone amazon price checker.

The device scans barcodes of goods, and makes a clicking noise based on the environmental or ethical record (selectable via the “sensitivity” switch) of the manufacturer. The more “click click” you hear, the worse are the ethics of the company. The system works by correlating several online bardcode databases with a pollution database and a corporate ethics database.

Via We Make Money Not Art

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December 6, 2004

IBM/Apple

I find the rumors of a potential Apple/IBM union hard to believe.

I do think that IBM has been trying to distance itself from Microsoft with their major push into Linux. Apple’s OS X runs on IBM’s PowerPC chips. Despite how far-fetched it all sounds, I guess I could see the synergy of putting OS X on to IBM boxes with very little effort. How things have changed. 10+ years ago IBM and Apple were arch enemies.

During my tour of duty doing IBM branding at O&M, creatives were never allowed to let the client know we used Macs. All presentations— and work done in front of the client— had to be on Thinkpads. By the time Clement Mok Design took on the IBM online brand, I think Big Blue had warmed up to Macs as their agency’s tool.

When I developed the first IBM online store, I designed half of it in the CKS|Partners New York office— and the other half at IBM’s Research Triangle Park in Raleigh, North Carolina. We spent a month at IBM putting the final touches on the templates that would drive the 80k pages of the site. I had my Apple G3 shipped to IBM as my design tool, and I set it up in an office deep in the heart of the IBM PSG (Personal Systems Group). My design assistant and faithful quit-your-day-job-programmer also setup Mac workstations. The rest of the team, CKS Enterprise and our own CKS NY Information Architect had PCs.

Working onsite for over a month, we had daily visitors of IBM developers to our tiny office to see the wonderful and mysterious “Apple Macintoshes” that the “designers” had brought deep into enemy territory. All of them seemed truly amazed at Apple’s hardware and OS9. Mixing Apples and oranges. It was an experience— and a project— I’ll never forget.

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October 26, 2004

iPod Photo

What I would have liked to have seen in the new iPod Photo:

  • The ability to display Keynote presentations. Great for presentations on the fly. If it can display photos, surely it can display slides.
  • A fast media loader to get photos onto the iPod (a la FlashTrax). Transferring photos without a Mac should be a no brainer. I’ve tried the Belkin Media Thingy. It’s dog slow. The batteries are dead long before a 1 Gig compact flash is copied
  • The ability to view RAW photos

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October 25, 2004

Muvo Madness

Two posts from early in the year have developed whole communities of their own. My experiments in removing MicroDrives from Muvos (idea, execution) still attracts frugal storage fiends. There’s almost 200 comments and they’re still going strong. Some clever hackers are now trying to get the new MicroDrives to give up their ATA firmware secrets. I’m really impressed/amazed at effort. Tech wise, the hacking has gone beyond me… I can only hope to be rewarded with the fruit of all these people’s hard work.

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October 13, 2004

Ring. Ring.
Se K700iI've finally replaced my cellphone. This Mo-Pho was the taken seconds before my last phone collided with a marble bathroom floor at the Ritz-Carlton. I've gone over a month cell-less. It's been rough, yet oddly liberating.

When I finally swapped my SIM card into the new phone I had 35 missed messages and countless SMS'. Whoops. Most people knew I was sans phone. Those of you that didn't... the lines are now open!

I replaced the broken T616 with a Sony Ericsson K700i. It's not officially supported by AT&T, but thanks to wireless standards, it works just fine. This phone should hold me over (on the 1900Mhz band) until the GSM Treo 650 is here. The camera on the K700i isn't that bad (relative to all the shitty phone cameras). It should be pretty good for mo-blogging.


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October 7, 2004

Movin’ on up

Big all around upgrade tonight. With a six pack of Bud, needle nose pilers and a screwdriver, I’m happy to say everything went smoothly.

Hardware upgrades to this old Sawtooth:

Studio2f changes:

  • Upgraded to Moveable Type 3.1
  • Trackbacks are now inline with comments on the entry pages. As I see it a trackback is a comment, it’s just not local. Trackbacks are shaded with pattern to set them apart from comments.
  • Comments can now be formated with Markdown. (here’s the syntax, Marty. Now you can leave ‘pretty’ comments)
  • Monthly archives are back
  • Blacklist updated to the new MT3 version. Comment spam has been getting out of hand lately.

Still to do:

  • TypeKey logins for commenting is börked. I can’t figure out what the problem is. Non- TypeKey comments work fine. Possibly because I don’t have Crypt::DSA compiled? I’m not sure. I need to do some research on TypeKey and yes… I have a token
  • I’ve switched from Textile to Markdown. There’s a lot of old posts with Textile formatting that are a little screwy. I’ll slowly get around to updating them.
  • I still have to add templates for comment previews, search results and comment errors. Until i get around to it— it’s not pretty.
  • Miscellaneous (minor) CSS and structure problems. There may be formatting glitch on Opera.
  • Stylesheets need tweaking to handle all the Markdown formatting options
  • More feeds

Guaranteed there’s a bug here and there. If something doesn’t work as it should, let me know.

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September 15, 2004

How to Launch Apple Remote Desktop on a Powerbook

apple remote desktop UPDATE 10/03/04

These problems have been solved by ARD2

Apple Remote Desktop 2.0 has been getting tons of positive press all over the web. Indeed it’s the slickest VNC you’ll find, with complete OSX control over remote machines and VNC control over PCs. However it’s one buggy heap of code. Aside from ridiculous limitations (such as only being able to a Linux or Winows VNC server set to Display 0), it’s got one killer bug that almost renders it useless on Powerbooks.

I’m surprised such a huge bug made it out of Apple testing. Here’s how to get ARD 2.0 to run on a Powerbook.

More ...

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August 13, 2004

The circle of iLife

And so the cycle begins again.

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July 28, 2004

“I’m always chasing rainbows…”

The Apple product cycle in a nutshell.

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July 12, 2004

Swtiching

This sums it up pretty well: Why OS X is better. Sure, on Linux you can run OpenOffice and Gimp instead of Office and Photoshop (btw- you can run them on OS X too)... but nothing can beat having the best of the Apple, Microsoft and UNIX in one place.

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June 9, 2004

Cool chips
designliquidcool06082004New G5s today. A dumb thing I notice on the "liquid cooling" diagram. Either the art department messed up, or the second processor doesn't ever got hot! That's one cool chip. I'm not all that impressed with the offerings. A year later and my dual 2Ghz G5 is still competitive with the top of the line offerings. Much more interesting is Monday's Airtunes/Airport Express. I have a feeling this has "trojan horse" written all over it. A 54Mb/s wireless connection to be installed next to your home entertainment system? USB, optical audio, ethernet? 54Mb/s is fast enough to stream video someday.

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May 27, 2004

Do not pass go. Do not collect $200

Microsoft is coming out with a $50 MP3 player to compete with the iPod. It's a classic Microsoft move: take a loss on a product long enough to undercut your competition, destroy them, and ultimately dominate the market. Hopefully it's Firewire based and and everyone can buy it, wipe it, and use the $50 gigabyte drive as storage for their Linux or OS X boxen.

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May 3, 2004

Unscientific camera-phone tests
(c)2004 Jonathan Hudson

More ...

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April 30, 2004

Power on

The server shutdown automatically when the UPS ran out of juice. The power must be restored, as server has booted itself back up. Without being home, it's good to see my combo of CyberPower AVR1500s and Kick-Off worked smoothly to run everything as long as possible; shutdown the server when the battery began to fail and reboot the system when the power returned.

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April 30, 2004

Power off

The power has just gone out. The UPS' are freaking out. In 35 minutes they'll be out of juice and studio2f.com will shut itself down.

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April 29, 2004

PC-HDTV

Since April 1st the FCC has mandated that cable companies have to provide cable set-top boxes that have 1394 (FireWire) ports. How did I miss this? HDTV on the desktop. This rocks. The Sopranos is going to look great on my 23" HD Cinema display. Calling Comcast now to get my new box. Via Gizmodo

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April 28, 2004

Techincal difficulties

I finally got around to upgrading this server to 10.3.3. What do you know? 10.3.3 sees the server's RAID1 boot volume as a removable drive. WTF? Apparently ACARD ATA133 RAID disk controller cards have driver issues, and can no longer act as boot volumes in 10.3.3. Removing AVID DV software is supposed to fix the problem- but surprise! I don't have any AVID extensions to remove! Until this gets sorted out, the server is running from it's [bootable] mirrored backup. Friggen hassle. What should have been a simple upgrade ends up being a major problem- and a problem that I don't have time to fix.

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April 9, 2004

No PlayFair

Apple has sent a cease and desist order to sourceforge to shut down the PlayFair project. PlayFair provided a means to strip the FairPlay DRM out of iTunes Music Store ACC files.

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April 8, 2004

Bad cameraphones
The camera on the Sony Ericsson T616 sucks. It's terrible. Why even bother having a camera on your phone if the images are so bad? My two year-old snap-on MCA-25 for my T68i is 100x better.

I have so many cameraphones laying around right now, I'm going to do some photo comparisons between the T68i (with MCA-25), the T616, the Motorola V600- and a Treo 600 (if I can get my hands on Dunc's this weekend). The Treo might be the winner- Duncan's Snow White's Castle shot is pretty damn good for a phone. It's Lomo-rific.

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March 22, 2004

Hitachi MicroDrive removal: Creative Nomad Muvo2
microdrive_1 An earlier post I brought up the idea of extracting a $479 $345.49 MicroDrive from a $249 iPod Mini. I’m still waiting for my iPod Mini to arrive (backordered). While I’m waiting, I thought I’d do the due diligence and prove the MicroDrive from the Creative Nomad Muvo2 is usable in a camera. Some posts suggested it couldn’t be done. I bought a Muvo2 for $150 on Amazon. The goal: extract the $400 Hitachi Microdrive for my Nikon D100.

More ...

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March 17, 2004

Six degrees of handhelds

I'm having some newton/palm discussions in a forum (talking about the never dying Apple PDA rumors) ... I pieced together a timeline that's a fascinating incestuous look at the handheld world and Apple. Good b-school fodder for you, Marty.

More ...

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March 3, 2004

Can you hear me now?
SounderCover: Ambient background sounds for your cellphone so you can: "pretend you're at the dentist, in the park, on the street, caught in a thunderstorm, near heavy machinery or at a circus parade. The possibilities are endless! You can even use your own prerecorded sounds or sounds downloaded from the Internet."
via mobilewhack

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March 2, 2004

$1000 up in smoke
jackson

Appearently the new $20s have evil RFID tracking tags built in. Trying to wipe the tag in a microwave will light Jackson on fire!

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February 25, 2004

Size matters
ipodding The $249 iPod mini contains a $479.95 Hitachi MicroDrive. So the best deal on buying a MicroDrive for my D100 is to buy a iPod mini and take it apart. You get the MicroDrive for almost 50% off and you get a free pair of headphones. Slap an old compact flash card into the mini and keep on rocking.

02.26 Update: Try at your own risk. Of course you’re going to void your warrantee and you’ll most likely end up with an anodized aluminum paper weight.

02.27 Update: There seems to be some confusion here. My original post wasn’t clear. I’ve been looking to buy a 4GB MicroDrive and figured this was the cheapest route. I haven’t done this. I can’t vouch for the hack, but I ordered a mini to test with. If it works I’ve got a new MicroDrive, if not, it’s off to eBay. From the posts below I see there has been success removing MicroDrives from other MP3 players. Hopefully it’s going to be easier to open than my 1G iPod. Also… Jonathan is my name, not Joanne.

03.10 Update: Has this exposure caused the MicroDrive price to drop? Amazon is now showing the 4GB Drive priced at $299.99

03.22 Update: I’ve just done the Creative Muvo 2 removal. It works! It’s a piece of cake, and by far the cheapest way to get a MicroDrive.

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February 24, 2004

Studio2f International Office
(c) 2004 Jonathan HudsonLook at how much work you'd get done in this productivity enhancing work space. No more bathroom breaks! This is my hotel room in Barcelona. Vodafone GPRS internet access from the throne room. The JJG iBook with D-Link Bluetooth module, and the awesome ZIP-LING USB cell charger. No need to carry my phone's charger. Likewise, the Apple world adaptors turn the iBook into the only power convertor I need to carry. iPod and cellphone both charge plugged into the iBook using the 220v wall plug. Cuts down on the cables and bricks in my luggage. Our room's only outlet was in the bathroom. Not even the TV had a wall plug. Not shown: bidet as workstation chair.

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February 20, 2004

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February 20, 2004

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February 11, 2004

Thundercats

Appearently my phone can be snarfed. Not to be confused with Snarf.

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February 3, 2004

Do not pick up viruses

Free Microsoft security posters. These go hand-in-hand with genious Knowledge Base article #833786 for protecting yourself online: "Do not click any hyperlinks that you do not trust. Type them in the Address bar yourself."

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January 16, 2004

Megapixels

Here's something I try to explain to people all the time. The number of megapixels in a digital camera means nothing towards image quality. Lens quality is all that matters. Case in point: The mars rover is taking IMAX quality photos with a 1 megapixel camera.

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January 6, 2004

Size Matters?

$249 for a 4 Gig iPod.
$299 for a 15 Gig iPod

Why would anyone buy the mini?

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December 9, 2003

More mail dysfunction

Here's what I know so far. My email host focalhosting.com was bought by Web Hosting Logistics. Before the Focal Hosting forums disappeared (with the rest of the domain) there was a thread talking about the servers being moved overseas (India?). Now focalhosting.com, my mail server mail.focalhosting.com and anything else related to them have disappeared. I cannot find anyone anywhere to contact for support. Studio2f mail has been out since Sunday.

    "Focal Hosting Solutions is proud to announce that our servers have experienced over 99.999% uptime since October 2002."

Doh!

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December 5, 2003

Switching

I'm glad I waited to see how Number Portability was going before I switched. My provider (AT&T) is admitting 60% of their port attempts fail- and some people have been waiting weeks for their numbers to transfer. More from slashdot.

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November 12, 2003

Sticking it to the Man
The CarChip that I gave Duncan for his birthday has saved him from a speeding ticket and 4 points on his license.

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November 7, 2003

Lights out

The G5 sucks alot of juice. The power just went out here for 20 minutes. The server's UPS that normally lasts for 30 minutes conked out in less then 5 minutes. I'd temporary attached the G5 to the same UPS as this server. The power went out and the G5 sucked the battery dry.

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November 4, 2003

Dasher Project
(c) 2003dasher project

Type 39 words a minute without a keyboard.

"Dasher is a zooming interface. You point where you want to go, and the display zooms in wherever you point. The world into which you are zooming is painted with letters, so that any point you zoom in on corresponds to a piece of text...To make the interface efficient, we use the predictions of a language model to determine how much of the world is devoted to each piece of text. Probable pieces of text are given more real-estate, so they are quick and easy to select..."

Future pda or cellphone input idea? It sure beats T9 Input on my cellphone.

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November 3, 2003

Cameraphone comparisons

Treo 600, T610 and Z600 photos compared to my T68i's MC-25 photos. The Treo is the winner, with my old T68i in second place. The cameras on the new Sony Ericssons apparently suck.

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November 2, 2003

BlueJack

"Bluejacking is to use Bluetooth to send anonymous messages to other mobile phone users that inadvertently (or not) have their devices set to 'discoverable' mode." (via smartmobs)

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October 27, 2003

Phone options

(c) 2003 jonathan hudson

I need a new phone. My trusty Sony Ericsson T68i has been busted for months (I can't turn the volume up from low). I enjoy using my phone's camera attachment, so the next phone definitely needs a camera. It also needs IMAP mailbox access, basic web (or wap) and iSync compatibility. My options are thus:

More ...

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October 21, 2003

10.3 Networking
network connct
Panther's network browsing is starting to bother me. No longer can you browse the network and see the IP numbers of the other servers. The user can only view their names. Studio2f is connected to 2 additional LANs with VPN connections to Philly and Cleveland. I haven't memorized the IPs of the servers (many dynamic) that I use on the other networks- quite often in 10.2 I would use the Finder's "Connect to Server" to view the other LANs and get the IP number of the machine I need to SSH into. No longer in Panther. Network browsing has been "simplified." The user can't define if they want to connect with AFS or SMB. Panther is only allowing you to connect with the first service it found. I also don't want the Finder to create alias to EVERY share it found- just the one that I'm trying to open. My desktop is ending up with network icons for heaps of shares that I'll never use. Finally, why can't we Rendezvous across subnets?

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October 16, 2003

New iPod toys

I'm not sure the new toys are enough to make me upgrade. The Belkin media reader seems like a bit of a hack. It's huge. It's battery powered (4 AAA) and it requires a cable? I can see why it's not an Apple product- not an eloquent solution. I'm sure Griffin will have a sweet one out before long- and hopefully it uses the iPod battery for juice. iTunes for Windows is an impressive port. I've installed it on my PC and it instantly picked up all my multiple macs rendezvous'd playlists.

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October 16, 2003

10.3
Panther is must have upgrade. Most Apple upgrades have slowed my machines down- this one has made my new G5 much faster. My original Xbench score of 189.99 has been eclipsed by my new score of 235.31! I've been running release 7b85 for the last week, and it rocks. I don't know how I lived without Exposé. FailVault does real time 128bit encryption to your home directory- with no performance hit. I've yet to see the spinning beachball of death. My only two gripes- my desktop icons are piling up on top of each other. They don't spread out as they should. I'm also having intermittent mail.app problems with it not closing IMAP sessions. This is a pre-release version, so these two problems will probably be fixed in the final due in 8 days.

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September 29, 2003

iPod battery replacement
(c) 2003 jonathan hudson

My first generation iPod had lost it's juice. The battery wouldn't last more than 30 minutes. Not ready to throw in the towel and purchase a phat new 3G- I went with replacing the battery. Installation was a breeze with the PDASmart replacement kit. The kit comes with plastic wedges to remove the back. Separating the stainless steel shell from the plastic front was a little nerve racking. Pull the old battery, plugin the new one. All in all, well worth the effort. Once again I'm getting over 8 hours of play time.

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September 25, 2003

Speed trials

My new G5 is quite fast! I'm extremely pleased. The machine it replaced scored a 50.58 with xbench. The new G5 is topping out at 189.99 (note- the old slow machine spanks the new machine in drive write times. The old machine has a hardware RAID1 installed)

I've forgotten how long it takes to setup a machine from scratch... so many installs and config files you forget about. At least it compiles wicked fast. Fink'ed Xfree86 compiled in about 5 minutes! When I get everything installed and have some time I'll run psbench to see what kind of whooping my new toy gives the wintel world.

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September 12, 2003

Stop the RIAA

Duncan purchased the new Warren Zevon CD. What did he get for being an honest music listener that didn't download or pirate the album with mutella? He got a copy protected audio CD that has DESTROYED his iMac's cd-rom. How insane is this copy protection? And it's not just macs. The audio discs are technically and legally not Compact Discs (CD format). The protection wipes out many CD drives. The RIAA is treating everyone- even their honest users- as criminals. More info: corrupt CDs, class action suit, fight corrupt CDs

Support the EFF and sign the petition to stop the RIAA.

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September 8, 2003

GeoSnapper

GeoSnapper is a combination of GeoCaching, photographing and blogging. It's getting even closer to my GeoMobilePhotoHunt idea. What we need now are cameraphones that have GPS receivers built-in for truly location aware mobile-photo-blogging

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August 30, 2003

G5 Status

My personal G5 has been delayed so that Virginia Tech can take it and build a 1100 G5 super computer running at over 4.4 TeraHertz (1100 G5's x 2 Processors = 2200 Processors; 2200 Processors x 2 Ghz EACH = 4400 Ghz). At the last moment they placed a order that snatched up all the G5 orders shipping 8/29. 4.4 THz would place the Virginia Tech cluster in the list of top 5 fastest super computers in the world. An email from Apple today lets me know they'll finally ship one to me in 15 business days- that is, as long as another school doesn't show up days before Sept. 26 and buys all the stock.

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August 29, 2003

World’s slowest computer

My dual 64 bit G5 that was ordered on 6/23 has been scheduled for the last 2 months to ship today. It's not. Even though Apple reps are still saying all G5 will be shipping today, Apple updated my estimated shipping date to 9/26. This afternoon they updated again it to 9/29. I'm sure tonight it will be in October sometime. 4 months waiting? This wont' be "the worlds fastest computer" when it finally gets here.

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August 26, 2003

grrrr.

Doesn't look like my dual G5 is shipping this week.

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August 14, 2003

Technical glitch

Mail server issues this morning. If you sent me anything in the last 8 hours it was probably bounced back to you. Send again. Props to Marty for the heads up.

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August 6, 2003

More SCO madness

SCO now wants $32 for every TiVo ever sold (due to it's embedded Linux), and they're going after Uncle Sam for $699 for every copy of Linux the U.S. Government is using. This is the basic story in nutshell, before Red Hat threw their hat into the ring. The SCO insanity put to Gilbert & Sullivan's "I am the very model of a modern major-general." (The Pirates of Penzance)

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June 26, 2003

The SCOop

This is a great write-up that explains the background between IBM and SCO. Why is all this important? Because while Linux is in doubt, insanity like this keeps happening.

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June 26, 2003

VOIP Tricks

A great idea from Dvorak (posted on boingboing):

"When I was in NYC I took my Vonage phone and hooked it to the hotel broadband connection and made free calls the whole time -- from a hotel...I think it's very cool."

I've been using my Vonage line off and on for about 3 months. I'm about to convert full time to Vonage, as all my hard wired lines have been assimilated by the borg that is the Joanne Jordan Group. With all these VOIP phones coming out, I'd like to see the Vonage authentication happening in a WiFi phone and not in the Cisco VOIP box. That way I could make calls from Starbucks, from my neighbors open wireless networks or anywhere you could get online wirelessly.

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June 23, 2003

Worlds Fastest Computer.
panther

Big day. After 3 years Apple is again the fastest kid on the block. For all that time I've been holding out with my drive eating 500Mhz Sawtooth. Finally time to upgrade.

I just purchased a Dual 2Ghz 64 bit G5. It arrives in August. It's going to be a shock to my slow 500Mhz work pace.



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June 21, 2003

Panther Shots

panther

OSX 10.3 Photos



More ...

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June 20, 2003

New Mac Specs Leaked.

While I was out keeping it real with my peeps at Kemia last night, I missed all the action. In an apparent slip up, the Apple store posted of all of the specs for the new top secret G5 machines. The error is cached here. These new machines are going to be some serious hardware. 64bit IBM PPCs, 1Ghz buses. 8 Gigs of ram. PCI-X. Serial ATA. Optical audio in and out. I can’t wait to see this year’s Photoshop bake-off against the top of the line windows PC. You can rest assured: 5 minutes after the Steve-note on monday I’m placing my order for a dual 2Ghz 64bit mac. I’m as giddy as a school girl.

Update: I’m not sure of the feasibility of cracking webobjects- but it appears some believe the apple store was hacked- and that the image is fake. One bit of evidence is the difference in typography and nomenclature between the current specs and the G5 specs graphics. However, the image in question DID exist on the Akamai servers- and getting a foreign image on that WomPlex (so to speak) would be difficult. Additionally, a 1Ghz bus has a lot of doubters. 1 Ghz bus is totatlly doable if they finally have HyperTransport running.

More ...

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June 19, 2003

Just Some Good ol’ Boys

The ongoing SCO/IBM drama insanity, can all be summed up as a Duke's Of Hazzard episode. HE-HA!

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June 17, 2003

New Powermac Design?

pmac
Grabbed before it disappears. My thoughts? Why would it be halftoned already? It hasn't been printed in a newspaper. Fake. Via macrumors.com, originally here.



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June 14, 2003

MySQL Backups

Aside from my new hardware based safety nets, I now have cron backing my MySQL databases up to another location. Dunc-IT's MySQL backup is an awesome little script- cron it to either save your backup to another volume or email the backups out to you. Dunc has been having some system problems as well...

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June 14, 2003

2f update

The original server is back from the shop. After all this trouble, I'm handling my backup strategy differently now. First off- the server volume is now using an ACARD 6880m for hardware based RAID 1. Until I get the nightly tape backups running again, I'm also psync'ing the server volume to an external firewire drive. So if everything fails in this server again, I'll be able to quickly plug the external drive into another machine and boot from it- restoring the server instantly.

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June 12, 2003

Worst product launch. Ever.

QuarkXpress- one of the most important applications for the mac- hasn't been up updated in over 4 years. It's held back the migration to OSX for most publishing houses and ad agencies. In the four years without updates, its CEO has bashed his loyal users. It has seen its market-share diminished by slicker (and less buggy) competitors. Finally after all this time Quark announces a new OSX version is shipping next tuesday. Whoops, no, it's shipping in July. Just kidding, it's shipping on Tuesday. Nope. Possibly August. Unclear if it's ever going to ship.

Way to launch a product!

Update: Still going. The press release on the Quark site says next week. Quark customer service says August.

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June 6, 2003

Portable Numbers For Portable Phones

Finally in November I'll be able to dump AT&T. I've been following this for sometime- and had figured the wireless industry would win. Surely the new competition will bring better prices/features and some of the cooler japanese and european phones. Bring it on.

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June 5, 2003

720 Megs transfered!
apple PAL
 Macrumors posted a story about toptechtips having leaked photos of the packaging of a new apple product. I must have been one of the first to see the post- because I checked out the photos seconds before the tooptechtips site got slashdotted. As a lover of rumors, I went back into my cache, found the pics and posted them in the building thread on macrumors (194 comments). I'm amazed. in less than 2 days I've almost transfered a gig from this server- and it's still going. You thought a titanium powerbook ran hot? I'm frying eggs on the Ti that is temporarily serving all this data!

The macrumors experts have debunked the images, but you must admit, they had a good "espionage" look to them.

More ...

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June 3, 2003

I’ve come unhinged.
broken powerbook hinge
  With the studio2f server in the shop getting another new motherboard, I've been temporary using a Titanium Powerbook as this server. The laptop is less than 4 months old- and this morning I tilted the screen back to stop some glare- and the hinge busted. Turns out this is a common design flaw. Other examples are posted all over the web. I'm having terrible luck with apple products at the moment. My server is getting it's second MoBo. The USB hub in my Cinema Display is shot. Now - with no effort other than moving the screen back less than 1"- I've busted a Ti800. If my Ti500 goes I'll be screwed.

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June 2, 2003

Mobile Photos

From Cnet Asia: camera phones dos and don't. I've played a little with the mca-25 for my t68i. It's just such a hassle composing the emails on the t68i, that i never get a chance to mobily mail bomb my friends. (via gizmodo)

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August 2, 2002

Failure Update

First drive is toast and can't be recovered. Now a second one has failed.

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July 2, 2002

Drive Failure

I suffered "catastrophic hard-drive failure." a brand new Western Digital 120 gig drive that was put into this server crashed hard- a day before i left for stockholm. It's so bad, that it's now at a drivesavers.com clean room for recovery. All the content that's missing is on a tape backup somewhere . I'll restore it just as soon as I get a chance.

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