Tuesday July 19, 2016

iTunes 12 violates Principle of Least Surprise

Someone at Apple apparently thinks it's great fun to change the UI every time an updated version of the software ships. For even more "fun", they have a habit of setting defaults that either change (or remove) features a long-time user has come to expect. Some of those features are changed forever. Sometimes, the user can find the right button to push (or terminal command to enter) to get back the behaviour they prefer.

Spouse and I have bumped into two such "features", in iTunes 12 ...
       Continue reading "iTunes 12 violates Principle of Least Surprise"

iTunes 12 violates Principle of Least Surprise - posted at Tue, 19 Jul, 20:22 Pacific | Comments (0)

Tuesday March 31, 2015

The 6 Stages of Technology

These were originally presented in a talk by Stu Feldman, given at a USENIX conference in approximately 1988 or so...

A "technology" can be anything: software, a technique, a process, a document, a product...

(I think Stu originally had only 5 stages. Either what I have numbered 0 was missing or 2 and 3 were combined. I think this is more accurate.)

I've had this posted on my web site for years, but never put it into my blog. I think it will be easier to locate if it's here. ...
       Continue reading "The 6 Stages of Technology"

The 6 Stages of Technology - posted at Tue, 31 Mar, 14:26 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday August 28, 2014

In Mavericks, iTunes plays only audio, gray screen, no video

I recently upgraded our Mac Mini to Mac OS X 10.9 (aka Mavericks). This Mac Mini is connected to our television screen; we use it primarily for movies and tv shows played via Amazon or iTunes.

Imagine my surprise when I tried to play a purchased tv series episode and saw this:

Screen Shot ...
       Continue reading "In Mavericks, iTunes plays only audio, gray screen, no video"

Monday May 27, 2013

It's Not a Virus (SRSLY)

Nerdmeritbadge familyhelpdesk

What do you do if you get a phone call from someone who tells you they've found a virus on your computer?

Our non-technical family members and friends are lucky to have people like us they can call on. But what about those poor people who don't have someone to ask?

I got this note from my father yesterday. (FYI, my Dad uses Mac OS X.)

A girl called me yesterday to tell me my computer had a virus and she could fix it for $169.00 with protection for one year. Her company is ISECUREVAP and she diagnosed my problem while we were talking. I've tried to include her diag. with this email. What do you think?

I wrote back to say "You don't have a virus. Those phone calls are a scam." ...
       Continue reading "It's Not a Virus (SRSLY)"

It's Not a Virus (SRSLY) - posted at Mon, 27 May, 21:20 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday April 17, 2013

Where Did My Rich Text Mail Go?

Up until sometime today, my incoming email was in Rich Text (HTML) mode if that's the way the sender sent it. I send my mail out in plain text, but I was happy to read mail in whatever form the sender preferred. In many cases, Rich Text really is better.

Today, something changed. I started seeing all of my incoming mail in Plain Text mode. Ugh. ...
       Continue reading "Where Did My Rich Text Mail Go?"

Where Did My Rich Text Mail Go? - posted at Wed, 17 Apr, 22:32 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday February 6, 2013

From Database records to Name tags

I'm taking over the volunteer position of Database Manager for a group I belong to. Before I can officially take over, I need to know that I can replicate the processes that the previous volunteer followed. She has a PC; I use a Mac.

My first task: Figuring out how to create name badges for meeting attendees based on data exported from the member database. ...
       Continue reading "From Database records to Name tags"

From Database records to Name tags - posted at Wed, 06 Feb, 20:23 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday January 18, 2012


At a techie Meetup last night, I met an IT guy who programs in Haskell. Haskell is described as a "polymorphically statically typed, lazy, purely functional language". The language is named for Haskell Brooks Curry, "whose work in mathematical logic serves as a foundation for functional languages". *

I've never used Haskell, the language, but every time I hear that someone does, I smile. I remember a sweet, absent-minded professor who wore purple socks.

I grew up across the street from Haskell Curry and his lovely wife, Virginia. They were wonderful people and good neighbors. I'm delighted that Mr Curry is remembered in a programming language.

Haskell - posted at Wed, 18 Jan, 13:59 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday December 19, 2009



Four days ago, I traded in my aged Palm OS 4-based Kyocera smart phone for a new Motorola DROID (through Verizon.) I really like it so far.

It's more net-savvy and connected than my Palm phone was. I don’t have to “turn on the phone” to use an Internetworked app. It’s always on, always connected (although I can turn it completely off if I wish).

It’s got a modern web browser, far better email capability and a MUCH nicer screen. Plus, its actually going to be cheaper to operate. I’ll save $15/month on my data plan with Verizon. That was a nice surprise! ...
       Continue reading "DROID"

DROID - posted at Sat, 19 Dec, 13:22 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday July 25, 2009

Budget Calendar

I just discovered a great little piece of software: Budget Calendar from MiShell Software Systems. It's available for Mac, Linux, and Windows. It's inexpensive but not cheap!

Rich and I have been talking about tracking our expenses more closely. I already make notes in a notebook. We were thinking of adding a spreadsheet to calculate types and totals.

I decided to look for a simple calendar application that I could mark with the days we go out for meals, to get an overview of what we do and how often. I found a couple of options (see Mom's Calendar for Mac OS if you want something like that.) But I also found Budget Calendar. It turns out this is what I was really looking for; I just didn't know it! ...
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Budget Calendar - posted at Sat, 25 Jul, 17:25 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday November 22, 2008


I've been using ecto, a Mac OS X desktop blog-posting application, for several years. I like it a lot. At least, I like ecto version 2.

Recently, the original author sold ecto to a new company that has rewritten it from scratch. I do not like the new ecto 3. ...
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ecto - posted at Sat, 22 Nov, 20:19 Pacific | Comments (0)

Monday July 7, 2008

Building a Twitter Reader

One of the features of Twitter is that it runs 24/7/365. (Un)fortunately, I don't. So, I miss things. I especially miss tweets from people in the "other" hemispheres! I didn't want to miss things, so I looked for a solution.

Being a programmer myself, I wanted a solution I could control and tweak if necessary. However, I didn't want to write something from scratch if I didn't have to!

Twitter has a popular, published API, so I figured someone would have written what I wanted. Someone did. I found pyTwerp (written in Python). ...
       Continue reading "Building a Twitter Reader"

Building a Twitter Reader - posted at Mon, 07 Jul, 18:34 Pacific | Comments (0)

Sunday July 6, 2008

Sorting Lists in TWiki

Where I work, we have started a TWiki page for "new people" in the department. People are added to the page as they join the group. Each person has a section for a mini-bio and other information. There is a table of contents (TOC) at the top.

The problem: as the page gets larger, it's more difficult to find the entry for a given person. The TOC is ordered by when the person joined. It would be convenient to be able to sort the TOC alphabetically (it's just a list, after all)

I started looking for ways to sort a list in TWiki. As long as I was at it, I figured I might as well look for a generalizable solution that can sort any bullet list. ...
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Sorting Lists in TWiki - posted at Sun, 06 Jul, 11:07 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday March 21, 2008

Upgrading to Mac OS X Leopard

Disclaimer: This article documents the problems and solutions we encountered during our recent home server migration from Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) to 10.5 (Leopard). Unless you want to use Mac OS X for a DNS/Mail/Web/... server, this will probably not be a particularly relevant article. And, unless you are technically oriented (and preferably, Unix-literate), you may find some parts of it confusing.

Since December 2006, we have been running our home server system on a Mac mini, running MacOS X (Tiger). Specifically, this is the "consumer client" version of Mac OS X, not the specially labeled (and vastly different) "Mac OS X Server" product.

Recently, said system become unacceptably slow and Rich's investigations with top(1) revealed Very Large Numbers of pageouts. This told us that we needed more RAM and (perhaps) a faster hard disk. Because the mini is not designed for this sort of expansion, we purchased a gently-used Power Mac G5 (2.0 GHz, dual processor, 4 GB RAM).

Then, because it seemed like "The Right Thing To Do At The Time", we installed Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) and prepared to migrate our back-end tools and web applications. After all, we've each been running Leopard from a "user perspective" for a few months. It's stable. How bad could the upgrade be?

Whenever you find yourself asking that question, slow down and reconsider. The upgrade worked, eventually, and it was the right thing to do. However, it was not accomplished without considerable frustration. ...
       Continue reading "Upgrading to Mac OS X Leopard"

Upgrading to Mac OS X Leopard - posted at Fri, 21 Mar, 23:34 Pacific | Comments (0)

Tuesday March 11, 2008

WindowShade X for Leopard

Unsanity has finally announced that WindowShade X is available in beta for Mac OS X Leopard. WindowShade is one of our must-have utilities and its absence has been keeping me from upgrading my primary system. Rich has tried the beta on his Work machine and says he's very happy with it.

I'm still waiting for Mighty Mouse (cursor customization) and Xounds (sound customization). But the WindowShade announcement is much-appreciated long-awaited news!

WindowShade X for Leopard - posted at Tue, 11 Mar, 20:57 Pacific | Comments (0)

Monday February 18, 2008

Mac OS X Widgets Without the Dashboard

I don't use Mac OS X's Dashboard. I dislike the user interface model. I hate the fact that Dashboard widgets run in their own "layer", as second-class applications. Thus, I have avoided Dashboard since the first time it appeared in Mac OS X. I even go so far as disabling it.

On the other hand, I love widgets. I discovered Konfabulator (now "Yahoo! Widget Engine") long before Apple created Dashboard. I have (and run) a number of widgets every day. ...
       Continue reading "Mac OS X Widgets Without the Dashboard"

Mac OS X Widgets Without the Dashboard - posted at Mon, 18 Feb, 18:34 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday July 6, 2007

iPhone? Not My Phone.

It's slim and sleek and fits nicely in the hand. The icons are colorful, crisp and clear. It looks like a piece of art glass. It's the iPhone and many of my co-workers have purchased one.

It's difficult to not want an iPhone. The screen resolution is impressive. Movies are incredibly clear. It's a work of Art meets Engineering meets Excellent Design.

It has just one basic missing piece. For me, it's a fatal flaw.

       Continue reading "iPhone? Not My Phone."

iPhone? Not My Phone. - posted at Fri, 06 Jul, 07:32 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday May 2, 2007

Wide Screen Monitor

We've moved our Mac mini into the living room and connected it to our new Sharp LCD monitor. Wow.

Rich ran an Ethernet cable from the hub (in his office) to the living room. The wire goes down through the floor, across the garage ceiling, and back up through the floor in the living room.

We bought a wireless Apple keyboard and a wireless Kensington mouse (we like Kensington). Now we can sit on the couch and use the computer. The mini itself tucks right under the edge of the screen.. The Electric Sheep are quite awesome. It's all great fun.

Wide Screen Monitor - posted at Wed, 02 May, 18:24 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday January 17, 2007

I Just Love This Font

My current favorite font is called ChinaCat. It meets my requirements for a handwritten look, with the lower case a and g similar to the way I write them myself. ...
       Continue reading "I Just Love This Font"

I Just Love This Font - posted at Wed, 17 Jan, 21:50 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday November 8, 2006

Clipboard Sharing

I have two users on my Mac: my "regular" personality and my "Work" personality. I often want to share files, URLs, and more between the two.

Sharing files is relatively easy. Sharing URLs isn't too bad — I just drag the URL into a .webloc file. Sharing clipboard contents, however, was difficult.

Then I discovered ClipboardSharing ...
       Continue reading "Clipboard Sharing"

Clipboard Sharing - posted at Wed, 08 Nov, 19:08 Pacific | Comments (1)

Thursday July 13, 2006

If I Have to Use Windows

At least I can make the best of a bad deal

I have to use Windows for my current job (not by choice and not for lack of trying to get a Mac OS X system instead). And, while I can use Windows, I don't like it. So... I've made some modifications, installing various applications and extensions that make Windows look and feel... not so much like Windoze. ...
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If I Have to Use Windows - posted at Thu, 13 Jul, 12:46 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday March 29, 2006

ToDo Menu

Controlling Your iCal To-Do items

If you use Mac OS X, you may have tried using Apple's iCal to handle your task list. Unfortunately, this requires opening the large iCal window to add, edit, or view your tasks. Happily, there is a way around this problem. ...
       Continue reading "ToDo Menu"

ToDo Menu - posted at Wed, 29 Mar, 17:26 Pacific | Comments (0)

Sunday March 5, 2006

Services with a Smile

Controlling the Mac OS X Services Menu

Mac OS X provides users with a terrific cross-application toolbox — the text services available from the Services menu. These provide users with the ability to perform a wide range of text lookup and manipulation activities, e.g. inserting the current date, changing character case, adding or removing quotes, speaking text, or checking a word in the system dictionary.

Unfortunately, while Apple made it trivially simple for applications to register their services and add them to the menu, it did not provide a simple method for users to control the results! Thus, practically every application I install adds some new service (whether I intend to use that service or not). The system software also adds a bunch (e.g. Chinese translation) that I simply don't need.

As a result, the Services menu grows larger and longer. Finding the services I actually want to use becomes frustratingly and difficult.

The Good News: there's a solution. ...
       Continue reading "Services with a Smile"

Services with a Smile - posted at Sun, 05 Mar, 00:49 Pacific | Comments (0)

Sunday February 26, 2006


Candy-box Paint Program

I just found the coolest, niftiest, snazziest, prettiest, eye-candy paint program. If you (or your kids) like to draw or doodle and want to doodle on the computer you should love ArtRage.

ArtRage looks and feels very different from any paint program I've used before. The paints have texture and they can be blended. I just want to play with it! ...
       Continue reading "ArtRage"

ArtRage - posted at Sun, 26 Feb, 00:05 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday January 14, 2006

PathFinder 4

Path Finder is one of my most-highly recommended must-have applications for Mac OS X. I've been using Path Finder (originally yclept, "SNAX") since August, 2002.

Path Finder is an innovative file browser and manager with powerful tools to make you more productive on Mac OS X.
Path Finder 4 [has] nearly 100 improvements, new features, and other goodies.
Path Finder is a highly rated, native Cocoa application, sporting a level of configurability and ease of use and that far exceeds that of the Finder. Path Finder is what the Finder should be. (Read the MacWorld review of PathFinder 3.)
PathFinder 4 - posted at Sat, 14 Jan, 20:35 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday December 30, 2005

Sending Web Form Data by Email

A friend asked me for some software advice:

I need a CGI for taking a simple web form (name, address, phone, email, etc.) and sending the data to a specific email destination in a format that could be loaded into excel or a database. Ideally, I'd like the email address (in the form) validated for basic address compliance.

This would be running on a Mac OS X Server (Tiger) w/Apache, Perl 5.8.6, mod_perl.

I could write that myself, but it just so happens that I know of two programs to recommend. ...
       Continue reading "Sending Web Form Data by Email"

Sending Web Form Data by Email - posted at Fri, 30 Dec, 00:34 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday November 10, 2005


I am using a new RSS reader called Vienna.

Vienna is a freeware, open source RSS/Atom reader for the Mac OSX operating system. It provides features comparable to commercial newsreaders but it is both it and the source code are freely available for download.

I like Vienna. It's satisfactorily configurable, with a smooth Cocoa "look" and the feel of a simple email reader. It also has a few features I didn't expect but appreciate — tabbed viewing, flagged articles, smart folders, and a built-in browser. Nice. ...
       Continue reading "Vienna"

Vienna - posted at Thu, 10 Nov, 22:47 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday November 2, 2005

Missing Sync for Palm OS v5.0

I have had a Palm-based handheld for seven years now. About a year ago I upgraded to a Kyocera 7135 "smart phone". The only thing "wrong" with it was that it didn't talk to Palm's Hotsync program.

Enter "Missing Sync for Palm OS" from Mark/Space. Missing Sync allowed me to sync to my Mac — and also provided the memo pad application Apple didn't include with iCal and Address Book.

Now, Missing Sync 5.0 raises the bar:

With support for new Sync Services technology in Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, Address Book and iCal data synchronization is greatly improved. Now calendar categories, multiple addresses, Birthdays, IM addresses and other fields are synchronized. There's synchronization for iTunes playlists and iPhoto albums, and photos taken with camera-enabled devices can be sent right to iPhoto. Mac/Palm sync has never been this good.
The interface is jazzier too. :-)
Missing Sync for Palm OS v5.0 - posted at Wed, 02 Nov, 11:08 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday October 12, 2005

Embracing RSS

RSS (aka Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary) is a family of XML file formats for web syndication used by (amongst other things) news websites and weblogs. I've been hearing about RSS for some time now. I'm finally using it myself.

I have turned on RSS syndication for this weblog. (all together now: oooooooh. aaaaaaaah.)

I have found an RSS client I like. ...
       Continue reading "Embracing RSS"

Embracing RSS - posted at Wed, 12 Oct, 19:20 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday October 5, 2005


I just discovered a rather nice web log creation program that runs on your desktop computer. It's called Tangelo.

Tangelo, termed "web publishing with a twist," is a departure from most traditional weblog publishing tools. Instead of installing or using weblog software on an Internet web server, Tangelo is installed on the user's computer as a standalone application, providing much easier installation, greater weblog control, and ease of use.

The weblog, with all associated files, is created on your desktop machine. Everything can also be published via FTP to a server if desired (presuming you have a server account with FTP access. :-)

I've started to use Tangelo at The Job. There's a 'home directory server" but scripts aren't supported. So, no PHP, no weblog engines, no dynamic HTML. With Tangelo, I don't need IT to provide anything but a little bit of space (and they're doing that already).

Tangelo is available for both Mac OS X (10.2.8 and above) and Windows (2000 and above; where does XP fit on that scale?). The developer is responsive and helpful. The interface is colorful and easy to use. I like it.

Tangelo - posted at Wed, 05 Oct, 17:07 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday October 1, 2005

Circus Ponies NoteBook

One of my favorite "must-have" applications for Mac OS X is Circus Ponies NoteBook. NoteBook is a data manager with the look and feel of a 23rd century notepad. It looks like paper but it's flexible, powerful, and highly reconfigurable. I'm someone who has often wished to rearrange paper notebooks, change the format, etc. – being able to actually do so with this one gives me a trippy feeling indeed!

I've been using NoteBook for nearly two and a half years now. It was initially recommended to me by a friend whose opinions I tend to trust implicitly in these matters (his ideas of what makes a great application are usually in sync with my own).

At this point I have a set of seven notebooks in regular use: two daily journals (one each for home and work, with different formats), a project log book for work, a general "notes" book for work, another notebook for records of all sorts, both technical and personal (from code snippets to recipes) and a notebook in which I store quotes, lyrics, essays, writing prompts, and the like. ...
       Continue reading "Circus Ponies NoteBook"

Circus Ponies NoteBook - posted at Sat, 01 Oct, 10:00 Pacific | Comments (0)

Tuesday September 20, 2005

That was Easy


Yesterday, our exec. assistants at The Company asked to meet with me this morning to discuss adding a "corporate events" calendar to our Intranet.

This morning, at 8 am, I googled for PHP Calendar programs (that did not require MySQL). I found two or three, tried them, and immediately narrowed the field to EasyPHPCalendar. ...
       Continue reading "That was Easy"

That was Easy - posted at Tue, 20 Sep, 22:08 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday September 15, 2005

Text Mate

Rich has discovered TextMate, a new code editor for Mac OS X.

Written in Cocoa, with built-in support for over 20 programming languages, TextMate has the features you expect — syntax coloring, clipboard history, and tabs — the features you want — code folding and macros — and some features you might not have thought about.


Both of us are particularly interested in the dynamic file outline view.

Before you can get any work done, you need to be on top of your artifacts, such as stylesheets, includes, libraries, and application code. By arranging your files in an outline that follows the existing directory structure, it's no longer necessary to switch back and forth between Finder and editor to locate the next thing you need to work on.

The file outline is automatically kept up to date with changes occurring on the file system, so if you have a build script or generator that sprinkles files across multiple directories, they're instantly available in the outline.

You can also move files from one directory to another in the outline and the change is reflected on the file system. Just as you can easily add new files to any directory you select and they'll be placed as you'd expect.


TextMate is a recommended editor for use with Ruby on Rails, a powerful web application framework written in the Ruby programming language. Rich has started working with Rails and is very impressed. (I'm trying to get him to write up his experiences. :-)

Text Mate - posted at Thu, 15 Sep, 20:09 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday September 14, 2005

Note Studio

Note Studio is a note management application for Palm OS. Now with a desktop client and conduit for Mac OS X!. (There's a Windows desktop version too, if you're into that sort of thing :-)

I first discovered Note Studio at Palm Gear. It looked intriguing but... the desktop app was Windows-only at the time :-(

I've been keeping an eye on it, however and I have to commend the developers. Yes! Note Studio 3.0 now has a desktop app for Mac OS X (10.3)! With a Palm OS companion app and a conduit!

It's a nice little program on the Palm side. It's not bad on the Mac either. It's not _quite_ Maclike but it's a lot better than, say, X 11 or many Java apps.

Now I can stop using all the myriad little applications I've been keeping notes in on my Palm-based handheld and use just one - Note Studio. It even supports Font Bucket under Palm OS (I'm a font nut)

Try it. Don't let the word "wiki" in the description turn you off!!! (It just refers to the way they create new pages). Note Studio is powerful and easy and fun!

Note Studio - posted at Wed, 14 Sep, 08:03 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday May 14, 2005


Rhaptopetalaceae     alegar  
  abaft     dikaryon
undersaturation   cunctipotent    
unavouched   foistiness   engulf  
  nipperkin   skuddick    
befumble   clockmutch   earwort

I found a new screensaver (for Mac OS X). It shows random words, lines, or paragraphs from text files. By default, it pulls words from /usr/share/dict/web2. They're great words.

The distribution also comes with a few files you might enjoy, including an (editable) set of quotes. Configuration options include the ability to choose random colors and fonts.


Wordsaver - posted at Sat, 14 May, 00:10 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday February 18, 2005


I have started using a new screenshot utility called SnapNDrag, from Yellow Mug Software. It has a couple of features I really like.

  • It lets me name my files! (No more `Picture 1.pdf').
  • It lets me choose my default filetype! I can use JPEG from the getgo instead of converting the file after the shot.
  • It provides drag and drop ease for storing the resulting file. No more "everything is on the Desktop until you move it").

SnapNDrag includes the (expected) screen, selection, and timed shots (with selectable countdown) as well as shots of a selected window. The app interfaces with two additional products from Yellow Mug, allowing cropping (with EasyCrop) and framing (with EasyFrame). The developers, so far, have been responsive. The apps and the web site are colorful, clean, and well designed.

SnapNDrag is fully-functional freeware. EasyCrop and EasyFrame are shareware ($12 and $15 respectively). ...
       Continue reading "SnapNDrag"

SnapNDrag - posted at Fri, 18 Feb, 23:16 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday February 12, 2005

My Birthday Present

Proving that I am indeed a techie... and that our definition of "normal"... differs... from that of other people.

Rich and I were at Fry's about a week before my birthday. Fry's is a SF Bay Area institution, a techie hardware store. They sell computers, televisions, hard disks, DVDs, MP3 players, game players, memory chips, potato chips, and a whole lot more,

While Rich was buying RAM, I was looking at the DVDs. Then I came to find Rich and passed something wonderful in a nearby aisle. I found Rich and took him back to look at the Wonderful Thing. ...
       Continue reading "My Birthday Present"

My Birthday Present - posted at Sat, 12 Feb, 12:06 Pacific

Sunday November 21, 2004


Do you ever find yourself trading a document back and forth with someone else? Rich and I do this a lot. One of us writes, then emails to the other who edits and emails back. It works but it's tedious.

Today I discovered SubEthaEdit. (Although the editor has been around since Spring, 2003, I never got the tuits to try it until now).

SubEthaEdit is a collaborative text editor - it works via Rendezvous and over the Internet (haven't tried that part yet). Syntax coloring, regex search and replace, spell checking, FTP support, lots of preferences, and other cool features are included. The most useful, of course, is the live collaboration. Rich and I worked up a weblog entry together this evening. I got it started, then he worked on that.

SubEthaEdit won an O'Reilly Mac OS X Innovator's Contest award as well as an Apple design award in for Best Mac OS X Student Project, both in 2003. I'd say the awards were well-deserved. This one goes on my "must-have" apps list.

A friend reminds me that SubEthaEdit was originally named "Hydra"; the name was changed due to a trademark dispute. (sigh).

SubEthaEdit - posted at Sun, 21 Nov, 22:48 Pacific

Thursday July 29, 2004


We've invested in a new piece of software. This is a web-based hierarchical to-do list manager called Tasks. I was especially pleased to see Tasks 2.0 mentioned on versiontracker (in the Mac OS X section) where it has received very good reviews.

Tasks is quite nice; you can try the demo. There's also a 30-day trial version you can load with actual data; if you buy the product ($29.95) you'll get your trial data to load in. The standard version is a one-user version; it you need multiple-user and group task support, there's a "Pro" version ($125).

The documentation is easy to follow, the author is responsive, and there's a support forum for users. The interface is pleasant to look at, clean, and easy to use. The author makes ample use of "tool tips" (little explanatory text block that appear when you hold the mouse over things). There's an included calendar and support for notes. All in all it's well thought out and well put together.

Tasks - posted at Thu, 29 Jul, 23:32 Pacific

Thursday July 8, 2004

Hardware Hackery

Rich has a T-shirt that says

I Am a Professional.
Do Not Try This at Home.

Perhaps I should have worn that shirt this past Monday. :-)

We have a Powerbook 2400. The 2400 is a fairly old Mac laptop. It's a PowerMac but it can't run Mac OS X. It will be stuck on Mac OS 9 forever. Nevertheless, back in November of last year, we decided to upgrade it to a larger hard disk (it came with a 1.3 GB drive). We had recently upgraded the drives in our G3 Powerbooks so we had a pair of 12 GB hard drives just lying around. Why not swap one into the PB 2400?

Well, one reason "why not?" is that it's difficult to do. It turns out that the PB 2400 really has "no user-serviceable parts inside". Just getting inside is tricky. We finally found instructions on the web. The instructions were not encouraging.

The 2400 is indeed very scary on the inside. This procedure is definitely not for the faint of heart. However, even though its got a lot of screws, it doesn't require any forcing and bending of plastic or ribbon cables, which is more than I can say for some other PowerBooks, and everything just kind of comes in and out comfortably. If you've had experience taking moderately complex things apart before, this shouldn't be too bad.
OK, it shouldn't be too bad. How bad could it be? ...
       Continue reading "Hardware Hackery"

Hardware Hackery - posted at Thu, 08 Jul, 19:37 Pacific

Friday January 30, 2004

Happy Anniversary, Macintosh!

[ Lest anyone consider this entry to be belated, please consider that some people (such as myself :-) prefer to mark anniversaries by their proximity to other events. Apple aired the "1984" Macintosh introduction ad during halftime on Super Bowl Sunday, January 1984. This year, Super Bowl Sunday is later, on Feb. 1. ]

At halftime on Super Bowl Sunday, January 1984, Apple Computer aired one of the greatest commercials in the 37-year history of the Super Bowl. The ad is among the ten finalists for CBS.com's Super Bowl Greatest Commercials, which airs on Saturday, January 31st, 2004 at 9 pm.

Since 1967, there have been 37 Super Bowls, containing approximately 60 commercials in each, which works out to more than 2,200 Super Bowl commercials in all! We've narrowed the field down to ten.
       Continue reading "Happy Anniversary, Macintosh!"

Happy Anniversary, Macintosh! - posted at Fri, 30 Jan, 19:41 Pacific

Monday January 19, 2004

1 Terabyte. Really

In a bit of understatement, storage enclosure manufacturer LaCie announced the "Bigger Disk" this week, a device that houses a full terabyte of storage.

c.f. extremetech.com, "LaCie Boosts PC External Storage To 1 Terabyte", Jan 16, 2004

The LaCie Bigger Disk, with the largest hard drive capacity available, is a unique innovation that packs an amazing 1 terabyte of storage space in a manageable 5.25" form factor. With this unsurpassed storage capacity, the LaCie Bigger Disk allows users to store nearly two years of continuous music and up to one month of non-stop MPEG-2 video1. Truly plug and play, this device requires no driver or software installation for Windows XP and Mac OS X users.

c.f. LaCie.com


Gosh. I can remember when the 20 MB hard disk from Apple was a "big thing". I can remember when prices dropped to a dollar a Megabyte. I can remember when we were impressed by the advent of the 1 GB disks.

References (from FOLDOC, the Free On-Line Dictionary of Computing.)

byte = 1 (standard) unit of storage. One byte typically holds one character.
kilobyte (KB; kilo = "thousand) = 2^10 or 1024 bytes
megabyte (MB; mega = "million") = 2^ 20 or 1,048,576 bytes = 1024 kilobytes. The text of a six hundred page paperback book would require about a megabyte of storage.
gigabyte (GB) = 1024 megabytes. Roughly the amount of data required to encode a human gene sequence (including all the redundant codons).
terabyte = 1024 gigabytes

1 Terabyte. Really - posted at Mon, 19 Jan, 10:30 Pacific

Wednesday October 1, 2003

Everything I know about UI design

Found on slashdot (this explains a few things about some of the programs I've used, especially on Windoze... - V.)
Everything I know about UI design, I learned from Games
       Continue reading "Everything I know about UI design"

Everything I know about UI design - posted at Wed, 01 Oct, 12:39 Pacific

Wednesday September 17, 2003

What's Up? - Mac OS X Bits & Pieces

It's been a quiet week in Lake Woebegone... not much to report. Some minor technical successes... (but would I really want to consider doing tech support for a living?) ...
       Continue reading "What's Up? - Mac OS X Bits & Pieces"

What's Up? - Mac OS X Bits & Pieces - posted at Wed, 17 Sep, 21:48 Pacific

Wednesday July 16, 2003


I'm actually fairly fluent in feline (especially the Coonese dialect :-), but still, I wouldn't mind trying one of these!
Jul 16, 7:55 am ET

TOKYO (Reuters) - Now that you can interpret what your dog is saying, how about your cat?

Takara Co, a major Japanese toy maker, said on Wednesday it would launch a device called the "Meowlingual" that can interpret a cat's meow, hoping to repeat its success with the "Bowlingual," a dog translation device.

Takara said the Meowlingual, a palm-sized electronic console that displays the interpreted phrase on a screen, will be priced at 8,800 yen ($74.62) and it would aim to sell 300,000 units by the end of March 2004.

Takara has sold about 300,000 dog translation devices in Japan since last year and plans to launch an English-language product in the U.S. market in August for about $120.

It has already rolled out the product in South Korea. The news hoisted Takara shares, which rose 5.68 percent to 781 yen by the midsession close.

[found at news.excite.com and posted to a cats discussion mailing list...] ...
       Continue reading "Meowlingual"

Meowlingual - posted at Wed, 16 Jul, 11:12 Pacific

Friday July 4, 2003

Virtual Fireworks

Happy Independence Day.

Try these virtual fireworks and have a happy and safe holiday. (Note: Requires Java; Java may take minute or two to load.)

Virtual Fireworks - posted at Fri, 04 Jul, 14:56 Pacific

Monday June 9, 2003

Amazing JavaScript Clock

Have you seen the Amazing JavaScript Web Clock? It's cool.


  1. The clock requires JavaScript.
  2. Mac users note: The clock does not work under Safari Beta 2; try IE.5 (a bug report has been filed)
(Apparently the Javascript also does not work under OmniWeb, Camino/Chimera, or Netscape either... any JavaScript gurus who can figure out why not, please let me know!)
Amazing JavaScript Clock - posted at Mon, 09 Jun, 10:00 Pacific