April 30, 2003
Weapons of the Mac Samurai
I just finished a big proposal for my new company. It was the most intense computer work I've done in a year, and it turned out pretty well. I made a few discoveries, as well.
OmniGraffle 3 Professional is an update of OmniGroup's drawing and diagramming tool that cleans up the interface and is compatible with Visio 2002's XML document format.
I still find myself missing OS 9's drawers, but less since I discovered LaunchBar. Always as close as a command-space, LaunchBar lets me type short IDs and pull up an application. LaunchBar learns my habits, as well, so I can now open Word with just a "W", or PocketTanks with "PT".
Sophie's first laptop
I'm about to bequeath Sophie the IBM 560x I inherited at my previous job. It has Red Hat 8.x on it, and I'm trying to figure out how I can make it a little more kid-friendly. I don't think I want to go back to Windows on it, not least because it's a royal pain to install Windows on a machine without a CD-ROM.
I found the Linux For Kids site and the Linux 4 Kids site. The first hasn't been updated since January 2002, and the second looks to be a business idea that never got off the ground. Any other pointers to information on helping kids get a good start with computers?
Apple Music: Turning scofflaws into customers
I finally bit this morning, buying one track and two albums (here's how I'm linking your copy of iTunes directly to the store).
The yammering fanboys sniping at the service have a few good points: It would be nice if the service had broader selection, wider availability (both internationally and for Windows users), and zero DRM.
It seems to me, though, that Apple has scored a breakthrough, at least where I'm concerned: I don't see myself ever downloading a track I can get through the iTunes interface through a file-sharing service again. The DRM doesn't seem likely to get in my way, and the 99¢ price-point reminds me of buying 45-rpm singles. It doesn't seem too much to pay to carry a song everywhere.
One of the albums I bought was on my Amazon wishlist at $13.99, the other at $13.49, plus shipping. Seems like a no-brainer to make those purchases at $9.99 (plus sales tax). On the other hand, Blonde on Blonde is $8.99 on CD at Amazon, and only available by song (14 songs at 99¢ = $13.86) through iTunes.
Another point I haven't seen mentioned is what a powerfully executed example of web services the iTunes store is. It clearly is influenced by Watson, and really encourages serendipitous browsing (and would even more if it had some more obscure stuff).
April 29, 2003
I'm occasionally having a strange problem with my iPod. I use it with as many as five different Macs. Two have 10.2.5, three have 9.2.2. Four have built-in FireWire, one (the Lombard PowerBook) has a PC Card that doesn't charge the iPod, but does read it.
When I hook the iPod up with either OS 9 Mac at home, I get prompted that the drive could not be recognized (Do you want to initialize it?). On the OS X machines, everything is fine, but here's the strange thing: On the OS 9 machine at work (a 400-mHz iMac DV like the one at home except for color), the drive mounts exactly as expected.
Strangest of all, it sometimes works with the TiBook, and sometimes doesn't.
April 21, 2003
On Safari to stay?
Chimera crashed on me this morning. That's no great surprise, as it has crashed once or twice a week for as long as I've used it. Instead of firing up ChimeraKnight to grab a newer nightly build, I switched to Safari.
So far, the biggest hassle is that nobody knows me here -- all my cookies live in Chimera, and I'm having to train Safari who I am. Which leads me to wonder how hard it would be to have cookies managed at the OS level, so they could be shared across browsers?
Obviously, there would be times when you wanted to maintain multiple sets of cookies, but it seems an exception rather than a rule, and you could always get around it by logging in as a new user.
Review: The Tipping Point, by Malcom Gladwell
I have a tendency to get sucked into social business books. More often than not, they're essay-thin ideas plumped out to book-thick packages.
A few recent examples: Digital Darwinism, by Evan Schwartz, The Innovator's Dilemma, by Clayton Christensen, and even The Cluetrain Manifesto by Doc, Christopher "RageBoy" Locke, David Weinberger, and Rick Levine. If you get it, well you get it, and you'll be tempted to skip the last 50 pages explaining what it is exactly that you just got. In many cases, the Fast Company summary is more satisfying.
Not so for The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell weaves together apparently disparate phenomena like public health, fads, subway graffiti, children's television, and Paul Revere's midnight ride, and provides a framework to explain how ideas spread.
Along the way, we're introduced to connectors, salesmen, and mavens, three personality types essential to starting an epidemic.
As a long-time Mac evangelist, it was hard not to read with Apple in mind. Here's a company with a good product, rabid fans, and great buzz with alphageeks, and they continue to slog along at 3-4 percent of the market. The Tipping Point is all about how phenomena go from being down in the noise to suddenly being omnipresent, like the iMac colors a few years ago.
Gladwell has a knack for finding the story in what might otherwise be dry material. Sometimes he does it by taking you behind seemingly familiar material, like Sesame Street or Paul Revere's ride, but often it's by tying the tipping point theory back to current science in cognitive psychology, sociology, or other fields.
Good idea, great read -- Joe Bob says read it!
Marathon dilemma: how much water is too much?
Interesting story on hyponatremia, a condition where blood sodium drops to a dangerous level, generally because the sufferer has been drinking too much water.
Last year, a 28-year-old died of it during the Boston Marathon, so this year the Red Cross stations will have scales available so runners can monitor their weight throughout the event. Runners going into hyponatremia retain more water than normal, so you'll be able to see a weight gain.
May be a justification for the various sports drinks, which typically have some sodium content. As does a banana.
From [Reuters Health eLine].
April 19, 2003
DIY iPod battery replacement
Apple's approach is that you have to replace the iPod if the battery fails. Now there's an aftermarket replacement, that includes installation instructions.
Seen at Macintouch.
April 18, 2003
Since I may have a few more geeks than normal coming by (Thanks, Chad!), I wanted to put forward a profitable idea that someone may be in a position to implement.
I have a ViewSonic VA800 LCD monitor. It supports pivoting into portrait mode. It does, that is, if you're running Windows or Mac OS 7/8/9. The company that created the software, Portrait Display Systems, used to have a page saying they had no plans to support OS X, but now even that is gone, leaving no sign of the Mac on their website at all.
Someone needs to fill this vacuum.
Somebody found the canned obituaries for CNN. It's not a very big deal -- if you're going to be ready to respond to the death of a major figure in near real-time, you have to have the bones of their obituary prepared in advance.
It reminds me of something that happened to a friend of mine while he was an intern at the Miami Herald. At the time, the interim president of the University of Georgia was a former president of the University of Miami named Henry King Stanford.
One day, my friend was leafing through the Herald's news queues, when he discovered an obituary for Stanford. He knew Stanford was on an expedition to Mount Everest over the summer, so he started calling around in Athens to see if he might have died on the trip. (He didn't -- it was a canned obit, like those linked above.)
The next thing you know, the story makes it to the Athens papers, with a "rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated" slant.