August 29, 2003
miniBooks now support 1152 megs of RAM
The good news is that you can now buy a 1-gigabyte DIMM for the PowerBook 12-inch. The bad news is that it's $499. That should be coming down over the coming months.
Seen at MacMinute.
Also on the miniBook: I was floored to read on one of the rumor sites that the 12" would be revised with a thinner form factor! I want to know what customer told their market research people, "I just wish it was only a half-inch thick." It's hard enough finding laptop bags that fit it now, as small as it is.
I would love for Apple to give the 12" parity with the bigger machines, and sell them based on mobility and screen size (and possibly expandibility, since the 12" doesn't have a PC Card slot or, for now at least, DVI out). I'm hopeful that the tremendous sales of the miniBook (which has been Apple's best-selling PowerBook) might make it happen.
I have actually touched a new G5. It's really hard to give an impression of one from an Apple Store experience, which seems strange. There really isn't much software on the store boxes that lets you really see why you're paying extra for the G5.
That's what forced me to buy a IIfx, back in the Pleistocene. I ran monthly reports of the usage in a university computer lab. The administrator box was a Mac SE (8 mHz, 2.5 mb RAM if I remember that machine), and the usage logs were very simple, tab-delimited-text files. I generally grabbed them every week or so, and opened that week's on the SE, where it took 4-5 minutes, with Excel tracking every single percentage -- 1%, 2%, 3%...
One month, I didn't collect the data file until the end of the month, and the SE refused to open it, with an insufficient memory error, I guess. I took it down to the University Bookstore, where they had shiny new machines, and a friend there directed me into the back, where they had just received their first IIfx. I popped in the floppy that my work SE couldn't handle, fired up Excel, told it to import the file, and the first number that popped up was 37%! The whole thing was open in 5 seconds.
What's that got to do with the G5 on display at the Lenox Square Apple Store? I couldn't think of an eye-popping way to test the performance without taking 10 minutes to download something from the web. It's got the iApps installed, and very little else. Certainly nothing that will tax the processor. Why not load Unreal Tournament 2003, so that you can show people quantitatively the difference between using a $1,799 iMac with a monitor built in, and a $1,999 1.6 gHz G5, that requires at least another $500 for a monitor?
The G5 is big. It's perhaps a little wider than the G4, but it's probably 3-4" deeper, and several inches taller. If you use it under a desk, it should make no difference. I could see one fan turning lazily behind the cheese grating, but I couldn't hear it at all (of course, the Apple Stores are fairly noisy, especially since the Quicksilvers were introduced). The handles are a styling thing now; they're not very ergonomic, since they're stamped alloy.
The G5 benchmarks that are starting to appear around the web suggest the dual-2.0 gHz configuration (which has reportedly been delayed until late September) is really the way to go with these machines.
August 25, 2003
Graven idols tour, sponsored by Chick-Fil-A (?!)
Chick-Fil-A is keeping their already tiresome Cows/'Eet mor chickun' campaign alive by sponsoring CowParade Atlanta, where artists create art-cows that are placed on display all over the city.
Those sure look like fatted calves to me, and from the company that won't even sell me a chicken sandwich on Sunday...
There's also a cow featuring family values poster-boy Elton John:
Hmm...If only there was a cow that could explain why they would do this.
Ah. Now I see.
All pictures from my Nokia 3650 camera phone.
August 24, 2003
Tristan Louis went to the tremendous trouble of tracking just about every user-agent string out there, and coming up with a custom webalizer.conf file that gives them all descriptive names. Then, in the spirit of the internet, he posted all 256 of them for anyone to copy and paste.
Thank you, Tristan....
Update: But wait, there's more! Tristan has also put together a list of more than 70 search engines, and given them friendlier webalizer faces. If you copy and paste this, you can delete the existing "SearchEngine" lines in your webalizer.conf, since they're included in Tristan's list.
Nokia 3650 Update
I had a few problems with my phone recently, which took me far too long to figure out, so here are a couple of pointers.
iSync - I still haven't been able to get the iCal integration hack to work successfully. I hope an update to iSync or iCal will address this. I also had iSync contacts synchronization stop working, for no apparent reason. I wondered if it could have been new software I had installed, either on the phone or the Mac, or a failed Bluetooth or iSync upgrade. I tried deleting my prefs files, clearing the contacts on my phone, recreating my phone in the Bluetooth control panel. You name it, I tried it. Except for, well, reading the manual. Apple has a very useful iSync support page that gave me the answer as soon as I looked there. Turns out I had turned on my personal firewall on the miniBook and it conflicts with iSync (although I'm not entirely sure why).
Romeo - One of my biggest (heck, only) regrets about the 3650 was that it didn't support Salling Software's Salling Clicker, which lets you use your phone as a remote control and personal proxy (your computer uses the presence of your phone to determine your presence or absence). I assumed that the popularity of the 3650 and the positive reviews of Salling Clicker would address the problem soon enough. Arboreal Software did just that, releasing a new version of Romeo, which, in conjunction with Veta Universal running on your phone, fully supports the 3650. There's a growing list of plug-ins for Romeo, and it's all driven by AppleScript, so it shouldn't be too hard to scratch your own itch, if you have one. Veta Universal is $8, and Romeo is free.
mReader - Browsing on the phone is still a bit of a pain. It sure would be nice to be able to review my favorite RSS files without the graphical overhead of a browser. You got it! Mark Allanson's mReader is a Symbian-native newsreader. It's a minimal implementation (you can't open links in a browser, for instance), but jeez, it's running on a PHONE, for pete's sake. Here are a few screen shots:
Update (Monday 9:10 a.m.) -- I changed the pictures to reflect the new release of mReader, which among other improvements, is starting to grow an interface. Very nice.
It also directly imported my subscriptions in OPML format as exported from NetNewsWire without a hitch. It only handles 50 feeds, so I need to prune some inactive subscriptions and reload. mReader is free.
Case - I picked up a custom Krusell case from Razzy.com. (The phone requires a custom case so it will have a hole in the back for the camera). It shipped quickly, seems like a nice case, and they included a shorter belt clip than standard so that the clip doesn't block the camera lens. My only complaint is that the size of the display pretty much forces the clear cover to stick to it. I may look at putting another clear layer in there, something like a WriteRight screen cover cut to fit, to keep the case window from sticking to the display.
August 23, 2003
More on TypePad vs. MovableType
On 8/22/03 4:25 PM, "Andrew Ostarello"
> Dear Frank,
> Hi there. My name is Andrew, and I'm a Mac geek
> who's thinking of leaping boldly into 2001 and
> starting a weblog. I ran across your hands-on review
> of TypePad on The Nicest website, and I'm thinking
> that's the way to go. With that in mind, I'd like to
> ask you a few questions:
> 1) You indicated that you used TypePad for your Tour
> de France website. I see you're using movable type
> for your Nicest website. Do you have any preference
> either way?
If you like twiddling with stuff, go with MovableType. You have much more freedom to integrate server-side scripts, etc., since you are managing the server (I presume). You also have much more responsibility: to download and build MT's source, to keep up with updates, monitor your disk usage, etc. With TypePad, all the server stuff is their problem. It's kind of like the difference between running a Linux box and OS X -- most of the stuff underneath is similar, but someone has actually figured out sensible defaults and applied some style to OS X and to TypePad.
I come down on both sides of the equation, which is why, despite using the notd.blogs.com domain, I haven't moved Nicest of the Damned over there yet. NotD is hosted via MovableType over the DSL in my home office, and runs on an AMD K6-2 450 with perhaps 384 megs of RAM.
TypePad seemed like the way to go for the Tour site because a) I wanted to see what it could do, b) it includes built-in support for Amazon affiliates links (the TdF page has already brought in $8.20 :-) ), and c) it made it really easy to customize the look of the site, both overall, and with things like the marginalia -- recent posts, recent comments, archives, blogroll, etc. On NotD, my blogroll and book links are pretty sour, since I don't like having to edit them in the raw source of the index page through the MT template browser. The interface to this is so much nicer in TypePad that I found myself building lists just to see how they would work and look.
> 2) Which TypePad plan did you opt for for your Tour
> de France website? Just browsing through it, I think
> it's about the level of complexity (pictures + type)
> that I'm looking for.
As a beta-tester, I got to use all the features in Pro. There's really only one pro-level feature I currently use, and I'm not sure I need it. That's 'advanced templates', where you can manually change the way that TypePad's templates work. If I remember correctly, the only place where I'm doing this is to make the calendar go to the daily archive instead of an individual story from that day, and (since I raised the issue during the beta test), that may be an option in the Plus level, as well.
That said, I still signed up for Pro :-). I think I'll use the multiple author stuff at some point, as well as the multiple roles for different authors, and I could easily see running more than 3 weblogs at a time on the service.
Even the basic level of service could build a page of exactly the complexity of my Tour site (possibly with the exception of the calendar links to daily archives mentioned above).
> 3) In your review, you indicated that you had the
> ability to give a discount to people you referred to
> the service. If you think TypePad is the way to go
> for a new blogger, do you have any discounts left?
I still have a few left.
If you want it, your discount ID is:
Removed for reasons of national security -- Ed.
It's a lifetime 20% discount; the email they sent with the codes suggests:
Be sure to let your friends know that they should enter one code in the
"Promotional Code" field when registering.
> 4) Any problems getting TypePad to work with Safari?
I also noticed a few people complaining about problems connecting to the server, as here:
I have never seen this error, and have posted 300+ times to TypePad, all from Safari, and many of them while (ugh) dialed up at 22,600 baud.
> Thanks very much for your time. I know you must be
> busy, but I appreciate any info you can give me.
We're all in this together.....
> Take care,
> Andrew Ostarello
Let me know if you have any other questions.
Update 2/12/04: I've reviewed TypePad after 6 months on the service.
August 22, 2003
Occasionally, Slashdot's still got it....
Apparently, a number of theaters will be showing all three parts of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, in sequence, on my birthday this year.
Leading to the following Slashdot comment:
Re:Dec. 16th Marathons (Score:5, Funny) by Brad Cossette (319687) on Friday August 22, @03:22PM (#6767735)
Can you image the effects of having an entire nerd populace sitting on its backside for 9 straight hours of LOTR?
- Viruses go rampant as sysadmins fail to respond to urgent system messages
� - Patches, code deadlines missed
� - Executives everywhere are paralyzed as their IT depts leave for a whole day and they can't figure out what to do when that Blue Screen with the white letters appears (in case you're reading this: reboot)
� - More importantly, the obesity % of the American populace has a massive spike
-- "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars" [Oscar Wilde]
August 18, 2003
From the "one-you-don't-see-every-day" department:
Update (9:15 a.m.): They're back.
August 17, 2003
Nokia 3650: Da bomb
I've been using my new Nokia 3650 for more than a week now, and am very happy with it.
If the SonyEricsson P800 is currently God's phone, then the 3650 clearly answers the question, "WWJD?", or "What would Jesus dial?"
Compared to my previous phones, the most notable new feature is the camera, so let's look at it first.
Here's a full resolution, highest quality shot, taken by Sophie, who may turn out to be the family's best photographer (sorry for the subject matter). Update: I've scaled it down a bit to fit on the page. Click through for the full-size image:
The camera also features a portrait mode, which takes 80 x 96 thumbnails you can easily attach to your contacts, so their face shows up when they call. Here's an example of one of them (again, sorry for the subject matter):
I haven't carried my Sidekick since I got the phone, but it's a significantly different tool. Even with the Nokia's excellent T9 predictive text input (which lets me punch in 7-4-2-8-8-7-3, and have the phone suggest I mean 'picture'), it's significantly faster to enter text through the Sidekick's thumb board.
The Sidekick's e-mail support is superior out of the box, as well. T-Mobile's service for the 3650 doesn't include an e-mail address, and their preferred method for subscribers to view e-mail is through a somewhat clunky WAP service, with SMS text messages alerting you to new e-mails. Update: I'm wrong about this: I tested it with a tmail address, like the Sidekick, but they now use PhoneNumber@tmomail.net as the phone's e-mail address, and you can send a full length e-mail to the phone. I like the SMS alert enough to use it on my work e-mail address (which is relatively spam-free), but the level of spam I get, and the fact that excessive (more than 300 monthly) SMS messages are charged, has led me to leave my personal e-mail account out of the mix, for now at least. On the other hand, the Nokia has terrific support for outbound e-mail, and the built-in camera means it's easy to quickly generate a reasonably high-quality snapshot and send it to the picture's subject or someone else.
The calendar, on the other hand, isn't officially supported with iCal (yet?). There's a hack to enable the phone, but in my experience, it brought all the calendar data down, but then won't synchronize, giving a NSCFCalendar error. Since I got the phone, I've been entering appointments on the phone, since I don't use iCal that frequently. I'm sure that will change when iSync completely supports the phone.
As a phone, the 3650 excels. Reception is significantly better than my Sidekick, and at least on par with my old SprintPCS Motorola TimePort. The sound quality is excellent, there's a speakerphone and voice dialing, and a hands-free headset was included with my phone.
I'm paying for T-Mobile's wireless data option, which is $19.99/month for unlimited data access. I've used the phone as a modem, but I'm not sure if I was taking advantage of GPRS or not. T-Mobile offers a Windows application that hides the settings for GPRS, and I'll set it up on a PC and duplicate its settings before my first road trip with the phone.
One of the things I like best about the phone is that it's part of a well-supported software platform, Symbian. That means that there's a huge library of software available for the phone, from GameBoy emulators to Remote Desktop Control software to control your PC.
August 16, 2003
Cool RSS trick from Feedster
One of the features on the NetNewsWire feature request list is filtering RSS entries. I've mentioned before how much I would like to see group by referenced link in an aggregator, but even simple filtering would be nice.
Adding the RSS channel to my aggregator gives me a Nokia 3650 channel that's dynamically generated from every weblog Feedster spiders. If there's a topic you're particularly interested in, you'll be glad you tried this out (here's an interesting article comparing MINI and Apple I found through it...).