Somehow, it's still going...

09/23/08 | by Adam | Categories: Technology


Link is to a nice review on the latest iteration of the Amiga operating system. It sounds as if the developers have put a lot of work into making it current and useful but I doubt that I'll ever move back to it.


OSX's "Safety Net"

09/20/08 | by Adam | Categories: Macintosh


For a lot of people, changing operating systems is a significant step. You lose all of your applications, most of your data and a large amount of proficiency (and time!) while you relearn the basics. It's mostly true even within generations of the same operating system (like Windows 3.1 to '95 to '98 to ME to XP to Vista.)

When I moved to the Mac, it was due to a few issues. First, I was frustrated with Microsoft's licensing for Windows. I run multiple machines and buying non-transferrable $200 OEM licenses for each one was getting quite pricey. Secondly, I'd had a chance to play with OSX on a 12" Titanium Powerbook and had liked both parts. Third, BootCamp. Fourth, my current desktop was futzing out and needed to be replaced, preferably with a decently specced and priced laptop.

The third item was really the clincher as far as the choice of laptop was concerned. I didn't want to abandon all the Windows apps I'd paid for and liked so the ability to continue to use them was a big selling point. While I did like OSX based on my brief use, that was with it not being my primary operating system and I wasn't certain the good feeling would last; I had liked BeOS when that was current but it never managed to displace the host Windows system. BootCamp was in essence going to become my default way of using the Mac with OSX being booted into as a diversion and as a way of learning how to support family members who used Macintoshes already. The important thing to note was that OSX was going to be the backup OS on the laptop, not the primary. I wasn't worried about trying OSX on for size as the Windows support acted as my safety net for when it didn't work out.

It didn't really turn out that way. I liked OSX and soon after I bought the computer, the massive discounted software bundles like MacUpdate, MacZOT and MacHeist began, leading me to develop a decent collection of useful applications native to OSX. Those, plus the excellent integration of the native Apple software and the presence of cross-platform programs like SplashWallet and the Palm Desktop, meant I stuck to OSX and really didn't use Windows much any more at home.

If Apple hadn't released BootCamp, I probably wouldn't have migrated; the comfort level just wouldn't have been there. This brings me back to the Ars Technica report linked above:

That's an interesting thought, but perhaps it's not so much wanting to experiment with Windows as an insurance policy for Mac OS X—Windows as a last resort, if you will.

I think they have it exactly right. The Windows support is perceived as essential, even if it's never used. Apple got that with BootCamp. Hosted virtual machines like Parallels and Fusion simply make it an even easier sell.

(MacSurfer link)


60's oilfield technology

09/19/08 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Silly


In the 1960's, the cutting edge of technology in Alberta's gas and oil sector included bows and flaming arrows. Seriously.

(Via BoingBoing)


Application focus under OSX

09/18/08 | by Adam | Categories: Whining, Macintosh

For the most part I've been very happy with OSX compared to its competition. This isn't a long standing Mac fanatic thing: I couldn't stand OS9 and the prior System releases; the Mac only became an acceptable option to me after the "classic" MacOS was retired with Darwin's arrival.

That is as it may be, but why does it like giving popups instant focus? There I am, happily typing away, and suddenly a requestor appears, grabs focus, nicks my input, goes off and does something, and I'm left wondering what the heck happened. The behaviour should be to bring the requestor to the front where it can be acknowledged but for the sake of the turtlenecked-sweater-clad-one, don't steal my frickin' focus.



Monolingual strikes again

09/17/08 | by Adam | Categories: Macintosh

Regular readers of this blog will remember a run in a few months ago with a tool called Monolingual that carefully destroyed a fair number of software installs on my Mac. I thought I'd fixed all of the problems.

Not quite; I just found another case.

This time the damage was a bit more subtle. For the last couple of weeks I've been trying to install an update to Office:Mac 2008 which has been failing with an error about not being able to find a legitimate install. Office:Mac itself runs fine and has demonstrated no problems; I just couldn't patch it. Eventually a Google-suggested trip to the Wikipedia gave me the hint I needed:

On May 13, 2008, Microsoft released Office 2008 Service Pack 1 as a free update. However, there have been many reports of the updater failing to install, resulting in a message saying that an updatable version of Office 2008 was not found.[15]

That [15] linked to another article with this comment:

There is an application out on that will modify the resource bundles. Like the above issue, the application bundle has been changed and as such the patch installer no longer recognizes the application as one that has been installed by Microsoft.

Unfortunately after that, all further investigation came back to one solution: delete Office and reinstall. That option does indeed work but I do wish there was a less destructive one.

Anyway, I'm now promoting Monolingual from "potentially dangerous" to "shoot on sight".


Radio Adam foobared

09/16/08 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Macintosh

Yesterday I updated Radio Adam to use the newest iTunes since it had been working appropriately on my other systems. Part of the install requires a reboot of the system which I didn't think much of at the time.

When everything came back up, I restarted iTunes, let it do its validation process and ran the usual playlist. What I had forgotten was that it reads in the music from a remote SMB file system. OSX does not automount network drives by default when a device is requested (see MacOSHints for some suggestions on how to do this at boot time) so when iTunes went to read the first file, it didn't find it and therefore marked it unavailable with that lovely little exclamation mark in a circle. It then went to the second, had the same problem, and proceeded onto the third. Within moments it had invalidated about 13,000 tracks.

It's here that I found a major problem with iTunes. If you double click or bring up information on an invalid file which is actually there, iTunes will mark it valid again. Unfortunately it will only do this for the initial file so if you use the "next" or "previous" buttons from the information browser, it'll leave any other viewed items as unavailable. If you're playing to revalidate, once the first track finishes, iTunes won't try any others as they're all flagged unavailable. As far as I can therefore see, there is no way to force a bulk revalidation of music once its marked as being dead.

I then took the other brute force route and dropped the entire file system for the music back on iTunes and went to bed. When I checked in later, it had duplicated all the unavailable files rather than merging back the links back in. I now have a vast collection of duplicate entries that need to be cleared out plus I've lost all of the iTunes library-specific data as that's indexed to the "unavailable" version of the files.

I'm not best pleased.


Time Magazine's Worst Cars List

09/07/08 | by Adam | Categories: Silly, Potpourri


Time's list of lousy cars is remarkably even-handed: it doesn't go just for the most ugly or unreliable but also for those which started unfortunate trends.

(Via Wired)



09/06/08 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Silly

The Register reviews Nokia's best business phone to date

09/02/08 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Silly


Fun little article from the UK's Register which reviews the best of the Nokia phones currently on the market.

I have one of them!


Rules for going to the cinema

09/01/08 | by Adam | Categories: Silly

Worth its weight in gold

08/31/08 | by Adam | Categories: Silly


But is it? Density and market prices determine the answer!

(Via Boing Boing)


Profitability in the wireless telco world (Rogers Edition)

08/30/08 | by Adam | Categories: Technology


37% net profit. Not bad at all.

(Via Michael Geist)

(And look at the comments on Geist's site; there's one that can be summed up as "don't blame corporations for being greedy; it's their nature." Problem is that it's meant as exculpation, not castigation...)


The law of unintended consequences strikes again

08/29/08 | by Adam | Categories: Potpourri


The Register comments on the IT field in the UK suffering from a lack of people with appropriate skills. It lays the blame at the foot of offshoring all the entry level jobs. After all, if you don't train people, they'll never be in a position to take over the more senior jobs when inevitably those currently in them move on up or out of the workforce.

Yup. I can agree; I watched this happen on a more local level here in Calgary a few years ago and have little doubt the same has happened before. As usual, it's short-term gain pushing out longer-term survival.


Wired on urban gardening

08/28/08 | by Adam | Categories: Potpourri


Directly referencing the victory gardens of World War 2, Wired's Clive Thompson has an interesting article on the reviving popularity of growing food in an urban environment. Having come originally from the UK where this is not a terribly unusual thing to do -- and unless you're in an apartment it still isn't -- it makes for an interesting read. It's a nice follow up from yesterday's roof gardens post.

As a side note, none of my carrots or lettuce came up this year for which I blame the local populations of hares. The spinach is great, the potatoes rather bushy (but still underground) and the tomatoes are delicious, or I'm sure will be once they finally ripen. Next year the raspberries should start bearing fruit. Yum! I wouldn't want try to live off what I grow though; this is strictly supplemental to the weekly grocery run...


Roof lawns

08/27/08 | by Adam | Categories: Potpourri


I've always liked the idea of a lawn or garden on top of a house, partially as insulator, but also as an interesting visual. I'd hate to try to maintain it and it wouldn't be much fun to try to maintain the structure under it either.

That said, Wired has put together one of their How-To wikis on this.


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