August 24, 2005

Living with Apple

Dave Winer just got a mac and has been commenting about things he likes and doesn't like about it. For example, he really doesn't like Safari. Though he is happy with his Airport Express.

He's also been getting a bit of advice about software to use:

This is the kind of advice...
This is the kind of advice I've been getting from Mac users. Good stuff. You know, based on the rah-rah's from developers who are probably too scared of Apple to say what they really think, I thought everyone else thought Apple was the perfect company and the perfect computer. That's the downside of people being too scared to speak up, we get shitty information. How can we change this system, so that people aren't so scared? Or can we get Apple to thicken up their skin a bit, and learn to not punish people who have the nerve to criticize them. Blogs were supposed to fix all this. Frankly I think it hurts Apple to just have rah-rah public discourse and commentary. [via Scripting News]

Most people I know who have macs are more than willing to criticize them. The thing is, I find that the positives for me greatly outweigh the negatives. I've had no real problems with Safari. I think most of their software is designed for the casual computer user. It does the basics and tends not to get too fancy.

So in my case I tend to praise Apple a lot since in general it's been much less of a hassle than my experiences with Windows in its various forms. It's definitely not perfect, but I've yet to find an OS that is.

Posted by snooze at 9:58 PM

January 20, 2005

Mac Mini

I've been a little quiet lately. Doing a bunch of reading and playing World of Warcraft. Somewhere in there Apple released the Mac Mini. I seriously want one. I've got an old B&W G3 it would replace just perfectly. I'd probably want the $599 one though. I kind of wish they offered a higher end one with the SuperDrive that wasn't a custom build though.

One thing I've found is that this has many numerous people I know who had been trying to avoid getting a mac finally take the plunge. Bout time Apple made a move like this. Btw, if you're getting one, bump the memory up to at least 512MB if not a full gig. You'll be happy you did.

Posted by snooze at 6:52 PM

December 9, 2004

World of Warcraft, First Impressions

World of WarcraftSo I finally gave into the whole MMORPG craze. I'd played a bit of Asheron's Call back when it was in Beta and enjoyed it. And even played a tiny bit when it was released, but it never really sucked me in that much. But I have a good number of friends playing World of Warcraft, and it's one of the few games I can play on the Mac and still be able to play with them.

First off. Big high-5 to Blizzard for releasing a game that runs on both Mac and PC beautifully. More companies need to do this. I have no idea how much extra effort it requires on their part but they really do a great job. Thank you for giving me something cool to play while all my friends are off playing CoH.

So, about the game. It's beautiful. I took some screenshots that are okay, but nothing as nice as some of the ones shown on the World of Warcraft site. The colors are vivid and for the first hour or so that I played the game i just kept looking all around me. I can't wait to explore more and see what kinds of places I can find.

World of Warcraft - screenshot 2 Next, gameplay. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this game was easy to learn. I saw the manual that came with the the game and was a little nervous at first. It's not huge, but it just looked like there was so much to learn. So, in proper geek form I just dove right into the game. After about 10 min I created my character and was on my first quest.

So far, I love the game. As I play a bit more and get a little deeper into it I'll report back with more details. The screenshots are hosted at Flickr, and there is one other up there.

Posted by snooze at 9:55 PM

December 5, 2004

Ramblings of a Cultist

(Okay, before I get into this post I'll admit that I'm a Mac user. I've been a sysadmin for over a decade and have had to maintain all variety of machines and OSes (From Suns to PCs to Macs). Up until the release of Mac OS X I honestly wouldn't have considered getting a Mac, but now that I have one I am immensely happy with it. So my response to this is both as a sysadmin and as a Mac owner. Okay, on with the post.)

Rich Brooks over at the Herald Tribune wrote a column about a FL school system's decision to switch from Macs to PCs running Windows a week or so ago. At the time I read it and just kind of shrugged it off. He's now written a second article talking about all the mails he got from the people in the Mac cult. So I thought I'd chime in (that's what blogs are for, right?).

As I read it, his original argument boiled down to this statement:

But with PCs locking in 97 percent of the market, deciding what kind of computers to use in a school system is a no-brainer. [Rich Brookes]

On the surface I agree that it looks to be a no-brainer. But I think there are more issues to look at than that. First off, the cost of this project is $7 million. I'm assuming that's just the price of the hardware (though he doesn't say). You've also got to figure that if your existing support staff don't understand PCs they'll either have to be retrained or replaced. You need all new versions of software. There may be various educational apps that have been in use that don't exist on the PC, which means more spent on finding alternatives. I also believe that support costs for Windows are higher than OS X. I don't have any data,this is based purely on the amount of times I've had to spend dealing with issues on each OS. And the number of sleepless nights each has given me.

My biggest gripe with the first article is that he has no idea as to what the capabilities of the Mac are. He's heard they don't require as much maintenance, and that they are better for graphics and video. But he doesn't know for sure.

Needless to say, the Mac community went nuts over this article. Prompting Mr. Brooks to write a followup column: Revenge of the Mac user cult (and why they missed the point).

Woe unto anyone who publicly questions the efficacy of Macintosh computers.

You will be set upon by the cult of Mac users. They will call you names. They will tell your boss that you should be fired. They will write long letters and e-mails detailing the history of home computers. [Rich Brooks]

Now I'll be the first to admit that Mac users tend to be very zealous about their computers. I'll even admit to a bit of it myself. I think they've done a great job breathing life back into the Macintosh line in the past few years. I'm someone who always hated having to give into the graphics people and go mac for them. But, I do agree that a lot of Mac users sometimes go a bit too far with their comments.

While I don't excuse that kind of behavior I can understand it. I can work with any operating system. Most do at least one or two things better than other operating systems. The problem I run into is that people refuse to even consider Macs most of the time. They don't even want to think about trying it. So I think a lot of Mac users get annoyed when Macs are just dismissed without a second thought.

I do think it would make for an interesting article if Mr. Brooks were to try out a Mac for a month and report back. I can't say that there won't be issues. I'm just as critical of OS X's problems as I am with Windows. But I would like to think he'd be pleasantly suprised by the Mac.

Oh, and floppy drives are dead. With those little USB drives being so cheap these days I can easily see the floppy drive becoming nonstandard on the PC within a year or so.

Posted by snooze at 9:42 PM

December 3, 2004

Why Popcap.com Sucks Now

The other day #!/usr/bin/girl posted about Bejeweled 2 over at Popcap.com. Having liked the original I hopped on over and tried to play. I click on the 'Click to Play' link and the familiar Popcap game window pops up with the instructions and no game. I hit reload a few times with the same result. I closed out the window and clicked on Bookworm, then original Bejeweled to see if they worked. Both played just fine (and wasted a good bit of my time).

So I fired off an email to their customer support asking for help. This morning I got back the following response.

Which Internet Browser are you using? Zuma, Insanaquarium, Bejeweled 2, and Astropop will only work in Internet Explorer on a Windows machine because they use Active X. ActiveX is a code that defines MicrosoftÂ’s interaction between web servers, clients, add-ins and Microsoft Office applications. ActiveX is MicrosoftÂ’s answer to Java technology from Sun Microsystems.

So, if you're a Popcap fan, forget running any new games from them for the moment. They seem to have ditched any support for other browsers/oses. The thing I find more annoying is that Insanaquarium used to run just fine on OS X, so I'm not quite sure when they made the switch. Bastards.

And yes, I know IE is still the most popular browser out there (Though it sounds like those numbers are being slowly chipped away at by things like Firefox). But the other thing that irks me is that I think these games are written in Java, at least that is what their web site indicates. Anyone know for sure? Oh yes, and Popcap support? ActiveX is not M$'s answer to Java. C# maybe, but not ActiveX.

Posted by snooze at 10:42 AM

November 29, 2004

Podcasting, Again

When the whole podcasting thing started to take off I found I was quite into it, but then RL got in the way a bit and it kind of fell off my radar. Interestingly enough, this happened when I stopped being good about using the treadmill three times a week. Today as I was getting ready to walk I realized I needed something to listen to and decided I needed to upgrade iPodderX and start listening again.

iPodderX looks like it is really progressing nicely, even if I'm going to end up having to shell out some $$ for it soon. It's got some really slick features, and I've already found one feature that I want in it. It lets you set the genre of what you download, which is cool, but I want to be able to access other tags also. iTunes has one called 'grouping' which I use for any extra data/keywords to describe the track. For instance, anime soundtracks are in genre soundtracks with anime in the grouping tag. So I'd love to be able to put 'podcast' into the grouping (as well as any other info).

Now I need to get off my ass and figure out where to set up my turntables so I can start doing a mix of the week podcast.

Posted by snooze at 12:35 PM

October 28, 2004

Stewart Copeland, Mac Geek

Derrick Story writes about his Favorite Stewart Copeland Story:

The next day, when we had a few moments to talk, I asked him what he thought of the laptop. Stewart was in a great mood. He said that since he didn't have any of his stuff on it, he just nosed around, and quickly discovered GarageBand. Stewart is more of a ProTools kind of guy, so he's never taken the time to check out GB.

"I saw this cool looking guitar on the dock," he said. "So I clicked on it. It seemed like about 20 minutes had passed, but it was more like a couple hours. Next thing I knew, I had some pretty sweet tracks put together. And that was without a USB keyboard (as in the musical type). I was just tapping on the computer itself." [O'reilly:Derrick Story]

Posted by snooze at 4:20 PM

September 28, 2004

OS X mySQL tools

I have a few different tools I use for managing MySQL on my OS X server. I've always been a fan of phpMyAdmin and have also used something called CocoaMySQL. But I was recently in a situation where I didn't have those available and needed something quick. After searching around some I discovered dbSuite Admin Tools X, a very nice piece of donationware for OS X and Windows for working with your MySQL server. The big bonus it has over CocoaMySQL is that it has user management built in (something I'm sure it will have eventually). These folks will be getting a little bit of a donation from me on my next round of payments.

Posted by snooze at 8:59 PM

September 24, 2004

A Blast From The Past

gameSample.gifYears ago when I was in college there were a few games for the Mac that were quite cool. One of them was Solarian II. It was kind of like Galaxian with really cool sounds. Thankfully, it's now been ported to OS X and it's just as frustratingly cool as it was back then. I think I may even cough up the $10 for it once I get done with the trial runs.

Now, we just need are new ports of Arashi, Crystal Quest, Shufflepuck Cafe (remember the opponent who'd get drunk as he lost?) and Airborn (Hopefully I can find links to old pages with pictures of these). Now that I think of it, there were a ton of really simple fun games for the Mac back then. I remember the little DA version of Tetris that I'd waste hours playing when I was working in the computer lab.

Posted by snooze at 5:36 PM

September 21, 2004

NetNewsWire 2.0

After not being able to talk about this for ages I can finally say NetNewsWire 2.0 rocks. Tonight Brent released the beta of NetNewsWire 2.0. I've been using betas for the past few months and he's been doing a pretty kickass job. You can check out the What's New page, read the Change Notes, or just go and Download it.

Posted by snooze at 9:21 PM

August 31, 2004

Safari CSS Bug?

safari-clearAnyone else seen a bug with clear: both; on Safari? It seems like it is being a bit overzealous in what it is clearing. As you can see in the image here, it seems to be clearing the space from the <div> on the left, which I would think is out of the scope of that clear: both. It looks fine in Mozilla (and I believe IE).

Update: If you are looking at this at Safari you'll most probably see the behavior right now.

Posted by snooze at 11:05 AM

August 20, 2004

Mac Office 2004 NitPick

I've been trying out the trial version of Office 2004 for the Mac (and should have a real copy of it on the way very soon now). I have to say Microsoft has really done some cool things here. The project manager in Entourage rocks. It's the kind of thing that would be insanely useful to my ADDness. But there are a few things about it that I have to rant about. The first is that some kind of syncing between Entourage and Apple Address Book isn't in there. I read a nice post on this over at blogs.msdn.com by Dan Crevier that explains the reasoning, but it still annoys me. Thankfully there's a nice shareware app out there that does it called Sync Entourage - Address Book by Paul Berkowitz.

My next nitpick is one that I have with a few apps on OS X. In text fields, Cocoa uses emacs control characters for navigation. ^n, ^p, ^a, etc. Even ^k/^y. It's very handy for those of us who sometimes use those out of habit. The problem with Entourage is that it doesn't use these, and in fact those commands do other things altogether. I'd love to have a preference setting to turn that on if I wanted. I just find them much easier to use than the arrow keys. From a typing standpoint it doesn't require me to move my hand to another position at all.

Once I have the full version of Office I'll write up a bit more of a review, but so far it's pretty damn slick.

Posted by snooze at 1:59 PM

August 19, 2004

More On The Cult of Mac

John Dodds of the Independent writes the first of two articles about switching from Windows to Mac. He's got some good to say, and some bad. The good:

A different issue emerged in setting up my Wi-Fi connection. (Apple calls it Airport). The absence of a confirmation message left me thinking I'd done something wrong, but all I needed was to unplug the Ethernet link: it switched over automatically. I had expected a Windows-style confirmation of success, but Apples don't prompt you when something's gone right, such as plugging in a disk or setting up a wireless router. They just silently incorporate it. That's a major difference in approach: Windows thinks it's a surprise worth telling you about when something works. Apple doesn't.

And some of the bad.

Also, when working with multiple windows it is sometimes difficult to find what you want, and the thinness of the side sliders of any window demands very accurate cursor control. I have often found myself working on the wrong documents or applications because they were already open or lying dormant on the desktop beneath.

Other annoyances include trying to get both time and date displayed, and the single-button mouse - no doubt there's an internal Apple logic, but it's still irksome. Much more annoying is the lack of a forward delete key. You can use a combination of keys, but I've still deleted the wrong text many times. Also, files downloaded from the web are all dropped into a separate folder, rather than one you specify. But these are minor quibbles. [The Independent] [via MacMerc]

I definitely agree with him on the mouse. It still kind of blows my mind that Apple doesn't use other mice. Almost everyone I know has bought a wheel mouse for their mac. I even have one that I use on my laptop when I'm at my desk. I'm curious to hear what hear what else he'll have to say in the second article.

Posted by snooze at 9:43 AM

August 3, 2004

Airport Express and the Genius of Apple

Today while looking for a wireless mouse I picked up an Airport Express. For those of you who aren't aware of this device, it is Apple's mini base-station, music streaming, usb printer sharing, network extending device. Currently, I have it set up downstairs hooked to the stereo and had it cranked up while I sat out on the porch. Currently, any mac in the house can stream music to it from iTunes. In some ways it's not a perfect solution, since in my parent's case they'd have to go upstairs to their mac to start iTunes. But for someone with a laptop or a laptop and a desktop it just plain rocks. And I'm not the only one who is loving it.

Here's where I think Apple was smart with this device. They've made it so easy to want more than one of them. I've already got one and can easily justify two more. The second I'll use in my room as a print server/wireless client. The third will go on the third floor hooked into the home theatre setup. At around $130 each it isn't something I'll pick up right away, but once I get my laser printer I know I'll be eyeing it.

Of course, then I may want one for when I'm on the road. MacMegasite has a neat article about using the Airport Express in a hotel room.

Posted by snooze at 9:01 PM

July 28, 2004

LiveJournal RSS Celebration

The other day over on #joiito i was whining about how I wished I could get friends-locked posts in the RSS feeds on LiveJournal. Luckily LJ user crschmidt was there to let me know that it was possible. In general, the link to someone's feed on LJ is http://www.livejournal.com/users/[username]/data/rss. The problem is, it only shows you public entries. So, in order to get friends locked entries, you need to send along your LJ username and password and tell LJ what kind of authorization method to use. The end result looks something like this:


Note that this will only work in RSS readers that do the right thing with urls that have login information in them. But it works in NetNewsWire so I'm happy. While I still have my friends page, this means I now have access to all my LJ friends in the same place I read other blogs.

Posted by snooze at 10:18 AM

July 19, 2004

Apple Blows It Again

So Apple has information up about their new iPod and I'm kind of pissed. A few years back I'd bought a 20GB iPod, right before the release of the one with the dock. I didn't mind not having the dock, but it quickly became apparent that Apple was going to ignore their older iPods. They got just enough updates to make things run better, but none of the new features like on-the-go playlists.

Fast forward to a month ago when I bought a new 40GB iPod. It doesn't bother me much that they now are $100 less. I've had things like that happen to me all the time. What bugs me is that all the new iPod features announced today are only available for the new iPod. I'm afraid they're going to stop adding new features to this iPod. The even more annoying thing is that many of the new features don't seem to be hardware based features. Features like Multiple on-the-go playlists, tweaking playback speed, and one click shuffling are not things that I'd expect to need new hardware to do. Bah, thank you Apple for screwing me over again.

Posted by snooze at 9:21 AM

June 12, 2004

iTMS Weirdness

Yes, it's the day for me to comment on iTunes. Has anyone else noticed that they have stopped saying that albums they have are only partial albums? Or is this a bug over there. I noticed in their RSS feed that they had a bunch of stuff by The Cars. In the RSS feed it indicated that it was the full album, yet when you go to iTMS there are only five songs from it listed. The even weirder part is they have a 'add album' button which is $9.90. Yes, $9.90 for five songs that would be $4.95 bought individually. I think Apple needs to have an iTMS blog for reporting on things like this. Especially since their support page was insanely broken when I tried to leave a message about this.

Posted by snooze at 2:33 PM

iTunes Lameness

I love wireless. Lately I've taken to sitting out down on the porch during the day when it is nice out. The wireless signal there is great and it's covered so I'm in the shade (with no glare issues). I've also been making use of the music sharing feature of iTunes a lot because of it. Also, since I'm driving between Boston and Hartford a lot I've started getting into audiobooks. Currently I'm on the third book in Stephen King's The Dark Tower series and it has completely sucked me in. This morning I sat down to listen to the last part on the porch (something I hadn't done before) and discovered that iTunes won't share out audiobooks from audible. What the hell? Audible? Apple? What's the story here?

Posted by snooze at 2:13 PM

June 10, 2004

Airport Express and iTunes 4.6 and What I Think Is Missing

globalnavexpresshi06072004Apple's new Airport Express sounds great. It's one of the things I've really been looking for. A nice way to have a wireless repeater that (hopefully) doesn't kill the network speed. Everything else is just really good icing. Mini base station, great. Printer server, great. Streaming audio receiver: great. AirTunes, which is part of iTunes 4.6, here's where I think they missed slightly. You can only stream to an Airport Express box. I would have loved to have seen the ability to stream to any other box running iTunes. Yes, there is music sharing, which is great, but I can think of times when I might want to be just streaming to a laptop. Or both a laptop and an airport express. I live in a fairly good sized house and maybe people in multiple places want to be able to tune in.

I think Apple also needs to come out with some kind of stereo/AV component for listening to music and viewing photos (and maybe even movies) on your home theatre system. Something that works like TiVo's Home Media Option (which is now included in the TiVo subscription instead of as an add-on), but more tuned to how Apple does things. It would let you listen to AAC encoded files, and AAC files you bought from iTMS. But it would act more like the iTunes music sharing does. To me, this could be the killer box for Apple. Roku comes close with their products, but it still isn't exactly what I'm looking for. The one thing I know I don't really want is a full computer attached to my home theatre system. It just seems like overkill to me when I have a server already that has all that stuff stored on it.

Posted by snooze at 11:13 AM

May 28, 2004

Cool Screen Saver

We would like to provide mysterious suites constructed by random matching of the words and pictures. Enjoy yourselves in the surrealistic world spun by strange coincidence and eternal imagination. And run your meditation on what "meaning" represents.

For those folks with OS X, here's a very cool looking screen saver called Hotel Magritte. It's quite nice. He's also got some other ones up there that look pretty cool.

Posted by snooze at 6:51 PM

May 24, 2004

NetNewsWire, Ecto, and The Collegiality Clause

Brent Simmons posted yesterday about NetNewsWire 2.0's support for external weblog editors, including my current favorite one: ecto. He also mentions something he's calling the Collegiality Clause that sounds quite interesting (and shows that I keep missing lots of interesting blog posts).

Now if ecto would just let me attach a class to an image when I'm uploading it I'd be a very happy camper.

Posted by snooze at 3:02 PM