November 15, 2005

What's the buzz

There are a crazy amount of iPod accessories out there, but this is the most... uh, interesting one yet. For that special someone in your life.

iBuzz—iPod Controlled Vibrator
 Images Ibuzz
Merry Christmas, Mom! Apparently this little device, which hooks up to the iPod and buzzes in time to your music library, is the hottest Christmas gift going. It's great for getting to sore muscles and aching bones and might even be used for a bit of extracurricular self-induced carnival time after hours, but we wouldn't condone that at all. The body is a temple.

Huge buzz for iPod gizmo [The Sun]

[via Gizmodo]

Posted by snooze at 12:29 PM

September 13, 2005

Wiki Madness

Last night, in a fit of boredom, I deleted my wiki. Of course as soon as I had done it I wanted to find some new wiki software to run. I've played with tikiwiki and Moin Moin. Both were decent (and I'm leaning towards Moin Moin) but I figured I'd do the lazyweb thing and see if anyone out there had any recommendations. I think I'm looking for small and lightweight with access control, that has a fairly simple interface.

On another note, I was trying to edit something over on Wikipedia the other day and discovered that some control key commands were intercepted by the site. Kinda cool, but when editing a text field in Safari you can use emacs controls for moving around and editing. Works great till you do ^e and suddenly find yourself moved to another page because it's some wiki command. So the question is this. Anyone know how to turn it off? I tried searching around the Wikipedia site, but nothing jumped out at me.

Posted by snooze at 11:54 AM

August 24, 2005

TV on your phone

Full episodes of cult TV sci-fi show Red Dwarf are being made available for fans to buy and watch on their mobile phone handsets.

The Doctor Who special The Five Doctors, originally screened in 1983, is also part of the licensing deal. [BBC News]

Okay, maybe I'm just a bit picky or something, but I really can't see the enjoyment of watching TV on a cell phone screen. I think the smallest I could go is the PSP screen.

Posted by snooze at 12:09 PM

March 17, 2005

So Who Gets It?

This article at the New York Times made me laugh quite a bit this morning:

Right Name, Wrong E-Mail In-Box

LAST fall, David A. Green was looking forward to his new job at a Manhattan real estate brokerage. Finally, he would be able to shed the e-mail confusion that plagued him because of the two other David Greens at his company.

No such luck. At his new company, Cushman & Wakefield, there was yet another David Green. And that Mr. Green already held the coveted e-mail name David_Green, following the company's convention for e-mail addresses.

At his old company, CB Richard Ellis, he had been, reluctantly, David.A.Green. Now he became David_A_Green. Hundreds of his e-mail messages went to the wrong David Green.

"I would have been better off being at his desk than at mine," said David A. Green, noting that the original, initial-free David Green is "most gracious about sending me the volumes of e-mails that go to him." [via New York Times: Technology]

So why did I find this amusing? This isn't a new topic. The sendmail FAQ has had a question on this forever (or at least since 1997). It still amazes me that people don't think that this might be a problem. When I was in college pretty much everyone had four character email addresses in the format (first initial)(second initial)(random alphanumeric)(random alphanumeric). Mine was gb1d. I can still remember pretty much all my friend's addresses from then too. It also helps to keep out people just spamming by sending emails to any old firstname_lastname address.

Posted by snooze at 8:44 AM

December 8, 2004

Would You?

Marcus Ranum asks "Would you outsource your data center to Baghdad?"

As I am writing this, US Marines and Iraqi troops are engaged in pacification operations (the nice word for "blowing the snot out of any resistance") in the Iraqi town of Falluja. Perhaps by the time you read this Iraq will be a peaceful, stable democracy that offers a great climate for business, so this editorial might go out of date fairly quickly. Somehow, unfortunately, I doubt it. I suspect the climate for business in Iraq is going to be poor for the next few years, at least. So, mister CTO - would you outsource your data center to Baghdad?

It's an interesting read and something to think about. What country do you think you'd want to outsource stuff to?

Posted by snooze at 1:55 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

Nintendo DS in Action

A friend of mine sent me link to a demo of something for the Nintendo DS. It's streaming and using windows media, so you'll need that to watch. It starts out kinda slow, but around halfway through my jaw just dropped. Bonus points go out to anyone who recognizes what is played (I could name it in 4-5 notes). Even more points go to someone who can translate the japanese, since I can't read it (or understand what they are saying).

Posted by snooze at 1:49 PM

November 18, 2004

Project D.U.

Seen via Compendium, SBC's new RSS reader: Project D.U.. I guess D.U. stands for Digital Universe.

proj·ect · d. u.
(noun) 1. a reader populated with headlines pulled from across the web.
2. relater of news and rumors
3. hiding place for next month's topic of conversation.
4. the center of your Digital Universe. Synonyms: middleman, informant, eavesdropper.

First off, the site. It feels like it is trying way too hard to be 'Hip'. Almost all the buttons you can click are animated in some way. Luckily none of them burst into flames. Next, the Project D.U. Reader. I personally found it to be pretty lame in a bunch of ways.

  • The interface leaves much to be desired. It just feels clunky.
  • When you look at the lists of posts for a blog it only shows you excerpts, even if the blog provides full posts. Clicking on their 'read more' link opens up the actual post .

  • No way to export your subscriptions.
  • No support for enclosures.
  • Kinda slow and clunky.
  • When it couldn't resolve a hostname right away it told me that the feed was bad.

  • Project D.U. is a stupid name.

And as I was about to close my browser window on the site, I noticed this on their about page:

One of the best features of this site, not unlike the advent of color television, is the Project D.U. Reader. It’s filled with headlines from some of the best blogs you’ve never heard of. In fact, we’ve spent hundreds, maybe thousands of hours scouring the web, trying to find the most intriguing sites the world has to offer. To be fair, we pay the favored blogs a bit each month for the right to use their stuff. But we don’t edit what they say, that would be a very un-fun read.

Wait, they are paying the blogs they list money?? How can I get in on that racket.

Posted by snooze at 8:03 PM

November 4, 2004

The Mouse I Want

Gme225B I'd written IOGEAR around a month ago asking when the Bluetooth Mini Mouse that they announced during the summer would be out. I got a nice reply back a day or two later that explained it wouldn't be out until sometime first quarter of 2005. At the time I was kind of bummed because I really like their Mini Mouse line, but was holding out for bluetooth.

Today I just noticed on one of the blogs I read that it had been released! (I wish I could remember which blog so I could give them credit.) I plan on getting one of these as soon as I get paid next. It's a much more manageable size to carry around. Also, it comes with rechargeable batteries. A very nice touch. It's a little bit more than I was wanting to spend on a mouse, but I think I will get a lot of good use out of it.

I'll post a review if I end up getting it.

Posted by snooze at 12:24 AM

October 9, 2004

Someone Fired For Running SETI@Home... Again

Once again, someone has been fired for running SETI@Home.

Man Said He Used Computer During Off Hours

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The search for extraterrestrial life has ended at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

The department on Thursday fired a computer programmer who admitted to using a state-owned computer server to process data for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence project, run by the University of California at Berkeley.

Charles E. Smith, 63, told administrators he didn't think loading the SETI software on the server was much of a problem because he ran the program only on weekends and on weekdays between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m., when the server wasn't being used, according to a disciplinary report.

Department director Tom Hayes disagreed.

"I understand his desire to search for intelligent life in outer space, because obviously he doesn't find it in the mirror in the morning," Hayes said. "I think that people can be comfortable that security has beamed this man out of our building." [newsnet5.com] [via AP]

I'm not sure if I posted about this kind of thing the last time it happened, but without knowing more background I'm not sure how to react. At most places I've worked there has been an official policy that you aren't supposed to install unauthorized software. This was mostly to try and stop people from installing every little thing they download from the net, and to be able to scold them when something they've downloaded broke their computer. In the case of something like this though, I almost have to wonder if the application was actually cutting into computer resources. But, the article doesn't give us any information about that (though I'd be curious to know more). The other issue is that I think the department director's comments are a bit unprofessional and unnecessarily insulting.

Hmm, maybe I should give SETI@Home a download and start it running on one of the machines I have floating around.

Posted by snooze at 7:17 PM

I Just Hope There Are No Spiders In This One

Irrational Games has started talking up Bioshock, the spiritual successor to System Shock 2. Gamespot has a preview of the game and I just may have to see how cheaply I can throw together a PC to be able to play this one when it comes out. System Shock 2 is still one of my favorite computer games ever. It was one of the creepiest games I've ever played.

bioshock pics Irrational Games originally conceived of its cult-classic hybrid game System Shock 2 as a "spiritual successor" to the original game. And Irrational's next game will, in turn, be a "spiritual successor" to System Shock 2. We're pleased to bring you the first official details on BioShock, a new game that will attempt to further the open-ended, emergent gameplay of the previous games by offering even more choices for players to creatively interact with the world around them and to solve the challenges that face them.

While System Shock 2 represented what Irrational general manager Ken Levine describes as "a convergence of technology and commercialism" (that game took place on a corporate-sponsored starship), BioShock will instead represent "a convergence of technology and biological life," or more specifically, genetics. It's important to note: BioShock is not a sequel to any of the System Shock games, nor does it have any official relation to those games. But like the previous games, this one will offer a horror-themed gameplay experience in which what you observe, and what happens to you, will be tempered by your own choices. "[At Irrational], we think emergence is the future," says Levine. [gamespot.com]

Btw, a request to the Mac gaming world. Please get in contact with these folks and do a Mac port of both System Shock 2 and Bioshock. Even though System Shock 2 is a few years old at this point, it's still such a kickass game that really does deserve a Mac port.

Posted by snooze at 6:07 PM

October 6, 2004

iTMS Update

The other week i wrote complaining about the iTunes Music Store. After going back and forth with support a few times I finally got a nice note from their technical support team saying to check back in a few weeks while they fixed the tracks I wanted. I just went and checked the store to see if they were still listed and Lard - Last Temptation of Reid isn't even listed anymore. Also, they've removed the short version of Original Sin from INXS - The Swing.

Good job so far. Now we'll wait and see if that Lard album ever comes back.

Posted by snooze at 1:11 AM

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 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

September 9, 2004

Do They Know About CD-Rs?

C.Net has an article about Longhorn putting the squeeze on gadgets

SAN FRANCISCO--Windows makes it easy to quickly download files to iPods and other portable storage devices--a little too easy in the minds of many IT managers.

In the next version of Windows, Microsoft will give big companies an easy way to block use of such devices, while making it easier for consumers to connect their home systems to them, a company representative told CNET News.com.

Much has been made of the security risks posed by portable storage devices known as USB keys, or flash drives, music players like the iPod, and other small gadgets that can store vast amounts of data. Some fear that such tiny devices can be used to quickly copy sensitive data off business PC hard drives, or to introduce malicious software onto corporate networks.

"It's a real problem," said Padmanand Warrier, a developer in Microsoft's Windows unit. "That's the feedback we've gotten from IT folks." [C.NET News]

I know things like USB drives make it a little easier, but anyplace I've worked it was easy to get a cd burning for your machine. Or for smaller things a floppy drive. And telling people they can't use a cd burning is akin to stopping them from ever doing any effective work.

Posted by snooze at 7:46 AM

September 5, 2004

iTunes Music Store Inaccuracy

I was poking around in the iTunes Music Store early this morning and discovered they had The Swing by INXS. I was quite psyched since that is one of my all time favorite albums. I remember my high school roommate and I used to have it playing on shuffle play all night long many many times. I clicked to add it to my shopping cart and did some more browsing. When I was done I was just about to click on 'Buy Now' when I noticed something. The version of "Original Sin" they have as part of the album is the wrong version. The listed time for the track is 3:46. According to allmusic.com, the actual length of the track is 5:19, which sounded more like what I remembered.

The most annoying part of this is that I've had my eye out for this for ages and it feels like it is almost within my grasp. Maybe I should ask around to see if any of my friends have it.

Posted by snooze at 7:11 AM

August 31, 2004

Skype for OS X

Skype is now available for OS X (It's been out for Windows for a while). Anyone I know using it? Drop me a line and let me know so I can add you. [via Joi Ito]

Posted by snooze at 1:14 PM