Wednesday, January 28, 2004
Forgive me for stealing a quote by Neo in The Matrix: Reloaded for this entry’s headline. I couldn’t resist.
I’m really happy. I’m getting nearly all the software upgrades (finally) that I’d asked for months ago. I’ll finally start using InDesign instead of Pagemaker (which has been officially discontinued by Adobe) and I’m looking forward to the new features in Photoshop CS (a.k.a. version 8). And let’s certainly not forgot the notion of getting away from Mac OS 9 once and for all and enjoying OS X.
I’m also getting my 21" Sony Trinitron monitor replaced with a 22" NEC/Mitsubishi. The Sony’s red gun is maxed out (which is odd, considering the monitor isn’t that old) and it can’t be properly calibrated any more for color adjustments. Last, but not least, one of the little CCDs in my Agfa scanner is going bad and I get a faint ghosty white line in every scan. Plus, it uses a SCSI interface which is going to be problematic in the future. I’m trying to phase out the old Windows box the scanner is currently attached to and start using the new XP machine which has Firewire and also drives my CD and DVD duplication equipment. I’m also getting a new Microtek ScanMaker which uses Firewire instead of SCSI. This means I can put a Firewire A/B switch in the mix and be able to scan images directly into my Mac as well! No more hopping scanned images through the network to get them to my Mac. (A condition laid on me for having such a nice scanner was that certain other people would also be able to use it, which meant it had to be on a Windows machine.)
In addition, there’s an extra bonus—I found out today that my boss has ordered a couple JVC BR-DV3000 decks that handle both MiniDV and DVCPRO tapes. No more endlessly hooking up cameras or the portable MiniDV deck to capture footage! Using Final Cut Pro is about to get a whole lot nicer!Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
GarageBand is just so stinkin’ cool. It’s even more fun to play with than Soundtrack. I was going to say that I have no musical skill whatsoever, but that’s not entirely true. I took a couple of piano lessons in elementary, played a trombone in upper elementary, and started learning acoustic guitar in high school before I sliced the tip of my left pointer finger, rendering it impossible to mash on strings for more than a couple minutes without a lot of pain. But don’t let these things fool you. I’m not a musician. Nevertheless, I (and anyone) can create some great tracks in GarageBand.
Thus, I offer my very first track created in GarageBand using nothing but its built-in instruments. Most of it is looped MIDI files, but I manually recorded underlying chords of a Hollywood Strings instrument and I tweaked some notes of the bass line.
The track is called Freely and, while I still claim copyright on it, I offer it to you…well, freely.
I hope to create and share more tracks in the future.Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
Ironically, the CGI issues I described in the prior entry had a part in causing me to forget to post (and would have prevented me from posting, if I had remembered) about last Monday being the first anniversary of D.T.P. by Lee’s life as a weblog. There’s just something about having passed the one-year blogging milestone that gives me the feeling that I’m serious about blogging and it’s not just a passing distraction.Comments: 1 (Comments are now closed.)
I’ve had several things I’ve desired to post about this week. I’ve forgotten essentially all of them. Why did I not post them? Something has apparently been up with my host. CGI operation has been a little weird from the day I started using my host. Something even more weird happened on Monday and has caused me to see nothing but an error 500 page (some sort of misconfiguration message) every time I attempted to use Movable Type’s CGI functions, including making new posts. This is the first time I’ve been able to get into the management pages.
I’ve been suffering a couple minor issues with my host and I’m very likely going to have to switch. VerveHosting is looking very attractive.Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
Monday, January 26, 2004
I’d always wanted to visit Splendid China. Unfortunately, it closed last month—permanently, it seems. So the best I’ll ever have are some photos taken from over the wall. Some friends actually jumped over and got a few more photos, but I wasn’t down with that and I waited in the “getaway car.” Hah. We also toured Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge which has a savanna-like zoo within the resort, and the Coronado Springs Resort where I got some great dusk shots of the sky and lake.
Sunday, a group of friends took an Amtrak train down to Kissimmee (yes, short trip, but it was fun) and rollerbladed around town. We even stopped to observe a group playing battle games dressed in full knight’s armor! Our lunch was extremely late—after 3pm—but it was very tasty. If you’re ever in Kissimmee, I highly recommend visiting Azteca’s Mexican restaurant.
Unfortunately, I seem to have taken too much sun. I think I may have endured the effects of a tiny bit of heat exhaustion when I woke up this morning. I’m still feeling kind of nasty, so I’m taking it easy today.Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
Monday, January 19, 2004
This is really pretty funny. It’d be even funnier if Mike ends up receiving a wad of money from Microsoft just on principle. Never mind the punditry about how Microsoft could offer the kid just $10 and keep a straight face—that M$ actually did only offer that much is absolutely deplorable. I just hope Mike doesn’t get into a butt-load of trouble over it. I can’t believe any jury would find him at fault. What he’s done is absolutely no different than me registering LeeBennettSoft.com. [MacMinute.com]Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
In case you hadn’t noticed, it seems the collaboration between MapQuest and GlobeXplorer has ended. Normally, I wouldn’t really balk too much about things like this—especially when it was free. But I’ve often depended on the aerial photos. I create custom maps as part of my job and seeing an aerial photo has frequently clarified the little star MapQuest uses to mark an address. That star often isn’t too clear on which side of the street an address is located. It’s even worse if the address is at an intersection. Pulling up the aerial photo often shows me the building I’m trying to map. Yes, I know I can get the photos from GlobeXplorer’s site, but the photos have the GlobeExplorer watermark all over them unless you register for some $30 a month, if memory serves. Unlike MapQuest, GlobeXplorer’s interface won’t run on Safari, either. It should be able to run on Mac Internet Explorer, but doesn’t. (Okay, it sort of works in Safari if I change the User Agent, but parts of the interface is missing when I load it this way.)
It seems pretty awful that MapQuest would offer this feature for several years, then just go rip it out from under us without at least offering a subscription to access it. And if MapQuest can make the photos work in Safari, why can’t GlobeXplorer?Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
Wednesday, January 14, 2004
It’s happened. I finally got around to upgrading my PowerBook to OS X 10.3. So sweet. The bugger was just that I had planned all along to try and clear up some problems (I think I succeeded) by cloning my Jaguar installation, initializing the drive, installing a fresh copy of Panther, and pulling in my old data while installing as many applications freshly as I could. That, in and of itself, wouldn’t be so bad except that I got into it late Tuesday evening. I got so wrapped up in the process, the hours raced by. Before I knew it, I realized I’d been up all night long! I had exactly 25 minutes to take a shower, get dressed, and meet someone at work! (Yeah, I was late).
So here I am, sleepless for just under 40 hours, and I’m fading, so I’m cutting this post shorter than I’d originally intended.
Panther rocks!!Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
Sunday, January 11, 2004
When Steve “pondered” what he should do with his arrangement after John Mayer added his guitar flair, a voice from the audience was distinctly heard shouting, “SAVE IT!” Thankfully, he did, and you can now download an AAC version of it. [MacMinute.com]Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
“Confidential to T-Mobile: NASA is downloading 36 MB TIFFs from Mars and I only get 2 bars of signal on my cell phone inside my house. Please look into upgrading.” [~stevenf]Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
Saturday, January 10, 2004
I think Bill Palmer has got it figured out. Here are some key points for anyone who doesn’t want to read the whole article:
“In making this deal with Hewlett-Packard, Apple didn’t just hit a home run, it hit a game-winning grand slam…and then ran out into the parking lot and started smashing opponents’ windshields with the bat. Yep, this deal is that big.”
“Rumor has it that, in the past twenty-four hours, Michael Dell’s head has popped clean off his shoulders and Bill Gates is holed up under Michael’s desk in a fetal position. There’s just no way they could have seen this coming. Their plan was to use the Windows Media audio format to force the iPod off PC desktops, but someone forgot to give Carly Fiorina the memo. Instead of playing along, she’s out there putting Apple’s AAC file format on more PC desktops. Lots and lots of them. And as the rise of Windows has taught us all, those who control the format, control the market. The funny thing is, Apple didn’t have to resort to any threats or devious tactics in order to get HP to adopt the whole iPod/iTunes/AAC format—all it had to do was ask.”
“Mainstream media outlets…each managed to miss the fact that there is one, and only one, reason that Apple made this deal: to sell more Macs.”
“Purchasers of HP and Compaq computers now get access to iTunes and an iPod clone, so one might question where the motivation lies for consumers to buy a Mac instead. But HP and Compaq purchasers already had full access to iTunes and the iPod. All this deal does is greatly increase the chances that they’ll actually take advantage of them. This move certainly isn’t going to cost Apple any potential Switchers, because it’s not going to cause any additional HP computers to be sold. Why would it?”
“HP took a look at the lack of success that Dell has had in pushing its own MP3 player in an iPod-dominated market, and foresaw itself ending up in the same position…[and] decided to stay out of the fray altogether and simply resell iPods.”
“In some respects, it’s remarkable that HP would even want to participate, considering the way that the whole thing seems to so heavily favor Apple. But I guess that’s what happens when one company so heavily dominates a market. Just ask Microsoft.”
“This week’s deal takes [Apple’s] strategy [of getting iPods/iTunes into the hands of Windows users even if it means not selling them a Macintosh, figuring they’ll eventually wonder what other great Apple stuff they’re missing] and expands on it by putting iPod/iTunes in the hands of not just those Windows users who volunteer for it, but every unwitting Windows user who opts for an HP or Compaq computer…all without any further sacrifices on Apple’s part.”
“We might as well start referring to them as ‘Mac users in training.’”
“The next layer of speculation, of course, is whether that ‘Mac’ that they finally switch to might also have an HP logo on it. But I’ll leave that for another day…this article has been difficult enough to type as it is, with my jaw still resting comfortably on the ground…I don’t want to be responsible for the implosion of the entire Windows world quite yet.”Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
Friday, January 09, 2004
I should be happy that I frequently see statistics that show the percentage of people in developed countries who smoke is getting lower. And I am ecstatic that Florida passed a law that bans smoking in all restaurants in this state. So why, then, does it seem like I can hardly step outside without smelling cigarette smoke? It’s pretty pathetic that an outdoor area reeks of cigarette smoke—specifically referring to my apartment complex. Somehow, while driving, I also manage to constantly get behind someone who’s got a cigarette hanging out their window and am usually a few seconds too late hitting my recirculate button. And don’t get me started about people who smoke all the way through a restaurant drive-through. Seems like smokers are getting their revenge. They can’t smoke in the dining room, so they do it all the more in the drive-throughs. I’m also getting pissed at restaurant workers who go out to take their cigarette break and stand smack in front of the door, creating a smoke cloud I have to walk through to get inside. Then there’s also people who are puffing away as they’re walking up to go into a restaurant and, just as the approach the door, they take one last big drag, toss the cigarette, and exhale after they walk inside. Jerks.
I’m amused every time I hear Gallagher’s old clip (he’s a 1980s comedian) when he’s ranting about being categorized by “what it is I do not do. ‘Are you a smoker or a nonsmoker?’” He likens it to whether or not he pees in his seat. “Are you a pisser or a nonpisser?” He says, “If it’s a DC-10, I’m a pisser.”Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
Thursday, January 08, 2004
The individuals at Adobe who decided this have my vote for morons of the year.
As reported on Slashdot, Photoshop CS (aka version 8) includes code that detects if an image is a scan of currency and will prevent you from opening the file! It seems Paint Shop Pro also does this.
Basically this means Adobe automatically assumes everyone is a potential criminal/counterfeiter! Stoopid.
Jeez, the U.S. Government itself permits illustrations of currency as long as you follow mandatory guidelines: the illustration must be sized either 75% and smaller or 150% and bigger of the original bill, it must be one-sided, and all material (negatives, plates, digital files, etc.) must be destroyed/deleted after final use.
In other words, Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro will not let me do something that I am actually allowed to do if I follow the rules.
If you attempt to open a scan of currency, Photoshop CS produces the following message, “This application does not support the unauthorized processing of banknote images.”
But get this, the message includes a link which produces a world map so you can click a country and read that country’s rules about currency illustrations. The link for the U.S. rules goes to the U.S. Treasury page that I mentioned, above, which says I’m allowed certain reproductions!
My friend, Jeff, is the one who pointed this out to me and confirmed it by trying to open an image of a $20 bill in Photoshop CS (which I do not yet have). He also found a message post that quipped, “I have some pretty ugly relatives. What if Photoshop gives me error messages regarding the following: ‘Your family is so unattractive that we are redirecting you to the web where you can pick out better-looking people to populate your Adobe Family Photo Album.’”
I predict someone’s going to make a big deal out of this real soon.Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
How cool is this? Apple has released an AppleScript to burn iTunes playlists to a DVD along with your choice of four different templates for on-screen navigation of the music on your DVD.
Important note, it requires all the latest stuff: OS X 10.3, iTunes 4, and iDVD 4. You also need QuickTime Pro.Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
Wednesday, January 07, 2004
The fact of the matter is, this guy is probably completely right. [MacDailyNews]
Update: John Gruber makes some excellent additional points.Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
Funny, I didn’t hear His Steveness say anything about this yesterday. A 5-pack of Apple’s 2x DVD-R media is now $7.99 ($1.60 per disc) and a 4x pack is $9.99 ($2 per disc). [MacNN]Comments: 1 (Comments are now closed.)
After accidentally dumping his garbage truck’s 20-ton load in the street, at least someone finally sent the poor guy some help. [The Sun]Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
Tuesday, January 06, 2004
Nearly a year ago, I pointed out that I’d been seeing an increase in unmarked police vehicles. Sightings sort of dropped after that, but it’s picking back up again—one yesterday and two this evening driving home from dinner.
Watch your speed!Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
I don’t know that I remember the last Expo that didn’t announce speed bumps to the Macintosh lineup. Interesting.
Anyway, here’s a paraphrased blow by blow and some thoughts.
At the beginning, His Steveness announced there were more than 60,000 viewers connected to the webcast with broadband, coming from more than 100 countries. That’s pretty impressive. I was, of course, one of them. In addition, the quality was undeniably amazing. I dropped out twice, but it didn’t take me long to reconnect. In the past, splotchy video and maybe a steady audio signal was about as much you could hope for.
Yes, I have safely stored away the “enhanced” 1984 ad. I’m not going to give away what they did, and I promise you it’s more fun if you look at it yourself and not just read about it from the plethora of news outlets that have told.
I’ve been reading reports that the Microsoft segment was the most boring part of the keynote, and this is probably true. But make no mistake, anyone who has to use spreadsheets is probably going to be very happy about Office 2004, and you don’t have to wait. Go ahead and pick up v.X now, and you’ll get the new version for free when it ships.
I wonder if Virginia Tech people are kicking themselves for not waiting to use G5 Xserves. Regardless, what they’ve accomplished is pretty damned impressive—third-fastest supercomputer for only a bit above $5 million.
Xserve Raid. 3.5 terabytes at $3.14 per gigabyte. ‘Nuff said!
Top iTunes customer has spent $29,500 and a 100,000 gift certificates have been sold since October. Any bets that this big spender bought the majority of those gift certificates and sold them to people who don’t have U.S. credit cards?
Billboard charts in iTunes—1949 to present. Hate me if you want, but I was totally deprived of 80s music. Looks like I’ll finally be able to build an 80s hit playlist pretty easily.
Regarding the 100 million songs being given away by Pepsi and Apple (look for the yellow-capped bottles), all I have to say is a repeat of how Steve left it. “Start drinkin’.”
I may have to give iPhoto another look. I’m a type that likes to know exactly what’s happening to my original files when I am cataloging them. I know that iTunes may rename my music files and organize them into artist and album name folders (yes, I like this setting), but the actual data in the file doesn’t get changed. For my pictures, I’ve thus far been content to simply create a folder in my Pictures folder, name that folder to match a subject, and copy my digital camera’s pictures in there. I create iView Media (free with Roxio Toast Titanium) indexes for each folder which I know only index the images and never actually changes them. Now then, iPhoto probably leaves the originals alone, too. Somehow, I managed to get the impression that there were cases where the original files might get resaved, and we all know you never want to open a JPG and resave it as a new JPG, replacing the file—especially if it’s your original copy. No, I don’t need anyone to chime in saying this or that. I’m just going to install the new iPhoto when I get my hands on it and give it a shot.
iMovie is just getting better and better. Finally, some decent-looking title effects. You can scrub audio on the timeline and trim clips nondestructively. You can import video directly from an iSight! Guess I don’t need GCam any more.
Twenty more free iDVD themes. Now, up to two hours of content per DVD!
What I perceive to have been the best-received announcement was the new iLife addition, GarageBand. While I, personally, am not likely to have much use for this application (I’m not a musician), it may be somewhat helpful if there are audio loops unique to GarageBand that aren’t found in Soundtrack. However, one of my best friends is coming along pretty well with his band, Ádamas. He desperately needs to purchase his own guitar and amp instead of using one that belongs to a colleague of his. I seriously wonder if a PowerBook with GarageBand and the Jam Pack addition (along with, of course, various needed audio/MIDI interfaces) might be something he should really consider. Sure, he could get an amp with speaker for less, But imagine the versatility of using GarageBand. The only worry I would have is whether it could be set up to be powerful enough. Ádamas has a pretty heavy sound.
Watch out, though, people like John Gruber are going to have a heydey with GarageBand. Not only has Apple rubbed against their own Human Interface Guidelines again by using a much darker brushed metal interface for GarageBand’s windows, but the sides of the main window sport a woodgrain look. Personally, I don’t complain much about HIG adherence or violations, and the effect is pretty cool on screen.
Steve’s One More Thing™ was, of course, the iPod Mini. I’m siding with Chris Breen on this one. “…the iPod Mini hints that much of Apple was on lunch break when the ‘Power Mac G4 Cube: Lessons Learned’ memo circulated.” I simply don’t get it. Sure, it’s smaller, but not that much smaller, and it’s only 4 gigabytes. Breen continues, “Let’s see, for $50 more, I can pack 3.7 times more music on my iPod and have access to a boatload of accessories compatible with the original iPod? Hmm, let me think about that…”
I thought the iPod Mini used flash ROM instead of a hard drive, but such is not the case. The $249 price tag might have been warranted if it was for something you didn’t have to worry about if it fell to a carpeted floor or you went jogging with it every day. But ATPM colleagues reminded me today that they were pretty sure the theoretical limit (sorry, I don’t remember the number, but it wasn’t astronomical) on how many times you could rewrite a flash ROM was still a barrier.
If that wasn’t enough, there was one more One More Thing™ to announce. It comes in colors. Again. I think this little perk would go over better if you could swap out the face covers like you can on many cell phones.
So there you have it. I’ll close by echoing Gruber’s question. What happened to iPhoto 3?Comments: 1 (Comments are now closed.)
An Ohio woman is probably telling the truth—that she had a winning ticket for a lottery worth $162 million or $95 million in a lump sum. The location of that ticket, however, is anyone’s guess. [WEWS News]
Update: She lied.Comments: 1 (Comments are now closed.)
Monday, January 05, 2004
We all knew it was coming and, according to MacCentral, it will happen today.
Thankfully, Adobe is being smart and is offering a plug-in pack for Adobe InDesign to lessen the feeling that Pagemaker users will have their productive workflow disrupted. Granted, the pack is $49 and is available only by download, but it includes plug-ins for booklets, bullets and numbering, positioning, data merging, file conversion, keyboard shortcuts, a Windows-style toolbar, and a template browser with professional templates. From what I can tell, it seems as though the pack will be included with future copies of Adobe’s Creative Suite. The part I don’t understand is that the pack also includes a training DVD. Obviously a DVD has to be mailed to you, so why not just include a cheap CD with all the plug-ins to have as an archive?
(Thanks, Jon)Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
Sunday, January 04, 2004
About This Particular Macintosh begins its tenth calendar year of publication with the January 2004 issue. (I said tenth year of publication—not its tenth anniversary. That comes in April of 2005.) This issue includes your favorite staff member’s review of Nicecast 1.0. Among other great offerings is a brand new column by Wes Meltzer called Bloggable. His plan is to offer a spin—a best of the best, of sorts—about what’s been making the rounds on Mac-centric weblogs.Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
Saturday, January 03, 2004
I’ve begun a new category, called Idiot of the Moment. My friend, Andy, periodically sends me a link to a story about someone who is about two fries short of a happy meal. I regret that there have been a lot of good stories in the past, but I don’t think I have any hope of retrieving and posting them. Besides, I don’t believe there’ll ever be a short supply of new stories.
For today’s story, I pose the question, exactly what did this guy think would happen when he lit a lighter over a pit in the ground he filled with gunpowder?Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
Friday, January 02, 2004
Does anyone have a clue what this “Schwartz Settlement Refund” is all about? I’ve Googled all sorts of results of people saying they either received a check or a credit on their Citibank credit card statement for this or that amount—totaling well below a dollar for most individuals. Indeed, I received a 15¢ refund!Comments: 9 (Comments are now closed.)
I’ve come to realize that many of my friends and other readers don’t realize I have an online photo album going, even though I’ve mentioned it in my prior posts about setting up a G4 tower as a server at home.
The reason I’m mentioning it again now is because you may have noticed my posts aren’t so “daily” any more. However, I’ve been carrying my camera around with me fairly often. So, if you ever think it’s been a bit too long since I last made an entry, try checking to see if I’ve uploaded a new album. There are 21 albums now, the most recent from December 27. Before this weekend is over, there’ll be a few shots of my friends and I as we celebrated the new year.
But I hope to get back into the swing of more frequent entries. I’d been having issues with the blog editor built into NetNewsWire. The editor was making it much easier for me to post entries—yes, I’m using it now—but suffering posting failures on a regular basis (probably due to my server—not NNW) kept me from using it often. I think (knock on wood) those issues have subsided somewhat.Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
NetNewsWire has been updated to version 1.0.7. Besides fixing a number of bugs, a new feature was introduced that I’m falling in love with. It’s a case of an interface issue that I didn’t fully think of as a problem until I saw how much better it can be. Turns out, a NNW user didn’t like the layout of NNW’s three panes, so he made adjustments to the actual application on how to make NNW appear in three side-by-side columns instead of one left column, and two additional windows on the right, one atop another. The 3-column view is better suited for the wide displays most Macintosh computers sport nowadays. The developer apparently liked it enough that he programmed it into this version, as well as another view that combines the headline and the entry’s text into a single window.Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
Thursday, January 01, 2004
Wishing everyone a happy and prosperous 2004.Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
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A. Lee Bennett, Jr.