Armchair CEO: Apple
Wednesday, July 30, 2003
iChat, iSpat

Back in 2001 when I got this here cute little iBook as a sweet birthday present, it was the "top of the line" iBook from Apple.

And now, in mid-2003, the latest iChat iteration or "AV" as its called, won't do videoconferencing on my now-aged iBook.

Or will it?

Y'see, these guys at the cleverly named,
Ecamm Network, have a solution to my woes.

In fact, it's a $9.95 answer for me and others who've been snubbed by Apple's efforts to create innovative software. Not only does their software enable video on my iBook (I use a Canon videocamera via Firewire) to VC through AV, but it'll also enable VC through all manner of crappy USB cameras.

Boy, Apple hates USB. Actually, they just "prefer" Firewire.

So why couldn't Apple do this? I have to feel a little sorry for them. You don't hear about Apple buying up 5,000 plus brilliant software developers, or increasing their R&D budget by BILLIONS of dollars, do you? Well, that's because they can't afford to write drivers and such for all manner of crappy hardware. That's Microsoft's job.

Yes, every time a PC user fires up his machine and plugs in whatever carnival prize he's got for a USB camera, he can moan and whine about the picture quality, or the blue screen, or whatever, but he can rest assured the guy next door with a Mac and Nikon camera isn't suffering the same fate.

'kay, that's all for now.
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Monday, July 28, 2003
Well, just a quick little note...

Found out today that a truly evil man finally got his come-uppance. This is Mac related, so bear with...

A few years ago I started working with this guy and his Mac laptop crashes. It was old, so the HD just died. Well, he chalks it up to Macs being crap and all, and decides to switch the whole organization over to PC. These folks had been editing on Macs happily for years.

The NT machines they used really stank up the joint.

Anyway, this guy was really mean to people, typical "yeller"-- a short little dude in a fast car with a real complex. I learned later that he was a juvenile delinquent in high school, just doing things to make people feel bad.

Well, he was getting paid WAY to much to be a jerk, and finally management figured it out. Story is, he even cried when they let him go.

I don't wish ill on many people, but he got what he deserved. In fact, he's maybe one of the worst people I've ever met.

And I bet he still makes more money than I do.

But then, I'm still married and get to see my babies every day!

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Saturday, July 26, 2003
Creamy stinky tech pie...

As much as my little greedy heart wants tech toys, it's really more a question of access. Oh when will we quit being slaves to the CPU?

Imagine a world where we don't give a flip about having a big heat generator in our lap. If I could just get a cheap tablet PC, I wouldn't have to stay up late to access the computer. I don't need a hard drive, or a powerful CPU. What I need is a little server in one room, wireless access, and a terminal. What a concept!

Makes me long for those wild days under the dorm, with a command line, green monitor and the university VAX system.

Where was I?

Oh, don't see "Daredevil"-- it's a stinking piece of crap that goes nowhere.

Back to Blender.
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Sunday, July 20, 2003
What do you get when you cross fast-food with e-commerce? The widely available and mildly popular "instant financing" for computers...

So I was on Apple's website, feeling quite forlorn because my nearly 3-year old iBook just isn't cutting the mustard (more like smearing the water on a teflon surface, but there's definitely no cutting involved nowadays), and just wishing in a very silly way that I could afford a gleaming new silver ding-dang PowerBook G4. I love the little 12" models, what with their DVD burner, VGA out (NOT mirrored, like the iBooks), and of course slick AltiVec units inside.

Not to mention Bluetooth or Airport Extreme. Especially since I probably won't get a Bluetooth device until Bluetooth has been superceded by something on a level of, say, instant brain melding...

At any rate, I'm on the Apple store just piling a few goodies into my basket, for comparison purposes (Dell), and for kicks I actually apply for credit.

OH, it looks so tempting! All that stuff for *as little as* $25 a month? WOW! How could I resist? But, stupid me, I was of course turned down.

Was it my numerous periods of unemployment within the past 2 years? Perhaps the fact that I've been at my current job less than a year? Or maybe it's just that I have NO credit? I certainly make enough money... And I did qualify for a Kroger savings card...

But, MBNA (whoever that is) turned me down flat, and the cold, hard evidence will be in the mail shortly. Luckily they don't stamp "YOU'RE A LOSER" on the envelope, but it's still on the inside, written in a carefully coded message to detail, in perfect accountancy, WHY I am a total loser.

Yep, give this boy a Mac, so they say, and you'll never see your money.

Nice to know that all my years of dedication to the Mac platform have been so worth it!

Seriously though... I really wish I had a ding-dang PowerBook!
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Saturday, July 19, 2003
OK, one more gripe about my Blue and White G3...
If OS X is supposed to be so robust, why does OS 9 work pretty much OK on a crippled G3? I guess because it doesn't check for errors in hardware at startup (as much), and it'll just freeze up entirely for no reason sometimes.

For those who are interested there's a quick way to tell whether you have a certain revision (this will be posted on one of my fave sites, on the door, at the back on top as you pop it open, there's a little sliver of raised text that tells you. Mine unfortunately says "Revision A"... makes me wish TQM hadn't evaporated with the mid-90's gold rush...

OK, on to bigger and better things.

There's a cool new technology that's FINALLY out:

The idea is simple: an orb that changes color based on whatever criteria you set it up to evaluate. It comes configured to check the DOW index, turning green as it goes up, red as it goes down and yellow as it is stable.

But there's more! You can configure it to check weather, etc.

The great thing about it is it just plugs into the wall-- no internet connection! It's wireless (through some radio frequency I'd imagine). And apparently you can program it to an extent (through the web)...

Imagine the possibilities. Something I've thought about when the kids get older is how will I know if they're really at home when we say "stay home?" Well, I could get the computer (with bluetooth) to monitor their cell phone (with bluetooth) for proximity, and when they travel too far away, my orb turns red... and I have it plugged into my hotel outlet!

Or imagine having a bank of four servers, with an orb for each (they're made of frosted glass, so you could paint the names/numbers on them). The light tells you their health status.

Speaking of servers, I'm dying to get my hands on an honest-to-goodness OS X server, and a RAID if possible. Essentially I've got this crazy idea that would only work in a planned community...

I can't say the name yet, as it isn't trademarked, but essentially the idea is a set of solutions for the home-- particularly for the wealthy, who have spurts of time, but are often working very hard (not celebrities). The idea is to simplify the technology to adapt to them, instead of the other way around. This would be a collection of technologies, using embedded Linux or Java, and Apple products. So you'd have a watch, which has a radio reciever in it, and using similar tech to the ambient orb, can give you some basic info on whatever... kind of like SPOT by Microsoft, but more robust.

Also, stuff inside the house would be very "Jetsons" in that you can watch or listen to a wide variety of things from anywhere in the home, or even take those assets with you. Imagine being able to edit home movies in the bathtub, or catch a movie in the garage while working on an old car... Music of course anywhere you walk-- it goes with you thanks to a bluetooth enabled ring or pin or pendant... Pictures that move, change, or dim...

At the root of all this is a server, which is connected back to the "home base" in the community. This central server system is able to monitor the health and well being of not only the technology, but the inhabitants. Now you see why it only works in a small, planned community.

However, I could see someone like AOL and ADT being interested in such a synergy.

OK, enough for now. Wife's making fun of my massive typing.
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Saturday, July 12, 2003
Apple, apple, apple. My love/hate relationship with them began when I was six, no, younger than that. We were still living in NC, and my parents were finishing their graduate degrees. We got an Apple ][, and I remember first playing "Star Wars" on it, complete with off-tune theme song and difficult gameplay (using paddles).

BUT, that computer was put to extremely good use for the next *decade*. How many people can say that about any computer? OK, I know a few. Heck, some people are still using Timex Sinclairs... for good use...

Often though Apple frustrates me. I'm not talking about little GUI annoyances in OS X, or even the old OS issues. I'm talking about really bad stuff, like hardware that doesn't work.

Historically the monitors I have purchased from Apple have gone horribly, horribly wrong, way too fast. Almost without exception they have died a bad death, leaving me squinting, bashing them, or just living without the color red.

My first mac of my own was a pizza-box Centris that barely fit on my desk in college. It had a really cool keyboard that split, to make it more ergonomic. But it ended up not working, although I have to admit I was pretty hard on it (college).

What really has burned me the worst was what I thought would be the best mac ever: a Blue and White G3. Cool new case, all new technology. Uh, except I got the "revision 1" model (revA actually), that CAME WITH a faulty ATA chip, meaning any slave drives would inherently be unstable... A reputable manufacturer would issue a recall, and fix the problem. Or at least let me know it needed to be fixed. But instead, I learned about it 2 years later. AFTER spending a ton of money on a system that would simply never work. The machine would freeze, the firewire never quite worked, and OS X (when I installed it, thinking it would fix all this) would kernel panic within a couple of hours.

And the mac community is no help. What you've got are a bunch of apple apologists who blame the RAM, or solar flares, or whatever, and claim Apple is GOD, and I'm a crank... Yeah, Jaguar won't even get past the startup diagnostics without exiting to the shell, and I'm the crank. Whatever.

So I'm thinking about Yellow Dog Linux, but even that I'm a little sketchy on. What if it dies too? I hate to sink more $$$ into a machine that appears to me to be on its last legs. The firewire finally died entirely, and obviously something other than the ATA chip is bad.

Next time I'm going to talk about the "Apple community", fanatics, and why it's good and bad for Apple's market share.
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Wednesday, July 09, 2003
Holy cow, I did it!

In almost exactly 30 minutes, I “wrote” my first AppleScript that empties the Camino cache.

OK, most of it was based on a free script used to empty the “Cleanup at Startup” folder back in OS 9, but I found it, edited it, and implemented it in NO TIME at all. Wow.

What’s neat is to see how much *simpler* the script was in OS X. The trick I needed was just to figure out syntax for navigation in the OS (directories). Being a mac user so long, you really take such basic stuff for granted. Yeah, I used to know how to write batch files in DOS, but that was ages ago.

(Actually, about a year ago I had to write a simple .bat to upload some files to an ftp server-- THAT was fun).

Anyway, I needed to set this up because my wife needed to clear the cache in Camino every so often. She’s on some message boards on iVillage, and Camino locks up after so many days... I had made a shortcut to the folder, but that was kludgy as she had to close everything out (she’s not a minimizer like me-- hey, I said she was technophobic), then find that folder on the desktop (which is constantly changing thanks to me), then manually delete the thing... A lot of steps!

Now, something I’ve noticed is what a pain it is to “share” a computer. My stuff is up, her stuff is up, Camino is our default browser, but I like Safari (she hates it-- won’t run her Avon site-- thanks Apple!), etc. So it’ll be really nice when Panther comes out. The fast user switching is utterly brilliant. Now I can keep all my stuff up and going and she can have HER stuff up too. And never the twain shall meet. Sort of. And with Public Folders, we can still share stuff!

Now all I need to do is max out the RAM and get a bigger HD for the thing. Still wish I had my own laptop (to hug and kiss), but that’s not going to happen anytime soon. Yay medical bills!
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OK, everyone here's my first blog. Woo-hoo. Actually, I was looking online for SOME way to brain dump every now and again... And luckily I stumbled upon Yay for me.

For such a technomologically inclined dude, I'm amazed it took me this long to get on the Blog Bus. But, with a new baby I've kinda had my hands full.

SO-- what to look for here? Why should you read my stuff? For one, I'm going to analyze technology from a utilitarian perspective. What is can do for us, why it matters, etc...

Some things to know about me (hopefully this will make my rants a little more understandable):
- I'm a teacher at a technical college
- My first computer (at age 6) was an Apple ][
- I prefer Macs, but greatly appreciate the tools of Microsoft... I'm also beginning to delve into Linux
- My background isn't just technical, it's also creative. I've gone to film school, and have a degree in English
- Primarily I am an idea generator
- TV junky, film fan, love good music, wish I could read more, big time family man
- my wife is a technophobe, and I often bounce techie ideas off her for feedback
- I own an ibook (mostly used by wife), VAIO (winxp pro), terrible older mac, great older mac, weak but durable Dell laptop
- lover of science fiction and Shakespeare
- quirky sense of humor
- sarcastic
Hey, am I trying to get a date? No. I just happen to be watching Cupid and I thought "personal" info might be aprapos...

OK, enough for now! Let the fun begin...
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