Monday, December 31, 2007

$100 iTunes Gift Card Giveaway at 50 Leaves!

If you love shopping at the iTunes store, you'll love this.  50 Leaves is giving away $100 iTunes gift cards to a random visitor who posts a comment (relevant to the content, of course) or links to their site with information about the giveaway.

50 Leaves describes itself as "100% Apple porn" and is run by Kelley Shackleford, who switched to Mac after buying his wife an iMac.  He was tired of de-lousing her PC and figured she could use a Mac for her simple needs.  Instead, he fell in love with Mac OS X and bought a PowerMac G4 for himself!

If you post a comment at 50 Leaves, please mention that you saw this article!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I'm Mad As Hell, And I'm Not Going To Take It Anymore!

I've had it. The President's veto of the SCHIP bill is cruel. And the Christian/Conservative Right's attack on a 12 year old and his family, simply for speaking up for the bill, are reprehensible. If you're as mad as I am, I strongly urge you to write to your Senators and Representative, as well as Speaker Pelosi. Below is the text I sent tonight, feel free to use it or write your own. But do take the time to write them - they aren't mind-readers and if you want them to do things your way, you've got to tell them what's on your mind.

As one of your constituents, I strongly urge you to do everything in your power to override the President's veto of the SCHIP program. Not only would I like to see you overturn the SCHIP veto, I would also urge you not to give in to his demands for expanded intelligence-gathering powers.

Like many Americans, I'm tired of Pres. Bush setting the tone and agenda for the country. He has trashed our Constitution enough. In fact, I would take it as a personal favor if you made it a point to not give him ANYTHING he wants. It's time that he realized that you don't work for him, you work for us.

While I realize that Democrats may not be able to raise enough support among Republicans to overturn a Presidential veto, you DO have enough support to blockade any initiative of the President's for as long as it takes to make a point. Please do not "knuckle under" to his pressure.

Thank you for listening.

I won't give up another right, another freedom.  I won't stand idly by as the Right goes after a 12 year old when they chastised Move On for insulting a General (and I'm sorry, he was and still is fair game).  And I won't sit still while the President denies health care to kids in order to fund his war in Iraq.  That's what he's doing, you know.  

Monday, September 10, 2007

You talkin' to me? (Make Your Mac Listen)

How to setup Speakable Items and also some help when it crashes.

read more | digg story

Friday, August 31, 2007

Want To Run For President?

In today's Good Morning Silicon Valley newsletter there was a link for the 2008 Presidential Ticket Quiz. After answering the questions asked, this is their analysis of who I would be and who my running mate would be:

You're Pelosi-Bayh!

As Nancy Pelosi, you stand as one of the only true and courageous people that anyone can
name. Despite a haphazard reputation and unexpected rise to power, you could be one of the only
legitimate hopes for your friends. You have been able to tell the truth about what is happening,
and reflect a widely held but somewhat quiet set of beliefs. Recently, you have been bestowed
with great resources by your power company. Your latent love for a military retiree is bound to
get you in trouble.

You select Evan Bayh as your running mate to try to turn Indiana blue for the first time
in 34 years.

Take the 2008 Presidential Ticket Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Appleworks Dead At 23

News comes today of the death of an old friend, Appleworks. She was just 23, such a tragic loss. I remember well using the original AW on an Apple //c that our local Apple Users Group owned. I was club librarian at the time, responsible for keeping the database (in AW) of all the software disks we had. We also had a "disk of the month" each month and I was repsonsible for using the //c to copy those disks for those that wanted them.

Later, when I traded in my own //e for shiny "Woz edition" IIgs, I bought Appleworks GS and used it extensively in school to write papers, do diagrams, etc. Then when I had my Newton and my iMac, I used Clarisworks again after a brief dalliance with Windows and MS Works.

I now have the last version, AW 6, and I have to admit that it is becoming increasingly irrelevant. I use OpenOffice a lot now because the file formats don't need to be translated for Linux and Windows users like AW's ".cwk" files did.

Good-bye old friend. You've been a constant companion for almost 20 years, and I'll mourn your loss. You were the first office suite, and the best. Certainly the easiest to use!

Appleworks 6 is survived by three children, Pages, Numbers, and Keynote; six grandchildren, iTunes, iMovie, iPhoto, iDVD, GarageBand, and iWeb; and his faithful dogcow, Clarus. Memorial service was held in the Icon Garden at Apple Headquarters. In lieu of flowers, please take a moment to remember Clarus the dogcow. Moof!

A dogcow is what I want to be.

Pictured in dialogs,
Running through the weeds,
In and out of advertisements,
Loving my naughty deeds.

Feeling in black and white.

Over the edge of cliffs,
Out with the tide in the sea.
Living life to the fullest,
Sweet survival in 2 D.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Subscribing/Publishing Your iCal using iCal Exchange

I found a nifty site last month, and haven't had time to put together a post until now. While in the throes of setting up webDAV on my PowerMac G4 so that I could share calendars with the other folks in the house, I got frustrated because it wasn't working. I thought, "There must be an easier way."

There is. In searching, I found the iCal Exchange, a site that allows you to create an account and then publish your calendars to the iCal Exchange server! Setup was easy, and I've been using the service for a month now with no problems.

The best part is that iCal X is FREE. Carlos has been running the site since 2002, about the time when iCal was first distributed. You can create both public and private calendars, too.

Thanks, Carlos. Those of us who refuse to pay .Mac prices appreciate your service very much!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Flashback: 1983 - The Coleco ADAM

My first computer was an ADAM, the Coleco computer. I wrote the first versions of Romulan Hunt and Taxman on it.   It had a version of BASIC that was almost identical to Applesoft BASIC, the difference being that the screen area had a few more pixels and more colors.

The picture isn't entirely accurate, as there were 2 versions of the ADAM. The all-beige unit was sold as a computer. I had the black Coleco game unit and an "adapter" ADAM that plugged into the game unit. The keyboard and printer were the same as pictured here.

I heard about the ADAM before it was released and ordered it from Montgomery Wards. The first one I got had a tape drive that ate my tape the first day I used it! We took it back to Wards and demanded a replacement. They only had units that had been special ordered, like mine, and we told the gal to give us one and delay someone else's order and she did!

ADAM's Stats: 

Processor: Zilog z80
OS: Adam OS
Memory: 80k
Storage: dual tape drives

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Timer II Released

Last week I released Timer II, the updated oven timer application written in Applescript Studio. This new version includes a "sleep to music" function and an alarm function that allows you to wake to spoken text, a sound file, or an iTunes playlist, album, or artist.

I've been using the application here at home for several months and finally realized that I needed to put some polish on it and contribute it to the Mac community. It's been working great for me, so hopefully someone else will get some use out of it as well.

That's largely why I contribute these little applications. I write them to suit myself and once it works the way I want it to, I figure others might benefit from it. I'm not out to "change the world" with my stuff, just solve some nagging problem that gets under my skin.

If you want Timer II, you can find it at, as well as Scriptbuilders, VersionTracker, and. MacUpdate.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

S.H.A.Z.A.M.! 2.0

I just released version 2 of my collection of beginner's Applescripts, S.H.A.Z.A.M! - (Scripting Has A Zillion Applications, Man). The previous versions were much more popular than I would have guessed. Many of the scripts are very simple, but all of them are useful.

If you are a Mac user and haven't tried scripting in Applescript, you should give it a go. There's a lot of flexibility in scripting your applcations, and you can use Applescript (or Automator) to simplify tasks you do every day.

To download, hop over to Geeksuit, Macupdate, Versiontracker, or Nite Flite script library, a set of re-usable routines for sorting, using stacks and queues, and simple file I/O.

If you like them, drop me a line or leave feedback where you downloaded them!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Name of Apple's NeXT OS?

I came across this article at Ars Technica today and, though it's an April Fool's joke, it got me to thinking. What should Apple call the next major OS release?

I don't like the idea of abandoning the roman numerals. "Mac OS 11" doesn't have any pizzazz to it. If it were me, I think I'd keep "Mac OS X" and just roll the version number to "11.0".

Another possibility: Since OS X is basically the NeXT OS, NeXTStep, perhaps the new version should be called "Mac OS NeXT."

Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Constitution - Who Needs It?

I'm foaming at the mouth, that's how angry I am. What the heck is going on in the Bush administration? What sort of fascist country are they trying to create? The dirty tricks, shady actions, and out right lies seem to go way beyond those of the Nixon administration, which I suffered through as a child. When will this end? Let's run down the list of atrocities, shall we?

  1. The "weapons of mass destruction" lie that got us into Iraq.
  2. The illegal wiretapping of phone traffic unrelated to terrorist activity by the NSA.
  3. The repudiation of the Geneva Convention in relation to suspected terrorists.
  4. The "rendition" and torture of suspected terrorists in foreign countries.
  5. The outing of Valerie Plame at the CIA.
  6. The firing of US Attorneys in an attempt to pack the Justice system in this country with their own Republican conservatives.
  7. Slipping provisions into the "Patriot" Act to allow them to bypass Congressional approval of US Attorneys.
  8. The coverup of the Tillman friendly-fire incident.
  9. The conditions at Walter Reed.
  10. New allegations that a White House aide held meetings with government employees telling them how they could "help" the Republicans win in '08 (in direct violation of the Hatch Act).
  11. The refusal to allow Rove and Meirs to testify under oath and on the record, in public.
  12. The dodging of questions, out right lies, and evasions of most of the administration on all the topics above.

And now Bush is threatening to veto the bill that would fund the current troops because he won't submit to Congressional oversight--and he's blaming the lack of funds on the Democrats? Huh?

Am I just imagining things, or didn't Bush take an oath to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States of America?" Why, then, does it seem that in the last six years he and his cronies have done nothing but rip the Constitution and Bill of Rights to shreds? It seems to me that he's done more to hurt this country (both here and in the eyes of the world) than anyone except the terrorists of 9/11.

Just who do these people think they are? What kind of America are they trying to create? This looks like an attempt to subvert our government BY THE VERY PEOPLE WHO ARE SUPPOSED TO PROTECT IT!

I hope the Republican party isn't going to be surprised when they also lose in 2008. The American public isn't stupid, and we have a long memory. It will be a cold day in Hell before we elect another one like Bush, I'm sure. I wouldn't be surprised if the Congress winds up impeaching him before this is all over.

Stay tuned, folks. I have a feeling it's going to get MUCH worse before it gets better.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Why Open Source Will Win

Recently I stumbled into a debate on one of Google's Linux User Groups. I keep a membership in some Linux-related things because I know people in that community and want to keep up on what's going on. This debate was about whether Open Source counts as a form of communism or socialism. My comments are below.

The fundamental point of Open Source software goes beyond socialism or other petty "groupings" of human thought. At stake here is an even more basic idea: That of the benefit of the human species as a whole. Open Source is interested in benefiting the human SPECIES rather than an individual PERSON. At its heart is the idea that we shouldn't waste our time re-coding something that's already been done, vetted by others, and works. This adds to our accumulated knowledge, making us a stronger species. A stronger species is more likely to survive.

Traditionally, evolution evaluates what works for a species and what doesn't. I'm convinced that over time the Open Source viewpoint will prove its worth over the philosophy of individual gain.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Wilkes University drops PCs, goes all Mac

Apple is continuing to make strides in the education market, despite some recent negative remarks by Apple CEO Steve Jobs regarding teachers' unions. Bolstering reports of Macs rebounding on college campuses, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Wilkes University, a higher education institution located in Pennslyvania has announced that...

read more | digg story

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Jobs gains support from Yahoo, Monster on DRM issue

Executives from both Yahoo and Monster Cable are the latest industry figures to throw their weight behind Apple chief executive Steve Jobs when it comes to DRM-wrapped audio tracks.

read more | digg story

Monday, February 12, 2007

Steve Jobs on Music

An interesting column written by Steve Jobs to shout out his thoughts on music. Does he talk about DRM? Yes. "The rub comes from the music Apple sells on its online iTunes Store. Since Apple does not own or control any music itself, it must license the rights to distribute music from others."Read the whole story it is interesting!

read more | digg story

Sunday, February 11, 2007

A Non-Switcher Speaks Up

My new Mac, a used 466mhz Power Mac G4 arrived this week, and I've been settling in. Truthfully, I expected problems importing my iMac files and using the iMac HD, but honestly, there hasn't been anything go wrong. I installed the iMac's HD in the G4 in about 5 minutes and was instantly able to boot from it.

The only thing that had to be changed were the display settings since I'm using a VGA monitor instead of the iMac's built-in monitor. And even there, the Mac recognized the NEC Multisync monitor on bootup and offered me a variety of display sizes. Even better, I'm able to switch instantly from 1024x768 (my every day setting) to 1280x960 (useful in xCode) using the Display menu item. Do THAT in Windows!

The new G4 and some posts on Digg got me to thinking about the whole "switcher" thing. I am, unapologetically, a non-switcher. My second computer was an Apple //e, and the first, a Coleco Adam, used Applesoft BASIC, so from a programming standpoint, it was an Apple too. Over the years I've used a PC AT (DOS), PS/2 (Windows 2.1 & 3.1), Compaqs (Win 95 & 98), Dells (Win 2000 and XP) as well as a Sun SPARC workstation (Solaris). I had DEC Vax-es at work and school. I've programmed all of them, either in BASIC or Pascal or some other language.

But while I've often had a Windows box at work, I've always had my Apple at home, whether it was my IIgs, LC, LC II, iMacs, or any of the various "classic"-style Macs (a 512KE, Plus, SE). It was a joy to come home from work, after battling the "I Love You" or "Anna Kournakova" viruses, to the safety and security of my Mac. Often I have gotten weird looks from bosses who were dyed-in-the-wool Microsoft fanboys. They can't seem to understand why or how I would be a decent programmer despite being a Mac user.

Yes, I'm one of the true Mac "faithful." I stuck with them through the horrid 90's and enjoyed my IIgs's John Scully screen saver that showed his head bouncing from edge to edge of the screen as shots rang out and he screamed. I cheered Jobs' return to Apple, and was wowed by the original iMac. I still am able to play Jack Nicklaus 4 on my G4, 10 years after I bought it. I owned 2 Newtons and currently have an iPod Nano, and I'm not making any excuses nor am I going to lecture my unfortunate Windows brethren on the quality of Macs. My attitude is "If you build it, they will come." And sure enough, it looks like the tide has turned in Apple's favor in the last 10 years.

So use Windows if you want to. While you still want to. Because I'm sensing a lack of enthusiasm for Vista and it seems to me that the smart money is on Mac OS X.

Oh, and the G4's name is "Morpheus." Because I took the red pill and woke up to reality long ago.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Dead iMacs Aren't Much Fun

Early last month Kermit, the iMac DV+, died. Cause of death: Power/video board failure, a common problem with aging G3 iMacs, I've learned. I've been making do with a friend's linux machine (thank God I didn't have to use Windows!) since then.

Oddly enough, I got a VGA monitor from a neighbor who moved the same week that the iMac failed, so instead of repairing or replacing the iMac, I opted instead to purchase a Power Mac G4. I got word that the new Mac went out to me yesterday.

I will miss Kermit. A lot of software was written on Kermit, and he served me well. I've no idea what to name the G4, those sorts of things only become clear when sitting down with the new machine.

The Mac is dead. Long live the Mac!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Stupidest 10 Things I've Heard Lately...

My friend Walt sent the following to me, from a Windows newsletter he subscribes to. He's now switched to Linux, but thought I'd like to see this since I had recently gotten an iPod.

This is a perfect example of "FUD," "fear, uncertainty, doubt." Notice that the writer starts by saying he's not trying to talk the iPod down, then proceeds to do just that:
Interesting iPod Facts

If you read the Q&A tip above about organizing your iPod playlists, you're probably going to be interested in this one as well. Many of us believe that iPods are the best thing since sliced bread and although they are great little devices, there are some things you should keep an eye out for when dealing with them. So, if you own an iPod, you'll want to listen up to this. I'm not trying to talk negatively about iPods, but it's my job to give you the information and that's what I intend to do.

Here are 10 facts about your iPod that you would probably never know otherwise.

It's been made public in the last few months that Microsoft has "planted" people who write blogs and newsletters to talk up the Zune (or at least talk down the iPod). Just for fun, I put my answer to each one below:

1.) It's a known fact that the iPod is the most popular music player available today. Since debuting in 2001, nothing has been able to surpass it. The iPod brings so much to the table when it comes to music, including its user-friendly design and the easy to use iTunes file management program. Well, all of the sudden, the iPod might be facing some trouble. Apple, the developer of the iPod, has a proprietary format that may cause them some trouble in the near future. This format is completely incompatible with any other digital music technology.

Yeah, but Apple's FairPlay copy-protection is also more generous than Microsoft's PlaysForSure copy-protection (which is also incompatible with the Zune). A lot of users don't like copy protection, but I doubt the media companies will allow digital downloads without some kind of protection.

If they don't do something to change their format soon, they may back themselves into a corner, because most people like to have options. If the iPod doesn't bring them their options in the future of digital music, they might find something else to love.

Like what? The Zune? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

2.) You may have run into this second problem already. A lot of the big name companies are now charging their users just for a little technical support. If you have a problem with your iPod, you better expect to pay up in order to get some help. Apple gives you one free call to their support line, but it has to be used within the first 90 days of your purchase. Chances are, you're not going to have many problems with your product within that 90 days. After that is up, they will charge you $49 for a support call. A little outrageous, don't you think?!

I'd worry about that if I had ever, in 20 years, had occasion to call Apple. Their stuff works so well that I haven't had to call them. Ever.

3.) If you have an iPod, you probably know they're not the most sturdy thing in the world. I bet you especially know that if you've happened to drop yours on the ground or hit it against something. Yes, the iPod ads show everyone running down the street with their iPods in hand, so it may seem like you can do anything with it, but in all actuality, the iPod is very fragile.

The iPod runs off a tiny hard drive that can halt service if it's dropped even once or knocked around just a little. You also always need to be very careful with the iPod screens. They are a bit flimsy and can scratch or crack very easily. If that somehow happens to you, it will make it quite difficult to see what song is playing and all the information that goes along with it. You might not expect such a faulty thing to come from Apple, but it unfortunately has.

BS. Yes, the hard-drive iPod is a bit less sturdy than the Nano and that's why I bought a Nano, but the screen is polycarbonate plastic, the same stuff they make bulletproof glass out of. Nor would any other hard-drive based player be any more sturdy, it's the nature of the beast.

4.) How many songs do you have on your iPod? Is it over 15,000? If so (and even if it's not that many), you might want to delete some of your songs off so you can replace them with others. Well, that may not be as simple as it sounds. Once you have as many as 15,000 songs on your iPod, Apple will not let you transfer them to another computer or any other device. If you do, it's sort of put under the copyright infringement status. It may not be just Apple that is harping this issue, but I'm sure they're not losing any sleep over it.

First off, if you're using iTunes to manage your iPod, iTunes has the master list of all your music, not the iPod. If you find yourself with a bunch of music that isn't from your iTunes, a) you probably stole the music from another person's computer and b) there is free third-party software that will allow you to copy those songs back to your PC/Mac.

5.) So, how long has your battery lasted? Yes, the new iPod promises a battery life of 20 hours or so, but their fine print really says that the "battery life and number of charge cycles vary by use and settings." You can also only recharge your iPod battery so many times before it has to be completely replaced. It's said that the magic number is 500, but it just depends on how much you use your iPod. You will also know when the "death" of your battery is coming, because after about 400 charges, your iPod may only hold 80 percent of its normal capacity. You better start saving for a new battery now!

Yeah, because at $59 for a replacement, I'm going to go broke...DUH! In normal use, the battery should last 2-3 years.

6.) This is a common factor when it comes to music players. Of course, if you have an iPod, you probably have earphones that go along with it. If you want to take your iPod anywhere with you (besides in your car), you must have the earphones in order to listen to it. Well, by doing that, you could be damaging your hearing. According to a study done, the iPod's full range of sound can go up to 120 decibels, which is just like standing next to a jet plane when it's taking off. If you listen to your iPod that loud (hopefully you don't), you could already be suffering from hearing loss.

If you're that stupid, I have no sympathy for you, and neither did the judge that heard the (only) case ever filed against Apple on this. That's why there is a volume control, you idiot.

On a positive note, Apple has come up with a fix for this though. They have designed some software that will allow you to cap the volume of your iPod. This is especially helpful for all the kids who have iPods. As their parent or grandparent, you can lower the sound on their iPod with this software. It's available for free on Apple's Web site.

Yep, they idiot-proofed it anyway, even though they didn't have to. Again, it's called "volume control."

7.) One thing you probably don't know (or even ever considered) is that sometimes products are out of date before they're even taken out of their boxes. It's possible that right after you buy an iPod, Apple will come out with a new model, just days after. They are shortening their product cycles, so it's possible that you could get your hands on an "older" version rather than the brand new product. No, it's not the end of the world, but who wants to spend that much money for an old version?

If you absolutely need the "bleeding edge" product, you've got more (psychological) problems than an old iPod.

8.) If you have an iPod, you better keep a close eye on it, because they are starting a crime wave all over the place. iPods are one of the most favorite products of thieves these days. It's not just happening in urban places like New York City either. It's going on in high schools and colleges all over the U.S. iPods are so popular, because they're easy to steal and they have a good turnover rate on the street (black market). They are also very easy to spot. If you're listening to yours with your bright white headphones, you may be a target. So, make sure you keep yours safe and sound with you and no one else.

Yeah, and don't drive a car, either, cuz I hear people steal them. And there are burglars that will break into your house and steal your TV, so don't own one of them...GEEZ, where do they get these people?

9.) Although Apple has made a fortune from their iPod product, they keep piling on the fees, etc. for owning an iPod. This doesn't even include the accessories you can get for your iPod. No, these days, they're charging for the things that once used to come along with the initial purchase of the music player. Some of these include chargers and a cord that allows you to hook your video iPod up to a TV.

Out of the box you have everything you need to load music, charge the battery, and listen to the damned thing. If you want more, then you SHOULD pay for it. I suppose the Zune comes with anything you'd EVER want? No? Oh, I guess the iPod's ok, then, huh?

10.) Finally, the last thing you may never had heard about your iPod is that once you start using one, you're stuck for life. If you use iTunes to manage your music files, you will always only be able to listen to that music with your iPod. They will not work with any other music device, because of the special format they're under. Also, no other company is allowed to make a format that will work with Apple's products. Seems a little stingy, doesn't it? But, I guess it's all about money and competition.

Yeah, and Apple has all the money in this area because they invested the money up front to put together an item that people wanted. Unlike Microsoft, who clobber or acquire any company/technology they don't already own and then turn it into a mediocre product.

And it's not like all the companies that built their entire business infrastructure around PC hardware and Microsoft Windows aren't "stuck for life." And the Zune is not even compatible with Microsoft's older DRM, PlaysForSure (which I've heard didn't). So who got stuck? The folks that bought media protected by PlaysForSure, that's who.

Then this idiot again tries to make it sound like they're impartial and just telling you the "facts:"

Once again, I'm not putting down the iPod, because I, myself, think it's a pretty cool device. I'm just letting you all know the truth about some of the things that go on behind the scenes. I know this isn't one of our normal tips, but I know iPods are popular among our readers and I thought it was important to share all of this with you. Also, I know that some of these things may never, ever pertain to you, but it's always nice to know the facts. Hope you all got something out of it!

~ Erin

I just had to post this, as it is such a transparent attempt to dog the iPod. LAME!

Now, if you'll excuse me, the iPod is done recharging and I have some podcasts to listen to...