Accidental Pilgrim

I don’t think Tim and Lisa are visiting any of the places mentioned in this article, but it makes good reading nonetheless. The author’s description of Rome on Easter makes me wonder what the heck my brother is getting himself into.


Time passing

Today is a day on which I’m keenly aware of the passage of time. Partly because I’m blogging when I should be packing. But mostly because of a quick string of email I just exchanged with an old high school friend, Paul. I seem to get in touch with him regularly every other year. He and his wife Shannon just had their first child, a boy. Say hi to Lex Colton:

My friends Paul and Shannon's son Lex.

It’s important for me to remember that there are more important things in life than the day to day grind. Some days you get to meet a whole new person.

You can’t do that…

Wired: Where Old Macs Go Off to Thrive. I can’t go any further than this picture of an old SE/30 upgraded with a G3 running OS X on a monochrome screen.

The SE/30 was my first computer (if you don’t count the family’s Apple //c). We had it tricked out with 5 MB of RAM and a 40 MB hard drive. I learned how to do desktop publishing, Excel macro programming, telnet, and Kermit file transfer(!) on that little machine.


It’s good to be on break

Wow, a busy morning. I’ve been hatching Manila Envelope 1.0.3 for almost two months. In the words of Eliot’s young woman after the final patronising kiss, “Well now that’s done: and I’m glad it’s over.”

I should have learned the lesson in the first place: limit your scope and move ahead quickly. During the last two months, I messed about with trying to incorporate the Blogger API, add Keychain support, and support uploading images as well as downloading news item departments. I need to get stricter about setting release scope and sticking to it.

Enough of that. Currently consuming some lovely porcini risotto and relaxing a bit. Then I have to pack. We fly tomorrow to Lisa’s parents; we leave New Jersey for Italy on Sunday.

Apple and price hikes: classic dilemma

I sympathize with everybody involved in this CNet story about Apple hiking pricing on the new iMacs by $100. It’s certainly easy to feel sympathy for the customers and the retailers. It’s harder to feel sympathy for Apple, but they’re really caught in a classic bind.

In my system dynamics class, we were talking about the rise and fall of the low-price airline People Express. My professor suggested that they made a product that was so attractive and cheap that their growth spiral grew out of control. They didn’t have a large enough supply of qualified staff, so their product kept getting worse and worse until they started racking up massive losses since they lost all their customers. A conclusion was that a price hike might have made the product less attractive and given the company more breathing room to fulfill expectations.

The iMac price hike shows the other side of that story. Sometimes hiking prices just pisses everyone off.

Apple and Bluetooth: The next USB?

The announcement from MacWorld Tokyo that Apple will support Bluetooth is interesting. Bluetooth, the little “standard that isn’t,” has been having some problems getting traction. Will Apple’s move to support Bluetooth do the same thing for this standard that earlier decisions did for USB and 802.11b wireless networking?

Probably not. At this stage, Apple is committing to support Bluetooth only via a plug-in USB adapter. That’s very different from bundling the technology with all your new computers.

Akamai on the move

Since the Boston real estate market hasn’t really caught up with the slump, it’s not surprising that Akamai will be breaking its lease to move out of the Cambridge block that it shares with Forrester and the MIT Laboratory for Computer Sciences. No word yet on the new location, but the $15 million termination fee to MIT has to be good news to the school… at least until it’s time to find someone else to move in.

Two down…

The crash I was experiencing before when updating department names multiple times has gone. I think the lesson is that you need to either update an array in a plist with an array of the same length, or to change it to zero length and write the new array.

One problem down – search and replace

Shortly after I posted my last cry of despair over random crashing, I downloaded a new example AppleScript Studio project that contained a Cocoa string replacement method, rather than the one I had been using before which toggled AppleScript’s text delimiters back and forth. Making the switch cost me nothing in execution time and appears to have eliminated the crashing bug. I had to alter the Cocoa method so that it wasn’t doing case insensitive searching, but otherwise easy as pie. Next one… crashing when updating the department list.

Well, darn.

On a tip from a mailing list, I tried a change to Manila Envelope this morning to see whether I could stop an intermittent crashing bug. The change may have stopped the crashes, but unfortunately it also screwed up the text being posted quite badly. Apologies to all who were confused by posts on the page (or in the RSS) that said something like: “tMcWrldTky,pplennuncedBluetthsupprtfrtheMc”.

For the record, if your script is designed to convert accented characters to HTML entities, it’s a bad idea to convert them to Unicode first. It apparently converts them down to regular unaccented characters rather than their proper Unicode entities. When you search and replace on a regular vowel, this is what you get…

NY Times on Radio

The latest from Userland… full New York Times headlines in Radio UserLand. Having previously subscribed to Times feeds from NewsIsFree, I can only guess at the technical differences. Dave has been talking for days now about new drivers to allow Radio’s news page to pick up non-RSS XML-based news sources. My guess is Dave made an agreement with the Times to allow Userland to syndicate an existing XML format there and gave Radio the ability to read it. I think (but am not sure) that this is different from the way NewsIsFree works.

From a qualitative perspective? NewsIsFree’s feeds don’t include bylines; their opinion feed doesn’t include letters to the editor. Their feeds appear to be more selective and differently formatted.

Is Dave competing with NewsIsFree? Not in the professional market; their response to my story about syndication makes that pretty clear. But what is he doing? Userland’s not about content, it’s about providing pipes for content. The New York Times feeds appear to be the demo for this new Radio capability.

Moving slowly

Spring break is here. I’m taking the advice of one of my professors; in a group meeting yesterday, she told us, “You all look really tired. Go home and get some sleep.” Yes ma’am. Well, some sleep and some EV Nova

OmniOutliner2OPML v. 1.0.2

The new version of OmniOutliner2OPML, v. 1.0.2, has been released. It now produces something that looks like conformant XML–attributes of an <outline> element are now within the base tag, and outline elements without children are closed inline with an “/&gt”. If you have an OPML compatible application, I’d appreciate hearing if you can parse output from my script.