This is a long update…

Updates: Mac OS X 10.1.2 (build 5P48) is out. That’s a long download over a modem. Features include Applescript 1.8, so I’m going to go test Manila Envelope to see how it works with the changes.

Cool Yule Retail Stores

We visited the new Apple Store in the Cambridgeside Galleria today with our friends Charlie and Carie. Being able to wander around in a space like that and play with all the cool tech is really great. It had an unexpected effect: Lisa is now fascinated with digital video! We talked for a long time with the store clerk, who was great, about the DV cameras, how they work, and what the path is for getting them into the Mac to edit them and then burn them to DVD. That might be a really cool thing to have if we’re on the other side of the country (of course, then our parents would have to get DVD players–details…). I actually heard Lisa say, “If we get you a new computer, can we get it with a DVD burner?” I tell you: more visits to the Apple Store are definitely in the cards. 🙂

Classic installer weirdness

Weird experience just now: I installed the latest classic Mac OS update (9.2.2) while running Mac OS X. I doubleclicked and ran the installer; it quit all processes IN MY MAC OS X session (except the Dock) and then logged out OS X when it was done. Surely it could have just dumped me back into X and made me restart the Classic process. Frankly, though, I’m amazed it worked at all.

Biting the feeding hand

This is one of the braver statements [WSJ, subscription required] that I’ve seen from Steve Jobs recently: “We’re baffled that a settlement imposed against Microsoft for breaking the law should allow, even encourage, them to unfairly make inroads into education — one of the few markets left where they don’t have monopoly power.”

The new culture

I’ve mentioned before that my writing style has changed since switching over to News Items. Part of that, I think, is due to the fact that I was usually creating news items in the browser, which makes me want to write less. Part is that my reading style has changed too.

I used to read TidBITS pretty frequently. After all, I got it via email. A few email addresses ago I stopped receiving it, and I forgot about it. But then I found this article about the recent unpleasantness with the iTunes installer. It’s well written, insightful, and strikes to the heart about what’s interesting and new about Mac OS X.

Mac OS X is a tremendous hybrid, with all the vigor and personality quirks that that implies. It has traditional Mac applications and all the power of Unix. And it has people from both operating systems coming to the platform. Now there’s lots of opportunities for conflict (Unix guy: “What kind of idiot names their directories with leading spaces and funny characters?” Mac guy: “What kind of moron digs an appplication that you have to type at the command line to use?”), but also opportunities for tremendous benefits when you combine both approaches to computing. Programming and using Mac OS X is like taking part in the creation of a new culture. Pretty darn cool, actually.

DVD + TV + 10.1 = …

Success, if you follow the directions in this thread on the Apple Discussions board. I don’t know whether the URL works for sure, but if it doesn’t, try discussions.info.apple.com and go to the board Mac OS X –> DVD Player and look for the thread “Powerbook DVD Playback WORKS!!!!”

Or try this: Shut your Powerbook down. Connect the TV to the video out port (preferably S-Video). Restart and before the screen comes on, close the lid of the Powerbook. The Powerbook should start up and only use the TV as the monitor. After it displays the boot panel, you should be able to open the laptop and use the keyboard and trackpad again. You should be able to play back the DVD now on the TV.

As for why the PowerBook won’t play back the DVD normally with a TV connected, I don’t know and Apple isn’t telling. But my money’s on the MPAA. I don’t know of any other organization that goes so far to make sure that you can’t enjoy its products. Oh yeah, there’s the RIAA too…
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Light Blogging Day

Probably another light blogging day. I’ve gotten into the part of the semester where, despite my best efforts, every day is a fire drill.

Unfortunately I can’t post my current assignment to my blog–it’s too long and the subject matter (forgiveness vs. utilitarianist philosophy) is a little too far out to try to make work as blog matter. Maybe later I’ll figure out how to tie it all together.

Quick pointer: Esta talks about hooking my grandfather up on e-mail this morning. Esta’s always been better than I have about keeping family ties close, and this story shows why.


Update: I finally received my replacement power adapter (see the discussion of my fire hazard problem here). Fortunately my problem was in the AC cord and not the “yo-yo” itself. Apple made an incremental change to the adapter recently that rendered the plug incompatible with the receptacle on my PowerBook G3. However, the AC cord is compatible with my old yo-yo, and it’s charging merrily even as we speak. So to sum up: if your yo-yo is broken and it’s a model M7332, make sure you replace it with an adapter that’s designed for your G3. However, if it’s your AC cord, you can order either one and it will work.

Interestingly, both models are “Model M7332.” But the one that works with mine is manufactured by Delta Electronics in Thailand and the new one comes from Dongguan Samsung Electro-Mechanics.

Rock Solid OS, Jell-O Economy

Glenn Fleischman wrote this review of Mac OS X 10.1.

I’ve already posted my thoughts about the upgrade, but it’s worth repeating. Mac OS X 10.1 is my everyday operating system. At any given time I’m running half a dozen apps — Mozilla, TextEdit, iTunes, Word Test Drive, GraphicConverter, Palm Desktop, Excel, OmniOutliner, Mail and/or Eudora — and it’s been smooth. That’ s not taking account of the ssh server, Postgres SQL server, and streaming audio server that are running (generally unused) in the background. Last night I watched “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” in a window while I did some email and web surfing — the other activities were a little slower but the DVD didn’t drop any frames. Very cool.

Life Without Wheels

We’re going to try living without a car for a while starting in December. It’s not like it’s a totally new concept for us, since we have mostly been walking or using public transportation since we got here. But now we won’t have a safety net.

I’ve been thinking about trying Zipcar. We did a project on them for my marketing class, but if anyone out there has experience with them, I’d appreciate hearing it.

Dot-Com Love in the Time of Cholera

It’s an interesting time to be involved in entrepreneurial classes and organizations (like e-MIT). There’s a huge article in the New York Times this morning about the withering away of venture capital. It echoes things I’ve heard before. We had a senior executive from Softbank visit last spring. He had interesting things to say about his job, like coming home and having to tell his kids that they pulled the plug on Kozmo.com. Like I said last week–lots of heartbreak all around.

A little too late to make the early edition–this brilliant article at Textism going a lot farther than I did about some of the insanity of the last three years. “You, sir, are irrelevant, irrelevant, irrelevant.”

It’s a Big Scripting Party

Yesterday’s piece on using AppleScript to update a Manila blog interested a lot of people, thanks largely to Dave‘s link to my page. A typical story on my site might accrue 10 hits the first day it’s posted. This one garnered 559. Which leaves open the question: by writing that little script and telling Dave about it, was I just shamelessly whoring for hits? Hopefully a few people downloaded the script and found it worthwhile.

I’d like to issue a public invitation to all the people who are interested in using Apple’s new RPC capabilities with Manila. Let’s have a discussion about what would be the most valuable scripts to write and what would add the most value. I’ll kick it off: I think that (a) automatic spellchecking prior to posting and (b) ability to post image files directly from the Finder to my blog would be great things to have. What do you think?

I’d also like to point out that there are people doing similar things for Blogger. Following my referer links, I just came across this script at Web Entourage. It’s smarter than my script–it uses the selected text from any application. This is cool. I’m learning more about Applescript (I’ll be the first to admit I’m pretty illiterate in it) and about the other people out there who are doing this stuff.

I like the WebEntourage web page better than the page that shows off my script, since he links clearly to the API and to Blogger. I wonder if there could be some way to pull out the links from a Manila message automatically and format them for display somehow, like what Slashdot does.


In non-scripting news…

Today is the fourth anniversary of my wedding to Lisa. We got a lovely e-card yesterday from our dear friend Larry Mueller. I sang with Larry in college and he read at our wedding.

Getting the email from him, I realized it’s been far too long since I spoke with a few of my friends like Larry. Distance is pretty hard to conquer when you’re a student. I think it’s ironic that as my ability to write for my blog has improved, my letter writing skills have diminished.

A long day today. Lots of coursework. I have to keep reminding myself that corporate finance is worth all the trouble.

A Long Awaited Upgrade

The title of this piece comes from “A Long Awaited Party,” the first chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien. I’ve been re-reading it lately. It has some interesting things to say today about the value of innocence and protecting it: it’s better if the innocents stay safe even if they are ignorant about the dangers around them. For me, that puts all the ranting I used to do about the uninformed American public in an entirely new light.

So, Mac OS X 10.1. As someone pointed out on Slashdot, a pleonasm of a version number. But a heck of a good operating system.

Where do I begin? The trip to Northshore for the disc was pretty humorous. Lisa had something else to see in the mall and left me alone at the front door of the Apple Store. Words don’t do the place justice. How about ten-foot glass panes suspended on wires from the ceiling and floor displaying the Aqua interface? Shelves and shelves of software? All the current hardware on display, plus “digital hub” accessories? Heck of a retail experience.

I asked the floor guy where I found the upgrade, and he said, “Oh, that’s back at the Genius Bar. I’ll walk you back there.” He went back and told one of the Mac Geniuses (yes, that’s a job title) that I needed the upgrade. The Genius said “Stand back a little.” Wondering, I did, and he tossed the package to me like a frisbee. “There you go,” he said.

The actual install wasn’t nearly as fun, but it also wasn’t onerous. I left it alone for about half an hour (I think I accidentally had it include resources for a bunch of other languages, or it probably would have been faster). On boot, the login screen defaulted to listing all the users in the system with pictures next to them. Pick a login name, then type in a password. Great for home users. I promptly changed the setting back to force people to type in a username. I take my laptop everywhere and it makes me feel better that if my laptop walks off the person will have to know my login name before he can do anything with it.

So, logging in: the login window shows a spinning progress bar now and stays open until a few seconds before the Dock appears. The Dock is now hidden by default. The battery, clock, volume, and Airport indicators are now in the menu bar and their Dockling counterparts are gone. I mean gone–not on my hard drive any more. A little disconcerting, but I can get over it. I open an application and am knocked back in my seat, it’s that fast. And they’re all fast. And that’s really cool. Mozilla is more stable now when compared with the same build running under 10.0.4.

What about that whole SOAP/XML-RPC thing? I go to Apple’s scripting site for OS X and download the Script Menu. Drag it to the menu bar to install it. Pull it down–there’s a few Internet services already there. Select “Temperature by Zip Code.” Type in my zip. Within about a second (over a dialup line) it tells me what the temperature is outside. Not a gee whiz demonstration, but it did it all using a Web service and SOAP. No browser had to be open.

Apple released the manual for programming this interface yesterday. I might have something to say about how it all works later this week. Right now I have to go watch a DVD. Which, by the way, I no longer have to reboot to do.

 

On a completely different note, mahna mahna! Also, Esta has some hilarious things to say about pickled squirrels today…