Caffeine Peter Colijn

June 02, 2007 (link)
On iPods

Should you ever have a barely functioning iPod, before it dies, take it to the Apple Store and get them to futz around with it for a while. It you can get the Apple Store folk to finish it off, they will give you a new one. That's what happened to me; my G1 nano wasn't having trouble connecting. I suspected it was just that the physical connector was slightly bent or something, because if I wedged my iPod under something heavy, it would connect fine. Anyway, I took it to the store, and they started fooling around with it. "Oh, there's an update available? Can we install it? It might fix your problems!" Heh, of course, when the thing disconnects in the middle of a firmware update it's a paperweight. Not even that with a nano; they're too bloody small and light. So they gave me a new nano; sweetness.

On iTunes

So Jobs did it. He got one of the pig (ed: freudian slip) labels to go for DRM-free music. There's a slight catch; apparently they embed your iTunes account info in the files. So if you do copy them into somebody else's iTunes they could presumably know and track you down or something. For me, this isn't really a big deal; I just want to be able to take the music I buy, copy it to my other computers and devices, and play it there. I'm sure for people who really care there will be a tool to remove the personal information from the files. Maybe there already is.

I'm not the hugest fan of iTunes; it's overly controlling, likes to eat a lot of CPU for a music player, and generally just feels clunky. Not to mention, of course, that it's not available for my platform of choice. But I am willing to appreciate that Apple's making an effort. They know people don't like DRM, and they're trying to get rid of it. In support of this noble goal, I bought my first music on iTunes the other day. It was a surprisingly non-Apple-y experience. The thing asked me to confirm my credit card information three times, and only downloaded the music on the third try. So far it hasn't showed up on the account; they bloody well better have only charged me once.

But it did work, and I copied the files on to my Linux box, and Rhythmbox proceeded to play them without trouble! Sweet! Now maybe I'll actually start buying music again. I got so frustrated with the whole thing that I just stopped buying music altogether for years. I would occasionally buy a CD or get one as a gift, but basically I haven't had new music for a long, long time.

June 07, 2007 (link)

I'm in ur feeds, cloggin ur readers

My first Google Blog post. Go me. Or something. The coolest part is the TV schedules. Unfortunately, we only have them for the US right now. I know, I know.. :-/

June 09, 2007 (link)

LazyWeb Request

I would like something meda-centre-ish for our TV. Right now whenver I want to watch something I have to go hook up a laptop and futz with the display settings and then use mplayer. On a Mac, the futzing with display settings usually isn't too bad, unless it decides that it doesn't want to auto-detect the monitor, in which case you just have to reboot and hope. On Linux, the futzing with display settings is a pain in the ass. I have an xorg.conf file that works, but the TV often doesn't scale the image properly, so I only see half of the full image.

So I want something like AppleTV, but that lets me play almost any random format. How good is MythTV? The thing is that I don't actually care about recording TV, since we don't have cable. I just want to be able to play video files on the TV. I would kinda prefer an appliance-y thing so I can be lazy and avoid hacking things together myself, but I could just buy a cheap Linux computer and figure out how to make a remote work with it. I'm kind of leaning towards running Linux on a Mac Mini.

June 28, 2007 (link)

On Parallels

So apenwarr claims that the way to get things done on a Mac is to use Parallels to run Linux. I'm currently trying this, and there are some annoyances, including:

  • You can remap the Apple key to ctrl, but that breaks the "alt + ctrl to release mouse" thing. Even if you change the "alt + ctrl" to something else.
  • You can also remap the Apple ket to alt, which is more useful for me anyway since alt happens to be my modifier key in ion. But if you want "alt + tab", that won't work because Mac OS X still captures it and does its "apple + tab" app-switching thing. Also no good.
  • The Mac OS X mouse cursor "follows" the Parallels mouse cursor at an offset determined by their relative positions when Parllels gained focus. Most of the time it's invisible, until you move the Parallels mouse cursor such that the trailing Mac OS X curser is in the area where the dock is, at which point the dock pops up, which is highly distracting.
  • The bridged networking is somewhat flakey. It doesn't always pick up changes in Mac OS X's networking automatically.
  • Middle-clicking to copy; no good way to do it without an external mouse.

I am trying to decide whether a ThinkPad with Ubuntu would be more or less annoying. Presumably there would be the usual not-quite-working Linux suspend and wifi flakiness. Though the MacBook's wifi isn't exactly stellar either. If I could fix most of the above issues, I think I would definitely favor the MacBook + Parllels. If they can't be fixed I'll probably ditch it for a ThinkPad (or install Ubuntu directly).

Previous LazyWeb Request

I got a Mac Mini. It works quite nicely. And to my pleasant surprise, mounting NFS shares in OS X now "just works" pretty well. Previously you had to go into NetInfo Manager and enter some custom options to the mount command to make it work. Now you just go to "Connect to Server" in Finder and enter an NFS URI. Sweet.

LazyWeb Request

My wiki is getting vandalized a lot these days. I guess I finally need to do some kind of lock down instead of just leaving it wide open. Ideally I'd like something that lets you have a locked down area where accounts are required and by invitation only, and a more open area where you just need to solve a captcha. Anything out there meet the bill?

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