Tag: geek

New MacBook Air

As I’ve mentioned on my CanuckInBermuda site, I just bought a new 11” MacBook Air. This thing is slick. It is based on Flash storage, and it is tiny, quiet, and responsive. The keyboard is great, which Apple always seems to get right and the trackpad is perfect as usual.

I have the same resolution in 11” as I do in my 15.6” work laptop. Sharp to say the least. However, one thing I noticed after I installed a few of my usual apps was this strange blipping noise which would intrude on me at seemingly random times. I knew it was coming from somewhere but wasn’t sure what. In fact, I could remember something like this happening before on my last new machine. So the purpose of this post is to remind me when I get a new Mac again that it is Skype which is the culprit. By default it has a notification sound whenever someone on my list signs in. Argh. Not useful at all really.

November 9, 2010

Change of scenery

No, I haven’t moved. But I have been pretty bad at keeping up to date on the website. Part of it has to do with an insane amount of work, and part of it has to do with everything else I do outside of work being pretty un-newsworthy.

The change of scenery has to do with the fact that I’m now blogging over at http://canuckinbermuda.com

This site isn’t going away, but might see a change of focus (and hopefully a redesign, this one is getting really old. :/ )

October 11, 2010

iPad: First impressions

Some of my friends and immediate family already knew this, but I got an iPad a couple of weeks ago. It was the 2nd of May to be exact, purchased in the US by a coworker who was there for a conference. As I’ve lamented about before, it is often tricky to get certain goods in Bermuda. If not tricky then expensive, as I paid a 25% import duty on the device plus the accessories. And although I wanted to write about my experiences sooner, I decided it would be best to hold out and wait until the initial fan-boy excitement wore off. I feel that three weeks in, the time is right.

For those who skim paragraphs, the iPad is amazing.

First a quick introduction. The Apple iPad is a device which is roughly 9.5” tall by 7.5” wide, which is essentially a tablet computer. It has a full screen with multitouch capabilities similar to the popular iPhone. If you’ve seen or used an iPhone the iPad will be very familiar. In fact most of the iPhone applications run on the iPad without change. However, the larger form-factor brings along certain key difference from the iPhone which I will outline in my discussion.

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May 22, 2010

Haml, Sinatra and HTML attributes

I’m in the midst of creating a new web project which is small enough that it has a good chance of getting done. I using it as an excuse/reason to dabble with something new, technology-wise. To balance all the Microsoft that I get at work, I’m playing with Ruby again. Only this time not with Rails. Rails is so much more than I need for this. This time I am playing with HAML, Sinatra and at some point Passenger. If these things don’t interest you, then you have my permission to stop reading now, because it isn’t going to get better.

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October 28, 2009

Better iPhone support

Well it took longer than I expected but I’ve managed to create a stylesheet for this site aimed specifically at the iPhone. So if you have one, you can browse to this site and take a look. It is stil a long way from completely done, but in a state where it is certainly ready for the public. The drawback being that I am beyond tired now.

Update: Some of my admin pages are in need of some TLC but nobody else sees those anyway.

September 5, 2009

MacHeist 3 bundle

Since my usual M.O. is to mention all of the bundles of Mac software I am aware of, I guess it is high time that I mention this one. For anyone I haven’t contacted directly or who saw over Twitter, there is a new MacHeist bundle available. The third annual in fact, and unlike most or all of the others, MacHeist donates a portion of the sales to charity. In this case, 25% of the sales, and so far over $400,000 has been raised. The trick to the bundle is that the more they sell, the more extra software becomes available. And periodically throughout the life of the promotion, they will add additional apps to maintain interest.

So if you haven’t, you have a little less than 2 days to head over and pick up $800+ worth of software for only $39. You would spend that at one nice meal out. And almost $10 goes to charity (you can choose which from a list, or split it evenly).

I will admit that some of the apps in that list won’t appeal to everyone. There is a $300 3D animation application for example. There is also an app which is used with iPhones and iPod touches, so if you don’t have one and have no intention, then that isn’t useful. Likewise for iSale, the eBay application.

However, if you haven’t purchased a bundle before, this might be a good time to start. There are a couple of great apps for editing photos (something that most people find themselves needing to do). There is also a program call SousChef, which is used to organize and share recipes. Or more important for people like me with no culinary experience, you can search and download recipes from a large, growing collection online. And it will generate a shopping list for you.

There are also a couple of games included, such as the surprisingly fun and addicting World of Goo. However, perhaps my favourite application that I’ve had a chance to try out is Times. This one was just added as a bonus application just yesterday. Simply put, it is a news reader. Not that there aren’t other options, even free ones, available, but this one strikes a balance between function and fun and ends up with a fantastic result. This is one which I will continue to use. Basically, instead of an email like interface of feeds and headlines and a display pane, Times looks and behaves like a newspaper. Really it needs to be seen for full effect, so check out the screen shots, or better yet, own it yourself when you buy the bundle.

But hurry, there isn’t much time left.

April 5, 2009

Trinity of geeky days

Today we are entering a threesome of days which have some pseudo-significance to people. First, and likely most significant to people is a Friday the thirteenth. A lot of people see it as a day of bad luck, some others see it as a day of good luck. Personally I’m neutral on the matter, but it has a label and definitely some significance.

Tomorrow is more obscure perhaps, first it is Albert Einstein’s birthday. But to some math geeks, it is also Pi Day. Third month, 14th day. 3.14. And as I was writing this I realized that I likely don’t need to explain pi day anymore since I write about it all the time. Almost every year since the versions of my website which are still online started. It looks like I missed it in 2007 (granted I was very busy finishing my dissertation). But I mention it in 2008, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003 and 2002.

And finally on Sunday we have the Ides of March. Made famous by Shakespeare, this was the day on which Julius Caesar was assassinated. This one is significant for all the literary and history geeks out there. Not that I am not one myself. :)

Not to be outdone, being slightly disconnected, is St. Patrick’s day on the 17th. Really the only one of these “days” to get a proper celebration with much drinking and parades in some places. Of course, since St. Paddys is on a Tuesday, I suspect there will be much celebration this weekend.

March 13, 2009

Mac Bundle Box

Just a heads up for everyone, there is another Mac Bundle Box happening now—until 12 March. Over $300 worth of software for $49. Honestly though, there is only one item there that I personally want but you may feel otherwise. If you have been following along with the MacHeist missions, you would have access to some other software which is quite similar to this stuff—for free. I also suspect that there will be another MacHeist bundle soon, so you might want to hold out for that.

The one thing that I do like the look of is Code Collector Pro which seems to be like iTunes but for my code snippets. And it supports/uses TextMate bundles so it can highlight all of the languages that I use. It is only $25 on its own, so I might just buy that alone. :)

March 7, 2009

Lowercase URLs in ASP.NET MVC (VB)

There are a lot of acronyms in this title, but the bottom line is that I must say I am quite impressed with the changes that have been made to ASP.NET with the addition of their MVC extension. It takes away most of the awkwardness of ASP.NET’s web forms and leaves the rest of the quite robust application pipeline. However, in my time playing with it so far there was one issue I had.

A little background for my non-technical readers: ASP.NET is the web based application environment created by Microsoft which runs on Windows servers. Basically it is an alternative to writing web applications in PHP, Java, Ruby or any number of other popular options. Most of you know that my preference has generally been PHP. I’m not adverse to most of the alternatives, but that was the environment I started with oh so many years ago and it stayed with me.

The term MVC stands for Model, View and Controller. It is a concept in software engineering for the architecture of a program where you separate the presentational elements (view) from the business/domain logic (model). In between the two you have the interaction control (controller) which determines what model bits go with what view bits and generally just keeping everything in order. Generally this separation of concerns is considered to be a Good Thing™. Despite that, the lines are often blurred. There are many ways to maintain this separation, but systems (for the web anyway) which claim proper MVC status tend to go about it in similar ways. One popular system which uses this paradigm is Ruby on Rails. Traditionally ASP.NET did not really provide an MVC setup (I won’t go off on their traditional system now), so this is a pleasant departure. However, like I said: I had an issue.

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February 28, 2009

Cool Unix Timestamp

It was something that years ago, when I was still an undergrad I remember looking at as something which will happen years into the future. Well, here I am years into that future now, and the moment is upon us. Like every moment in time, this will be fleeting, but made significant by a globe of geeks celebrating all at once. How appropriate that it is to occur on a Friday the 13th.

The event that I am referring to is the point at which the Unix timestamp, that is the number of seconds since the Unix epoch (1 Jan 1970), reaches 1234567890. It may seem foolish to some, but things have been celebrated for less. In fact, is hasn’t been that long since I updated a previous site to celebrate the passing of a similar event.

In this case, the time in question is 19:31:30 AST on 13 Feb 2009. Since the timestamp is a singular point in time, this will occur at the same time around the world. For those of my readers in the Pacific timezone that is 15:31:30 while the UK will celebrate at 23:31:30.

Happy timestamp celebrations everyone! There is a countdown online.

February 13, 2009

Typography geek

Sometimes you just have to admit your are a geek in yet another domain. In this case it is typography. I’ve always been a fan of the written word, and I’ve had an eye for fonts and other typographical elements. It wasn’t until recently however, when setting up TeX on my new iMac, that I realized that the thought of typesetting a document excited me. It left me with a warm and cosy feeling inside. That the actual shape of letters could affect my well being. I’m pretty open to both the use of type as a design element and document design in general. Both vastly different areas with different rules and guides, but both concerned with typography in general.

As anyone who follows the font world knows, fonts can be expensive. I say font, as opposed to typefaces since in some case, individual fonts from the same typeface are sold separately. However, there are some great free fonts available out there as well. One that I came across recently is Fertigo Pro, which is what I used for the above design. It makes a great title font, and a unique looking body font. I used it for both in a recent newsletter that I created. There is a decent list of free fonts compiled by Vitaly Friedman which are actually usable, as opposed to those free font sites you find which offer a range of somewhat useless fonts. Sure there might be a justification for writing a message with flaming letters, but it is kind of gimmicky.

How does this affect this site? It likely won’t other than the increased number of posts which I expect will be about fonts, type and other related design elements. If anyone has any nice font they know about which are free (or definitely worth the cost) please post a comment or something.

September 20, 2008

Enter the Chrome

To be honest, I felt a bit out of touch in that before today I hadn’t heard about the fact that Google was building a browser. Well they are, and it is now available as a public beta. It is called Google Chrome and it is pretty novel in some of its approaches.

The most interesting telling of the story of the browser is through the online Chrome comic book that Google created. It is pretty geeky I might add, but seems very apt in this case. The comic runs about 38 pages, so it isn’t a quick scan, but if you have a couple of minutes and you take the Internet seriously, then I suggest you give it a look.

The nice thing about this browser is that it was designed for the Internet as it exists today, not ten years ago. To that end, it realizes that a browser can be a centre point in our daily lives and should reflect that in stability and reliability. One feature which promotes that is the fact that each tab is a separate process. It is also sandboxed in your computer to prevent malicious sites from affecting your system. Really the comic tells a better picture. I’m using the browser to write this post and I will say that it seems fast. Really fast at both loading initially and rendering pages. Both are important in our web centric world. I will see how its performance and functionality stacks up over time.

September 2, 2008

iPhone decision

Here we are on the eve of the new iPhone 3G launch, and I can imagine that there are a lot of people out there sleeping in the streets waiting to be the first in line to get one. I would say, that in most countries, in most cities, that if you haven’t already ordered one, or are currently waiting in line, you likely won’t get one for at least a week or more. Has this ever happened for a phone before? Has this ever happened on this scale for anything before? Perhaps, but not recently.

That said, us Canadians have some potentially high rates to consider if wanting to buy an iPhone. Rogers, in typical Rogers fashion, has decided to not only charge upwards of $100 or more for the plans, which don’t even include unlimited data, but they are planning to lock people into 3 year contracts.

The UK on the other hand, seems to have it pretty well. For £35 monthly I could get 600 minutes of voice and 500 texts and unlimited data. All of that and only an 18 month contract—half of what we need here. It is almost enough to make you want to move to the UK. Which coincidentally enough, just might happen for me. I don’t really have any details, other than to say it is possible. But I would certainly be there long enough to fulfill one of these contracts.

So to answer everyone who has been asking, no I’m not getting an iPhone tomorrow. I want one, bad, but logistics and sanity have kept me from queuing up for the past few days. I will likely not get one in the next few months. If it looks like I’m not heading to the UK, then I will rethink my options, but until then I can wait. In the mean time I will download the iPhone SDK on my new Intel iMac and develop applications and play with them in the iPhone emulator. Perhaps if I make something useful and work related I can convince my company to adopt the iPhone. One can dream.

July 10, 2008


If it isn’t a word, it should be. At this moment, like a couple of weeks ago, I am typing an entry on a 24-inch iMac computer. The primary difference this time is that I own this one.

After a long hard battle with Fedex (I’ve never had a good experience with them), I finally managed to get a hold of my computer today. Although for a time there this morning, I thought that the fates were conspiring against me, when my two potential rides to the Fedex depot fell through. Not to be outdone, I went anyway on the bus/train and when I saw that my computer was a tad bit too awkward to carry home on transit, I took a cab.

Got home with it, and setup was a breeze. Like setting up a laptop, with the extra step of plugging in the keyboard. And of course the OSX setup is simple and easy, especially since I have been through it a few times before. Everything is as I would expect, and now I’m going through the process of getting her set up the way I like. I’ve already synched my contacts and email info over .Mac and the rest is just downloading a few applications and I am on my way.

Her name is Hekate for anyone following my progression through the primarily greek deities. Hekate (sometimes Hecate, although I chose the former spelling for my computer) is the greek goddess of magic, witchcraft, ghosts and various other spooky things. Generally considered to be a pretty powerful and bad-ass goddess, she was also benevolent and well respected. I’m hoping for similar things from my iMac. :)

July 5, 2008

iPhone, it seems official

Anyone who followed the WWDC keynote today or has been on the Apple website today would know that there was some big news in the iPhone world. They introduced the 3G iPhone, to be released in 22 countries initially on July 11: one of which is Canada. Looking at the Rogers site, they too have a advertisement indicating something “big” coming July 11. They don’t say iPhone, but I think the allusion is clear now that Apple has released the news.

In addition to the wider availability, the new iPhone features GPS, Enterprise integration, and the faster speeds associated with the 3G network. There is also the new MobileMe concept, dubbed the “Exchange for the rest of us” which allows for exchange server-like synchronization across your devices: Macs, PCs and iPhones.

Exciting. This will be a long month. :)

June 9, 2008


If you are at all interested in unique web mash-ups and novel uses of AJAX, especially combined within the realm of the services offered by Google, you should check out Goosh, the Google shell.

Essentially the web site simulates a terminal window interface with the commands all being the various services offered by Google. This isn’t actually an official Google offering, which is a bit surprising, as this seems like something that Google would do. Perhaps they will be folding this in at some point, hard to say.

June 3, 2008

Apple Store Vancouver!

For a long time, upper Canada — Toronto in particular — held the monopoly on Apple Stores in this country. I honestly never expected one to show up in Halifax, but I was surprised that my new city, Vancouver didn’t have one.

Well now it does. The new Apple Store in the Pacific Centre is right downtown, accessible via any number of buses and the Granville stop on the Skytrain. I suspect you will hear about my trip there in person sometime this week.

May 26, 2008

Mobile weather

I’m on a mobile computing kick since getting my BlackBerry. So to that end, I have written a mobile friendly weather site. I know that there must be a dozen good weather applications which push weather info to the device, but being a web geek, this is my entry. It only works for Canadian regions covered by Environment Canada, and I only have a few listed, but in theory any of the EC stations should work.

April 24, 2008

Mobile posting at its finest

This post is coming at you from my new phone. I created myself a new mobile post interface and even a lower bandwidth version of the site for anyone reading from a phone or similar device. The URL for the mobile version is:

April 19, 2008

Feeds are here

Only 6+ months late, that isn’t too bad. For those of you who bugged me about it, I’m sorry it took so long. Things have been busy lately. But now I have a relatively robust RSS generation class, which means in the future I won’t need to take so long to implement interesting feed features. As the links at the bottom of each page state, you can get a feed of all the entries:


or all of the comments:


and if you are interested in following a particular tag, you can get a feed for it alone with:


where you replace <tag> with the actual tag name. Like if you wanted a feed for only my Vancouver related posts.

I have also made the decision to provide the whole article in my feed so that if you want, you don’t need to visit my site at all any more. :)

April 13, 2008

A bit flaky

Not me, my laptop. Again. Only I think I know why. Recently we have had a couple of nice days during which I assume that my place is getting pretty warm. Since my laptop is usually running, it stands to reason that it too is getting quite warm. Normally not an issue since it sits idle most of the day. Yesterday however, I had it downloading some stuff, and then in the evening it was still quite warm in here when I was programming and then watching a video.

Normally this shouldn’t be a big deal. Only yesterday evening my computer started making a horrible noise. Not good. I knew it was not my hard drive, because that is in the front, this was coming from the back… where the fans are. I was concerned. My right fan had been pretty noisy for a while now, but this was extreme. So I remembered a tool that I had used before to help my father diagnose a defective track pad sensor, called Temperature Monitor. I also knew that this program had a big brother called Hardware Monitor. I download it and saw that it would be able to read my fan RPMs, if I paid for it. It was only $11, so I thought it would be a wise investment. Now having loaded it up, I can tell that my right fan was running at over 2500 RPMs. Not only that, but the left one isn’t running at all. Now I understand why my right one has been so noisy, it is working alone to cool my computer in a hot, humid climate. So I think the noise of last night was an over stress on the fan, and I think I might be taking my laptop apart again to investigate the dead fan. I might just be stuck or dirty and need some help, or it could be a loose connection. Or it my just be dead, and I have to take care not to let my computer get too hot.

February 8, 2008

Sun buys MySQL

I suspect that you will be seeing a number of headlines like this around in the next couple of days. It is big news in both the open source and enterprise communities.

Sun Microsystems, the creator and distributor of the venerable Java language and application environment, has disclosed it will be acquiring the open source database vendor for one billion dollars sometime at the end of their fiscal third quarter of 2008. MySQL AB, of Sweden, is the creator of the world’s most popular open source database system, MySQL. MySQL has headquarters in the US and Sweden, and their database system is used by some of the largest players on the Internet including Google, Facebook, youtube.com, and Booking.com. Anyone who has ever done any work related to the web has heard of MySQL, and most have likely used it in some capacity.

While MySQL has offered an enterprise package for a number of years, it is suspected that Sun’s current enterprise-quality offerings will help position the database for a more prominent role in that market. Currently it competes with giants like Oracle, DB2, and SQL Server. Unfortunately it suffers from a bizarre affliction among enterprise users that open source and freely available software is bad. “Apparently” software must cost a fortune in order for it to be “good”. Ironic, since it is the closed, proprietary software which is most likely to be poorly written, probably the reason that the support contracts are so expensive.

As you may recall, I mentioned installing MySQL myself on my laptop in my most recent post. I have been using it for six years and this site, and all of my other websites, are driven by data stored in a MySQL database. It will be interesting to see what happens next as Sun strengthens its open source lineup. I suspect that we will see MySQL integrated into some of their application server products like GlassFish, and perhaps a tighter integration with Java. I think the SoHo web development community need not worry about the MySQL Community Edition disappearing anytime soon. Sun has been providing us with more and more open source, freely available solutions lately, even opening up Solaris and their UltraSparc architecture. I see this as a positive step in promoting good solid products available without significant cost which will continue to power the Internet.

January 16, 2008

Recovering from Disaster

Some people may not call it a “disaster”, but in today’s digital world the loss of digital data, is in most people’s minds, a disaster. Loss of a carefully crafted music library is one thing, but what about family photos that can never be re-created, or the years of work invested in a dissertation? Obviously there is a need to safe guard this data.

The following is an account of my experience with my 15” Powerbook G4 failing 31 December, 2007. I awoke that morning not suspecting anything was wrong, looking forward to ushering in the new year, although not looking forward to ending my vacation. However, when I tapped my trackball to wake up the screen, I was greeted with… nothing. No response. Rebooting brought my computer back on, but things were not right. In addition to constant waiting for file system operations, some of my desktop scripts were yielding unusual results. Then finally it hung completely again and I was force to do a hard power-down. All subsequent attempts at booting resulted in the prohibitory sign (grey circle with a slash through it) appearing. It wouldn’t boot at all. My computer was dead.
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January 12, 2008


When I was studying in Greece, one of my classes was called Computational Intelligence, and in it we studied neural networks, genetic algorithms and fuzzy logic. It was actually a very interesting class, and we had projects in each of the aforementioned areas. For the genetic algos part we were told we could implement the genetic algorithm in whatever language we wanted. I chose Ruby, always being a tad unorthodox. It was my first serious attempt to use Ruby, although I had been dabbling for some time. It was quite pleasant to write, and while Ruby isn’t really appropriate for the serious number crunching of genetic algos it was a nice exercise.

However, I was just setting up my development environment on my laptop (more on the laptop in a separate post forthcoming) and decided to see what my Ruby setup was like. Leopard comes with 1.8.6 which is pretty good. It doesn’t have the mysql bundle installed, so I tried to get it via gem. It downloaded, but didn’t build. I’m not familiar with the gem system, perhaps there is a way to provide configuration switches through it, but I went into the download directory and was able to massage it into working. Not really Ruby’s fault I guess, but that is beside the point, I was able to get it installed.

I popped into irb, which is the interactive ruby shell, and tried to see if it “took”.

>> require 'mysql' 
=> true

OK, that is a good start. That means the extension was loaded successfully. Lets check how easy it is to access.

>> db = Mysql.connect('localhost', 'username', 'password', 'movies', 3306, '/var/mysql/mysql.sock')
=> #<Mysql:0x577448>
>> res = db.query("SELECT movie_id, title FROM movies WHERE available='Y'")
=> #Mysql::Result:0x56cad4>

Two commands and I had a result set filled with my available movies. Could it really be this easy? How about printing it out?

>> res.each() {|x| puts "[#{x[0]}] #{x[1]} " }
[2] Mallrats 
[3] Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels 
[7] Daredevil 

And BAM! Just like that. I guess the adage that Ruby is a programmers best friend is pretty close to the mark.

January 11, 2008

She's Alive!

I really don’t want to jinx it, but I’m going to start anyway. At this very moment, my laptop is (re)installing Leopard. Granted I lost the original hard drive in the process, but I’m just so happy to see her back up and kicking that I really don’t care. I just needed to buy a new hard drive, the one I found was 120 GB, 20 GB more than before. And thanks to Time Machine, I have everything backed up. One might say that a bootable version of my hard drive would be nice to simply restore, but I think that the clean install of Leopard will be beneficial in that it should be a bit faster, and this way I can bring over only those files I really need, allowing for a bit of house cleaning.

And after two years, things were getting a bit dusty in the corners. Unlike my Windows days, when I would re-format the drive after each term just to maintain stability, the Mac chugs on without complaint. Thinking back to my first Powerbook, which is still kicking, but ailing in several ways, there are probably files on there that haven’t been touched in close to five years.

But like my apartments and residences of yesteryear, I tend to accumulate a pile of junk which is never disposed of on my hard drive.

  • Applications which I tested and rejected.
  • A stockpile of short video clips which can be safely archived.
  • 40+ GB of photos which I have backed up to multiple DVDs.
  • Many, many other files, like old school files, etc.

Anyway, off to tend to my installation.

January 7, 2008

Winter fun

When I was on my way into the office today, I noted how nice and warm it was, especially after our bout of chilly weather this past week. Of course, as I’ve mentioned on countless occasions, anything here is warmer than at home in Canada this time of year. So to share a bit of the wintry goodness with everyone, I wanted to showcase a before and after photo of the seven-foot snowman that my brother built in December. As most people who have built a snowman can tell you, they don’t last forever, many not lasting more than a day or two before the forces of nature or neighbourhood kids bring it to a snowy grave.

However, a mound of snow the size of that snowman does have some staying power. But a day of rain will have a toll, and the after photo shows a redressing of the tiny bit of snow that was left after a mild and wet Christmas Eve. Not much left of Frosty there.
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January 6, 2008

Laptop Update

Still dead. However, I have learned the following:

  • Resetting the PRAM and the NVRAM did not help.
  • I wasn’t able to boot from the CD or Hard drive even explicitly from Open Firmware.
  • I cannot boot from a Macbook Pro in Target Disk mode, although I can see the drive in my options.
  • The aforementioned MBP could not boot from my hard drive although it too could see it in the boot options.
  • Mounting my target disk mode Powerbook to the MBP would allow it to mount. I could access it from the shell (Terminal) and was able to list the root folder.
  • Navigating into the /System/Library/CoreServices/ folder, I verified that BootX was there.
  • All folders under /Users/ were missing. That sucks.

So, after all that, I still don’t know what the problem is. I’ve stumped those I work with, and I can’t seem to find a similar problem on the Internet. I’m not sure a call to Apple Support is going to help, and since I’m out of warranty, it is likely to be costly. I’d like to extract my drive and try it in an enclosure, but 2.5 inch Firewire enclosures are not easy to come by in Bermuda.

If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.

January 4, 2008

Computer Woes

Just wanted to let everyone know that my laptop is currently not functioning. I am 95% certain it is a hard drive failure, but I am going to check and find out. The only thing that is keeping me from being certain is that I can’t seem to get it to boot from a DVD either. It will boot into the Apple Hardware Test, which tells me everything is fine, but it completely skips the test for my hard drive. The Hardware Profiler says that I have a hard drive, so it is recognizing it on the system, but when booting or scanning it seems to not be able to find it.

I’ll be looking into it over the next couple days, and hopefully will resolve it.

January 2, 2008

Weather sidebar

I had a request to have the current temperatures from Bermuda, where I am living now, and Halifax, where I used to live, on my site. You can find them on my sidebar on the left under my photo sets. At this point all I have is the current temperature updated every hour on the hour. That is likely all I will display since for the Bermuda weather I’m doing a bit of screen scraping and we all know that is a bit delicate.

December 24, 2007

Angry notification

Thursdays at work are busy days. As such, my WorkPace breaks sometimes get missed. I realize that they are there for a reason, reducing my RSI pain, but sometimes I just need to get something done. If you ignore any breaks, then your notification icon buddy gets progressively more angry. This face is what you get with a 43% compliance. I have only gone as low as 27%, so I'm not sure what would happen if you ignore him completely all day. The number beside him (5) indicates my work level. I think it measures some combination of my keystrokes and mouse usage to determine that... somehow.

I did get to see the face at 17% compliance, pretty pissed off I would say.
December 20, 2007

I am comment spam

This post has a double purpose, the first of which is to mention that I have taken a couple of steps towards thwarting the occasional comment spam I receive. I have received more comment spam here in the past couple months than I ever did at EuropeAdventure.ca I think. But then again, maybe I was filtering there too and I just don't remember doing it. Basically I have been getting long comments full of links to various sites of questionable provenance and containing quite a few other keywords which aren't exactly age appropriate. Not that I try to pass this off as a family site, but I really don't want to offend anyone... too badly. Anyway, I have added some filters which will silently categorize comments as spam and then I can review them to see if there are any false positives and likely just expunge them all in one fell swoop.

The other note I wanted to make was that I saw "I Am Legend" last night with some co-workers. It was the first time I've been to the theatre here in Bermuda. It wasn't exactly a convenient location, but like the other couple of theatres here, it was only a single screen affair. The movie itself was good. It showed a lot of potential, but I think it fell a tad short. Literally. It was only an hour and a half and could have been more. Kind of left me feeling a bit unsatisfied. YMMV.

December 16, 2007


Thanks to a relatively expensive combination of Logic broadband Internet and a cellular-based wireless service from M3 Wireless called easyConnect, I am now online in my quaint little pool house. I was pleased at how easy it was to setup, which almost made up for the fact that I didn't receive it on Saturday.

The past four days or so without Internet at home kind of reminded me of my term in Greece when I would make runs to the Internet café — usually Bits and Bytes — or later to the university. Only this time I was going into work. What a slave to the Internet I am. It is a weird addiction too, because I don't really need to be actively using it, I just need to know that it is there. If I want to know what is on television every night this week or if I want to learn about the local flora of northern Guatemala, I want to be able to do that immediately and from the comfort of my own home. Or yard.

December 10, 2007

My new island retreat

Well, I'm not going to take long with this because it is Saturday evening and I'm at work. Long story short, no Internet at home now because I moved. I live beside the pool above. I was supposed to get Internet today, but my ISP — Logic Communications — had some "technical difficulties" and now I have to wait until Monday. Not the end of the world, but it seemed to me that they just forgot to process my form and it was almost the end of the day.

However, I guess that is OK, because I also rented a scooter today and I plan to explore this tiny island a bit more tomorrow. Hopefully. And now without Internet at home, there is no excuse. Photos will follow once I get the Internet rolling at home.

I did manage to take in the Bermuda Christmas Boat Parade tonight which is why I'm in town... well that and renting the scooter and supposedly picking up my wireless modem. But I ran into some co-workers and had an early dinner and then caught the first part of the boat parade. Now to leave town before everyone else tries to as well. Cheers.

December 8, 2007

Office 2007 interface

I have to say that I have been using the new Office offering from Microsoft and I am not particularly impressed. Functionally, they seem quite capable, and add a number of new features to the older versions, at least I would hope. The main complaint that I have is that the interface seems to have fundamentally changed.
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December 5, 2007

Rain and computer design

Since I have started working, I have been familiarizing myself with the Microsoft product line a bit more, out of necessity, and while it will never be my first love, I came across an interesting set of computer designs today in one of my feeds. Now, I don't think that Microsoft designed these, but certainly such devices being associated with the company provides an interesting twist on conventional views.

MS Longhorn Concept PCs

Definitely some nice design there. Good to see someone stepping up to that particular plate.

On an unrelated note... a very soggy day in Bermuda today. Of course it would happen on the one day that I wanted/needed to bring my laptop into the office. Note to self, buy a rain coat.

November 29, 2007


I took the plunge. I made the upgrade from Tiger to Leopard on my aging Powerbook, and so far, all is wonderful. Well, there have been some problems, but these aren't things which the normal user would run into I suspect. Apparently Apache on Leopard has been upgraded to Apache 2, versus the older version Tiger shipped with. Since my setup here contains dozens of virtual hosts, I found upon upgrade that they didn't work. I half expected that to be the case since I have been burned by system updates before, even point updates of the system sometimes would provide a new httpd.conf file. Fortunately I have all of my virtual hosts defined in a separate file, which just needed to be copied to the new location.

For anyone interested, the built-in web server's configuration files on Tiger are in /private/etc/httpd/. In Leopard, look in /private/etc/apache2/. Also I had to turn on Web Sharing in the Shared System Preference pane.

That was the extent of my negative experience with the upgrade however, everything else has been fine. I have enabled Time Machine on my drive and while I haven't needed it yet, and I hope never to, I did take a look at the interface and it is great. One of the things about backups is that people just don't bother. There are a number of reasons people give for that, but I think that they are getting weaker and weaker. With 500 GB drives available for $120 the cost of media isn't really a factor anymore. Now with Time Machine not only are full drive incremental backups easier, they are also really neat. And that is the key, people might try something that is easy, especially if they are aware of the value, as I am. But the real trick to get people to try something important because it is cool, regardless of whether or not they recognize the importance. I think Apple has done a good job on that front.

A lot of people have been complaining about the new visual changes in Leopard and how bad some of them are. I honestly don't see what the big deal is with most of them. I for one, haven't seen much to complain about, and generally if there are interface problems, I will be right there to mention them. I guess everyone uses their system a bit differently and you can't please everyone, and while there isn't anything visually about Leopard which makes me stop and take notice, I am quite willing to adapt to new environments, which is what I have been doing since Jaguar.

I for one am also not jaded by the new stacks on the Dock which have some power users up in arms. I guess the primary reason I don't care about the change is that I never used folders in the Dock before. It had never occurred to me to do that. After I heard about stacks I created my own Downloads folder and put it on my Dock, which was nice, but since it didn't contain a hierarchy of subfolders the change in functionality across the upgrade isn't noticeable. One thing that I have found that I would like now that I have heard of what others are doing are Application Stacks. These would be simply groupings of applications placed on the Dock's left side, which when you dragged a file to it, it would expand as the normal stacks do, allowing me to drop my file or whatever onto one of the stacked applications. Basically this would allow for grouping applications to minimize the unexpanded horizontal (or vertical) space. Applications could be in multiple groups if desired and the groups could be named by the user. Perhaps there is a third party Dock replacement application which does this. Launching apps in a stack can be accomplished now with a folder full of application aliases (or symlinks if you prefer), but things can't be dropped onto them that way. For me, the only reason I would have an application in the Dock other than those which are currently running (which I don't need either) would be to drag something to. I often drag files to VLC or Quicktime to play if I don't want to use the default. The same goes with photos dragged to my thumbnail generator as opposed to the default viewer. Now that I break it down, I don't really need the Dock at all, and might be more satisfied with a third party solution. I'll let you know.

I can see the new Screen Sharing application to be useful when troubleshooting my father's laptop via iChat regardless of our networking situations. Yes, all said, this is a nice upgrade, and there are a lot of minor changes that you don't even notice, but they are there and they all contribute to the overall feel of Leopard.

November 2, 2007

Yet another Mac user

Slowly but surely I am converting my family of computer savvy power users into computer savvy Mac power users. My father and my youngest brother have been Mac users for a couple of years now, happily going about their way on a system they can be happy with.

My oldest brother has always been on the fence about them. Not a user per se, but admiring them from afar. Which is a fair stance to take since they are more expensive machines, no question. It would be akin to admiring a beautiful leather couch or a 50" LCD TV if the money weren't there. However, unless you watch TV professionally, the odds are that the Mac is a better investment. And, if like my father, you can get your employer to buy you the computer, all the better. Such is the case now with my brother who is going to be the owner of a new black Macbook.

Now I need to work on my remaining brother and my mother to complete the Mac family unit. These are going to be tougher sells I think. I might have to wait until university softens my brother up a bit before I'll get that convert. Time will tell.

September 19, 2007

iPhone Unlocking

On the heels of Apple's announcement that one million iPhones have been sold in the 74 days since they were released, word is out on a new, freely available unlocking solution for the popular phone. The software and some basic instructions should be available for some time at their current locations before the legal wheels start rolling over them. Of course, the Internet being the way it is, they should always be available somewhere. Already mirrors of the files are popping up. It will be interesting to see what this does to iPhone sales once the procedure is simple enough for most people to be able to perform it. My guess is that Apple will find themselves with some serious international draw as this previously US-only device becomes available to the global community.
September 12, 2007


Bermuda: 15°C
Halifax: 0.3°C

Backpack: Get Organized and Collaborate
You cannot be anything you want to be — but you can be a lot more of who you already are. — Tom Rath