Archive for 2004

Prepaid Wireless Card, Anyone?

Dec 29, 2004 in Misc

I don’t plan on making this a regular feature, but would anybody be interested in purchasing a $25 Prepaid Wireless Refill Card?

I was given this Prepaid Wireless Card as a Christmas gift from somebody who thought they were buying a Best Buy gift card. According to the card, it’s compatible with “Pay-As-You-Go” plans from Alltel, Boost Mobile, Cingular Wireless, i-Wireless, and T-Mobile. It also lists AT&T Wireless, which is now owned by Cingular.

The card has been separated from the plastic top, but the silver covering hasn’t been FastCard number on the back.

CardFront.JPG
CardBack.JPG

It’s a $25 card, so I’d like to get $25 for the card. However, I’ll consider reasonable offers. At the very least, I’d like to not be lying when I tell these people what I bought with their gift.

National Anthem Performances

Dec 29, 2004 in Entertainment

Bob Ryan:

Any singer, or singers, whose national anthem exceeds a minute and 15 seconds would be subject to arrest and prosecution.

That might be a bit harsh — I’m sure there have been some decent renditions of the national anthem that have run a bit long.

My version of this would read:

Any professional singer, or singers, who get the words wrong when singing the national anthem would be subject to arrest and prosecution.

If you’re a professional performer and your honored (yes, honored) with the task of singing the national anthem at a sporting event, learn the words. You have one job, please do it right.

Trying del.icio.us

Dec 28, 2004 in Site

I’ve decided Buzz is very persistent. I’ve never been able to get into any of these community web services in the past, but Buzz’es writings on the development of Cocoal.icio.us have piqued my interest. I created a del.icio.us account and I’m slowly adding links.

I have to admit, I’m more excited about the idea and development of Cocoal.icio.us than I am the idea of social bookmarks. I’ve only posted three links so far, but with each one, I’ve thought “do I want to share this with the world?” It’ll be interesting to see how long I stick with this and what I end up posting.

Up until now, whenever I came across an interesting articles in an RSS feed, I flagged it in NetNewsWire. When I came across interesting web pages, I bookmarked it in Safari. Since I’ve had a distinct lack of free time lately, all that accomplished was generating a backlog of flagged articles and bookmarked web sites.

Now, I’ll try to post everything interesting to del.icio.us whenever I come across it. Later, I might use this space to ellaborate on a particular link.

Well, that’s the plan at least. We’ll see how it works.

I keep wanting to come up with a new design for this site. I’d like to incorporate the del.icio.us feed into the site as a sidebar. In the meantime, you can access my del.icio.us page or feed.

I’ve actually got a few ideas for Cocoal.icou.us features, so perhaps I’ll try and make a contribution. Of course, that brings up the whole “free time” thing…

Link the Unlinkable

Dec 14, 2004 in Mac

In the latest issue of MDJ, it was noted that you can’t copy a link to the iTMSTop 100 Albums of 2004 Page.

Actually, it turns out you can’t Control-Click on the Top 100 Albums of 2004 image and select “Copy iTunes Music Store URL,” because Control-Clicking doesn’t display a contextual menu. Nor can you drag the Top 100 Albums of 2004 image to a text editor to get the URL, because the image won’t drag.

What you can do is go to the Top 100 Albums of 2004 page and drag the bread-crumb from the top of the page.

Dragging a bread-crumb from iTunes

For all I know, this could be common knowledge. However, I thought it might be useful to note for future reference.

Wireless Networking Options for Older Macs

Dec 11, 2004 in Mac

Lately, I’ve been inspired to get religious about backing up my data. Up until now, my policy has been “make a copy of stuff when I remember.” Suffice it to say, that policy has cost me some data over the years.

For the past few years, I’ve been completely laptop-based. This has been an impediment to setting up an automated backup regime — I just know I’ll eventually forget to connect my laptop to the backup drive before I call it a night.

I’m thinking that the best plan might be to use my beige G3 as a backup server. Unfortunately, my current abode doesn’t offer much in terms of connectivity — the cable modem connects to the router, which in turn connects to the TiVo, the PS2, and the Airport Express. Since I have no desire to have a backup server in the middle of my living room, it seems like wireless is the way to go.

It turns out there aren’t a lot of official options for getting a pre-Airport Mac on a wireless network. The first thing I considered was an Ethernet-to-802.11g bridge, such as the Linksys WET54G. I didn’t realize these devices sold at an excess of $100. At that price, I might as well buy another Airport Express and have wireless music in two rooms.

My next stops were MacWireless and MacSense. The latter offered a USB to 802.11b adapter for $80. The former offered a 802.11g PCI card for $100, a USB to 802.11b adapter for $120, and Ethernet-to-802.11g bridge for for $160. Um, can you say rip-off?

The only officially-support and reasonable price wireless solution I could find the D-Link DWL-122 USB to 802.11b adapter, which retails for $45.00.

Unofficial support, though, is another story. A lucky Google search led me to the Wireless Devices and Mac OS Compatibility page. Man oh man, this page is a gold mine.

From this page, I continued on to OrangeWare web site, where they sell an OS X driver for Atheros-based wireless cards (some of which are listed on the OrangeWare web site, more of which are listed of the previously mentioned Wireless Devices page). The OrangeWare driver sells for $15 and it looks like I can pick up a compatible PCI card for under $40.

Granted, this isn’t nearly as nice as running down to CompUSA and grabbing the cheapest wireless card on the shelf, but it’s certainly more palatable than shelling out an additional $35 simply for the enjoyment of purchasing a similar card from a company with “Mac” in the name, right? Normally, I’m all for supporting companies that support the Mac, but I draw the line when it looks like they’s trying to price-gouge.

Some more links related to backups and networking:

VoodooPad Post Mortem

Dec 09, 2004 in Programming

Gus Mueller:

When I finished VoodooPad 1.0, I told myself I would write a post-mortem about my experiences working on it. Only I never did that. Then when I finished 1.1 told myself I’d really do it this time. Bzzt. Ok, this time I really mean it.

iPod Socks Arrive

Dec 02, 2004 in iPod

So I got my package of iPod Socks from Apple yesterday. They’re nice, but not exactly what I was expecting.

They’re quite small and stretchy. For some reason the pictures on the Apple web site led me to believe they would be slightly larger and stiffer, almost like wool socks. I guess I thought the socks were standing up in the picture, as opposed to lying on a table or something. In retrospect, though, I should’ve expected the smaller, stretchier design; a larger, stiffer sock probably wouldn’t hold an iPod mini that well.

Most of the colors are pretty close to what Apple shows on the web site. The blue wasn’t as bright as I expected, though the green is slightly brighter. I wonder if there’s much color variation between packages or production runs?

The iPod Sock packaging iPod in a green sock

I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple’s right and these end up being big holiday sellers — I can certainly see them as decent quick/small gifts. My question is, what the heck are you supposed to do with 6 of them?!? My plan is to keep one sock with my iPod when it’s in my car and split the rest of the box with a few other people. I seriously doubt I’d have bought a six pack if I hadn’t known other people who were interested.

iPod Sync Question

Dec 02, 2004 in iPod

Hmm. Somehow, my iTunes library got corrupted. It looks like iTunes tries to rebuild its library file from the iTunes Music Library.xml file, which is cool, in theory. For some reason, it appears my iTunes Music Library.xml was a bit out of date, as a iTunes is missing a number of songs.

It looks like the songs are still in my Music folder, which is the good news. If I remember correctly, simply dragging said folder onto iTunes should import the missing songs while ignoring the songs already present in iTunes. However, I’d like to confirm that it’s just the database that’s corrupted and that no songs have actually been deleted.

The easiest thing I can think of is to check the number of songs iTunes thinks are in my Music folder to the number it thinks are on my iPod. Unfortunately, I’ve got my iPod set up to sync as soon as it connects. Does anybody know a way I can connect my iPod to my computer and not have it automatically sync? I don’t think it’s possible to access the sync preferences when the iPod’s not connected.

My fallback plan is to connect the iPod to a second computer, but that will make it slightly more difficult if I need to move songs off the iPod.

Update: It looks like I’m OK, track-wise. In case this happens in the future, I’ve come up with two ways of checking for discrepancies between my iPod and my music library. Both ways start with the same steps:

  1. Reimport all of your music into iTunes. For me, “reimport” meant “drag your Music folder onto the iTunes window and let iTunes figure out which songs it needs to add.”

  2. Get the List MIAs script from Doug’s AppleScripts for iTunes site, install it into ~/Library/iTunes/Scripts, and run. Investigate any tracks for which iTunes can’t find a corresponding file. In my case, I had about half a dozen files that I’d intentionally deleted and another handful of files that iTunes didn’t see and insisted on reimporting.

Here’s where things diverge. There’s the quick, but slightly messier, version or the time consuming, but cleaner, version.

First, quick and dirty.

  1. Make sure your iTunes Music Library.xml file is up to date. I did this by deleting the file, launching iTunes, and quitting iTunes.

  2. Connect iPod.

  3. Force Quit iTunes while it’s launching to prevent the contents of your iPod from getting blown away (yup, that’s the dirty part).

    **Update**: Looks like there’s a better way, at least in later versions of iTunes: hold down the Command and Option keys while connecting your iPod. (Shift-Control on Windows.)

  4. Get PodWorks. Launch PodWorks. Under the Pod menu, select “Show Only Songs Not In iTunes.” Investigate any missing tracks and copy them over to you computer as necessary. In my case, I had 2 tracks I’d deleted and 2 tracks I’d moved, so everything look clean. (yup, that’s the quick part).

If I could just figure out a way to prevent iTunes from trying to sync without force quitting the application, this would be the ultimate solution.

Now, time consuming and clean.

  1. Open the file ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.iPod.plist. Find the information concerning your iPod and get the last sync date.

  2. In iTunes, create a new smart playlist searching for all tracks added before your last sync date and tracks added the day your reimported your files into iTunes.

  3. See if the number of tracks in the playlist matches the number of track on your iPod by navigating to Settings > About.

  4. If the numbers match, you’re probably all set. If not, have fun comparing the contents of you iPod to the contents of the playlist :/

There’s one other possibility that I didn’t test, but might work. It’s a modification of the quick and dirty steps from above.

  1. Make sure your iTunes Music Library.xml file is up to date.

  2. Copy PodWorks and your iTunes Music Library.xml file to a second Mac.

  3. Launch PodWorks, open the Preferences, and tell PodWorks to use your copied iTunes Music Library.xml file instead of the default file.

  4. Connect your iPod to the second computer and use the “Show Only Songs Not In iTunes” option. If I’m correctly interpreting how PodWorks queries iTunes, this should give you an accurrate representation of any files that are present on your iPod but missing from you iTunes library.

Updated ODBEditor Classes

Nov 30, 2004 in Programming

Gus Mueller has posted an update to the ODBEditor classes that incorporates some changes I submitted to the code to differentiate between editing a string and editing a file and to handle Save As notifications from the editor.

Unless I’m forgetting something, this is the first time I’ve contributed code to any sort of open-source project.

The ODB Editor Suite is Apple Event based interface that allows applications to easily communicate with BBEdit — it’s at the heart of the “Edit in BBEdit” functionality found in many apps, including MarsEdit and Gus’es own Voodoo Pad 2.0. For more information, check out the Bare Bones web site

Getting What You Pay For

Nov 22, 2004 in Mac

Comcast and Logitech, you’re breaking my heart!

Comcast was hyping a promotion where new High-Speed Internet customers were eligible to receive a complementary webcam. Now, I wasn’t exactly dying to own a webcam, but I was certainly amenable to receiving one for free. I knew there was a decent chance said camera wouldn’t be Mac-compatible, but what the heck, it was free.

After a while, my free camera arrived. I didn’t really feel like futzing with it, so I just opened the box and looked at what was included. Basically, it was a camera, a driver CD, and a setup guide. My eyes jumped to the text on the CD that said “QuickCam 8.0.1 (Mac OS).” “Cool,” I figured, “I’ll get around to installing this later.”

“Later” came tonight, as I grabbed the box off my coffee table and took a closer look at the CD. Ah yes, the fine print:

Mac OS only supports…
QuickCam Zoom
QuickCam Pro 4000
QuickCam Orbit/Sphere
QuickCam for Notebooks Pro

Then I looked at the setup guide: “QuickCam Messenger.” D’oh.

From what I’ve heard, the Logitech driver is essentially the IOXperts driver, so no help’s coming from that direction.

Oh well, it was fun while it theoretically lasted.