East of the Sun, West of the Moon

2007/2/18

Hibernating Mini

Filed under: OS X,Technology — Erwin @ 8:25 pm

Last week I followed the instructions by Andrew Escobar on enabling hibernating on the Mini so that, in the evening, when it’s gone to sleep and just sits there until the next afternoon when the kids come home from school, I can safely turn the power strip off entirely and if there is a power glitch while it’s asleep, nothing will be lost either.

Works like a charm!

Media Mini

Filed under: OS X,Projects,Technology — Erwin @ 4:45 pm

The $19 gadget works as expected. Note to self: Do not stray from the two known-to-work resolutions (640×480 and 800×600) or you’ll have a wonderful time getting back to one of those, while the screen rolls in ways that make your head ache and spin!

I’ve got the original Mac Mini (the first one I bought, just over two years ago) hooked up and it quite happily runs iTunes (for video-casts) and MythTV’s front end software. The latter was a minor surprise for me, because I haven’t actually hooked it up to ethernet yet, so it’s doing the streaming over wireless! Obviously it’s a bit faster than the 700-800MHz Celeron machines we’re using as front ends and it’s quite tempting to replace one of them with the Mini. There are still some details to be worked out because, for one, the remote controls we have aren’t supported under OS X, and for another, MythTV loses keyboard focus from time to time which gets really old really fast.

The Mini has been told to wake up from sleep at 4pm and to go back to sleep at 6pm, giving iTunes a sufficiently large window to fetch whatever new episodes may be available (it’s been told to check hourly), so that they are there later on in the evening.

A problem is that the printer/scanner, downstairs, is no longer hooked up to any computer. I don’t really want to move it into the dining room and create more clutter there and I don’t really want to keep it inoperable for too long, so I’m checking my options:

  • Move upstairs, hook up to the (kids’) dining room computer.
  • Pick up another Airport Express from Apple and hook it up wirelessly.
  • Put Mac Mini into the living room and somehow let it take the place of the Airport Express, which can then be used for the printer?

I realize it’s a bit of a luxury problem but I’m open to suggestions. 🙂

2007/2/10

And then there were four (update)

Filed under: Family,OS X,Technology — Erwin @ 5:20 pm

I guess all I need is a $19 (plus tax and shipping) adapter piece to redirect DVI output to S-Video or component. That’s easy enough. The next gotcha is that our Mac Mini has no remote control of any sort, but that’s something to worry about another day. 🙂

2007/2/8

Oh, right, parenting

Filed under: Family,Humo(u)r — Erwin @ 11:12 pm


Two days ago A was apparently trying to find the website for his favourite soft drink. Nothing wrong with that, you’d think. His favourite soft drink is a diet drink (by necessity, most regular soft drinks contain corn syrup, which has to avoid) by the name of Diet Squirt.

The Firefox browser we provided for him has the default Google start page with the (default) preference setting Use moderate filtering. I had initially assumed Google’s defaults would be good enough, but now I see that this setting only filters images, nothing else.

So A, fairly innocent boy that he is, types something in the Google input field to find a website for his drink. Sure, no problem there you would think?

Right, except that he types in squirter.com (hope you weren’t drinking anything right as you read that), and follows the very first link that turns up in the results. Ouch! An indication of his innocent mindset is that he goes “Ewww”, and quickly closes the window!

One of the first things we did (after first verifying what exactly happened; proxy logs are helpful with that, as is the fact that browsers keep track of what you’ve entered into input fields) was to make sure both kids have their Google preferences set to strict but in the end the best thing we can do is make sure there is always someone vaguely keeping an eye on what they’re doing online. I refuse to set up some sort of cyber nanny, if we have to resort to anything of that sort I’d prefer to just set up a list of allowed sites, instead of the other way around.

On the plus side, at least I am not facing up to 40 years in prison because of this.

Ever had something like this happen around you?

2007/2/7

Fon

Filed under: Software,Technology — Erwin @ 4:43 pm

Fon, which turned 1 year old yesterday, has a map on which their users can indicate their location. I was surprised to see how many there are in this area.

It seems like an interesting deal although I’m sure many an ISP will grumble at the thought of users sharing their bandwidth with others. Fon’s plus is that such sharing will not as likely be abused because of the accountability factor (only registered Fon users can share your bandwidth), plus you can limit the bandwidth allocated to the public wireless network.

Aside from the cost of the Fonera (their wireless access point) I see no other cost in running it, so there’s not much lost if nobody ever uses it, and a growing chance I might be able to get free wifi elsewhere. Good deal, right?

Does anyone here have experience with Fon, as a user or otherwise?

2007/2/6

And then there were four

Filed under: Family,OS X,Technology — Erwin @ 4:12 pm

The ancient Vaio laptop has finally sustained too much damage and needs to be replaced, so I checked Apple’s list of refurbished MacBooks and picked out a fairly decent one with Core 2 Duo, for M. The misbehaving hard disk in her Mac Mini has been replaced with the one from the Gateway laptop I bought just over a year ago (which then proceeded to fail on me, but that would appear to have been the IDE chips that broke down, then), and the resulting machine, dubbed MiniMoo, now functions as family machine in the dining room.

Once that MacBook arrives (which should be on Friday) I’ll need to figure out a new purpose for my old Mac Mini which M is currently using (via VNC, from the family machine; Are you still with me?). My thoughts so far include it being another shared machine, or a media center type machine, but it would need some additional hardware to convert the DVI/VGA into S-Video. Any suggestions there?

Anyway, that means that in 2 years time, 4 Apple machines have taken over this home. I still have two headless Linux servers in the basement, and they’re not going anywhere anytime soon, but I think I’ll postpone upgrading them for a little while, until finances have caught up with my spending, a little. 😉

2007/2/3

Convenient side-effect

Filed under: OS X,Software — Erwin @ 12:56 am

When fast-switching users on OS X, a running iTunes will effectively be muted because it loses access to the built-in sound devices. This makes sense, given the underlying (security) model, but is a pain when you really wanted to continue listening to the music and just switched users to, for instance, let a guest check their webmail or so.

Today I noticed, quite by accident, that when you are using wireless speakers (the Airport Express I bought just over two months ago) this does not apply, and it will continue to play quite cheerfully! Hmmmmm, I like! 🙂

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