East of the Sun, West of the Moon


iPhone notes

Filed under: Software,Technology — Erwin @ 5:03 pm

The iTunes sync declined to sync a track, telling me that the iPhone can’t play it. The track it declined is a 128 kbps MPEG2 track, which you would expect an MPEG3 capable device to be able to play. I have no iPod so I can’t compare notes with that. Can anyone who owns one tell me if the iPod has the same behaviour?

Update: Kalle confirmed that the iPod refuses to play this same track as well and wonders why iTunes doesn’t offer to transcode the track (similar to how it’ll convert photos for you that it syncs to the iPhone) since it can play it.

Mad iPhone

Filed under: Humo(u)r,OS X,Software,Technology — Erwin @ 2:52 am

… or was that iPhone madness?

Either way, thanks to Christopher I now am the proud and still somewhat baffled owner of one of those gadgets. The activation itself was as smooth as you would hope, but the number transfer is going to take a while longer still, it appears. For added fun M and I then visited the local Cingular, or rather “new-AT&ampT how can I help you” store which amusingly enough didn’t have any of them on sale itself. Apparently they were a bit difficult to get a hold of, for this poor mid-west city? On the other hand the nearest (bigger) city did have some. The reason for the visit was to get M a new phone, transfer the newly created account into one with a family-plan, and add her on there, since having one phone with AllTel and one with AT&T makes very little sense.

The EDGE problems today were definitely noticeable. Combined with an apparently weaker wifi receiver than the MBP right next to it, they caused the iPhone to have almost no network connectivity. This was at the in-laws, while at home the wifi receiver is much more willing to hop onto the home wifi network. Time will tell how typical this is.

I like the custom Google map/route setup, which will hopefully be useful in the upcoming road trip (in a week and a half). Same with the weather widget, I guess.

Is it normal that the YouTube item doesn’t work yet? This may be a firewall issue, which is pretty strict here at home.

More later, no doubt. 😉


Google Search

Filed under: Software — Erwin @ 10:17 pm

I’m pondering using Google Search for the search function in the sidebar, but when I tell it to only return results for is-here.com it also returns results for sub-domains, like dgd.is-here.com, it.is-here.com, nl.is-here.com, etc, which makes it largely useless.

It’s possible to exclude various sub-domains for a regular search, but for the site-search form where you indicate the domains to search in a hidden input field, I know of no such possibility. To clarify, I basically need the equivalent of:

    site:is-here.com -site:it.is-here.com -site:nl.is-here.com -site:dgd.is-here.com



What a week! (and then some) (final)

Filed under: OS X,Software,Technology — Erwin @ 10:12 pm

Impressive, I must say.

Here’s the time-line, of sorts:

  • Saturday:
    • 1-2pm: Put MBP to sleep with a Firefox that refuses to start back up, figuring I’ll deal with it later. At the time I assumed I would simply need to restore the relevant profile directories from the most recent backup.
    • In the evening I try to resume it, without any luck. Various tests are performed, leading to the conclusion that something is definitely broken, the hard drive being the main suspect. Not being able to open it up without voiding the warranty, I can’t verify that theory.
  • Sunday:
    • After initially restoring my personal account onto M‘s MacBook, I decide to instead put it on the Mac Mini, and put my work account on the MacBook, to ease the load while I temporarily crash there. It also allows me to remain mobile because I have no idea how long this situation will last.
  • Monday:
    • 10-11am: Talk to Apple Support for just over an hour.
  • Tuesday:
    • 11:30am: Box for MBP is dropped off at our door.
    • 2:00pm: Request a pick-up via DHL’s website.
    • 2:25pm: DHL is in our driveway to pick up the box with MBP.
  • Wednesday:
    • 11am: Receive confirmation from DHL and Apple that the box has arrived.
    • 5pm: Receive an update from Apple that the MBP has been repaired and is on its way back to me!
  • Thursday:
    • 12pm: Receive box with MBP from DHL.
    • 4pm: Both work and personal account have been copied back onto the MBP!

This means that what I feared might be a multi-week affair has been sorted in under a week. Wow!

The repairs are described as follows:

  • PCBA,2.0GHZ,128VRAM(M1-RP) MBP 15″

The apparent translation:

  • They replaced the mainboard (a.k.a Printed Circuit Board Assembly) with new 2.0 GHz Core Duo chip and 128MB video RAM.
  • A replacement superdrive (CD/DVD burner/drive).
  • Including the cable to hook up the superdrive (ODD is Optical Disc Drive, flex ass(embl)y is the cable).

So apparently the hard drive wasn’t the problem. I have the same model in there still but as I didn’t write down the serial number of the original I will never know if it is also the exact same drive. Oh well.

The new mainboard/CPU combo is unknown to CoreDuoTemp, a little menubar gadget I used to track the CPU temperature and usage, so I guess I may have gotten the most recent edition of that, at least. I hope that that also means improved dealing with the CPU/HD heat.

Now, where was I… 😉



Filed under: OS X,Projects,Software — Erwin @ 5:35 pm

So apparently Apple has been fooling a lot of laptop owners (including myself, it looks like) into thinking that their screens can display millions of colours. Do a little googling and I’m sure you’ll find the relevant news articles, blogs, and whatever else.

For users to find out what kind of screen they have, the current suggestion is to download the SwitchResX Control Panel, run Export DCC and use the brand and other identification from that file to look up the specs online.

Downloading 1.3MB of software to find that out is slightly overkill. Wikipedia describes the contents of the EDID data fairly accurately and if you want more there’s a link to a PDF file on the same page. Combine that with the ioreg program that dumps lots of information of your hardware on stdout, and you have the ingredients to write a quick’n’dirty Perl script that’ll read that, pick out the right line, and explain those bytes in more understandable language to the best of its ability.

The relevant parts are at the end, which will look something like this:

Descriptor Block 3
  93: Block type: (fe) ASCII string
    "B154PW01 V0"

Descriptor Block 4
  111: Block type: (fc) Monitor name
    "Color LCD"

You can find specs for B154PW01 online, and yes it does say 262k colours there, not 16.7 million.

It would be interesting to see how well the script works for other card/monitor combinations. I tried it on the Mac Mini with the TV adapter, for instance, which enlightened me that it uses analog input and one of the descriptor blocks is an ASCII string that says “NTSC/PAL”. Indeed!

Improvements to the script will be happily accepted, of course. 🙂

Update: Improved it to unpack the manufacterer ID, which turns out to be 3 characters encoded into two bytes. So “0610” turns into “APP”, for instance.

Still alive

Filed under: General,OS X,Software — Erwin @ 3:52 pm

Really, I am. Just busy with other things!

Recently I’ve been working on/with:

  • Flex 2.01 / Flash 9, for work, and potentially for personal entertainment.
  • MarcoPolo, mostly for myself, to make it easier to switch from our home wireless network to the home wired network to the in-laws’ wireless network, etc.
  • Upgraded the family-tree website to 6.1.0, and immediately lost several hours tracking several branches on ancestry.com.
  • Upgraded the WordPress installs to version 2.2. This broke the accordion effect of the sidebar, but I’ll worry about that some other day.

Yesterday was the last day of school for the boys, so I’m now rediscovering my basement office where I’d spent very little time in the past couple of months. It is in desperate need of cleaning out but I guess that’ll have to wait until the weekend. 🙂


Helpful error message of the day

Filed under: Humo(u)r,Software — Erwin @ 1:24 pm

When Applescript tells me this:

0:2570: execution error: iTunes got an error: An error of type -116 has occurred. (-116)

It apparently really wants to tell me that it has encountered a track in its library that no longer exists on any filesystem.

Thanks, that was so obvious. NOT! Oh, and good luck trying to search for -116 with Google, since it interprets that as a request to exclude results that contain the 116 search term, last I checked. 🙂

Linkage (…)

Filed under: Software,Technology — Erwin @ 1:19 pm


Thunderbird 2.0

Filed under: OS X,Software — Erwin @ 11:36 pm

Some things I’ve run into with the latest version of this software:

  • Composing a new message was Shift-Cmd-M before, it’s Cmd-N now. In itself that makes sense, except that shift-Cmd-M is now move to folder <foo> again, for conveniently moving messages to another folder, which has already led to some stray messages that I needed to refile.
  • I like the Unread Folders option, but when I use N repeatedly to go through the unread messages, it does this in an (on first glance) odd order. What happens is that I have several folders to group several mail-folders (like automated messages of various sorts, mailing lists, personal email, etc). It follows that order, but it shows the Unread Folders in alphabetical order, alphabetical as far as the subfolder-names goes, anyway. Confused? Let’s say that in the folder with automated messages I have a mail folder called CRON, and in the folder with mailing lists I have a mail folder called Babbel (which I do, actually). If there are unread messages in those two, it’ll lists them in order “Babbel, CRON” but it’ll go through them in the opposite order because that’s how they are placed in the full view.
  • The Back and Forward buttons sound like useful additions, although I haven’t had much, if any, reason to use them yet. I’m sure I will.
  • Is the “Grouped by Sort” feature new? When sorting the messages by Date and then using that (the letter ‘G’ is a shortcut for it) you get the groups “Old mail”, “Two weeks ago”, “Last week”, “Yesterday”, and “Today”, assuming you have messages in those categories. Handy!
  • The Tags need more work before I can really call them useful. Sure, it’s handy to have the 0-9 shortcuts, but you can’t change the order of your tags (it lists the built-in ones first, then the others in alphabetical order) so you can’t easily force certain shortcuts to be used for certain frequently used tags. It’s also not clear to me where these tags are stored, but as I only read email from one computer, that’s not immediately an issue for me.

So far I’m happy with the new version, though.


Joost (4)

Filed under: Software — Erwin @ 1:43 pm

Yesterday I received 3 invitations for Joost. One has already been given away, but the other two are up for grabs. Let me know if you want one. 🙂

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