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# OS X Tips Article That Actually Helped Me

A just ran across this article over at Mac OS X Tips. I knew about some of those but some I didn't know about.

posted at: 2007 Mar 21 17:25 UTC | category: tech | (story link)

# Announcing Flashmounter!

It mounts, it performs backups, it slices and dices your data with the greatest of ease!

Er, wait. Wouldn't slicing and dicing be a bad thing?

Anyway, I have written what I feel is the coolest software to be conceived of and written in 3-4 hours this week!

I have this mythtv machine with a built-in SD reader. My camera uses SD. It's currently a PITA to connect any of my SD readers to the mac mini. So I wrote a script that monitors the state of that SD reader and mounts my SD card as needed. It also watches for certain files to show up in the root of the device. If it sees "unmount" it will unmount the device. If it sees "backup" it will tar up the contents of the device in a location I set, by date and time.

The really cool part is that it has growl support. Thanks to netgrowl.py I was able to deliver growl messages to my mini. I'm also running netatalk, so I can use the SD reader in my mythtv machine without even sshing to that machine. I just create the proper files as part of my workflow. After work, I'll set up some automator flows to automate my photography workflow even more.

I've taken a screenshot of flashmounter in action, though it's not much to look at. You can download flashmounter too.

posted at: 2007 Mar 15 21:44 UTC | category: tech | (story link)

# The $3000 iPhone?

I haven't really written, or even said much, about the iPhone. Until it's been released and people are able to hold it in their hand I haven't seen the point. However, Chris Seibold at Apple Matters just published the most ridiculous article I've read about the iPhone yet.

In the article he adds a lot of claptrop about how much the iPhone "really" costs, and of course he inflates the prices as much as he can.

iPhone: $499
$500 bucks for a cell phone? Its an outrage. Well, remember that it is also an internet device, a camera, an iPod, and a game-playing wonder. Now how much would you pay?

This is actually not a bad price for a cell phone. Remember when the Razr was first released? It was a $50 phone in a thin case that cost $500. The StarTac was over $600. The Treo 650 was in the same price range. Still think the iPhone price is all that bad?

Cingular service: $39.99(450 minutes) to $199.99 (6000 minutes)

Why is this included as part of the phone? You'd have to pay this no matter which phone you get. Let's throw this number away, since it doesn't affect the actual price of the phone.

Bluetooth earpiece: $50
If you're cool enough to have an iPhone, you're probably legally required to have the Bluetooth iPhone earpiece jammed in your ear canal

Chris' reasoning is just silly here. Another cost we don't factor in, because it's the same for every phone.

Data package: $20-$50
The smartphone connect with unlimited data is only $20. You think Cingular is going to let you get away with that? Surely you jest. More likely you'll be hit with the $50 Blackberry connect fee.

Chris' speculation is not unreasonable, but it's also wrong. There's no reason that you have to speculate here, however. Cingular has already said that you will need the same plan as other PDAs, like the Treo 650. The cost? $40/mo.

Getting out of your current contract: $200.00
Sure, you say, there is no way you'll pay it, but start setting some dough aside.

Here we see Chris adding costs in that really don't belong, just to inflate the price. Another cost we can safely drop.

Car charger: $40
Your plan is to keep the iPhone charged, right? With a five-hour battery life a portable charger is not an option, it is a necessity. And since the phone is new youll have to pay an exorbitant amount.

This one is pure FUD. The iPhone uses the same dock connector as every model of the iPod, except for the shuffle. I'd wager that a large portion of the iPhone's target market already has a car charger for their iPod. But I'll be a little bit fair to Chris, we'll give him this one for now at $15.

Case: $50 Cmon, youve spent all this jack for a phone and youre going to try to shave a few pennies off the cost by skipping or making your own cover? I think not!

A $50 case? I suppose you could spend that much. I think the cost will be more along the lines of $25 at most, but maybe if you have a lot of disposable income you'll spend as much as $50.

So what's the final price? With two years of service and the above costs completely factored in, I total $1500 over 2 years. Of that $1500, $540 is the upfront cost and the other $960 is spread out over the next two years in the form of the data plan. Somehow, that doesn't seem quite as bad to me.

I'm making a couple assumptions here, but I think they're resonable assumptions. First, I'm assuming that you already have a cell phone plan. Second, I'm assuming that you either are no longer in contract or will find a way out of your current contract without paying. Given the audience for my blog I'm pretty confident that both situations apply.

Finally, the question I've been asked most. Will I get an iPhone? I don't know yet. I would love to have one but that's not the only factor. Dad already offered to buy me one in June, after he gets the rest of his inheritance. I don't know that I'll take him up on that, however. I carry a cingular phone for work, so I'll have to either activate a iPhone through work or switch to cingular for my personal phone. I don't think I want to go to GSM, which has shitty coverage outside of major cities. Plus, carrying two cingular phones would be pretty retarded.

posted at: 2007 Mar 01 16:47 UTC | category: tech | (story link)

# Yate on OpenBSD

This entry is here for the search engines, since I don't think anyone that reads my blog would be interested.

So I'm doing some telephony stuff at work. One of the things I need to do is setup a machine to take calls in from a PRI, and deliver them to a MeetMe room or a PM3 via a T1 circuit. I'm looking at using Yate to do this.

I'm hoping I can use Yate on an OpenBSD machine to do this. After working with Diana on IRC (Much thanks to her for helping me with this) we got it to compile on OpenBSD mostly cleanly.

Diana didn't want the resulting diff, but it'll be useful for anyone else that wants to use Yate on OpenBSD, I think.

You can find the patch here.

posted at: 2006 Nov 18 23:01 UTC | category: tech | (story link)

# My new iPod Shuffle

So my current iPod (a 40gb 3g model) has a battery that lasts aproximately 5 minutes. Not wanting to buy a new iPod or deal with the hassle of replacing the battery I bought myself one of the new 1gb shuffles.

I can still use my 3g iPod when it's plugged into a power source, but I have a ground loop in the car I can't get rid of. It's not noticable with music, but it's very noticable with the podcasts I listen to (Mostly the Penn Jillette show and NPR.) So I decided my shuffle would be used for podcasts.

The shuffle does an excellent job at playing these podcasts, and they sound perfect in the car. I haven't had a chance to run the battery down yet, but apple claims 12 hours of battery life, so I figure that 10 should be easy to achieve, which is plenty for me.

The only problem with the shuffle? It's a second-class iPod when it comes to podcasts. First, there's no automatic syncing of the shuffle, I have to use autofill. Autofill lets you pick your entire music library or a playlist, and iTunes then picks a selection of files to load onto your shuffle. Seems like that'd be perfect, and I can just pick iTunes' Podcasts playlist, right?

Unfortunately that's not how it works. You can't pick the built-in Podcasts playlist, and a smart playlist that pulls from your Podcasts playlist doesn't actually fill your shuffle with anything. I had to find another solution.

The solution I came up with was to add all my podcasts to NetNewsWire instead. I then deleted them from iTunes, so I'm not downloading everything twice. I went into NNW's preferences, and set it to download all audio enclosures and add them to the iTunes playlist "NNW Podcasts." I can then fill my shuffle from this playlist using autofill.

That was nice, but not nice enough. I still have to manually delete podcasts after I've listened to them. Smart Playlists to the rescue.

I setup a Smart Playlist called "My Podcasts" with the following rules:

I can then fill my shuffle from this playlist. The shuffle, like all iPods, keeps track of the playcount and will update iTunes with that count when you plug it in. I can then hit "Autofill" and my shuffle will be updated with any new podcasts since my last sync, and any podcasts I've already listened to will be removed. Almost perfect.

I'd still like to have it automatically update, but I suspect I'd need to write an applescript that runs whenever I plug my shuffle in. I don't know if AppleScript has any sort of hooks or triggers for that sort of thing. I could always write a quick shell script that uses osascript I suppose.

posted at: 2006 Nov 13 18:45 UTC | category: tech | (story link)

# New Camera

So, though I had no plans to go digital, I've ended up getting a nice DSLR. It doesn't meet my MP requirements, but you know, I still have my K1000, and I plan to carry both as soon as I get a camera bag that will accomodate two bodies and 2 or 3 lenses.

I bought a Pentax K100D because it meets my main requirements. It's easy to use, unlike the Canon and Nikon DSLRs I played with. It has a good, low noise CCD that lets me shoot up to ISO 1600 (although the noise is too high for my tastes past ISO 800,) and the best part is that I can use my K-mount lenses I already have. This means I can carry 2 or 3 lenses that work in both cameras.

I've posted my first few pictures to flickr, so you can check them out there. I tagged all of them with K100D, which you can find here.

posted at: 2006 Oct 13 06:57 UTC | category: tech | (story link)

# Humanity is getting stupid(er)

So, today I got an email from someone trying to sell me colo service. I can't really begin to describe how angry it made me, so here it is for you to get angry at too:

  Subject: Seattle Collocation via QuoteColo


  A while back we sent a quote for collocation in our Seattle collo site based 
  on an RFQ you submitted to QuoteColo.com.  I was wondering if you received 
  our quote or if the project is still alive?

  Thank you,

For those of you who don't see the problem here, it's the fact that the word "collo" does not exist in english, and is not a word used in the tech industry. What he's refering to is "colocation". The root word is "locate" and the word has the prefix "co" applied, as well as the suffix "ion". I'll leave it as an excercise to the reader to determine a definition based upon these facts.

It gets worse, though. I'm not going to link to them, because he might see it and make some connection between my job and this blog, but their name has the word "Collo" in it. This isn't just a sales guy that can't spell (there are plenty of those in the world.) This is a company founded by someone who has no attention to detail. How do they expect me to feel good about using their company when they don't even spend a few minutes making sure their name is spelled correctly?

UPDATE: It was pointed out to me by Runt on irc that the whois contact for the company in question is the same as the guy that emailed me. I hope my little jab in my otherwise polite response makes him reconsider his company's name. ("I would have a hard time choosing a company that can't even spell 'colo.'")

posted at: 2006 Sep 19 20:55 UTC | category: tech | (story link)

# Comments disabled

I know I haven't written much lately, hopefully that will change soon. In the meantime I've been getting a lot of comment spam. It was 4-8 per day, but just tonight I got some 40 spam comments. Until I have the time to figure out how to add a simple spam filter I've disabled comments. I'll reenable them as soon as I can.

Not like anyone really comments on my entries anyway...

posted at: 2006 Aug 16 05:54 UTC | category: tech | (story link)

# RSS: How You Can Use it to Stalk Me

It's occurred to me that a good number of my friends don't use RSS in any way, and somehow I feel that it's a failing I should address. So, in an attempt to help the issue I'm going to demonstrate how RSS can be used to keep an eye on the types of things that are crossing my attention. This is intended to show my audience a few ways that will relate to them, but this in no way covers the multitude of ways you can use RSS to further your stalking skills.

RSS and Finding a Feed Reader

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It was originally designed for syndicating headlines from one site on another site. For example, the side boxes on slashdot or kuro5hin with content from other sites are generated from RSS feeds.

RSS originally referred only to a single protocol. As sometimes happens, there was a rift in the community and the standard was forked and multiple versions ensued, sometimes versions incompatible with each other. The long and sorid history of RSS is too long to include in this article. Besides, the only information you really need at this time is that RSS is a generic term for feeds of all sorts, but it also refers to a specific feed format. The other major feed format is Atom. Generally you as an end user don't need to worry much about these details.

So how do you read these feeds? You have many options, it's just a matter of finding what works for you.

The most basic and lackluster support for RSS comes as part of many web browsers. Firefox, Safari, and OmniWeb all have built-in RSS support. However, the support is very limited and is unsuitable to sorting through large numbers of feeds.

You're much better off to get yourself a full feed reader. If you're one of the beautiful people (mac users) your choice is easy. NetNewsWire is the single best feed reader on any platform, hands down. I have paid for the full version, myself, but almost everyone I know that uses a feed reader uses the lite version, which is free. If you're on OSX this needs to be the first (and possibly only) feed reader to try.

If you're stuck on windows or Unix, I'm not going to be much help at finding you a recommendation. There are RSS plugins for Outlook, and Thunderbird has RSS support. I couldn't tell you how well they work, however. I'm sure you can find something with some poking around at download.com.

My Blog

No discussion of using RSS to stalk me would be complete unless I started with the site this piece was written for. See those links on the left that say "Atom", "RSS" and "RSS 2.0"? By now, you should have at least a basic understanding of what those means. But which one do you subscribe to? If you're just starting out, and are using a reputable feed reader, it has Atom support. Pick that feed.

If you're given a choice between RSS and Atom always pick the Atom feed. Atom is on its way towards acceptance that RSS just doesn't have. Atom is also a lot less confusing overall, albeit in ways you'll probably never encounter. Still, the software serving you a feed will encounter them, so go with the less broken option.


You may or may not know what flickr is. If you do, skip to the next paragraph. For those of you still with us, Flickr is, at its simplest, a picture sharing site. What makes Flickr different? It's the extras they tack on, like being able to comment about a specific item in the picture, or their liberal use of RSS feeds. It is the latter we'll be focusing on today.

Flickr has a number of useful RSS feeds. In fact, you can get nearly every index page as its own RSS feed. For example, this page (RSS) shows all my pictures I've taken on film. Just look for the "Feed" link at the bottom of the page to subscribe.

Some other interesting pages on Flickr:


You may have heard of del.icio.us. You probably don't know what it is, other than some bookmark thingy. Its core function is to store your bookmarks online so you can retrieve them anywhere, but it's really so much more than that, and you may not realize just how great it is until you start using it. In fact, you don't even need an account to realize a lot of benefit from del.icio.us.

Since this article is all about me, let's start with me. You can see all of my bookmarks (RSS). On del.icio.us, unlike flickr, every page has a corresponding RSS feed. You can find the orange RSS button at the bottom of the page.

Perhaps you're not interested in all the topics I'm interested in. Maybe you only want to follow a few of the things I'm working on. Here's a good list:

Other Feeds

The feeds listed above are great ways to see what I'm posting about, but if you're reading this article I'm going to assume you're trying to stalk me. You can't very well stalk me if you don't know what sort of things I'm reading as well as posting, can you?

So, to help improve your stalking, here's a random selection of feeds that I read every day. This way you know what I'm posting and have a good idea what I've been reading, too.

posted at: 2006 Jul 10 22:55 UTC | category: tech | (story link)

# PyBloxsom Plugin: flavourswap 1.0


You want to get the newer version. ¡Es no stupido!

I've just completed work on my first PyBloxsom plugin. It's what actually does the content-type thing described in my last post.

It's a simple plugin, really. It checks the browser's User-Agent string to see if it's a Gecko based browser. If it is, it swaps out the current flavour for the gecko flavour. Using config.py variables you tell it which flavour you want this swapping behavior to occur in and which flavour it should use instead.

Here's how I use it:

In my flavour directory, I have two flavours, html.flav and gecko.flav. Every template in gecko.flav is a hardlink to the corresponding files in html.flav, except for content_type.gecko. content_type.gecko is not a symlink but is instead its own file with the gecko content-type.

I then modified my story.html template to replace $flavour with html. Since I only have one flavor I use for web browsers this works for me. It's the one limitation of my script I'd like to fix, but I haven't really found a good way to do so yet. If other people start to use it and want to use multiple flavors for web browsers maybe I'll take a new look at it.

You can download the plugin and give it a shot. Leave me a comment if you experience any problems with it.

posted at: 2006 Jun 24 02:44 UTC | category: tech | (story link)

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