A disconnect.

00.13.05 - Mark

Stupid on so many levels.

My old homepage.mac.com/g3head website is about to die. Not by my choice, rather, Apple's choice to pull the plug on the public websites hosted by Apple. When Apple released iTools as "Free for Life" I was hooked, and while I had other email addresses (then and now) the idea of a free webhost ment a lot to me at the time. iTools Homepage feature helped me really get myself online and hacking HTML code. While they designed for it to use their publication tools, I learned the tricks of code, and built my own site, and hosted files for a few others. After a couple of years, Apple took away the free part, and turned iTools into .Mac, and the high rate of $100 a year.

I bit the bullet and stayed onboard. While I didn't like the not-free part, I was using that email address a good amount at the time, and I knew I wasn't going to be looking for free hosting for mywebsite, as they all added ads, and had a far less cool domain name.

I've stayed onboard, as while the website part of .Mac became less important ("replaced" by using Blogger, and then real hosting), other features, maintained it's value. Plus, you know, my first site would stay online.

While I love how it helps me sync my computers and iPod touch, and to a degree still use the email account, I think we started seeing the death of hoempage.mac.com last year. In July 2009, Apple took down the HomePage publication tools they had developed. Supposedly, at that point websites could not be added or edited. While I had been planning on moving the content to my current servers and giving them a domain, but because of some things that happened to me at that time, that never happened, and as July 7th came and went, I figured they would be no more changes to that old website.

Tonight however, as I was backing up the site and putting thought into reworking the code to keep the site online, I figured I'd kick the tires one more time. I figured it wouldn't work, but sadly, it did. I still had full read/write access to that website part of my iDisk, and within seconds of adding it, a burried test page could be viewed online.

So much for a year of coded redirects. Now so much for the site. I always loved it when someone linked to homepage.mac.com/g3head even when I haven't touched it in years. So in a few days, I'll be feeling the same pain as other users of homepage.mac.com, who built a bit of an online reputation over the last 10 years.

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Walking past Front Row

22.29.36 - Mark

While I still live in a house with a subscription to a satellite TV network, even with an included DVR, I really could do without it. While I was skeptical about the success and value of streaming video when it really started appearing it's grown on me a lot - to the point where I almost only watch streaming videos. I can watch it when I want to, love having to deal with fewer commercials, and being able to rewatch things that have been off the air for years (and some which never made it to DVD) Yes, it's a little hard to watch some things I miss from the plethora of TV stations, but there are solutions to those problems.

For almost all of these streaming videos, I've been tolerant of my MacBook's screen. One person watching a 13" screen from a foot or two away works fine - battery powered and completely portable can even make it favorable. Using a decent 22" LCD desktop screen and a set of speakers and you can make it work for 2, occasionally 3 people. Not the most comfortable, but it works.

So recently I went back and got the Mini-DVI to Video adapter for my MacBook, dug out the Apple remote that came with it, twiddled with some of my cable solution and now enjoy using all these full screen streaming videos on a decent sized TV. Navigating around to find the right video however, has become a bit annoying.

The browser and Finder are work fine when you're at the computer, but if you want to use a remote from across the room control you need to keep it simplified. At one point, Apple's Front Row (which no, doesn't require a remote) along with a plug in called Understudy let you get to Netflix and hulu though FrontRow. It worked, but was a bit of a hack. When Hulu had to start actively preventing people from putting the streaming video onto their TVs, Understudy doesn't work with it anymore. While it still works with Netflix, it's more of a kludge than a useful tool.

Boxee's software, which is sort of like Front Row on steroids. While it's a beta, it's open source, cross platform, and a few weeks ago announced it was releasing a hardware solution at CES. At one point I actually preferred it over Front Row. More power, easier navigation, and no hacks needed to get to some streaming video content providers - including Netflix. It's useful, particularly for navigating around Netflix via remote, but I never really enjoyed it enough to find a way of making the Apple Remote open it in place of Front Row. I also wanted a good way of getting into Hulu over remote.

The only non-browser approach to hulu streams is Hulu Desktop. After they had to block boxee (and other applications) they developed their own desktop player. To their credit it provides better navigation and works with my Apple remote, but it's all it does. No other streams, no messing with local files.

So my question became, how can I get to all these tools by using my Remote. Understudy plugin instantly picked up on Hulu Desktop's presence, and while it's a little buried, I was able to "switch" from Front Row to Hulu, but since it was off the path, and wouldn't open Boxee I turned around to dig. and sure enough it was out there.

Hole in the Ceiling figured it out and posted Front Row plugins to launch several applications including Hulu Desktop and Boxee.

So while there's no single application that lets me watch what I want to controlled by a simple remote, at least I don't have to walk across the room to run one commands.

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Apple Store Greensboro

20.42.15 - Mark

Apple is opening up an Apple store in Greensboro next year, which is a bit more than an hour away. I might go to the opening whenever that is, but the first thought I had wasn't "cool" it was more along the lines of "I wonder what this will do to Cybergear?" (an Apple Authorized Retailer / Service Provider in Mount Airy).

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Insomnia Film Fest - the Sequel

01.37.02 - Mark

Apple is running another Insomnia Film Festival this year. I thought about entering last year, but I don't qualify this year.

They must have gotten a great response from it last year since they've really scaled it up. They've opened it up to high school students, they seem seem to be promising a lot more publicity, and there's a much larger prize package (5 MacBooks, with copies of Final Cut, Shake, and Logic, as opposed to just software last year)

Can't wait to see what this year's teams produce. They produced some great films last year

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00.08.34 - Mark

Ubuntu's handling of network printing sucks. Apple has proven that network printing doesn't need to be rocket science, so how come a similar "User Friendly" Linux can't get it working without 5+ hours of research and working? It may get fixed after I update to the latest version of Ubuntu, but somehow, I doubt it.

Firewire is amazing, simply amazing. It's the ultimate multitasker when it comes to computer interfaces, handing every thing from printers and scanners to networking to video to mass storage (and yes, you could make random fans, lights and desktop missile launchers too, just like USB). Too bad Steve Jobs had to go and enforce a B**LSHIT trademark, pissing Intel off enough that they dumped Firewire in favor of USB, thereby making it the computer interface standard and dooming Firewire to smaller markets and higher costs. Thank you Steve Jobs. Now to find a IDE to Firewire adapter that doesn't cost more than $30.

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Petty Bickering

19.51.36 - Mark

Apparently NBC and Apple are bickering over video on iTunes, with NBC saying they're not going to renew their contract (which expires at the end of the year) with Apple because they want to bundle Movies with TV episodes, jack up the pricing and throw more DRM at non-existent problems. Apple meanwhile is more than happy to let NBC screw themselves.

There are a few things to note in this little mess. First, at $1.99 the networks are making a decent wad of cash. I haven't dug up the numbers recently, but for an hour long prime time TV broadcast the network will make about $.60 per viewer selling advertising spots.

I'm sure what's bugging some idiot executive at NBC is that they can't price the iTunes videos the same as the inevitable cost of the same episode of DVD. While things like Heroes, Studio 60, and other broadcast shows might sell for just under $2 / episode in a box set, some of their cable properties like Battlestar Galactica, Psych, or Monk are well over $2.50 an episode (BSG is over $3.50 an episode on DVD). There's a certain understandable logic in that argument, but it's flimsy at best.

iTunes videos are low quality, limited to a couple of devices, and lack all the special features you get in a DVD box set, so in reality iTunes videos are, bluntly, a rip off already. Jacking the price up any is stupid, but pushing it up to, is one article has placed it, $5 an episode is just shy of mugging your customers and leaving them for dead.

Personally I've got bittorrent.

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I want an iPhone, sort of

20.38.07 - Mark

For an Apple geek, I haven't said much about the iPhone. I mean this is a device I've been wanting to see for nearly a decade (I used to sketch my own iPhone mock ups during study hall as a high school freshman about 7 years ago) Sure the fact that it exists is pretty damned amazing, but I've long since realized that until I have a chance to really try it out there's not a lot of stuff to add to the discussion, that said, I've now had the chance to briefly use a couple of iPhones, and to be concise, they're freaking amazing.

To be a bit more detailed, I love the interface. While I didn't do any text entry, I have played with a couple of the more advertised features, like the amazing photo abilities built into the phone, and had a short chance to play with the Google maps applet. I honestly wish I had a solid case for getting an iPhone, but I've got to many problems to really get one.

For one thing the cost is pretty steep, and while I could probably make a good argument for needing it's utility, I'd rather have a full blown laptop for a couple hundred dollars more (It's going to be a while before I qualify for a new Cingular / AT&T contract) or a couple hundred dollars less for a PSP or midrange PDA. Secondly AT&T is the same old Cingular, which means service in Northwest North Carolina sucks. Outside of population centers with more than 5000 people or on the interstates (and even then...) Cingular just doesn't provide service around here, let along more advanced connections like mobile broadband. Even in population centers you walk indoors and you pray your signal doesn't disappear.

I also really want it for the features I didn't get to try, such as the nonlinear access to voicemail, or are mind numbingly obvious like the ability to easily lock the phone (something I've learned is nigh impossible to do with Motorola's phone interface)

Apple has yet another amazing product under it's belt, but locking it up with Cingular service, is just plain ass dumb. If I could use it with Verizon and their EVDO networks (who despite the dumb commercials actually carry about coverage areas), I'd probably find a way of converting

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Hope for the ClampBooks

20.45.47 - Mark

I've learned to live with my iBook, and that fact that the only thing keeping it working is a piece of cardboard. However before the cardboard, there was the clamp. I've tried telling Apple that this is their fault, but they refuse and tell me that I stilled liquids on the motherboard, which is extremely insulting. It has bugged me that there has been a lack of a US class action lawsuit (just as much as it bugs me that one is necessary), but a recently decided Danish complaint case could be changing that.

I hope Apple will fix this iBook. I've always been a strong advocate for Apple, and I lost a good bit of faith in Apple after the way they treated me. Them fixing it would almost make up for it. Even if they don't fix it it's getting time for me to upgrade, but my iBook is still usable, and I'd hate to junk it just to avoid passing on its quirks.

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Hurray for iTunes (Not)

02.02.21 - Mark

iTunes just completely choked on me. I've got a seriously corrupted library and while I've been able to save ratings and some playlists, its created a royal mess. I can deal with the screwy playlists (been needing to reorganize anyways) but in the process it ate my podcast subscriptions and I've got no way of removing those. Its not a matter of backing them up because there isn't anyway of backing up that information. Thank you Apple.

I was looking into other podcatchers before iTunes choked, but now I'm looking harder. The older iPodderX DMGs I have are corrupt, and Juice crashed on me before I managed to get five feeds entered in (not that it took me that long to remember the UI stinks). I'm trying out Xcast now, we'll see how it works. It looks nice and it feels quick, but it is a beta and there are some features I'd like that it doesn't seem to have (bittorrent support to name one).

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Fast. Cheap. Good?

01.24.33 - Mark

Apple is running the Insomnia Film Festival next week. One film, maximum length of 3 minutes, and no more than 24 hours to write, shoot, edit, and publish it in. Dave Slusher at least, thinks I should enter.

I've heard of similar events, and some of my videos have been done inside 24 hours so I am sort of thinking about entering. I've got a list of concerns, I won't post all of them but it boils down to the Fast, Cheap, Good Trilemma, but the challenge is intriguing. I suppose we'll see within a week what I decide to do.

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Introducing the iClamp

03.06.46 - Mark

My iBook, which has been out of service since the beginning of March has been kind of, maybe been fixed with a standard $2 woodworking C-clamp.

Not some Apple tech support guy, the issue was not resolved in store, or by calling Apple's technical support line. It wasn't fixed by using some specilized soldering station, not the replacement of a $300 motherboard. No a fucking C-clamp and a little padding. Un. Fucking. Believable.

iBook G4 fixed with a C-Clamp

The idea came from checking a blog post at the-set.com, where a bunch of iBook owners in the same situation have congragated, and where one commenter "fixed" his iBook with a clamp.

I want to know what the hell happened to Apple's quality control department. I've been fed all sorts of bullshit lines from how I spilled a liquid onto my laptop to completly unable to help. I was upset before. Now I'm fucking pissed.

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No Shows

13.53.10 - Mark

I've been watching MacRumors Live feed of the todays Apple announcement, and unfortunatly they didn't mention anything of laptops. Mac Mini has a boost and some sort of iPod stero, but nothing that benifits me today. Like most Apple products they sound cool, and I've been wanting to get my hands on a Mac Mini for almost as long as they've been out, but there was certainly nothing in the event that helps me make a decision about fixing/replacing my iBook, and I need a mobile system.

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23.26.37 - Mark

I took the iBook down to the my nearest Apple Store, Unfortunatly they pretty much confirmed what I already knew - dead logic board. The Genius at the Charlotte Apple Store was nice enough, but he ran mostly useless tests then explained to me how I managed to still liquid into my laptop (here's a hint, I haven't spilled any liquid onto my iBook, ever, period) He went ahead and priced a new logic board from Apple for me, something like $700 to $800. Shopping around eBay I can beat that by at least 50%, but I was already seriously cramped on it anyways SO right now I'm at a crossroads.

I'm either going to get the replacement parts, or I'll be upgrading to a new laptop. Not sure which yet, Apple is supposedly making an announcement on Tuesday and the Intel iBooks are supposed to be coming up soon...

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Dear Web,

01.27.20 - Mark

Please don't repeat to me the latest blathering of John Dovorak. He started writing about Apple's impending death, or Apple's adoption of Windows, or the impending buy of of Apple by XYZ Corp since the mid 90's. Hasn't happened yet.

Similarly, please stop hyping about the "First Mac Worm". First, this happens every 6 months. Some bored Media outlet finds some post by some dunce who thinks that file he may or may not have downloaded (he pleaded the 5th) may have caused his warez drive to magically loose its magic smoke. It is a) non-propagating, b) benign, and c) nothing new. So unless you are a real, honest to goodness Mac Programmer, or someone who has a bunch of mac programmers on your speed dial don't try and tell me its dangerous, or new.

About the stupidest comment I've seen about this Mac Worm is that "its much more completed that an Apple Script," one would hope thats a new user or at worse a clueless news agency, but that one was a a self claimed Mac journalist. Guess he didn't do that much fact checking since Applescript can be insanely powerful, so much so it used to be the most common code base for Mac viruses.

All you need to do is practice safe computing. Don't open attactments, trusted or otherwise, unless you are expecting it and verify it, and DON'T TELL ME TO RUN NORTON ANTIVIRUS, or any of its kin, except maybe ClamAV. If I wanted to run computers as slow and buggy as Windows, I would run Windows.

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Frequency Modulation

23.13.05 - Mark

I'm one of those people who saw Global Frequency back during the summer, and I loved it I even made it a point to buy the first set of Global Frequency Graphic Novels, (and I'm waiting for money so I can buy the other set) Its not just because it never aired on TV, instead only getting distributed though bittorrent, its because I think it was a great work.

It kind of pops into my head once in a while, and I should probably watch it again. But it occurred to me that when the WB does a deal with Apple to show up on the iTunes Music Store, they should really release it.

I could very well be forgetting some of the details of how its managed, and I'm certainly not aware of the business behind it, but people were begging to pay for it when it leaked on bittorrent. The iTMS model is certainly suited to single episode and short film distribution.

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What's an Intel Chip Doing in a Mac

14.21.51 - Mark

I've been lusting over the iMac G5's for a while now. It's not that my iBook is old and beaten, its just that I've been pressing it a little hard for what it is. Portables, especially consumer portables aren't exactly up to the challenges that major geeks pup on them. That's not a complaint, as the thing is a does really well for most things, but I could do with some more drive space and some more power to kick around for video and the like.

With today's announcement of Intel iMacs and MacBookPro (what a horrible name - it sounds like accounting software) the drooling was kicked up a notch. I don't need another portable, since I'm making do with the one I've got, but after I replace my iPod, I might be giving some serious though into getting an iMac. They're a hell of a deal, and of corse by the time I can afford one, they might have those famous first version kinks worked out.

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