Sunday, September 28, 2003

Minor Crisis

(originally posted at

Nothing dreadfully serious, but Julie and I may be offline for the next few days.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Dell and the iPod Generations

(originally posted at

stevenf has a great rant about Dell's iPod-clone (DellPod?) and online music store. I was quite taken aback to see the similarities between the iPod and the Dell Digital Jukebox. Shameless.

While Scotty awaits the delivery of his new 3rd-gen iPod, we briefly discussed the pros and cons of the connector design. The 2nd-gen iPod that I've used for almost a year now has a standard firewire port. This allows me to lose firewire cables at my leisure and replace them with a cheapy from the local Radio Shack. It also avails me the option of toting multiple firewire devices and only stowing a single cable.

The 3rd-gen iPod uses an icky Apple-proprietary connector between the iPod and the dock. This ickyness can almost be overlooked by the practical application is provides. The dock can then connect via USB or firewire. So, no more Windows- or Apple-only devices. This undoubtedly makes business-sense for Apple, but... icky.

Still, with my 20gb iPod maxed out, the 3rd-gen devices are mighty attractive for their disk space.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Panther Build 7B74

(originally posted at

This one came in on 3 discs. The first disc was, again, the system disc. I decided to upgrade my 7B68 installation instead of installing fresh. The installation prompted me for the second disc, but errored out nicely when I didn't provide it.

After the first reboot, I was presented with the newly-styled Apply logo at the login prompt. I then installed the third disc (skipping the second for now, as it would only have applications on it) which, alas, did not include XCode. However, it did include an X11 with true GUI-system integration. Very slick.

On to disc two, which actually included the new versions of iCal (1.5) and iSync (1.2) which are rumored to be days away for release on 10.2 systems. I got to play with the new iCal for a bit and think the improvements make it much more usable. I'll blog a bit later about the specific improvements, when I actually have it in front of me. I did not get to play with iSync, since my iMac is not my production machine and has no AddressBook entries, iCal calendars, or Safari bookmarks. Come to think of it, I don't have any mail accounts set up on it either, which means I haven't had a chance to play with the new version of the Mail client. I'll have to look into that.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Panther Build 7B68

(originally posted at

Much much much better than the alpha that was released at Apple's 2003 WWDC. Here's a list of what I've found in the first two hours of playing:
  • The system itself is both more stable and more responsive.
  • The new DVD player seems to lack the memory leak of the old one.
  • The new Finder has a less-buggy implementation of the column view.
  • The Accounts prefpane now has user limitations implemented.
  • The Simple Finder limitation for Guest users is pretty slick.
  • Fast-user switching is, well, faster.
  • Default bash shell.
  • echo $SHELL /bin/bash
  • Expose's desktop feature doesn't completely hide open windows.
  • The new Activity Monitor has a process filter and is more usable in general.
Phew. Fantastic. I can't wait until they release this to the general public.


(originally posted at

BitTorrent has some flaws, but what p2p app doesn't?

I was exposed to trackers and seeds and .torrent files and all sorts of oddities while trying to figure out how to get what I wanted.

A tracker is a service (web, app) provided by a server to categorize and keep track of the seeds that people are offering, the number of current downloads, and meta-data of that variety.

A seed is a file-for-offering. The first time a specific file is made available via the server, a hash is made. When people complete a download of the file, a checksum is run against the original seed's hash to validate the download.

To download a file, you'll need its .torrent - which is a pointer back to the BitTorrent server which brokers a connection with users who have what you need. As you download the file, you're also uploading the same file to others as brokered by the server. This is the first problem I encountered.

I don't mind sharing, but the issue is that the download turns into a pyramid scheme. There's a broad base of users who have some of the file, but only a few users who have all of it. Therefore, the beginning of your download is pretty snappy - but the more you download, the fewer the sources you can download from and the slower your download goes.

For a whole day and a half I was stuck at 94.8% of my file download waiting for someone to come online who had the last 5.2% of the file. Such aggravation!

The next drawback is that you just can't be sure of the validity of the file you're downloading. Just because the checksum against the original seed passes, doesn't mean you'll have downloaded any meaningful data. This isn't a BitTorrent-specific problem, but it's one I encountered when the installation disc I burned from the .dmg I downloaded didn't pass its internal validation process - which, luckily for me, was a skippable step of the installation.

What have I learned? Depending on what you want, it may be difficult to find trackers. Once you've found the right tracker, you still can't be sure you're getting what you want.

P2P user: "I also like to live dangerously."

Yesterday's Adventures

(originally posted at

Yesterday was an interesting day.

Julie had a "girl's night out" with some of her friends at a festival in the city.  I stayed at her place for a bit and hung out with her mom and sisters.  Her mom beat me at Scrabble, again, and I watched the first two Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy episodes with her sisters.

Later on, Cory and I ended up watching Dead Man, a strange black and white film starring Johnny Depp as an accountant accused of a double-murder out on the western frontier.  I won't stoop to call Depp's performance "quirky," but he plays an odd character in an intriguing way.  The movie had plenty of hilarious moments, but the most striking thing was the feeling that it portrayed life in the American West much more realistically than your average Hollywood western.

After a few games of billiards, and a few rounds of Soul Calibur 2, Cory took off and I headed upstairs to check my various downloads.  I was pleased and confused to find my download of Cornelius' new PM album showing up in my "uploads" pane - when it didn't even show as being finished in the "downloads" pane.  Lo and behold, I had a complete copy of it that never registered as being downloaded.  Twilight zone.  It's an interesting album, but definitely not easy-listening Cornelius-style.  The best bit was when I went to and found the flash link.  My favorite little game is the lightning-bug one - I spent a good 15 minutes making music with Cornelius.  What a great time.

I went to sleep and woke up to a completed Panther 7B68 build download, well, CD1 of it at least.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Radiohead Rorschach

(originally posted at

Someone subjected fifth-graders to Radiohead music and had them draw out what the music invoked in them.  Some of them are quite interesting, but what interested me most was the lack of color.  Eleven out of eleven pictures were done in black-and-white, which seems to indicate the children weren't given color media to use in the task.  Wonder why...

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Safari's Auto-Tab

(originally posted at

Here's a Safari feature that I just ran across today that has a very slick implementation. It's called Auto-Tab, and you can turn it on inside the Bookmarks pane.

Basically what it does is take a sub-folder of your Bookmarks Bar and turns it into a button instead of a context-menu in the bar itself. Normally the sub-folders of the Bookmarks Bar are displayed with a down-arrow to the right of them, indicating that if you click-and-hold, you'll get a menu of the items in the sub-folder. Auto-tabbing turns the down-arrow into a square, and changes the functionality from a menu to a button. Pressing the button loads all of the items inside the sub-folder in tabs of the current window.

So what? Mozilla does bookmark groups, too. Indeed, but the implementation is simply less polished.

I'm now using a mix of sub-folders and auto-tabbed folders in my Bookmarks Bar.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Quick and Easy

(originally posted at

With the experience gained from setting up ninjafish, it was quick and easy to rebuild the MT installation for this site.

I've created category archives, and re-done the archival structure of individual and monthly entries. I'm sure there'll be some CSS kinks to work out, but I'll deal with them as I find them.

Testing New Blog Layout

(originally posted at

This is a test of the emergency blog-redesign system. If this were an actual redesign, sirens would be going off.

Friday, September 12, 2003

Stereolab's New EP, Site Update

(originally posted at

It comes out the day before Naqoyqatsi, and there are RealAudio files on their website for a nice preview of what's to come.  I listened to them all today, which was quite a welcome break from the hectic household.

Yes, today we found the betta fish on google and photoshopped it together and added it to the site.  It took me quite a while to find the picture of the waves at the bottom of the side bar, but once I did, it was pretty easy to implement.  And yes, Microsoft's IE gave me issues when implementing standards-based CSS.  The bastards.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Site Update

(originally posted at

Where to begin?

First, I exported all the entries from bigbadgeek and imported them to ninjafish.  Then I culled the ones related to technology or my tech-studies.  Later, I'll need to cull the non-tech entries from bigbadgeek.  Then I went through the remaining entries and categorized them, creating new categories as I went.

Then I went through the MT config, got Google searching working and chose a Creative Commons license for the site.  I chose the ShareAlike license, which means I'm withholding rights from anyone who won't share their derivative works in a similar fashion.  BTW, very cool of Six Apart to include built-in CC licenses with MT.

Still need to show Julie how this all works so she can start posting.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Testing Kung-Log

(originally posted at

Just testing Kung-Log with the Ninjafish installation.  I'm hoping that the archival system works with KL, I can't see why it wouldn't.  I still have XHTML/CSS validating to do.


(originally posted at

You were off by just a bit, dear.  I had leftovers around 4:30, just finishing now.

This evening I've been playing Soul Calibur 2 on the GameCube.  Fun, fun, fun.  I've unlocked all but one character, but I've got quite a ways to go.  I've left three high-level dungeons for tomorrow, and then I simply must catch up on my chores/studies.

I've also got to move the MT entries over and put up a "reconstructing" sign on bigbadgeek.

But now that I'm dozing off, I'm not really in the mood for either of the Qatsi movies - but I did find out that Naqoyqatsi is being released on October 14th.  Let's mark our calendar!

I'm putting AYBS? in and drifting off to sleep.  G'night.

New Archival System

(originally posted at

Thanks in no small part to Joi Ito, I've set ninjafish up with a better way of archiving our entries.  Granted, he basically told me to RTFM, but he did it in a genuinely nice way, and that's what really matters, isn't it?

For the record the string I'm using for the individual entries is:

<$MTArchiveDate format="%Y/%m/%d"$>/<$MTEntryTitle dirify="1"$>

Pretty neat, I think.  Now that I've tinkered a bit more with MT 2.64, I'm thinking of adding a Creative Commons license and replacing my standard MT search with a Google search via the Google API.  It's about time I put that dev key to some use, I figure.

Monday, September 08, 2003

Third Test Entry

(originally posted at

Alright, just about everything seems to be up and running for the main page.  I've created a new user because MT has silly ways of dealing with user information and I didn't feel like going through the db and updating what needed updating.

I'm still going to be screwing around with the CSS to get it just right.  Perhaps later tonight or tomorrow I'll try the MT export/import process to move my entries over from

Second Test Entry

(originally posted at

hmm, first entry didn't show up after the blog was re-built.  investigating by adding another entry.  please bear with me.

Test Entry

(originally posted at

the first test entry for

meanwhile in the background, wil wheaton as wesley crusher is putting the moves on some princess in the holodeck while her shape-shifting bodyguard is strangling lieutenant worf.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

MS Bites Back

(originally posted at

Got a kick out of an article over at Infoworld called Microsoft releases Windows Rights Management client.

Here's the kicker:
When detailed in February, Windows Rights Management Services (RMS) was described as technology for Windows Server 2003 designed to give enterprises the means to secure internal business information such as financial documents.
Richard M. Stallman couldn't be reached for comment, but I wonder how pissed he is about this. When I think RMS, I think of a man who fights for open standards and open software - definitely not a rights management package designed to restrict what users can or can't do with their software and documents.

I really can envision a team of MS jerks sitting around late one night trying to come up with a suitably "closed" product to attach RMS to. Evil, I say, just evil.

Change is Afoot!

(originally posted at

In a previous entry I spoke of a new project space.  I've registered for use as a personal space for myself and Julie.  That means new email addresses and all that jazz.  It also means this blog is moving, and that Big, Bad, Geek will be born anew, as my technical/professional outlet - complete with resume, sample code, and blog-as-I-learn journal.  Consequently, both sites will tend to be in a state of disarray until everything is sorted out.  Meanwhile, I need to thank David of Lucifer Media Corp. for helping me find the right place for everything and getting everything set up and working properly.  Also, I'm rather excited to have gotten Kung-Log working, as it'll make managing the blogs on each individual site just that much easier.  Hooray!  Anyway, please by patient during the move - which could happen at a moment's notice.  Keep you on your toes, I will.

Test from Kung-Log

(originally posted at

Very strange problems getting Kung-Log working - we'll see if this gets posted or not...

Update: wow, it works... but it has revealed a potential issue with my CSS... testing.

Updated Update:  nope, it's just hoe kung-log interprets line breaks.  it'll just take some getting used to.  this is a keep app that i should have gotten up and running earlier.  xml-rpc sounds like a difficult thing to implement, but just RTFM'ing gets it over and done with rather painlessly.