You can test your internet connection speed at several web sites. Speakeasy has several USA locations. For international locations, a good list of internet connection speed servers is available at DSL reports.
If your connection speed is good, but Leopard runs slow on the internet, try putting the IP address of a DNS into your router.
If your ISP DNS is broken, Open DNS has DNS servers at IP addresses 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206
Leopard DNS issues are covered in this article.
Another 40 mm overnight, mostly around 1 a.m. Plus lots of wind. Lots of people stayed away from the markets in the morning.
According to this PC World article, the fastest Windows Vista notebook tested in 2007 came from Apple. It was a 17 inch Apple MacBook Pro. At 6.6 pounds, the Apple MacBook Pro was also the lightest 17 inch notebook computer tested during the year.
I thought this feature for sending an SMS message via your mobile phone from Address Book was lost. Although not in the Help index, Sending and receiving SMS messages is on the Apple web site.
Pair your computer and Bluetooth phone, and SMS is back. Just click any phone number label.
A second look at Mac OS X Leopard firewall is a bit of a worry. Seems like the ipfw is basically wide open, disabled by default, and not working as expected even when changed. Rich Mogull has a good article on the Leopard firewall.
The user firewall is more like an application level connection gate, possibly only for inward links at that. Seems to be using code signatures to identify trusted applications. So if an application is signed by Apple, it can communicate right past the ipfw firewall. Applications that modify themselves will break. Skype and World of Warcraft for example. Securosis investigate the Leopard firewall in another good article. Apple have released Leopard security updates and described the 10.5.1 security updates.
Luckily I have a router between our network and the world. Steve Gibson's interesting but probably incomplete test Shields Up still shows all my (router) ports as in stealth mode. Stealth mode just blocks ICMP Type 8, echo reply, it doesn't block everything (so it stops only a naive probe). Attempts on my wireless access are not very likely, due to my remote location. At least I can take some time to study the implications of these changes from Apple. In contrast, bringing a laptop into a firewalled corporate network bypasses the border firewall anyhow.
Looks like the Apple application firewall is controlled from /usr/libexec/ApplicationFirewall/ The com.apple.alf.plist file there lists sign exemption for Skype, and ten World of Warcraft items from blizzard.com. Also one from armygame.com. For Back to my Mac or similar VPN connections, Apple seem to have IPsec available, using racoon for secure key exchange.
The undocumented socketfilterfw says:
/usr/libexec/ApplicationFirewall ericpc$ ./socketfilterfw -h usage: ./socketfilterfw [-c] [-w] [-d] [-l] [-T] [-U] [-B] [-L] [-a listen or accept] [-s file to sign] [-v file to verify] [-p pid to write] firewallapp is used to control Application Firewall socket filter. The command takes the following options that are evaluated in order, and several options may be combined: -h display this help and exit -t app set trusted app, e.g. -t app1 app2 app3 -i dump socket filter internal data info -d turn on debugging -l do logging and run in daemon mode -k kill daemon -a ask when listen or accept, ask "accept" or ask "listen" -s file sign file -v file verify file -c check file
There was an excellent discussion of Leopard's application firewall security on the Apple forums, continuing over many pages.
The effect of the new firewall is best described by Apple in the Leopard socket based application firewall, which also describes how to use it. It is more intrusive than most Apple ideas, but may improve security long term.
About the only negative of Apple's new approach is that there is no GUI interface to ipfw, and ipfw is set to allow connections. On the other hand, if you don't understand how to set the rules on ipfw, you will probably break your computer connectivity. It is a trade off of security for ease of use. Unless you know as much as the Apple engineers, don't fiddle with ipfw. Personally I think Apple got it wrong, and should bring back the ipfw GUI they had in System Preferences in Tiger and previously, as well as keeping the new application firewall. Just how you explain the difference to users is a whole new ball game however.
One suggested ipfw ruleset I saw at Securosis - if it makes no sense to you, that is a good reason not to muck around.
00100 allow ip from any to any via lo* 00110 deny ip from 127.0.0.0/8 to any in 00120 deny ip from any to 127.0.0.0/8 in 00500 check-state 00501 deny log ip from any to any frag 00502 deny log tcp from any to any established in 01500 allow udp from 10.100.0.0/24 5353 to any dst-port 1024-65535 in 01700 allow icmp from any to any icmptypes 3 01701 allow icmp from any to any icmptypes 4 01702 allow icmp from any to any icmptypes 8 out 01703 allow icmp from any to any icmptypes 0 in 01704 allow icmp from any to any icmptypes 11 in 65500 allow tcp from me to any keep-state 65501 allow udp from me to any keep-state 65534 deny log ip from any to any 65535 allow ip from any to any
Not firewall, but a note on general Leopard security features. Does have a note on code signing in the Leopard application firewall. Apple explain code signing for OS X 10.5. Man codesign to find how to do it yourself. The Keychain Access Certificate Assistant will generate new certificates. Also an interesting account of how much more powerful Parental Controls is than what I expected (not having children, I hadn't checked it). Parental Controls are enforced by the kernel, with trusted path execution. Can be bypassed by compiling as a dynamic library and inserting into an allowed program. Still, a few more patches and that will be pretty impressive.
Apple had their one day sale on Friday, and I couldn't resist. Ordered a spare Bluetooth Mighty Mouse (the rollers in the track ball get gummed up with gunk). Also an Airport Extreme wireless base station, as I want to split my network into Gigabit Ethernet and regular 10/100 Ethernet. I also figure Apple will eventually get AirDisk working correctly. Not on special at all was an iPod Touch, to play with.
Whitsunday Terraces resort reception accepted the TNT delivery mid afternoon. I don't know why the delivery people insist on ignoring the actual address. Alas, when I collected it, the delivery consisted only of the Airport Extreme wireless base station, in a form fitting box that could never have contained anything more. My invoice showed that all the items were on the one consignment note. I sent Apple a detailed email questioning this incomplete order, but it would have been after they closed for the evening.
Jean gave up and started using the air conditioner for the first time this summer. It was only 290C, and 65% humidity. We typically only knock the temperature down to around 26 degrees, so the air conditioning mostly dehumidifies.
The only place that didn't have water was the actual domestic water supply. No water from the taps. I note that a pump flooding problem in Proserpine during the recent heavy rain took out water for several thousand people for several hours.
In OS X 10.5.1, sleep is insomniac on my iMac G5 ALS. Somewhere in the multiple (failed) safe boots, sleep decided it would once again work (at least for two evenings). Still no idea what caused the wake from sleep. However I will now reconnect the USB devices I had disconnected.
WiFi connection seems less stable, but after installing 10.5.1 and multiple reboots, I have not had the entire loss of connection I had on 10.5. Except once, where I had to re-establish my network preferences again. Very strange.
Flash content does not show in Safari. I removed the Flash Player Enabler plugin from /Library - Internet Plug-ins, and Firefox showed YouTube. Opera had continued to play Flash. I do all my web surfing from a Standard account, never an Admin account. Adobe's Flash installer didn't ask where I wanted the Flash plug-ins installed, and put them into my local library, not the system library. Adobe's installer should have asked whether the install was for all users, or just one user. Attempts to fix that failed. I finally fast switched to an Admin user, downloaded Adobe's gigantic Uninstaller, plus a new copy of the Flash installer. That removed the bad installs, and installed the new version of the Flash plug-in. Now Opera and Firefox can view Flash. Safari still can't view Flash on my Standard account, but can view it in another test user. Groan!
Since sleep didn't, I left the iMac off overnight. Decided to reboot in Safe mode next morning.
I thought you started a Mac in safe mode by holding down the shift key while powering up. Perhaps this is a bad idea with a Bluetooth keyboard. After a fair while, the fans boosted to full speed. I left things like that while I used the bathroom, but when the iMac had still not booted, I powered it down.
It appears my timing was wrong for booting in safe mode, despite the restrictions of safe mode, like no Airport. I needed to wait until I heard the startup tone. You release the shift key when the gray Apple and spinning progress indicator appear. Guess I better try that again.
Next boot I didn't try anything with the keyboard. Seemed a perfectly normal boot, without delays. However Airport did not automatically connect. I had to switch it off and back on to wake it up.
Safari still does not play YouTube videos, only their sound. Next I removed the QuickTime Plugin webplugin. Adobe say you need Flash Player 220.127.116.11 for Leopard. My Flash Player plugin in Internet Plugins seems to be 9.0 r47
The Adobe download Install Flash Player 9 OSX promptly installed itself in the wrong place! Instead of asking for Admin access to install in /Library, it installed in my Standard user ~/Library - Internet Plug-ins. This is a really impressive start! I moved the files to the right spot. Safari still doesn't play Flash. I put all the plugins I had removed back. Safari still doesn't play Flash. I attempted to change permissions to an Admin user (and managed to totally confuse Finder). As an Admin user, the Flash installer claims I don't have permission to install the last two files. Finally deleted all the Flash stuff from the Library, which at least proved that both Firefox and Opera use the same plug-in, as both of them now failed to show Flash. Logged in as an Admin user, and downloaded the Flash Installer again. This time I managed to get a complete install.
For one brief fleeting moment, Safari played Flash movies. I did another safe reboot, and the iMac hung on boot, at the circling icon stage, and the fans ramped up. I had to power down each time I tried a Safe Boot, and just boot normally. Plus Safari now fails to use Flash again. Great!
Also attempting use Disk Utility to verify permissions or to repair permissions takes 80% and more of the CPU, with installdb the process taking the CPU. No real indication it is accomplishing anything. Estimated time to repair, 1 minute. After about 5 minutes of 100% CPU, the CPU temperatures were 400C above ambient, and my fans were over 4000 rpm (HD) and 5000 rpm (CPU) and 4000 rpm (system). I stopped the Permission Repair after about 8 minutes. It looks like Disk Utility is also broken. The intsalldb process kept hitting the CPU. After another minute, I was about to quit Disk Utility, when the installdb process completed.
At present, Firefox and Opera will show Flash videos. My Standard user Safari will not. Safari downloads Flash and plays the sound, but that is all, no video. In a Test user account, Safari does show Flash. Next step is to track what is different between the two users. Some plist trashing ahead, perhaps?
Perhaps the failed safe boot attempts (or simply rebooting itself), or the attempt at repairing permissions helped with the insomnia problem. Leopard stayed asleep overnight last night.
WiFi connection auto restored itself after sleep, as it should. I sure hope that WiFi connection is finally working.
The missing parts of my Black Friday Apple sales order arrived. A spare Bluetooth Mighty Mouse (the rollers on my first one gunk up, and taking it apart to clean it takes a while - glue has to set afterwards). The indulgence was an iPod Touch.
Various reviews had made me aware of issues with the iPod Touch. Basically, it isn't a good design for an audio iPod. Lacks the storage capacity of the iPod Classic and earlier hard drive models. You need to see the display to select music, unlike the way you can use an iPod with a click scroll wheel. No EQ available. It doesn't play existing iPod games. You need a dock to connect a video cable. There is not even a remote available. Plus iPod Touch is probably more fragile, while being larger than an iPod Nano of the same capacity. However with iPhones not being for sale here yet, it did give me a chance to play with the interface.
It is often hard to get at a touch volume control, since unlike the iPhone, it is no longer a physical control. Unlike the iPhone, there is no built in speaker (not that a built in speaker would be much use except for sitting the iPod Touch on a pillow as you went to sleep). As expected, iPod Touch lacks email, which is a pity. It lacks any way to add new iCal calendar items, however you can add new Contacts. Unlike the other iPods, it has no Notes application. Lack of notes really is a tragedy. I use notes extensively on iPods, but their displays are too small to read. I was really hoping the larger display on the iPod Touch would provide a way around this.
Apple list nearly 500 web applications for iPhone, some of which may work on iPod Touch. They are mostly games, rather than serious applications, but there are exceptions.
Google maps for iPod Touch uses Google APIs, and source is available.
Google mobile search, just add /m to the regular Google address.
Unbound Medline for medical citations.
Remote Buddy allows iPod Touch to control things normally controlled by Apple remote.
Online typing tutor for iPod Touch.
iConvert online conversions for units.
Apple's iPhone Dev Centre. They say think windowless, no scroll bars, and fingers are not as precise as a mouse. You can move the viewpoint instead of scrolling. You can't have dense links, as fingers can't handle it. Double tap zooms in on the closest block element ancestor (such as an image, div, ol, ul, or table). Avoid wide blocks of text.
Stick to standards. HTML 4.01, XHTML 1.0, CSS 2.1 and partial CSS3. ECMAScript 3. W3C DOM level 2. AJAX, including XMLHTTPRequest. Do NOT use WML. Use well-structured and valid HTML. Size images appropriately, and use small images. Tile small background images. Avoid Framesets entirely.
Apple provide TN2100 Customising Web Content for Safari on iPhone, which tells how to make you web page work better on a mobile iPhone or iPod Touch. In particular, how to use -webkit-text-size-adjust: with your html element. Safari on iPhone defaults to a 980 x 1091 pixel viewport, and fits to size on its 320x480 display. You can set initial viewpoint and scaling.
The folks at the IE Blog have a sense of humour about the name. Check these names!
Next question, is it better at handling standard HTML and especially CSS?
Electricity prices soared on the seven billion dollar wholesale National Electricity Market starting Thursday. At 4:20 p.m. Friday, the five minute despatch price spiked to the maximum A$10,000 per megawatt hour allowed by NEM. The grid that links all states except West Australia (and the Northern Territory) reached a demand of 30,000 megawatts, for the first time since last summer. High Victorian demand in hot weather left the instantaneous reserve capacity only 11.7%.The margin has not normally been below 12% since NEM was established in the 1998.
While demand is expected to peak at 33,000 megawatt in January or February when hot weather will increase air conditioning use, it is likely that some generators were offline for maintenance before the summer peaks. Also, transmission capacity from South Australia and Queensland was reduced by lightning strikes on Friday. Demand in southern states also peaks during exceptionally cold winter weather. NSW helped set a winter record for electricity consumption on 19 June 2007, for example.
NEMMCO have detailed prediction of supply, demand and transmission capacity. Despite that, I still predict local brownouts due to problems in several states this summer. With climate change initiatives making it increasingly unlikely that any more coal power stations will be proposed, and drought reducing the electricity output of many drought affected existing power stations, I predict power shortages over the next few years. Air conditioners are increasingly common. Desalination plants use power. There are limits to how much power shedding industry can handle, even with good economic incentives. There are also limits to how willing suppliers are to provide power at standard rates without prior notice or better prices.
Naturally nuclear power stations would reduce the emission problems of power generation in Australia.
Various reports note that Net Applications shows the iPhone has 0.09% of web browsing views by operating system.
Windows XP 78.37% Windows Vista 9.19% MacIntel 3.59% Mac OS 3.22% Windows 2000 2.97% Windows 98 0.76% Windows NT 0.63% Linux 0.57% Windows ME 0.43% iPhone 0.09% Windows CE 0.06% Windows 95 0.02%
While 0.09% isn't very high, it does exceed the combined total of all other portable phone devices. This for a product released less than six months ago in a single country. That isn't bad at all.
MacIntel use is already higher than other Macintosh, and the combined value is 6.81% of all views. Alas, Linux seems to be still going nowhere on the desktop. In browser views, Firefox has an astonishing 16%, making alternatives to Internet Explorer a valid market of over 20%.
Google Chart API provides an easy access to dynamically generating a variety of charts, based on data in the URL. Line, bar, pie charts, scatter plot, Venn diagram, choices of colours size and labels.
Sometimes it fails to work easily. For example this would be invalid.
The example URL includes the ampersand & which in XHTML must be escaped to allow a web page to be valid. Luckily the Google API does allow you to escape these characters, but you will probably end up correcting it manually.
Google provide an excellent set of examples.
Surfin Safari says WebKit now has client side database storage. It uses the WhatWG HTML 5 working draft storing structured data locally with SQL as the basis. A demonstration of the database storage API is available at WebKit (needs a current WebKit version - Leopard doesn't seems to work).
Interesting to find that the Safari Web Inspector supports viewing the full contents of a database!
There seem to be interesting items in HTML5 as Lachlan Hunt's Preview indicated.
I wonder whether this database stuff will ever appear in the iPod Touch?
I showed Jean the iPod Touch. She played with it for a little while, especially using the Safari browser. I mentioned the double tap. Luckily her web pages are also valid and have good div layout of areas. Soon she was real enthusiastic. Wanted to know price, whether it could take notes, and started planning on how she could use it instead of a computer during some of her travels. I didn't expect her to get enthused about a gadget (that is my job). She didn't expect to get enthused about it either. Wanted to know the status of the iPhone as well, and the phone technologies available, and those (unfortunately many) that are missing.
That touch interface really does make a difference.
Extensive list of Internet Explorer 7 bugs. It follows a list of bugs in Internet Explorer 6. Comprehensive list of bugs in Opera 9. There is still a bug in Mozilla (Firefox), and also a bug in Safari 3.
I happened to notice a political pamphlet from The Australia Institute, on Australia's 21st Century Carbon Budget. This makes the typical anti-development biased assumption that energy use should be determined on a per capita basis. It then concludes that Australia is a terrible example of surplus greenhouse gas emissions.
To stabilise worldwide at 450 ppm CO2, worldwide emissions must be limited to something around a fifth of current emissions.
This is actually bullshit. If instead of taking emissions on a per capita basis, you took it on land area, things would be very different. The surface area of the world is around 510 million square kilometres. The land area is 29%, or around 148 million square kilometres. Australia is the sixth largest country, at 7,740 thousand square kilometres, or 5.2% of the land surface of the world. So, on that basis, the population of the world should be substantially less than a half billion people. The problem is that there are at least six billion too many people on the Earth.
At least, I got a warning today that the batteries in my Bluetooth Mighty Mouse are now at a critical level, and it would shortly fail. I should be able to find when I bought it, and thus determine a battery life for a mouse that has never been switched off since I bought it.
An hour or so after that warning, my mouse quit. Good timing from Apple for the warning. Although, if I were travelling, would I have spare batteries? Probably doesn't matter too much, given how widely available alkaline AA batteries are.
I replaced the two Energiser Lithium AA batteries with a new pair of Energiser Lithium (I found these Lithium great in my digital cameras, so I keep some on hand). After about 15 seconds the mouse started working again. No drama. Yeah!
The dead batteries tested at a little under 1.1 volts.
A digital camera SD memory card with WiFi. Automatically downloads photos to your computer or various photo sharing web sites, such as Flickr. See Eye-Fi memory card review by Jason Kottke. Flickr now have an online photo editing facility.
Professor Paul Kerin of Melbourne Business School suggests in The Australian that Labor's Stephen Conroy should bring the changeover to digital TV forward to the original December 2008 date. Stuff the free to air broadcasters (that sounds fine to me). Suggests it wouldn't cost much now to simply give the (many) analogue holdouts a free set top box.
Not that digital TV works where I live (distribution cable isn't up to handling it). However I don't care, since there isn't much worth having a TV for these days.
The new 12.1 inch display Dell Latitude XT for commercial users shows the second largest PC manufacturer is taking an interest in this niche (2.4%, or 2.5 million units annually) area of portable computers. It has an optional extra bright daylight display, and solid state memory. Hewlett-Packard and Toshiba (with the Portage M205, then M400, and now M700) are already working on the tablet area.
Previous Faulconbridge neighbours and friends Susan and Graeme were visiting Cairns with their friend Bill, so they decided they could manage to drop in to Airlie Beach on their way home. I organise a suite at the Whitsunday Terraces resort, and I am looking forward to seeing them again. We saw them a few times over the past few years at conventions.
Alloysoft's Signal looks cute. Implements a web server on your computer. This lets your iPhone or iPod Touch control iTunes remotely. No hacking your iPhone, as the work is done on your computer. Suggested setup uses an Airport Express to wirelessly distribute your iTunes music. Play, pause or stop music, move between songs in playlists, adjust volume, rate songs, see current album art. Browse and search the media library. A really nice idea.
Is it really true that you can't use an iPhone or current release iPod as a USB storage device? I have been happily using my first generation iPod Nano for storage, and thought that this facility would continue to be available on new models like the iPhone. If an iPhone isn't a USB storage device, how do you transfer photographs taken with its camera to a computer?
Can an iPhone connect to a Bluetooth GPS to receive accurate positions? Can you receive or transfer files such as photos via Bluetooth? Can Address Book send or receive a vCard? Can iCal send or receive a calendar event? Are there any Bluetooth profiles available except headset? Can you do anything with Bluetooth from an iPhone except handsfree from a Bluetooth headset?
Does an iPhone have voice dialling? Does it have voice memos?
MMS not available on iPhone, despite it having a camera. I have friends who don't have email, and use their cellphones for everything. They use MMS a heap.
Can you use your iCal ToDo lists as yet on an iPhone?
How do you do a search on an iPhone?
How do you cut and paste on an iPhone?
Does an iPhone sync Notes as used by Museum mode on an iPod?
No Flash plug-in for browser (not that I care).
How do you SMS more than one person at once?
Jean had to visit her surgeon at Mackay for a checkup. We left the Whitsunday Terraces a little after 7, and despite delays to collect fuel, arrived early, as planned. We had time for me to visit Bunnings hardware. Managed to get the angle brackets I wanted for the balcony. The previous two times, Bunnings were out of stock. Jean had headed into Spotlight. I managed to find a heap of cotton for Hawaiian shirts before I located her getting a pattern. We were pretty pleased with our shopping before seeing the surgeon.
After the hospital visit (Jean got green lights on doing anything, when she felt fit enough), we checked Office Works. I was able to get some apa pages printed. Also got a Firewire cable with various ends (I didn't recall what my new terabyte drive needed, so anything to anything sounded like a good compromise). Next was Caneland, for lunch. Parking was a pain (not that I ever like driving), as is typical by that time. The kebabs were acceptable, but dominated by McDonalds and KFC, the food court is a pale shadow of its former self. Jean was getting pretty tired by then, but insisted we check Target for a swimming costume for me (didn't find anything of use), and allowed me to look in Angus and Robertsons bookshop (also nothing worthwhile). We were happy to leave while Jean could still walk at all!
OK, so we stopped at Bloomsbury for milk shakes on the way home to the Whitsunday Terraces.
Our friends Susan and Graeme, with their friend Bill, had visited one of the Great Barrier Reef platforms. Spent lots of time in the water, and had to be signalled to come back on board after everyone else was ready to return. Seems they had a great time.
I was able to spend a fair bit of time with our visitors that evening, when they returned from the Great Barrier Reef. Jean had collapsed after all her walking.
Our visitors left late this morning for their long drive south. However we did get to see them for a decent time while they were packing and organising to leave. This time Jean managed the walk down the steps at the Whitsunday Terraces, 50% further than her previous walks on stairs.
Apple list How to create custom ringtones in GarageBand 4.1.1 as article 307108. Seems to be a good compromise ringtone solution, unless you absolutely want some commercial tune. Well, Windows users are out in the cold, but neat for Mac users. Mind you, trimming music in Garageband, exporting as aac and change the extension to .m4r probably worked anyhow.
WiFi failed to connect mid evening on my iMac G5 ALS, after working for a week or so. This is not a Leopard DNS issue like JungleDisk describes. If it were a DNS issue, then using the IP number of my Netgear 834G router would let me connect to the router. It does not. Also, Jean's Dell running Ubuntu shows no DNS problems.
The WiFi connection revives if you shut WiFi down for an instant, and then bring it back up. However it is lost again after getting onto a web page for a brief time. After about half an hour of mucking around, including renewing all the WiFi settings in System Preferences, WiFi came back. Not much of interest in the Console System Log.
Intel confirm in a pre-CES briefing that it still expects to ship the low power Menlow platform for mobile devices and ultra mobile PCs in the first half of 2008. Menlow is the 45 nanometer low power Silverthorne processor, and the Poulsbo chipset. Intel claim Silverthorne uses a tenth the power of current processors. It also says the entire chip platform fits on a 74mm by 143mm motherboard. That sounds way too large for phones, but great for a tablet.
I am looking forward to Intel's CEO Paul Otellini saying more during his CES keynote on 7 January.
Intel will also show off the Z-P140 parallel ATA solid state drive, and the Z-U130 USB solid state drive. The Z-P140 starts with 2 GB, and should have 4 GB by mid 2008, and can be extended to 16 GB with additional NAND SD54B and SD58B flash chips. The Z-P140 measures 12 x 8 x 1.8mm, and weigh 0.6 gram. Read throughput 40 MBps, write 30 MBps.
Spam email promoting US Presidential candidate Ron Paul was promoted by a spam botnet, according to Joe Stewart on Secure Works security site, who describes the action of the botnet.
The speculative economy has stuffed the USA, and the rest of the world will also suffer when their housing bubble bursts. It is just like the tech bubble. If you invent fancy investment vehicles to distance investors from people who never had enough to pay for a home, someone will get hurt when the defaults start. The finance wizards who invent obscure loan deals are better at talking, so the people who caused the problem suffer the least. Packaging real estate isn't producing anything at all in the economy, except inflation.
Interesting list of new or forthcoming semantic applications on the web, on the future importance of the analysis of content by computer mediated engines.
The decision by Toshiba to drop OLED TV displays essentially means organic light emitting diode technology is dead, at least for large screens. Sony produce only about 2000 much smaller screens a month, and the price is high. About the only good news is that the lifespan is now about that of regular LCDs. Check back in a few more years to see if there has been any progress. They really will be nice, when they work, and when they are affordable. They do not need a backlight to work. Think competition with eInk (which also isn't ready to use).
The technology isn't there as yet, however an OLED display would probably be a great match with a top end iPhone or iPod. Potentially better power consumption. Visible without a backlight (it is electroluminescent). Not as bright as an LED point source, but more direct than a backlight. More flexible display. Use in direct sunlight, for certain types. Sony have claimed million to one contrast ratios, astonishingly high compared to any other display technology. Epson claim they can produce the ultimate black, the key to great image quality.
Since Apple don't try to reach the most price sensitive markets, there is a good chance they could make an early move to a more expensive display.
Tenth anniversary of the invention of the term weblog by Jorn Barger of Robot Wisdom. Even more than the web itself, weblogs promoted amateur (unpaid) content, demoting the value of commercial authors.
Jean drove us to The Warehouse, for some shopping. This is the first time Jean has been able to drive in 16 weeks! There we listened to the Christmas announcements, that they knew we were feeling the stress of Christmas. If stores didn't play pathetic Xmas music, perhaps we would all feel under less stress? Bah, humbug! The big deal at The Warehouse was a 150 light reindeer with a moving head. Just the thing I need. How nice (we were looking for shirt buttons).
As part of our continued contribution to the Consumermas season we went to the hardware store. Fourteen varieties of potting mix, and none of us, including the staff, could really tell which was least bad for growing herbs on the balcony (that is herbs as in cooking, not as in pot plants and hydroponic lights). So I took home manure, which seems appropriate for Consumermas.
Jean even continued to Centro shopping centre, where she was able to get some buttons at BigW. They are about four times as large as normal shirt buttons, and bright green, but on the shirt material I selected, who will notice?
Impressive worldwide sales by Symbian in the Smartphone sector of some 20.4 million in Q3, up 56% from previous year. 165 million sold to date. 134 different Symbian models available, of 202 ever available. 8314 third party Symbian commercial applications. Worldwide, Linux phones are second to Symbian. Total mobile phones sold worldwide in Q3 was 289 million.
Symbian share in the USA has been shrinking rapidly over the past few years, from a quarter to less than 5%. Former leader Palm has been overtaken by Windows Mobile, now in second place to Blackberry.
I think it needs to be clearly understood that the Apple iPhone is not currently a Smartphone, whatever its obvious potential. At some stage it may be a Smartphone, but not at the moment.
Jean managed to drive all the way to Proserpine and back to the Whitsunday Terraces this morning. Even included a stop at the local post office. Excuse was to visit the sewing shop at Proserpine to get buttons for my shirts. This is the sixth week after her hip replacement.
65.1 kg 1978.05.16, 67.4 kg 1979.03.22, 67 kg 1979, 68.5 kg 1982.04.08, 70.9 kg 1988.04.07.
Nice to see Google search calculator easily converts stones, pounds and ounces to kilograms via a reasonably natural language interface.
If you think I am going to say what my weight is now you are dreaming. Oh, OK, it is 72.9 kg. But I am going to get it down real soon now.
Another interesting article by Professor Paul Kirin in The Australian. He says
force Telstra to divest at least its copper and HFC networks. Plus strengthen ACCC's access pricing powers. The ACCC have previously recommended Telstra be forced to divest HCF.
Telstra string out access pricing negotiations, and concoct tales of how high its costs must be. ACCC can only make price determinations after failure to get access to Telstra unconditioned lines. Telstra consistently blocks access so as to hold onto monopoly pricing. Try getting out of an ISDN plan in favour of cheaper ADSL, for instance. Telstra started talking FTTN only when rivals started installing their own DSLAMs to provide ADSL over Telstra monopoly copper. ADSL2+ could be enabled in Telstra exchanges by a simple firmware upgrade. Telstra in general only provide ADSL2+ when a rival installs its own DSLAM.
The simple fact is that Telstra should have been structurally separated before the Howard government sold it off. Pretty much everyone except the Liberal Party said don't do it.
Meanwhile, Professor Kerin is correct to call for Telstra to be forced to provide immediate unconditioned local loop access to its lines at a price determined by ACCC. Telstra can appeal the price after it supplies the access. Then legislate for complete divestment of the local loop lines.
Telstra started back in the Post Master General days as a cosy, lazy government monopoly that didn't advance much. Now it has changed to a far more efficient lean and greedy commercial monopoly of the copper connection to every home. That particular change isn't all that much more beneficial to the country, despite the fully franked dividends.
Interesting article from The New Yorker on the merits of checklists in medical care. Points out that pilots solved some of their complexity problems with checklists.
Michael Kanellos says Sony Portable Reader is too slow. Takes 65 seconds to start War and Peace, partly because it reads the whole book into memory. Opps! You have to wonder about Sony and the things they get wrong.
Interesting long article by David Byrne on survival strategies for music artists. Points out the music business changed from selling music to selling plastic disks, and that business is disappearing. However it should only be a small part of what the industry does.
Jean completed my first cotton Hawaiian shirt. Bright red, covered by many palm trees with bright green foliage. The large green buttons seem just about right. The red and green theme is just the thing for Xmas.
Apple Quicklook viewer in OS X 10.5 Leopard shows the contents of files from within Finder. It is very handy, and saves a lot of time compared to Preview. Not all files, but those that have a Quick look plugin. After starting to use Quick look for everything that is text, pdf, html, iWork, or common web graphics formats, you always notice there are lots of files that Quick look doesn't as yet display.
Here are tips on using Quick Look, that may not be obvious. Zooming, playing music, adding images to iPhoto, using Quick Look in Mail, etc.
Apple's solution to viewing files in Quick look is for all the proprietary programs to write a Quick look plug-in, to handle their files. Third parties have been doing some handy Quick look plug-ins.
If applications produce files that are primarily specially formatted text with different extensions, such as TexShop's TEX's .tex, or Quickscript's .qs, then you can change the application's Info.plist in its Contents by adding a UTI (Uniform Type Identifier) so it supports Quick Look. Within the application's Info.plist, you need to add public.plain-text to the UTTypeConformsTo key. You may need to run the qlmanage -r command from Terminal to rebuild the Quick Look database. For movie files that Quicktime can handle, you need public.movie instead of public.plain-text.
List of Quick look plug-ins at Hrmpf. Excellent list of Quick Look plugins in German. Good English lists include QuickLook Plugins Listwhich is chronological, and QL Plugins. The Mac OS X Hints forum has these additional links to Quick Look plugins.
Quick Look Encapsulated Postscript plug-in from Eternal Storm Software. If only someone had a plugin that handled plain Postscript. I wrote a lot of my formatted magazine material in QuickScript markup, with a 45 kB Postscript preamble that interprets the markup so it becomes a standalone Postscript file.
I wanted to find a reliable domain name registry, or web host that acted as a domain name registry dealer, that wouldn't cost me a fortune. It would be nice if they were also competent, and not too overworked, although that is probably expecting a bit much. In particular, I wanted one that wouldn't turn feral and steal domain names from me. My existing web host had changed hands. At some stage this web hosting company I used for two years had registered a set of nice domain names I had paid for as theirs, rather than as mine. I was listed only as technical contact, not as administrative contact. I also didn't know whether the domain registrar they were using was involved in cyber squatting, or merely an innocent bystander.
The good bit was the hosting company had problems with Cpanel, and failed to renew all the domains after the second year. The bad bit was although I had paid for a 30 month hosting contract, they had failed to ask me about renewing names (tough call for me anyhow). I was hoping the domains would all expire without anyone noticing. If no-one cybersquatted and parked them as a porn pointer site (and I don't know how high the risk), I could buy them again after the 75 day expiry period.
My own personal domain is hosted at Server101, and I am happy with them. They are about twice the price of the cheap hosts, and give you only a little over 100 MB of space, but otherwise worked just fine. The tech support tends to come from one of their directors (not that you are likely to need it) and they know what they are doing. Dot com domains are US$15 each, established via Tucows Canadian registry. Australian domain names were A$79 for two years. You own the names yourself. However previously Server101 were very expensive for mapping multiple domain names to a single account, as I needed. This time when I checked the site I couldn't see a price for mapping extra domains.
Andrew from the Applix list got in early recommending Net Registry. They had Australian domains for A$44.95 for two years. Dot com domains for A$19.95 a year. Long established registrar, but guaranteed to check your company number for Australian business names. Luckily the company registration was online, so I was able to get details of the company whose domain I wanted. I had some problems with the web interface (I don't like cookies). So far Net Registry have my credit card information, but I don't have access to the domain I tried to buy (they probably don't have anyone to check I am legitimate until next morning). Not a great start however.
John recommended Enetica, which listed Australian names at A$69 for two years. Dot com domains were A$24.95 a year. I couldn't determine how they handled mapping of domain names, but they do say you own the name.
Dave recommended Joker. I have to admit that name worries me a bit. Dot com at US$12 a year, but making it sound better with US$6 for the first year.
I use dyndns - they do real domain name registration these days, it integrates well with their other stuff - they seem very good to me. I usually think of them more in terms of providing DNS for a dynamic or static IP behind some ISP, so you can share your web cam or access your computer remotely. They certainly seem to know what they are doing. I have also used their name server IP in my router when my ISP seemed to be having name server problems.
Craig said he had used mydomain for a number of years, and they had regular automatic reminders of expiring names, etc. Dot com domains were US$8.75 plus ICANN fee. They don't seem to handle Australian domain names. Their standard (but not their starter) package allows multiple domain names.
Hosting the domain was another task. I specifically wanted a web host that didn't mind mapping multiple domains to the one web site.
John recommended Slicehost using VPS, which looks great for developers. Midway between shared hosting and dedicated serving. Price of US$20 a month for a minimum slice is not bad. However on my use, a entry level shared host would be fine, as long as they allow mapping of domain names.
As to hosting sites. For US$10/month you can get a linode.com virtual machine, install debian, do what you want. Linode say the price is now double. Virtual servers with custom code tend to have far more features (and more complexity) than I need.
Russell said Bur.st, a Perth based non-profit. Not really suitable, as I want to host a company. Interesting site to keep in mind for other purposes however. Especially since it provides Unix shell access. Craig responded that APANA also provide non-profit sites.
I have to say that the days when none of techs gave a damn about what any company wanted to do on the internet are (alas) over. The internet is no longer an academic playground. The vast amounts of commerce money spilling around means geeks can be hired to subvert the web, legally or otherwise. Look at the money paid by spammers for zombie computers and botnets.
First search for the business name on the ASIC site. You need to be associated with the business to get an Australian site in the name of a business. This is totally unlike the wild west approach of the dot com top level domain (TLD), where ICANN makes an inadequate sheriff. I am not sure control is even possible.
The nice folks at Net Applications provide statistics of internet access by browser, by browser version, by operating system, and much else. When you start thinking the only browser you need to consider is Microsoft's Internet Explorer, remember that ignoring the others is like closing your store for a week for each month you are open. Firefox has 16.1% of the market. Safari has 5.14% of the market. Firefox users tend to update to the latest version relatively quickly.
Windows XP still has 78.37% of the market, followed by Windows Vista at 9.19%. Macintosh on Intel has 3.59%, and Macintosh OS X not on Intel has 3.22%. The only other Windows version above 1% is Windows 2000 at 2.97%. In short, uptake of Windows Vista has been very slow. Uptake of Macintosh on Intel chips has been very quick. Linux remains at 0.57% of the market, and unless someone (Linux, you need Wal-Mart) finds a way to have it pre-installed, Linux can probably be ignored.
One surprise was the iPhone at 0.09% of the market, higher than Windows CE. This means that despite being sold basically only in the USA, and only since the end of June, people are actually using Safari on iPhones for browsing. That doesn't happen much with other phones (iPhone browser use seems to exceed that of all other Smart Phones). Expect to see other phone browsers either improve rapidly, or also change over to WebKit.
Screen resolutions are all over the place, with 1024 x 768 top at 46.08%. After that nothing exceeds 14%, but sizes range from 2560 x 1600 down to 240 x 320 and even 240 x 160. Stop making assumptions about display sizes.
The previous (now voted out) Australian government established restrictions on online content to protect children, according to an unsatisfactory Herald Sun report. ACMA press release covers new rules for age restricted internet and mobile content to commence on 20 January.
Looks like the US$200 Zoom H2 portable audio recorder for field use is now available in Australia at A$370. The solid state sound recorder uses SD cards for storage. Two hours at 96kHz on a 4GB SD card. WAV or MP3 to 320kbps VRB. USB connection to Mac or PC. It has four microphones, so you can get ambient recording. Uses 2 AA batteries, for up to 4 hours recording. Good Zoom H2 sound recorder review from Transom. There is a firmware upgrade for Macintosh OS X 10.5 Leopard to allow USB card reader support.
Jean kindly completed a festive shirt for me. Bright red, with multiple coconut palms with bright green leaves all over it. Perfect for Xmas. This was with cotton cloth bought at Spotlight when we were in Mackay earlier in the month. I don't know why it is so hard to find Hawaiian shirts made of cotton. I was very visible at the local markets.
Craig Hockenberry writes of the one line of code needed to make web sites look better in iPhone. Lots of good hints there. The second half of put your content in my pocket is also available. Apple's iPhone Dev Center Designing Content is one of the best starting points.
Apple iPhone does not support media type Handheld CSS stylesheets. Apple support the CSS3 Media Queries candidate recommendation. Media Queries extend the functionality of media types by allowing more precise labeling of style sheets.
John Allsopp provides iPhone tests for Webkit browsers. These give a great idea of CSS3 support by various browsers.
Meanwhile Wil Shipley dislikes AJAX on iPhone as a sole choice for developers.
Comprehensive list of iPhone application links from Lifehacker.
HTML 5 adds semantic elements, that in HTML4 would be covered by the generic block element div. The new elements are header, footer, nav, article, section, and aside. I think I will change my existing div elements to have these terms as their id. h1 to h6 continue to be available, for outlining purposes.
Comments on Alex Russell's fixing the web from Chris Wilson, Daniel Glazman, Joe Clark and many others heavily involved in browser design and standards.
The Dick Smith tower speakers have the two 8 inch woofers in series. The crossover is simple. The mid speaker is polarity reversed, and has a 6.8uF 100V capacitor in series. The tweeter has a 2.2uF capacitor in series.
Peter and Dawn Al (plus letter) John and Diane Craig and Julia Les Bob and Margaret Jim David L (hand made) Gerald
[More cards arrived after Xmas, and indeed in the New Year. All the senders were doing way better than I am at doing cards.]
Susan and Graeme and Bill Joe and Gay Mariann Jeanne and John
Electricity was out at the Whitsunday Terraces at 12:20 for a few seconds. Hot day, everyone running air conditioners.
I made a last minute trip to the Airlie Beach Post Office, since they were still sorting mail mid morning. The parcel addressed to Jean was from The Hoochery at Kununurra in the Kimberley region of West Australia, and contained six bottles of Ord River Rum. Look for the red eyed crocodile on the bottle. We really didn't expect the rum to arrive before Xmas. Nearly broke my back carrying it up the twelve floors in the heat and humidity.
Good, even newspapers report on another year closer to the end for God, as religion retreats to the myth where it belongs.
Everybody else gets on with their daily worship at the shrines of the modern trinity: shopping, eating and drinking.
Jean cooked a half turkey for us over Xmas. Beats the restaurants here in Airlie Beach, in my opinion. Especially when it is either hot or raining at this time of year.
My new Apple Bluetooth flat keyboard stopped working. I don't recall getting any pop-up warning of the batteries being flat (as I did with the Bluetooth mouse). The batteries measured under 1 volt each. Replacement Lithium batteries got everything working again with no drama. Must check how long the Lithium batteries lasted.
The Economist provides its predictions for technology in 2008. The Economist says Linux and open source is ready for the desktop, surfing pipes will slow down, and wireless internet access will increase.
Flight risks are concentrated 95% in takeoffs and landings, not in distance covered. USA air travel between 1992 through 2001 transported 5.5 billion passengers, and 433 died (including 232 on 9/11 flights). Risk per air passenger is 1/10 million, or 1 fatality per 15 billion miles flight covered. In contrast, intercity deaths on interstate roads were 1500, for 345 billion miles covered, giving a risk of 4 per billion per kilometre for this safest type of driving. Driving more than 20 kilometre exceeds the risk of air travel.
It rained overnight. Filled my gauge, so I emptied it twice. Must be at least 95mm overnight and morning. The Port of Airlie below us is a sea of mud, with the King tides spilling seawater into the excavated areas. Port of Airlie looks a proper mess. All their equipment seems neatly parked on higher ground from when they stopped work on Friday. I had to empty another 40 mm from my gauge at 5 p.m.
MTV say music industry broke. Given MTV now specialise in crap reality TV, just how would the arseholes who brought us Beavis and Butt-hole [sorry, that should read Butt-head] know anything about music anymore? Mostly a recapitulation of various music industries shooting themselves in the kneecap. Album sales down (perhaps because they are crap). Sony rootkit. Internet radio royalties increased so much that everyone went back to pirating music. Paul McCartney has a sellout album released via Starbucks. Musicians feud with producers. Radiohead album for download. Nine Inch Nails drops EMI music label.
A handy tool for those of you who, like me, boycott the RIAA record labels. Try this RIAA Radar site to find which music labels are RIAA members, and avoid buying their products. The record labels continue to make horseshoes, while they wait for these silly horseless carriages to go out of fashion.
Great list of top 100 online web page generators for Web 2.0. Some impressive tools freely available. Now if I can only get a horizontal white gradient fill in png with transparent background. Revise that to a fill that doesn't appear granular. Looks like I will need a better graphic tool.
Domain registrars involvement with stealing domain names, by monitoring and leaking domain searches. Even ICANN are concerned about domain name front running, and like this earlier article, give a good description of the domain name stealing problem.
AOL says End of Support for Netscape web browsers. Security patches will continue until February. Netscape recommend using Firefox.
This is a sad day, as Netscape was the graphical browser that first popularised the web, and provided access for the general public. At one stage, over 90% of all web access was done via a Netscape browser. Might be worth recalling that figure, next time someone designs a web site that only works in Internet Explorer.
Hardly any stall holders at the local Airlie Beach markets, due to the threat of rain. Very dull. Not even a place for me to get breakfast. This was a dull day, with even the newspapers ensmalled. I climbed the many stairs back to the apartment at the Whitsunday Terraces.
A while ago I had put a very small (only 200 litre) rainwater tank on our Whitsunday Terraces balcony. Weight constraints make a larger tank impossible on the balcony, although only a larger tank makes actual sense for water storage. The 160 mm of rain over the past few days had filled the tank. This is despite having no drainpipes or even guttering. I just left the tank top exposed below the edge of the roof. Enough water drained straight off the small portion of the roof actually over the tank.
Jean discovered today that one of her web sites had been hacked, and had links to highly unlikely sites. Her site had been rewritten in WordPress blogging software over the past year, partly for ease of maintenance while travelling. So far Jean doesn't know exactly how the site was tampered with. However web site host Dreamhost did have a server vulnerability some time ago. WordPress have also reported a vulnerability, and provided a security update. Understandably Jean isn't happy about working to repair damage by vandals.
Pretty hot weather today. The Whitsunday Terraces resort seems full, with no extra spaces for cars. We didn't go out to replace the broken oven, so no more cooking turkey until we get a replacement oven.
Best New Year present. News that SCO were bankrupt. That company tried to kill off free use of Unix. They lost most of their court cases, but added FUD to anyone contemplating using Linux. I am really happy that SCO are bankrupt. SCO sounded like Microsoft shills. Next I want to see Sony destroyed. When Sony run a rootkit from their CDs, then I want Sony bankrupt.
We stayed up for New Year's Eve, with a glass of wine, followed most daringly by a glass of sparkling wine. Curse the French, who won't let us use the word champagne. So I won't drink the horse piss the French claim is fine wine. There was so much noise from the Airlie Beach foreshore that we probably couldn't have slept anyhow. The noise was reputed to be music. Actually it was a lot better than most of the music I hear drifting up from events down there. The fireworks at midnight made a great display. I had a good view of them from the Whitsunday Terraces balcony. I also noticed there seemed to be more fireworks a great distance offshore, probably at Hayman Island.