Monthly Archives: December 2004

iPod goes mainstream

It’s one thing for us techno-fetishists to be praising the iPod, but quite another when those in music join in. Today’s Age EG “Sticky Carpet” column pays homage to the device.

Yes, 2004 was the year Sticky went out and bought an Apple iPod.

In flashy campaigns, the people at Apple market this revolutionary technology as a must-have fashion accessory, when they really should be saying: you no longer have to spend hours a week organising your CDs, because this little helper will do it for you without complaint.

… and reflects on its influence on the traditional track/album structure:

It’s getting further and further away from the days when albums were treated as a distinct singular entity, to be played from start to finish.

Part of the progression I suppose. Once upon a time it was track/side/album. Sides went when CDs took over tapes and vinyl. Perhaps the iPod will speed the progression to individual tracks being the new way people buy music.

Feasibility Study Format

Any partioning guru geeks out there? Feasibility Study Format ://reilly.typepad.com/cameronreilly/”>Cameron needs some help – Cameron’s partioning woes.

UPDATE

Cameron no longer needs help. Ah, the power of blogging that he could get two helpful responses in no doubt less time than he could have from Microsoft itslef. I’m chalking one up for GeekRant.

Legacy machines

Win2K winver screenTony just upgraded one of the PCs in his house to Windows 2000, from Win98.

“What?” I can hear some people saying. “Upgraded, to Windows 2000?”

Certainly. I’m a bit of a Windows luddite, and I am firmly opposed to trying to overburden old machines with OSs beyond their grasp. I’m betting the PC in question is a few years old. XP may be a wonderful thing, but it doesn’t run well on machines slower than about 1GHz, even though MS claims 300Mhz is okay.

Hell, I have a shiny new 2 point something GHz machine at work, and some functions in XP still run slowly. That’s why my (to be replaced sometime soon, probably as soon as I need to start looking seriously at .Net) 650Mhz machine at home remains on Win2K.

Old machines live on… and on… and on. And if they’re being used by people who only want them for email, web, word processing and so on, there’s no compelling reason to throw them away, no matter how much MS and Intel and Dell might wish you’d keep upgrading. As long as they’re patched up to the eyeballs, virus and firewall protected, they run okay.

For machines from about 233Mhz to 1GHz, Windows 2000 is probably the best. It’s still actively supported by Microsoft (say a thank-you to all those corporates still using it), and MS haven’t gone to the lengths of making the latest Office versions incompatible with it to make people upgrade. (Yeah, sure, convince me there was a technical reason Office 2003 couldn’t run on NT4). While it misses out on the bells and whistles of XP, for a lot of users, it’s all they need.

Slower than that, you’re probably aiming for Windows 98 SE. It may be ancient, but it’s the most stable of all the 16-32-transition Windows versions, and runs well even on a lot of machines going back 8, 9, 10 years. Patch it up with the unofficial SP, then dig out that ancient copy of Office 97 SP2 (which, frankly, does everything for Office that most people want) and non-power-users will be perfectly happy.

Okay, apart from Outlook 97. Give that a miss. 98 was okay if you can find it, but 97 was fawful. Better to give them Outlook Express. And of course you’d need to fiddle the IE security settings from their “wide open barn door” defaults.

Linux? Well, it may suit some people, but most will want a high level of Office compatability, and it just doesn’t seem to quite cut it for that yet.

Where’s My Coffee

One of particular interst to Melbourne readers.

Hudsons Coffee have a rather unique view of Melbourne on their Store Locator page. I’ve never seen a map for this city laid out this way before and it’s very interesting.

The only suggestion I have is that they gave prominence to the wrong end. Most of the store are located around centre of the CBD, Swanston St and surrounds. The largest area on their graphic is also the emptiest (there are only four outlets west of Queen St compared with nine East of the same street) and you have to squint to figure out where most of the far stores are. They should have reversed the map so the Spring St end was in the foreground or, preferably, set Swantson St as the centre and maybe fish eyed the city.

When is a number not a number?

When is a number not a number?

When it’s a street number.

Number field

My sister was trying to register an Optus prepaid SIM when she got this message. Note the computer programmer-type “house_number”. And it has to be numeric? Uhh, no. I bet it wouldn’t like “123-125″ either.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from all of us here at Geekrant.org. (“What, you mean there’s others apart from you Daniel??”)

What’s that, you’d like a present? Well I notice GMail is saying I now have 10 invitations to give away. So if you don’t yet have a GMail account, and you’d like to partake of one, leave a comment saying so, with your email address in the email field (it isn’t displayed publicly) and I’ll shoot one your way.

And if you’re looking for something geeky to do over the break, you could do worse than to catch up on Cam & Mick’s G’Day World podcasts.

EU busts MSFT

Okay in theory I’m all for reining in companies when they’re being monopolistic, but this decision of the Europeans to make them ship a copy of Windows without MediaPlayer strikes me as just a tad silly. Microsoft are about to launch this version in Europe, which they’re calling — wait for it — Windows XP Reduced Media Edition.

From the sounds of it, it’s basically XP (in Home or Pro versions) without MediaPlayer. SoundRec and the movie making thingy are still included.

Why would anybody choose to buy this? Unless it’s cheaper… in which case, couldn’t you just go and download MediaPlayer from Microsoft later?

And bear in mind the major competition here is… well, it’s RealPlayer, isn’t it. Ah yes, that mob whose web site sneakily tries to steer you to the paid version when you’re looking for the free one (and there’s no direct URL to the free one), insists on an e-mail address they can send advertising to, defaults to including a useless applet that sits in your icon tray, splashes advertising over itself when you start it, and sends lots of juicy info back to home base. (I do use RealPlayer, for all the BBC webcasts… I really must check out the alternatives at free-codecs.com. Thankfully the BBC have their own licensed RealPlayer freebie download which isn’t quite so objectionable.)

Now the ruling on opening up the interface code, that sounds like the sort of thing that is more likely to level the playing field.

Teach them young

From my six year old son Jeremy’s diary…

Jeremy's diary

A few brief things

Some people aren’t so happy about Google suggest… certainly not Eric Rice, who gets his name listed with words like “child molestor”. Wouldn’t be delighted about that, myself. (via the G’Day World podcast)

New version for WordPress (minor fixes) (hopefully it fixes the thing where if you forget your password and need it mailed to you, it sends it in some incomprehensible encoding format that can’t be read… at least not on any web or Windows email client I have access to).

New version for Trillian (major new release). Haven’t had the chance to try it yet… no time Bellamy, no time.

Clock rant

One of the things I find annoying is that when my computer’s busy, it stops doing the niceties. So if I want a little reminder of what the date is, I put my mouse over the clock, and… nothing. Dammit. Likewise, while the computer is busy processing something, I go surfing, so I start typing a URL into my browser and hope it autocompletes… and… nothing. I assume some of this stuff only triggers when the CPU isn’t busy, but maybe it needs to be tweaked, if the user is obviously hoping it’ll kick in. If I’m slowly nudging my mouse around over the clock, then dammit, I want to know the date.

On a similar note, how many people double-click the clock when they want to look at a calendar? I certainly do, at least if Outlook isn’t in the foreground. Alas, on locked-down machines (eg servers, which probably don’t even have Outlook), this gives you an error about not having permissions to change the clock. Dude, I don’t want to change the clock, I just want to look at the calendar.

Oh yeah. Servers. Outlook/Office. Unlikely. But they all come with Outlook Express installed by default. It’s a flippin’ server, why would I want Outlook Express on it?! Like I’m going to go sit in the server room freezing my arse off, reading Usenet and sending mail?!

A new HTTP error

Spotted: a new type of HTTP 503 error:

503 - Slashdotted

(via Lauren)