Monthly Archives: December 2007

Blog (noun)

I normally think of the term blog as being a web site of dated entries. As a noun, you can have a blog. As a verb you can blog (eg post) something to it.

It would seem there are people out there using the word blog to mean what I would normally call a blog post:

I’m back, starting with an apology for the lack of blogs over the last few months.

Garry McGhie, V/Line

Not to single this instance out, because I’ve seen other examples of this use around the place, too. But it just doesn’t sound quite right to me.

Wiktionary / / Urban Dictionary / Merriam-Webster / / Encarta — All these appear to agree with me.

Merry Christmas from Apple

My sister is fuming because she got an iPod Nano for Christmas, and apparently it won’t work with her 3 year old PowerPC MacBook, which runs MacOSX 10.3. Sure enough, the Nano specs say it needs 10.4.8 or higher. She’s got no real interest in paying and installing for an OS upgrade to get around the problem, so she’ll ask a friend to load her iPod for her.

Basically it means that Apple is saying you can’t have a new iPod if you run a version of OSX from before April 2005 (with the appropriate free updates).

Whereas it does run happily on Windows XP (SP2) or Windows Vista. So you need to have a version of Windows from no earlier than before October 2001 (with the appropriate free updates).

How does Apple get away with treating its customers like that?

The joys of the international money market

I use for a lot of my domain registration. They allow payment in your choice of US Dollars ($15 per year), Euro (12) or UK pounds (8.30). So when today I had to renew a domain, I checked what the cheapest option in Australian dollars.

US $15 = A$17.38
EU €12 = A$20.05
UK £8.30 = A$19.38

So no contest, USD is the way to go. Thanks for providing the option, Gandi!

(Yeah I could switch to a cheaper registrar. But I don’t have the time or energy to do so at the moment, thanks for asking.)

Finding the found

I don’t think it’s that my eyesight’s going. I think it’s an ever-growing trend to use more subtle text highlighting and cursors. Sometimes when I search for a word, particularly a short word, within a web page or other document, I just can’t see what it’s found.

Sometimes it’s because the idiots programming it haven’t thought about what happens when the text found is underneath the search box. I’ve seen that happen when searching within an email’s text in Outlook 2003, for instance. Easily fixed the way most applications do it: by moving the search box if necessary, or by scrolling the document so the text isn’t underneath.

But sometimes it’s just that the screen is so busy with words that the highlighted term just doesn’t stick out. It happens to me when, for instance, in Word I’m searching for plain apostrophes and quotes that I want converted to their “smart” versions (because they look better on the printed page). In Word, particularly in Word 2007, the highlighting is tiny, and on a busy page, almost invisible.

Seriously, just try and find it in the text below.

Word 2007 found

This is made worse in Word 2007 because of the severely limited customisable colour schemes. But other applications have similar problems.

Either the highlighting needs some more emphasis, or (and I think this would work better, especially if your search term is short) a big arrow should appear pointing to it, or a circle or some other kind of highlighting should appear if, within X seconds, the user doesn’t do anything which indicates they can see where the text is.

Otherwise you have to find the found term. It’s not my idea of fun.

Getting tricksy

Jeff Atwood reminds us of the consequences of tricksters taking advantage of unlocked computers, including installation of the joke Clippy, which pops up Office 97-style, but more annoyingly.

It reminds me of some of the tricks I used to play in my youth (well, my early career), back in the days of Windows 3.1.

  • Change the screensaver to call up Calculator, or Notepad, every few seconds (I wonder if you can still do this)
  • Change the mouse buttons, or the sensitivity on the X and Y axes — one really fast, one really slow
  • That old favourite, putting a desktop full of icons on as a background image, so you couldn't click the icons (significant in Windows 3.1 when minimised programs sat as icons on the desktop)
  • Swapping keyboards or monitors with computer next door
  • Swapping individual keys on the keyboard over (didn't work for touch typists)
  • Spoofing a frequently-used icon to look like it had sent an abusive message to all the network users (followed by another colleague tapping the victim on the shoulder and saying the boss wanted to see him in her office).
  • Emails advising of an imminent audit of pirated software (this caused a rapid deletion of files before anybody could stop the victim).

Low-tech tricks worked too. The pisstake-de-resistance was one morning putting a notice on a late colleague's desk to advise him that he'd been moved to elsewhere in the building. (This was met with an accepting “Oh.” and shuffled departure.)

The scary thing is that all of the above tricks were tried on one person, and he fell for them every time.


The patch that bricks

“CCP’s latest major patch to the EVE-Online client, Trinity, comes with an optional DX9-enhanced graphics patch that dramatically improves the visual quality of the in-game graphics through remade models, textures, and HDR. It also has an unfortunate bug: the incredibly stupid choice of boot.ini as a game configuration file, coupled with an errant extra backslash in the installer configuration. The result is that anyone who installs the enhanced graphics patch overwrites the windows XP c:\boot.ini file with the EVE client configuration file, bricking the machine on the next boot. Discussion in a couple of forums threads is becoming understandably heated.”

From Slashdot (via Lauren)

iPod Touch and the ‘classic’ geek blunder

The most famous blunder of all time, according to Vizzini from the Princess Bride, is “never get involved in a land war in Asia” but the most famous blunder, I think, for a geek is not to research fully the geek tech they are going to buy.

I treated myself to an 16Gb iPod Touch yesterday, I’ve been meaning to get an iPod for a few years and being a user of iTunes at home for my music collection it was a logical step. The iPod Touch is a great little device, not too heavy and has a great screen but hey you already know that because “we” geeks have read all the reviews, and if lucky enough to have a nearby Apple Store we’ve had a play with one.

So late yesterday afternoon I took a spin down Pitt Street here in Sydney to Next Bytes (Apple Reseller) and purchased my iPod Touch, I even bought a nice silicon protector for it. I resisted the urge to open it and play with it on the trip home and ripped the packaging off once I was in front of my PC.

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My Location

Google Maps My Location uses either GPS (if it's available on your phone) or triangulation from the closest towers to show where you are. And yes, it works in Australia.

But it's not as impressive as I first thought. When I tried it initially in the Melbourne CBD (where there are

lots of towers) on my non-GPS-capable Nokia 6230i, it showed the map and pinpointed to within a few hundred metres of where I was at the time, pointing roughly to the corner of Swanston Street and Flinders Lane. Wow!

Alas it turns out that it points to that location wherever I am in greater Melbourne. Oh dear.

Still, at least it got the right city and continent. That's a start.