Saturday, February 26, 2005

Flickr: Image sharing

Flickr is another example of a 'community' service (like Blogger and It adds a new dimension to managing and sharing information - words and pictures can be uploaded and categorised and shared around. All we need now is support for music and video and it's complete :)

I'd like to see more integration - at the moment to share an image you have to upload it to Flickr and to share a bookmark you post it to and to bring them together you have to reference them here in Blogger. Ideally the three services would share a common interface so I could use the same tags for a bookmark, an image or a blog entry. I could upload an image, tag it and write the associated blog at the same time. Ideally I'd be able to do it from an off-line app on my Powerbook, or as an MMS message from my cellphone (or who knows, on a next generation iPod !)

I would love to see this evolve so there is a way of consolidating email (Gmail and local mail), bookmarks, images, forum posts and instant messages so there is a history I can access. True Personal Digital Assistant !

You can rely too much on technology

Originally uploaded by rufan-redi.
It's really quite frightening... is this what happens when you can't take the spell checker from your PC into the real world ?
What makes it even scarier is that the same mistake is in the Deputy Principals' parking space as well.
Is my daughter going to the right school I wonder ?!

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Clie is dead. Wonder where PalmOS is going

I've been a long term fan of PalmOS devices. Starting longer ago that I care to admit with the original 'geek tool' - a first generation Palm Pilot. Various mishaps and new toy frenzies later I was lured from the, then moribund, Palm hardware to the new Sony Clies - first an NR70V and then a UX50. Sadly the OS itself was lagging behind both the Symbian Smart Phone implementations and capabilities of the Microsoft PocketPC platform while Palm tried to work out if a dual OS strategy (smart phones and PDAs) was the way to go, or if a rebuild based on BeOS or a port of the API onto a Linux core was the winning direction.

A resurgence in Palms design team, coupled with a realisation that the platform had stagnated seems to have been the final nail in the coffin (although for most of us having Sony drop the non-Japanese products was more of a blow) with no hope of a return to the market (at least with PalmOS, although a Symbian based joint strategy with Sony Ericsson isn't too unbelievable.

I hope for Palms sake they pull something more impressive than the Treo 650 or current Tungsten/Zire models out of the hat or the PDA market may be subsumed into smart phones faster than expected...

Update (September 2005): PalmSource is history. Wonder how long before the first Windows Mobile based Treo ships !

Friday, February 18, 2005

VirtualPC Frenzy !

I now have four VirtualPC instances running on my PowerBook. Three are actually useful and one will probably go as soon as I run short of space.
  • WinXP Pro - this one is the main day-to-day environment especially now I've worked out how to run multiple IIS instances on it. IE6 and all the smart stuff
  • Win2K - a bit of a personal favourite as it's the quickest and does everything. But it's my IE5 testbed machine so harder to upgrade
  • Win98 - yup, it's important to remember there are folks out there still using this. It also provides a good platform for running IE5.5 as well
  • SuSe Linux - well, sometime you just have to try don't you !

but... the best bit of all is finally getting VirtualPC to access the Internet via the Airport Extreme adapter and (more importantly) serve web pages that I can access from Safari when I'm connected via Ethernet, Airport or not at all.

Okay, so it's not the simplest and every there are some times when you have to go through and set things up again, but it's working fairly well.

So... what's the magic ?
  • Set VirtualPC to use Virtual Switch, and in the application preferences set Virtual Switch to use the default connection.
  • On an Ethernet connected machine it's no drama. OSX is happy to share the connection and everything works as expected
  • When connected via Airport it's a little more complicated...
    • First of all, you have to make or buy a cat5 Loopback adapter.
    • Make sure you add both the Ethernet and Airport adapters to the Network settings in Network Preferences
    • In Sharing share the Airport connection with the build-in Ethernet
    • If you want to make outgoing web connections from the VirtualPC you'll need to enable port 80 (and possibly others) in the OSX Firewall otherwise the Guest OS won't be able to see past the firewall to the outside world
    • At a command prompt in Windows you may need to do an ipconfig /renew to pick up the new system assigned IP address
    • In Sharing you may also need to stop and restart the Windows File Sharing (for some reason the Guest OS doesn't get access to the shared files until you do)

  • When there is no connection it works pretty much as on an Airport connection

It's not the quickest, and it's not the easiest - and I hope that time will make this whole saga a little easier to cope with, but .... it works !
Sometimes after the machine has been to sleep (or been restarted) you'll have to go through this process again.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

So, you want to run more than one IIS on WinXP Pro ?

WinXP Pro is, in many ways, a huge improvement over Win2K. Admittedly in my chosen environment - running in VirtualPC on OSX - it's a little slower than it's predecessor, but turn off all the chrome and extraneous stuff and it's still quick enough.

One thing that it doesn't support however is multiple websites defined within IIS. Well, that's what the paperwork says !

As there isn't an 'official' option to run Win-Server2K3 on VirtualPC yet, there had to be a way round the problem...

Well, there is....
To create a new website you need to kick off the Command Prompt and change to the IIS Admin Scripts directory
cd /inetput/adminscripts

then enter the following to copy the current site
cscript adsutil.vbs COPY W3SVC/1 W3SVC/2

note #1: it doesn't matter what port or IP address you attach to... only one can be started at a time
note #2: you'll need to change the "W3SVC/2" as appropriate.

To delete a specific instance enter the following;
adsutil.vbs delete W3SVC/2

note #3: As in note #2 above, remember to change the "W3SVC/2" as appropriate.

Virtually Pointless

Just for a laugh I spent a couple of hours today installing SUSE 9.2 on my PowerBook. No, I'm not fed up with OSX, I just wanted to see how well VirtualPC handled it.

All in all, it went surprisingly well - although it took longer to install than WinXP !

I chose the Gnome rather than KDE variant as I prefer that desktop, and more importantly it include Evolution which is a three-quarters decent mail client.

Ultimately though it's pretty much a waste of effort. OSX already has all the good bits from Linux and quite a few very polished apps (and no need to resort to the command line to do anything clever !). And it's pretty slow (hey, it is running via an emulation layer after all). If I really needed Linux it would be better to sacrifice an old PC to the cause, but as all I'd really use it for is Apache/PHP/MySQL and MAMP does a really good job of that.

Friday, February 11, 2005

How big should my banner be ?

I keep forgetting how big banner ads should be when talking to designers. Well, luckily I don't have to decide or remember because the nice folks at the Internet Advertising Bureau have decided for the good of us all - IAB Interactive Marketing Standards and Guidelines - Internet Ad Unit Guidelines. Thanks guys !

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

I could have got a Mercedes...

... or are they going to call it an iBenz now it comes with iPod add on ?

Actually, the budget didn't quite stretch to that so I had to settle for a Griffin Road Trip so I can take the iPod on the road with me.

Great accessory, although it would have been neater if there was an option to position the mounting further away from the power outlet (maybe a curly power lead)... but given enough motivation I'm sure a trip to Tandy will let me solve that wish.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Switchers - check here....

Switching can be hard. I know, I've gone through it. But it's worth the effort. It's a shame I didn't find something like A mini-guide to Mac OS X when I first got my PowerBook.... would have made some of those moments of " the #$%^ do I do that !" so much easier.

no more powerbricks

Splashpower promise a great future... no more lugging around power bricks to charge your phone, PDA and iPod just drop 'em all down on a Splashpad and watch them charge.
Of course, we need Apple, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Palm and everyone else to incorporate this technology into their devices and hotels to start installing them in the rooms....
Wonder if they have enough power to charge a laptop (either when it's running, or when it's in standby - even if it's enough to extend the usability in a Zarraffas or Starbucks)

It's not a pod from the Nostromo

Today I took my life in my hands, and got into something that looked like the hibernation pods from the Nostromo. Actually it was a Dry Water Massage system (now there is a concept to get your head around). The most relaxing 20 minutes I've ever spend in a shopping centre, and as an added bonus no scary acid slime spitting monsters when the pod opened at the end (well, no more than you usually find a Pacific Fair !)
Awesome experience. I want to go back. If I could work out how to install a computer into this thing so I could work then I would get really funny looks in the office !

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Mac OS X Keyboard Shortcuts

Found this reference to Mac OS X Keyboard Shortcuts today.... it's not 100% complete (doesn't mention Fn-Delete for forward delete for instance) but it's really handy. I hate to think how you're going to have to speak to get the voice recognition in Tiger to make some of these happen (perhaps we'll all have to learn Klingon !)

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Sneak peak of the 2005 look

Just uploaded the first cut of the new look for Rufan-Redi for 2005. It's pretty much ready, just needs some fine tuning on copy and images.

Not a single <table> or javascript rollover ... it's 100% CSS ... and did I mention that I hate standards ! It's taken quite an effort to get it working in most of the browsers. It's not 100% (although it's valid HTML 4.01 and CSS) so still a bit more tweaking needed to get it consistant.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

OSX Apps that I can't live without

Well, that's perhaps a little extreme (I did go without my computer for, like, a couple of hours once. But I didn't like it)

After living with OSX for a few months now there are some apps that I do however find pretty indispensable... so, in no particular order, here they are:

  • skEdit - HTML and text editor with syntax highlighting (for multiple languages) and built-in SFTP.
  • QuickSilver - instantly launch an application (or open a file or locate information) by tapping in a few letters from its name - Hard to describe. Harder to live without
  • TimeLog - track hours spend on client projects. Easy to use and intuitive.
  • LocationX - indespensible if you change location frequently (network settings, SMTP servers and timezones all taken care of)
  • GmailStatus - got GMail... keep an eye on it without having to lift a finger. Wish in included IMAP and POP3 monitoring as well
  • Adium - like MSN Messenger, iChat, Jabber... but integrates all into one. Shame not video conferencing support any time soon.
  • Skype - sometimes IM isn't enough, and you need to hear someone speak and iChat won't run on their PC
  • OnyX - helps to keep your Mac in tip-top shape
  • SizzlingKeys (for iTunes) - iTunes control at your finger tips
  • StartupSound - you don't hear it often, but sometimes it's enough to wake the dead ! This is a great way to control the volume
  • MAMP - Apache, PHP, MySQL, phpMyAdmin for OSX... with one neat control panel. Still got to wade through .conf files, but it's an improvement !
  • rBrowserLite - it's FTP, but free ! If you need SFTP check out CyberDuck which handles SFTP as well.
  • Firefox - Safari rocks (after all, it's why I got my first PowerBook) but FireFox is a great platform for testing sites
  • BluePhoneElite for managing SMSes and calls via Bluetooth to many brands of handset
  • e2sync includes Entourage into the happy iSync family
  • iScrobbler for AudioScrobbler updates without intervention
  • Meteorologist to keep track of the weather
  • Virtue for multiple desktop support, taking advantage of the Quartz rendering engine

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

New PowerBooks

My Rev.A 12" PowerBook is starting to feel it's age. It might have 1.12GB of RAM - darn the soldered base RAM or I could have gone further ! - and the ageing G4 867Mhz of processor might not cut it in the PC world, but for OSX it's actually quite good.

However, the new 15" models are really quite sweet... One of those with the faster 100GB HDD, 128MB of Video RAM and a full 2GB complement would be a real powerhouse.

While I'd love to try out VirtualPC and see how much it would be improved in that environment it can only be good (everything else on my 12" is actually fast enough) so just got to make sure it would fit in my satchel (I've finally found a carry bag that's comfortable !)

The Future that Never Was

I know this is mostly about technology related stuff.... but I guess some t-shirts count !

Have you ever wondered what the world would have looked like if the set designers for Flash Gordon had their way, and the scientists of their day could actually deliver what the artists promised ?

Well, The Future than Never Was takes that ideal into lovingly rendered detail and, well... all I can say is the "I have a Death Ray, and I know how to use it !". Pax et Lux indeed to Bradley W. Schenck - a very talented artist.