Monday, October 31, 2005

encryption in iChat

Ichat Encryption-1The 10.4.3 update adds encryption support to iChat.  Unfortunately it only adds it for people using AIM accounts from  This is an artificial limitation, as these accounts are using the same AIM servers.

I don't know what type of encryption this uses, but I hope that it uses something compatible with the other IM encryptions (i.e. Gaim-Encryption)

[via TUAW]

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Sunday, October 30, 2005

ATSC broadcast power

I wonder why broadcasters do this.  It appears that our local ABC affiliate does not broadcast at full power during the day.  We don't get good reception of KGO during the day, but at night the signal comes in perfectly. 

I could understand this if they were broadcasting some other digital channels during this time, but this doesn't appear to be the case.  I wonder if this is just to save electricity.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

STEALTHtenna amplifier

Since the STEALTHtenna was installed in the attic, the reception was a little flaky.  I bought the amplifier for the STEALTHtenna, and it has solved the problem.

While I was up there I attempted to make sure that the antenna was pointing in the "right" direction, according to a compass.  After I did this, I got no signal.  This may have had something to do with our attic being a little faraday cage, with the foil covering on the roofing matterial.  I had to go through the manual process to estimate the right direction to point the antenna.

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Friday, October 28, 2005

Making your Powerbook a Wi-Fi access point

The MAKE: Blog has a post that describes the steps to make a Powerbook running Mac OS X  into a 802.11 access point.  I haven't tried this is a while.  Last time that I did I wasn't able to get the DHCP server to hand out ip addresses.

Large transmission tower

Tall TowerThis is pretty cool.  In Chicago, there is a proposal to build a 2000 ft tower to broadcast radio signals such as HDTV.  This would allow an unobstructed view for these signals for quite a range.

I would love it if something like this was done in the San Francisco Bay area, even though this would never happen.

[via HD Beat]

More Vonage and TiVo

I have been having a difficult time to get my HD10-250 to make phone calls over the Vonage line.  The tips that I described before didn't seem to work.

I found this page that did have a tip that works for me.  This is the configuration that I use to dial:

Dial In Number: 1-212-277-3895

Call waiting: "*70,"

Dial Prefix: "*99,12122773895,,,,"

Tone/Pulse: Tone

Phone Detection: Off

Dial Tone Detection: Off

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

D-Link NAS enclosure

3060000000050767.JpgThe D-Link DSM-G600 is a enclosure that would allow you to create a NAS by adding a hard drive.  This is pretty cool, especially since the NAS devices that have hard drives installed are pretty expensive.

The one things that I ams not sure on is what protocols this supports.  I would assume that this supports SMB and potentially AFP, but their specification doesn't state specifically.

[via Engadget]

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Olive Symphony

SymphonyNow this is a cool media player.  The Olive Symphony is a component digital music player that has some pretty cool features.  I has an 80 GB hard drive that can store the music files.  It has a CD drive that can rip audio cd directly to the hard drive.  Also you can burn cd from the Symphony itself.  When playing the music there are both Toslink and coaxial digital outputs for playing high quality audio

In addition to being able to rip the audio from CDs, the Symphony can access music on computers on the local area network, from either Bonjour or UPnP A/V protocols.  In addition to being able to access music from computers on the network, the music that is on the hard drive is made available on the network through the same protocols.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Previously, I had bought an internal ATSC antannae.  I haven't been that happy with the reception of this.  I wasn't not able to get our local NBC affiliate, and I was only able to get ABC or CBS, if no body mooved in front of the antanne.

I decided to buy a Channel Master STEALTHtenna.  Since we live in a townhouse, I didn't want to put this antenna on the roof, so I decided to install it in the attic.  The installation was pretty easy.

Apple Store Experience

Yesterday, I went to the Apple Store because the hinge on the right side of my PowerBook G4 was a little loose.  I had this problem a little over a year ago, and they were able to tighten the screws in the store.  I had AppleCare back then, and I decided not to continue it.  I was hoping that they would fix again like they did last time.

when i got to the Apple Store in Valley Fair, there were a couple of people in front of me.  When it was my turn, I was told that I had to sign in.  (There were no signs that told people that they should sign in.)  Luckily, I the person was able to take the laptop into the back and tighten the screws.

I am hoping that I can make this laptop last until the new x86 PowerBooks come out.

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Monday, October 24, 2005

Free music

StanfordStanford has posted 30 tracks in the iTunes Music Store for free download.  The interesting part was that there the "Get Tracks" button, did not add the tracks to the Shopping Cart, but it started to download automatically.  Maybe this is true for all free tracks now.

I also noticed that the tracks that are downloaded are not Protected AAC tracks, but are just standard .m4a tracks.

[via TUAW]

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Automatically create torrent rss feeds

This looks pretty cool for someone who has a podcast.  It looks like you can log into your Prodigem account, and enter a rss feed, it can convert the attachment urls to urls for torrent for those files.  This makes it very easy to create the torrent feeds.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Syncronize Firefox bookmarks

Bookmarks Synchronizer is a Firefox extension that will allow you to synchronize your Firefox bookmarks between computers.  This brings one of the features that is available in Safari to Firefox.  I am using this to synchronize my bookmarks between my laptop and my desktop at work.

[via TUAW]

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1080p DVD player

3060000000050047.JpgI saw this post about the Classé CDP-300, which is a DVD player that has some pretty cool features.  It has a touchscreen lcd display on the device itself, to allow previews of videos playing.  This is a great feature for playing DVD-Audio discs where you don't really need the video display.

The one feature that I don't understand, except for the bragging rights, is the 1080p output.  DVDs inherently have a resolution of 480i, so this DVD player has a line doubler that increases the resolution.  I don't know if this is better than the line doublers in nice HDTVs.  Also, I don't know how many TVs support 1080p input.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

spam blog tool

Almost a year ago, there was a site that had been taking my rss feed and using that to generate a blog with my content, without any acknowledgment.  It looks like this tool has been created for this purpose.

It appears that this tool will read an rss feed and the make posts to standard blogging systems.  The main headline on their site is:

Who Else Wants to Know How I Maintain Daily Posts to Several  Content Blogs on Various Subjects, All Without Writing A Single Word or Lifting A Single Finger?

This appears to be a software package thats main purpose is to plagiarize.

dcc and disk space

I have been noticing that I have been running out of disk space on one of my servers.  I just noticed that the log directory for dcc has 171,000 files.  I removed them, and that freed 1.2GB of space.

I need to write a script to make sure that this directory doesn't get to large.

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Sunday, October 16, 2005

ATSC antenna

When I set up the DIRECTV HD DVR, DIRECTV doesn't give local channels in HD, so you need to connect an ATSC antenna.  I first tried the Zenith Silver Sensor Digital HDTV Indoor Antenna.  It only worked for some channels.  When I looked closely at the box, it was only a UHF antenna.

I then bought the Terk HDTVi.  This antenna allows me to receive most of the ATSC channels in my area.

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DIRECTV HD DVR installed

Yesterday, the installer came to install the DIRECTV HD DVR.  Since we already had a DIRECTV installation, all that was involved was installing the triple sat dish, installing a new multiswtich and one additional line to the living room.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

detect rootkits on OS X

This article on MacDevCenter, has some good tips for detecting rootkit attacks on Mac OS X.

[via TUAW]

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Mercedes Minivan?

Mb R ClassI just saw some pictures of the 2006 Mercedes R-Class.  They call it a "Grand Sports Tourer", but it looks like a minivan to me.  It is funny that luxury car makers do not want to make minivans, even though I think that there is a market for them.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Podcast of videos

I just saw this post on macosxhints.  It describes that you can create a url for an rss feed for all of the videos with a particular tag in

For example, here is an example of a url:

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On Thursday, I picked up a copy of SOCOM 3.  I really like the game.  This new version has several new features

  1. Better graphics

  2. Larger maps

  3. 16:9 screen

  4. Customizable weapons

  5. Drivable vehicles

It definitely is an improvement over SOCOM 2, but there are some downsides to it.

  • When enabling Progressive scan mode, the graphics appear to be dithered

  • The controls for driving the vehicles are a little strange.  R1 to drive forward, and L1 to go backwards.  Also using the right analog stick changes the view, so it gets a little confusing for driving.

  • In order to join or create a Clan, you need to verify an account with a credit card.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Mobile IM

I just tried out the Mobile IM client, for AOL, MSN and Yahoo, that is available through Get It Now.  It is interesting, but I don't know if I would use it.  It pretty much just sets up a IM to text message proxy.  So once set up, it forwards IM messages to the phone with text messages, so the phone is not always using air time when using Mobile IM.

I did noticed one problem.  There is not a way in the UI for Mobile IM to disconnect from the IM services.  What you have to do is to connect to the IM services from a computer.  This will cause the IM session to be closed.

I don't see using this myself.  I don't want to be connected that much.

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Sunday, October 9, 2005

Integrated car computer

2645319218675165.JpgThe ICEPAC is a pretty cool way to get a computer into your car.  It is has 1Ghz cpu, 256 MB RAM, 40GB hard drive and a DVD/CD-RW drive.  All of this fits in a single DIN unit.  The motorized LCD fits in a second DIN slot.

One cool thing about this is that CDs and DVDs can be played without Windows having to be booted.  With an external GPS antenna, the computer becomes a GPS navigation unit. 

I don't know how well this would integrate with a XM receiver.  It doesn't have line in, but it does have a Firewire connection.  But I don't think that there are any XM receivers that have a Firewire output.

[via Autoblog]

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BugMeNot Bookmarklet

This post has a pretty cool Bookmarklet that automatically opens a browser window to BugMeNot with the current domain filled in.  This allows you to easily get a user name and password for many sites that require registration.

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The trains are really for our son

Dcp 3887This weekend our son and I made some pretty cool Thomas the Train tracks.  I keep getting tempted to add more tracks so we can build more complicated setups.

Right now we have the Conductor Figure 8 set, the Up and Away Expansion Pack, and a Cross and Switch Expansion Pack.

Of course, our son has the most fun from these trains.

Saturday, October 8, 2005

Gallery 2

I just upgraded our gallery software to Gallery 2, from the 1.5.1 version.  This looks pretty cool.  I really like the external modules that can be enabled/disabled individually.

It did a great job at importing the photos and albums from the previous version of gallery.  One things that I found out is that you shouldn't cancell the import while it is in progress.  When I did that, and tried to reimport the data, it failed.  I had to drop all of the tables, and delete the data directory.

Friday, October 7, 2005

Google Reader

Google has released (I don't know how officially) their web based RSS/Atom reader.  I tried it out, but I didn't have much luck.  It didn't successfully import feeds from my OPML file.  It only imported 47 of them.

It looks like this could be pretty cool once the bugs have been worked out.

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Vienna RSS reader

This post mentions the new Vienna RSS reader.  It is a new RSS/Atom reader for Mac OS X.  It is pretty cool as this is a open source app, while the other full featured RSS readers are all shareware applications.

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I flagged this post when I saw it.  When I ordered our new TV, I called DIRECTV to see if this deal was still good.  The person that I talked to knew about the deal, and said that I qualified for it, as an existing customer.  Also this price also includes the needed dish and standard installation.

Unfortunately, they will not install it until November, as this is the first available installation time.

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Logo XmradioStarting on November 15th, DIRECTV will replace their MusicChoice channels with XM music channels.  This is great, as I have not been very impressed with the current music channels on DIRECTV.

It appears that DIRECTV has a server of music where each of the tracks have been tagged with a bunch of categories.  Then for each channel, the server randomly picks each track. With XM, the music programming is a lot better.

Unfortunately, it looks like U-POP is not being carried.  I wonder if this is because U-POP is a WorldSpace Satellite channel.  Also I wonder which 50 channels will be available for Total Choice subscribers. U-POP is is part of the Total Choice Plus and Total Choice Premier lineups.

[via Engadget]

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Thursday, October 6, 2005

Yet more strange http access

I just looked in my logs and I noticed a series of http request that take the url, and append "/text/javascript".  It appears that the Ocelli web crawler is attempting to download pages that are javascript pages.  I don't know what type of web server would change the format of the resulting page just by appending a mime type to the url.

GPL software in TV

This is pretty cool.  I just looked through the documentation that came with the Sony 34" HDTV (KD-34XBR960) that we just bought.  One of the documents is titled:

Required Public Statement for GPL/LGPL licensed Software Used in This Television

It looks like the TV is running linux, and used the MontaVista Linux Kernel.  All of this software that they use is available on their linux web site.

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Voice recognition

When I worked at Apple, I worked on the speech recognition software that was part of the Mac OS.  I never really did use it at home, as the recognition was never all that good, and you needed a noise cancellation microphone.  Also the size of the dictionary of the recognized words was pretty small.

I have just started playing with the voice calling on the Motorola E815, and I am extremely impressed.  I was assuming that I would have to record a voice utterance for each phone number that I would want to dial with my phone, but that is not the case. 

I accidentally pushed the button on my headset while I was driving, and I heard a voice that stated "Say a command".  It looks like you can say commands like:

"Call <person name>"

This is pretty cool, especially since it went through the whole address book to determine the dictionary list that can be spoken.  It looks like this phone is using speech recognition technology from VoiceSignal.

Sunday, October 2, 2005

Saving money with hybrids

I have been wondering if hybrids really save any money.  The last time that I filled my tank, I calculated that I got 25 mile/gallon on my 93 Nissan Sentra, and that in city driving, with me driving aggressively with the flow of traffic.  I am sure that I could easily get 30 miles a gallon in city driving.

A bureau cheif for the Wall Street Journal did the calculations, and determined that you will not be able to recover the extra cost of the hybrid in gas savings or in government subsidies. 

I would claim if you want to save money and save gas, you should buy a older 4 cylinder engine.  If you did that, you could uses some of the money that you saved, and add the extra features that you would get factory installed in the newer cars.

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Using two Harmony remotes

We got a new TV, so I wanted to reprogram our Harmony Remotes.  I logged onto the web site and made the changes, and then updated the Harmony 880 remote.  Everything worked fine, so then I updated the Harmony 688 remote.

At that point I noticed that the keys that I had mapped to the Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down keys, did work.  It looks like this was caused because the Harmony 880 has ˆ and ˇ keys, while the Harmony 688 has 'Pg -' and 'Pg +' buttons.  When you connect to a remote that has doesn't have a key, the you configuration loses the settings for those keys.  So then when you connect back to the remote that has those keys, the settings are gone.

You would think that the settings on the web site would contain all of the remote key mappings, regardless if the last connected remote actually had the keys

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This weekend we set up our new TV, and while we were doing this we decided to get rid of the tower that contained most of our AV equipment.  I use to keep  our Apple AirPort Extreme on top of the tower, and used it to extend the range of our wireless network.  It had been connected to the wired network.

It was necessary for me to find a different place for the base station, that is out of reach of the kids hands.  The only other place is on top of armoire, but there isn't a network drop there.  I decided to set it up using WDS.  It was a little tricky, as the main base station is a Linksys WRT54GS.

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