Monday, July 31, 2006


There are times that I need to quickly do something in a shell.  Often I will just switch to Terminal and then open an new window.

Visor is a plugin for SIMBL, made by the same people who make Quicksilver, that displays a shell with a key combination.  This window appears over all other windows, and can easily be dismissed when not needed.

[via The Apple Blog]

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High-Speed Network access on Caltrain

Caltrain has finished a proof of concept of wireless internet access along a stretch of tracks in the San Francisco Bay area. Soon riders will be able to access the Internet at broadband speeds while on the train.  It looks like this network is using WiMAX (802.16).  I am not sure if this system will require WiMAX cards in laptops or if 802.11 access points will be installed in the train cars.

Now it will not be as easy for me to get away from work.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

NetNewsWire sharing ports

I just set my wife up with a copy of NetNewsWire.  When I was looking at the preferences, I noticed that NetNewsWire has a feature where the list of the feeds that are subscribed can be shared over Bonjour. This is a pretty neat feature, especially if you are in a location like a conference where there would be a lot of people with a similar interest.

In order to get this to work, the port use for the incoming connections needs to be opened up in the firewall.  Port number 30874 needs to be opened to allow this traffic. 

Note to Apple:  There should be a way for an application developer to add a rule to the built-in firewall.  When an application is configured, it should call an API for it to request a port be opened.  This would cause the system to present an authentication dialog, where the user could allow or deny the port to be opened.

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Google Maps smarts

My wife noticed something pretty cool in Google Maps.  This morning when she was about to head out to the BlogHer conference, she wanted to get directions to the Hyatt.  She entered the address in Google Maps, and then clicked on the Directions link, and it gave reasonable directions.

The interesting thing about this, was that she wasn't logged into Google's services, so it didn't know our address.  It looks like Google estimates the location of the ip address of the client, and uses this as the originating location.

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LuxorWhat do you do when waiting for an appointment, or the train?  When I am in this situation, I have been playing Luxor on my phone.  This is a pretty addictive game.  It is a game where you need to match three or more spheres of the same color, in a moving row of spheres, before the spheres get to the end of the track.

This is game works well a cell phone with the simple controls, and with a small screen.  It looks like this game is also available for Mac OS X and Windows, and for online play.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Trying Bad Behavior again

I have decided to try out Bad Behavior again, now that it officially supports LifeType.  This plugin helps prevent spam comments and trackbacks, not by content, but by characterizing the HTTP request itself.

When I tried this last time, it blocked some of the scripts that I use.  I will see if the new version works for me now.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Sizzling Keys

Episode number 7 of the Neat Little Mac Apps (This is a pretty good podcast) mentions Sizzling Keys.  This control panel allows key combinations to control iTunes.

I had been using Synergy for this.  But I had stopped using the notification from Synergy as I have been using the Growl notification though Quicksilver.  Also, I haven't be using the menu icons from Synergy.  So I decided to try Sizzling Keys, since it is a lot simpler.

updated newTunes

I got a comment on my previous post about newTunes.  The author mentioned that there is an updated version of newTunes, that handles larger iTunes libraries better.  I installed it today, and it works form me.  ....Now there just has to be a album that I want to buy.

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Web browser from the future?

I was looking at my web server logs from a couple of days ago, and I saw these logs.  It looks like someone was looking at the posts from December 2009.

xxx.66.195.2 - - [24/Jul/2006:14:20:59 -0700] "GET /archives/2009/12/ HTTP/1.1" 200 24148 "-" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; .NET CLR 1.0.3705; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)"

xxx.66.195.2 - - [24/Jul/2006:14:21:02 -0700] "GET /archives/2009/11/javascript:history.go(-1) HTTP/1.1" 200 24152 "-" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; .NET CLR 1.0.3705; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)"

Probably, this was just an inefficient web crawler.  But it makes me wonder:

  1. What will I hae written in December 2009?

  2. Will there still be Windows NT computers running in 2009?

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Friday, July 21, 2006

software engineer or just crazy

Some times I wonder about myself.  When ever work is very busy, and I get home late, I always end up working on side projects until late into the night.  And these projects have nothing to do with my day job, but are just things that interest me. 

I am not sure why I do them.  Obviously these are things that interest me, I just don't know why I spend the majority of my time on them while things are busy at work.  Maybe, when work is busy, these software projects help my mind settle.  Or maybe I am a little crazy

Sociable for LifeType

I have ported the Sociable WordPress plugin to LifeType.  Now you can add links to various social bookmarking for each of the posts in LifeType.  Here is the wiki page.

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Monday, July 17, 2006


I saw this post that mentioned reflection and the Wetfloor WordPress plugin.  I got inspired to write a plugin for LifeType that does the same thing.

Now with the reflection plugin, any image can have the reflection effect

Giraffe 3

One thing that I want to add is some parsing of posts to make it easier to add the effect to images in posts.

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Sunday, July 16, 2006


As I mentioned before, I have been frustrated with coComment, as only comments by coComment users are tracked.  (But also blogs that have the coComment javascript will have the comments tracked).

I have decided to try co.mments.  If a user clicks the co.mments link, their services will track comments, without users entering other comments having to do anything special.

I wrote a plugin for LifeType to automatically add the co.mments links for each post.  I am interested in seeing how well this works.  I don't know how well it will parse the comments.  If they define some tags to be put in the comments, I will modify the plugin. 

Right now it is check into svn, I will update the wiki as soon as it is posted on sourceforge.

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Programming Is Like Sex

This is pretty funny.

[via Labnotes]

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Does competition stall acceptance?

Can competition of products, without collaboration, cause the whole product space to not become as widely accepted?  I was thinking about this as it applies to internet services.  For example, in the comment tracking space there is coComment, co.mments, myComments, and Commentful.  Each of these will track your comments across various sites, as well as let you view others comments on the posts that you are interested in.

For tracking your own comments, each of these work equally well, as you click a bookmarklet when you add a comment.  But if you want to view other's comments, they would have to use the same comment tracking service as you are.  Otherwise, you would have to look for comments on all of the sites.  I think that this would frustrate users so much that they wouldn't use any of the services.

One way to solve this would for each of these services to work together and share data.  In some ways this is what the IM services have started to do.  Now people on Yahoo's and MSN's IM networks can talk to each other. Prior to that you would have to log into each service to talk to your contacts

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

thoughts about S3 and Google Platypus

Last month, I mentioned that I attempted to use Amazon's S3, through JungleDisk to store music.  Now that Google is potentially coming out with their Platypus storage service,  I was thinking about this a little more, and I think that I know what use cases I would need before I would really use a service like this.

When I copy a file to the "online drive", I will want to be able to access it in the following ways:

  1. Through standard HTTP 1.1 protocol.  – If this is a music file, I should be able to access it directly from xmms or iTunes.

  2. Through a cached virtual file system – Access to the file will cause it to be downloaded locally, so subsequent accesses will be fast.  Also, any changes made to the local copy, would need to be syncronized back to the online version

  3. Though a non-cached virtual file system – From the client's point of view, this will appear as a standard file system.  But an open will cause the http 1.1 session to be opened.  Every seek will cause an http resume at the correct offset.  And every read will just pipe the data off the http socket to the caller.

It doesn't matter if these features are implemented in the core, or some third party developer implements them.

[via TechCrunch, Download Squad]

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Harmony remote shielded?

Ever since we have moved into our house, we have noticed that the picture on our Sony XBR wasn't looking as good as it used to.  Colors would bleed in the corners of the picture.  Usually degaussing the tube would fix the problem, but eventually it would come back.  (There isn't a degauss button on the remote, so this requires unplugging and plugging the TV in.)

Since degaussing seem to alleviate the problem, I thought that there must be something that is causing electro-magnetic interference.  The two main differences with our setup from before we moved  is the Mac mini underneath the TV, and the Harmony Remote next to it.  Since I really didn't want to move the Mac mini, I move the remote to the other size of the room, and degaussed the TV.  So far, after a couple of days, I have not seen the problem.

I am not sure if the problem is the remote, or the charging base, but either way, they are staying away from the TV.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Parsing iTunes library

In this post, I mentioned how it would be great if Apple made the API to parse the iTunes library available.  Johnathon S. wrote that he doesn't think that Apple has made this public.

I found some other solutions for this:

  1. ITMLReader is a java class that will parse the iTunes library xml file.

  2. This page mentions using xsd to parse the file into native structures.  When doing this you will have to convert the DTD to an xml schema.

  3. PHPtunest is a php script that parses the xml file and creates an html page.

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watermarks in gallery

We use Gallery 2 to host our photos that we share with our friends and family.  I am interested in trying the watermark module for these photos.  Unfortunately, it looks like the watermarks is only applied when adding a new images or when editing individual images.  Maybe there is a way to do a mass edit.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

Filterset.G and Adblock

I saw this post yesterday that mentioned Filterset.G.  I have been using Adblock for a while to help block web ads.  Filterset.G is a set of filters for Adblock.  I have been pretty impressed with the effectiveness of these filters, in fact it is able to block text-based Google Adsense ads. 

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OpenDNS is a company that provides DNS resolving for networks or individual computers.  They offer some interesting features:

  1. Phishing protection - Will display a warning page when attempting to view a known phishing site.

  2. Increased speed for browsing - OpenDNS has a large DNS cache to speed host name lookups.  In addition to this their DNS servers are located near the computer making the DNS request.

  3. Fixing spelling mistakes - OpenDNS will help with common spelling domain name spelling mistakes

I am going to try this out on our network at home.  Unfortunately this really does not work for me on my laptop, and I think that they need to call the following situation out more clearly.


newTunes seems like a pretty cool dashboard widget.  It will let you know when new music is in the iTunes Music Store for any of the artists in your iTunes library.

Unfortunately, it doesn't work well for me.  I installed it on Friday, and on Monday it still doesn't display anything.  The problem is that the widget launches an AppleScript that, I believe, is building the list of the artists and the local tracks for those artists.  On my library that has 7800 tracks, this takes a long time. 

I think that it would be better for this widget to parse the iTunes Library xml file itself.  (I believe that Apple has an API to do this, this is what iPhoto uses to show the list of tracks for slideshows.)  This would be a lot faster, and would allow the widget to show status while the list is being built.

[via TUAW]

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Wednesday, July 5, 2006


PowerpipeA while ago, my wife wrote about how we are trying about finding ways to save money on energy.  The Power-Pipe is a way to recover the heat energy from waste water.  To install this, you would replace a section of the main PVC drainage pipe, with a copper pipe, that has smaller pipes coiled around the large one.  Cold water is run through the small pipes, where it will acquire heat from the drain pipe, and then it would run into the hot water heater.

Supposedly the Power-Pipe will increase the cold water from 10 to 24 degrees C.  This is possible since 90% of all hot water energy goes down the drain, and the Power-Pipe can recycle as much as 60% of this energy.

Unfortunately, the website for the US residential distributer is not up.  On Canadian site, the Power-Pipe costs between $270 - $1200.

[via Gizmodo]

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minimum browser requirments

I find it interesting sad when websites have pretty old browser requirements.  Here are the requirements for logging into XM Radio's account login

Minimum Browser Requirement:

Cookies are enabled

Microsoft Internet Explorer - Version 5.01 and higher

Netscape Navigator - Version 4.x and higher

AOL - Version 7 and higher

The problem here is that they don't recognize Firefox as newer than Netscape Navigor 4.

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Mac OS X calling home

With the 10.4.7 update of Mac OS X, the OS is calling back to Apple's servers periodically.  There is a new process called dashboardadvisoryd with makes the tcp connections.  The tech note on 10.4.7 has this entry:

You can now verify whether or not a Dashboard widget you downloaded is the same version as a widget featured on ( before installing it.

If this were just for this purpose, this check could have been done when installing a widget.  I assume that this process is also checking the currently installed widgets to see if they are up to date.  I think a better implementation would be to have a button in the area of the screen that shows all of the installed widgets, that would check for updates.

[via The Apple Blog]

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Monday, July 3, 2006


ItheaterNow you can look like Geordi too.  The iTheather simulates a 50" video screen for iPods or any thing that can output video.

[via Gizmodo]

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Unlocking Raspberry Pi Potential: Navigating Network Booting Challenges for Enhanced Performance and Reliability

I've set up several Raspberry Pis around our house for various projects, but one recurring challenge is the potential for SD card failur...