Saturday, September 30, 2006

More Google Reader suggestions

Now that I have been using Google Reader exclusively for a little while, I have noticed some things that I think should be added:

  1. When emailing a post, from Google Reader, the whole html should be included in the email, and not just the text with the tags stripped out.

  2. In the "next≫" bookmarklet, it would be good to open the destination page in a frame.  This would allow you to still "Add star" or "Share" the post.  Currently, the post gets marked "read" automatically, and if you normally only view unread posts, it is hard to "star" one of these viewed posts.

  3. When using the "subscribe..." bookmarklet to subscribe to a feed on the current page, Google Reader marks all of the posts as read.  This is different behavior than when just copying the rss url into Google ReadeAutor.

  4. Dynamic groupings.  It would be great to create grouping of posts from the feeds that you have subscribed to that have specified keywords.  You can do something similar with Google Blog Search, but you can't limit it to the feeds that you have subscribed to.

Wait 'Till Next Year

Cubs Logo  Wrigley Field  Wrigley Scoreboard

I just watched the documentuary, "Wait 'Till  Next Year: The Saga of the Chicago Cubs" on HBO.  It brought back so many memories of my childhood.

  • Watching or listening to the game on WGN channel 9 or WGN radio.

  • Listening to Harry Carry announce the games and lead the 7th inning strech.  (No one can sing Take Me Out To The Ball Game like Harry Carry.)

  • Seeing the ivy at Wrigley Field on warm summer days

I really want to be able to take our kids to Wrigley Field to see a game.

[images via flickr: 1, 2, 3]

iStat Pro

Isp BetaI just saw this post that mentioned iStat Pro.  This Dashboard Widget displays statistics from your computer.  I am actually going to stop using MenuMeters, and try using this widget.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Google Reader

With the changes that Google has made to Google Reader, I think that I can use Google reader as my main news aggregator.  The thing that mainly tipped the scales for me is the performance improvements.  Now it is usable on my laptop, without making Firefox use a lot of the CPU.

There are some other features that I like:

  1. The built-in flash player to play podcasts.

  2. The ability to select a feed, and only show posts from that feed.

  3. The ability to mark posts as "starred" on either the web browser, or a mobile device.

  4. The bookmarklet that let you easily subscribe to a feed in a web page In Google Reader

  5. The bookmarklet that lets you open a browser window to the next unread post, even when you are not currently on a Google Reader page..

10.4.8 upgrade problem

I had a little scare this evening.  At work, I ran Software Update to install Mac OS 10.4.8.  When it finished, I clicked on the Shutdown button.  When I got home, I attempted to boot my PowerBook.  The computer didn't play the chime, and the screen didn't turn on.  This continued even after plugging in external power and removing and inserting the battery.

I went to the Apple Store to see how much it would be to fix it.  I though that the problem was with the motherboard.  I wanted to find out if fixing the PowerBook would be more than getting the 2.16 GHz MacBook Pro (wouldn't that be a shame).

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Amazon aStore

Amazon has made it very easy to create a personalized store.  This allows you to promote products from Amazon, and potentially get some revenue from thess.  Anyone with an Amazon Associates account can create an aStore. 

It was very easy to create my store, but there are some things that I think that they should add:

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

technorati tags in ecto and LifeType

ecto, for a while, has had the ability to add Technorati tags to posts.  This results in a chunk of html being added to the posts, within the <!-- technorati tags start --> <!-- technorati tags end --> tags.

This worked fine for me for a while, as the tags got added to the end of the post.  But things didn't work right when I switched to posting with the MovableType api.  ecto adds the tags at the end of the first part of the post, before the text in the mt_text_more field.  This causes the tag to appear on the bottom when displayed on the main page, but smack in the middle of the post, when the whole post is displayed.

Bloglines Mobile

I mentioned previously that I have tried Google Reader and NewsGator for web based news aggregators.  Since when I am on my computer, I use a desktop aggregator, my main use for the web base aggregators is for use on my cell phone.

Last week, I saw this post that mention that Bloglines Moble is using technology from Skweezer.  This is is suppose to optimize html for small screens.  So I decided to try out Bloglines again.

Monday, September 25, 2006

IMAP IDLE doesn't support the IDLE IMAP command.  This means that needs to initiate a connection to check to see if there are new unread messages.  The IDLE command allows the IMAP client to leave a imap connection open, and the server will notify the client when a new message arrives.

The IMAP IDLE plugin enables this functionality in  This has worked pretty well for me.  I have noticed one problem:

  • The plugin attempts connections to accounts that have been Inactivated.

[via Hawk Wings]

NetNewsWire integration with NewsGator

I have noticed some strange behavior with accessing rss feeds with NetNewsWire.  When my wife mentioned that she posted a new article on her blog, the post didn't show up in NetNewsWire, even after refreshing.

I found out what the problem is.  Synchronizing with NewsGator is causing the problem.  Not only is the read/unread status, but when synchronizing is enabled, all rss feed requests are proxied through NewsGator, and it looks like the feeds are only refreshed once an hour.

Contour Video iPod Hard Case

Isee-VideoThe iSkin eVo3 iPod cover that I bought for the 30Gb iPod doesn't fit on my 80Gb iPod, so I went to Fry's to look for a new case.  I ended up getting the Contour Design iSee video iPod Hard case.  This is a clear plastic case that snugly holds the iPod.  There is a hole in the front for the click wheel.

This doesn't gather lint as the iSkin case does.  Also, the headphone doesn't have a tendency to slip out, as it idid with the iSkin.  The only concern that I have about this case, is that it doesn't cover the click wheel, so there iPod could start to show some wear there.

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Bayesian database training tip

Here is a tip for training your SpamAssassin bayesian database

Make sure you decrypt the body of the email before sending it to SpamAssassin to learn the tokens.

When I upgraded to the latest version of Maia Mailguard, I forgot to add the decryption key to /etc/maia.conf.  This caused the encrypted data to be sent to SpamAssassin.  This was causing SpamAssassin to get a lot more false positives.

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Storing cheap electricity

This post on the WierdTechNewsHub mentions the GridPoint Protect.  This is a device that connects to the main circuit breaker and stores electricity when rates are low, and then it supplements utility power when rates are high. This will also work as a backup during blackouts.

Supposedly, this will save 10%-15% off your electric bill.  The version of the GridPoint Protect that is meant for home installation is $10,000, so it might take a while to recoup the initial cost.

[via digg]

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iPod dock thoughts

Since we have been looking at different iPod docks recently, I have been disappointed with most of the products in this category.  I think that Apple should add some requirements for manufacturers who want to make docks for the iPod.

  1. All docks need to pass through all of the outputs from the iPod.  For example, it should be possible to have video output from every dock that is meant to support the iPods with video.

  2. All docks with at least a 3 line LCDs are required to show all text based list screens from the iPod and user should be able to interact with the menus.  This would allow the easy to read display of the dock to be use, and the dock can be put away.

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

MovableType for LifeType

I finally got around to doing a MovableType implementation, that I have mentioned before, for LifeType.  I have posted the diff here.  Hopefully, I will check this in soon.

Update:  I have checked this change in and have created a plugin to enable it.

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iHome IH36

One of the problems with using the Mac mini for listening to music, with FrontRow is that the TV has to be on. This can be pretty disctracting for the kids, since they keep watching the album art change. Also for just listening to music in the kitchen, the music has to be a little too loud.

Now that we have a second iPod, I wanted to find a iPod dock for us to be able to listen to music in the kitchen. The iHome IH36W looked like the best option for us. The iHome is an radio with an iPod dock, meant to be mounted under a kitchen cabinet. (The docking feature is pretty neat. The iPod goes into a tray, and then the tray closes back into radio.)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Installing XML::Parser on Mac OS X

I was having a problem installing the XML::Parser perl module on Mac OS X.  The problem is because fink installs the expat library in /sw/lib, where the configuration script is not expecting it.  Also, if the configure script doesn't find it, the user is not promted for the correct location.

This page describes the fix.

# perl -MCPAN -e'look XML::Parser'
# perl Makefile.PL EXPATLIBPATH=/sw/lib EXPATINCPATH=/sw/include
# make; make test; make install
# exit

The first command downloads and expands the package and opens a shell in the expanded directory.

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Caltrain news rss feed

RSS seems to be a mechanism that is enabling many types of device to have access to structured data.  This is especially good for mobile phone, where the browser can render the information in a form that is readable on a small screen.

One example of this is the Caltrain news updates.  When I am waiting at the train station, I want an easy way to check the status of the trains.  Caltrain has a web page that displays this information, but they don't have an rss feed.

I wrote a script that parses the html an creates an rss feed.  This is based on the example given on this page.  Here is the resulting rss feed.  (This will be up as long as Caltrain doesn't ask me to take it down.)  There are two things that I want to fix with script:

  1. Not cause the post to be seen as unread when the it runs again.

  2. Add a summary of the body to the rss feed.

Blogging from Google Video

Just like you can blog from within digg and flickr, it looks like you can blog from within Google Video.  Unfortunately it looks like Google Video only supports hosted blog services like Blogger, LiveJournal, MySpace, and TypePad

It would be great if Google supported the standard protocols like MovableType, metaWeblog or Atom.  (I am surprised that they don't support Atom, since Google uses the Atom standard for many of their products.)

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Sunday, September 17, 2006


A new public beta of Xtorrent has been released.  This looks like a very interesting bittorrent client for Mac OS X.  It has some interesting features:

  • integrated torrent search engine

  • iTunes integration

  • folder monitoring and automatic .torrent downloading

One thing that I would love to see is integration with iSquint or VisualHub to convert videos into iPod compatible format automatically.

[via DWBlog]

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iTV thoughts

iTVThere has been a lot of talk about the iTV announcement in the past week since the announcement.  I am not that impresses with it.  The functionaly is not any more than FrontRow running on a Mac mini.  Also price is not really a factor when compared to a Mac Mini, since there has to be a Mac running somewhere in the house anyway.  The one thing that the iTV has over the Mac mini, is that it can be silent.  There shouldn't be a need to have a fan in it at all.

There are a few things that I think would make the iTV worth the money.

  1. Be able to "stream" a mounted DVD. - You could insert a DVD into the mac that is not attached to the TV, and this mac would make the DVD volume available over the network.  Then the iTV would be able to play the video content from the shared DVD.

  2. Play purchased content from Apple.  I believe that when Steve Jobs talked about how long a iTunes Store purchaced movie would take to download, he gave the example for a user who had a 6Mbs download speed.  If Apple is assuming broadband speeds of this rate, I think that:

    • Every song and video that you purchase from the iTunes Store should me made available on your iDisk.

    • When you want to view your content, the iTV could access it directly from your iDisk.

    This would mean that you don't need to leave a Mac running when ever you want to view you content.

  3. License Sling Media's playback technology - This would allow the iTV to play content from any video source attached to a Slingbox

[Picture via flickr]

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

DIRECTV's reaction to TiVo Series3?

DIRECTV has started upgrading the DIRECTV HD DVR with TiVo (HR10-250) to version 6.3.  Did this software suddenly become ready, or is DIRECTV feeling the pressure from the TiVo Series3?

[via PVR Wire]

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Annoying iTunes 7 behavior

I just discovered an annoying behavior in iTunes 7 when attempting to sync a iPod game to an iPod.  After downloading the game, when you sync your iPod you will see a messages with text similar to:

Some of the games in your iTunes library, including the game "Vortex", were not copied to the iPod "Paul's Vide iPod" because you are not authorized to play them on this computer.


TiVo Series3?

Since I used to work at TiVo, I am pretty partial to the TiVo service and interface.  Since it seems like DIRECTV is phasing out support for TiVo DVRs, the TiVo Series3 looks like a very good option.  I still have a Series1 that has lifetime service that I can transfer to the Series3.  Here are the pro and cons for switching:


There is a lot of talk about whether .Mac is still relevant and a lot of people are not going to renew.  There is even a viral feedback petition to Apple.  Our .Mac membership doesn't expire until March.  I am not sure if we will renew it.  Some of the features we don't use, while others we do:


  • Mail/Keychain Sync - Is use this to synchronize my mail settings, keychain between different macs

  • HomePage - This is a very easy way to create a web pages, especially to share movies.  (Google Page Creator may be a reasonable replacement)

  • iDisk - I only use iDisk for storing videos for iDisk.  We could just as easily use our web server with the WebDAV module.

  • Backup - This is an easy way to have automatic offsite incremental backups.  (I think that this alone may justify the membership)

Don't Use:

  • Bookmark Sync - Since I use Firefox, Google Browser Sync is use to synchronize bookmarks.  One reason that this is better that .Mac is that it works cross platform.

  • .Mac mail - Gmail is a better implementation of webmail and POP based mail.

  • Secure iChat - This is not that useful, as it you can only send encrypted messages to other .Mac users

  • s/mime email - Unfortunately most people are not able to verify signatures or encrypt/decrypt messages.

  • iWeb - So far HomePage has worked for us, so I haven't even launched the program.

  • Groups - If we needed to use this, we could use Google Groups.

  • iCards - I believe that you don't need to be a .Mac member to send an iCard.

  • Online iCal - Google Calendar implements online calendars better than .Mac

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iTunes 7

Apple released iTunes 7 today.  I noticed some interesting things about the new features

  • Gapless Playback - This is intended to mark series of tracks that should be played back without gaps, such as live albums or classical pieces.  The problem is that it appears that it has to open each track to make this determination.  This can be very slow when the tracks are on remote servers, and there doesn't seem to be an option to turn this off

  • Get Album Artwork - This is one feature that I am glad to see built in to iTunes.  I had been using the Album Art Widget to get album art into iTunes.  It is interesting how they implemented this.  It looks like iTunes send the list of albums that are missing artwork to Apple.  I tried this on the Mac mini, which had not been set up with the iTunes Store, and getting Album Artwork required me to log into the iTunes Store.  I am assuming that the way that this works is that the album artwork will be downloaded at some point later, since they don't appear to be adding the at the time the menu item is selected.


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Google Calendar Suggestion

I wanted to enter our kids' school calendars into a calendar program I can access the calendar at work and at home.  Also this gives us the ability to have access to the calendars from either of our computers.  I decided to enter the calendar into Google Calendar, and it went very smoothly.  I noticed one thing that I would love to see in Google Calendar.

Google Calendar can export a calendar to iCal through an ics file.  Unfortunately the ics file does not include the alarms for events.  This means that iCal, or any devices that sync through iSync, will not alert you for events.  Google Calendar has event notification with SMS messages, but these notifications can cost money, as often there is a charge for receiving text messages.

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Monday, September 11, 2006


Sometimes when I get bored with the music in my iTunes library, I listen to some stations on Pandora's web site.  Even though they have an minimal interface on the web page, the web browser has to remain open to listen to music.

I just saw this post that mentions PandoraBoy.  This is a Mac OS X application that lets you listen to your Pandora stations.  I believe that this is just a web browser that will presents a web page with two frames.  One has the Pandora player, the other has ads for music from Amazon. 

Blogging within flickr

As you can see from the previous post, you can post directly to your blog from within flickr.  flickr supports many of the standard blogging packages, as well as software supporting Atom, Blogger or metaWeblog APIs.

flickr's implementation of metaWeblog is a lot better than digg's, where flickr actually makes the API calls to get the list of blogs from the blogging software, where digg didn't.  Unfortunatelly, when posting from within flickr, there doesn't seem to be a way to select a category for the post.

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Chicago Skyline

.flickr-photo { } .flickr-frame { float: left; text-align: center; margin-right: 15px; margin-bottom: 15px; } .flickr-caption { font-size: 0.8em; margin-top: 0px; }
Suuweeet Home Chicago!
Suuweeet Home Chicago!,
originally uploaded by Flipped Out.
This is my first post from within flickr

Menu Bar apps

This page has a list of Mac OS X Menu Bar applications.  (Mirror, if the page is still being dugg.) Those who have seen my computer, know that I have a lot of installed Menu Bar applications that I use to tell the status of my computer.

panic reducing tip

This morning I couldn't connect to one of my servers.  I started to feel some panic, while I submitted a support ticket.  Before I got a response, I figured out what the problem was.

On Friday, I tested XNmap by doing a port scan on this server.  I forgot that I had installed portsentry, so the port scan added my ip address to iptables to so all connections are dropped, and to the hosts.deny file so services would reject these connections.

So my tips for the day are pay attention to what you are doing, and think about the unexpected side effects could be.  Also, try not to run tests on production machines.

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Network QuickEntry

In my last post I mentioned how I think it would great if QuickEntry worked across a network.  This is how I think that this could work.

  • When Quicken is installed it generates a large public / private key pair.

  • There would be a new option in Quicken to generate a QuickEntry widget.  When the widget is generated, a public / private key pair is generated for the widget itself.  Also the user can assign a label for each widget generated.

  • Quicken would create a daemon that would allow QuickEntry instances to be added to the Quicken data file, even when Quicken is not running.

  • When a QuickEntry widget sends the transactions to Quicken, it will first sign the data with the private key for the widget.  Then it will encrypt the signed data with the public key for the Quicken installation.

Saturday, September 9, 2006

Quicken 2007

Intuit released a while ago their latest in yearly update to Quicken. (Remember when Intuit said that they were discontinuing support for Mac quicken?) Quicken 2007 is a minor update with the only major feature being the resurrection of QuickEntry.  QuickEntry has been implemented as a Dashboard Widget.

I really like this feature, especially it takes too long to launch Quicken just to enter some receipts.  It was a shame when it was removed in Quicken 2002.

Harmony Remote Software

I just noticed that Logitech has updated their Harmony Remote desktop software.  Now instead of using a separate web browser to configure the remote settings, and an application to update the remote, the application now integrates these two functions.  The Logitech Harmony Remote application is a java application that essentially a web browser that initially goes to a specified url.

This solves the problem that I mentioned before where the old Harmony Remote Application started reading the configuration file before Firefox finished downloading it.

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Friday, September 8, 2006


DiggThumbs is a Firefox extension that shows thumbnails for entries on digg.  These thumbnails are provided by  This is very similar to the functionality provided by BetterSearch, for search engine results.

This doesn't appear to slow down the page loads in digg.

[via Download Squad]

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I have been using nmap to inventory my network for various reasons (1, 2).  XNmap is a Mac OS X application that make nmap easer to use.  This is essentially just a wrapper that calls the nmap command line tool.

[via TUAW,]

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Limiting hybrids in carpool lane

It looks like Caltrans may be limiting the number of hybrids that get access to the hybrid lanes in California.  I personally think that this is a good thing for several reasons:

  1. One of the ways that carpool lanes are supposed to reduce congestion is to encouage people of share a car.  But now you see a solo driver driving a hybrid in the car pool lane.

  2. Carpool lanes are supposed to help reduce environmental polutants.  I would claim that 1 gasolene automobile with 2 or 3 people (depending on the carpool rules for the area) emmit less pollutants than 2 or 3 hybrids with single occupants.

The current system is geared for the wealthy.  Those who can afford a hybrid, regardless of how efficient it is, can drive in the carpool lane.  I would rather the state be upfront about this, and enact a rule where if you spend $1000 - $2000, you get a sticker to enable you to drive in the carpool lane with a solo driver.

[via A Sad Salvation]

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Wednesday, September 6, 2006


BitRocket is a new BitTorrent application for Mac OS X.  It brings some of the great features of Azureus to a native Mac OS X application, like the ability to download torrents from an rss feed.

Download Squad has a pretty extensive walkthrough of the features of

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Programmatic Interfaces: the MovableType XMLRPC API

The MovableType XMLRPC API documentation can be found here.

(I want to finish the implementation for LifeType.)

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Tuesday, September 5, 2006

2 Firefox extensions

Recently I saw a couple of posts on Download Squad (1, 2) that mentioned these Firefox extensions.  I have installed them, and they work pretty well

  1. Fasterfox - This extension will help the perfermance of Firefox, by prefetching links and adjusting network settings.

  2. ErrorZilla - This extension improves the Firefox error page with links to additional tools.  These may help track down the problem.

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LifeType 1.1

LifeType 1.1 has been released.  1.1 includes a large number of improvements over the 1.0.x releases.

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One of the software packages included in MacLibre is VirtueDesktops.  This is a Mac OS X virtual desktop application that is based upon DesktopManager. It has some interesting features:

  1. Bringing an application into focus, will automatically switch to that virtual desktop

  2. Cool transitions when switching between virtual desktops

This doesn't resolve all of the issues that I mentioned before, but it has made it easier to use all of the applications that I usually have open at once.

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I use yum on my linux machines to update various software packages.  yum makes it very easy to keep things up to date by automatically maintaining lists of dependent packages, and downloading and installing them when necessary.  On my mac, I have been using fink to update various posix and X11 Open Source software packages.

Now MacLibre has been released that will do the same thing for Mac OS X applications.  It already has a list of standard Open Source application like Firefox and ClamXav.  It will download and install theses packages with a standard package management interface.

Friday, September 1, 2006

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...