Tuesday, October 31, 2006


I just saw a PandoraMan mentioned on VersionTracker.  This has the same main functionality as PandoraBoy, that I mentioned earlier.  Unfortunately, it is missing some of the nice features that PandoraBoy has, like Growl notifications and global hotkeys.

fetchmail and Google Mail

In this post, I mentioned that I wished that the lack of IMAP support was preventing me from switching to Google Apps for Your Domain.  Last night, I was thinking about this, and I relalized that I already have an IMAP server.  I just need to get the mail to the server.

Fetchmail can be used to deliver mail from pop servers to other servers.  This page has a script that can be used to start fetchmail when the computer starts.  This page describes the how to setup fetchmail to check Gmail through fetchmail.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Daylight Saving Time

Last night I went around the house setting the time on the clocks, that don't automatically adjust, back an hour.  I remember that every clock had to be adjusted manually.  Then in college, I bought an VCR that automatically adjusted itself.  At that time, Mac OS didn't automatically adjust for Daylight Saving Time.  So, I wrote the Set Daylight appe to adjust the time.  This was pretty easy to do, since the rules for the dates that the time adjustment occurred, were static. This was added to Mac OS 8, so it wasn't necessary anymore.

But now most electronics include support to automatically adjust for Daylight Saving Time.  For example, TiVos, Mac OS X, Windows and Linux PCs, and PDAs will automatically adjust.  Now that the days that Daylight Saving Time is changing, all of these devices have to be update in order for the time to be correct.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Firefox 2.0

I installed Firefox 2.0 today, and it works very well.  Here is a list of the extensions, that I have installed, that don't work:

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Unarchiver and Stuffit archives

I have had several Stuffit archives that The Unarchiver has unpacked to empty directories.  On my last post about The Unarchiver, Nathaniel Nutter commented that there are problems with resource forks, and suggested BOMArchiver.  I couldn't find a place to download it, so I just re-downloaded Stuffit Expander 11.

There are fewer and fewer things that use Stuffit (especially since Mac OS X has built-in support for disk images and zip archives.)  Mac OS X developers should really stop using Stuffit for their distributions.

Google Reader Notifier

Google Reader Notifier is a small application that lists the unread posts in the Mac OS X menu bar.  This works pretty well, but there are some things that I would change:

  1. Have a preference screen that lets you enter your Google username and password. (Currently it uses the cookie stored in Safari, when you log in with that browser.)

  2. Display the unread posts in submenus for each feed.

[via Hawk Wings]

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Tangerine thoughts

I have been using Tangerine for a couple of days, and I like it. I really like the interface for displaying playlists. Playlists are displayed as a horizontal list of album artwork.  When you select a track, a popup appears with the track information. Tangerine also has the ability to upgrade itself (which all applications should do)

The main benefit of Tangerine is to generate playlists of similar music.  I wanted to create a playlist that I could listen to walking to and from the train.

Dashboard KickStart

I use Dashboard widgets several times a day.  The only annoyance is that the first time activating the Dashboard after logging in takes a long time to load all of the widgets.  Until the widgets load, the computer is pretty much unusable.

Dashboard KickStart is an application that solves this problem.  When you login or wake from sleep, the application quickly opens and closes the dashboard.  This means that all of the widgets will have been initializes when you want to use them

Friday, October 20, 2006


iAlertU is a neat little application that may help to secure your MacBook or MacBook Pro.  When enabled, it uses the sudden motion sensor to detect movement.  When movement is detected, the an alarm is sounded, and a picture of the person moving the computer is taken.  (Assuming that the are in front of the computer.)

There are some things that I would love to see fixed in iAlertU

  1. Have the alarm played through the speakers, even when headphones are plugged in.

  2. Have iAlertU startup, even before users login.  This will allow the alarm to continue even after a hard reboot.

  3. Have an iAlertU screen saver, that automatically arms when the screen saver enables.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


I have previously mentioned smart playlists that can be used to get a better selection of music. (1, 2)  The one problem is that these are mainly based off the user ratings for tracks.  It is pretty hard to just listen to just one type/mood from your favorite music.

Tangerine looks like it solves this problem.  When you first launch it starts scanning through your iTunes library to calculate the beats per minute and the Beat Intensity for each track.  (There is an option to save this information back to iTunes.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Ease of iChat AV?

I had to work late tonight, and I was IM'ing with my wife. I wanted to initiate a Video chat, and iChat failed to establish the connection.  The error message stated "Chat ended with error -8", which probably means that there is a NAT problem.

This is a real problem for iChat.  When attempting an audio or video session, or a file transfer session iChat attempts a direct connection between the computers.  This is a problem when both computer are behind firewalls that use NAT.  By default, firewalls will reject any incoming connections, so when either computer attempts a connection with the other computer, the connection will fail.

Structured networking

Now that I am trying to use our NAS for backups and to keep our content.  I tried both 802.11g wireless and powerline networking to connect the Mac mini and the NAS.  Unforunately, I never got more than 5Mbs for sustained transfer rate.  I decided that running ethernet around the house is the best way to get a high sustained transfer rate.

The builder of our house did some strange things with the structured wiring.  They installed 3 RG6 cables to every room (so you can have both satellite and cable), but they only installed one Cat5e to every phone jack.  I know that it is not ideal, but I decide to run ethernet on two of the pairs of the Cat5 cable, while the phone line uses one.

Pairing Apple Remote with your computer

This page describes how to pair an Apple Remote to your computer.  Without doing this, watching something on the Mac mini, through FrontRow caused FrontRow to open on my MacBook Pro.  I actually disabled the IR receiver, until I saw this page.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


smcFanControl is a little application that lets you set the minimum speed of the internal fans, when the temperature sensor indicates that the fans should come on.  This should allow the computer to run cooler.  smcFanControl works on MacBooks, MacBook Pros, and Intel Mac minis.

I am not running this on my laptop, as I would rather have the fan spin slower, to keep it quiet, but I am running this on out Mac mini, to keep it cooler in the entertainment center.

[via Slashdot: Apple]

Friday, October 13, 2006

Google Apps

Google Apps was mentioned on episode 207 of The Geek News Central podcast.  I wanted to check out how well it would work for my domains.  I currently have a server hosted that filters all of my spam and virus messages.  Switching to Google Apps could potentially alleviate me from having to maintain his server.

I switched one of my domains over there, and the transition went very smoothly.  I am not going to switch my main domains over there for a couple of reasons:

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Speeding Dashboard Widgets

This post describes a tip to help reduce the time that Dashboard widgets take to load.

iHome iH5 Clock Radio

10018 49 2The clock radio in our bedroom started to die.  Whenever the alarm would go of the displayed time would start to blink.  Sometimes when this happened the time would jump forward or back several hours.

We bought the iHome iH5 to replace the clock.  This is an AM/FM clock radio with an iPod dock.  This allows you to set your alarm to play any the radio or your music from your iPod.

There are some interesting features:

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Video with Comcast Cable Modem

Out of curiosity, I wanted to see what would happen if I plugged our TV into our cable line.  We don't get our television through cable, since we have DIRECTV, but we do use a Comcast cable modem.  I was really interested to see if any HD channels were accessible this way.

When I connected the cable, and had the TV scan for channels, over 100 channels were found.  Many of these were HD channels.  Here are some of the interesting things that I noticed:

  • The Over-The-Air SD and HD channels were present.

  • Many of the basic channels were also available

  • Many cable HD channels were available (ESPN HD)

  • All FM radio stations were present in Audio only channels

"Real" iPod auto integration

A while ago I mentioned some features that every iPod dock should have.  The iPod integration that the 2007 Audi S8 will have is pretty amazing.  The iPod gets placed into a tray, and the tray get inserted into the dash.  And the iPod menus appear on the navigation screen.

[via Gizmodo, Autoblog]

Another fix for caltrain rss script

Today I noticed a problem in the rss feed generated by the script that I wrote.  An invalid character (character code 0x93) was included in the feed.  The problem was that the page stated that the character set was iso-8859-1, even though there are characters in the cp1250 character set.

Here is the updated script. I also had to apply the patch described on this page that allows the RSS module handle multiple byte characters


.flickr-photo { } .flickr-frame { float: left; text-align: center; margin-right: 15px; margin-bottom: 15px; } .flickr-caption { font-size: 0.8em; margin-top: 0px; }
originally uploaded by Paul's Time Sink.
(From the Mountain View station) It would be nice if Caltrain updated their website with these status updates, when they happen. This would allow passengers to plan, and not wait outside.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

converting html to wiki

I am used to writing html documents, but now it seems that everything is done with wikis.  So I needed to figure out how to convert html documents to use wiki markup.

The HTML::WikiConverter perl module makes this conversion very easy.  This simple program outputs text with wiki tags from an html file:

#!/usr/bin/perl -w
use HTML::WikiConverter;
my $wc = new HTML::WikiConverter( dialect => 'MoinMoin' );
# Or fetch it from a file
print $wc->html2wiki( file => "file.html" );

Another iTunes smart playlist

I have been using the Expert Playlist to randomize my music.  This post describes another set of smart playlists that  "simulates" a radio station

[via The Apple Blog]

bash prompt modification

This post describes a way to have the bash prompt specify the last 'n' folders in the current directory.  This pretty useful, especially when traversing a large directory structure.

Monday, October 9, 2006

More people switching to Google Reader

Now that I have been using Google Reader exclusively, I have noticed that other people have also made the transition (1, 2).  (I have just noticed that there is a Refresh link below the list of the subscriptions.)

The Unarchiver

I have been wanting to get rid of Stuffit Expander for a while.  I saw this post that mentions The Unarchiver.  This is an open source application that unpacks many formats.  Now I have deleted Stuffit Expander.

Fixed problem in Caltrain rss generator

Someone pointed out a problem with the rss that was being generated from the script that I wrote to create the Caltrain rss feed.  The problem was that iso-8859-1 characters were being included the rss feed, when the feed stated that it was utf-8 encoded.

The fix was to just convert the characters to utf-8 before parsing.  (The character encodeing should really be determined from the document, instead of hard coding iso-8859-1.)

MacBook Pro

The problem where my G4 PowerBook wouldn't start up, continued to happen.  Then the computer just started freezing.  When I tried to boot it back up, it wouldn't start back up.  So we decided to get a new MacBook Pro.  I drove to the Apple Store and picked it up.

Setting up went smoother than I expected. I removed the hard drive from the PowerBook, and put it in a firewire enclosure.  Then when I ran the setup process, I used the import data from mounted drive, and after several hours, the installation was finished.  All of my settings and applications had been copied over.  (Thank you J.S.)

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Airport Remote Printer Access

The problem, with the Linksys PSUS4 losing it's configuration when power is lost, has been bothering me.  I didn't like having to reset the router manually every time this happens.  I decided to try out the the Remote Printer Access on the Airport Extreme.

I used an usb extension cable to extend the cable from the printer to the Airport Extreme, the printer automatically appeared in Printer Setup Utility, via Bonjour.

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Google Widgets for web pages

This is pretty cool.  Google has made it possible to embed Google Widgets into web pages.  So now you can easilly add automatically updating content to a static web page.  Here the Bejewled widget:

I am still not sure how these will be used, except for the novelty factor.

[via Download Squad]

Monday, October 2, 2006

protecting against slashdot/digg effect

This post describes a way to protect a web site against the slashdot/digg effect.  Essentially it redirects all request that come from one of the sites that can cause large spikes in traffic to the proxy at nyud.net.

This tip doesn't work if you use the Bad Behavior plugin.  When this plugin is installed, all requests that come through this proxy get rejected with a 403 status code.

[via digg]


The 1.03 version of the IMAP-IDLE has been released.  This fixes the one problem that I noticed before, where the plugin would connect to accounts that had been disabled.

[via Hawk Wings]

D-Link DSM-G600

The scare with my laptop mad me want to get better with our backup situation. So I decided to get a Network Attached Storage drive for this.  Also a Newtork Attached would allow us to store media off of the small Mac mini hard drive.

I got the D-Link DSM-G600, as it stated that it was compatible with Mac OS X, and a a 400Gb drive.  The instalation was a breeze.  Just insert the drive, and boot it up.  Then you determine what ip address it was assigned, and then use a web browser to go to that ip address.  The resulting page had a button to format the drive.  Once that had finished, everything else was pretty self explanatory.

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...