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a blog by ken pardue

Archive for November, 2005

Spread Firefox

Tuesday, November 29th, 2005

Mozilla Firefox 1.5 available today!  Should be some time after 12:00 PST.  Get your bandwidth ready, there are significant improvements to the performance in this version, since technically Firefox 1.0 was based on a Mozilla branch a year older than the trunk.

Sadly, this version still doesn’t support Mac’s beautiful Cocoa widgets natively (the devs are still working on that), but there’s always Camino!

Updated to add this sexy piece of machinery:

Alienware PC

When an old tune hits the right note

Monday, November 28th, 2005

Every now and again, an old lyric strikes me with a paritcular philosophical, emotional, or political meaning.  Such is the case with this old Roger Waters song, originally written as an anti Communist-vs-Capitalist mantra, called Towers of Faith.

The prophet reclined

On the Golan Heights

He said, this land is my land

To the Shiites

And Jehova looked up from the sea of Galilee beneath

He said, I see you, you thief

This land is my land

And this sand is my sand

And this band is my band

Oh the lonely boys

Lookin’ over their shoulder

Checkin out every boulder in the park

Where the gates are closed from hate

After dark

And the Pope rolled up in his armored van

He fell on his knees and kissed the land

He said something that I did not understand

It was in polish

Then up stepped an aide

He said, I will translate

Here is what His Holiness said:

‘I am the Chief Jesuit.’

‘This land is Jesus’ land.’

‘And that is all’

‘All that there is to it.’

Hail Mary

Mother of God

And in New York City

The business man in his mohair suit

In the world trade center

Puffs on his cheroot

And he said,

Well I don’t care who owns the desert sands

My brief

Is with the hydrocarbons underneath

And the sea of battle rages

Around the ancient tombs

And mother nature licks her wounds

And the lonely boys locked in their towers of faith

Who are nervous in the park

When the gates are closed after dark

Network Certified

Saturday, November 12th, 2005

After delaying the test for lack of study time and again for Hurricanes blowing through the area, I finally took the COMPTia Network+ test.  I’m proud to say that, although unsure of the outcome of test, I’m now Network+ certified.  Yay!  That’s one major source of stress out of my life.

A week with Macintosh

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2005

I’ve had the Mac Mini for a week now and thought I would give some thoughts on it.  There are plenty of both good and bad, so I’ll go into both.

The Good:

  • The Mac is very graceful, and very quiet.  Makes my desktop PC seem like a freight train.  I leave it off most of the time now
  • Very stable, very clean, very fast operating system.  Even though this thing is running at 1.5GHz with 512MB of RAM, the operating system “feels” just as responsive as my Windows XP computer running an Athlon XP 3000+ with 1GB of RAM.  Now, grant it that it doesn’t perform nearly as well when I’m multitasking, but by all accounts an entry-level computer shouldn’t run Photoshop very well.  It still runs it, and other programs, well enough to use without too much frustration.
  • Lots of programs out of the box to do most tasks.  Apple does provide software to accomplish most tasks right out of the box.  Everything from chat to calendar to photo management all the way down to basic movie and DVD editing, you’ve got what you need to get stuff done.
  • Very easy to configure and set up.  Everything just worked, and I found myself moving on very quickly to seeing what the system could do with tweaking around with system preferences
  • Expose is great!  With an operating system that doesn’t have a proper task bar, keeping track of all open windows HAS to be done right.  Expose does a good job of letting you see what you have open.   One complaint about open windows related to this listed below in the bad…
  • Smooth transitions, and a lot of little niceties such as the photo slideshow, the ability to have my desktop wallpaper change every few minutes or so (with a nice fade effect), and my windows just having drop shadows around them are nice.
  • iCal is great.  It does what I need it to do.  No more, no less.  In fact, its multiple calendar approach is something that I would absolutely LOVE to see adopted by competitors, or by Palm… er, nevermind.
  • Installing programs is GREAT.  Who would have thought?  No registry to mess with, no DLL hell, no dependencies or packages to hassle with… you just drag the icon to your Applications folder and VOILA, it all works.  Don’t use a program very often?  Drag it to an external drive to use later.  I really wish I knew how it did file associations… I had to install RealPlayer, which involved dragging the icon over, and all of a sudden my .rm file worked.  Don’t know how it registered itself to open .rm files, but it did.  And Kenny was happy.
  • Fonts are a give and take thing.  One the one hand, they’re MUCH easier to read on the Mac.  Better antialiasing and so on.  However, fonts on a Windows machine just look more, well, I don’t know.  Smaller and cleaner maybe?  It just seems like you’re able to fit more text in and display it in a cleaner (albeit harsher) way… maybe I’m just used to a Windows machine.
  • XCode seems nice, I just haven’t really had the chance to check out some of its better features.  It doesn’t natively support PHP as far as I can tell, but I’m not going to write it off as a development environment for my use.
  • The Dock is a wonderful idea.  It’s like a combination Start Menu/Task Bar/System Tray all in one!  You’ve got your core set of programs that you use often for easy access, then your minimized programs to the right of that.  When you “close” a program it stays running, as indicated by a small arrow under the icon name.  This is great for iCal and Mail, which I want running all the time.  Programs notify you of something by the icon jumping up and down.  In a really nice touch, when the dock auto-hides the icon leaps up into view at the bottom of the screen.  Kinda cute.
  • Mail displays Adobe Photoshop PSD files inline!  How friggin’ cool

The Bad:

  • The addressbook just blows chunks.  It’s not very usable, and not a very impressive counterpart to iCal, IMHO
  • Just getting used to the lack of a taskbar takes some getting used to.  In Expose, windows belonging to one program should be grouped together, or should at least have icons for the programs.  Just try finding what you’re looking for if you have several web pages open for editing, previews of the web pages open in Safari and Firefox, and Photoshop images open!
  • Finder just doesn’t seem as intuitive as Explorer on Windows.  Although I do like the three-pane navigation idea, with Windows I have more flexibility to sort my files by different attributes, more easily see thumbnails, show my files in groups based on file type or other attributes, and so on.  Finder needs some improving
  • Yeah, the whole eject-the-CD-by-throwing-it-away concept is awkward.  I need not say more.
  • Not that it’s a problem often, but it’s too easy for your windows to become inaccessible off of the screen, especially if you change reoslutions.  There should be some kind of check to persist the last window open state only if it is contained within the viewable screen area, or if the resolution hasn’t changed.
  • I just don’t like the way Adobe treats files.  Not that that’s a Mac problem, but there are just too many windows to mess with when each open Adobe Photoshop file or each open GoLive document acts as another window to mess with.  Yuck.
  • Again, not a Mac issue at all, but OpenOffice for Mac really has a long way to go.  The only non-X11 version is called NeoOffice/J, which is stuck way back at version 1 of OpenOffice.  I really like the concept of the OpenDocument format and would really like to see either OpenOffice released natively for OS X or, even better, Apple implement OpenDocument into its next release of iWork/Pages.
  • By the same token of non-Apple faults… Quicken for Mac is nasty.  ‘Nuff said.
  • Hmmm, never really cared for the whole Brushed Metal look, and I’m kind of surprised that Mac still uses it.  I mean, Brushed Metal went out with the dot com burst.  Maybe we’ll see something more, well, Vista-ish by Leopard.  I know, sacriledge to the Mac user… but the whole frosted glass look in Vista is growing on me.
  • Kind of dumb that Mac OS X no longer ships with StuffIt Expander.  I mean, there are still a large number of programs that ship in .sit format as far as I can tell, including Windows Media Player and Palm desktop.  I had to Google to discover that the company that makes StuffIt charges $80 for it, but after reading down a few lines found that a free version is openly available from  Don’t know, didn’t ask.
  • iPhoto could get its own poo-list from me… amongst the things I dislike about it are: 1) it makes copies of photos instead of referencing them by linkage, so importing my old photos gave me two 9 gig sets of photos, one in iPhoto that destroyed my directory structures, and one on the hard disk that I couldn’t do anything in iPhoto with.  2) you can’t tag photos as you can in Photoshop Elements Organizer/Photoshop Album.  Being able to put a “Kenneth” tag underneath the “People” directory and dragging that onto photos of myself is absolutely necessary.  Ideally, since the makers of iPhoto also made the OS, I halfway expected the tags you apply to photos in iPhoto to stay with the file regardless of whether or not you moved it, etc.  I hate broken linkages. 3) No way (as far as I can tell) to view past versions of photos as you can with “version sets” in elements.  Apple could really take some cues from Adobe with this little app.
  • Mail could use an AutoArchive feature to remove mail from an IMAP server and store locally for people who like to save their mail since the beginning of time *cough*
  • It could be the $17 KVM switch that I bought or the cheap-o mouse, but scrolling is funky in OS X.  It either scrolls jerkily or very little at all.

Actually, if anything the Mac (and the news of Palm’s imminent demise–poor iQue 3600) has only gotten me interested in a TabletPC.  Imagine, a setup with as-yet-non-existent TabletMac where I take my notes, have full-on handwriting recognition, quickly switch over to iCal and add an appointment to my Work calendar, then switch back and otherwise look techie-cool in a meeting, then synchronize wirelessly via a .Mac account with my desktop PC at home and, well, I guess my desktop at work too.  Wouldn’t that be great?