October 2003

October 31, 2003

Kernel Panicing

From time to time, my new laptop has taken to spontaneously crashing with a frequency which is hardly customary for Mac OS X. The working hypothesis is that the source of the problem is the free RAM upgrade that MacConnection provided. They replaced the two original 256 MB chips with two 512 MB chips. I’ve read at Macintouch that some RAM is particularly unfriendly to the new 15-inch PowerBook G4s. I tried reseating the chips and it crashed again so I’ve reinstalled the original chips. So far, no crashes. If it keeps running smooth then I get to begin the unenviable process of haggling with the reseller about making good on these shoddy chips. I sure don’t want two more of the same brand but I doubt they’re going to give me cash. Sigh.

[Also: I’m just glad that the infamous defective screen problem hasn’t affected me, yet. (MacMinute, News.com, Apple Discussion Forum, PetitionOnline.com, BoingBoing.)]

[Update: No crashes yet with the original RAM installed. MacConnection is going to send me replacement chips of a different brand. So we’ll see if that works.]

October 28, 2003

The Obligatory Panther Rave

Mac OS X 10.3 Panther

Yes I know it’s shocking to hear but just deal with it: I love Mac OS X 10.3. Yes I’m a big geek. Yes I think the little UI refinements are nifty. Yeah Safari 1.1 is the best web browser ever developed on any platform. No I don’t mind the metallic Finder or any of the other metal-skinned apps. Yup Mail is better than ever. Yes Exposé rules (especially when it’s assigned to a spare mouse button). And yes I’m more glad than ever that I don’t have to use Windows.

October 28, 2003


Last Thursday night I went up to Santa Rosa to celebrate my Dad’s birthday. On Friday, my Mom had arranged for her, Nani and I to meet one of our semi-distant relatives. He happens to work at Skywalker Sound and very generously showed us around his offices and the rest of Skywalker Ranch. He’s had quite a career and it was great to learn about his work and wander around a bit. That night my family had a little party for me which was very nice. Then on Saturday I headed back to the Bay Area. Tabitha and I went into the city to just kinda cruise around and look for nice places to walk. We stumbled across a nice stretch of coastal paths on the western side of the peninsula which curved back to where the Golden Gate Bridge and the mouth of the bay could be seen. Later we watched the sunset, were attacked by tiny whirling bugs, and headed home. Sunday was all errands. All in all it was a great weekend to turn 27.

Thanks to everyone who wrote in with happy birthday wishes. Much appreciated. =-)

To top it all off the weather was outstanding. You know though that when the weather in San Francisco is as warm and toasty as the usual San Diego weather, that San Diego must have gone up in flames. Such a tragic situation for those who lost their homes. As it is whenever this kind of thing happens.

October 22, 2003

Panther and iBook G4s

My copy of Panther has shipped! Whoo-hoo! I’ve been in a weird state of operating system purgatory with the new machine. Too busy not to install and configure everything, too near the 10.3 release date to take the time to set everything up properly.

Also, these damn iBook G4s are making me think we’ll see PowerBook G5s at Macworld SF 2004. Grrr.

[Update: Okay, my copy of Mac OS X 10.3 left Rancho Cordova (88.6 miles from my house), traveled to Oakland (5.3 miles from my house), then went to Memphis (2085.3 miles from my house), and who knows where next. =-)]

[Arrived: Well it came back from Memphis (maybe it’s an Elvis fan?) and arrived this afternoon after briefly stopping over in Oakland and Emeryville. Unfortunately, now I’m in Santa Rosa and thus in no way able to upgrade. Soon though.]

October 18, 2003

Neo ex Matrix


There is a building.
Inside this building there is a level.
Where several elevators can go.
And many stairs can reach.

This level is filled with doors.
These doors lead to many theaters.
Excellent theaters.
But one door is special…

One door leads to the IMAX theater.

If you’re interested in trying to see Revolutions in IMAX on opening day at the Metreon, please let me know. I’m trying to get a sense of how many tickets I should be buying when they become available.

[Update: My good friend Newton from the Lowes Metreon ticket counter informs me that IMAX tickets may may go on sale tonight (23 Oct) at 5pm.]

October 16, 2003

Apple, Pepsi and iTunes for Windows


It turns out you can sell sugar water and change the world at the same time. =-)

Today Apple released iTunes 4.1 along with a second-generation Music Store, various iPod accessories, and announcements of promotional relationships with AOL and Pepsi. Vastly more important however, Apple made a version of iTunes for Windows available to download. Now Apple will battle major digital music distributors head-to-head. In addition, Windows users will finally get a taste of Apple’s slick interfaces and rich feature sets. It hardly seems fair to reward non-switchers with such excellent (and free) software. =-)

Have any Windows users tried iTunes yet? What do you think so far? Will I be able to resist buying a reasonably priced refurb iPod? Stay tuned.

October 15, 2003

The Least of All Evils

Just out of curiosity, from the following list of wireless service providers, which company/service sucks the least (or most), and why? AT&T Wireless, Cingular Wireless, Sprint, or T-Mobile?

October 13, 2003

Saturday and Sunday

This weekend’s activities included but were not limited to: chasing our sick but still nimble cat around the apartment while trying to get her into her travel box, eating lunch in Santa Rosa with some of the family at Mac’s, finally seeing Lost in Translation, getting bills paid and computer rebates organized, meeting Tab’s oft-spoken-of aunt, avoiding smashing into someone who was running a stop sign, avoiding smashing into someone who was darting across an intersection crosswalk on a bicycle against the light, getting major geek envy over the folks at Foo Camp, injecting medicine into the cat’s mouth (behind the fang, a few drops at a time), having dinner with Tabitha’s family, and writing this post.


October 10, 2003


Tabitha’s an efficient job seeker. In tough market, she strengthened her skills, applied, interviewed, got an offer, and accepted. All in record time. She’s very excited to be starting work soon. All the best wishes on her new career.

On a completely unrelated note I am loving the new computer and happily scored a very reasonably priced “Up-To-Date” upgrade to Mac OS X Panther. Yum.

October 9, 2003

Drawers 99% Bad

Mac OS X brought with it an abomination of user experience on par with Clippy. They’re known as drawers and essentially they’re little windows which slide out from the sides of parent windows. You can find them in Mail, Preview, and now iCal. You won’t find them in Safari, iTunes, or Apple’s Pro applications. What kills me about drawers is that they aren’t calculated into the width of a window so if you’re trying to maximize the window you’re working in you have to drag it by hand. Worse, if you’re already working in a maximized window, the drawer will slide out off the edge of the screen! This is not good experience design. iCal recently moved some of its functionality from a floating window to a drawer. I hated the floater but the drawer is worse. What’s more, this iCal drawer is something you need to use all the time. Stuff you need access to all the time should not be placed in drawers. Apple’s Mail program has the same nonsense. Safari, iTunes, iMovie and many other apps get by just fine without drawers. Camino has (had?) a nice feature which would resize the window when the drawer was shown, Transmit uses drawers smartly, and the search drawer in the new Preview looks cool. But for the most part, drawers are 99% bad. Sigh.

[Less ranty: Check out the new iPulse. It’s beautiful. No drawers either.]

October 7, 2003

Relection Day

Live election results can be found on the Secretary of State’s website. Yahoo News is also tracking the results. Does anyone know of other sites which will be following the outcome?

MoveOn.org and the League of Women Voters both have lists of polling locations.

Todd Dominey has a nice review of Jessie Scanlon’s review of bad ballot design.

And finally, if you’re voting today, please don’t choose Arnold to lead California. I love some of his movies too and it’s appealing to imagine that he will wrestle the government free from special interests but realistically he hasn’t proven himself worthy during the campaign.

Happy voting!

[Update: Doc is voting against the recall. Greenspun expects that Arnold will lose.]

October 4, 2003

Lately From The iTunes Music Store

He was killed by a cellular phone explosion They scattered his ashes across the ocean The water was used to make baby lotion The wheels of promotion were set into motion

But the sun still shines in the summer time I’ll be yours if you’ll be mine I tried to change but I changed my mind Think I’ll have another glass of mexican wine.”

— Mexican Wine, Fountains of Wayne

[Update: Link added later to reflect sick connection between randomly lyriced song and current events. As you were.]

October 3, 2003

Misleading Media

Variations of Misperceptions According to Source of News

Yesterday, the Program on International Policy Attitudes and Knowledge Networks released a study (PDF, 315KB) that correlates public misperceptions about issues relating to the war in Iraq with the media sources from which people get their news. One of the striking aspects of the report was the disparity between viewers of cable and network news television (specifically Fox News) and public resources like PBS and NPR.

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