Wednesday, June 29

Apple - Support - GarageBand - Recording Your Podcast

How to make a podcast that doesn't suck.

Tuesday, June 28

AMD charges Intel with coercion in antitrust suit

This is laughable... just because Intel is good doesn't mean they have a monopoly. AMD still makes great processors, and there is a strong contingent of techies who won't use anything else (particularly in desktop machines). With Apple's new development of switching to Intel processors for its consumer machines, this does increase Intel's marketshare. However, Macintosh computers only have a three percent marketshare, and this development does not really change Intel's total impact.

Intel does have a gross majority of the marketshare for home-computer processors, but there are a number of other applications for computer chips these days. Handheld computers (PDAs), cell phones, and non-consumer products like supercomputers and high-end Web servers all use chips as well, and Intel doesn't have a very strong foothold in those markets. Well, it does have the XSCALE line of chips for PDAs, but the other examples I've mentioned are hardly Intel-driven.

Back off, AMD.

Monday, June 27

'Batman' beats witch at U.S. box office

I was kinda wondering whether I might go to see the new Batman flick, but I really didn't know anything about it at first. Now that I know that it stars Christian Bale as the famous Gotham superhero, I really want to check it out! Christian Bale was one of the lead performers in my favorite movie musical of all time, Newsies.

Also, it's directed by the same guy who directed Memento, so I'm sure it's got some of that quirky "what's really going on here?" feel to it. Of the movies currently in the theater, Batman Begins is probably the one I most want to see.

Thursday, June 23

Even the courts know the Internet is the first place to turn for information

This is great... a new case has shown that even the *courts* feel that Google is an essential information-gathering tool. The plaintiff for the Munster v. Groce case in Indiana was ruled to have not exercised due diligence in locating a missing defendant because a Google search turned up some incredibly relevant evidence.

Survey: Intel transition may cool Mac sales

This survey is rather informal (respondents include Macworld readers, not industry professionals), but it sheds some interesting insights into Apple's recent decision to switch to Intel processors. Fully one-third of those surveyed who had been thinking about purchasing new Apple hardware in the next 12 months say their interest had waned in anticipation of the forthcoming change.

However, a certain number—13 percent, to be exact—actually said they would be more likely to purchase a new Mac within the next year. One of those surveyed mentioned a propensity to buy PowerPC-based hardware so that currently-owned software will not require an upgrade.

The switch to Intel processors is a huge change, and software developers of all types will be required to update their programs to work on the new "Mactel" machines. According to Steve Jobs, who outlined this process for developers in his recent WWDC keynote, those developers who have stayed up-to-date with their programming methods will find the changeover quite painless. Those who have lagged a bit and are still making software that requires PowerPC chips to emulate even older hardware will need to undergo a more extensive upgrade process.

In general, I see this as a great move. As an analogy: Like many "computer guys," I find that my machine usually accumulates a good amount of junk on the hard drive. I often play with "test versions" of programs, and install/uninstall software willy-nilly in my quest to make my computer work with me as much as possible. After a while, my computer (much more so in Windows than in OSX) is filled with clutter, and then I usually decide to reformat the hard drive and start again with a clean slate. After I've wiped the drive, I install only the programs I was actually using before the reformat, so that there isn't a lot of unused junk sitting around, taking up space and possibly using RAM if the uninstall process isn't as clean as it ought to have been.

This processor switch is like a platform-wide "hard drive reformat," so that only programs which are being continually developed will live through the transition. Of course, there are several pieces of software that I really hope/need/want to make it through (MakeMusic!, do you hear me?), but this process will certainly separate the wheat from the chaff.

Getting back to the survey, the respondents were asked to indicate how smoothly they felt the transition process would go. Sixty-seven percent felt that there would be "some bumps, [but] nothing serious," and I tend to agree with that viewpoint. Only a total of 7 percent felt that the transition would be either "perfectly hitch-free" or "absolute chaos," with the vast majority expecting a varying degree of problems that would definitely be resolved.

Sixty-two percent also said that they felt the new processors would make Macs either faster, cheaper, or both. In my opinion, anything that makes a Mac more financially competitive, especially if it makes it faster as well, counts as a boon for Apple.

Tuesday, June 21

Updated depiction

A while back, I included a "depiction of myself" here on my blog; I used an image created from the relative frequencies of the various bookmarks I've created on Recently I've gone through my bookmarks and re-evaluated the tags I was using, in order to "shape up" a more current picture of my personal interests. The resulting photo can be found in this post's link.

Monday, June 20

A Wireless World, Bound To Sockets

Our telephones - even landlines - are wireless, our Internet is wireless, our television remotes are wireless, and our handhelds can even communicate with PCs wirelessly. But are we really a wireless culture?

According to the linked article (and I've run across this in daily life), wireless access to services does not completely remove cords from the operation of all of our gadgets. You see, the gadgets themselves still need wires in order to get power. Laptop computers, cell phones, and handheld computers still require frequent doses of electrical current in order to remain operational, and currently the only way to get that current into the devices is through the wide array of charging cords that tether us to walls for hours at a time while "juicing up."

And every device has its own power cable... that is, until iGo came on the scene. iGo makes accessories and adapters for all of the gadgets that we use. The power adapters have an "empty" cord, to which any number of "intelligent tips" (itips) can be affixed in order to provide electricity to any number of devices. iGo makes itips for almost every widely-used portable electronic device, so that mess of charging cables can be reduced to one iGo cord (and its accompanying set of itips).

This seems like a really cool solution, for now. I'd love to have one of those cables that would make my plethora of charging cords obsolete. However, I think there is something even better on the horizon: wireless power. Well, it might not be quite "on the horizon," but I'm sure someday somebody will find out how to convey AC and DC power across RF, infrared, or WiFi. Or maybe even create some new standard protocol. But I'm sure, eventually, it will be coming.

And then Starbucks will have to offer wireless power outlets in addition to wireless internet service, if yuppies are going to get anything done...


YubNub is basically a "command line for the web." What this amounts to is that you can type all sorts of commands into its search box and it will automatically perform the Web actions you specify. For example, "g [keyword]" will search Google for your keyword, and "am [keyword]" will search amazon. It's all in the same place, so you don't have to rocket around to all kinds of main pages to do your web searching.

The other reason this is really cool is that it's social. The commands that the inerpreter knows can be created by anybody (the really good ones end up in the golden eggs section). This means that there are a ton of actions, from UPS package tracking to - get this - a feature that makes a computerized voice say anything you feed it (the command is 'tts').

Plus, I was able to use other computer tools in conjunction with it that expand its power even further. Quicksilver is a great tool for Mac OS X that allows you to launch files, control iTunes, send email, and other things from a single keypress. One of its features is that any bookmark you allow it to access (there are plugins for Safari, Firefox/Mozilla,, and other bookmark sets) with "***" in the URL automatically becomes a Web search. I created a bookmark with the URL "***", and now I can enter any YubNub command straight into Quicsilver without even needing to view the YubNub webpage.

I'm excited to see where this goes. By the way, according to the author of the page, "YubNub" is an Ewok term meaning "Hooray!"

Saturday, June 18

One-fifth of Web users prefer online news

This Nielsen report is no surprise to me... I get *all* of my news on the Web. My wife and I have a weekend subscription to the newspaper, but that's mainly for the coupons and ads that are in the Sunday edition. (And the comics. Don't forget the comics... though I read my favorites of those on the Web as well.)

The best part of online news, for me, is the customizability of the headlines I receive. I view all of my news headlines via RSS (Rich Site Summary, or Really Simple Syndication), and there are a bazillion RSS feeds to choose from, give or take about 3. You can see the feeds I view in my blogroll. A lot of people use RSS software on their computers, but I like using Bloglines because it keeps track of all the items I've read, so I never have to look through things I've already seen if I move to a diferent computer. Since I can use up to 4 different computers in a day (Mac and Windows at work, Mac and Windows at home), this is a great benefit. Also, when I make any changes to my personal list of feeds, they're updated on the server and I don't have to make those changes on each computer individually.

So, RSS is great. Huzzah! Web news is awesome! Check it out! (It's Saturday morning; just humor me.)

Thursday, June 16

Browser-based attacks increase as viruses dip

Rather than attempt to trick computers, malicious hackers are now preying on computer users more than ever before. Computers equipped with virus detection software are usually able to intercept harmful code and nullify it before it has a chance to corrupt the computer itself. However, computer users do not have as watchful and objective an eye on their computers (many because they just aren't fully aware of what to look for) as software is capable of using. Hackers try pretend that they are agents of reputable companies by emulating their online presence, attempting to lure unsuspecting consumers with official-looking email (phishing) and genuine-seeming websites (pharming).

These sorts of attacks are much more personal in nature. While viruses could possibly delete all information for a hard drive, that sort of attack is benign next too a phishing scam that could possibly receive credit card numbers, social security information, and other identifying information.

The moral of the story is: look out! Don't visit sensitive sites via email... if you're genuinely worried that a notice is genuine, contact the company yourself rather than follow possibly fraudulent hyperlinks.

Forgotten Bach aria turns up

A ritornello aria by J.S. Bach for soprano and harpsichord was recently discovered in Weimar. Oddly enough, it was found in a shoebox.

And you thought all Bach did at Weimar was play the organ...

Seen in rec.humor.funny

There have been an average of 160,000 troops in theater (IRAQ) during the last 22 months, which has a firearm death rate of *60* per *100,000*.

The rate in Washington D.C. is *80.6* per *100,000*.

That means that you are 25% more likely to be shot and killed in our Nation's Capitol, which has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, than you are in Iraq.

*Conclusion*: We should immediately pull out of Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, June 7

Jobs Has Easy Sell to Mac Faithful

The biggest recent tech news is Apple's announced switch to Intel processors. Based on Steve Jobs's keynote speech yesterday (that link goes to a streamed Quicktime movie of the one-hour presentation), the transition will all, theoretically, go swimmingly. I guess we'll see whether that's the case. After the problems even getting MakeMusic!'s Finale (my most-used Mac application) over to OSX in the first place I don't have the highest expectations for the port to Intel, but I guess I'll just have to wait to find out how that'll actually go in practice.

Laptops Outsell Desktops for First Time

For the first time, the majority of personal computers sold in a month have been laptops (53 percent). This is odd, considering the recent article describing ergonomic problems with notebook computers.


LOL... if you find humor in geeky academic stuff, this will certainly float your comedic boat.

Friday, June 3

Friday Afternoon Syndrome (FAS)

An interesting blog article about a common pehnomenon you never really notice until someone talks about it...

Wednesday, June 1 Get Rich Slowly!

The link goes to an article at another blog, "foldedspace," in which the blogger has laid out a combined summary of the best and most-often-referenced financial planning books. What he has to say makes a lot of sense, and it opens my eyes to a world of financial independence that I hadn't thought about before.

I had always thought that financial independence was merely the freedom from debt and the procurement of employment with a paycheck that sustains your way of life (while, of course, providing a bit extra for saving purposes). However, according to this summary of well-respected financial advice, independence is not fully achieved financially until income reaped from investments alone can sustain your way of life.

That's earth-shattering to me, as I thought my wife and I pretty much had "our financial house in order," as they say, already. We certainly do well, but the ability to live entirely off of investments sets a bar that we're quite a ways away from as yet.

Is it Really Reading?

This New York Times article discusses the current fad in audiobooks, and pits those in favor of "traditional" book-reading against the technology apologists who insist that listening to audiobooks is much the same.

I've never listened to an audiobook, but it's an intriguing idea. One of this week's guest editors at Lifehacker (my favorite tech blog, by the way: it distills all of the random stuff from The Morning News, popular, Gizmodo, etc. into one pithy easy-to-digest source) just did a piece today on audiobooks, and his review is summed up in his statement that, "[q]uite honestly, some audiobooks work, and some don’t." He comes up with a few rules for audiobook listening; among them are admonitions to try out audiobooks (on Audible or the iTunes Music Store) before you buy to make sure the narrator's style is appealing to you, and to refrain from attempting to "read" weighty works like those of Tolstoy in audio form.

I've looked around a bit, and if I end up trying out audiobooks I'll likely start with John Cleese's reading of C. S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters, which seems excellent both on the basis of user reviews and also the 15-minute sample at Audible.

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The Geek Code desperately needs updating, but in any case here's mine (as of 2010-02-28):

Version: 3.12
GIT/MU d+(-) s:+>: a C++> ULXB++++$ L+++ M++ w--() !O !V P+ E---
W+++ N o++ K? PS PE++ Y+ PGP t !5 X- R- tv+@ b++ DI++++ D--- e*++
h--- r+++ y+++ G+

If you really care about knowing what that all means, you either know the code already, or you can get it decoded for you here.