Sunday, January 29, 2006

What Safari could learn from Firefox

I am a huge fax of Mac OS X, but I'll save that rant for antoher post. Part of my love of Mac OS X is how the OS creates such a strong and unique interface with Cocoa programs. For example, the ability to use the Dicionary application within any Cocoa program by using Command-Shift-D or the ability to duplicate any piece of highlighted text immediately onto a stickie by using Command-Shift-Y. However, when it comes to Safari, there are a few things that keep me going back to Firefox.

Tabs: Firefox has a great setting where all new windows are opened in Tabs. This is great because after I've been poking around the internet, going from Wikipedia to Flickr and all over the place, I don't have a bunch of open browser windows cascading across my desktop. Cascading should be left for style sheets and Apple should implement automatic Tab opening for new window links in Safari. I should note that I just recently learned that Command-Shift-Arrow will take you from tab to tab without using that mouse. I'm a card carrying member of the Keyboard Is Faster Society (KIFS), so this is great news.

Find: Firefox has a great find feature that opens a status bar at the bottom of the page. The function will start searching and highlighting possible finds as you start typing. This helps because I might only need to type a few letters of what I'm looking for and Firefox has already found what I'm looking for. Also, unlike in Safari, which uses a separate pop-up window that goes away after it has completed one search cycle, Firefox's find feature will stay on the bottom of the browser ready for action until you tell it to go away.

Icon: OK, I know this is a trivial point to bring up, but with Apple being so desisgn conscious and Apple consumers looking for that type of forward edge design, the Firefox (and Thunderbird) logo are just cool. Much cooler than a compass (and a stamp). Although, to Apple's credit, if I were going to design a compass icon, it would probably look like Safari's.

Speed: Alright, lets get down to the most important feature. Of all the browsers in use today, Safari is amongst the slowest, if not the slowest. Firefox on the other hand is immediatly fast righ out the box, but with the aid of FasterFox, it leaves Safari in the proverbial dust.

Extensions: Extensions, and to a lesser extent, Themes, are few and far between for Safari. One of the main draws for the Firefox community is the ability to take a browser and add as many bells and whistles as you want - even Abe Vigodas status. Safari has a few addable features, but nothing to the breadth and depth as Firefox. Apple might want to throw a little money at this problem as those individuals who want to create browser extenions are already doing it for all of the indie-browsers.

This captures some of the main reasons I'm constantly switching back and forth between Safari and Firefox. If I had to pick one browser I would probably pick Firefox for all of the features, customizations and optimizations that are available, but I would mourn the loss of Safari like I would a good friend. Hopefully, the engineers in Cupertino are paying attention to all the million+ downloads of alternative browers and start implementing in-house features that can start to compete.


My mom might have Parkinson's disease. According to the Wiki, the cardinal symptoms of Parkinson's are tremors, rigidity, slowness of movement or lack of spontaneous movement and walking problems relating to lack of balance. My mother has displayed all of these physical symptoms as well as most of the associated psychological symptoms (i.e. depression, anxiety and/or panic attacks). My mom is supposed to go back to her doctor for more tests, but I don't know when that will be.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Oh, Sweet Metallic Goddess!

The Nokia 8801 Phone has the best of Nokia and Motorola, arguably the two biggest powerhouses in the mobile phone market today. It is sleek, sexy and designed within an inch of inoperability, but Nokia ultimately is all about making simple, functional phones that tend to be intuitive and friendly. The only thing not so friendly about this gadget ambrosia is the posted $799.99 USD price tag.

Postscript added 2 minutes later - The spec sheet on this phone has "3D image engine for enhanced graphics" listed! I guess you need that when you're also claiming "3D animated Nokia theme menu logos".

Flickr: Photos tagged with appleporn

If someone didn't know any better they might get the wrong idea when they see me searching Flickr: Photos tagged with appleporn. I've become slightly addicted to looking at photos of people showing off their newest hardware or new configuration. The photos usually have some type of unique or interesting composition rather than just a computer sitting on a desk. Also, the Apple logo usually plays a prominent role in all the photos.

Mozilla Store

I've been known to wear my geekiness like a badge, or more specifically like the Mida Universal Remote Control Watch I bought from Think Geek. But I never thought wearing a t-shirt enblazoned with the image of an email application would be so applealing. Check out the Mozilla Store. It looks like they're making more than just browers these days - they've got some pretty kick ass tees and polos.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Baby Steps

Sophia is getting closer to walking every day. It started with her letting go of a table or chair, whatever was holding her up at the moment, and falling down. And then she would stay on her feet for a few seconds. And than a few seconds more. And now she's up to almost a minute, but no steps. Liz and I believe the walking will start any day now - probably while I'm at work or in Dallas.

I'll try and post a picture or two of her standing without mommy or daddy's help.

Monday, January 23, 2006

EVDO Might Be The Way To Go

I've been very interested in EVDO technology since CES and MacWorld had a steady stream of blogging and Flickr clusters pouring out on "cellular" bandwidth. What I really had in mind was buying a 12" PowerBook and popping in an EVDO card to carry with me every which way. While I waiting on hold to speak to another department at work, I logged onto Cingular's website (my current carrer) and price the PCI cards. WTF? They're all Windows only!

Can you believe that? Cingular, the home of iTunes support, not carrying a Mac OS X compatible PCI card? So I googled "EVDO + Mac OS X" and found Brian Foy's December 30th entry on his O'Reilly blog about using the Kyrocera KPC650 EVDO card offered through Verizon. He didn't mention any plan pricing, but I'd imagine it would be comparable to the $60 USD that I've been seeing everywhere else.

I think EVDO is going to be the way of the future. Instead of dedicated DSL or cable modems and wardriving for a wifi hotspot, people are going to create their own mobile connectivity by paying for built in modems and broadband through a GSM network. As long as the bandwidth and specs are comparable to what I'm used to on a Road Runner cable modem, I'll accept a little degradation for the mobility offered.

I'm definitly going to keep my eye on this one.
Ugh! I've got to go to Dallas tomorrow and I just don't want to. Liz has been sick all day (stomach issues). Sophia has been coughing pretty bad all week, mostly at nights. I just don't feel like leaving my hobbled wife to fend for herself and out daughter. This pregnancy has been tougher than the last one. To Liz's credit, she has been an absolutely trooper, or as Ricky Kang, founder of Kick Ass Karate might say, "a warrior!"

I'm all packed and as has become my pre-flight ritual, I'm taking a few moments to load up the theh 60GB 5G iPod for a flight - even if it takes all of 30 minutes. There still ground commutes, waiting for taxis and buses. This time around I'm trying Amber Mac's newest podcast, Inside the Net, co-hosted by Leo Laporte. I don't know if you're familary with Amber, but she's a Canadian techie who has impeccable pronounciation (even for a Canadian) and seems to be way too goody-two-shoes for her own good. Don't get me wrong, I like people who aren't about getting into trouble, but there's a point where you just have to be able to go with a joke. Right?

I also downloaded a few episodes of the Cool Hunting video cast. I like the website so logic wold dictate that I would like the podcast. I'm just hoping between now and 6am I get a new episode of Diggnation. That would be the best. I think what I'll end up listening too is TWiT - you just can't got wrong with Laporte, Norton, Dvorak, Rose, Chang and MacArthur.

Anyways, I need to try and get to bed early. I don't know if Liz is going to keep me up with her illness, but I was friggin' exhausted today. And tomorrow I've got meetings, a lunch, a dinner and a bowling tournament (WTF?). See, if I already had my 12" PBook, I would have been able to blog some while I'm in Big D. Oh well, I'll get it this Thursday and then I'll have to take a special road trip to break it in.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

iLife '06

I stopped in at the La Cantera Apple Store yesterday to look at the 12" PowerBooks and 12" iBooks. Wouldn't you know it, the Intel iMacs are already in stock and on display for people to try out Apple's latest offerings. The first thing I noticed was that the image on the screen was polarized - like it was a negative instead of a positive. One of the Mac Specialists taught me that this feature can be turned on from System Preferences - Universal Access - Display. I liked the effect it had, but unfortunately the polarization effect is not limitd to Mac OS X only, but also web content as well.

First of all, as you would imagine, the Intel iMacs are very fast. I tried doing some of the things that Steve did during his keynote, for example, I opened iPhoto, shrunk the thumbnails as small as they would go and started scrolling. As far as I could tell, it didn't miss a beat. I tried the full screen edit mode from iPhoto and thought that was excellent. I also played a little with iWeb which I thought made it extrememly easy to create web pages that look professional (if not original) and provided the much touted one-touch publishing that services like Blogger and Moveable Type are currently offering.

I launched Garage Band, but since I'm not very familiary with the application to begin with I couldn't tell what the new applications were and if they were any good. I did watch the video provided from Apple Quick Tours - Garage Band and found the podcasting features to be really intriguing. The only downside that I can forsee is a lot of bad podcasts.

On one of my recent visits to the Apple store, one of the Mac Specilists told me that iLife '05 users would not have to pay the full $80 USD for iLife '06, that there would be an update available for $9.99 USD. I hope that's true because I would love to have some of the applications now available. Forunately, when I pick up the 12" PowerBook next week it will already be pre-loaded with iLife '06.

Friday, January 20, 2006

What are Previous iTunes Libraries?

Previous iTunes Libraries
Originally uploaded by Joseph Palumbo.

I've always been irritated by the Previous iTunes Libriaries folder. What is it? What purpose does it serve? Can I delete without crashing my system? Of course I can, Mac oS X is Unix.

According to Article 301895 in the Apple knowledge base, this folder is created any time you upgrade to a newer version of iTunes and can be used to restore your music library if it does not appear in the newer version.

However, if your like some people and have such an intense confidence in all of Apple's upgrades, than feel free to give it the short drag to the trash bin.

iPod + TV + Bad Remote

I ordered Apple's iPod AV Kit from the online store. I've become such a huge fan of podcasts that I find I'm skipping out on some of my television mainstays (Law & Order, The West Wing, Wife Swap) for listening to the new episode of Diggnation, TWiT, and The Mac Cast to name a few. The AV kit comes with the 5th Gen iPod cradle/dock (if I can call it that) that features an IR port for use with Apple's remote. It also comes with some very stylish RCA cables that plug directly into your TV/Home Theatre/Stereo for easy integration. It also comes with a power adapter to keep a steady flow of AC/DC into your iPod while it plays through your 5.1 THX surround sound.

My one major complaint about the kit is the non-use of the "Menu" button on the remote. Remember Steve's "One More Thing" last fall where he introduced Front Row on the new Rev of the iMac. Menu launch Front Row. Great. Why can't it get me to the iPod menu when it's docked on the IR cradle? And why can't the iPod give a steady video flow to my television so I can look at the menu and make my selection on the bigger television screen. Whenever one episode of Command N ends I have to get up, walk to the iPod, scroll around and find the newest episode of Martin Sargent's Infected and than push play on the iPod. The remote can only start/stop, forward, reverse and adjust volume. A major let down, but I'll deal.

However, the picture on my 26" Sharp Aquos is very impressive when the content is coming from the iPod. Lazy Sunday looks great, DVDs ripped and put onto my iPod via Handbrake Lite have decent quality (though not DVD as expected). The only video degradation that is noticeable is from the videos I took with my Canon SD400 and transferred to the iPod - those do not play so well on the widescreen television.

Another small complaint is the lack of visualization on the television. Music and podcasts are an audio-only format, but I'm playing something through my television, why can't I have album art or some information about what I'm listening too - especially with the enhanced podcasts that I listen to? Something for Apple to consider if/when updating the AV features for future iPods.

Was it worth the $100 USD, probably not when you consider that DLO has another kit that offers the features I'm looking for for only $50 USD more (although not available until March 2006). I'll probably end up upgrading when the DLO model comes out. I'm way more interested in what Ricky Gervais has to say that another canned episode of the George Lopez Show.

Google Earth

Google finally released Google Earth for Mac (in Beta format) and I finally got around to downloading it. So far I'm very impressed with all the featurs avaialble, especially the ability to control the layers on the map. Everything from street names to 3D recreations of the building in large metropolitan areas to National Geographic icons. I've only played with it for about 15 minutes and I can aleady think of at least 10 ways it can help me out - least of which is helping me find a decent cup of coffee in different cities.

Postscript added 1 1/22/2006, 1145am - I've been playing with Google Earth even more and the only feature that I wish it had, but doesn't, is a WiFi hotpsot locator. That would make the package complete for me. Otherwise it is a feature-rich, addictive piece of software that has multiple useful uses.

Postscript added 1/27/2006 1154pm - So I told my boss, Rick, about Google Earth when we went to Dallas recently. The next day at work he's using it to case real estate for potential loans. 1) This is a great exampe at how versatile Google Earth really is, 2) Rick is cooler than I thought he was, 3) Can I down loan Google Earth to my work computer?

Sunday, January 15, 2006

MacBook v. PowerBook

There has been much discussion on the internet about Apple's new MacBook Pro and on the apparent merits of switching to intel. However, as most scientists will attest, numbers don't lie. Charle Gaba's site, System Shootouts, does a compare and contrast with the two aluminum books and how they match up. Obviously the core duo powered MacBook smokes the PowerPC processor in all of the applicable categories, but anybody can tell you that it takes more than pure processing power to create a positive computing experirence.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Shareware posted a list of what they think are the top Shareware applications for Mac OS X for the year 2005...check it out.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Thank you, sir! May I have another?

I love to initiate somebody new into the Mac culture. Today I took Scott down the Apple Store La Cantera so he could take a look at why apple is the greatest computer in the world. I showed him some of the features that Mac users take for granted and Windows users pine over. Expose! iPhoto's Ken Burn's effect! Not have to reboot every five minutes! We had a great time. Special thanks goes out to Noelle(?) for hanging out with us and answering our questions.


Why does Nordstrom's have an eBar? And why is it called the "eBar"? In my opinion, if you're going to put 'e' in front of any common noun, than it should at least have wifi access. Instead, Nordstrom's offers overpriced caffeine drinks and vegetarian wraps. The latte was good but I wanted to check my email and read the C|Net reviews for the Canon camera I saw at the Apple store.


I think I've made up my mind. My bonus this month is the largest I've ever gotten and Steve may be "And One More Thing"ing some really cool hardware. I think I'm going to have to get another computer. I'm thinking either an iBook or a Mac Mini to run on my Sharp Aquos LCD I've got in my bedroom. That would be awesome - I could start digging stories before I even get out of bed. Well, if the remote is close at hand maybe?


So I'm off to C|Net to check out their final coverage of all the new products of CES!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Cingular Voicemail Hack

Have you ever heard your mobile phone ringing in another room, run to answer it but get there in time to have the voicemail kick in after four rings. While scouring the Cingular bulletin boards I found someone who posted the codes to extend your ring time before an incoming call forwards to a voice mailbox.

You can use the following codes to control the delay from 5 to 30 seconds on any GSM phone:
1.To get the current call forwarding status, enter *#61#[SEND] into your phone.

2.Write down the 10-digit number, this is the phone number that your calls are currently being diverted to.

3.Enter **61*[number]*11*[delay]#[SEND] into your phone using the phone number (numbers only) as reported by the status & the delay can be set to (5, 10, 15, 20, 25, or 30) seconds.

4.To verify that the settings are correct, enter *#61#[SEND] into your phone.

I used this on my Palm Treo 650 and E's Motorola V3 RAZR and now I have much more time to answer my phone before voice mail takes over.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Staphing Problem

"This is spider bite," Dr. Lett told us once he pulled off the two layers of gauze that had become pasted to Liz's leg. It turns out that Liz's bacterial infection is more likely a venemous insect bite. Dr. Lett (Liz's OB) told us that Liz had quite a bit of necrosis around the lesion and that's typically indicative of some type of toxin injected into the body - in this case, most likely from a brown recluse.

So we've changed the course of medical treatment - rather than keep the wound cloistered in a tourniquet, we are cleaning it regularly and watching it very closesly. Thankfully, Dr. Lett assauged our fears about the bite potentially affecting our unborn daugher. He explained to us that the bite was localized and no threat to the fetus. Well, something we can be happy about.

Liz is still in quite a bit of pain, but she can now walk on her leg again. She's been able to keep her spirits high depsite everything her poor body has been going through. I'll keep you posted on the healing process.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Liz in the ER - New Year has Great Start

My poor wife Elizabeth ended up in the emergency room this morning. A few days ago some wierd skin lesion starting forming on her right calf. We didn't think anything of it. But over the days it got worse and worse. New Year's Eve she was having trouble walking. We decided that she should see our doctor first thing Monday morning. Unfortunately, like a lot of businesses, our doctor's office was closed Monday. We were able to get another doctor from the same office to call us back. He advised we go to theh ER and have one of the MDs there drain the offending abscess. So a quick trip to the Methodist and *bang*boom*, we had a drained leg and a prescription for Vicodin.

The doctor we worked with told us it was Staph infection was is common in climates like South Texas. She told us it is potentially very serious and that if we put it off Liz could have ended up in the hospital. That sucks.

Liz is recuperating with her leg up and surfing the web on my PSP - I knew that was a smart purchase. Sophia has been very good while Mommy stays in bed. It wasn't exactly how I wanted to spend my day off, but I'm glad I was here and able to take her. She was totally out of commission. I'll keep you guys posted as she regains her health.