Girl at work bought a refurb MacBook at the w/end. The new computers were all funny little boxes on the screen! #windows8 #fail

Turned out there was more to the story too. She hated the Win8 GUI, and so did the sales guy @PCWorld. He tried to sell her a Mac, but as she couldn’t afford it she sought out the refurb on eBay.

Circus Ponies launches an iPad app


This looks like a killer app on the iPad, a proper notepad paradigm that is perfect for the iPad format.

It is just a shame that I can’t understand Notebook on the desktop, though on the iPad it looks like it may well work.

Is this what happens when you take a real world item, a Filofax, turn it into a desktop app, then when a closer device to a Filofax/notepad becomes available you port it back? Somehow I think the world has moved on, I expect a desktop app to be a desktop app, though I remember how cool Lotus Organizer (Smartsuite) was back in the day, but now think that even Joe and Jane have moved on from the idea, Does anyone ‘average’ now really understand the desktop concept, is it relevant now that a computer is not exclusive to a desktop?

Watching how old concepts are adapted to new devices is fascinating, and I will pay a visit to Circus Ponies again when I’m fortunate enough to obtain an iPad.

Maddening Mail problem with ‘stuck’ outgoing massages. Even Google has no answers!

iOS 4


So it is here, and I’ve lived with it a few days, only to report that I’m underwhelmed.

Not only did I suffer from a 4 hour installation processes but once I was there I found out that some of the features I’d been looking forwards to were not going to be available for a 3G. The most important of these was bluetooth keyboard support, still a no go, but not till I’d tried all kinds of work arounds trying to get there. It was by chance that I found a simple text line on a blog, “Not supported by the 3G”.

Initial thoughts were also frustrated by a huge slowdown on the device, solved to a large extent by doing a hard reset, home>off, a couple of times. This has helped a lot and made things feel almost as quick as they were before the update.

Folders are very useful, at least until I spring clean the device to clear out duplicate apps I have permanently in ‘testing’, and I love iBooks, though converting things into ePub is a little of a bind. I’m not in a position to splash out for some new books at the moment, but I will check out the options when I get there, maybe for my holiday.

Inbox is a step forwards, but I’m still frustrated by the inability to flag a mail to be dealt with later on the desktop. Isn’t this an obvious need?

The rest? Well I’ve not really dug into it. I’ve got other things taking a priority at the moment, not least moving on and replacing the 3G with a 4G, but that is another story…


DevonThink Dates

While I use DevonThink daily I’ve occasionally run into it’s inability to modify the creation date of a document. This has not been important until recently when a small workflow I’ve set up to run weekly is sending the documents into DevonThink with the ‘run’ date as a creation date. Looking inside the script folders gave me options to touch either creation date or modification date, and to transpose them, but not modify the creation date, so I Googled an answer and came across a script to take the modification date, give you the option to change it to one of your choosing, and then set both creation and modification dates to the entered date.

DT Change Script

The script is available directly from DevonThink, and just needed to be copied into the DevonThink script folder, YourUserFolder/Library/Application Support/DEVONthink Pro 2/Scripts/Dates/.

It works perfectly, but if you are using UK date formats you need to be careful with the format, so I’ve modified the script to use UK formats.

Disclaimer: While I occasionally modify scripts for my own use I’m no expert in Applescript, so please use with care.

UK Date modification script

Posted with Ecto.

Office for Mac



I’ve always insisted that one of the better pieces of Microsoft software was Outlook, and even though some things do totally frustrate me in use I still stand by this statement. I’m on Outlook 2007 at work now, and was only reminded how much better this is over 2003 the other day. I’d love to be using Entourage on the Mac now, but the complicated hoops to jump through to make it work successfully without Exchange are not worth the effort, and by this I mean work across devices and sync across those devices, with push.

With news being released that its replacement, Outlook for Mac, is getting closer to a late 2010 release I’ve taken a little interest again, however I cant discover if it fully integrates with iCal, or wether it is going to be another Exchange only product for the purposes of syncing.

Still the screenshots look interesting, and it is obviously more closely related to Outlook for Windows. I’ll keep my eye on development and maybe I’ll give it a try when it is released, but it will have to be very good to beat Mail/Busycal/Things, but I’m a sucker for an integrated PIM.

Time Machine


I setup my new Samsung Story Station yesterday and noticed a curious thing with my Time Machine backups.

The new drive is attached to my iMac, serving as a Time machine drive for this, and shared as a network drive for the Mini and Powerbook. While moving things around I noticed the Mini has been backing up an alias folder, resulting in 560GB of deleted TV recordings residing in the backup, yet the iMac, and Powerbook, don’t backup the Music folders which are set as alias’s as well.

The only difference I can find is that on the Mini the alias is set to a different drive to the OSX partition, whilst on both the PowerBook, and iMac, the alias is set to a network share. I was under the impression that Time machine did not allow the following of links outside the OSX HD, but the Mini proved me wrong.

Happily I’ve reclaimed the space used, and set things up to ignore the alias folder in future. Sadly while Time Machine is a great fit and forget backup system the lack of transparency is a little annoying at times.


Power monitor

My Wattson has been refusing to connect to the Holmes software for a couple of tries now, so I had another go today. No joy, but I have worked out that most of the time just trying to connect is freezing the Wattson, often just by connecting the cable and launching the software.

I’ve tried the reset button, in fact this is the only way to sort the ‘hangs’ on the device, and I know that I’ve got some data loss now, not that it really matters if I can’t get the data out of the device anyway! I guess I’ll contact support, but it may now be relegated to a rather pretty usage light-show.

I don’t know about Windows, but the Mac version of the Holmes software is pretty dire, runs on Projecter, but it is slow and often freezes. Bizarrely just connecting the device often brings up a Bluetooth connection dialogue, it is USB, and trying to disconnect, or deal with the Bluetooth connection dialogue often hangs the whole thing. I’ve fed back the info to DIY Kyoto, but even though it is a premium device I don’t see them updating the software/firmware anytime soon.

It’s a shame, I bought the device at a premium over other options because it was the only one that came with a software connection, and offered Mac compatibility at that, and it also offered to work with my Economy 7 tariff. Still today there does not seem to be anything else that offers both, though there are a couple of nice monitors at about half the price of a Wattson. Current Cost (with Pachube) seems the most interesting to me, and if I can’t get a fix from DIY Kyoto I may invest when I get a little spare cash.

There is one wildcard now though, Meters, an iPhone app, is a whole lot better at actually working out real costs, and is easier than a spreadsheet to use. Devices like the Wattson are great at showing what you have/are using, but despite their best attempts can only ever approximate your actual costs from the meter reading, but a combination of the two methods would seem to be the most accurate method of getting a proper idea of what you are using, and how much it costs, that is until the utilities companies actually pull their fingers out and provide proper smartmeters, something I doubt will happen straight away. They just replaced my meter because it was 10 years old, so I won’t be getting a replacement until 2019 on that basis.

Listened to: 23/11/2009 GROOVE CAFE Special Groove on, Earth! & Nouvelle Vague from the album “Groovecafe Aperitif The Chillout Experience” by Cristian Trouble J.

Snow Leopard

I guess it is Snow Leopard?

There seemed to be pages available yesterday that were quickly pulled, and the rumour mill got started.

Soon as I can I’ll pre-order mine.

Back in the habit.

I think the habitual weekly update slipped a bit. I think I need to get back into the habit…

Still, I’ve been making some ‘digital life’ changes recently, and another should be easy to slip in.

Ok. Where to start..

Networked file storage in place, and after a difficult beginning its great, although I’ve moved a hundred or so gig of data around the network. I’m now trying to consolidate the backups, and need to introduce a proper regime to backup again. It was difficult to initialize the device, it would only accept a USB connection for a start, but after I gave it a static address to fit my network, the web interface came up fine as a networked drive, the rest, as they say, was a piece of cake. I chose EXT3 as the file system, and have ruled out the use of USB again, so I hope maintainance, or disaster recovery, will work in the future.

Done a full clean corporate install on the Pocket PC. That’s cool now, couple of sync issues, but then that’s par for using it with a Mac. Need a couple more apps on it, and there’s a little list of software purchases to make, all less than $30, with a good £ exchange rate. There’s never been a better time for me to buy stuff!

Did an upgrade to Tiger on the Mac. Not too good. I could live with it, but the installation of the networked drive accelerated the choice of a full clean install.
So, after several false starts, like a complete failure of a Linux style ‘home’ partition, I running a new setup. Loads of cruft gone, still a few important apps to add back, but generally all is good, and another few days should see it all back in place. Life changing, not quite, but I’m back running Opera as my primary browser. Beta 8 includes some cool stuff that is productivity enhancing. Notes, tabs, and the whole thing is easy to grasp. If I wasn’t using Entourage then I’d like the mail interface too. Safari has some catching up to do, Firefox too.

I cannot be anti-Microsoft. Entourage is the business, and I see it as the marker for every other PIM. Mail-iCal is to disjointed and ‘clunky’ for me, but from another perspective its inclusion on the Mac beats Windows lack of applications on standard installation. Why MS Works is not based on a cut down Office 2004 is anyone’s guess. The only complaint I really have is why Microsoft’s Mac team have not built a sync app that works Mac to PPC, that would be a killer app on this platform. Mac – Palm is reasonably OK, again third party apps are really needed, but I really cannot see why Apple seems to neglect PPC, or why Microsoft can’t see the market for PPC on Mac either. Must be political really. Apple need MS to make Office for Mac, but do MS need to make it?
Either way, as a piece of software I love it, and as a piece of hardware, the XDA is pretty good, not perfect, but pretty good. Palm, you are loosing the handheld war.

While the PPC/Mac reinstall saga has been taking place, I’ve also been on a Linux reinstall fest too. Accident really, I did an update to Vector which lost the soundcard so I was left with 2 options. Sort it out or reinstall. Chose reinstall, thought it would be the easy option. Chose install another distro while I was at it. Vector could go back easy if I wanted. Chose Kubuntu as I really like the Ubuntu philosophy, and prefer KDE. Chose not to reformat my home partition, chose to reinstall after I got a horrible mix of Kubuntu and legacy KDE form Vector. Now running straight Ubuntu.

Kubuntu was OK, but revisiting Ubuntu after a gap of a few months I’m really, really impressed. Someone has made this into a really, really, really good distro. The gnome interface seems to have improved, but the slickness of the whole thing, the thought that has gone into the default user interface, has really pushed this forward. If a usable desktop is to come from the OSS community, this is what it should be. Commercial ditros like Xandros, Linspire, SuSE etc, do have an important place, but, despite my admiration for things like Mepis, Vector and many others I’ve not had the chance to really test drive, the smaller distro is always going to take the focus away from making Linux into a real alternative to Windows or even OSI.

Now I’m not dishing the work these people do, or decrying the inherent choice that Linux brings to a user. Hell, I miss some things on my Mac. No, what I’d like to see happen is community that is so ‘together’ that it can improve Linux to the point that it cannot be ignored by the bulk of the application makers. The future as I see it on the desktop is going to be based around Windows, Mac, a couple of big distress like sues/novel/Sun, and a few around the define based Ubuntu/Linspire/Xandros. Yes there will be ‘hobby’ stuff like Gentoo, Slackware, and there will be people running Fedora, Solaris and other SERVER/commercially inspired Linux, but if something like Ubuntu can be made into a really usable/chooseable option, with a desktop share like Apple currently has, then I can see some important applications being ported across, or quality software being ‘made for Linux’.

In the end, to me, open standards are the goal, so that a digital camera can be plugged into a Linux computer, the user can create a searchable photo dbase, create a slideshow from their database, send it to a Window user whoa can view it, and return their own to whatever other platform any other user has. Quality open software, for the desktop really has to be the goal.

At the moment the Linux future is bright. Maybe a shade of earth brown, but bright, and it complements the shades of Aqua quite nicely too.

Time out

Off work for a few days this week, major construction project at home, and I need a few days to ‘nail’ the basics together. Coming on nicely now, should hit my ambitious target by Thursday.

Only the start of weeks of hard work though, and its only the first of 3 big projects at home this year. Big as in BIG, and big as in massively expensive.

Still, this one is the penultimate phase in plans laid down 6 years ago, decking 1/3 of my back garden is saved for next year now.

Not really been up to much else this last week. On the tech side I’ve dabbled a bit more in Vector, still loving it, but have to admit most of what I’m doing at the moment (not much mind) is being done on the Mac, and PDA. I’ve read a hell of a lot on Ubuntu, but something is holding me back from trying it again, Hoary just officially released, rave reviews, blah, blah.
Sad to say, but right now I’m more willing to try Windows again, Server 2003 + Exchange, developer version available, wink.
Holding out though. I’m getting that ‘It should just work’ (TM) feeling, learning something new for limited value is just not appealing right now. Win Mobile 2003, SE, I’m getting used to you, pecking away at the tiny soft keyboard, no choice, nailed to ROM, love it or leave it. SuSE, I understand, leave it on the 2 servers then, Vector, I like you, leave it on the desktop. Mac I love you, drool endlessly about Mac Minis for servers, hacked for a PVR, G5 desktops, but keep pounding on this Powerbook keyboard, and treating its silvery presence to software or peripherals.

Tiger released today. Ships 29th April, ordered already.




I know, I know, its been weeks (2) or something, but with Christmas, and the usual stress of work at this time of year, and the resultant staying away from recalcitrant machinery, not strictly true as my car is demanding some serious financial attention, then I have little to write.

Strictly that’s not true either, I DO have stuff to write, most of it computer related, I just don’t have the chance or inclination.

Where do I start?

Easy thing to do is say the Mac is running fine, and almost everything else isn’t!

One real exception is the webserver, still running fine, but admittedly it don’t have to do much except mail and a few webpages per day. I do still dump files into it on a regular basis, but it keeps on running.

But the rest? Now where can I start? Mepis on the laptop is over kill in apps, and disappointing in performance, especially over the network. Options? Well Ubuntu is fine except for the touchpad, makes it useless as a handy computer for Michelle. Xandros won’t get past the hardware detect point, I may try to install v2, I know it worked. All its doing now is running Think and a permanent VNC link to the other desktop.

Server? Not yet. Xandros is not ideal, although I knew that, and the video card is now failing in it. Future? I don’t know. Main desktop? New card, swop CDR for drive, run Ubuntu?

Desktop, fine but opting to install upgrade rather than clean install has left it with some issues carried over from original install. I’m sure a backup and full clean install will cure it fully.

Just working on these leaves me so little time to concentrate on the Mac. There is a lot to be said for the ‘it just works’ principle, and its worth the £ premium to have it. If money was not the problem I’d keep the old laptop, and one box as a webserver, and replace everything else with a G5 Powermac. I really do consider that Linux is ready for the desktop, but its usability is lacking. On Windows I spent to much time securing and looking after the things. Linux, and its choice, ease of upgrade and number of configurations brings problems of its own. In most distros outside the enterprise it is still a hobby OS. I had hopes for Xandros to overcome this, maybe it still will, but I want to use the things, not just tweak and cure.

Still, I’ve a few more days to myself, and if I can get it right may be able to sit down and have some quality time with the Apple. I’ll put the distro blinkers on again.


Oooh, I love my Mac…. Especially with a nice wireless connection. Heaven.

I’m free of Windows, and free to roam.

This is how home computing should be.

I have no regrets, no, wrong way round. I have no doubt this was the right decision. Linux is fine, but suffering badly on the app front. What really surprised me was that the apps I missed most, were not the ones I expected I’d miss. The biggest difference a Mac has made is that I can carry on with my heavy duty design stuff, overkill 80% of the time, but without worrying about compatibility to printers, publishers, and our own small organisation.

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