I can stop holding my breath.
One month on the nose (OK, OK, 2 days more than a month) after my iBook went to the shop with a defective motherboard (logicboard in Apple talk) I got it back. Hurra!
And I also have it’s little brother, the Mac Mini I ordered a few weeks ago.
I was notified yesterday that the Mac Mini had arrived and was waiting for me, and I decided that once I was there anyway I should ask about the iBook (after all I was informed it would take an abnormal 2-3 weeks at this time of the year, not that I believed it anyway, of course).
Well lo and behold, to my amazement they just handed it over and said they finished up assembling it last evening and were going to call me today to let me know. What perfect timing! Of course it was a good think I did ask for it, otherwise I’d have probably just arrive in the office from getting the Mac Mini only to receive a call saying I could go and collect the iBook… :-)
Since my bandwidth at home is rather limited I unpacked the Mini here at the office in order to get it all updated and synchronized. The first thing that comes to mind after these initial 30 minutes with it is (unusually, I suspect) quiet! Indeed, I want this box to replace an oldish Intel tower I have at home acting as my home server, not because of the size of it but more because of the damned noise it makes! The Mini I couldn’t even hear it in the office at lunch time. Now I know it does make some noise and it will be apparent in the silence of my home office, but the current server feels more like a plane taking off than anything else, so this will be a nice improvement to the home environment!
I’ll transfer my home sites into the little Mini, I’ll make it fetch my podcasts and vlogs all day long and I’ll probably run my bit torrent clients there. This way I can shut the iMac down when I’m not actually using it. Also having another Mac in the home network is great for playing around with the Xgrid. I don’t have much use for it right this moment, but I suspect Final Cut will make it worthwhile soon enough.
Went to see part of the Lisbon Soundz show last night.
So while Franz Ferdinand is an OK band and is rather good at live shows (even if they could work on their new material, maybe trying to get the singing tuned between the two singers) ;-), for me it was Mogwai that made the night.
I didn’t expect them to actually be that good on a live performance, for the kind of music they play. I don’t know why, I’ve never actually thought about it, I just didn’t think that it would be worth it.
Boy was I wrong! Mogwai live is a revelation. Not only because of the powerful sound they create, but also because of their attitude towards the whole thing. They are just a relaxed bunch of musicians, thoroughly enjoying themselves while playing their music.
Also fun to notice was that the crowd that was gathered to watch Mogwai was comprised of people from the early twenties to maybe their thirty-manies, but right after they finished their performance most of them faded to the back and a rush of kids on their teens to early twenties filled in the space just front and center from the stage.
As it would happen Tuxa was on that kind of a mood too, so we also ended up right there in the middle of all the teen-fueled jumping, waving and shouting while Franz Ferdinand played. Ah the memories… :-)
Tuxa thoroughly enjoyed it though and the fact that many of the people there were maybe half our age didn’t stop her from joining the singing, waving, jumping crowd. A good show altogether.
Next up, barring any surprises, is Sigur Rós in November.
As is well known by now, most Portuguese forests are in flames from north to south.
Right now there’s a huge fire in Figueira da Foz, near Coimbra and Melo has filmed some CanadAir planes who are up there fighting the fires, refilling their water tanks in the river right by his office.
So far there were no accidents despite their flying insanely close to the bridge, although Melo tells me that when they started coming in 5 at a time there were some acrobatics in order to avoid each other…
He put up the videos straight from his still digital camera and I took them and stitched them together in this little film for easier consumption.
By the way, if you ever need to edit MPEG1 Muxed footage filmed by a still digital you will have trouble getting the sound out of it.
The best way I found to do that was to use the fabulous MPEG streamclip software to export the clip to DV format and take it from there.
The trackback mechanism, while a good idea at first view, does have a few ugly design flaws that render it a perfect target for spammers.
In fact I spend way much more time cleaning trackback spam than I do posting on my weblog. People like Melo who posts rather less frequently than me have an even bigger problem than I do in that spam trackbacks usually are made in old entries and as such they don’t have that much visibility at all, but in Melo’s case they usually appear right on the front page of his weblog which is pretty bad.
So lately many people have been getting fed up with it and are starting to decide to drop trackback support on their weblogs and are pronouncing that trackback is dead. Sometimes in the most amusing ways. Others have never really caught on to it and have some very good reasons for it.
Anyway, while I’d gladly let go of trackbacks on my weblog I do enjoy the benefit of automagically having a notification appear on each article when people refer to it.
So what are the alternatives to trackbacks?
Well, one alternative which has been mentioned around is simply to go to the original article you’re elaborating on and post a link on the comments (assuming comments are turned on for that weblog, otherwise you’re essentially out of luck) and say you’re continuing the discussion there. This surely works, but people do have to take the time and effort to do it and given the natural predisposition of people towards laziness I’m guessing it would almost never get done.
Another alternative, one which I like better because it is automatic, is to use a service like Technorati to keep track of links to your weblog or to a specific post on it. This sounds like a much better alternative because it doesn’t require any human intervention and is therefore, much more effective.
Technorati in particular is in trouble and people are leaving it too.
This is rather unfortunate because, as far as I can tell, Technorati’s problems are problems of scale, rather than problems inherent to the mechanism itself.
Even yesterday I was chatting with Melo and I started talking about how Technorati’s service sucks and he told me that no, Technorati’s service doesn’t suck at all, they just have scalability problems which, he told me, derive from lack of funds for the massive hardware upgrades they require right about now. And, of course, he’s right, the service itself is awesome, it’s just the implementation that is lacking in performance.
Now I don’t follow Tehcnorati’s development weblog so I’m really not into the know here, but if it is money they need why doesn’t anybody just buy them and give it to them? Isn’t this a great service to have? Just this morning I was listening to the Gillmor Gang’s August 12 episode and, once again, there was Robert Scoble saying loud and clear that if it was up to him Microsoft would just buy Technoraty and make it everything it could be. And why not? Scoble has surely been very vocal about it for a while now and I do believe that under his guidance it could be a great leap up for Technorati so why don’t they? Or any one else, for that matter?
Technorati has the potential to be a very big service and, particularly relevant to the topic of this post, a very good alternative to the trackback mechanism so would someone just please give Technorati the money they need (and then preferably get out of their way so they can do their thing as they should)?
And yes, I know there are alternatives out there, Ice Rocket being the latest and greatest to get under the spotlight but I do feel sorry to see something which started so long ago with just the right idea get left behind like this. Money surely isn’t the issue, there’s plenty of that to go around when people see the value in things, so what is the issue? Lack of awareness? Well, if that’s it then go Scoble!
Vinyl records are a big part of my youth.
I’m not, by any means, a vinyl fanatic, defending it’s superior sound quality over digital media as many do. In fact I’m quite a digital-media kind of person myself, as should be quite apparent from my weblog and my activities.
No, what drives my fondness for vinyl records is the memory of countless hours spent listening to them.
Cleaning them from dust before playing them, cueing the head on the track I wanted to listen to with great care, getting up every half-hour or so to turn the record over or to put a new one playing…
There was a time when all that was as familiar and a “matter-of-fact” kind of activity as putting on a CD nowadays.
Of course today I know of a lot of (very young) people who don’t know what a “record” is, much less an LP. Even more people know of records, but only as that media some DJs use and have never actually touched one. It’s fun to be an old geezer like that!
Anyway, I decided to put on some of my old records (yes, I do have an operational turn-table and it is really connected to my stereo) and make a video of it.
Don’t you just love the enthralling effect of a spinning vinyl record?
This is a rant. I’m in a foul mood about what I’m going to expose next and I have to vent somewhere. So this is the place to do it. You may want to skip this post if you are having a nice day and want to keep it up.
Me and a few other people have already talked about the frightening experience people have while trying to buy Apple products in Portugal. Well, after my bout with the iMac and it’s hardware problems I tried to go down the Mac road once again and here I am again deep in the muddy path.
I’m not going to expound all the problems I’ve had while trying to get me a Mac mini, suffice it to say that I wanted it with just a memory upgrade and after 5 months of waiting and several interactions with the store I was trying to buy it from I still don’t have it. Now the new models came out with the amount of RAM I was looking for so I ditched my old order (which would even become more expensive!) and got a new order in another store. After putting the order in I sent an email asking for delivery estimates. Then another mail. And nothing came back as a reply. This was a week ago.
But then, this is only something that affects Apple and it’s retailers, right? And Apple is a very bad example and things like that don’t usually happen, right?
FNAC, a large international retail store chain is practically the reference store for consumer electronics in Portugal. It sells lots and lots, it even sells Apple products (and suffers from the same problems all other retailers do around here). But it also sells products from lots of other brands. Like Canon. A big brand, right?
Yes, Canon is a big, important brand, of which FNAC sells a lot of. So I went in there one day, as I was passed by and ordered (because they didn’t have it available on that particular store) two items, both from Canon: a battery pack for my camcorder and a cable release for my digital SLR camera. No problem, they said, we have it in some other store and we will get it here for you. So they took my data, took a note of my order and told me it would take, at most, 4 to 5 business days. OK, great, they’ll just call me when they have the stuff and I’ll come by and get it.
Yeah, right… As if!
Two weeks later I was passing by the same store and decided to check out what had happened to my order. So I explained the situation to a very helpful person who proceeded to take some 30 minutes looking in all the binders, trying to find my order (yes, FNAC keeps all it’s customer’s order in paper sheets in binders, with no tracking number of any kind. Welcome to the 21st century). He couldn’t find it. So he went to check out the items that were awaiting collection from the customers who has ordered them to see if my items where there. They weren’t.
There had obviously been some problem with my order; They had essentially lost it. So I made a new order for the same products, right there and then and the helpful and, by now, apologetic person told me he would definitely call me in two days (at most) with news about the order, even if only to say it wasn’t there yet.
It’s been another two weeks. No phone call.
So I got my battery pack and I am now waiting for the cable release to arrive as they are out of stock. As for the Mac mini, who knows what I’ll have to go through to get one and which version I’ll end up getting…
Retail stores have a huge problem. I don’t know if they can’t cope with the tough economy or just don’t care about their customers or what the problem might actually be, but either way trying to get some decent service, let alone decent products, is a very frustrating exercise all around. Don’t these people want our money? I mean, come on, even a phone call or a simple email saying “we don’t have anything yet, please hold on” is better than nothing! Oh and getting repeated emails asking for information about delayed orders and not even deigning to reply really doesn’t go down well you know? It’s not even pampering your customers or trying to keep them happy, it’s basic human decency!
It’s just sad…
Today I was having a conversation with Vasco over lunch and we brushed on the subject of his having to free up some space on his iBook prior to going away on vacation with some friends. You see, he is the closest one to a geek on that particular group (not that he is much of a geek per-se, but you know what I mean) and he will be the only one carrying a laptop, so he just knows he will end up downloading all the photos from every digital machine every day into his computer and, as always, space is at a premium.
Now, as I said, he isn’t all that geeky and therefore he doesn’t have the multi-layered backup strategy I have with my media and all he wants is to be able to take some photos out of iPhoto, but be able to load them in and view them at a later time, while retaining names, comments, tags and so on.
At lunch I though up a way to do this which, while not overly complicated is way too much trouble and, of course, it turns out there is a better way of doing it.
What I thought about was that he could create another Library (you know you can hold down the option key while iPhoto is starting up and you can create and choose new libraries don’t you? ;) ), move the pictures he wants out of the way into that library, being careful to keep it below the available space on the selected medium of backup, and then just transfer that library onto the medium. This is probably a CD we are talking about here.
It works, it keeps all the information available but it is also over-work.
I mulled this over in my head during the afternoon and it just didn’t feel right that you had to do something like this on an Apple product. It felt weird… So I decided to investigate and, lo and behold, there is in fact a better way, which was right under my nose all this time!
You just make a album with the photos you want to take out of the computer, go to the “share” menu and select “Burn Disc”. Put in a CD (or, I assume, a DVD) and there you go. Everything is transfered into it.
When you later put the disc in your computer it automagically runs iPhoto and you get a new source alongside your albums with everything that is on the disc. Cool, huh?
The downside, of course, is that the disc has the structure that iPhoto knows about so if you want to get those files on another computer you have to dig in the directory structure and look for them, but then you have the originals untouched, the edited pictures and all the information about the photos on a (hopefully) open enough XML-based data file (have to check this one out to be sure).
I knew there had to be a better way of doing it. It was just a feeling, but there had to be “the Apple way” of doing it. And for the casual user it is, of course, way better. Nice job!
Update: Aparently I spoke too soon… It seems that this procedure doesn’t keep the tags you assigned to your images when you move them to the CD, even if you keep the tags in iPhoto. I don’t know about the descriptions or comments. I thought it kept the tags because it appeared to do so for me, but the only tag my test pictures had on them was ‘RAW’ and it seems that it is an automatic one so it doesn’t count for the test.
I’ve been slacking off on the Flickr-Tools project, mainly because it serves all my purposes as it is right now.
But then someone pinged me regarding the photos method in the Flickr::Person class (the one that will return all the photos for the user) and that was the incentive I needed to finally get to writing that method.
So now I remember why I left it half-way through…
The thing is that this method must use the flickr.photos.search method to get it’s info and it could return a lot of info.
So flickr.photos.search has a mechanism for managing the potentially huge volume of information —it forces you to break up your request into “pages” of results— which, of course, is the right way to do it.
But how do I map that onto my Flickr::Person class in a nice way? I surely don’t want to make the user have to control things like results per page and current page and so on, that would defeat the purpose of the whole thing, but I sure as hell can’t just go and fetch everything from Flickr because for a user with many photos I would blow up the computer’s memory fast!
So after thinking about it for something like 10 seconds I knew that the right way to do it would be to use an iterator. Instead of returning an array of Flickr::Photo objects I should return a Flickr::Photogroup object (or somesuch) and it should have a few simple methods like next, previous and total. You know, a classic iterator. When it ran out of results it should then invoque the Flickr::API::Photos::search method to get the next batch of photos.
OK, that is a bit more work than I bargained for but it is the right way to do it.
But then all of the other methods which I’ve already written and which return groups of things (mostly photos) should also return this kind of object. And each instance should know how to get more results when it needs it, so it should be rather smart about what it is representing.
This means two things:
So I will make this re-write and, unfortunately, I probably won’t be able to have it done by tomorrow as I told the poor soul who is expecting a new version of Flickr-Tools with the new method and, probably, no interface changes.
Should have though of that before, now shouldn’t I? Duh!
After being cooped up at home with the flu for 3 days I wanted to get a new video out but didn’t really have any new footage. So I just scrounged around on my tapes for some bits I hadn’t used yet and threw some of them together to make a short story (if I can call it that).
These are pieces of random footage I recorded on several days for the past two-three weeks.
Well, bingo! I’m running a fever, it feels like a steam roller just ran me over and my head is both full of cotton and hurting like hell so not only will I stay home, I’ll probably stay away from the computer most of the time as well.
This is no fun. And on one of the hottest days so far this year to boot. Marvelous! :-/
I’m available on my IM accounts, I’m just not looking at the monitor all the time, lest my eyes do what they feel like they are doing and swell out of their sockets, so if you want to reach me via IM try it but don’t hold your breath…
Today I was booted out of the office by my coworkers.
I have the flu and it was getting worse with the air-conditioning and not only was I starting to bother everyone around me with my sneezing but they where also afraid I’d spread the germs around, so they kicked me out and I went home in the middle of the afternoon.
The god news is that apparently it is just a simple case of flu. The bad news is that it is not getting all that better, so I’m in for a rough night and, possibly, a sick day telecommuting from home tomorrow (which is not all that bad since I have my iMac here).
In the mean time, while trying to delay going to bed (I can’t breathe all that well lying down when I’m like this) I’ve edited and posted another video.
I’ve decided to try out my DV camcorder as source to iChat this afternoon and it worked perfectly which is good news.
Also, after trying out Delicious Library with the camcorder acting as my barcode reader, I had no choice but to get the software. Now if I can only get a preference for setting the search order of the Amazon shops (it finds almost everything in the german shop and it gives me info in German which doesn’t do me any good) I’ll be a happy man indeed!
I spent last weekend in Algarve, at the beach, with my family and when we drove back, Sunday evening, Tuxa was tired and not feeling hungry at all (we eat way too much whenever we are with the full gang in Algarve) :-) and so she went straight to bed.
I, on the other hand, wasn’t all that tired and didn’t feel like going to bed on an empty stomach, so I decided to have a light supper.
Toast and some freshly boiled tea for the stomach and the newly started “Pattern Recognition” for the “little gray cells” (I wonder how many people will actually get this reference…)
This is the setting (and a perfect excuse) for some more experimenting with video editing in the videoblogging format. This time around I have fun with extreme cutting.
This was actually a 18+ minute shoot without interruptions and trimming it down to the 3 minute-something which it ended up with, while trying to make it interesting and somewhat funny was a really interesting task.
It was a fiercely windy night and you can hear it, especially towards the end of the video. I also decided not to add any music or sound effects at all and it shows the poor quality of the built-in mic. No surprises there, of course, but I still think it is rather passable.
I have been away from this for so long I didn’t really remember what it was like.
The pain, the horror!
I just can’t get my Palm to sync with Evolution on my Fedora Core 4 box.
Even syncing it with pilot-xfer was a pain, but now gpilotd is dying like crazy.
< sigh >
We should be sooooo over this kind of thing by now. I could spend some time looking into it and kicking it into some kind of working order but you know what? I just want it to work damn it!
Please, oh please bring back my Mac. Pretty please, with a cherry on top!