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Archive of August, 2007

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[Permalink 2007-08-31] Two Months On: The MacBook Pro

August 31, 2007:

Well, I've been meaning to write a review of the new laptop for a while now, and with the TV more-or-less off-limits for the afternoon (see the previous entry) now's a good time.

All in all I'm happy with it. Some things take some getting used to, like only having one monitor, and the Dock takes up way too much space -- I have it shrunk down about as far as it can go, and stuffed over on the left side of the screen, so it's mostly OK, but if there was a way to duplicate the Start Menu and the Quicklaunch Bar I'd shut the Dock off in a heartbeat.

Also, copy and paste haven't been working very well, because the Command key isn't in the right place for me -- I keep hitting Function-C and getting annoyed when nothing gets copied to the clipboard. Given that I haven't actually used the Function key for anything since I bought the computer, it'd be nice if I could remap it.

I've been playing with iMovie off and on, to set up a photo montage for my cousin's wedding several weeks ago. As a basic movie maker it's mostly OK, but there's a "phantom" timeline that shows up at the bottom of the screen that I can't drop anything into. It's not just me; when I asked at the Apple Store the guy at the "Genius Bar" (and how stupidly cocky of a name is that?) went to the back room only to find out that, yes, I can't do a damn thing with it. It's apparently just there to annoy me.

iTunes isn't specific to the Mac, but since I don't allow too much Apple software to infest my PC (I barely let Microsoft software on the thing!) it's new to me. Copying my music into the library was smooth enough, and the download album art feature is kind of nifty. It even picked up the cover for FMHg's album, which surprised me.

It's also kind of dumb; it refused to believe that there was a cover for Billy Joel's Greatest Hits Volume II (hint, it's the exact same as Volume I) so I had to dissect the .itc files to extract the covers from them. That's actually pretty easy to do: the ITC format is basically a JPEG with some extra header garbage so if you open an ITC file in a hex editor (I use Hex Fiend) you can look for the JPEG's magic number (FF D8 FF E0) and delete everything that comes before it to save as a plain ol' JPEG. From there, just play the MP3 you want and drop the picture into place. You may have to hit Cmd-G to show the album cover in the bottom left corner fr this to work.

The Mac is also unable to retrieve pictures off my cellphone; the "genius" couldn't figure anything out either. I'll have to try reinstalling Nokia's retarded little program on the 2K box to get at the pics; the reason I was trying to use the Mac was because the PC stopped talking to the phone.

The AirPort does this really annoying thing where it constantly sends deauthorization frames to my TrendNet router; turning the router down to 11g from 11n made everything work. Not sure whose fault that is, since 11n is still in the draft stage. Hopefully once things are nailed down I'll be able to apply a firmware upgrade and get the wireless bandwidth I paid for.

The CPU on this thing gets frackin' hot -- it's currently at 131°F and I've seen it top out at close to 140. Apparently this is normal, but it makes it uncomfortable to have the thing sitting in my lap, like it is right now.

The last problem I had was with the Mighty Mouse -- the "Genius Bar" couldn't figure this one out either, making it 0 for 3. Basically, if you have a Mac and a Mighty Mouse you have to be careful about what you do when you put the computer to sleep.

During the time between the computer being told to sleep (either by closing the lid, or by choosing Apple Menu > Sleep) and actually going to sleep (i.e. when the flashing light in the latch starts flashing), the computer is vulnerable to the mouse crashing it.

If you click the Mighty Mouse during that time, your computer will go comatose. The flashing light won't flash, staying on all the time, and you'll be unable to wake up the machine. I tried making sure Bluetooth devices couldn't wake up the computer, I tried resetting the power-management module, and I tried resetting the PRAM. Nothing helped; the only fix is, "don't do that."

If you close the sliding door on the Mighty Mouse, do it either before you sleep the computer or after it finishes going to sleep -- it's almost impossible not to accidentally click. In fact, don't touch the mouse at all while the computer's going to sleep.

But aside from those annoyances I'm actually liking the new machine. After all, it's been good enough to use all afternoon while my living room was off-limits.

Would I recommend a Mac to someone? I'm not sure. But if someone had decided to buy one already I wouldn't talk them out of it, either.

Edit, 1 Sep 07 6:15 PM: I may have been mistaken on what happens to the Mac if I accidentally click the mouse while it's trying to sleep. I saw on a couple Mac forums where people were having trouble with the Mac waking up "on its own" because of a faulty sensor in the lid -- on one hand the computer thought it was supposed to be awake, on the other it knew the lid was closed.

In that case the Macs were waking up with the screen disabled. Burns through the batteries 'cause it's on, and looks like it's crashed because when you do open it there's no display. I wonder if mine might be doing the same thing when I misclick the mouse.

I could experiment on it to see if I can replicate the behavior without closing the lid, since I've already tried triggering the sensor bug (mine doesn't have the problem of a loose sensor like some MBPs do) but at this point I don't care any more. "Don't do that" works just fine for me.

[Permalink 2007-08-30] I've Never Really Been a Fan of Funk

August 30, 2007:

Lately I've noticed an odd smell in my apartment. Nothing much, but when I'd come home from work I'd get a couple nosefuls of unpleasantness before my brain got tired of my nasal nerves sending up "OMGWTF" on constant loop and conveniently went numb to it.

After trying to air the place out, and spraying Febreeze, and hitting the mattress with bleach, I was at a loss. Then when I came home from bowling on Thursday it hit me -- this place smells like feet.

So I went to the Home Despot and rented a carpet cleaner. Kind of odd, using one on a non-empty apartment. For starters, you have to run one room at a time and wait a few hours for things to dry out so you can move furniture from one place to another. It took me four hours to get all the carpet; only 45 minutes or so was spent with the vacuum thing.

It's currently Sunday night, and I'm waiting for the living room and dining room to dry enough to move everything out of the bedroom. I've been using the Mac all afternoon and aside from the annoyance of not being able to use my mouse -- is a multi-button trackpad that tough to build? -- things have been going well.

The used water was pretty nasty; I'm pretty sure all the crud in the carpet was the source of the smell. I'll have to wait until I get home from work on Monday to be sure, since all I can smell now is the cleaner.

Edit, 8/30 8:36 PM: OK, I cleaned the carpets on Sunday, and washed the futon's cushion cover on Wednesday while hitting the cushion itself with bleach and Febreeze.

I can't tell any difference. Where the hell could the smell be coming from? I closed the bedroom door one morning when I left for work, thinking there was something in the mattress, but when I came back that day the bedroom was clean. It's something out in the living room but I can't imagine what it could be.

I guess I'll Febreeze the hell out of my computer chair tonight, but I can't bleach it since there's no cover I can take off. This is really starting to suck.

[Permalink 2007-08-28] White, Nerdy, and In the Wrong Place

August 28, 2007:

I heard online today that Weird Al Yankovic's on tour. Cool, I haven't been to a concert in several years (I think my last one was a TMBG concert while I was still at CMU).

Now, the tour listing doesn't really seem to have any rhyme or reason to it -- from the west coast to the east coast for a few days, then back again, etc. -- so I may have already missed something local. But the closest concert I can see to NoVA? Harrisburg, PA -- two and a half hours from here.

And for a concert two and a half hours away -- call it four for traffic both going there and coming back -- I'd have to pay $46.50 for a ticket, and that's assuming that TicketBastard doesn't hide any more "fees" after the first couple screens. So if the concert runs until 9:30 (figure it'll start a half-hour late then go for two hours) I'd get home at 1:30 in the morning. And have to go to work the next day.

Dang. I'd heard it's a really good show, too.

[Permalink 2007-08-27] One Way To Enjoy Shopping

August 27, 2007:

Well, it only took me three decades, but I finally found a reason to enjoy buying clothes. All you need to do is lose 50 pounds (um... call it 23 kilos or so for all you metric types). On the downside, I'm thinking that only works the one time. If I ever pork up again, and I'm trying to avoid that especially since I still want to lose 10 more pounds, I'll let you know if the little rush I got from fitting into 36s again is repeatable.

One way to totally harsh that buzz is to find out you accidentally bought 34s, which definitely will not fit. And since it was early in the morning it took a few seconds for me to figure out why my pants weren't working correctly.

Oh, and just so I can say it, I started at 236 and am now at 185. I want to get to 175.

[Permalink 2007-08-24] Math Is Not Always My Friend

August 24, 2007:

I usually go bowling on Thursdays. I roll three games, and two of them are mostly OK. Thursday I managed to roll a strike followed by 6 spares. Only three open frames, which lately has been pretty damn good.

I rolled a 145. Not even my highest score of the night. You'd think you'd have to try to score that low with that many marks, but you'd be wrong. Apparently it's really freakin' easy.

[Permalink 2007-08-20]

August 20, 2007:

Sunday afternoon I decided to sign up with an online dating site. At this point what do I have to lose?

Well, aside from the usual moronic hoop-jumping ("your user name can't be similar to your e-mail address, since that would make things convenient") it seems that doesn't like my kind.

After picking a new user name that satisfied the system, it told me "you can't use that e-mail address to register with." Apparently they don't like Yahoo addresses. Well, this is going to be a problem, since I don't trust them with the address I try to keep spam-free.

I figured that was the deal-breaker right there. But then I figured I could use a screen-grab of the error message. Something about an online dating site -- which isn't exactly getting the cream of the crop pretty much by definition -- serving up a bowlful of GTFO amused me. So I tried to create an account again.

This time I used my Hotmail address, just in case. And I got a new error: "That user name is already in use." Hey, maybe it signed me up after all. This just might be worth a look.

It didn't take either of my usual I-don't-give-a-damn passwords, so I asked it to send me my password. I plugged in my user name and my birthday (I know I got that part right at least) and it kept routing me back to the forgot-password form, saying "please enter your birthdate to continue."

Well, I've made sure I'm allowing cookies, so it seems that the thing is just utterly put off by me. Maybe I should take that as a sign.

Meh. After all that I was able to sign up with a different user name and my Hotmail account. Apparently the site's error handling rides the short bus to work.

Now to see what's there.

[Permalink 2007-08-02] Still Here

August 02, 2007:

Haven't written anything in a couple weeks, but that's mostly because I've been spending more time watching TV and figuring out iMovie than writing.

Stuff on the radar includes an idea I have in my head for the 8.0 look and feel, Otakon 14, and... hmm. Guess that's it. Life's been pretty boring lately, I guess. And humid. Can't forget humid.

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