Farewell, C & G

The big news in the Mac market today is that longtime software publisher Casady & Greene is closing its doors, with all software reverting back to the individual developers.
Casady & Greene’s tour de force in software publishing was Conflict Catcher, which eased the process of troubleshooting control panel and extension conflicts in OS 9 and below. It was a primary weapon in any Mac troubleshooter’s arsenal, but alas, it has no place in an OS X world. The only other C & G product I’ve used, and continue to use, is Spell Catcher, which will continue in development through its developer, Rainmaker Research.
After Apple bought SoundJam and turned it in to iTunes, and OS X began to dominate the landscape, it was only a matter of time. So we bid Casady & Greene a fond farewell, and thank them for taking the risk on publishing some great software.


Yellow Pages hot commodity

Knowing the company I work for, the n3rdling thought I would be interested in this article.
Yes, the Yellow Pages business is a cash cow. One of the reasons Bell Atlantic wanted to buy out GTE was that our Yellow Pages business was a major revenue generator; our last year prior to the “merger,” GTE Directories accounted for 20% of all the revenue for all of GTE. I haven’t heard any numbers in the past two years regarding VZ Directories’ contribution to the overall revenue structure, but I’m sure it’s not as high a percentage. In addition to the economic downturn, we’ve got the former Bell Atlantic books dragging us down…


Why Star Wars Is Better Than Titanic

  1. The Titanic is big, but it doesn’t have hyperdrive.
  2. Yoda could’ve used the Force to lift Titanic out of the water.
  3. Leia is a princess, a senator, a freedom fighter, and Jedi material. Rose is just marriage bait.
  4. Ewoks throw better parties than either first class or steerage.
  5. When flying towards the Titanic, Wedge couldn’t say, “Look at the size of that thing!” and really mean it.
  6. It would be much scarier to get chased around the boat by a raving madman with a lightsaber as opposed to a handgun.
  7. Titanic is egalitarian by portraying poor people as sympathetic characters. Star Wars is egalitarian by promoting bug-eyed amphibians to Admiral.
  8. Said bug-eyed amphibious Admiral does not lose his ship.
  9. We know Cal is the bad guy because he sneers at the poor and treats his fiancee like property. We know Darth Vader is the bad guy ’cause he strangles people & blows up planets for fun.
  10. Yeah, Leo can dance, but can he fly an X-wing?
  11. Rose braves icy water to rescue her man. Leia braves Jabba the Hutt.
  12. There are always enough escape pods in Star Wars.
  13. Do you know what the Empire does to self-proclaimed “kings of the world?”
  14. If Luke were handcuffed to a pipe below decks in a sinking ship, he would use the Force to get the key.
  15. Nothing has the same sting as “I’d rather kiss a Wookie.”
  16. Han is frozen in carbonite and turned into a wall ornament. Leo simply freezes.
  17. Han Solo would’ve steered clear of that stinkin’ iceberg!
  18. We knew the boat was gonna sink. But who could’ve anticipated, “Luke…I am your father”?
  19. Stormtroopers blast big holes in stupid minor characters; everyone in Titanic was a minor character.
  20. When Star Wars was proclaimed coolest movie of all time by half of planet earth, George Lucas did not make a fool of himself at the Oscars.
  21. Titanic morals:
  • gamble
  • cheat on your fiancé
  • pose nude for pictures
  • premarital sex is OK if you’re infatuated
  • let undesirables drown
  1. Star Wars morals:
  • fight evil
  • do good
  • respect all life even if it’s ugly and slithers
  • rescue the princess
  • save the planet

Yes, an oldie, but a goodie, back from when James Cameron’s history lesson run amok displaced Star Wars as the highest-grossing movie of all time…


Comcast woes

So at some point yesterday morning, our broadband connection died. We both had been using it in the early morning, checking email, pulling up web pages, that sort of thing. But when I went back to do the same around 10:30-11ish, no connection. Checked the cable modem; no connection with cable.
Now, we’ve been experiencing drop-outs left and right for the past few months on a seemingly regular basis. I’ve chalked it up to the Comcast buyout of AT&T’s broadband business, and the switching over, but it is getting a little ridiculous. Not to mention that even before the buyout happening, we had more broadband dropouts in any single month than a I did in a year and a half with Verizon DSL at our old house.
Spent about two hours on the phone with a Comcast tech yesterday. The guy was very competent, I’ll give him that, and we tried a myriad of things. I had even gone out and bought a new cable modem, just in case that was the problem. It does not appear to be. Other friends in the neighborhood still have their connections, and there’s no reported outage for our area. So the tech and I are both thinking that’s something’s screwy at the junction box. We’ll find out later today; an on-site tech is due between 2 and 5.
The past year and couple of months with broadband cable as soured me on it, however. Especially when you’re trying to run a server on that connection. Said server has now moved, however, to the more reliable business-class DSL line of a friend.
DSL was never available in our area when we first moved here, which is why we had to go with cable for broadband. I have begun research on if I can get DSL now, even though it will be “slower” than the shared 1.5 Mbps of the cable connection. The Verizon DSL web site claims that we’re “pre-qualified,” which you would think means that our line checks out for it, but we’ve been pre-qualified before, and then I spoke with a live CSR only to be told that we’re not in an area serviced by Verizon DSL.
Which would leave me the small local telco, Advantex, which does offer DSL service, but for $10 more a month than what I’m paying for cable. (We get $10 knocked off our bill each month for providing our own cable modem.) The question again would be is Advantex’s DSL offered in our area. I’ll follow up with the two DSL providers on Monday.
All I know is that dial-up sucks these days for most everything but email…


Condemn it

Awwwww. The po’ wittle U.N. buildings are falling apart, and they don’t have no one to pay to fix them up…
Guess who they want to foot the bill?
Thanks, but no thanks, United-Against-America Nations. We already shell out more money for your hostile, ineffective, do-nothing, impotent organization than any other nation on the planet. Get out of our country and go set up shop in France.


I am Dilbert

Our workgroup maintains a central server for others in the company to access important information re: our projects, software to install, etc. As part of all of this, our sysadmin recently created a report that shows all of the current “advertisements” going out to our users, reminding them they need to upgrade Application X or what have you. Our great and wise sysadmin then puts a link to this report directly on the front page of our server, easy to find, easy to click on, easy to download.
So then my boss decides that this isn’t good enough, and that the report has to be emailed to our opposite numbers on the eastern seaboard. Now the opposite numbers have the exact same access to the aforementioned web page as we do. They can just as easily go fetch this report as any of us can. But now I have to email them a copy of it every week! <sigh>
Anyone want to hire a Mac-head with some basic web design skills? As long as you’re in Dallas and you’ve got killer health insurance, I’m flexible on other stuff…


Mac OS X 10.3 beta first impressions

So yesterday I installed the WWDC release of 10.3 on a spare G4/933 at the office. It simply flew. It is fast. Wicked fast. Below are some of my observations of it on the 933, as well as my PowerBook G4/500. (ATPM staffers, you’ve seen most of this already.)
Mac OS X 10.3 appears as fast–if not faster–than OS 9 on the same machine…
The system in question is the aforementioned G4/933 single-proc with SuperDrive. Our OS 9-based graphics configuration was loaded on it, but this system hasn’t seen any testing in a while, so it was a perfect candidate for co-opting to test Panther. I loaded the Panther Disc 1 into the SuperDrive, and started the installation. Typical OS X install, began after a restart, pretty boring. I figured that the install would kill the existing OS 9 config, but that’s easily replaced, so it was no big deal.
Filled out the contact info, selected my time zone, and voila!, it brought me to the log-in prompt. First surprise: don’t all previous versions of OS X want to restart at this point? So I logged in, and brought up a Finder window. Second surprise: all of my OS 9 stuff was still there, the Panther install didn’t touch any of it! (The reason for this is that on the Panther developer beta, the default install is to upgrade the existing OS X system, if present. If not, it simply installs it. If you want to wipe the drive for a clean install, you have to tell the installer.)
Eye candy-wise, they haven’t put in any new user pics, desktops, or screen savers just yet.
Regarding the new Finder window: I like it. Yes, it is a little Windowsy, but damn if Apple hasn’t outdone Windows on a Windows feature/interface. I have nearly always used the OS X Finder in column mode anyway, so there was little for me to get used to with the new one. I made that change in my Finder prefs right away, so that all my Finder windows open in column view. And yes, boys and girls, Finder prefs are sticking!
System Preferences have been streamlined. Desktop and Screen Effects are now one and the same, with buttons denoting each to click between. They are not tabs in the sense that they do not look like tabs, but that is how they function.
While I’m not wild about the metal appearance everywhere (it has grown on me through repeated iChat, iTunes, Safari, and Mellel use), I do like the removal of the Aqua stripes from all windows. Most pleasant.
It’s fast. Fast. Wicked fast. Did I mention it was fast?
As usual, there are many subtle interface surprises that you wouldn’t think to look for, but when they happen, they pleasantly surprise you, then you promptly forget about them. Which is why I’m not listing any here right now. 🙂
Exposé is a very cool feature. Very cool. Wicked cool. (Yes, I like that word.) It’s going to change the way people work in OS X with windows and applications, and I believe it will be a change for the better.
One thing that’s missing thus far: an Internet pref pane. They pulled the .Mac stuff out and gave it its own pref pane, but Internet is AWOL. So no way that I’ve found thus far to determine default browser, default mail, etc. Hey, it’s a developer beta, there’s more to come.
Safari 1.0 is included. IE 5.2.2 is the other web browser of note. I don’t have a FireWire cam to use with iChat AV, but I like the app itself, especially how the typing area at the bottom of a chat window automatically expands as you type. This way, you don’t have to scroll up one line at a time to see exactly what you’ve typed.
Cool switching, Cmd-Tab, brings up an enormous bar with your active apps in the center of the screen, with a semi-transparent background, like with the brightness and sound pop-ups. It also puts the current app at the front of the list, with the app you last used right behind it. For instance, right now I’m switching back and forth between Safari and iChat AV, and I don’t have to go to the Dock and cool-switch through a bunch of other stuff between the two, or use my mouse to click. One Cmd-Tab smoothly switches me back and forth. I think this is going to kill a good portion of the market for Liteswitch.
That’s about as far as I’ve gotten right now. I have yet to encounter one of my apps or little extras that’s breaking under the beta, but then again I haven’t given my systems a total workout with the new OS just yet. I expect that now that this release is in developers’ hands, we’ll begin seeing updates to applications left and right in the coming month or so. More to come.

fun Mac tech

How pathetic am I?

So I’ve spent part of last night and this morning, off and on, installing Fink, FinkCommander, and X11. Why? Why, to play XGalaga, of course, the open source clone of my favorite childhood video game. Geez, you didn’t think I was going to go through all that trouble to do work or anything, did you? 😉


Server moving

The site will be going down for a bit this evening as we move the server. Should be back up some time after dinner time, CST.
UPDATE, 7:30 PM CST: And we’re back…
Thanks for the quick move, Jim. This was just a physical move for the current server, as prep for our move to a new box in the near future.


Going out of business twice as fast

I’ve got to start reading more from James Lileks. Like with the previously-noted pen comment, he cracks me up:
bq. Today they announce the new machines. From all I hear the new computers go up to 11, so to speak. Dual 2 ghz processors. Of course, this means the company, which is DOOMED, will now go out of business twice as fast as before.