g r o t t o 1 1

Peeve Farm
Breeding peeves for show, not just to keep as pets
Brian Tiemann
Silicon ValleyNew York-based purveyor of a confusing mixture of Apple punditry, political bile, and sports car rentals.

btman at grotto11 dot com

Read These Too:

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James Lileks
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As the Apple Turns
Entropicana
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Capitalist Lion
Red Letter Day
Eric S. Raymond
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Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Saturday, September 7, 2002
03:38 - In Limbo This Weekend

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If anything happened today in the world, I don't know about it. I've spend the past 13 hours writing the new Databases chapter for the book, and I'm at 25 pages and counting. I'm almost ready to start talking about how to connect a database to the Web! Wooo000OOot!

The research needed for this has meant I've had every last pixel of my Cinema Display covered with windows all day, and they're still all here; getting a new browser window open to write this was like trying to dig a smaller box out of a slightly larger box into which it's been packed under a snowdrift of styrofoam peanuts, futilely pushing the peanuts aside only to have them come flooding back as soon as my hand darts in for the prize.

(Of course, I could have just thrown away the peanuts... and I could have just Splat+H'ed all these stupid TextEdit and Terminal and IE windows.)

I have to sync up the sources again and download a few more interface utilities before I move on to the next section, and besides I want a break. I'm going to eat some salsa and read some Harry Potter for a while. Catch you guys all on the flip side.
Friday, September 6, 2002
17:47 - The Isotopes are moving to Albuquerque!
http://www.cnn.com/2002/SHOWBIZ/TV/09/06/offbeat.television.simpsons.reut/index.html

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Lookee here! A Triple-A minor-league team from Calgary is moving to Albuquerque, and it's going to rename itself the "Isotopes" in a nod to the "Hungry Hungry Homer" episode in which the Simpsons' favorite team planned to abandon Springfield.

Although a local newspaper poll showed strong support for the Isotopes name, the mayor of Albuquerque was not amused.

"This isn't a second-rate city that should be taking our name from a cartoon show," Mayor Marin Chavez told reporters upon hearing the name for the new local team.

Oh, lighten up, you humorless assmunch. Baseball needs some humor these days, and some reminder that it's supposed to be about fun. If the fans want to merge their memes for the sake of more enjoyment of what's supposed to be a pleasant pastime, stay the hell out of the way.

Besides, I don't recall Anaheim being so huffy about adopting a beloved (?) fictitious team name.

17:02 - Aahhrtsy Pretensions To-nite
http://www.kino.com/metropolis/index.html

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I'm going to be seeing the all-new digitally restored version of Metropolis tonight-- the 1927 Fritz Lang one, not the Tezuka anime. I'll be at the Landmark Aquarius in Palo Alto, right down the street from Stanford, on of those good old two-screen movie temples with unique themed decor (this one's all in an underwater/Atlantis style) that's all but gone today, and lives on only in the theaters that have made themselves famous as little niche art-film houses in towns like Palo Alto and Santa Cruz that can fill them with a steady stream of youthful patrons who will be more than happy to eschew a date comprising Men In Black II in favor of a spiced-latté evening with the goth boyz centered on a showing of Jesus Christ: Vampire Hunter.

(Not that that describes me, or anything.)

Metropolis is making the nationwide rounds right now, and over the next few months; I missed seeing it when it was in The Castro a couple of weeks ago. (That would have been fun.) I'd seen it as part of a sci-fi film class at Caltech, which I have to say was probably one of the few times when I honestly enjoyed myself academically there. I guess that says a little something about why I'm not working as a theoretical physicist right now, and instead spend my time blogging about obscure movies.

The version I saw in that class, I think, was a fairly esoteric variant on the usual cuts that have appeared over the years (the 80s "Moroder" version being the current favorite); the one I saw had a shockingly cool jazz soundtrack, sounding like Raymond Scott amplified through the yet unborn shade of Basil Pouledoris. A heavy, insistent, driving heartbeat of a bass drum line ran through the entire introduction, and the saxophones and trumpets over the top of it developed a coherent, concise stress atmosphere that never got away from itself the way later action scores always tended to (like Goldsmith's unlistenable early outing in Planet of the Apes). The semi-mechanized workers in the power plant, frantically wrestling with the valves and the electric clock-face relays were thrown all the more into stark Borg-like surreality by this music, and it's haunted me ever since.

The new release of the film is supposed to restore the very original orchestral score, and I'm very curious to see what kind of music was originally imagined to go with those hellish scenes. If it's better than the score I saw it with, it'll be something to behold indeed.

...There. I'm done being an art-queen for now. Back to the regularly scheduled Mac-flag-waving monotony...
Thursday, September 5, 2002
20:35 - And then? No and then! And then? No and then!

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Apple just released the .Mac Slides Publisher.

I admit I hadn't thought much about .Mac since getting vaguely annoyed at Apple for converting my previously free mail/disk service into a for-pay thing, for which I grumbled a bit, paid my discounted fee, and went back about my business.

Well, now I'm starting to see I should have been paying more attention.

If you go to Screen Effects, there's a ".Mac" screen saver listed; in it, you can subscribe to slide shows published by other .Mac users. I'd seen this in passing, but never really given it more than a glance. Probably another of those things that a few camcorder-toting dads will use, after wrestling with some kind of clunky Web interface or a sluggish remote file browser, dragging files around or something.

Nyope. I should have known better. The .Mac Slides Publisher is a little "droplet" style program, which you're supposed to keep in your Dock or your Finder toolbar; if you want to share some pictures as a slide show for your friends, you select a bunch of picture files (from the Finder or iPhoto) and drag them onto the Slides Publisher icon. It then optimizes them and transfers them to your iDisk, and then gives you the option to send off an announcement e-mail telling your friends you've just set up a new slide show.

Then your friend types in your .Mac username into the Screen Effects panel, and your photos start streaming across his screen.

(He can subscribe to as many of these as he wants, too, and select which ones to show and in which order.)

I was thinking, "Okay, so now I'll bet I have to go to iDisk and manually move stuff around if I want to delete old images." And I go to look, and indeed within "Pictures" is a "Slide Shows" folder, inside which is "Public", which has the pictures and an XML config file. But I should have kept my grubby doubting fingers out of there. If you drag a new set of pictures onto the Publisher, it automatically replaces the image set and rewrites the config file. In other words, you never have to think about iDisk, and neither does your friend. To say nothing about never having to think about connection settings, file formats, folder names... bah humbug. Just drag the files to the icon, and everybody who's subscribed to you gets a new screen saver. That's it.

I'm definitely going to have to play with this some more. This is far too cool.


And then there's Backup, which rules:



I honestly don't know how this compares to other backup software, but... well, just look at this interface and see if there's anything that is not entirely sensible and clear. Usage bar (current and potential). Prepackaged "QuickPick" sets of files and their sizes. A drawer pane with details on each item in the list. The ability to add new folders and files and select them for backup. And you have options for mirroring (deletion of locally deleted files), scheduling, backing up to CD/DVD, and buying more storage space.

No way could they have provided something like this for free. And there's more like it coming, too.

I hope I've never complained too loudly about .Mac, because it looks like I'm going to regret every decibel.

16:38 - Well, at least it's (sort of) official...
http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,3959,496270,00.asp

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Can't get enough of the OS X-on-x86 rumors? Well, Nick DePlume (of Think Secret fame) has posted the mother of them all on eWeek. If we're to believe the "insiders" who have provided this information (and considering DePlume's near-perfect track record in the past, I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt), the long-rumored x86 builds of OS X are indeed real, and in fact are being kept current and built in parallel with every PPC build of the OS.

According to sources, the Cupertino, Calif., Mac maker has been working steadily on maintaining current, PC-compatible builds of its Unix-based OS. The project (code-named Marklar, a reference to the race of aliens on the "South Park" cartoons) has been ongoing inside Apple since the early days of its transition to the Unix-based Mac OS X in the late '90s.

Sources said more than a dozen software engineers are tasked to Marklar, and the company's mainstream Mac OS X team is regularly asked to modify code to address bugs that crop up when compiling the OS for x86. Build numbers keep pace with those of their pre-release PowerPC counterparts; for example, Apple is internally running a complete, x86-compatible version of Jaguar, a k a Mac OS X 10.2, which shipped last week.

(Whatever the pros and cons of actually switching to Intel, I simply have to say that I can't get enough of Apple's internal code-name scheme. Marklar. I love it.)

We've been speculating for some time about the feasibility of Apple moving to Intel, and I'd say that rather than proving that Apple is about to jump ship to the x86 platform, this discovery merely solidifies what appears to be the game plan and its related contingency options: the IBM PPC64 is the first choice for a successor to the G4, and from what is being uncovered by the rumor mill, it's going to work out well. It's certainly preferable to the x86 in a number of ways-- SMP capabilities, vector processing, RISC architecture, and orthogonality to the existing PPC assembly language and APIs are continuations of what have always been Apple's selling points, and wouldn't force Apple to about-face on what it considers important in computing. But if something unforeseen crops up and the PPC64 effort falls through somehow, Apple has the option to roll out Marklar (heh... I sure like that better than "OSX86") in very quick order. Looks like there's plenty of method to what's going on across the street, and matters would appear to be well in hand.

Heh. Marklar.

16:19 - Blending In
http://www.serenescreen.com

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Today's "Kevin & Kell" is the latest in a recent streak of Apple/Mac-related strips, in an engaging storyline that does justice to the wide world of Mac-happy comics (like FoxTrot and even Doonesbury-- the latter of which has an interesting entry today which lip-serves blogs and SUVs alike).

The infiltration of Macs into the Windows World goes on apace. And just as in the strip above, we've now reached another milestone: the "Marine Aquarium" screen saver, that OpenGL-based one with the rendered fish and the bubbles and lighting and everything that's always on everybody's machine in every workplace and on every monitor on display for sale at Fry's, is available for Mac OS X.



I don't know how recent a development this is-- it could have just been posted today, or maybe it's been out for months-- but it works excellently, even properly handling widescreen monitors like on Kris' TiBook, and employing Cocoa GUI elements like sheets and transparency. Drop-shadows even work right on top of the display window (in the application version of the screen saver), which means this is all being done in hardware, apparently. Kris gets about 50 fps on his machine, and I get around 25, which isn't too bad, though in standalone application mode my iMac does over 100. (And yes, there's an OS 9 version in beta as well.)

I'm probably not going to switch away from Flurry just yet. But if I ever have the need to lie low in the office and avoid the watchful eye of the Ministry of Prevention of Macs and Promotion of Aquarium Screen Savers, I'll have my camouflage ready.



UPDATE: Actually I'm getting almost 60 fps now when running the registered version. I don't know if that's because registering it unlocks more optimizations or something, or if there was just something else running earlier that was sucking up cycles. I suppose Occam's Razor applies: the keycode obviously unlocks esoteric optimizations in a fiendish plot to cripple the eyesight of deadbeats through the use of a barely perceptible jagginess in frame rate.



14:26 - Silicon Implants
http://www.powerlogix.com/press/releases/2002/020904.html

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PowerLogix, a leading maker of CPU upgrade cards for Macs, just announced a new set of dual-CPU upgrade units in speeds up to 1GHz (with higher speeds coming soon), in both 100MHz and 133MHz bus speeds, for just about all Power Mac G4 systems. Considering that DDR RAM doesn't seem to do these machines all that much good (as we've seen, crestfallen, recently), this kind of upgrade would boost the performance of a nearly three-year-old machine like my 450MHz G4 to nearly that of the newest models. That plus a new video card would make it, in Marcus' words, quite l33t.


These upgrade cards look like a nice package. They slot in to the existing CPU daughterboard slot, and they come with a much nicer three-phase power supply than the one the machine already has. Besides, it would be a dualie, with all that implies. Not a bad deal for about a thousand bucks.

Well, there is this little tiny weensy problem. Apparently, a certain early revision of the logic board on the six-month-long-lived "AGP Graphics" generation of G4 tower machines has a bridge chip that's incompatible with dual processors. This logic board was succeeded in quick order by one that was dual-compatible, but PowerLogix provides a link with details on how to find out if your machine supports dual CPUs or not. You have to boot into OS9, run the System Profiler, generate a certain kind of report, and read off an obscure number that's supposed to read "uni-n: 7" or higher. Lower numbers won't work with the dual cards.

Guess what mine says? uni-n: 3. Aaauugh!

Ah well. I can hold out for a bit longer. (And technically I could spring for a single-CPU upgrade card to 1GHz or so, but that's just not as alluring.) And I'd have to get a new GeForce4, and a' that, and a' that.

I'm planning to wait for the Next Big Thing before I upgrade my main home machine. IBM is planning to give its dissertation on the new PPC64 in October, and sources say that they've been working on it in secret for a good long time now-- by the time they give the speech, the chip will be in live testing, and slated for release in consumer machines made by companies whose names begin with A and rhyme with "Snapple" in about July of next year-- possibly earlier, if everybody claps their hands really reaaallly loudly, and belieeeeves...

I can hold out that long. I want to spend about $3000 on a new machine, which means getting the top-end of what's available at any given time. (I plan to get more mileage out of my Cinema Display than out of my computer.) And if I'm going to be spending that within a year, I don't want to put down more than $1000 on stopgap upgrades. I can wait.

Meanwhile, 10.2.1 is rapidly on its way, according to Think Secret. This release is set to come so soon after 10.2 because from what I hear, Jaguar was rushed out the door sooner than it really deserved to be-- they cut a few spit-polish features like minimize-in-place and Rendezvous playlist-sharing/streaming in iTunes and complete Quartz Extreme optimization, so they could get it out the door and into people's hands before they were accused of promising "Summer" and then releasing on September 20, as has happened before. (And pushing it out ahead of the 9/11 season could only have been good for sales.) In software, the only way to keep from submerging under endless validation and integration testing is to cut features with brutal prejudice-- early on in the process if possible, but later and right up to release day if necessary. It's a shame to cut things you've promised, even things that are really really cool. But software is unique in its ability to surprise you with its susceptibility to the butterfly effect; wiggle this bit up here in TCP/IP, and up pops a bug down there in filesystem browsing. Den Beste has a recent piece which describes this in action better than I can.

But the upshot is that we'll be getting those features now in a point release, probably within the next week or two. This will address stability as well-- I've had very good luck so far with Jaguar, and most of the stories I've been hearing from people are extremely positive, but there are the occasional horror stories. (This one draws the gleeful finger of Glenn Reynolds-- I can certainly understand the temptation to respond to numerous people's insufferable recommendations of Macs to seek out reasons why such recommendations are horse manure; but honestly, an isolated and temporary unstable state of the OS is hardly a deal-killing indictment of a platform. Or it shouldn't be, anyway.)

That said, Think Secret notes the following:

Informants now say that one of the areas Apple is addressing in 10.2.1 is the SCSI I/O kit, which stands to provide benefits primarily to developers. "There will be major changes to it," one source said. "These changes are very welcome ... SCSI support in OS X to date has been abominable."

Good... I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed. Maybe now we'll be able to boot our machines without having to have our connected SCSI devices powered-on for it to load the proper stubs.

My SCSI scanner died again when I installed Jaguar. (Search above for "scanner" to find the tales of banshee-wailing woe surrounding my scanner over the past year.) Turns out that this wasn't because the OS became incompatible with its driver for my SCSI card or anything, because technically I can still scan using <shudder> VueScan... but now that I've been spoiled by the lusciousness that is SilverFast, I refuse to subject myself to that torment. And SilverFast's software is what's become incompatible with 10.2, through what mechanism I do not know.

Silverfast is reported to have responded to customers' complaints already on this issue, and they say they will have a fix "in a few weeks".

That's perfectly fine. I can wait.
Wednesday, September 4, 2002
20:21 - Oh, yeah, this is gonna sell...
http://news.com.com/2100-1040-956285.html

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Microsoft is prepping its "Windows XP Media Center" for a release over the holidays.

...Media Center. In other words, "Center for the Media Companies". Because there's not a single customer in the world who would have wanted something like this. Unless they happened to be stockholders in Columbia Records or Disney.

Analysts and users see the built-in copy protection as a potential sales killer because it restricts the use of the built-in DVR, one of the most compelling features of the new PCs.

DVRs, which are sold as companion products for TVs by TiVo and Sonicblue's ReplayTV, are expected to become standard equipment on PCs over the next few years, say analysts.

Already Sony ships Vaio PCs with DVRs and most of the other features found on the HP Media Center PC. But Sony does not impose copy protection. So a consumer could use Sony's GigaPocket Personal Video Recorder software to record a TV show, convert the file to MPEG-2 video with another Sony application and burn the program to a DVD.

This is like how whenever you see a country with a name like "The People's Democratic Republic of Freely Elected Democratic People", you know it's about as far from being any of those things as it's possible to be. Microsoft has once again created something that nobody needs or wants-- it has some useful functionality, but that functionality is already available, cheaply and without restrictions on the capabilities of the consumers, from other manufacturers. They're going to use the leverage of their size to sell something that differs from its competition only in being more restrictive. (Or more full of embedded ads. Why is it, by the way, that www.microsoft.com, including Windows Update, pops up an IWon.com ad banner every few pages you open? Huh? Is Microsoft having difficulty funding its website? Can't a company as successful as Microsoft grace us with the common human decency to not have pop-up ads right in the middle of its corporate website and critical upgrade mechanism?)

Encrypted hard drives, pay-for-play DiVX discs, and DRM-protected music-file formats will not fly with consumers when there's a perfectly serviceable, non-restricted alternative on the market. People won't pay to have their rights reduced. So Microsoft has decided to forgo any pretense of acting in the consumer's interest, and has thrown in its lot wholly with the media companies so they can force people to buy into the new restricted scheme. It's the only way this would have worked, and only now that they can see they have carte blanche to use their monopoly power in any way they see fit without fear of reprisal from the DoJ, they're lifting the lid on the new Iron Age of Computing.

Welcome to the future.

20:01 - Cults is fun!

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Kris was at the Valley Fair mall in Santa Clara on August 23, the night Jaguar went on sale at 10:20 PM. The Apple Store there, like many other Apple resellers, had one of the famed "midnight madness" events in which the entire mall was kept open by security so that the droves of fans could line up for their copies of Jaguar.


This is shortly after 11:00 PM, some forty minutes after the OS went on sale. There are still hundreds of people in here-- the line started at the Apple Store (in the distance on the right), and stretched down the length of the lower level of the mall, and back. For what turned out to be hours.

The next day, Jaguar sales at places like Fry's were brisk, but it was business-as-usual. But just look at the kind of zealous energy that got discharged that night.

Yeah, I guess we're freaks. But it's so much fun.

04:29 - Europeans Know Best
http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/4/26939.html

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Wow. This one's one for the ol' record books. The Greek government has just banned all video games. All of 'em.

The government of Greece is making heroic efforts to humiliate the nation in front of the entire world, by banning all electronic games. That's right; something as innocent as playing computer chess on your laptop in a hotel lobby is now a crime with penalties of up to three months in stir and a fine of 10,000 euros.

The purpose behind this charming legislation is to crack down on Internet gambling (which already was illegal) -- or, rather, to enable legislators to enact their little public dance of righteous aversion to Internet gambling.

Improved enforcement of existing law is all that was needed, but there's a problem. Unfortunately, the Greek government is "incapable of distinguishing innocuous video games from illegal gambling machines," according to an older article from the English-language Kathimerini newspaper, written while the bill was under consideration.
But these are the Greeks! They're just weird! Uh, yeah, but I thought the whole EU thing was about breaking down national identities and stuff. Doesn't work so well when one member state does something completely moronic, eh?

Man oh man. I'm no great fan of video games, but at least in the rest of Europe and in the US (thus far) we know the difference between Diablo and Gamblor.

04:11 - Too Cool to Dismiss
http://maccentral.macworld.com/news/0209/03.xtunes.php

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Seems there's a Linux software maker called Tex9 who had created an MP3-management application expressly intended to replicate the iTunes user experience and feature set, on Linux. (Well, except for stuff that only a Mac can do, like referring to files by Unique ID instead of by path, so you can move them all over your system without the app losing track of where they are.) It was called xtunes, at least until Apple's lawyers came round the bend and shook their fingers in their faces.

So now the Tex9 guys are changing its name, and will eventually redo its UI look-and-feel. (Because after all, it looks just like iTunes, except that it sucks.) And the new name they're changing it to? sumi.

Ho ho ho. Clever. I just love the irony, so luscious it is. See, 'cause Apple's original set of System Sounds back in the 80s contained a chime called "Sosumi", in an act of defiance against Apple Records, who had tried to prevent the Mac from shipping because it turned Apple into a competing "music company" with a similar name. It's like that, y'know. It's like turned back on Apple's head now that they've become The Man, man. It's like poetic justice, man. Or something.

Yeah, yeah. I'm sure Apple is very flattered and all. And I'm very glad to see that iTunes and the iPod are being discovered by more and more people who are falling in love with the smooth flowing interface and effortless no-thought, no-mess user interface of Apple's digital music system, enough so that they've got a cute little "iPod with Tux on it" picture on the Tex9 website, and the whole organization appears to be founded on the high concept of cloning iTunes and the iPod experience for Linux users. That's very flattering, and it's a strong testament to the success of the design of those originals.

But... y'know, man, there's no need to get all moral-high-ground on Apple's ass here. I hope I don't have to explain why.


...In other unrelated news, Jaguar's opening sales weekend appears to have broken all previous records.
Tuesday, September 3, 2002
21:27 - Windows Cretinism of the Day

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The rapidly forming Mac Cabal here at work just spent the past hour or so getting our Jaguar machines to behave as Windows SMB file servers on the corporate network. (See, 'cause we can do that now.) But it's not a straightforward process, or at least not as straightforward as it should be, because of a pseudo-bug in the upgrade process that's probably one of those things that they couldn't have managed any more smoothly than they did. Though they could certainly have documented it better. Like, at all.

See, here's how it goes. Mac OS X 10.2 now runs an SMB server (Samba, yes). Because this is a Windows file server, it has to keep user passwords in its equivalent of the Windows password database. When you create a new user or change your password in 10.2, it updates the encrypted password in both the OS X NetInfo database and the SMB password hash file. That's all well and good.

But what about machines that have been running OS versions prior to 10.2-- users that were created in older versions that didn't have Samba? Well, there's no SMB password file-- and there's really no way to create one, because the passwords are encrypted. The only way to create an SMB password file, seeded with the existing user passwords, is to have them re-entered in cleartext by a live human. This means that existing OS X users who have just upgraded to 10.2 must change their password (or at least refresh it by changing it to the same thing) in order to generate the SMB password file, before they can connect to their Mac from a Windows machine.

(For those curious-- just go to Accounts->Edit User, then enter your password in the "Current Password" field and press Return. This authenticates you to use all the rest of the fields on that screen. Turn on the "Allow user to log in from Windows" checkbox, and re-enter your password twice in the "New Password" boxes, and press OK. Then you can use \\ip-address in Windows to connect to your Mac, where you will get full access to the home directory of the user you just enabled. Or so goes the theory.)

It took us the better part of an hour, fiddling and tweaking and prowling the message boards and trying every combination of usernames and backslashes and forward slashes and caps/lowercase that we could think of; but at the end, after we'd figured out the trick to it and given all our machines' primary accounts the necessary refresher procedure, we were all ready to connect-- it was all set up to Windows' satisfaction, at last.

But beware the creeping Windows-ism! Our path toward discovering the light of truth was blocked by something in Windows itself that leaves us bewildered and scratching our heads, even after getting past Jaguar's unfortunate stitch-in-the-side. This is that if you try to log in multiple times from a Windows box, and you repeatedly fail (like more than three times), you will get a dialog box that immediately says "This account has been disabled".

This is on the client side.

That's right: If you're on a Windows box, and you try to log in to the same server more than three times, giving an invalid password (or otherwise failing authentication) three times, the client machine will lock you out from accessing that server. The server has nothing to say about blocking you from accessing it. The flippin' client does this.

See, 'cause you might be a h4xX0r! You can't be trusted with your own computer! That's why we've made it so it can block you from your nefarious activities. We control the horizontal! We control the vertical! We control the TCP/IP!


Fortunately, the blockage of the account goes away in about twenty minutes, leaving you free to enter your username and password, which (assuming the server is working, heh) will let you in to view your files. So now I can watch Leonard Nimoy's "Bilbo Baggins" music-video performance, hosted as it is on my Mac, within the glory of Windows.

But it's this kind of thing that perfectly encapsulates the difference between the Mac OS and Windows. Jaguar has an unfortunate wart that will become irrelevant with time and is easily understandable and explainable, but badly documented under the assumption that everyone will be buying new machines and making fresh installations, or helping each other through this piece of trivia in the forums. Whereas Windows actively intrudes upon your workflow, by design, and prevents you from doing perfectly reasonable things like trying to connect to a server, making assumptions about your intent that would make Ashcroft proud.

Pick your poison. I think I still like the taste of mine, frankly.



...Oh, and incidentally, the perverse of mind can connect over SMB from one Mac to another Mac, now. It's beyond me why you would want to-- you get to see all your files, minus their application bindings, custom icons, and filename extension masking. It's like a Q-type being, accustomed to traveling unfettered through the stars, living in five-dimensional space and beyond-- forced to exist as a four-dimensional human on earth. It's grotesque and filthy, and I don't see a reason to do it other than masochism.

But you can do it.
Monday, September 2, 2002
01:58 - Any exposure is good exposure
http://www.gateway.com/products/desktops/prf4/sweepstakes/allmedia.shtml

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Apparently there's a new ad out for the Gateway Profile 4, the machine that's specifically designed to compete with the flat-panel iMac-- and apparently the first that actually acknowledges this. Whereas the eMachines iMac lookalike back in 1999 went through its short and lawsuit-laden life insisting to its last dying breath that it was not in any way intended to resemble the iMac-- why, it had a floppy drive! How could anyone confuse the two?-- the Profile 4 appears to be going directly after the iMac, right up to and including performance-comparison spec sheets on their website and TV ads directly attacking the iMac. The ad, I'm told (though I'm apparently watching all the wrong channels), even features the Profile 4 sticking its "tongue" out at the iMac, the way the iMac did in its own ad back in January.

I'm entirely happy about this. No, really, I am.

Apple has had to spend its whole lifetime running ads which try to convince the computer buying market that Macs bring something to the table that the standard default PC doesn't. Apple ads have always had to revolve around either a comparison to a PC, or a lifestyle portrayal of a Mac as being an "alternative" platform. PC makers have never been under any pressure to do the reverse. Not since the 80s.

If Gateway is having to run a full-court press against the iMac, it can only be because they're feeling market pressure to do so. Why waste marketing dollars responding to something that's not even a threat?

So I think this campaign will only serve to increase Apple's legitimacy in consumers' eyes. It gets the Apple name out into the open. And the fact that the iMac is presented as the loser in the competition is immaterial compared to the fact that the Apple name is being mentioned in the first place-- to say nothing of the fact that it's being mentioned by someone other than Apple. The MSN ads that claim it to be "a great alternative to AOL" do AOL every bit as much a favor as a disservice purely by mentioning its name, letting it filter into people's minds subconsciously as they eat dinner.

As for the comparisons-- it's hardly surprising that the Profile 4 comes out on top in the tests they run. The Quake fps scores are pretty woeful, as is the boot-time comparison. JavaScript is certainly going to be a lot better on any Windows machine, because IE is nowhere near as optimized on the Mac as it is on its native platform (where it's all but an embedded kernel process). The numbers overall are so vastly different that I can't help concluding that if an independent third party were to conduct these tests without being commissioned by either party, they'd find results that prove both companies exaggerate their results to an insane level.

But there are things Gateway could have chosen to test that wouldn't have resulted in anywhere near as big a disparity. I'm not going to claim the infamous Photoshop filter test suite is a great example of an unbiased benchmark, but given its reliance on vector operations, the G4 is bound to have a better edge. Same with things like Media Cleaner performance, or MPEG-2 compression.

Which brings me to another interesting point. Has nobody noticed what the Profile 4 lacks? Namely, hard drive space... and DVD capabilities? Neither Profile 4 model comes with a DVD drive-- not just not a burner, but not a player. And the Profile 4 models on the Gateway site come with 20GB and 40GB drives (though the top-end test mule seemed to have a 120GB drive for some reason), whereas the iMac can be outfitted up to 80GB-- 40 is the bottom end.

To say nothing of things like the wide screen on the 17" iMac, the fact that the neck swivels as well as tilts up and down, and the fact that it runs OS X and comes with all the iApps, as opposed to the Profile 4 which comes with Microsoft Works and The Sims.

In any case, yeah-- comparisons will be comparisons, and it doesn't bother me that this one comes up spades for the iMac. Because the big win is that Apple flushed Gateway out into the open on this one-- they're no longer pretending not to be taking all their cues from Apple. They're being honest about it. And people recognize which is the pioneer and which is the imitator.

They really do.

01:10 - Geez!
http://tribalfusion.speedera.net/m.tribalfusion.com/media/32986/popwiz.gif

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Ahh, the march of technology. Half the industry works like mad to realize the grand dreams of what the advancing state of the art can do for wide-eyed customers, and the other half... well, seems to be dedicated to working out ways to subvert the ingenuity of the first half for fun and profit.


As Marcus says, "Can you imagine being EMPLOYED to create and design these things?"

Those of us who are engineers will probably easily recognize such people as being the ones who cruised through high school on a bare minimum of effort, seemingly untouchable by the rigors of life, popular and attractive and insufferable. But we all put up with them, because we knew we'd end up with jobs where we created things, and they would end up pumping gas or something (perhaps working in a museum of ancient gas-station technology).

We were right about ourselves. But as it turns out, there's always a place in this world for the slime who can only imitate but never create. There will always be a demand for such services.

Wow, I even managed to get disillusioned on a holiday!
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© Brian Tiemann