Ego Searching

October 28th, 2003

Sir Walter Elliott, in Jane Austen’s Persuasion, likes nothing better than to look himself up in the Baronetage and trace his family line. Those of us who have unusual surnames but somehow missed out on being part of the landed gentry, now have a modern equivalent of Sir Walter’s pastime.

Amazon is putting the entire text of a substantial portion of its books into its search engine, which means that you can find books based not just on what’s on the cover, but on what’s inside.
And so it was that this morning I did a search for ‘Stafford-Fraser’ and discovered that, amongst other places, there is a brief reference to me in Frederick S. Lane’s book Obscene Profits: Entrepreneurs of Pornography in the Cyber Age

Somehow, I don’t think Sir Walter would be impressed.

Panther features

October 26th, 2003

[Original Link] Mark Pilgrim has a pretty thorough list of the main user-interface changes in Panther.

You say you want a revolution…

October 26th, 2003

All the major political parties here are concerned about the fact that fewer and fewer young people are involved or interested in politics. I think this is inevitable. As most political extremes collapse towards the centre, we may end up with more stable ways to govern the country, but it’s hardly the thing to excite young minds. Teenagers want protests to take part in, causes to fight for, rogues to be outraged at. They don’t want anything middle-of-the-road.

Who was it who said, “If you’re not a communist before you’re thirty, you haven’t got a heart. If you’re still a communist after you’re thirty, you haven’t got a brain.” ?

Trying to pull a fast one in the office

October 26th, 2003

[Original Link] John Naughton on Microsoft Office 2003.

Encounter with the big cat

October 25th, 2003

Today Apple released the new version of their operating system, Mac OS X 10.3, more commonly known as Panther.

Actually, they released it yesterday at 8pm, and when I woke up this morning a friend of mine was still online in Seattle (1am their time) after the big gathering of ‘hundreds’ for the launch at the local Apple store.

Here, in contrast, our local Apple dealer closed at 5.30pm yesterday, so we had to wait until this morning to get a copy. And they only had 25. It would have been much too nerdy to be seen actually waiting at the door when they opened, so I sauntered in at a much more laid-back five minutes past the hour, and one of those 25 copies is now mine.

I also treated my elderly PowerBook to a new hard disk (so I could do drastic things without destroying my chance of returning to safety) and so I have a completely fresh install of Panther. I copied my applications, documents, some preferences etc into it from a backup on an external firewire drive, and so far it’s all going very nicely.

Like 10.2, this is not a very major overhaul from the appearances point of view, but there are small improvements to almost everything which make the cost (100 UKP) definitely worthwhile for me. The big changes are well documented elsewhere; the main benefit I’ve seen so far is the much better integration with a Windows network, and with remote servers. I can browse the ‘network neighbourhood’, can print to the Deskjet connected to Rose’s Windows machine, and can interact much more seamlessly with remote WebDAV and FTP servers.

And the ‘Exposé‘ feature is lovely too.

Which should iBook?

October 23rd, 2003

[Original Link]

Just when Apple’s PowerBook line was getting nicely settled, they go and confuse things by upgrading the iBook to a G4 processor. This was needed – the G3 was getting a bit long in the tooth, but it used to be the main thing that defined the difference between the iBook and Powerbook ranges.

I don’t imagine they’ll be upgrading the PowerBooks to a G5 in the very near future, so it’s almost a question of how much you want to pay for the nice shiny colour… :-)

Another nice trick in Apple Mail

October 12th, 2003

Apple’s Mail.app has some problems, but in general I like it very much. A handy feature I’ve just discovered is that you can select more than one mailbox at once, and the message list shows the union of the messages in all selected mailboxes. Handy, for example, if you want to track a conversation and see messages in chronological order from both your incoming and outgoing mail.

I also like the ‘Highlight thread of selected message’ option, which keeps the messages in their natural order but highlights those with the same subject as the one you’re currently viewing. This is much more natural for me than a fully-threaded list, though that option will also be available in the next version of OS X.

The Voq

October 12th, 2003

[Original Link]

This looks like quite clever hardware, but there’s no way I’d buy a Microsoft-based phone after my own experiences with the iPaq and, more importantly, seeing a friend’s constant frustration with his SPV – a phone which would regularly do such things as ring and then deny you the ability to answer the incoming call, and which would need regular rebooting.

I mean, come on – pick one big software company in the world that you would least like to trust your personal communications to..

Shifting to the ridiculous

October 12th, 2003

Here’s a fact that’s reasonably well-known among anybody who’s been tinkering with Windows for a few years: If you don’t want your machine to run the software on a CD automatically when you insert it into your machine, hold down ‘shift’.

In what must be one of the silliest of the recent “Let’s sue a student” cases, SunComm are planning to sue John Halderman for pointing this out. Why? Because the ‘autorun’ feature was used by their CD copy-protection software, and by pressing shift you can bypass it.

The company claims to have lost $10 million of its value as a result of Halderman pointing this out. Which makes me wonder what they think such blatantly useless technology is actually worth? It doesn’t need a PhD student to deduce how to break this – it’s the first thing most 12-year-olds would look at as well.

SGI compares Linux, Unix source code

October 5th, 2003

[Original Link] One day SCO is going to annoy too many people. Well, they’ve already annoyed a very large number, but they made the mistake of accusing SGI, who started to do some serious analysis of their claims.

Moral: if you don’t have much of a leg to stand on, be careful whom you kick.