14 Jun 2005

oxygen bar?

we dropped by the strawberry fair in cambridge last week, and saw this weird stall


and inside they were, emm .. selling oxygen by the minute. not quite sure what the purpose of that is. is it to get high?

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14 Jun 2005

what is up with the double lamp post?

for some odd reason, people on our street have decided that they should put two lamp posts in the same spot. i don't understand what is happening.

notice that there are two lamp posts, one shorter, one taller in the same location



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14 Jun 2005

one touch espresso machine

we just got one of the sweetest coffee machines installed at work. its a one-touch espresso machine. all you do is press one of the buttons on the left that say "cappuccino", "latte" or "espresso" and it does all the milk frothing, coffee bean grinding, etc. there is also a steamer on the right hand side in case you want to froth up your own milk.

it even has an option to only dispense milk, so you can fill up your cup of tea with some hot steaming milk. it is quite fun though, espresso in less than a minute. it even washes itself. you just have to stand beside it and press a button when it tells you to.


the machine is actually programmable, but the specs are not public. we're trying to get hold of some so we can do our own coffee hacks :)

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13 Jun 2005

itunes smart playlists + live updating + spotlight = disaster

if you use itunes, and use smart playlists, try using the "live updating" feature sparingly.

i had around 20-30 smart playlists, and live updating enabled on all of them. this doesn't cause a problem on mac os x 10.3. but on mac os x 10.4, whenever i use itunes, my cpu usage goes up to 100%, my whole system starts to be unresponsive. stopping itunes from playing a song or quitting it altogether will suddenly make my powerbook much more responsive.

initially i thought it was because of my chinese/japanese encoded song names causing the problem since LAServer (some localisation service) was right up there along with mds as the main cpu consumers. however, playing an english song didn't seem to stem the flow, so it must of been something else. playing around with it a bit more, i eventually found that "live updating" option being the culprit.

there is hardly any docs on how that feature works. yes i know that when check it, it live updates your smart playlists, but if you switch it off, i'm not sure under what conditions it is supposed to update. there is no obvious ui element to prod a smart playlist to get it to update except for actually opening up the options for the playlist and then pressing OK. that's a little daft.

so for now, i'll do without live updating for my smart playlists, which is actually one of the coolest feature in itunes. i suppose either apple will eventually fix this in spotlight or itunes 4.9. because it is bloody annoying!

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13 Jun 2005

cool new delicious features

delicious is going to support bookmarking/tagging of multimedia files bookmarks. it's going to detect them using the extension. but possibly, it means that people will have to start deep linking on those funny video blogs.

seems like an interesting concept, but the beauty of delicious is the one click bookmarking system. if i have to look at the html source to find a video file to bookmark, then it is too much work. maybe i can write a javascript bookmarklet to extract the URL out of any embed/object tag in a page. that would be pretty easy and neat.

also interesting that it is beginning to introduce the concepts of namespaces in tags. for instance, there is the "system:" namespace and then the "for:" name space. are those arbitary prefixes or are they supposed to be an official way to segregate namespaces?

anyway, despite my caution on why this might not work, if you try it out, it is actually really useful! now we just need ones for system:filetype:torrent, etc :)

[UPDATE: i've written a bookmarklet to actually extract all the video/multimedia/embedded objects inside a page and print them on an ugly overlay on the top of your page. add the following link to your bookmark]

[UPDATE2: 17 June - updated to a new version of the script, this one now should work for both object/embed tags and common variations of params.]

[NOTE: the script is 3700 charcters long, if you strip out the whitespace, it will prob get to around 3000. if you make some obsfucation then you might get it down to 2000, but still, it won't fit into IE6's address space. so you need to employ a hack to do it. since i can't test it, if someone wants to step up and do it, let me know.]

bookmark this: submit embedded objects to delicious and change where it says "alastair" to your delicious login.

(source to the actual javascript)

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13 Jun 2005

another one to the dark side

news from the gentoo web site indicates that the founder of gentoo linux has started working for microsoft. i had to check my calendar twice to check if it was april 1st. probably less unexpected than most would of thought, given that he has ceased working for gentoo linux as a developer, although he was still operating store.gentoo.org until fairly recently.

not sure if we all remember the whole gentoo games shebang about a commercial arm of gentoo supporting gentoo-linux via vague financial contributions. i guess it was always on the cards that daniel robbins always had commercialisation of open source in mind.

i'm sure it is going to brew up a little controversy on forums, mailing lists and planet gentoo. however, daniel has his own needs and his own family to feed. i can understand that sometimes priorities trump ideals. and maybe the opportunity to spread your ideals in a part of the world where these things don't make sense is an interesting proposition.

ending on a more amusing note, will daniel robbins be sitting next to daniel c. robbins of microsoft research? and possibly, this was true all along?

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08 Jun 2005

fav widget of the week

this is my favourite widget of the week:

 Downloads Dashboard Status Images Flipclock 200506071151

what is it with programmers and analog clocks? i like my clocks to be digital and accurate, not analog and hard to read. sure there's eyecandy factor for about 3 seconds, and then it gets annoying! i've even had to replace e17's analog clock with a saner digital clock.

yeah, i'm boring. the only use for dashboard at the moment is checking how cold it is outside, and what the time is. occassionally some music gets me annoyed enough to rate it 1-star.

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07 Jun 2005

what about amd?

heh, i'm not going to talk about macintels. there's enuff of it on the net.

anyway, talking about fitness hacks, how about this one? run 30second stints 4 or 5 times a day and you can be as fit as someone who jogs for 1 hour. what a time save. i can use that time to eat ice cream and chips (not necessarily together.)

in other news, this citibank blunder is nearly as bad as using telnet or ftp to transfer your data.

finally, the only place the ubiquitous ipod hasn't conquered is your toilet. and that is soon to be resolved by this brilliant invention! who comes up with these ideas?

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06 Jun 2005

notes about my widget

interesting things i found out about my widget:

i'm listed on apple's page. apparently it was added to apple's download page without me actually knowing. i've now submitted an official request to get it listed with version 2.0 of my widget. woulda been nice to know that apple had it listed.

people on dashboardwidgets.com keep on talking about "oh the one in konfabulator did this/that", so i went and had a look what the hell they're talking about. they seem to be referring to itunes companion, which looks like an excellent widget, but for konfabulator.

honestly, i hadn't seen or heard of this widget or any of it's features before i started writing mine. i started mine to scratch a programming itch. and so it seems its functionality is nearly the same. i can assure you that i'm not trying to copy it or anything. the author has probably got exactly the same goals as i do, god knows why he hadn't ported his to dashboard?

i did also think about making my widget look like a normal cd jewel case, but i decided against it given that (1) i'm not artistically talented and (2) real life objects in dashboard look odd and out of place.

i don't have konfabulator, so i can't try the widget out. but from the looks on the screenshot, it is much more mature than mine. it even has a feature to add the album art to the song if it fetches it from amazon. that is going to be in the next release of my widget, but nice to see that we're thinking along the same lines.

thirdly, the itunes interface is quite cryptic, even from applescript. for instance, i can't find a way to determine type of track is playing. there are normal file tracks, shared tracks (shared music on someone else's itunes), device track (ipod), radio tracks, url tracks, etc. each of them have a different way to encode various bits of data, which is pretty annoying.

there's still a lot of work before i can say that my widget is complete. i've still got some ideas for crawling for artwork. but as apple says, you should keep your widget as simple as possible and perform one single function. so my widget breaks this a little because i do both displaying album art and song ratings, but i still want to keep with their philosophy. so just expect this widget to become more refined in displaying album art and rating songs, and not making it into a pseudo mini itunes interface.

if you want a quick itunes interface, try synergy. i'm a happy user and it does it's job great (and also very cheap!) a very simple app that controls itunes and displays itunes status changes. in fact, synergy is so good that i only do my widget because of curosity and because i can use it to rate my songs. synergy has also has the ability to manipulate ratings, but because of its interaction with growl, i don't use that function much. if you use synergy with growl turned on, and you'll know what i mean.

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01 Jun 2005

keychain module 2.1 for quicksilver released

finally got around to fixing up the keychain module for quicksilver b40 and above.

summary of changes:

• Compiled for Tiger. Works for Quicksilver b42.
• Sorted Keychain Items list
• Catalog now works properly!
• Includes Internet Passwords (support still flakey)
• Fixed BundleIdentifier.

get it at the keychain module for quicksilver page.

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