January 2005 Archives

Jeffrey Stone
Wired News
660 3rd Street, 1st Floor
San Francisco, CA 94107

Los Angeles, January 27, 2005

Let me be frank, Jeffrey Stone...

There is a special reason why I am writing you today.

I've been a reader and a loyal subscriber to Wired for quite some time now. Don't worry, I intend to keep subscribing. That's not why I'm writing.

I write because today I got yet another "Professional Subscription Renewal Savings Vouche", of course for the same rate as the billion little inserts in the magazine.

It is crazy. Until I learned how to find the code for when my subscription expires - always "not for a while" - I had to go and find out when I last paid $12 or $24 to you. A waste of my time. An annoyance.

Please put a stop to it and let us just enjoy your correspondence in the form of the magazine. And maybe a yearly reminder to subscribe again. Without the hyperbole, please.

Hyperbole? Look no further than the first few lines here. That's from the last renewal promotion letter from "you" to your subscribers. Please stop insulting us.

Thank you,

Ask Bjørn Hansen

Apple lowered the price a bit on the wireless options, so you can request a refund from them. It has to be within 14 days of shipping (and the price drop must have been within 10 days of shipping). MacMinute says you have to call, but if you follow the link above you'll see that Apple asks you to just fill out a form.

Mac 1984

macintosh insanely great

Someone posted a copy of the Mac introduction video from 21 years ago. I made a mirror here. Jason Kottke has a list of more mirrors.

Of course it's not early as much fun or as exciting as the 1984 commercial (torrent)

(please don't like directly to the movie, rather link to this entry).

8GB Microdrive


hitachi microdrive 8gb

David Wheeler sent me this. Woohoo, that's tiny. And 8GB!

I'll spare you the story about the big noisy 4GB drive this time.

Bad Netflix envelopes

I thought it was just me not opening them carefully enough over the last week or two, but apparently not. The internet is great.

I wonder if Netflix appreciates how great the Hacking Netflix site is for them even if it's also writing about the Bad Stuff.

You'd think it'd be really old news by now, but maybe not. (Actually, knowing other corporations a bit from the inside I'd say certainly not ... sigh)

Differential Pricing


Sometime last year we bought some games in a GameStop store and got a free subscription to GameInformer. It's running out now and with the magazine came a card (actually, the "card" was wrapped all around it) telling "just $10 for 10 issues!". Not so bad. Except that's "in store only". If I renew by mail it's $20. I don't want to go to the store and I don't want to pay more than the "best price", so to the trash it goes. (update: Hilarious, the price online is $15. I understand all magazines have pricing like this, but they generally don't push it quite so hard in your face. Do the store pay them the extra $5 for getting you to go to the store?).

See also Camels and Ruber Duckies (aka Spolsky on software pricing)

No more comment spam


I've been waiting forever for someone tp pick up doing a particular project to fight comment spam. A couple of days ago I got tired of waiting and put it together in an evening. It's no silver bullet, but it did cut the amount of comment spam I get down to a fraction of what it was before. And it should scale in a way so the spammers can't easily program their way around it if many people start using it.

No, doesn't require any extra work for your users or any template changes. It's running on this weblog already.

If you either run MT on your weblog or have some time to nudge your favorite weblog software and would like to help me test it, send me a mail.

Mac Mini arrived


Ooh, got the Mac Mini this morning. The box it comes in is Tiny. tiny! actually. It's very spiffy. More like my DP 1.4GHz PowerMac than my 867MHz PowerBook. And a lot cheaper than either.

I haven't been in a properly quiet environment with it yet, but it seems very quiet so far.

It arrived with iLife '04 installed and iLife '05 on a separate DVD.

iWork didn't get here yet, but should soon. I'm really looking forward to using Pages instead of Adobe InDesign for writing letters...

I ordered a 1GB memory stick from NewEgg which should get here soon. Hopefully someone will post pictures on how to take it apart so I won't have to figure it out. :-)

James Duncan Davidson is also getting a Mac Mini to use as a really fancy DVD (etc) player...

iPod Shuffle? A steal at twice the price (although the comparison should be with other USB drives rather than a memory stick...)

Update: Brad Choate IM'ed me a link to a take-it-apart video. (And roughly at the same minute Lars Thegler added the links to the comments here; don't mind me -- I live under a rock)

My Mini Mac shipped


mini mac shipped fedex

I had two gripes about the mini mac as the Projector Computer (obviously that wasn't enough to not order it).

1) Lack of gigabit ethernet. With a small laptop drive inside it'd be nice to have as much bandwidth out as possible. Someone suggested that maybe I could get a couple hundred megabits out of the firewire with some sort of ethernet to firewire adapter. I haven't found that, but I remembered that there's "IP over Firewire" in OS X. With a firewire repeater it can go over fiber and thus have Really Long cables.

Of course the repeaters are insanely expensive, so getting the Mac to stream DVDs from the linux box with 100Mbit ethernet is really a much better option. :-) Maybe it'll be fast enough over NFS? Otherwise external firewire drives will work.

2) No optical audio output for surround sound. That turns out to not be an issue at all. Tim Bunce (Tim, you really need to get a website!) pointed out that there are lots of USB sound devices. Yay. Hopefully that'll work. (Of course I don't have speakers and so on for surround sound, but some day...)

One more potential issue actually: There's only one monitor output. The "monitor" (Infocus 4805) is perfect resolution for 16:9 anamorphic DVDs, but painfully low as a computer screen. With DVI it's Beautiful. It can run in some odd squeezed 1000×600ish resolution too, hopefully that'll be enough to access all the configuration we need.

For the remote control we can use bluetooth keyboard and mouse and/or cell phones with Salling Clicker. (We both have T-Mobile phones and they barely barely work at home so at least we can get some use out of them that way ;-) )

The other day I had trouble with the online Apple Store trying to order a Mac Mini:

apple store error.png

Of course they sorta almost had an excuse. I can see how it's not worth it for them to scale their systems for the once a year frenzy over a few hours. And I'm not sure it's a loss for them in the end. At least I persisted and I got my order through. :-)

Fast forward a few days. I'm ordering a first aid kit and a few other things at the Walgreens store. Free shipping! Their web site isn't great but I manage to start the checkout process without any groans.

Now I have to create a user. Oh no, not a good start. I don't care to create a user. But oh well, if done well they just want an email address and not much more that they don't need to ship the items anyway, right? Oh no, wrong.

Very wrong.


Are those fields marked as required? No. Do you have to fill out everything else before finding out that they really do require my birth date and gender? Yes. Do they get my money? I don't think so.

There's no reason for them to have that information. Of course the Walgreens executives probably couldn't care less. I can't bother to find their annual report but likely their online store isn't doing well anyway, so why would they care? (oh, to make it do well... I see. Clever).

Doh - deleted ~600 comments ...

From the man-I-didn't-want-to-spend-two-hours-on-that department:

I managed to delete all the comments submitted in the last 2-3 weeks yesterday. I'll hack up a script to parse them out of the HTML and put it back into the database, but I didn't run it yet... Anyway, your comments should be back later today.

If you accidentally delete your comments from your weblog, before you do anything else make a backup of the generated HTML files.

Update: The comments are back, yay. Here's the script I hacked up. It has a bunch of hardcoded things related to my weblog, but as I'm using the standard templates it might work as a starting point for you if you deleted your comments from the database too and want to "get them back" from the html. Or not. I ran it like this from my archives directory:

find `pwd`/2004 -name \*.html | (cd ~mt/MT; xargs ~/bin/parse_comments)

I've put my backup script back in place and I recommend you do so too. My script goes like this:

mysqldump -uroot MT |bzip2 -9 > MT.backup/MT.`date +'%Y%m%d-%H%M'`.bz2

I run it from cron a couple of times a day. Less would probably do fine, but I like it that way... :-)

No Permitted Trucks Allowed


no permitted trucks allowed

This is beautiful. At least I had a good type trying to make No Permitted Trucks fit in my brain in some way that made sense. (No, I didn't succeed. Can you make it make any sense?).

(via this is broken)

Beautiful numbers



512 mails I love pretty numbers. I get excited when I see a pretty license plate. Or when the time is 16:32. Or when my car has driven 36912 miles. Or when I can get my car to drive at a speed that makes the speedometer and the tachometer be at the same place in the dial. I remember phone numbers and pin codes via the relationship between the numbers. And so on. This morning I had 512 messages marked unread before deleting a batch of cron mails and other such nonsense and after deleting a bit of weblog spam in the database I ended up with 1111 comments left. Too bad I hadn't written four more entries too! (Or one less. One less would have been good).

(oh, I wrote about that before)

Mac Mini

| 4 Comments | 1 TrackBack

mac mini (the other image)

Wooh, I think we found the mac to drive the projector. From the AppleInsider MWSF coverage:

Jobs introduces Mac mini. New member of Mac family including a slot-load Combo optical drive, FireWire, ethernet, USB 2.o, both DVI/VGA output. It [lays DVDs, burn CDs, and is very quiet and tiny. Its height is half the size of an iPod mini. Jobs calls it "BYODKM" -- Bring Your Own Display, Keyboard, Mouse. Will come in two models: 1.25GHz 256MB/40GB for $499. A second model with a 1.4GHz, more memory and larger hard drive will sell for $599. Mac mini will ship on January 22. Ships in a box smaller than the regular iPod box.

Crossed fingers for gigabit ethernet; otherwise it'll be firewire drives to extend the storage. Or does it take regular 3.5" drives? From the tiny size I'm afraid it'll be laptop drives...

update: no gigabit ethernet according to the specs. The Apple Store is badly overloaded, surprise surprise. Superdrive (DVD-burner), bluetooth and Airport Extreme (801.11g) is optional.

Other new products: iPod Shuffle (tiny USB flash drive iPod with no screen), iWork (word processing and updated Keynote), new Final Cut Express (HD added to their light version of Final Cut Pro)

sshkeychainGustav pointed me to SSHKeychain. I haven't tried it yet, but if it works then it's brilliant.

When I used Linux on my desktop I'd use ssh-agent and have it span all my windows to be able to login to various boxes without typing my password a billion times a day.

SSHKeychain is supposed to do the same thing across sessions on OS X by using the OS X Keychain system. Clever. It knows to lock the keychain and ask for the password again after the computer has been asleep or had the screensaver enabled. It requires me to logout and login again to work, so I haven't tried it yet, but it looks just like what I've been missing all along.

The New York Times Magazine interviews the chairwoman of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, Jeanne L. Phillips:

I hear one of the balls will be reserved for troops who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Yes, the Commander-in-Chief Ball. That is new. It will be about 2,000 servicemen and their guests. And that should be a really fun event for them.

As an alternative way of honoring them, did you or the president ever discuss canceling the nine balls and using the $40 million inaugural budget to purchase better equipment for the troops?

I think we felt like we would have a traditional set of events and we would focus on honoring the people who are serving our country right now -- not just the people in the armed forces, but also the community volunteers, the firemen, the policemen, the teachers, the people who serve at, you know, the -- well, it's called the StewPot in Dallas, people who work with the homeless.

How do any of them benefit from the inaugural balls?

I'm not sure that they do benefit from them.

Then how, exactly, are you honoring them?

Honoring service is what our theme is about.


I suppose that's why they don't let non-press people talk to the press. :-)

It's the Presidents Party

Metamark traffic

At the current rate Metamark will have made a short url long again 100 million times within the next couple of months. Neat. ("Fun weekend project neat", not "real appliction neat". At a past "real $ project" we easily had more dynamic hits than that in a day).

Netflix Queue Limit


netflixAh, joy. Netflix has queue size limit of 500 DVDs. We have 496 movies in queue to be watched now. We'll be through that in about 4 years at the current pace. That's of course if we stop adding new movies and we've been adding faster than we've been watching.

At least they've mostly gotten back to their 1-2 day delivery time over the last month.

p.s. happy new year everyone.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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