Posts tagged tech

5 Notes

Current status: installing FreeNAS.
Current sub-status: it’s ALIVE! Mwah-hah-hah.

Current status: installing FreeNAS. Current sub-status: it’s ALIVE! Mwah-hah-hah.

6 Notes

Uh-huh. “Unexpected.”

Uh-huh. “Unexpected.”

37 Notes

14 Notes

When I ordered my iPhone this morning, the accessories page clearly indicated that my order would come with a Lightning-to-Dock adapter, despite it not being shown on the “in the box” listing (I only noticed the inconsistency later).

This afternoon, that verbiage disappeared. It seems Apple is now saying this was a mistake and won’t be honoured.

UK consumer law is pretty clear — whether accidentally or deliberately, retailers cannot pull this sort of bait-and-switch. My reading of the Sales of Goods Act and Distance Selling Regulations suggests that the most hardball Apple could play it is to insist on a return of the entire phone and offer a full refund. Otherwise, it’d have to offer either a free adapter or a partial refund. It certainly can’t shrug its shoulders and say “sorry, that was a mistake, now go away”.

I look forward to talking to Apple customer support sometime after my adapterless iPhone arrives!

4 Notes

Seven Eighty Five

Curious to know what a 7.85” iPad would look like running today’s iPad apps, but shrunk down a bit? I made a site to answer that question.

Notes

"Save up to £21!" exclaimed the email from Parallels. "The good news…everyone is a winner. The link below is worth at least £7 off and could be worth as much as £21 off Parallels for Desktop for Mac 7." I like a bargain, so I click through, and I’m offered a discounted price of £50.99 from the RRP of £64.99 — so £14 off. Not bad, I guess. That’s the first screenshot.

But I have Parallels 6 already (registered to a different email address from that used in the mailshot), so naturally I wonder what the upgrade price is for existing users. I open the main Parallels site and immediately notice that it is selling the exact same version for £48.74, less than I was offered it through the mailshot. You can see this in the second screenshot.

Seems a bit scummy to me.

Edit — oh, and to top it off, it’s going to be cheaper still on Thursday in yet another (different) promotion.

3 Notes

Text rendering comparison: @TUAW in Safari/MBPwRD (at 1:1) versus Safari/iMac (at 2:1 zoom, to cancel out the DPI difference between the displays). Click to embiggen and see the full effect.

Golly.

Text rendering comparison: @TUAW in Safari/MBPwRD (at 1:1) versus Safari/iMac (at 2:1 zoom, to cancel out the DPI difference between the displays). Click to embiggen and see the full effect.

Golly.

4 Notes

What I want: my Magic Trackpad to do “natural” (i.e. reversed) scrolling while my new mouse does “traditional” (i.e. down-is-down) scrolling.

What Apple gives me: two dialog options that appear to allow me to do exactly what I want. One is in the “Mouse” section of System Preferences; the other in the “Trackpad” section.

Why this doesn’t work: when you select one checkbox, the other one changes. Despite being two checkboxes in different parts of the UI, they appear to reflect the same behind-the-scenes value.

I deem this to be shit. It’s downright crap to have one value over here changing the value of something else over there. Why even have two checkboxes to present one value? Nothing but user confusion can result. Isn’t Apple supposed to be really really good at not confusing the users? At being logical and consistent and well thought out?

Grrr.

Update: Pilotmoon’s Scrollreverser is a piece of freeware that solves this problem neatly and effortlessly (although it does introduce another icon into your menu bar, if you’re bothered by that sort of thing, and it also disables the three-finger-tap to bring up the Dictionary app. Sadface.) I still think Apple’s dialog is shite, though.

What I want: my Magic Trackpad to do “natural” (i.e. reversed) scrolling while my new mouse does “traditional” (i.e. down-is-down) scrolling.

What Apple gives me: two dialog options that appear to allow me to do exactly what I want. One is in the “Mouse” section of System Preferences; the other in the “Trackpad” section.

Why this doesn’t work: when you select one checkbox, the other one changes. Despite being two checkboxes in different parts of the UI, they appear to reflect the same behind-the-scenes value.

I deem this to be shit. It’s downright crap to have one value over here changing the value of something else over there. Why even have two checkboxes to present one value? Nothing but user confusion can result. Isn’t Apple supposed to be really really good at not confusing the users? At being logical and consistent and well thought out?

Grrr.

Update: Pilotmoon’s Scrollreverser is a piece of freeware that solves this problem neatly and effortlessly (although it does introduce another icon into your menu bar, if you’re bothered by that sort of thing, and it also disables the three-finger-tap to bring up the Dictionary app. Sadface.) I still think Apple’s dialog is shite, though.

10 Notes

MacBook Air: yes or no?

Cannot decide if I should pick up a MacBook Air while I’m here in the US or not. Here’s my wondering aloud. Feel free to offer advice.

What I have now: an ageing MacBook Pro (mid ‘08); which is mostly tethered to a 26” Samsung monitor on my desk. One of the two GPUs is busted and the battery is shot. I rarely use it off the desk, although I might if it wasn’t so hot, heavy, and had such poor battery life.

Why upgrade: apart from the brokenness, I find my old laptop a bit slow now, particularly for Aperture (I have about 175 GB of RAW format photos and I spend quite a lot of time post-processing pictures).

Why a MacBook Air: because it’s the darling of the tech world, obviously. It’s light with great battery life and “good-enough” performance (it’s about 2x faster than my existing MBP). If I’m honest, I suspect nothing I do regularly except Aperture work will give the MBA much of a problem.

Why not a MacBook Air: even the top-dog 13”/256 GB model isn’t anywhere near as fast as a 3.1 GHz iMac, which is the other option I am considering. It doesn’t have enough hard drive room for my photos and other stuff (my existing 500 GB disk is full). I could move most of my RAWs to an external disk, but the Air’s lack of eSATA, FireWire or even gigabit Ethernet become a problem — and there’s still no affordable Thunderbolt accessories to address this. Also, if I got an iMac, I’d effectively be getting a 27” monitor for “free”. (I can’t really afford both a MBA and a Thunderbolt Display. Perhaps saving for one is the right answer though.)

Why get one from the US: it’s about $400/£260 cheaper, which is less than even a refurb UK model. Not that refurb MBAs seem to show up much. However, they have a slightly different key layout — the Return key is a different shape. This might drive me mad, although it seemed alright when I used one at the Apple store earlier. I could buy two US-layout desktop keyboards, so at least I’d always be using the same keyboards on all my computers.

So… What do I do?

Update: I’d be fitting an aftermarket SSD to the iMac (one much faster than the Air’s). And I own an iPad and carry it everywhere, and expect to purchase an iPad 3 next year.

10 Notes

Xbox 360 first-run game install procedures are getting out of hand

I just bought Forza Motorsport 4, an eagerly-awaited title from a Microsoft-owned dev team (i.e. we can assume that this game follows Microsoft’s best practices). Here’s what I had to do to get the game running. These steps are optional, but will result in a degraded experience if you don’t do them.

  1. Find the special “I bought this game new, not pre-owned, so give me free stuff” codes in the box (one is for tracks, one for cars).
  2. On the Xbox’s dashboard UI, hit Guide | left | Redeem Code.
  3. Enter the 25-character code into the Xbox using the on-screen QWERTY keyboard, hunting and pecking using the controller (this is easier if you take the time to plug a USB keyboard in or have the (rare) chatpad accessory).
  4. Repeat this process for the second code.
  5. Wait for the 550 MB downloads to finish.
  6. Insert the first of the game’s two DVDs.
  7. In the Xbox Dashboard, go to the Disc Info page.
  8. Select “Install game” and choose your Xbox’s hard drive.
  9. Wait about 10-15 minutes for that to finish.
  10. Now select “Load game”.
  11. When prompted, say “yes” to the “there is an update available for this game, download now?” question.
  12. Wait 30-60 seconds for that to happen.
  13. Watch the unskippable intro video narrated by Britain’s top oaf.
  14. Play a demo lap. You’re in the game! It’s exciting!
  15. No, wait, there’s more. After the demo lap, quit out to the main menu.
  16. Select “Install Disc 2” (on the far right) and when prompted insert the game’s second DVD.
  17. Wait about five minutes for the game to install extra data of a mysterious (but presumably game-enhancing) nature to your console’s hard drive.
  18. When prompted, put the first DVD back in.
  19. Play your new game!

Remind me again about how console gaming is simpler than PC gaming?

13 Notes

One of the four-and-a-half screenfuls of apps that iTunes deleted from my iPad when I last synced it (over a cable, the old-fashioned way). Now, when I look in iTunes, I can see the deleted apps all re-arranged onto new home screen pages; but none of these apps are on the iPad itself. Amongst other annoyances, this has cost me save states in several games, such as Broken Sword where I was hours into the game.

I am extremely irritated about this. There is no rhyme or reason to the deleted apps that I can see; some of them had pending updates (i.e. the version in iTunes was newer than the version on the iPad), but some didn’t. Some were Universal, some iPad-only, some iPhone-only.

One of the four-and-a-half screenfuls of apps that iTunes deleted from my iPad when I last synced it (over a cable, the old-fashioned way). Now, when I look in iTunes, I can see the deleted apps all re-arranged onto new home screen pages; but none of these apps are on the iPad itself. Amongst other annoyances, this has cost me save states in several games, such as Broken Sword where I was hours into the game.

I am extremely irritated about this. There is no rhyme or reason to the deleted apps that I can see; some of them had pending updates (i.e. the version in iTunes was newer than the version on the iPad), but some didn’t. Some were Universal, some iPad-only, some iPhone-only.

11 Notes

It’s just before midnight on a Monday, and Houston has turned his favorite late-night watering hole, the bar in San Francisco’s W Hotel, into a fraternity party—literally. The first to arrive is Adam Smith, who was a fellow Phi Delta Theta at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before dropping out to start an e-mail search company, Xobni. Then come Chris, Jason and Joe (who has a Dropbox tattoo on his arm because he feels “Drew is changing the world”), more MIT brothers aiming to live a California dream they all imagined back in Cambridge as “billionaires, bottles and babes.” With girlfriends in tow, Smith and Houston gulp glasses of Pinot and reminisce about the summer they spent coding in boxers because the A/C was down. “Those were the days,” smiles Houston with his arm around Smith. “Just me and my code. None of this hiring and firing business.”

From Forbes’s profile on Dropbox creator Drew Houston.

This whole without-irony brogramming thing leaves me utterly cold, I have to admit. I’m pretty sure I’d be miserable working there.

28 Notes

Steve Jobs

Say what you like about his divisive nature but he was certainly a smart bloke and we need all the smart blokes we can find in this world. People are saying that when we look back in decades to come his name will rank with industrialists and visionaries like Edison and Ford and Disney. Time will tell on that, but I think they’re probably right.

Lots of fascinating and touching remembrances popping up around the web, like Jobs testing Photobooth in Mike Matas’ office in 2005 and Brian Lam, formerly of Gizmodo, reflecting on that stolen iPhone prototype. My favourite, though, is a touching piece written a few weeks back by his neighbour. That last one is a rare view of Jobs as just another guy, crying with pride at his son’s graduation party. Like my Apple-agnostic friend Mike said; some kid has lost his father. That’s worse than anything any of the rest of us are feeling.

As John Gruber put it: so it goes.

57 Notes

But with Mike’s departure, the gonzo spirit that first drew me to TechCrunch — that desire to not just report the story, but to be part of it — has gone.

Paul Carr is a self-important tosser. Contrast this quote with this post by Fleet Street Fox which succinctly points out that journalists, real journalists, never allow themselves to become the story. There’s honour in the latter approach. I see no honour in the former.

The wave of public he-said-she-said dickwaving posts now appearing on Techcrunch are just sad.

7 Notes

Mobile data in the UK

Three’s rates are ridiculously cheap. We have friends of Danielle’s from America staying next week so I had a quick look to see how much it would cost to get them some basic cell service for their visit. They have HTC smartphones of some type, although I don’t yet know if they are carrier-locked. Hopefully not, so I can just swap their SIM card over to a UK one when they arrive.

I can get a pre-pay SIM card for free — well, actually for £10 with £10 of credit preloaded. That £10 of credit can buy a bundle of 500 MB of data, 100 minutes of voice, and 3000 SMS messages — all valid for 30 days. So that’s easily enough to cover their entire visit. For a tenner! And Three are by no means unique — I can similar deals from at least six different companies (our main networks Vodafone, O2, Orange and T-mobile, and some MVNO services like giffgaff and Tesco).

Feel free to try and work out how much this would cost on AT&T in the US and how much hassle it would be to buy. I’ve been around this loop when trying to make my unlocked iPhone work in the USA; it’s a pain in the arse and costs far, far more. This is because your mobile telecommunications market is fucked, America. The hippy-dippy European GSM patent-pooling business model won out over the ruthless American CDMA-style ruthless business model, and this is the proof.

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