April 2005 Archives



One major irritant with the Mac Mini is the amount of Memory. OS X, especially with the Tiger Upgrade, just barely fits into 256MB. There's one heck of a lot of waiting around. methinks the RAM upgrade has gotta come soon...

Mac Spooging

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Have you noticed that the + symbol for adding things to your dashboard screen rotates as the widget bar opens so that it becomes the X symbol to close the widget bar?

Spam Karma

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OK, this comment:

Shandy, a G5 is the processor which powers the most recent Mac computers. It's an evoluton of the PPC architecture and is a RISC style architecture which is a bit more efficient than the CISC architecture of the x86 chips. It's much more efficient than the P4 chips, but probably on a par with the AMD64, P3 or Pentium-M chips. i.e., a 2.0Ghz G5/Pentium-M is roughly equivalent to a 4.0Ghz P4 chip.

Has triggered a Spam Karma rejection over at The Shaky Kaiser. Anyone got any ideas why that should be?

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot


This week's Whiskey Tango Foxtrot award goes to Save The Green Planet, a Korean movie. It has all the makings of a cult classic.

Watching TV Makes You Smarter


Apparently, watching TV makes you smarter: NYTimes.com. Via Electrolite

Criminal Record

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Sometime back, on another site, I mentioned that I had a criminal record, viz "Stairway to Heaven" by Rolf Harris. I'm very much afraid that, thanks to Limewire I have a worse transgression.

Bohemian Rhapsody, by Rolf Harris.

(It has to be on a line by itself, as it would probably contaminate anything it comes into contact with.)

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go listen to some Leonard Nimoy to recalibrate my ears.

...the fastest little hobbit in the west...

Firefox 1.0.3


Since installing Firefox 1.0.3, I've noticed a very major decrease in browser stability. It's crashed half a dozen times on me in the last hour, which is very disturbing, as it would normally be open for weeks, if not months at a time. This is on my gizmo, my primary workstation, which is a dual 1GHz Pentium 3 box running Linux.

Also, there's a silly problem with the context menu — there's sometimes many blank lines in there. I just tried to take a screen capture of it but it seems to have cleared up. Weird.

Open Office

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You know, it's extremely irritating the way the default paste behaviour of Open Office changes with every new patch from Redhat. It seems to switch from 'insert cells' to 'overwrite cells' with each upgrade. Here's a hint guys: pick one behaviour and stick with it, and most people would like it to be like Excel, which overwrites.

Pope Adolf the First

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Well, it's official -- right wing nutjob Josef Ratzinger is the new pope. The cultists in Opus Dei must be happy -- they're probably dancing a little jig in their jackboots.

It should have been Arinze, if only because all the real conservatives would probably have left the church or had their heads explode at the prospect of a black pope.

UPDATE: Some more links:

Bernd Goehring, director of German ecumenical group Kirche von Unten, said the election was a catastrophe.

"We can expect no reform from him in the coming years." he said. "Even more people will turn their back on the Church."

Cheap KVMs


As I have previously had older and larger computers at home, I have been able to get by with a KVM which handles VGA and PS/2.

Right, I just lost half the audience. OK, a KVM is a box which takes as input the Keyboard (K), Video (V) and Mouse (M) connectors from each computer you have and sends as output the K, V and M signals from the currently selected computer to your Keyboard, Video and mouse. This allows you to have only one Keyboard, Monitor and mouse on your desk and control many computers via a KVM box.

These boxes come in two types: cheap amateur crap and serious professional kit. The cheap amateur crap generally have very poor video quality, mechanical switching and are not chainable.

Chainable? Whassat?

The serious professional kit has reasonable to good video, electronic switching and is controllable from keycodes on your one keyboard. They're also chainable, which means that each 8-way KVM can control eight other KVMs. This is what you need in a server room with racks of servers all controlled from one keyboard, monitor and mouse.

Unfortunately, these things tend to be designed for very specific tasks, the usual one being to control a server room full of racks of servers. Not, for example, a situation where someone wants to connect, say, a Linux box, a Windows box and a Mac Mini to a dual DVI monitor setup with a USB keyboard. A single DVI switcher from ATEN cost about as much as a Mac Mini. The dual model, well, it would be cheaper to buy another set of monitors.

So what am I to do?

I was looking at the various KVMs in the usual places today (Sham Shui Po Golden Arcade, Wanchai Computer Centre, etc) when I thought of something. What I really needed was just to share the USB over the various boxes. The Windows and Mac boxes don't really need more than one monitor each as the Mac can't drive more than one and I mainly use the Windows box for games which are always less hassle on a single monitor anyway. As each monitor has two inputs, that means that I can have Windows on Monitor 1, OSX on Monitor 2 and Linux on a dual screen Xinerama solution. As the monitors have built in USB hubs, all I need is a USB switcher. They're normally for switching computers to USB printers, but they work the other way around too. And they're very cheap. I got one for $49. Hong Kong dollars. About US$6 or US$7.

So, now I have three computers plugging into the USB switcher, and my nice new Apple keyboard and generic USB mouse plug into the hubs on the monitors. Far less cabling, and I've been able to remove the huge KVM switcher from the rack as well, so I now have a place to put my nice shiny new Mac Mini.

Mac Mini

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Well, it's here. My new Mac Mini arrived at the post office yesterday and i took the afternoon off to go and pick it up.

First impressions are :

  • Wow! It's tiny!
  • It's really cute!
  • Mac OSX looks gorgeous, where's the command line? Ahh, that feels better.
  • It's really small.

I also treated myself to an Apple Extended Keyboard as I didn't have a USB keyboard. That's a nice piece of kit. I also got a mouse with a scroll wheel (and a second/third button) as the lack of a scroll wheel with the standard apple mouse is a real deal breaker for me.

My Mac Mini is pretty modestly specified: 256MB RAM, 1.25 GHZ G4 Processor, 40GB disk. It does have bluetooth and wireless. While the processor speed is low compared to today's screaming Pentium 4 monsters, it's actually faster than my Linux box and my Windows box, both of which are dual 1Ghz P3 machines. In use, it certainly doesn't feel like the processor is slowing things down, but I haven't tried to make DVDs or anything yet.

I'm running it through one of my L685 Eizo monitors at 1280x1024 and the quality of the display is very nice. I love all the special effects. They work, unlike the stuff that WinXP does to try and look pretty, the drop shadows and window opening effects in Mac OSX feel more coherent and feel less like cheap add-ons.

(This keyboard is really nice.)

For some reason, I can't plug a second USB device into the keyboard hub - OSX complains about the second device dawing too much power. Seems a bit odd. Is it my keyboard? Hmm, it appears that the keyboard port may not provide enough power for other devices (like a neon-lit mouse). I'll have to set one of the monitors up as a USB hub.

DSL Outage


Apologies if you were looking for this site for the last few days - my ADSL modem expired and PCCW were a bit slow to come out and look at it.

Anyway, it's all fixed now, and email is again rolling in.

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

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