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Date: Friday, 29 Sep 2006 20:16
I bought Photoshop Elements 4.0 at my local Mac store, as a hold-over until CS3 with Universal Binary support comes out.

It won't install. The install script has a seg fault about 90% through the process and fails.

And Adobe refuses to support it since I'm running under Rosetta on an Intel Mac. They took down the error message and basically sent me over to product returns for an RMA.

So now I have to return Elements, and I'm stuck with either purchasing CS2 (which does install, or at least the trial did) and then having to upgrade *again* in the spring for CS3, or hack myself a license until then (after an hour on the phone with Adobe today I would feel no remorse whatsoever), or do without Photoshop (not an option).

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Author: "--" Tags: "Photography;Programming/Technology"
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Date: Tuesday, 26 Sep 2006 22:00
NoteMesh allows students in the same class to collaborate, Wiki-style, to create a consolidated set of lecture notes.

Wow. Great idea, and a very compelling use of wiki technology.

I wonder what the reaction will be? I'll take a stab:
  • Some professors will get their panties in a wad and claim that publishing notes of their lectures infringes on their "intellectual property."
  • Some colleges will block the site because it encourages "cutting class."
  • Someone will figure out that it takes a lot of bandwidth for thousands of college students to wiki-edit every day, so advertising will be added.
  • Facebook will collectively slap their foreheads real hard and create a copycat feature within a month (they have the network of students and classes already).
  • Some astute instructors will peruse the notes of their peers' classes at other universities for ideas on how to structure their syllabus.
  • Next year, a batch of students will start the semester with a complete set of lecture notes for the entire semester.
  • There will be a huge debate about whether it is okay for students to wikify the questions they recall answering on an exam.
Author: "--" Tags: "Programming/Technology"
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Date: Thursday, 21 Sep 2006 19:23
Ever since seeing this, I've been trying to come up with a good excuse to buy one. Can't think of anything near the computer that runs on AA anymore, though...
Author: "--" Tags: "Programming/Technology"
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Date: Monday, 18 Sep 2006 03:35
My Mac Pro locked up on me tonight, and no amount of Option-Shift-Apple-Escape-HailMary would bring it back.

So I turned it off and back on and was greeted by an Apple logo followed immediately by a csh (or bash, didn't bother to check) prompt. No GUI, no error message. Rebooted again, same story.

I poked around in /var/log looking for answers, no luck. I tried to open the CD drawer to put in the install CD, couldn't figure out how. Finally found instructions to hold down Option while rebooting to get a boot menu, and the eject key on the keyboard worked.

I crossed my fingers and "upgraded" using the install CDs. The good news is everything seems back to normal, I did not have to reinstall any applications or change any settings.

The bad news is I have no clue what caused the problem in the first place. The only thing I can think of is my failed attempt to uninstall Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac, which left some executable files in the trash bin that could not be deleted (apparently Office for Mac has its feelers down in the system and keeps some processes running all the time, which is just nuts for trial software).

Author: "--" Tags: "Programming/Technology"
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#D4E6EA   New window
Date: Thursday, 07 Sep 2006 15:58
As I add more DHTML/AJAX to the sites I manage, I've been having more and more problems of IE6 locking hard when using the PNG alpha hack (either via straight Javascript or the popular HTC method). The locks happen only when someone's browser does not already have the page loaded in their cache.

I finally threw up my hands this morning and removed all IE6 PNG workaround code from our web apps. That, of course, left the default background color around every icon in the interfaces, #D4E6EA. Solution? Changed the sites' stylesheets to use that color for toolbar backgrounds, etc. No more locks or boxes, but now we have light cyan toolbars.

IE sucks.

Author: "--" Tags: "Programming/Technology"
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Date: Thursday, 31 Aug 2006 02:59
If you are a Beaumont local and see this truck:
  • White Ford F-150
  • two Mexican men
  • Front license plate bent to make it somewhat unreadable
  • Beat-up bed (work truck) with tools
Let me know. They stole my Vespa LX-150 from the building's parking lot in broad daylight. There were at least 5 witnesses who tried to call building security, but they weren't able to do so in time.

So now I'm without a vehicle until either the police recover it or insurance comes through.

Author: "--" Tags: "Personal;Provincial"
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Date: Tuesday, 22 Aug 2006 16:16
I'm a little disappointed that Apple's new version of Mail uses the old-style icon rather than the beautiful feed icons by Matt Brett.

The arguments for the new icon are a-plenty:
  1. IE7 and Firefox both use this new icon already
  2. Using "RSS" confuses the question of whether Atom, OPML, or future standards will be supported.
  3. Using letters in an icon is usually a Bad Thing, Apple should know this more than anyone else.
  4. The old icon looks ugly.
  5. It's freely available in vector format, absolutely no design time required.
  6. No one will stop them from making it blue instead of orange.
Hopefully Apple will see the light before Leopard is released.
Author: "--" Tags: "Programming/Technology"
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Date: Monday, 21 Aug 2006 17:09
My Mac Pro should be coming in today or tomorrow, but I have a few questions for any Mac users out there:
  • If I connect a standard EIDE (i.e., non-SATA) on the optical drive's IDE bus, will OS X properly recognize and mount the hard drive, or is that IDE channel limited to optical drives? And is it by chance hot-swappable?
  • I have a 17" VGA display I'd like to hook up as my secondary monitor. What is my cheapest option for connecting it to the Mac's DVI output?
  • How can I successfully migrate from Thunderbird on Windows to Mail on OS X, preferably without losing email archives?
  • Is it easier to share a Mac's drive to access from a PC, or vis versa? I have a lot of stuff to transfer, and a longer-term need to share between machines.
Author: "--" Tags: "Programming/Technology"
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Date: Thursday, 17 Aug 2006 14:26
Author: "--" Tags: "Politics"
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Date: Tuesday, 08 Aug 2006 03:56
It's official, I'm a "switcher." My Mac Pro is on the way (stock-issue to prevent customization delays). I watched Steve Jobs' presentation and drank the Kool-aide, plus I've been running OS X 10.3 under PearPC for a few weeks and I'm pretty impressed (except, of course, with the speed of eumlating a PowerMac on my already-slow PC).

The fun part is that I'm not giving up anything I use regularly:
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Mozilla Thunderbird
  • Photoshop CS2
  • Bibble Pro 4.8
  • IM (I'll use Meebo, Fire, GAIM, iChat, or Adium)
  • Excel (I can use Office 2004 for Mac, OpenOffice, NeoOffice, etc.)
  • Monaco OPTIX
  • Terminal Services client
Oddly enough, only two of these (Monaco and Photoshop) do not also have equals on Linux, but I'm not a GIMP fan, and I don't do photography without a fully color-managed workflow.

I've already begun rewriting the ASPX bits of my root web site in C# so they are friendly with Apache (comes with OSX) and mod_mono (which doesn't but is apparently easy enough to configure). No more CPU pegs when Inktomi and Google bots come by, no more 5-connection limit.

Which brings up a good point: I'm still a dedicated .NET software developer. I'll just be using mono at home and Microsoft.NET at work, which also forces me more into the C# camp than I am these days.

Stuff I am having to leave behind on the living room PC or run under Parallels:
  • SQL Server 2000 - I could convert my web site to MySQL, but I still need it for SourceGear Vault and testing projects from work, and I also make frequent use of uniqueidentifier data types and query constructs that MySQL lacks.
  • SourceGear Vault UI - I'm stuck with the command-line client under OS X.
  • Windows Media Player - I'm gonna find out really fast exactly which codecs for WMV work properly with Flip4Mac.
  • UltraEdit - time to find another text editor
  • SQL Query Analyzer - I will miss this tool.
  • dasBlog - I'm looking for mono/PHP-compatible alternatives (there's a mod_mono port of dasBlog 1.4, but I don't want to downgrade)
  • Access - I use it regularly to browser SQL Server databases.
  • Windows Picture and Fax Viewer - I really hope OS X's equivalent is just as good or much better.
  • IE6 - which I only use for testing anyway
  • Orb - just when I got a phone that can handle it
Other things I'll miss:
  • Maximize. I usually run every app maximized, don't know if I'll be able to take the not-quite-expanded-enough windows in OS X.
  • DOS. Yes, I've spent plenty of time in command shells on FreeBSD and Linux, but I'm very comfy in DOS.
  • Parallel IDE. I'm going to have to replace a few drives to get my RAID 1 array in order again.
  • Years of subconscious training for Windows keyboard shortcuts and mouse movements.
  • Avoiding QuickTime.
  • Remote Desktop access from anywhere. VNC just isn't the same.
So, given the rate at which I've been blogging lately (busy at work, plus it's a strong season for photography), my next post will probably be my Mac mini-review.
Author: "--" Tags: ".NET;Programming/Technology"
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Date: Sunday, 23 Jul 2006 04:37
Ok, it's the first time I've seen it at least:


Author: "--" Tags: "Funny"
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Date: Saturday, 08 Jul 2006 07:05
WinFS was the only reason I was looking forward to Vista, and it's gone. No smart search folders, no attribute-indexing goodness. Time for Google to step up and get GDS 3.0 to rock WinFS's socks off.

The last thing I need from Microsoft is a $200 transluscent window dressing upgrade with free DRM, an upgrade to a browser I don't use, and God-knows-what NSA backdoors. So now I'm definitely buying a Mac when the new Intel-based towers come out.

I'll have to do my .NET development via Mono, virtualization of XP, or RDP into my XP machine, none of which sound like terrible solutions since I don't program often at home anymore (too busy with photography, friends, off-season reality television, etc.). Other than .NET, the only Windows hold-out for me was Pixmantec's RAW Shooter Premium, and that product just got bought and buried by Adobe, so I'm switching to Bibble (which supports XP, MacOS, and Linux).

Maybe I'm going from the frying pan into the fire. I know Apple's "hip" image doesn't hold up to some pinky-rotating evil decisions they've made in the past (proprietary file formats, $$$.Mac, crippleware Quicktime, iTunes DRM, hardware lock-in, etc.). But I'm growing weary of the devil I know, and after 20 years of being a Microsoft OS fan-boy (minus a short wayward relationship with OS/2 Warp and another with Linux in college), it's time to see how the other 5% live.
Author: "--" Tags: ".NET;Programming/Technology"
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Date: Friday, 23 Jun 2006 18:44
I've been using transparent PNGs for a number of years on IE6 using the DXTransform hack, encapsulated neatly away as a behaviour on a global CSS file.

But today, I figured out that if you use the DirectX alpha filter on a PNG that is loaded as the result of an XmlHttpRequest, IE6 hangs. Badly.

So, because my new AJAH application regularly passes back img tags to PNGs, I have to turn off global transparent goodness and then turn the behavior back on only for image references I give a specific CSS class (which I called "alpha").

The problem only exhibits if the PNG is not in the browser cache already, so I suppose one solution is to pre-load all possible PNG files initially so any AJAX returns can reference them, but that's not the sort of workaround that gives me great confidence about maintainability.

IE7 doesn't have this issue. Whoop-tee-doo. Even after corporate America finally migrates to another browser in 3-4 years, I'm sure we'll find all sorts of basic flaws in IE7 (such as lack of min/max width/height support),

We'll just discover more basic flaws in IE7 that makes web application development a pain and we'll be saddled with those issues for another 6 years, plus the 3+ years it is going to take for corporate America to migrate to IE7.

Author: "--" Tags: ".NET;Programming/Technology"
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Date: Tuesday, 13 Jun 2006 04:20
I haven't posted in awhile... been busy at work, plus I've been doing some work on my fashion photography portfolio this month. Photo shoots tend to suck down the free time quickly (planning before, retouching afterward). Two more shoots planned for the month, one this weekend (studio) and one while we're in Austin on the 25th.

Random thought of the day... have you ever watched CSI or NCIS wondered how much more productive you would be on your job if you only had a few large plasma monitors and some hard-core trance music playing in the background?
Author: "--" Tags: ".NET;Programming/Technology"
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Date: Wednesday, 31 May 2006 21:10
Ok, this is really just pissing me off.

ISPs being required to track and store the online activities of innocent citizens is just beyond the pale for a free country.

Would you allow the police to install cameras in your car or home and track your movements? Under this administration's definition of freedom, you should, because child molestors and serial killers and drug dealers and terrorists all use cars and houses. After all, what do you have to be scared about if you are innocent?

But you aren't innocent. Most of you speed, fail to use blinkers, don't stop in time, run yellow lights, illegally use a cell phone, play your music too loud, stop-and-go at red lights on empty roads, forget the seat belt on occasion, pass on the right, proceed over a train track when lights are flashing, etc.

The point isn't that the government would start sending everyone tickets for these actions, its that people in power could use their control to "randomly" prosecute those who they disagree with. If you don't believe me, ask Valerie Plame. Or anyone who has truly experienced "driving while black."

Now, consider that most of you (let's be honest) are also Internet criminals, especially if you have a technical bent. Have you ever:
  • Played online poker? (illegal in most of the US)
  • Downloaded an MP3, movie, or TV show? (copyright infringement)
  • Said something mean in an email about someone else? (libel)
  • Played with a URL to see if you can get to something unlinked? (hacking)
  • Searched for a serial key so you can bypass registration on some software? (software piracy)
  • Emailed a serial number to someone so they can install software?
  • Visited a porn site? (might be "obscene" under city ordinances or state laws)
  • Downloaded a program so you can back up DVDs or rip CDs to a portable music player? (DMCA violation)
  • Guessed someone else's account password? (computer tresspass)
  • Scanned and emailed a professional portrait? (copyright infringement)
I'm not justifying any of the above, but I am saying that many of these are the criminal equivalent of turning without a blinker. Only now the government wil be making a record of all of these infractions without a search warrant (and many more). When every citizen is a one FBI search query from being a criminal, there will be no free speech, no freedom of religion, no freedom of press, no freedom of association, they are all chilled for fear of prosecution from our many little sins.
Author: "--" Tags: "Politics;Programming/Technology"
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Date: Wednesday, 31 May 2006 15:34
Author: "--" Tags: "Funny"
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Date: Thursday, 25 May 2006 16:13
So, rather than spending time developing software we actually need, Microsoft is coming up with their own proprietary "competitor" to the JPEG format. Some lame photographer hack was quoted on ZDNet as being in favor of Microsoft's newest attempt to lock us into their data formats, so here's the opinion of a programmer/photographer who has actually read the spec.

The Good
  • 32-bit floating point format support for HDR.
  • 8-bit and 16-bit lossless and lossy modes. JPEG is limited to 8 bits.
  • CMYK support
  • Optional alpha channel
  • Support for arbitrary color channels that could be used for IR, distance/bump, or other information, but no direct support.
  • XMP and EXIF support
  • Limited to little-endian encoding and mostly integer operations (easier device support)
  • TIFF-compatible headers
  • Possible future support for multiple images in the same file (3D, sequential, versioning, exposure/ISO bracketing, and other applications)
  • I *think* it supports the equivalent of Progressive JPEG (for display while loading over a slow connection or to a low-resolution device)
The Bad
  • Storage space is CHEAP. We don't need to store twice as many photos in the same hard drive space, especially in a format we can't use on millions of devices that only support JPEG right now.
  • The "megapixel craze" among consumer cameras ("ooh, 8-megapixel camera phone!") will soon give way to higher quality sensors. A few more bits per pixel, better noise characteristics, better lens quality, etc. Storage space will stay far ahead of the growth rate of the average family photo.
  • No support for lossless 32-bit images, so it's no good as a professional archival format.
  • No IPTC support (at least stated, may be possible via TIFF compatibility).
  • No direct support for color channels with different dimensions, make the format non-optimal as a competitor for DNG (RAW files record camera sensor data directly, and most digital cameras use a Bayer pattern that has twice as many green as red or blue pixels).
  • Unlike with JPEG, it would not be possible to take the red-eye out of a photo or crop it without re-encoding the entire image, lowering the quality. Now, most people who use JPEG don't know how to do this, but it is possible.
  • No support for layer transforms or partial image overlays. A future-thinking image format should support the ability to mark photo regions (facial recognition, Flikr-like tagging, etc.) and the equivalent of "adjustment layers" to allow for non-destructive edits. Yes, it would add complexity for mobile device support, but that could be removed by "compiling" the adjustments to the first image in the file and storing the original and adjustments later in the file.
  • I hate DRM, copyright bits, and the like, but there should be a way to at least support the Creative Commons licensing parameters so people can state how they want their photos used.
  • Breaks compatibility with the TIFF standard in unnecessary ways, such as not using the TIFF standard way of registering and identifying the codec used.
The Ugly
  • As far as I can tell, no support for color management (color spaces). Even JPEG supports this!
  • Proprietary
  • Patent-encumbered
  • Won't get support by camera manufacturers, Apple, alternate web browsers, or Adobe
  • Did I mention that your family memories would be locked into a file format that only Microsoft can give you permission to open a few decades from now?
  • Update: No way to transpose a DCT-encoded JPEG file to WMP's lossy format without further loss. There are billions of JPEG files in existance, and lack of conversion without loss is a huge stumbling block. Until this is possible, Forgent will still be extracting license fees from Microsoft and everyone else for the JPEG algorithm.
If Microsoft opens the format entirely, as ILM has done with OpenEXR, I would consider supporting it. There are enough enhancements here over JPEG and JPEG2000 to make it worth consideration, but only if color management is added and if my computer, cameras, cell phone, etc. don't all have to have Microsoft logos on them to use the files.

Update:  one fewer reason to switch from JPEG -- the Forgent patent has been found to be invalid by the USPTO.
Author: "--" Tags: "Photography;Programming/Technology"
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Date: Friday, 19 May 2006 16:06
Ok, Bruce said it much better than I could.

Author: "--" Tags: "Politics"
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Date: Thursday, 18 May 2006 20:42
If you want to see how groups like RIAA use the courts to slowly erode Fair Use, check this out.

Author: "--" Tags: "Politics"
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Date: Tuesday, 16 May 2006 22:21
Ok, my fancy new phone is great, but I do not use Outlook and will not use Outlook.

Ideally, I just want to synchronize my Calendar and Contact items with an SQL Server database on my own machine. I can then write a web interface (my machine runs IIS over my cable modem), export some calendar free/busy information for my public web site, export other calendars via iCalendar for Google Calendar users, etc.

And, AFAICT, there's no way to write ActiveSync plugins using the .NET Compact Framework, only native code.


Anyone know of a good Calendar/Contact replacement for Windows CE 5.0 that doesn't require me to move my life into Outlook just to stay synchronized with my PC?

Also, has anyone used Cassioware CwSync? Their web site looks like poop, but the ability to sync automatically via HTTP-retrieved XML files to various web and local resources sounds very cool. I run my own web site, so I could export XML using ASP.NET that would at least one-way sync all sorts of goodies to my phone, including, possibly, iCalendar files downloaded from Google. The only missing step would then be to find a Calendar app for Windows Mobile that can read the file.
Author: "--" Tags: ".NET;Photography"
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