Category Archives: Apple Existence

My journey away from Windows, and into the light.

The Server, It Is a Changin’

Yesterday, I got to work and discovered me and couple of my peers had been recognized for working through a particularly ugly maintenance at the office a few weekends ago. Cool! What I didn’t know was that with that recognition also came a gift card to the mall. Even cooler! A mall that happens to house one of the new Apple Mini-Marts.

So, with my major award (and some extra money), I bought the new server for the deauxmayne — a nice shiny Apple Mac Mini!

I like the design and form factor of the Mac Mini. It’s doesn’t exactly stand out — no bells and whistles, magic lights, lava lamps or other moving parts — but it’s diminutive size sets it apart. It runs a G4 processor, which will be more than enough for my needs as a web and mail server. It has 512Mb RAM (which I intend to upgrade to 1Gb one day), 80Gb hard drive, 802.11g, bluetooth, USB, Firewire…. more than enough goodies for my needs.

Why would I change servers? Well, I’ve discovered that I can programmatically interface with Spotlight (part of OS X), and I believe that will give me the ability to add true searches for the photos on the site. That alone is a big reason to move to the Mac Mini.

So pardon the dust, watch out for the construction crane, and keep coming back for updates. The next couple of weeks of conversion oughta be a fun ride!

A Tale of Two Headphones

Yesterday, Beck and I went shopping. We really shouldn’t do that on holidays, as we tend to spend waaaaay too much. But, we always have a great silly time, and I suppose that’s a fair trade off.

My travels took me to the Apple Store at West County Mall. This is one of two Apple Stores in town (the other’s at the Galleria Mall), and the one at which I bought my iMac. I went in looking for a durable case for the iPod and a set of headphones.

The case I ended up with was a silicone sleeve from XtremeMac (whose logo looks an awful lot like Handspring, the PalmPilot cloners). It’s nice, but…. (there’s always a but, isn’t there?) With the sleeve on, my iPod won’t fit in the dock. And it is hard to get in and out of the sleeve. So, the sleeve may go back to the Apple Store, and I may opt for something that either supports being in the dock, or allows for easy removal for docking. I like my dock!

I also picked up a set of Bang & Olufsen A8 Earphones. These are just about the sexiest earpieces I’ve ever seen. They’ve been getting rave reviews, and I thought I would complete my iPod experience by adding a pair. Now, I’d read that they were complex to get set up correctly, and that you really needed to dedicate some time to configuring them for your ear properly. Yesterday, I did that, and found them to have great sound, really reproducing the highs extremely well. Nice, nice, nice.

Until today. I took the A8’s and my iPod to work. At work, I listen to music most of the day (when I’m not in meetings), and pop my headphones on and off frequently to answer the phone, handle walk-up traffic, etc. The A8’s just werent’ made for that. It takes a few minutes each time to get them “just so” in the ears again, and after a while, I felt like all I was doing was playing with two things sticking in my ears. Ugh.

At lunch, I went to Circuit City looking for earphones, and found a set of Sennheiser PX 100 collapsible earphones that were nice. I’ve always loved Sennheisers, and have owned since the yellow earcup days of the early 80s. As my home headphones, I have a pair of HD 570s that I just love. I had no idea that Sennheiser made headphones as compact and portable as the PX 100, but I had high confidence that they would be terrific.

I wasn’t disappointed. These things sound great! I guess the lesson here is not to be distracted by sex appeal, and to go with what you know. Sorry B&O!

Shanghai Surprise


Like a kid listening to Santa’s yearly trek on the radio, I’ve been watching the journey of my little iPod as it made its way from Shanghai through Anchorage to … Indianapolis?!

I was shocked to see that it had landed and been delivered in Indy today. Frantically, I hurried to the Apple orders site to see if there had been some kind of cross up. And there was. The automaton had boofed the FedEx tracking number, and when I put the right one in … my iPod was here! A little side trip to FedEx to pick it up, and joy was had in Ellisville!

Here’s the lesson kiddies: If you weigh half a kilo, and are in a box about the size of half a dozen CDs, you too can travel from Shanghai to St. Louis in two days!

It’s a thing of beauty, all white and silver, and the engravers even got the mantra on the back correct. I’m still setting it up, and letting it charge — I suspect tonight will be filled with some learning and playing!

Changes in iPodland


Watchful viewers of this site will notice that the simulated back of my iPod in the entry a couple of days ago has changed. It now says “60GB” instead of “20GB”. Here’s what happened.

Yesterday, Darla mentioned that if she had thought longer about my mantra on the back of the iPod, she would have added a little bit. I’d already been thinking about changing my order to an iPod Photo, so that was a good excuse! 🙂 Mostly, I wanted the larger drivespace, and it would give me some ability to store photos if needed, although some of the capabilities I want aren’t quite there…. yet. So, off I was to the phones.

I had a great conversation with Apple employee Thomas, who informed me that the best way to do this was for him to cancel the iPod order, and then for me to get on the web to re-order. Unfortunately, the iPod dock I ordered was already on the way, so there wasn’t much we could do about that. So the cancellation was in place, the re-order of the 60GB iPod Photo was done, and I was giddy.

This morning, I got an e-mail indicating that my 20GB iPod would be upgraded at no charge to an upgraded model. Upgraded model? My 20GB iPod? Didn’t I cancel that order?

Another call to Apple, this time with Apple employee Kimberly. Kimberly could see that the order for the 20GB iPod had been cancelled, so no problem there. I asked her about the upgraded model my e-mail had mentioned. Apparently, the 20GB model had been upgraded to a color screen, and photo capabilities. No extra charge for this functionality either!

She also mentioned a pricing action on the iPod Photo…. it went down by $50. Sheepishly, I asked if I would get that discount, and she said I would. Ya-hoo! She even went farther, noticing that I had a dock on the way from the original order, and that I had a new dock on order with the iPod Photo. She offered up a free return on the “old” dock on Apple’s nickel. Sweet, sweet, sweet.

So what happened today at Apple? Well, all regular iPods (not Mini or Shuffle) now have color screens and photo capabilities, along with podcasting capabilities. The 30GB iPod Photo is gone — in fact, there are no iPod Photo models any longer. All the white models are just iPods. With the lowered price on the 60GB model, there’s only $100 difference between the 20GB and 60GB models, and capacity is the only difference between. Why wouldn’t you cough up the extra C-note and triple the capacity?

So, Apple not only did a cool thing, but they did me right with my order that happened on the cusp of this change. Since I ordered a model that didn’t change, I assume it’ll come in quicker than the 20GB revised model would — looks like my ship date is July 5th, so I might even have it before the following weekend.

I gotta tell ya, I was expecting all kinds of trouble in making this change, having been accustomed to the evil empires that big corporations usually are. This was easy — it just worked!

Little Coolnesses


This weekend in my Apple-world, I’ve performed some coolness, some of which I’ve wanted to do for a long time in Microsoft-land, and couldn’t quit get to.

First off, I’ve added an iSight-based webcam view to the sidebar. While I don’t expect you to see Elvis, Jimmy Hoffa or Visitors, I do expect that ocassionally, it’ll be fun to see me hacking my way through some thing or another. This comes from EvoCam, sold by the folks at Evological. It’s a neat interface, allows for all kinds of options and seems to do everything I need it to do. Just gotta get more creative with the iSight, and get the lighting a little better at my desk.

I’ve also added a piece to the sidebar that shows the last five tracks I’ve listened to with iTunes. That is something I always wanted to do with Windows, and couldn’t come up with a good way to do. I’m sure someone has skinned that cat in the Land of Gates, but for me, it wasn’t straightforward. However, with a little tool called Kung Tunes, I can bring this list to life, and put it right in the sidebar. Cool, cool.

The last big deal this weekend was a new enclosure for the 400Gb external drive. The fan in the ADS enclosure was making just a bit too much noise for me, so I replaced it with an Acomdata 3.5″ firewire enclosure that CompUSA had on sale this week. The Acomdata is a very nice enclosure, solidly built. The only thing of note is that there is no fan in the back of the enclosure — there’s a cutout however. So, if the drive seems like it stays hot, I’ll install a little fan in it.

So, what to do with the ADS? Well, a little experimenting. I installed the Sony dual-layer drive from Beck’s old machine in the ADS enclosure, daisy-chained it off the Acomdata, and OS X saw it with no problem. The biggest thing that it seems to help with is ripping my CD’s. This drive will rip easily at 18x, while the drive in the iMac only seems to rip at about 10x-12x max. That’s a big difference across 300+ CDs!

I guess the next thing to try to figure out is if I can rip from both drives at the same time — probably a challenge with only one processor. The other challenge is to get that goofy “One or more of the songs you have selected to import have already been imported” prompt to go away. There’s no way I’ve been able to find to set iTunes to default to always “Replace Existing”. Surely there’s a path for this, as I don’t wanna have to keep answering this for almost every disc!

Anyway, fun and games at the ranch this weekend, and some little successes. Next week, I’ll work on getting the automation for the photos completed. Then the Photo Archive can begin catching up.

The Latest Sip of Kool-Aid

Tonight, I took my next step down the cultlike path that is Apple-dom.

I ordered an iPod.

Yeah, yeah, I know that there’s a gazillion little snippy reasons maybe to not order one, but there’s one real good one in favor of it: I wanted one. Listening to music is one of my favorite pastimes that I love combining with other activites. When I’m coding, I’m listening. When I’m mowing, I’m listening. Becky says I have to have music on all the time, and there’s probably some truth to that.

The Apple online store had a deal where they would engrave it for free, and the image you see is the preview image they gave me of the little thing. A little mantra-like reminder for me, wherever I go.

So, the massive re-ripping effort has begun, with well over 300 CDs to rerip into AAC/192Kbps format. The reward is better sound, and only taking up a skosh more space than what I was doing before (MP3/128Kbps). With the 20Gb iPod though, I should be able to carry a lot of my favorites with me.

So, why’d I choose that model, especially when there’s more photo-oriented models out there? Well, the lack of support for Canon RAW files pushed me away from the iPod Photo, although the 60Gb drive was awfully attactive. The battery life wasn’t quite as good as the regular iPod either, and while you could bring in images from media (CF, etc.), the interface to do that was only USB 1.1, and that’s simply not fast enough when you’re talking 4Gb microdrives!

The iPod Mini also had my attention, but for 50 bucks more, the regular iPod has 3.3x the storage space, a little less battery life, and only weighs a couple of ounces more. Capacity, ultimately, won the day, and made my decision pretty easy.

Of course, the $30 coupon through Apple didn’t hurt any!

So, watch out world — here I come, synced, listening, and enjoying myself!

Kool-Aid Redux

As Becky and I talked last night, I realized that this odd passion I’m starting to grow for the Mac world is a distant echo of a me from long ago.

In 1991, I was first introduced to OS/2, and really found it to be superior to the operating systems running around out there. It was great as a server, it was great as a desktop, and I became something of a zealot for the OS. Evangelize I did, and soon I had a lot of folks in Chattanooga running OS/2 Warp. It was good — IBM boofed the marketing, and despite some mainstream commercials, it just couldn’t capture the wind that the Microsoft sail had caught. I still think that the thing that killed ’em was no mainstream 3rd party applications. Nothing killer out there that made OS/2 “the way” to do something. It died on the vine, and I found myself moving to the only game in town — Windows 95 — and there I stayed for a decade.

Now though, I feel that same kind of evangelical, zealous, almost fiber of being sense with my new iMac. The commercials were right. A few clicks, and you’re on your way, surfing, burning, ripping, watching….. doing. And that’s cool. I want to feed the creative side of my brain, rather than the side that deals with making sure everything’s working, and trying to figure out how to make everything work together. I want a tool for my home, not another sysadmin job.

Beck sees this passion for the Mac in me, and I do too. It’s nice to have a passion again, and it’s nice to feed that part of me. The challenge of a new world, so to speak, is helping awake parts of my brain that I’ve neglected outside of the office, and it feels good.

The thing I’m the most impressed by is the interconnectivity. For example, I’m importing my CD collection into iTunes. I had gone through this exercise once before, but I have more disk space, and a desire for better sound, along with more seachable data through Spotlight. iTunes is figuring out duplicates, helping manage file replacement as needed, and making it really easy to pull my massive music collection into a cohesive unit. I’d always thought about being able to “mood” my music — play tunes from the 80s, or electronic music, or an artist — and iTunes is flat giving me the path for doing that. Cool.

My next conquest will be iPhoto. I’ve already started adding metadata through Photoshop CS2, and I expect I will be able to make a much more usable environment out of my photo archive.

My iMac is becoming the center of my digital lifestyle — I think I lifted that from some advert somewhere. But it’s so true!

Drinking the Kool-Aid


As we walked through CompUSA a few days after getting the iMac, Beck caught me lusting after an iPod, and she told me that I have a pattern. I get into something — like the Mac world — and I have to have all the “stuff” that goes with it.

At work, we have a phrase for unthinkingly buying into something hook, line and sinker: drinking the Kool-Aid.

I have drunk the Apple Kool-Aid.

Yesterday, I had a day off (for all this crazy work I’ve been doing this week), so Sio and I got together early, and took off for a day of errands and just wandering around town. Our primary mission was to get Beck a new HP computer from BestBuy. They had a pretty good deal on one, especially after the rebates, and after the parts we don’t need are sold off. Two BestBuys later (three, if you count the one at lunch on Thursday), we finally had a system for her, and a new HP Photosmart 8450 network photoprinter for me.

The new printer is a jewel. I set it up tonight, connected it to the network, applied the software on the Apple, and it just knew what to do with itself. I can’t wait to start printing photos off the thing. It prints at 4800dpi, uses eight color printing, and can print a 4×6 in about 27 seconds. Sweet.

So none of that part of journey was a big deal. Now enter the Kool-Aid.

Along the way, I stopped at CompUSA to pick up a new gadget for my iMac — an iSight. This is a really well designed webcam, built to last and accent the Mac lines. It’s got a fast, autofocusing lens, and seems to be a slick piece of hardware — 30fps at 640×480! Of course, it’ll work with iChat AV, but the thing I wanna use it for is typical webcam “This is what’s going on in the office” applications. Unfortunately, neither OS X nor the iSight come with software to that end, so I have a quest on my hands.

I also looked at an iPod Photo. Man, that’s a cool box… 60GB of music and/or photos. It’s very impressive, and now you can even import directly from a camera to the iPod Photo. Dunno if there’s limitations with that. The multi-functionality of this box is appealing to me though. Listening to themed music while shooting, and then turning around and storing that data back on the iPod sounds like a very cool path, and seems to suit me well.

The biggest competitor to the iPod Photo (to me) is the Epson P-2000. This little jewel only has 40GB of storage, but it’s got a huge screen, and can handle displaying Canon RAW images directly. And the price is about the same as the iPod Photo. The handling of RAW images directly is of real appeal to me, as that’s what I try to shoot most of the time. I guess the jury’s still out, and truthfully, I don’t have to solve that one for a while, not until at least November.

However, it appears I have indeed drunk the Kool-Aid, and am on the slippery Apple-slope that comes with it! 😉

Amen Bubba!

Walter Mossberg from the Wall Street Journal took a swing at capturing the essence of the Apple-announced move to Intel processors over the next couple of years. In this article he says what I’ve been saying.

It ain’t the end of the world.

Apple’s OS won’t run on just anyone’s hardware. (In fact someone in the office today indicated that the processors used might take advantage of some chip tricks to identify themselves as Apple-endorsed chips as opposed to off-the-shelf models.)

While the hardware is designed with a high level of cool factor, the OS is what makes the beast rock.

So, everyone, take a breath. In. Out. In. Out. It’ll be ok. 😉



After working for three days to install a gigabit private connection from the iMac to the server, I’ve finally got it working!

It should’ve been plug-n-play, right? Well, I thought so, too. Everything pointed at the iMac having a problem — I could ping from the server to the iMac, but couldn’t ping the other direction. Every book I had pointed to the iMac being at fault. Then I finally had a brainstorm just before bed: check the firewall on the server. Sure enough, the new gigabit interface on the server wasn’t letting anything through. Ah, well… at least I learned something! 🙂

Primarily, I intend to use this as the data path for backups — cross-pollenating the data on the server and iMac — but it’ll also let me do builds of the photo site nightly, and keep up that part of the site more up-to-date. The server has just enough umph to serve pages, but it would reek if doing the photo manipulation, so that’s gotta happen on the iMac, and then get scooted to the server. A lot of scripting is needed, but I think I can pull that off over the next week or so.

What fun, eh?