REALLY support the troops.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

What we can do if we try.

The Phoenix Lander and Parachute, photographed as it descends to Mars.

Article here.

Phil Plait says it better than I ever could:

Humanity can do whatever we can imagine. We have only but to decide to do it.

Thank you, Mr. Buckles!

Last known surviving U.S. WWI veteran.

And thank you, too, Mr. Babcock!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Best. Keyboard. EVAR!

There's this podcast, "The Talk Show", and these two guys sit around and talk about computers.

They both use Macs and this episode (download MP3) (iTunes) is an hour and 2 minutes of nothing but the Apple Extended Keyboard and Apple Extended Keyboard II.

I use the original Extended Keyboard myself, and listening to this podcast, I learned that the keyboard I use is one of the first generation of Apple Extendeds. Old School, baby!

I also learned that when these keyboards were introduced in the late 1980s, they retailed in the US$170.00 range.

I can believe it. The quality of the parts and the quality of construction is first rate.

It must be, as I'm using a 20 year old keyboard I bought for a dollar at Goodwill, and it works like it just came off the assembly line.

That's my Apple Extended Keyboard up there, by the HP-45 Calculator and Western Electric 4A SpeakerPhone microphone pedestal.

When I got the "new" Mac, it lacked an Apple Desktop Bus port, needed to use the Extended Keyboard.

I found a Griffin iMate interface on eBay for a reasonable sum. Plugged it in, plugged the keyboard into the interface, rebooted, that was it. It worked perfectly.

I was very pleased, as I was NOT going to do without my Extended Keyboard!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Well, how odd!

Works Progress Administration logo

The wireless connection went all wonky after I fixed a ton of errors on the boot disk with the Disk Utility application on the OS 10.5 disk.

I could not connect to the router. Tried all sorts of things with no success. The Airport Extreme card kept self-assigning an IP address and wouldn't play nice with the router.

Then I found a message on the machintsosx message boards, referencing a document on

I read the document, and thought that there's NO WAY this will fix things.

"Change from WEP security to WPA security." is what was suggested.

"What the hell, lets try it", I thought.

It works.

So, right now, the wireless connection is working flawlessly... right now.

I think that tomorrow I might hit MicroCenter in Cambridge and see if the Ethernet card I want is in stock. I prefer an Internet connection I can trust to stay connected.

(edit) Well, the wireless connection has stayed up and running since this post went live.

Looks like the fix works.

Go figure.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Back to normal!

For some reason, the new operating system, Leopard (Mac OS X 10.5.2), was VERY slow when accessing the Internet. Web pages took minutes to fully load, if at all.

Turns out it was the Ethernet card in the computer. The built in Ethernet port is dead, and the card uses a chipset that does not play well with Leopard.

So I turned on the wireless connection between the computer and the DSL modem/router as an experiment.

And that was it. The card was at fault and the wireless connection is as fast as the previous OS Ethernet connection ever was.

I'll see about getting a new Ethernet card next month, as I prefer a hardwired connection for reasons of security.

Monday, May 19, 2008

A quick update

OS X 10.5 has been successfully installed!
I needed to download only ONE updated application to replace a previous version that was not compatible with Leopard.

Currently downloading the large QuickTime update and the Big Mc Large Huge 10.5.2 combo update.

If The Force and St. Vidicon are with me, I'll have a fully patched and up to date OS running on my Macintosh Real Soon Now.

Ah, eBay, from which all blessings flow!

I have this Macintosh Mirror Door Drive (MDD) tower computer, sitting on the floor under the table I use as a computer "desk".

About two weeks ago, I had it on my workbench (aka the kitchen countertop) to install a new video card. At the same time, I had to clean out all the dust and crud that had accumulated in it.

This particular Mac model has some prodigious ventilation needs, due to the dual 1.42 Ghz. processors and massive CPU heat sink.

I had to use the vacuum cleaner to get all the dust, etc out of the inside, and you do not want to know about the mat of dust and hair that had been blocking the main air intake for the tower.

Recalling that there had been some attractive aftermarket "riser" legs for this type of Mac tower, I did a bit of Googling and found them!

However, they are no longer manufactured!

So, off to eBay!

And there they were.

Kept an eye on them for a few days, no one was bidding, I placed the minimum bid and waited.

I won them, PayPal-ed the money, and they arrived the other day.

And here they are, installed on my Macintosh:

They'll go a long way towards keeping the dust and whatnot from getting into the computer, as well as keeping that main air intake vent unclogged.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

RE: Apple Store Opening

Was there, Did that, and indeed, I DID get the t-shirt!

I'm currently moving all the images and video from the memory card to a hard drive. They'll be available later.

So, I got there at about 3:00 PM, and the line was already around the block. Eventually, word had it, the line reached the Charles River.

Lots of press, including two helicopters. Spent most of the time chatting with fellow Mac users.

About 20 minutes before the doors opened, the staff came out, and ran down the line cheering and high fiving people. Getting the energy up for the opening.

At a little after six, we began to move towards the door. Inside, on either side and all the way up the huge circular staircase, the staff had lined up and were applauding and cheering and again with the high fives!

It was, without doubt, one of the most amazing experiences during my time in Boston. I could not stop grinning.

The noise! Oy! I could not hear myself as I made a brief video. I'm hoping that I'll be able to edit (in iMovie, of course!) all the video clips into something coherent.

The store itself is in the old CopyCop location across from the Prudential (for all you current and past Bostonians.) and is three stories tall, glass fronted, with the Apple logo promenently displayed.

Every horizontal surface that has a product on it is wheelchair accessable. That is, someone in a chair can roll right up close and play with the toys. There are elevators in the back of the store for the use of the disabled and the lazy.

There are LOTS of computers available to mess with, as well as iPhones and iPods.

I was in there about 45 minutes and then had to leave (the bladder was being quite insistant!

I'll be going back, more to play with the hardware than actually buy anything.

After actually being there, I now understand why people make trips to attend the openings of new Apple Stores.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Big Day!

Tomorrow, Thursday, 15 May 2008, at 6:00 PM, the very first Boston Apple Store opens its doors on Boylston Street, across from the Prudential Center.

I will be there, and, I hope, among the first hundred in line so I can get a limited edition t-shirt, among other goodies Apple hands out. (edit) There were MORE than enough t-shirts available!

Oh, yes. There WILL be photographs!

(photo of Boylston Street Apple Store copyright © 2008 by Apple. Used with permission)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Happy Anniversary!

In a week, it'll be one year since I lugged the Apple 21" CRT Studio Monitor home. Hasn't given me a moment of trouble in all that time.

There's a reason Apple has such a devoted fan base.

They make superb hardware, to go along with their superb software and operating system.

There's nothing better!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A little hardware geekery

Over the past few weeks, my Macintosh has received:

An upgraded Core Image compatible Video Card (Thanks, Keith!), another Gigabyte of RAM, and the 6 Gigabyte hard drive has been replaced by an 80 Gigabyte hard drive.

Next month (assuming the budget doesn't get blown by something unanticipated) I'll add the Apple Bluetooth transceiver module, in anticipation of adding a Logitech (or similar) wireless mouse at a future date.

There is also the potential for adding a Bluetooth headset for use with Skype/video iChat and/or other VOIP/video IM services. Depending on what shows up at the MIT Flea Market a suitable webcam might also be added to the system.

I would LOVE to get the discontinued Apple iSight camera. Apparently, so does the rest of the Apple using universe. Used iSights on eBay and elsewhere are selling for far more than I can afford/am willing to pay.

The X-Box 360 webcam is an often recommended webcam for Mac users, even though it lacks a built-in microphone, a la the iSight webcam.

A very attractive audio device for use with the X-Box camera is the Griffin iMic USB audio I/O interface. This would allow the use of an external microphone with the X-Box camera.

Also, as it has an audio out jack, my desire to have extension computer speakers in the kitchen area and the bathroom would be that much closer to reality.

Now, if only broadband would get to the neighborhoods of a few friends of mine with computers, Skype, iChat, et al, would save everyone so much money on their phone bills!

Friday, May 2, 2008

"As Seen On TV!"

Ben Stein, shilling for the anti-evolution/pro "Intellegent Design" movie, 'Expelled', on the Trinity Broadcasting Network:

Stein: When we just saw that man, I think it was Mr. Myers [biologist P.Z. Myers], talking about how great scientists were, I was thinking to myself the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed … that was horrifying beyond words, and that’s where science — in my opinion, this is just an opinion — that’s where science leads you.

Crouch: That’s right.

Stein: …Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing people.

Crouch: Good word, good word.

Ben, it wasn't "Scientists" that blew up the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, set off bombs at the Atlanta Olympics, Planned Parenthood clinics and gay bars in that part of the US, murdered Jewish radio talk show host Alan Berg. These crimes were committed by devout, True Believers in their particular faith. Their only interest in "science" was how to make bombs and poisons.

(sourced from, The Panda's Thumb and National Review Online)