Category Archives: Computech

A Return to Blogging

I’ve certainly taken some time off from blogging, several years of writing only intermittently and a change of sites to boot. But it’s time to return.

But for what purpose? Most of my prior posts consist of bible studies, while the second most are related to computers/tech, and last but not least, political issues. I’m not teaching bible studies right now and politics is fractious right now, to say the least, so that leaves computers and technical topics.

And to lead off we’ll start with my current deep dive into the Appleverse.

Posting to Self Hosted WordPress in Mac

So you bought a Mac and you love it but are dismayed that the software for posting to your self hosted WordPress Blog is so darned expensive. Fear not, I have a reasonable alternative that works mostly like an application.

The alternative is the built in WP editor in its own Safari window with an application icon in the dock. The trick is an Apple Script saved as an application that opens the WP editor in its own window and a custom WP icon.

First the script.

Open the Apple Script editor and create the following script substituting the url for the url to your post-new script on you WordPress Blog.

tell application "Safari"
	make new document at end of documents with properties {URL:""}
end tell

Compile the script and save it as an application to a directory of your choice.  Change the icon to a WordPress Icon, here is a link to a nice WordPress icon you can use.  Last drag icon to your launcher or to the applications folder for easy access.  When you launch the application it will open a new Safari browser window ready for you to write a blog post in.

Finder Woes Solved (Mostly)

I am pleased to report that I am much happier with Mac Finder (the Apple not-quite a file manager) as of today than when I first started using it.  My happiness comes from two sources. First an internal finder tweak.  The finder main menu, under View provides two items that can be unhidden, the status bar which gives the file count in the current folder and total remaining space on the disk at the cost of no extra room consumed in the window, and the path bar which shows the full path to your current location from the root down and allows you to change your location.  This last is much more important and while still not as good as having an address bar to type a location in is much better than nothing as a navigation tool.

More important than those two tools is a free add-on for Finder called XtraFinder.  XtraFinder installs inside Finder (so to speak) and you still use finder as before, except it now has some totally sane additional capabilities.  What capabilities you ask?  How about permitting you to make folders list before files (there is not much more annoying than searching for a folder through a long list of files).  Then there are tabs, yes a tabbed interface so you don’t have to clutter your desktop with finder windows.  And dual pane goodness is a command-u away.

Things are definitely looking better.

Switch to MacBook Air from ASUS Zen Book

The Zenbook is a great machine, slim and light with a 1920X1080 display with a matte finish, all aluminum construction, an Ivy Bridge dual core processor, 4 gigs of ram and oodles of sex appeal. So why ditch it? For the most quotidian of reasons and for some that are a little more highbrow.

The drab mundane truth of the matter is that Mac’s appear to excell in three unexciting areas. No windows laptops I have ever held in my hands, no matter the price (and I’ve always bought expensive laptops), the maker or the heft of the machine have come close to Mac standards in these areas. They are as follows:

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From TF 700 Transformer Infinity to iPad

First of all this is not a review, this is more of an attempt to put together my thoughts on what its like using the two tablets.  It is very subjective and, frankly, your mileage may vary considerably.  Fortunately both of these great tablets are available in the market and we can choose to buy the one that suits our needs, tastes and pocket books.

I originally bought the Transformer over the iPad for several reasons:  expandible memory via micro SD card, the attachable keyboard dock, cheaper price (marginally), the prospect of getting rid of iTunes, the ability to access the the Android file system (although in a limited fashion without rooting the device), the ability to switch default browsers and the ability to assign file types to particular applications.  Of those reasons only two really wound up mattering to me; accessing the file system and the abiltiy to assign file types to particular applications.  I wish I could do those things on an iDevice.

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Change is coming for me. Not big change, not some metaphysical realization that shakes my world and makes me run off and join a commune, just the garden variety sort. I’m changing operating systems.

After years of being a user of Windows and Linux I’m switching to Mac across the board. I have avoided Apple because of the expense, the squirrelly interface design decisions, and the lack of freedom (with Apple it’s their way or the highway). But I’m tired of futzing with computers. I just want them to do what I want them to do.

So I’m turning in my Windows laptop for a Mac, my Android tablet for an iPad (this post is being written on that iPad), and my Android phone for an iPhone. There are sure to be issues and adventures, outside the Apple walled garden their products are not as well supported, and I’ll try and chronicle them here, mostly for my own benefit.

First up will be iPad vs TF700 Transformer Infinity.

IE 9 Beta Fail

IE 9, the latest and greatest browser software from the guys and gals in Redmond, is available for download here.  There is always danger in criticizing features, or lack of features, in a Beta release because the feature may later be added or improved.  I have also had my hands on this release for less than an hour and may have missed something.  That said, I find two major feature fails in IE9 that, despite its other fine points, will keep it from being my primary browser.

1)  No spell checker.  Really.  Every other browser has one, but not IE.  Some say its just not important or I should learn to spell or its not a proper feature for a browser.  But it is important because our experience in browsers today is more interactive.  We’re not just looking at web sites, were replying to emails, posting in web forums, adding tags to pictures or blogging.  In short, we are creating written content using our web browsers.  Software used to create written content should spell check.  Big fail.

2)  One of the features being touted by Microsoft is the ability to pin web sites to the task bar in Windows 7 and have the browser take on some of the attributes of an application.  However, none of the addons you have installed will run in this “application” Window.  So if you pin Gmail and use IESpell, you won’t have a spell checker.  If you use Adblock Pro, it won’t work on your pinned sites.  In short, in the place where they should be allowing you to customize your experience the most (sites you would choose to pin to your task bar) you are not allowed to customize the experience at all.  Also a big fail.

Microsoft, if you are looking to regain market share from Firefox and Chrome, you have not helped yourself in my opinion.

Teaching Robots to Deceive

A Georgia Tech professor and his team have done pioneering work on teaching robots the basics of deception.  From the article, “The team developed computer algorithms that would let a robot ‘decide’ whether it should deceive a human or another robot and gave it strategies to give it the best chance of not being found out.”

What could possibly go wrong?


Keep Your Jailbreak and Fix the PDF Hole

Are you so concerned about the PDF exploit on all versions of iDevices that you’re considering squandering your Jailbreak to upgrade iOS 4.0.2?  Concern yourself no more you can have your cake and eat it too.  Saurik had just released a PDF patch on Cydia that will fix the exploit and leave your jailbreak intact.

PDF Fix Screen Shot

Now if only Apple would take the hint an push updates, not the entire OS every time there is a minor fix.

Shout out to HP

Guys (and Gals),

Now that Mark Hurd is history and you have the opportunity to think about the direction of your business in general and your PC business in particular, lets talk about crapware.  Really, there is way too much of it on the computers you sell.

I’ve had experience with three of them, two laptops and a Windows Home Server (EX495).  All of these are fine machines hardware wise, especially the server which is one of the nicest packages I have ever seen, but you compromise the whole user experience by loading it down with so much unwanted and unusable software it boggles the mind.

Lets start with the server.  The biggest problem is the default installation of Norton AV.  Nobody with any sense runs Norton or McAfee.  Nobody.  And the uninstall procedure can be complicated.  Why would you do this to us?

Then there is your own home rolled software.  The only part that is in any way useful is the portion that lets me back up Macs to the server.  The media portions either duplicate functionality provided by the WHS natively or easily obtained by addons in a better fashion.

On the laptops it was even worse.  Norton, HP Media, HP Games, HP DVD, HP Update, HP Advisor, a crappy toolbar, DVD burners, media managers,  on and on ad nauseaum.  None of these things add an iota of value and nobody would pick any of the selections on the open market on their own merits.  And the worst offender of all is Wild Tangent games.  Its malware pure and simple.  It won’t go away. Even after you run the uninstall program you still have to hack the registry to remove the links to the games in the Windows Games menu.

The bottom line is that I have never found preinstalled software or OEM software that was any way useful.  Perhaps thinking about your customers can provide you with a competitive advantage in a world of shrinking margins.  Pre-install software based on what your customers will find useful and provide a full OEM install disk for Windows.  That’ll catch our attention.