October 25, 2005

Minor milestone

I hadn't checked the site stats in a while, it looks like we've just passed 300k unique visitors. And oddly enough, the most popular platform of users hitting the site is Windows XP, which seems totally bizarre for a Mac oriented site, so let's hope that they're all looking to upgrade. ;)

Posted by Jim at 12:04 PM | TrackBack

May 10, 2005

Radio Shuffle?

Philip Michaels writes in his piece on macworld.com today that iPods killed the radio star, an article about how radio stations across the country are changing their formats, greatly expanding the number of songs played, and using terms like 'Jack and Shuffle' in their promotional materials to describe the format. Philip seems to think this is a great idea. I, on the other hand, call it crap.

Case in point, some months back, a local and much beloved Oldie's station suddenly and without warning switched it's format, and they now apparently play everything ever recorded. This isn't a format, this is a total lack of format. What had been a station that the whole family could enjoy, and more importantly, was something my wife and I as parents felt comfortable with our children listening to, suddenly became off limits because you never knew what would pop up next in their rotation. As an added 'bonus', the station also canned all their on-air personalities, and so now songs weren't announced, so for the most part you had no idea what you were listening to.

For years, while on the road and tuning up and down the band looking for tunes, I'd occasionally find some decent music (my tastes run from oldies to classic rock to metal), and then suddenly I'd be listening to an entirely different genre. Typically such stations included the tags 'Mix' or 'Magic' in their slogans, a sure warning sign to stay away.

People like to shuffle their OWN playlists, songs that they have specifically added to their library by artists they know and enjoy listening to. Shuffle allows them to hear songs from THEIR library that they might normally play, forgotten tracks from an older CD. Tuning into a radio station that plays selections from multiple genres and from artists the listener has probably never heard of is quite frankly annoying. How would you feel if you bought a case of your favorite beverage, and every can tasted different?

For me, the whole point of listening to a radio station over my iPod is to hear tunes not necessarily in my collection, but hopefully in a category that I'm familiar with and enjoy. I like listening to the local DJ announce the songs to tell the listener what they were listening to, maybe give some info about what the artist is doing these days, and all the other banter that's worked into the broadcast, something your iPod can't do. But tuning into a radio station that's all over the dial musically, and worse those without DJs to tell you what you're listening to is just plain bad business.

People like a certain amount of predictability, they like things they're used to, and hence will stick with those products that deliver this reliably. Small changes over time are easily accepted (new songs from old artists, new songs from new artists, but all within the accepted genre), but major format changes are often rebelled against and listeners will go elsewhere.

Radio stations can not and should not be directly competing with the iPod or other MP3 players, they need to stick with what they do best, what they've been doing for decades, and give the listeners what they want, or you'll find that your listers will soon be shuffling to another location on the dial.

Posted by Jim at 5:59 PM | TrackBack

October 25, 2004

Apologies for no updates...

Sorry about the lack of any posts here recently. On 10/14 I underwent surgery on my knee (ACL reconstruction) to correct some problems I was having, and recovery is taking a lot longer than I originally planned. I've only started getting back online for brief times over the last few days, and I'm still catching up on events while I was out. So far, things seem pretty quiet on most fronts that I track, so I suppose that's some good news.

I never really wanted to turn this blog into one that tracked all my life events, and to keep it focused on the tech side of things, but felt that the readers here were owed a bit of explanation on why I've been absent lately. I really didn't want to blog about the details, but to summarize, surgery went well, but was more involved than the surgeon originally though, and my recovery time is taking MUCH longer than 'I' anticipated, but considering the procedure that ended up being performed, I'm actually doing quite well according to those involved in my recovery.

Posted by Jim at 12:43 AM | TrackBack

August 10, 2004

Star Trek: Enterprise in danger?

While surfing for something entirely un-Trek related, I came across a site today calledSave Enterprise. Apparently the UPN series is in trouble with low ratings, and the wieners in charge are thinking of cancelling the show, or were.

Enterprise has been renewed for a 4th season, but any fans of the show out there might want to look into doing some work to support the show if they want a 5th season.

Posted by Jim at 9:58 PM | TrackBack

August 2, 2004

John Kerry phishing scam

It looks like another scam email is making the rounds, only this one is designed to look like it is being sent from johnkerry.com, and this phishing scam is designed to lead folks to believe that they're contributing to John Kerry's campaign when they're actually sending money to a bunch of scammers. That is, a different group of scammers that aren't part of the John Kerry campaign.

One of the mailing lists that I'm on had a report from one person who received four of these already, but so far none have made it through my spam filters here.

Posted by Jim at 11:30 PM | TrackBack

August 1, 2004

And Ed O'Neill as Steve Jobs...

While flipping through channels tonight, I came across True Hollywood Story on E!, and started watching it as I was a fan of the show. I almost fell out of my chair when Ed O'Neill was shown, his greying unshaven face and black shirt (turtleneck?) instantly reminded me of Steve Jobs.

Forget Noah Wyle, if Steve Jobs ever wants someone to impersonate him on stage at MacWorld, just get Ed to walk out. Wish I could find a pic or screen capture of that show on E!, if anyone can find one let me know and I'll link to it.

Posted by Jim at 1:32 AM | TrackBack

July 29, 2004

Belkin UPS review...

It's 98% finished, pending a reply back from their support folks. Watch for it in the next few days.

Posted by Jim at 10:21 PM | TrackBack

July 27, 2004

I'm back!

I'm back from vacation, and am working on catching up on a few thousand mails and browsing almost two week's worth of web sites that have backlogged while I was away. Being away from my high-speed internet connection was almost enough to put me into a coma...

Posted by Jim at 1:52 AM | TrackBack

July 16, 2004

Hitting the road...

I'm heading out on vacation for a bit over a week, so new updates will be a bit slow, but I'll probably pop in a time or two if I find something interesting to share.

The server is running on the Belkin UPS, so there should be no interruptions in service, weather permitting. ;)

Posted by Jim at 2:43 AM | TrackBack

July 8, 2004

New Belkin UPS

I received a Belkin Office Series 750VA UPS today to review, I'll be putting it through its paces over the next week or so, and will have a full report once that's wrapped up.

Posted by Jim at 8:19 PM | TrackBack

June 16, 2004

The night the lights went out...

Sad news from Wired, Thousands of Blogs Fall Silent. I'd like to wish all effected bloggers the best of luck in getting archives of their blogs, and would like to encourage those readers looking for these blogs to give folks time to get up and running on new sites.

It is a fairly straightforward matter of getting a spare computer up and running and serving your own website (a search through the early postings here will document my process), and there are a number of hosting providers out there for those that need such services. It's a shame that some transition time wasn't allowed for this, but unfortunately having a backup isn't something most folks consider until it's too late...

Posted by Jim at 4:16 PM | TrackBack

May 21, 2004

THX 1138

The cinema classic by director George Lucas, THX 1138, looks to be heading back to theaters soon as a special edition.

I loved the original but haven't seen it in years. Used to be you could find it running on late night TV from time to time, but not for some time. Nice to see the touches they've added, head on over to the official site to check out the trailer.

Posted by Jim at 10:58 PM | TrackBack

May 15, 2004

I guess Mac is a silly name for a girl...

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow today gave birth to her first child, and has named her Apple. As far as I can tell from a quick look around the web, I may be the first to make the connection between this event and our favorite computer company.

Paltro is one of the stars of the upcoming Paramont film Sky Captain and The World Of Tomorrow, which relied heavily on Macs for the CGI work. Coincidence?

Posted by Jim at 6:51 PM | TrackBack

May 3, 2004

New menus working

After much frustration over the weekend I finally got the new menus working, I'll be putting them online tonight and will post another article on what was involved in getting them to work.

Safari worked well for most of my testing, but getting the menus to display correctly in Internet Explorer took all sorts of work. The CSS code is pretty much as it was before, but with larger fields, but the HTML driving the menus needed some major work. But still, no Java was required, the menus are all pure CSS, just driven by some ugly HTML code.

Posted by Jim at 11:29 AM | TrackBack

April 28, 2004

Oh, the irony...

No sooner did I leave my feedback for Netfront to get the license that was promised, when my mail log shows another failed connection. You guessed it, the folks sending the license code info didn't have their reverse DNS set correctly and it bounced. So, another note to another postmaster...

Posted by Jim at 8:16 PM | TrackBack

April 23, 2004

Bloggers on parade

I found an interesting link today at Apartment Therapy. It's interesting for two reasons, that a group of bloggers is getting together in broad daylight (well, in public anyway), and that it's being held at an Apple Store.

I might need to look into this should an Apple Store open in my area...

Posted by Jim at 4:46 PM | TrackBack

Contest coming...

I'm kicking around the idea of having a contest to generate some traffic for the site. The rules will be simple, put a link to this site on your webpage, or convince a friend with a page to put a link on their page. This must be a link in the 'Links' or 'Blogroll' section of the web page (usually a space set aside for links in a column on the main web page), not a link burried in an article or blog entry.

Now to find something cool to give away. ;) More details later.

Posted by Jim at 4:38 PM | TrackBack

April 22, 2004

theimposter.org, MIA

Well, I just referenced their site in my blog yesterday, and now that site seems to be unavailable. Hopefully it's only a temporary glitch on their end...

Posted by Jim at 9:58 PM | TrackBack

April 21, 2004

New menus

Sorry for not getting to the software I'd promised to talk about yesterday, I've been working on a new menu and finally have it online. More details to follow.

Posted by Jim at 11:43 PM | TrackBack

April 17, 2004

I'm in the top 12% on Technorati?!?

My blog had been getting a few hits from Technorati, a site set up for tracking blogs and for helping folks find interesting blogs that match their interests. I'm sure these hits were courtesty of a few other folks with sites already on Technorati who linked to me.

So, tonight I set up my blog to automatically ping (notify of updates) Technorati when I add new articles to my site, and when I finished this up, discovered that my little site is already ranked 251,286 out of 2,133,638 weblogs, putting me in the top 12%!

Either I'm doing something right, or there are a lot of low traffic blogs out there... Either way, thanks for visiting!

Posted by Jim at 12:10 AM | TrackBack

April 14, 2004

About this site...

Ok, so far my posts here have only been about getting the site up and running, and I'm sure that may interest a very few folks who have visited, but for the rest of you, I'm sure you're probably wondering where I'm going with all of this.

As is probably the case with most blogs out there, this will be my own personal soapbox for sharing items that interest me, including, but not limited to, various things Macintosh, cool technology, irreverant humor, outright rants, car talk, politics, and whatever else strikes my fancy. In short, there's no particular theme. ;)

I'd like to thank my friend C.K. over at 3650 and a 12-inch for linking to my site. His site there is dedicated (primarily) to discussions regarding the Nokia 3650 (a most excellent phone, closely related to Nokia's 3660 and 3620 models), and the PowerBook 12". Be sure to check his site out.

Posted by Jim at 6:38 PM | TrackBack

April 10, 2004

Getting the site online

Well, all my domain changes have kicked in, and my site is now live on the web. Time to notify a few friends that it's out there now.

As promised, I'd like to post some information on how I got my site up and running, hopefully this might be of use to some of you out there if you're looking at doing something similar yourselves.

Probably the most important decision in setting up a site for yourself is deciding on a name for the site, in my case, the Domain Name folks would use to get here. I can't really help you pick out a name, but once you do, you'll first want to see if that name is even available. Most registrars that sell domain names will have a page that lets you look up your potential names to see if they're available. It's quite likely that your first or second choices are going to be taken (the Internet's a big place...), so it might be good to work up a short list. Also, remember that in addition to .com, many other domains are also available (.net, .org, .us, etc). I had originally wanted to go with a .us name (it was cheaper than .com), but finally found a .com name I could live with.

The particular registrar I'm using is GoDaddy, apparently one of the more popular registrars out there. There are a number of others out there offering different services at various prices, so you may want to do a web search on 'cheap domain names' or something similar to find your own.

Next, and extremely important, I needed to find a company that offered dynamic DNS. This is needed if your internet connection does not have a static IP address. You'll know if you have one, because usually your internet provider will charge you a lot of extra money for this... A dynamic DNS service will let you set up a particular domain name (either one you've purchased through a registrar, or one available through the dynamic DNS service) and link it to the changing IP address of your home system. The one key ingredient needed here is some utility for monitoring the IP address in use on your cable/DSL modem, and pass these changes up to the dynamic DNS provider.

Most dynamic DNS providers will list at their site a number of clients that will perform this task. The particular company I chose, Sitelutions, didn't offer a Mac specific client, but with a little bit of AppleScript and cobbling together a few shell scripts, I think I've come up with a working application to handle this. It needs a bit more tweaking for public use, but I should be able to finish this up in a week or so.

So, now you've got what you need to make your computer at home visible to the rest of the world. I should probably point out that if you're one of the folks that are still using a dial-up internet connection, you'll want to forget everything you've just read. If you're going to have a public site, you need your system to be always available, and available at a decent speed. Dial-up just won't cut it, broadband (cable modem, DSL) is the way to go.

Hopefully before you've even thought of putting your home system online, you've already installed a router with firewall protection to keep unwanted visitors (viruses, malicious users, Windows users, etc) from getting at your unprotected system. Mac OS X includes a very nice firewall built into the Sharing settings, but if you have multiple systems on the net, you'll need a router, and it darned well better have a firewall built in.

There are a number of very nice routers on the market, I prefer Asante's routers, mainly because they provide an easy way for Mac users to be able to upgrade firmware (the software that runs the hardware) via a web interface, unlike some other routers I looked at that required a Windoze app to be run. Do some research before making a selection, and find the right one that fits your needs.

Posted by Jim at 5:27 PM | TrackBack

First Post

Every web page has to start somewhere, so here's the first official posting on mine. ;)

I've added a few links over on the side of some web sites that were very helpful in getting my site going. I'll be writing more on a few of them in the following entries.

As I write this, my new domain isn't even active yet, but hopefully this will kick in over the weekend.

Posted by Jim at 12:06 AM | TrackBack