Jan 23 2005
During a quick “google” to answer a question at the ibloggers
forum
; I came across RSS
Digest
this afternoon.

It’s a donation supported website
where you can create a customized headline version of any valid RSS feed. You
copy/paste the RSS (of the site which’ headlines you would like on your
blogpage), click create the code, choose a few options, copy/paste the resulting
javascript link in your template and voila.

Example:
———–
MacCentral
Headlines

Certainly
a nice extra tool for our toolbox.

Click here to read more …

Jan 22 2005
The buzz of the weekend is the snow storm of the year hitting the NE of
the country. Blizzard like conditions with 12-24″ of snow and locally even up to
48″. Our luck of course it’ll just be cold and we’ll get 1-2 inches, maybe.
Mother nature, please shift this thing North a little and bring us some snow.

Click here to read more …

Jan 21 2005
I received this “baton” or “musical stick” to pass along relay
style from my blog friend Didotcicero in the Netherlands.

So,
grabbing the bull by the horns, what can we learn from the icerabbit’s iTunes
library in 4 questions?

* Which is the total size of music files on
your computer?

iTunes reports 19.77GB / 3549 songs on icecube +
3.17GB / 771 songs on liquidice; so that would be approximately 23GB / 4320
songs. Or, 11.8 days of music for my ears. The files are 192 kbps MP3s by the
way.

* Which is the last album you purchased?

I haven’t
purchased much music recently. I think my last purchase is T

Jan 16 2005
Input from fellow iPod users wanted.

I can’t help but wonder
if the battery in my (still barely used) iPod is defective.

At the
end of the Christmas trip my iPod came with a drained battery out of my laptop
bag. I blamed it on user error, that more than likely in the week prior there
was some pressure on the click wheel which kept it awake. (should be preventable
though via it’s OS / firmware imo). Last week, it certainly was fully charged
after I added some music to it and left it on my desk. A few days later the
battery is down a quart? This can’t be normal, can it? I clearly didn’t use it.
Or did I? (funny how you can start doubting yourself)

Time for a
test. Friday (early evening) my iPod was fully charged. Now, Sunday, a mere 48
hours later without any use – apart from checking the battery status twice with
immediate sleep 10 secs later – it is down 3 pixel rows or so? You can very
clearly see that the top 1/5th(?) of the battery indicator is shown empty /
clear instead of charged / black.

Does an iPod use power in it’s
sleep? Does waking it up for a few seconds use that much power? … Is this
normal? Do you have to keep your iPod charged up?

I don’t have any
other iPod to compare it with, nor iPod users in my direct environment; so I
appreciate comments either way from my blog friends & other readers.

Click here to read more …

Jan 15 2005

The gallery has been updated with a selection of images from our Christmas trip.

Finnish countryside

Jan 13 2005

Switching from JAlbum to Galerie and back to JAlbum.History:
At some point last year I lost my custom JAlbum templates when I formatted my
Cube (& PC). I had all my documents & files safely backed up, except for
the customized files that resided in the JAlbum application subfolder. Oops! I
was able to dig up an older version on a backup CD-ROM or DVD but that version
was really outdated. And, on top of that, I was having problems with JavaScript
errors with some more advanced features. Time for a break.

I just
started puzzling things back together [ it's New Year ;) ]. What better than a
clean start? With my first little creation, JAlbum (v. 5.1 now) was giving me
“out of memory” errors right out of the gate? Ditto with some of the built-in
themes? Some frustration later I decided to try Galerie. Downloaded &
installed it. Changed a few settings and create gallery. Whoppa. AppleScript
Error -43 – Some object wasn’t found. What the? Repeatable problem. In the
support forum I did get immediate response. User error. Galerie doesn’t handle
subfolders, which happens to be a deal breaker for me. I don’t want to do every
folder & index separately on multiple levels.

Back to JAlbum
then. David Ekholm (creator of JAlbum) helped identify that something in the
Canon 20D’s EXIF data causes the EXIF extractor to error. Mmm. They can’t leave
all that stuff standard, can they? But, at least I can keep tinkering on my
template by leaving the EXIF processing off … and once my template is
operational, I can publish new images :)

Click here to read more …

Jan 11 2005
Don’t read this if you want to watch the keynote first later tonight. I
couldn’t help but follow along on MacCentral, MacRumors, MacMerc and
MacDailyNews.

Tiger is still on track to be released in the first
half of 2005.

New software:
- Quicktime 7 to be included in Tiger
- iLife 05 with
updates to all applications except iTunes. iPhoto
5
gets more editing tools, supports MPEG & RAW files, hierarchical
folders (finally), multiple albums and calender view. iMovie lost it’s version
number, it’s now called iMovie HD since it supports High Definition
video. There are updates to the editing tools and features Magic iMovie for
automatic movie creation. iDVD5 has 15 new themes, dynamic drop zones,
editable DVD map and OneStep DVD creation. Garageband is now at v2 with 8 track recording,
real time notation.
- Final Cut Express HD now does Hi-Def video and
includes LiveType for titling & text effects and Soundtrack for custom sound
tracks.
- iWork 05 should replace AppleWorks as an
advanced word processor with Pages & Keynote2. Pages comes with 40
templates. No sign of a spreadsheet?

New hardware:


The Mac
mini
. A G4 based “headless Mac” system priced at $499 & $599. It
only measures 6.5″ x 6.5″ x 2″, weighs in at 2.9 pounds and comes with a 1.25 or
1.42 GHz G4 CPU, 40 or 80 GB HDD, slot loading Combo Drive, 256 MB RAM and a 32
MB graphics card. The back features ports for power, ethernet, modem, DVI / VGA
(adaptrer), two USB 2 ports, 1 FireWire400 and a headphone out. Considering the
Mac Mini will in a few months be loaded with both iLife ‘05 as well as the
upcoming OS X 10.4 Tiger, it’ll be a steal. I wonder what the upgrade
possibilities are in terms of a SuperDrive and more RAM. Are more models
upcoming? Or will we do the upgrades Cube style?
Edit: It seems there
are a few pricey Built To Order options in terms of RAM, AirPort Extreme,
BlueTooth & SuperDrive
. The graphics card is (expectedly so)
integrated in the motherboard and thus non-upgradable, which may keep G4 Cube
owners sticking to their machines.



The iPod Shuffle. A featherweight 512MB ($99) or
1GB ($149) flash based music player is added to the iPod family. With 5 buttons
in the front (play pause, next, previous, +, -) and a slide button in the back
for off/on and the play mode: Normal or Shuffle; it couldn’t be any simpler.
With it’s light weight & neck strap this should be the ideal player for
workouts at the gym, jogs in the forest, etc. iTunes 4.7.1 adds support for
this new player, introducing the AutoFill option. The iPod Shuffle can also be
used as a classic thumb drive for file storage. A whole series of accessories is
already available.

Is world domination now guaranteed for the
iPods?
Will the software updates be a big hit?
Most certainly!

Click here to read more …

Jan 11 2005
Sadly enough there is none. I for one – calling my self lucky we would
be back from vacation in time ;) – looked forward to keeping an eye on the
screen. That was, until I caught up with the latest Mac news last night. I
guess we were very fortunate & spoiled the past years, tuning in live at
home or work to learn what the next year will bring, so eagerly waiting for the
“There’s one more thing” moment.

What’s one to do today? Can you
ignore all news sources & blogs till after you view it “on demand” tonight?
I’d like it on demand at 11AM ;) Thinking of it, maybe they can make it “pay
per view” next time around since cost was brought up as the main reason behind
dropping the webcast.

My predictions?

Rumors focus on a
“flash based iPod without screen” potentially to be known as iPod Flash ~ iPod
Shuffle ~ iShuffle. I think we may see such a device simply because Apple is on
a roll with their music department and wants to get a bigger market share. It
shouldn’t be called an iPod though. iPlay would be better, as how else are we
going to keep this thing straight? iPod, iPod Photo, iPod mini, iPod micro, iPod
???

I doubt a headless Mac will appear. Some sites talk about a G4
iMac without screen. I don’t think so. IF there’s a low end Mac without screen
it won’t be iMac based and can’t be Cube style either. Powering it with a G4
would be a mistake in my opinion. So, a single G5 mini / micro tower? I don’t
count on it, though I’d have loved to have seen that appear in the past 2 years
(before the dual 2.5 G5 landed under my desk). Maybe I’ll be proven wrong since
Apple is often a few years behind what users want and they’ll actually introduce
it today!

iPhone by Apple? Nah. The cellular phone market is too
hot. Phones become obsolete after 6mo – 1yr and Apple is not that quick to
update products. What specs would they have to give it before anybody would buy
it? Who would be the carrier/provider? Who could afford the switch if they have
to jump carrier? (contract fees) A – insert brand name – PDA phone with
bluetooth & WiFi etc that’s completely Mac compatible (with custom OS?)
would be the best idea imo. Leave the hardware to the phone manufacturers like
Nokia & Motorola.

OS X 10.4 Tiger will be released some time
during spring + Dual 3.0 G5 PowerMacs this summer + G5 PowerBooks this
fall.

So what will Steve likely present at the keynote?

Software updates for the iLife apps, iTunes update, Quicktime update,
perhaps something new, perhaps a new AppleWorks, improved pro tools.
Small
hardware updates for various systems and perhaps price drops.
And the
mystery item will be the networked media box you attach to your home
theater.

We’ll see what happens :)

PS: The Cinema displays
already dropped in price, with the 20″ now at $999. Let the keynote begin!

Click here to read more …

Jan 11 2005
Our vacation was a trip to remember for a lifetime.

We flew
to Belgium, stayed overnight with my mom, then flew to Finland to meet our
Finnish family – which we didn’t know we had until last year – for the first
time. They are more than wonderful and couldn’t have given us a warmer welcome.
Everybody went through a lot of effort to accommodate us, everywhere we stayed
overnight and stopped by. We felt like royalty as the guests of honor at a
unique family gathering in a historic building near the old homestead. Several
dozen family members from different branches of the family took time off from
work and drove hours to attend. After a genealogical presentation of the family,
followed by a lavish several course meal, everybody wanted to have their photo
taken with C & her mom. A day we certainly can never forget. We also visited
both elderly homes, one of which still exists. Our visit to Finland may have
been short but we have countless priceless memories. By the way, Santa makes
house visits on Christmas eve in Finland before he goes on to deliver presents
to the rest of the world. And, he really knows everything because he even had
presents for us!

My mom had prepared a wonderful dinner for us the
day we flew back, to celebrate my birthday. Yes, the icerabbit is one year older
(again). The next days we caught up on some rest, gave C’s mom a quick tour of
Brugge + surroundings and tried to get rid of our colds (we always seem to catch
something during air travel in the winter). We celebrated New Year’s eve &
New Year at home. 2005 started with hugs & kisses, champagne and an overdose
of fireworks.

Last week we took the Eurostar for a quick visit in
London. The Eurostar is a fast rail service which connects Brussels & Paris
to London through the “Chunnel” ( short for “channel tunnel” which goes under
the “channel” between France & U.K.). Apart from a ticketing snafu the
Eurostar experience was very nice (we’ll certainly ride it again). Analog to
international air travel you go through check-in, immigration, customs and
airport style security. Once you’re on the train it’s just sit back & relax.
First class had plenty of room – we had 4 chairs with a table between them -, no
seat belts nor prohibited electronics to worry about, very friendly multilingual
staff, a nice multi course meal with several wines. On French territory the
railroad was a bit uneven (too much wine when they built it?), but the tunnel
itself was a smooth as could be. It was just dark outside for about 20+ minutes
and the extra glass of wine made sure we weren’t worried about it ;) Two and a
half hours later we were at Waterloo station.

London is still the
same busy international travel destination. My mom had never been to London, so
I taught her all about the underground system a.k.a. “the Tube” (which C taught
me a few years ago) so she would be comfortable using it on a possible future
trip. We did a little bit of sight seeing around the classic destinations.
Contrary to what we had read, the London Eye was not closed for maintenance. I
just love the panoramic view. The funny thing is that while it moves slow, at
the same time the ride seems over pretty quick.

Upon return to Brugge
it was time to repack and head for the US. Why does time fly so fast when you’re
having fun? And why are we always more tired after a vacation than before?
;)

“Any pictures?” You ask :) A selection should be available later
this week.

Click here to read more …