Caffeine Peter Colijn

December 02, 2006 (link)
On Macs, continued

pphaneuf: I complained about FrontRow and the iTunes album art stuff not because I find their problems incredibly serious flaws of OS X as a whole, but because they are touted by Apple to be great new features, when they are actually decidedly half-baked. The fact that you cannot play DivX with FrontRow makes it pretty useless, IMO. There already is a DVD Player app that works ok, and 99% of your other video media is likely to be DivX. I use MPlayer OS X for playing stuff on Mac, and it too plays most things just fine (except some obscure Windows Media stuff). But it isn't integrated with FrontRow, and as far as I know, there's no way to integrate it with FrontRow, so the whole "Mac as the thing to hook up to your TV" concept is kinda lost on me. It's no better than a Linux or Windows machine for that purpose. It would be if FrontRow actually worked.

The album art thing, fine, it's actually not a trivial problem, and they probably wanted better accuracy than some of the open source programs, whose accuracy is somewhat wanting, as pmccurdy observed. Still, it doesn't download art for a lot of albums that Rhythmbox gets, so, as a newly-hyped feature it's pretty disappointing.

I guess my overall point in noting these two shortcomings was that, as Apple launches go, these two were very weak and left me unimpressed.

And again, it's not that I don't like Macs at all. I think they're great for what they're primarily designed for. My problem is that the design goals of a Mac do not really intersect very much with what I actually usually do with a computer, so they're not very good for me.

December 03, 2006 (link)

One's person's trash...

Wow, craigslist is awesome. I have an IKEA lamp that I don't really want, because it wasn't the one I wanted in the first place and I've been unable to find a light bulb for it. It costs a whole $5 at IKEA. I posted the sucker on craigslist's "free stuff" area and within minutes I had about 10 emails from people asking about it.

Thanks for helping me get rid of my junk, craigslist.

December 10, 2006 (link)

On Sucking

Yay, another rant. My I'm cranky lately. It's just there's only so much broken crap I can tolerate before I snap. Here's the latest list:

  • You know how I said Tréos were crappy for Internet stuff, but solid phones? Scratch that. Mine is now dropping calls left, right and centre. andukar apparently has call-dropping problems with his brand new 680, too.
  • MacBook Pro wifi sucks hardcore. At work, it claims it's associated but can rarely pick up an IP from DHCP. It sits there dumbly with a 169 address, and telling it to renew does nothing. I have to manually switch it from using DHCP to manual, and back, several times, before it finally works. I suspect the timeout is just too low, but it being a Mac, there's no way to actually adjust that sort of thing (at least not that I could find by looking in /etc, the NetInfo Manager and Google). At home, it just randomly disassociates every minute or two.
  • iPod dock just stopped working, for no reason.
  • Yahoo! Mail requires you to re-enter your password every few clicks. Seriously. Wow is this ever annoying. I use Yahoo! Mail fairly rarely, but I have an account that I used to use when filling in forms at places I expected to spam me [I now just use a wildcard address and fill in random stuff @ to catch the baddies].
  • eBay has a less severe version of the same bug; the way they do their sign-ins is broken in some bizarre way though. I signed in, opened a new tab and went to, and it claimed I was not signed in. I can't imagine what they're doing to break that, so, uh, wow. Good job at finding some strange subtle way to break cookies. Or something.
  • First of all, requiring users to run a sketchy Perl script as root is never a good idea. Second, this thing is broken in many ways from, "let's use $CC in some places and /usr/bin/gcc in others" to "let's rename modules to non-standard things so the usual Linux module tools don't work". Fantastic. That this stupid script hasn't been replaced by something less, hmm, what would be a good word? Ghetto, that's the one. That it hasn't been replaced by something less ghetto in the many years of VMware's Linux products is astounding.
  • /etc/init.d/vmware. Yes, let's assume that every time this fails the configuration script hasn't been run and refuse to run again. Let's also make sure that due to the above flaws, said configuration script rarely works properly. Wonderful.

On Handbags

A somewhat odd subject for me. Nevertheless, I was in Saks Fifth Avenue this afternoon and I just have to know. Why do people spend thousands of dollars on handbags? And these things were hideous, too! I just don't get it. For now, I'll consider that a good thing.

December 11, 2006 (link)


CIBC just added a new section to their website called "spend report." In 2006 I spent $3500 on transportation (mostly on flights) and $1500 on restaurants. And that's just my Canadian credit card, which I haven't really used much for the last 6 months. Yikes. Since they're mining the data and no doubt selling it to all kinds of sketchy advertising companies anyway, I guess it's nice that it's finally available to me too.

December 15, 2006 (link)

On Notifications, continued

The latest Joel touches on notifications and software getting in your way. I love this paragraph. It had me screaming "yes! yes! exactly!" Ok, maybe not screaming. But I was bouncing up and down in my chair.

Every few days some crappy software I can't even remember installing pops up noisy bulletins asking me if I want to upgrade something or other. I could not care LESS. I'm doing something. Leave me alone! I'm sure that the team at Sun Microsystems who just released this fabulous new version of the Java virtual machine have been thinking about the incremental release night and day for months and months, but the other 5,000,000,000 of us here on the planet really don't give a flying monkey. You just cannot imagine how little I want to spend even three seconds of my life thinking about whether or not to install that new JVM. Somebody out there is already firing up Gmail to tell me that the JVM mustn't just upgrade itself because that "might break something." Yeah, if the entire collective wisdom of the Java development team doesn't know if it's going to break something, how am I supposed to know? Sheeesh.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Unless you have something earth-shatteringly important to tell me, do not pop random stupid crap up in my face!

On Banks

apenwarr claims that banks (in Canada, anyway) do not and cannot use any information about your spending patterns that they might have to do anything but "run their business."

First of all, even though banks do not have information about exactly what you bought, knowing how much you paid and where you bought it is still a significant amount of information; certainly enough to target ads. That I spend most of my money on my credit card on flights and restaurants no doubt makes me a good target for advertising, oh I don't know, maybe flights and restaurants?

The reason I suspect that some sort of advertising deal is going on is that with my credit card bills I always receive remarkably relevant advertisements for (you guessed it) flights and restaurants. Maybe this is purely coincidential; maybe they advertise flights and restaurants to all their credit card customers.

Is there any way that without actually giving away the data, they could do something with it? i.e. they tell some advertising companies "give us ads for travel, restaurants, luxury cars, and some other categories; we will make sure they go to the right people." The advertising companies never know who is seeing which ads, just that they're going to the right places. Remarkably like Google's ad system, when you think about it.

In any case, I have no evidence that this is, in fact, happening. It just seems likely. It's what I would do if I were a bank :P But I suppose my original assertion that banks are selling my personal data "to all kinds of sketchy advertising companies" is probably false; at most they're keeping it to themselves and enjoying the lucrative position of being an advertising middleman.

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