Windows 7 64 bit on PPC OS XIf this picture doesn’t make sense, it’s my 32-bit PPC Mac running near-native speeds on an Intel virtual machine of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit through the Internet. If the reason or the methodology isn’t apparent, read on. (more…)

The wrong dessert to get me for my birthday: Bacon Burger Pie

The wrong dessert to get me for my birthday: Bacon Burger Pie

Yep, it’s my birthday tomorrow (thanks for the early wishes, everyone!). My honey ain’t feeling too hot so I probably won’t have a cake, so if you want to stop at Sweet Life and grab a Vegan Tiramisu or something, that would be cool. While you’re at it, a Vegan Chef’s Choice from Pizza Research Institute and some Oakshire beer, maybe the Vit or Duck Billed Platypus or the Ill Tempered Gnome, would go down quite well, too.

If you really want to splurge, get me a gift certificate at Best Buy (I probably would have said Frys but they’re not local and I’ve already got some old gift certificates at Best Buy). I can use it to get another external hard drive for the music, pictures and video. A print server would be nice, too. We could also use a couple extra Wii MotionPlus remotes for when the visitors come and want to gang up on New Super Mario Bros. Wii! 😀

<geek>Not to mention the fact that it would be nice to get another Linksys WRT160Nv3 router in case I happen to render mine useless trying to flash an Open Source firmware called Tomato USB onto it. After SimplifyMedia made me mad and gave up the ghost, I’ve been trying to find a good solution to accessing my files from abroad. crashes and has literally no support. Remobo— is just plain weird and looks like it will have issues with firewalls. This lead me to virtual private network solutions. Hamachi would be GREAT but there’s no support for anything but Windows (ew!) anymore. There was Viscosity but I didn’t feel like spending money for it.

So that lead me to OpenVPN solutions. Tunnelblick held some promise but it was going to take me forever to figure out how to configure the thing (I have a couple BOOKS now on the subject) and then I wasn’t sure it would work with a Bonjour-based service like iTunes Home Sharing. Looking for other options, I stumbled across a few different Open Source firmwares like dd-wrt and the original Tomato, complete with built in OpenVPN server. Now it’s just a matter of implementation but I’ve been a bit nervous without a backup option. So, yeah, that would be cool. I can always return it if all goes well.</geek>

But in all honesty, I don’t need any presents or surprises. I can’t complain. Even if I got nothing, I got a great wife who I am so proud of for going back to school to persue her dream (art) and constantly and delightfully surprised by for gaining new interests (biology) and who is just the best friend I could ever have (tandem kayaking and whale watching last weekend was fabulous!). I also got a remarkable little daughter who could out-swim me any day, who’s excelling reading standards and who continues to challenge and astound me every day.

Besides, I’m a geek. I don’t ever get bored, so it’s hard to feel sorry for yourself if you don’t get any presents or no one remembers your birthday. 😀 Not like I have that to worry about…

As you can see, outside of adding Twitter support (anyone see those commercials about how no one knows what Twitter is?), another exciting feature we have to look forward to with the 1.4 version (codename: King Eider, which you see pictured here) of Adium is IRC support, at long last.  Set your copy to update to beta version when available (under the General tab) and run a check and you’ll be on your way to enjoying this with 1.4b1.

I’ve been waiting for this, so I’ve been sort of neglecting the BF IRC channel.  Today I discovered I’m having some difficulty connecting to the usual server so I’m moving everything over to Freenode.  There’s a handy dandy little Java client that will get you there via any browser or use server, port 6667, and channel #bikefriday.  This may be a good way to say hi as I have been REALLY busy– which is why I haven’t yet (sorry) posted up the story about the stolen bike.  All in good time!

For various reasons, some of which I’ll expound on for the Mac geeks out there, the Bike Friday IRC channel I began so many moons ago is back again.  If you have questions about the bikes or service or just want to chat, this (I hope) will provide a good forum for some live interaction.  Heck, maybe one day I can get the rest of Bike Friday entered into the computer age and we can ALL contribute.  Meanwhile, you got me and whoever else might be there though it’s been pretty empty as of late (read: I’m lonely, come visit).

If you’re not familiar with IRC and your browser is set up to allow JavaScript (most modern ones are– unless you’ve disabled access), clicking here should take you right into the IRC channel or chat room if you prefer.  Before opening your digital mouth, you might first want to make a name for yourself, which you can do by typing /nick name where name is whatever you want your name to be.  Make sure you don’t have any spaces in it.  And don’t forget the forward slash.  Then just type away.  An example is pictured here for your convenience.

Another easy way for anyone to connect regardless of operating system is by using the ChatZilla plugin for Mozilla browsers (e.g. SeaMonkey, Firefox).  The install link is at the bottom.  Once there, just click here.

The more hardcore IRC’er will probably want a dedicated client.  It’s also nice to not have to have your browser open to do IRC.  I can’t help the Windoze folks out there but Wikipedia can.  *nix folks will appreciate my final solution for the Mac was Terminal-based.  Read on.

I once proclaimed an appreciation for Colloquy but have since rescinded that appreciation.  It’s just too darn buggy.  Conversation is worse (could have to do with the fact that the last release is from 2005).  Not many freeware options.  Linkinus was nice but $20 which seemed a bit more than what I wanted to spend for what it could do. 

And then they came out with some free licenses.  Well I got spoiled by a lot of features included one that would leave me on even with the application off.  That was simply too cool.  And then they came out with a new version and I did the automatic update which was incompatible with my license (I did know better at the time), which then became unusable.  I tried to get them to help me re-install the old licensed version but I have received no response and now I’m very glad I never gave them a dime.  They don’t deserve it.

I looked into a million options, especially one that would allow me to always stay connected.  The more I looked into it the more I saw Mac guys mentioned using irssi+screen.  Irssi is one of the best Terminal-based IRC clients out there.  Screen allows you to stay connected not only when the program you’re running in it is closed but also when Terminal itself is closed!

I did this for a while and was really happy with it but then I started exploring other ports on MacPorts and found weechat.  It had some features about it that won me over, like a nicklist that worked (irssi’s script sucks), the ability to split windows vertically and horizontally and lots of other little things.  I had to play with it a bit to get it where I wanted (including making a 2-line Perl script to automatically create my split windows) but now it loads up just the way I want it to.

So it’s pretty easy to get this running with MacPorts.  Make sure you’re in an admin account in terminal (use login as needed) and then issue a sudo port install +perl.  MacPorts will add on all the dependent programs you need to get it running and verify the configuration.  It’s awesome.  As a slight tangent, I consider this essential if you’re going to use any *nix programs since the ports are built specifically for Darwin.  Anyways, the +perl isn’t necessary but recommended if you want to add on any additional functionality.  This is how my auto-split window script works.

What I’m really excited about though is the possibility of Growl notifications.  The idea of weechat+screen+growl has me ELATED!  Think about it:  with no Terminal running, you get notifications when things you want to know happen!  However, the script requires (sensibly so) Mac::Growl which for some reason I can’t get working due to dependencies I can’t get working for some reason, which I think is related to Mac::MoreFiles which I can’t seem to get going (Mac::Growl is looking for it).  I’m in touch with the developer of the script as well as introducing a bug report to Mac::Growl, so we’ll see what happens.

Anyways, however you get on IRC, get on there and let’s talk bikes!

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For all you Mac geeks out there, this is a major upgrade to the best multi-platform instant messaging client on the market.  Did I mention it was free?  So you get tabbed browsing and it can handle just about every single instant messaging protocol on the market (though it still seems to have trouble with MySpaceIM) plus a lot of other features.  Unlike its Windows cousin, Pidgin, it doesn’t (yet) handle IRC but eventually it ought to handle that.  They’ve also been working on adding Skype, Gizmo, audio/video chats and who knows what else.

There’s a particular development that’s very exciting for this blog.  See that "say hello" box over to the right?  That’s a widget connected to my meebo account.  Since meebo uses a Jabber protocol, it’s no problem adding it to Adium.  So I can get/send messages from/to my blog very easily this way.  The problem lies in that previously you would not be able to see me online– usually, at least.  See, I’d get this annoying dialog box initiated by loading the page that would ask me if I wanted to allow the new contact to message me and if I wanted to add them to my contact list.  I did want the former but not the latter because the contact was only good as long as the page was up.  Then the contact was useless.  I got into the habit, especially as page loads were high, of just closing the dialog, at the cost of communication.

So what does the new Adium do for me here?  It allows me an option to auto-allow (different from auto-allow and add).  So now, when I’m online, you see me online.  So feel free to chat away.  Talk to me about your experiences with Leopard, ask me about the new Model T, inquire about Sierra’s Christmas performance (pix/videos coming), tell me your top 10 fave albums for 2007 (mine’s coming soon), or request Christina’s special vegan cheeseball recipe.  Whatever your need to chat, feel free.  Thanks to Adium it’ll be nice and easy.

UPDATE 1/9/8: I got a little trigger happy there, actually.  Though the feature was there, it turns out it was broken.  But those darn Adium devs are so responsive, after posting a crash report and some other tests to the forum, they had a fix up and ready to go.  Admittedly, this is not officially yet 1.2.1 but that’s where the fix will be released.  Until then, you can build from source.  You need Subversion (part of Leopard now!) and Xcode installed.  Once you got that, here’s what you want to do in Terminal:
svn co svn:// adium
cd adium

Now under ~/adium/build/Deployment-Debug is the you need to run.  It will pick up on all your old accounts and preferences and stuff, so find it in Finder, double click and you’ll be on your way. 

UPDATE 1/18/8: 1.2.1 is out which fixes the aforementioned problem as well as some minor and not so minor things, like not always accepting Google Talk certificate checks, a few memory leaks, and a decreased memory footprint!

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Nothing beats resourcefulness. It’s an essential survival skill. Making the best out of what you got. Usually, too, the most resourceful people are among the most creative. I mean, look at all that recycled art out there!  It’s one thing to imagine something and make it.  It’s another thing to make something out of existing materials.  It’s a greater discipline, like limerick versus free verse.

One example of this that has always amazed me is that of ASCII artASCII can be thought of as the "base" set of characters you have to deal with on a computer.  Everyone knows what emoticons are and they can be thought of as the most simple of ASCII art though the Homer Simpson is impressive: ~(_8(I).  Sometimes people have cute like ASCII caricatures of themselves in their signatures.

ASCII art was far more complex than that right from the get-go.  Kenneth Knowlton, a programmer at Bell Labs and mosiacist by night, developed the field in 1966 and has some pretty impressive works in his collection.  Among my favourite is the portrait of Einstein composed only of 5 characters: e, =, m, c, and 2, being the equation that made him famous.  What made Ken famous, though, is taking an image, scanning it, and then re-rendering it based on a scheme of using a particular character with a particular halftone level.

This is the same process VLC and MPlayer uses to play videos.  Yes, you now can watch the tikit videos in ASCII.  Similarly, a computer generative process is used to create an ASCII version of Google Maps and to generate phrases in different ASCII art fonts.

But what takes the cake is open source, cross platform ASCII drawing program/image editor JavE.  You can do all sorts of things with it including all the things you would expect to do with a similar program.  You can even convert/export to/from ASCII from/to a variety of standard graphics formats.  To show you its power, I give you this:

Stick that in your signature file and post it! 😀

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When I had my first computer, we didn’t have graphical user interfaces, at least not in the way that we have come to know them.  Mostly, it was a bunch of colored ANSI/ASCII.  Pretty lame, really.  Certainly didn’t help productivity.  Frankly, I came to resent GUIs.  When Windows came out, I installed it but rarely used it.  It always slowed me down relative to just typing out commands in the shell.  Still, more and more programs were being developed specifically for Windows and so it was a necessary evil. 

Then, one fateful day, I installed Windows 95, rebooted, and exited the program into the DOS shell.  I typed some command and it said "wrong version" because bloody Bill Gates took over my shell and dumbed it down.  It was at that point that I decided that anything was better than Windows.  Looking for other alternatives, I had a certain love/hate relationship with Linux .  I loved its power and tweakability but I struggled to get the sound card to work, even with the more user friendly distribution Red Hat.

Then, I discovered that the Apple folks had hacked a *nix variant called FreeBSD and made it their own as an open source project called Darwin.  Even though it lacks some taken-for-granted features (has anyone noticed concat is missing?) a standard *nix distro comes with, unlike Windows 95 DOS, you can add to it whatever you want (for example, I have installed mplayer so that I can play music within the shell).  So even though OS X-equipped Macs are super user-friendly, they’re completely applicable to the power user as well.  It’s the best of both worlds, really.  Though I certainly spend time in the shell, I find that many things can be done a lot faster/easier with the GUI, which is an experience unique to OS X in my experience.

But despite all their genius and even despite the fact that their first product was a blue box that allowed for illegal free phone calls, I can’t give the differently-thinking Steve² all the credit.  One of the major elements that a GUI can give to an interface is organization.  It’s often pretty difficult to organize pure text.  Sure ircII and vi/m had split windows but tabs are the best implementation I have seen yet.  They leave the desktop uncluttered and yet everything is easily accessible at a glance.  Even though tabs have only been in the forefront for a little more than half a decade, the GUI just doesn’t seem the same without them. 

Case in point:  last night I was working with some text files and was about to pop open my favourite tabbed text editor when I thought I would give Aquamacs Emacs a try.  Though my *nix editor of choice– just for ease of use and accessibility– is pico (Darwin uses nano, which is a pico copy) I’ve used vi and especially emacs before, as well.  I thought it might be cool to have a super powerful *nix text editor with an Aqua interface.  So I popped in my first file and then hit Cmd-T for a new tab and got the old "Funk" sound.  So I searched through the menus, tried different options, to no avail– no tabs.  Screw it, I went back to Smultron.  Ironically, it was in 1988 that tabs were first introduced.. on an implementation of emacs.

That being said, here are my favourite tab-friendly OS X programs, though plenty more exist:

Luckily for those of you that are not convinced of what a joy OS X is to work with, there are plenty of tab-friendly programs for other platforms.  However, so much of the OS X GUI is about approachability and functionality, tabs seem to go hand in hand with it.  Maybe with Leopard steadily approaching public release, now would be a good time to see it for yourself if you haven’t already!

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