Archived entries for mac

Just What’s Playing at Starbucks

Starbucks Ditches T-Mobile and Brings in AT&T as Exclusive Wi-Fi Provider | Epicenter from

If you’re an iPhone owner and are wondering how the new deal affects you, apparently the answer is not at all. In September Apple announced a new partnership with Starbucks and T-Mobile to let iPhone and iPod touch users to access T-Mobile’s HotSpots for free in order to download and listen to music via the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store. That iTunes Wi-Fi Store partnership is still in effect, but will contiue under under AT&T’s Wi-Fi service.
Other than that, iPhone owners shouldn’t expect any other preferential treatment or special access at Starbucks in the near term.
‘This offer is for AT&T broadband customers who can access Wi-Fi in the stores over a Wi-Fi-enabled device. [iPhone users] who are not broadband subscribers can’t access for free at this time,’ AT&T spokesperson Brad Mays told Ars Technica.

Well, that bites. At least this was finally a clear explanation – I’ve seen several posts claiming that iPhone users would get free service at Starbucks as a result of this deal. Didn’t make sense. The iTunes store was the only thing I ever checked at Starbucks anyway.

(Via Wired News.)

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NYPL’s new MyLibraryDV and Macs

Reading the NYPL monthly newsletter this morning, I saw what looked like a great new service: MyLibraryDV. From the newsletter:

Download classic films, Hollywood hits, lifestyle programs, and more — for free! All you need is your NYPL library card, high-speed Internet access, and MyLibraryDV to access more than 1,000 movies and TV series, including favorites like Antiques Roadshow and America’s Test Kitchen.

Well, that, and a Windows machine, or an Intel-equipped Mac with BootCamp, Parallels, or VMWare Fusion:

Can I use a Mac with the service?

The Download Manager for MyLibraryDV is a Windows .exe file that can only be installed on computers running Windows 2000 with SP4 or Windows XP with SP2, which enables you to run Windows Media Player. You can use a Mac to operate the Download Manager and view videos if you have an Intel processor and Windows 2000 with SP4 or Windows XP with SP2 operating system installed and running. Macs without this capability will not be able to install and use the Download Manager.

So the answer here is “not really,” though of course you can make the case that a Mac running Windows does it better and more stably than a PC. (Ask me sometime about the epic struggle it was to burn 3 Word docs to a CD on a Windows laptop yesterday. Why people put up with this stuff is beyond my comprehension. Well, besides “they have to.”) But anybody with a G* is out of luck. NYPL, you’re better than this. Really.

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Tracking the wily changes

I was one of those Mac greybeards (though I lost the Classic fetish, natch; I don’t enjoy spectacular crashes) whose formative word processing time was spent using Microsoft Word 3.1, maybe the best Mac word processor ever made. Mac Word has gone the usual MS application route of feature bloat, making the easy excruciating, and Total World Format Domination (including what appears to be the deliberate trashing of backwards compat in the newest Windows versions; is this actually true?)

So I was an early convert to Nisus Writer, which in its Classic versions offered some heady geek-level features (Perl for macros! Regexp!) but still could just straight-up open up a vein. I’ve followed them over to Express and now Pro, but there is one goddamn feature that’s keeping me from ditching the Big Bankcode Font W for good.

That is Track Changes. I desperately need Track Changes. We collaborate the living hell out of a document here at MPOW, and that means we TRACK CHANGES. To within an inch of a file’s life.

Nisus has been promising this feature, or least acknowledging the lack thereof, for a good couple years now at least, by my reading of their support forums. I’d like to see it move up on their priority list. I don’t want to have to buy YET ANOTHER Mac wp. Mellel didn’t do it for me, NeoOffice does some nice stuff but is heir to the death by a million small cuts that is OpenOffice on the Mac, and I don’t want to spend my sucker early adopter iPhone Apple Store credit for iWork (or is it iHardlyWorking?) Come on, Nisus, move it up.

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My iPhone 1.1.1 Update

My iPhone is not unlocked, but I had installed and a couple applications, though the only ones I was using with any regularity were iFlickr and Erica Sadun’s SendPics. I installed it last night, after making sure to sync up first. Partway into the “Preparing iPhone” progress bar, the phone went dark and then popped up the yellow triangle/”Please connect to iTunes” screen, which I took as a sign that things were not going well. A few minutes later I got a -1005 (iirc) error message from iTunes. Even with a backup, I still always get that frisson of fear when something like that happens.

Fortunately, at that point I just restored. I lost some photos that I hadn’t imported – somehow I had gotten the dumb idea that photos were imported without pressing the damn import button- but otherwise I’m back to normal, if less my iToner ringtones and

The iTunes WiFi music store is pretty cool. You could easily drop a lot of impulse money on it. Not that I have, of course; I just bought a couple things in the interests of investigating the interface. The store gives Apple a little bit of an edge in this market again; right now, you can’t buy from Amazon MP3 on your iPhone or iPod Touch. If I were Amazon, I’d be figuring out a way to do that.

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NetNewsWire and Syncing

I hope Brent Simmons got a lot of money for selling NetNewsWire to NewsGator, because he’s thrown the software’s reputation to the wind.

I mostly read news on 2 machines, a Powerbook and a dual G5 at work. Sometimes I also use the iMac we have upstairs in the study. Sometimes I’m on a machine I don’t own with a web browser. What I want is the ability to read a feed item on one machine and have the other machines know that I’ve read it and not show it to me again as new.

If I subscribe to a feed on one machine, I want the others to know that and show me that feed when I read feeds on another machine.

In short, what I need is reliable synchronization across machines.

I don’t think these are particularly unique needs. But NetNewsWire can’t handle this scenario.

In the days when I ran emacs over a terminal connection to and read Usenet in gnus, this was easy. Whenever I quit, my .newsrc got updated with my read/unread counts, and that was that. It worked.

NetNewsWire once worked pretty well in terms of synchronization. I could synchronize my Bloglines subscriptions with it, and life was good.

Then NNW got sold to NewsGator, and I was magnaminously offered a free 2 year subscription to NewsGator online. Not only that, but they ALSO had an online newsreader, so I could still read either on my Powerbook, my work machine, or a web browser, if I happened to be away from my own machines.

So I switched over to NewsGator syncing.

It has been an utter disaster ever since. NewsGator’s web based reader is an horribly broken shitty piece of crap. I have just spent the last hour making multiple attempts at deleting a folder in my feeds list. I right-click the folder. I select “Delete folder.” The folder disappears. I wait a few minutes to see if the change “took.” I refresh the browser. The folder reappears.

I delete it again. I wait. I quit the browser. I restart the browser and go to the NewsGator reader. The folder is there again. I repeat the process. I quit that browser and open a different one. The folder is still there.

I decide to attack it from the NNW end. I open NNW and tell it to overwrite NewsGator. It merges the list with the online list. There’s the folder still.

During my many replacement attempts, NNW/NewsGator appears to do things in an entirely arbitrary manner, randomly deleting feeds and setting read/unread counts on my feeds.

I do not appear to be alone. A search for “sync” on NewsGator’s NNW support forum yields 178 topics. And from what I can see there, the support staff has no idea what’s going on either. The typical entry has a user complaning about the same sorts of things I am – basically, that the syncing is just plain broken. In one hapless schmuck’s case, after trying every last “fix” in the book, we get this total left-field Hail Mary play from the support guy:

This is just getting weird! Is there any chance that someone else could have your username/password and be using the account at another lcoation? We’ve seen this happen when people sell computers etc and leave the software on it.

Even if you don’t think that is the case, can you try changing your password in NewsGator Online, and also NNW and see if that helps at all.

Of course, in the next reply, the poor user says that that didn’t work either, and then all is silence. This is the worst kind of “support” – the kind where it’s everything and anything’s fault except the software’s. Among the excuses trotted out in the support forum is to check with your IT administrator to see if SOAP headers aren’t getting through your firewall, that people are closing the application before it has a chance to complete the sync, and that perennial favorite – you’re not using a current enough beta.

Google Reader may not be a river of news, take full advantage of Mac OS X services, or be up to Gruber-caliber HIG snuff, but it has one distinct and overriding advantage:

It works as advertised.

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Unboxed and unviewed

Tame The Web: Libraries and Technology: amazon unbox Goes Live

I’ll be interested in the first reviews of his (sic) product.

Ok, here’s a review:

First, and worst, doesn’t work with a Mac. Surprising for Amazon, and right there a deal-breaker. You can only watch on an XP PC. Can’t burn to DVD (except as a backup that won’t play in a DVD player, and librarians love DRM, right?) So I guess I’d say it sucks.
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My continuing NetNewsWire woes (no link, only working software gets links): this morning manual feed refresh just stopped working. I choose refresh all and after a few seconds the action completes and nothing has happened. Not only that, NNW is practicing a particularly nasty form of lock-in: it won’t export my feeds correctly to OPML. I read about 500 feeds or so, and when I export, whether I export to all in flat format, all in groups format, selected in flat or selected in groups, it manages to export only 181 of those files. Pretty good way to make sure I don’t switch to another newsreader, eh? Not only this, but according to this bug report, this has been an open bug for better than a year. I have always liked the feel of NNW and it has been a good piece of software in the past, but this kind of sloppiness for a paid product is unacceptable. The NewsGator “sync” has been awful from day one. About the only thing I’ve liked about it is that my additions or deletions from my feed list have also been synced, although like every other aspect of this software, it’s done it inconsistently. As soon as I can figure out a way to cleanly (and completely) export my OPML from the program, I’ll take my feedreading elsewhere. BlogBridge is looking damn good at the moment.

UPDATE: Ironically enough, I can export all the feeds from NewsGator online. But this is crazy: what if I didn’t have a NewsGator account? I’ve reimported everything back into Bloglines, and I’m trying out other RSS readers. I’ll post more about this when I’ve had some time to play with them all a bit. Until then, I’m just using Bloglines for now. It at least works.

Meters, software, and Macs

Via VersionTracker, I found a new type 2 tracking program for the Mac called Type2Tracker. It looks really great, but there’s one big problem: I can’t import my meter data into it. I’d have to enter it manually and that’s a deal-breaker for me. I know of only one other program that will import data from a number of popular meters, the Body Journal, from a Canadian company. It also looks pretty good, but it’s not aimed specifically at diabetics. My guess is that the meter manufacturers, all of whom sell software packages themselves (for Windows only), aren’t too forthcoming with the specs necessary to write a package for the Mac. If anyone knows of one, I’d love to know. I ended up getting a OneTouch UltraSmart. Highly recommended.

And while I’m on the subject of meters, why isn’t there a LOT more technical innovation in glucometers? There’s an awful lot of us diabetics out there – why aren’t we getting meters with Bluetooth interfaces and web capabilities? How come I can’t press a button on my meter and have it sync up with the diabetes software on my Powerbook? Why can’t it send my results wirelessly to my doctor? Is it ageism – would the companies be doing this if diabetics were mostly people in their 20’s (although since new cases are being diagnosed increasingly younger, that may yet be the case)? Why isn’t Apple designing a meter? The iBleed? It could also play music!

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Yet more NNW woes

Recently I wrote a post about switching to Newsgator syncing when using NetNewsWire. I was not too happy with it then, and I am even less happy with it now. Because it doesn’t work. My setup is a Powerbook at home and a G5 tower at work, and I’d be overly generous to describe the syncing as “spotty.” Items that I know I have marked read at work show up again at home, and vice versa. I have been assiduous about making sure to send changes both ways, but it just isn’t working. When I can find some time, I intend to go through the tedious process of re-importing my Bloglines settings. It’ll be tedious because for some odd reason, NNW doesn’t import groups from an OPML file (or at least the one I get from Bloglines) – everything just gets dumped into the top level, which means I will have to spend an enormous amount of time resifting everything into folders. Sigh. If only I had waited another day.

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More on NNW syncing

Well, neither of the reasons in yesterday’s post were right. Bloglines syncing started working for me again yesterday morning. However, in the meantime I had switched over to NewsGator syncing, and at the moment I am not inclined to switch everything back again. The Newsgator syncing, though, is annoyingly slow. There’s a very long delay when you start the sync, which I assume is due to Newsgator authentication. Once it starts syncing, the speed is acceptable; but on the whole it feels much slower than Bloglines syncing did. The synchronization itself also seems somewhat buggy. When I synced this morning from home, I saw a number of articles that I had read from work yesterday.

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