With the nights getting darker and the days colder I’m not getting out on my bike so much. So I dug out my iPod and Nike+ sensor and decided to hit the tarmac again. After a few quick runs around the block I knew I needed a bit of motivation to keep on track so I started browsing the Challenge gallery on the Nike+ website. The first one I clicked onto was the PC vs. Mac; well I just had to and no points for guessing the side I picked. But the second challenge I found looked interesting; ’Run Supersonic vs The World’
On 17 November London’s fastest 1000 proved their speed at Nike+ Supersonic: a 1K Sprint Speedway fuelled by live performances from Dizzee Rascal and The Enemy - see it at nikesupersonic.com. The final is over. The race has just begun. Whoever logs the fastest 1K before 5 January ‘08 wins an exclusive music prize. Will London retain its Supersonic crown?
It actually had a purpose so I, like 490 other people, joined up. Since then I’ve not focused on it, just doing my simple runs and letting iTunes work out my best 1km. Having submitted a few runs I decided to check the leader boards; hell yeah I’m 17th!
Some times you just can not think of a title and so you go with the old month and year algorithm. To which I’m now theming Nov07. I’ve always wanted to knock out some custom themes that are hand built from the ground up. But everything I try I end up with WordPress moving the goal posts (in respect of function changes in 2.3) or a incomplete style sheet and this bugs me! They never feel complete and I know it, to which I’m never happy and I move on to something else. But a few months ago I started following the Blueprint CSS project. I know these CSS frameworks are getting some stick; or at least provoke great discussions, but I felt I needed to try it out for my self. So I set about building a theme from the grass roots of Blueprint, but as with most people I fell foul of the grid layout in Blueprint and ended up floating back to my floats and widths to get things positioned. But if you look closely you will see a lot of Blueprint in here under the bonnet. The design itself is something I have been working on for over four months now; yep I know I’m slow, but each time I get some where I have to change directions and it gets put towards the back. The first sighting was during October when I managed to rush a pink version out. I wanted to move towards a darker site but something that I could build off for quite a while. So whilst it is up and running now, expect a few tweeks and changes here and there. Look out for a Blueprint inspired downloadable theme in the future.
For a quite a while now there has been a farm of what I thought were Llama’s in the local village of Long Melford. Until one day a customer came into work and wanted some carrier bags for the produce from his Alpaca farm in Melford. I soon realised my mistake and after a conversation mentioned to him of my online presence; Funky Larma (yes he too pointed out the spelling). He suggested that I pop in with my camera and take some photo’s, using them for avatars or stuff. Last Friday Paul popped in again for some ideas on packaging up gift certificates, interested I asked what he was planning. Turns out you can adopt an Alpaca from his flock/herd/bunch (?) and recieve updates to their progress. This was too much to pass down and so we asked if Oscar Products as a company could take part, Paul mentioned he had one male animal left to name, so we talked him into naming him Oscar. So I present Oscar the Alpaca. If you too feel like an Alpaca adoption is just the right gift for some one act now as the adoption programe is running up until Christmas, contact Paul Rylott for more details.
The other week end I was round at a friend’s house. Whilst my head was deep inside a pizza takeaway menu trying to decide what to have, Glen was fluffing about on his PC. He called over and said that everything had paused and nothing was working, without rising my head I replied with “have you tried turning it off and on again”. Before I was able to follow up this classic IT Crowd line Glen had reached for the power cable and yanked it right out of the wall. “Ouh, that’ll fix it. Deep crust?” was all I could reply. I feared the worse but thought I’ve seen stranger things happen, but on re-boot it was confirmed with the classic “read/write error” I then spent the next minutes trying to resurrect the PC, I managed to rebuild the MBR so we were booting but some where the hard drive had gone totally bye-bye. I hoped that a Windows repair might get it to a point where we could get the data off. But no joy, in fact no CD, despite being a legit PC with a legit copy of Windows, there was no install media! Luckily there was an early Christmas laptop on the way that fixed the need for a computer but there was always that niggle; can we get some data off the old PC? The other night I took the drive and using an IDE-USB adaptor I plugged it into the new laptop. The drive was recognised but only 4gb of the 120gb was visible. I then decided to try it on my Mac with a copy of Data Rescue. But this was on my old drive, pre-Leopard install. So a quick drive swop later I boot up and plug in the knackered drive. Data Rescue saw the drive; all 120gb of it. A quick scan reported no files, so we moved onto a complete scan. After 10 minutes the estimated time finally appeared on the screen; 14806 hours. You what! Eight weeks to scan the drive. Well that does explain the noise, the heads were smashing about all over the place. After leaving it for over 4 hours and the estimated time not even moving it was decided that it was a lost cause. Bin the drive and next time back up your files. What ever actually killed the drive (I’m blaming dust) remember that I’m a natural born joker and never take me seriously, especially when it comes to computers.
Last night I chaired my first committee meeting. During the Annual General Meeting of the local cycle club last month, chairman Peter Whitely decided to step down as chairman. During the silence that followed and the prolonged silence after volunteers were asked for, I sat there and pondered the idea. I should have looked back over time and realised that I just can not say no, instead I poked my little hand up and put forward an option. We would have one chairman and two vice chairpeople. I opted for the head chair and Roger and Robin said they would help me out in any way with the running of the club. I honestly have no idea what I should be doing or where I should be going, in fact during the meeting I kept looking at Peter for guidance. That said I’ve never backed down from a challenge so I’m here for the long haul, just got to find a way to keep every one on track.
When I look in System Preferences it now tells me I’ve been a .Mac member since 2004. Since I purchased my first Mac I have signed up to Apple’s own web service but until the last few weeks I have only ever used a .mac email address. Now armed with Leopard and an iPhone I can finally see the point in the service and have changed my work to use it more.
First off I’m now using .Mac mail as it should be, using the magic that is IMAP I’ve moved all my mail over to Apple. Since my first attempt at using .Mac webmail they have made some improvements and it is now usable and my perfect ‘out of office’ doorway. Plus with an iPhone I am now totally connected at any time, yep Edge is not great but just being able to sit in the garden and check your mail is worth it.
No more box.net for me, I’m a fully fledged iDisc user now. This is only because of having a Mac at work now and the better support for iDisc in Leopard. Before then I found it flakey; dropping connections, refusing to sync and just being a pain! Now I have a local copy on both work and home machines and auto sync to keep everything where it should be. There are still a few things I would prefer but the positive point out weigh the negative. Ease people, it’s just about making things easier.
The iLife Extras
Now you might think I will take this further with all the iLife/.Mac goodies. Sorry but no joy, I have no reason for sharing my iPhoto library; I’m Flickr'ed and that does everything I need for online photos. I do not use my camcorder nearly enough to want to share movies, I’ve not even fired up iMovie since installing iLife. iWeb is just nasty, besides why would I want to mess with that when I have my own domain and one of the most powerful web editors out there. So I will not be investing in Apple’s wholesome family fun filled sharing adventure idea. That said though for what it is worth I will gladly continue to pay for the service; now I can see the full picture. It has taken a few years but I’m glad I kept forgetting to cancel the 'auto renew’ option.
As any Mac user worth his salts will know that the latest version of OSX was released on October 26th October. Due to a bit of a mess up with a new hard drive I did not get round to installing Leopard until the following Friday. Since then I have had a little over a week to try out some of the claimed 300 new features and give it a bit of an airing.
For the installation I opted to start from scratch and complete a total re-install, plus the fact I planned on upgrading the startup drive it was the best plan of action. Before hand I started backing up my home folder, as it stands I had a 80gb startup drive and a 250gb ‘media’ drive that I used for iTunes and photos. But with the addition of a new OS I thought time to up the startup drive, so a new 160gb was purchased; nothing great but just a little bit more room to move. I copied my home folder over to the second drive and shut down Tiger (for the last time?) installed the new startup drive and proceeded to install. The install process was very simple and very Mac like. The only real comment was integration of the .Mac membership happened a lot sooner and seemed to play heavy during install progress. Upon startup you get the nice standard feature of Apple saying hello in every language known to man, then the 'norm’ desktop of the current version; Leopard has gone for a lit up galaxy style, nice but not me. Time to put my mark on the place.
I open the new Finder to find the new side bar and folder icons. Personally I’m a fan of these, they look good and sort of make up for the fact that CandyBar will not work in Leopard. The side bar is also a great improvement, but for different reasons, it is not network friendly with browsing your network a complete breeze; that even includes Windows machines! If you have any machine on your network that is sharing files or services when it will appear in a separate section in the side bar. By clicking on said machine will start the connection process, if you have never connected before you default to 'guest’ but you can change this by 'connect as’ and once completed keychain remembers this next time. Networking for me suddenly just got a whole lot easier! The next thing you will notice in the Finder are the new icons in the toolbar. First we have the coverflow view and the then the Quick Look eye. When viewing files and folders you used to have three main options, icons, threaded lists and split panes. Now you have the coverflow option. If you have used any recent version of iTunes you will know this feature, you are able to flick your way through your files. Whilst this is a great way to view some photographs or artwork I can not see it having the same effect with a load of boring Word documents. But for those Word Documents you have Quick Look which is just a breath of fresh air. We all know Microsoft Word is a hog, in fact using Pages makes much better sense, but rather than having to open up Word just to see that you’ve got the wrong document, one press of the spacebar brings the document up in Quick Look. Quick Look you enables you to open Word, Excel, pdf, quicktime and most image formats in a 'quick’ window for view or review. You can still control the active cursor in the main window so you can flick between files but there appears to be no known shortcuts just yet.
A long time ago I purchased a Freecom 400gb external USB hard drive with the plan of backing up all my data. However I could then not decide on the backup software or the process in which to do it. So as like most things it got pushed to the bottom of the pile. About once every couple of weeks I would turn this drive on, connect it up and use Apple Backup to backup my iTunes library and my photo library. Then it was forgotten about for another couple of weeks, not really best practice. Apple have included a new backup facility in Leopard called Time Machine, when I first read about it I was dubious and cast it aside as one of those gimmicky bolt on extras and never took any notice of it. Now I’m converted and a devote Time Machine user. When you read the Apple run down of Time Machine or look at the video’s they do not do it justice. I was convinced that it would only backup the startup drive and would be a tremendous waste of hard drive space and resources. But when I first configured the backup it went through and backed up both my startup drive and the second media drive. So after a few tweaks and setting some folders not to backup (scratch disks) I started again. Sure enough everything was backing up and when the next one was due it went off very quickly without any hitches. Since then I have been using it on a daily basis and have performed by own disaster recovery trial run; what a fun time that was. The only down side is that to totally restore a complete drive you need to boot from your Leopard install disc and then restore from there. I’ve read about creating partitions on backup drives and creating bootable copies of Leopard install dvd’s on there. Too much for me, just don’t loose the disc!
Not All Good
So far everything has been great, but not so with Adobe Lightroom. If you have Adobe Lightroom and you use the ability for Lightroom to save meta-data to jpg images you are in for a shock. These images will crash the Finder, Quickview, Preview and even iPhoto. In March this year I moved over to shooting mainly in RAW, with each image converted to DNG upon import, but earlier photo’s right back to pre 2000 were in the popular jpg format. When I tried out Lightroom 1.2 I selected that meta data should be stored in the jpg image file, in Tiger this was no problem, everything went on fine. But something in there causes some major problems with Leopard. At present Adobe claim that Lightroom is not fully supported in Leopard but I can not really see it being a total Adobe affair. If they were working fine in Tiger I’m also looking at Apple to fix this. There is a work around but that involves manually removing a set of meta from each images, way too time consuming for me. So I guess I wait for an update from either side to fix this.
Should You Upgrade?
Put it this way I have no regrets over the £80 upgrade fee. OK it is not without it’s hiccups and no matter what I try I can not get 'Back To My Mac’ to work but the bits that do work are so much better. mail.app is now really able to be taken seriously, with the addition of Notes and To-do’s. So much so I’ve moved everything over to .Mac and IMAP to share with my iBook. There are a few views missing in iCal but now with improved syncing support I can share calendars with more confidence. iDisk has finally moved into something usable, I’ve actually stopped using box.net and moved back to Apple’s native version. Moving files back and from work is so mach easier now, plus I now feel like I’m getting something out of my .Mac membership. True there are a few applications that don’t work or will be unstable but I can not really think that this will last for long. When you way weigh this up against the speed and smoothness of everything now it is well worth it, especially if you are an Intel Mac owner, nice and speedy now.
This time last week I woke up to my 30th Birthday. (Yes it has taken a while to write this, the started off with me making a big mistake and finished with a cold from hell) The plan for the day started with me waking to a massive migraine headache thing that put me on my ass (must be the age) After a while it passed and Lucy and I were due up at the farm for the statuary family get together. You know the process most of the immediate family are there, then there are some who travel a bit further but most of all it is a good excuse for the family to catch up. This time however we throw something into the mix; two families, both Lucy’s and mine. So sitting with my grandparents were Lucy’s brother and nephew Ant and Oscar. It was a strange setup but worked well. After the cutting of the cake it was planned to go out on the town and have a few drinks, but not too late, I’m getting old now. But I ended up sitting with my dad in the garden chewing the cud putting the world to rights. Eventually I got fed up with Lucy nagging so I got back in the car to go home and get changed. When I walked through the front door; SURPRISE!! Room full of friends and well wishers. I’ve never had a surprise birthday party in my life and I was knocked six ways over this. Turned out Lucy had been planning this for quite some time, even during the afternoon things were going on behind my back I did not twig. Sarah had not forgotten Farnkie’s feeding bottles; they went home to set up the food. Sally had not just left without saying good bye; she went to let Matt in to collect the balloons. Thank you to every one that turned up or was involved in the planning or execution. It was a total shock and awesome surprise.
I think that it is the thought of my upcoming 30th Birthday; yep I’m getting old. But over the last few days I’ve finally logged onto Facebook and been searching for old friends, or sometimes just names I know! So if you get a invite from me, don’t worry it’s just some form of pre-mid-life crisis going on. Just accept it and move on, I know after Saturday I will be.
If you are a Mac user you will no doubt know that the new OS 10.5 is on the way. In fact Leopard is due for release on the 26th October; only a few days away. So far I’ve always upgraded to the latest version but recently I’ve lost the way with Apple. Despite other bloggers detailing a few reasons why they would upgrade, if I was asked a month ago if I would the answer would be ‘not straight away’ I’m not loosing my love of Apple, I am just not in a position to keep upgrading and take advantage of the new technology. We all know that you can not stand in the way of progress but every time I purchase a new piece of Apple hardware before I’ve finished reading the manual it has been super-seeded! My current setup is a dual G5 PowerMac as my main machine, a G4 iBook for traveling and an old G4 iMac for looking good in the living room! The new version of Leopard feels that it is all about Intel Mac’s, built in iSights, FrontRow and basically stuff that will push my resources to the limit. Yes everything looks completely sick; Spaces and Time Machine for instance, but what in that complete package will really benefit my current usage, not much I’m afraid. But I did say if you asked me a month ago. Ask me now and I will be the first in the line to try and get a copy. My new Mac at work is the reason for the change and the main point for me is the iTunes style Finder sidebar. Working in a Windows network I am for ever 'connect to server’ and trying to find resources on the network. By the looks of it every machine in the local workgroup will appear in that sidebar, making everything so much easier. Well thats what I think Apple want me to believe. I’m all for it, plus my new work iMac is an Intel Mac with a built in iSight and FrontRow. I guess I’m just the right candidate, either that or I just need to find the right excuse reason to upgrade.