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  • Carbonite made my Mac Pro painfully slow

    Posted on April 25th, 2011 badmotivator No comments

    After ten months or so of dealing with an agonizingly slow and never completed initial backup, overused RAM, CPU and VM, I have had enough of Carbonite. I turned off auto-renew and uninstalled it completely. I guess it’s back to regular offsite backups using cheap 1TB drives.

  • Generate Drive-Time Isochronic Polygons on a Map

    Posted on December 15th, 2010 badmotivator No comments

    Click the following link. After finding a location and single clicking to mark a focus, and after a short wait, it will display a 1500px X 1000px map with polygons describing all the regions you can drive within 20 minutes. 20minisochronicmap

    Original file, edited by me, is here:

  • New Blu-ray Drive

    Posted on July 30th, 2010 badmotivator No comments

    Skip this post if you don’t care about Mac Pro hardware upgrades.

    I just successfully installed a LITE-ON 4x Blu-ray Disc SATA Internal Optical Drive iHOS104, priced $65 on Amazon, and installed it in my early-2008 Mac Pro.

    The Mac Pro has connectors for PATA in the optical drive bay. I tried a SATA to PATA/IDE Hard Drive Interface Adapter, and then used the existing connectors in the optical drive bay, but the Mac Pro did not see the drive. Next I tried connecting the drive to a vacant SATA port on the motherboard, which required a significant amount of dis- and re-assembly of the inside of the computer, using the included red SATA cable. A longer, right-angle SATA cable would have facilitated this operation. I used a SATA Power Cable 4-pin Molex to 15-pin SerialATA adapter, price $1.31 plus shipping through Amazon, to power the drive from the existing unused power source in the optical drive bay. This part was easy.

    On boot the computer sees the drive and reads the data from the included Blu-ray disc.

    I have not yet ripped any movies.

    If you are the owner of a 2008 Mac Pro and would like more information about how to do this, email me at ben at this domain.

  • Updated WordPress

    Posted on March 30th, 2009 ben No comments

    I finally got around to updating my wordpress installation to v2.7.1. It’s surprisingly difficult when yahoo is your web host. There were some freaky errors when the new WP tried to update the old database, but everything seems to be working.

    I can now use the WordPress for iPhone app (ooh!) and it should end the user-registration spam I’ve been getting (ah!). It probably broke the comment system or something. Oh, well.

    Also I should now be able to properly export the blog so that I can try it on Squarespace web hosting.

    UPDATE: I did find some problem with the permalinks, which was easily fixed by changing the permalink style in the WP settings.

    Damn, WP is so AJAXy now. It’s a pity it doesn’t display all those controls properly on Safari. Or rather Safari doesn’t handle them well. I guess I DO have a use for Firefox after all.

  • Crazy for the new camera!

    Posted on April 10th, 2008 ben 1 comment

    It was a pretty nice day in Eugene, and I had some time to fiddle with the Nikon D40 some more. I took lots of pictures, and after weeding out the badly exposed or blurry or superfluous shots ended up with a 125-picture gain.

    It’s funny to think about the marginal cost of digital photos. If I had to buy hard drive space to store those photos and make two backups of them as well, the cost of those 125 pictures would be about 15 cents. Astonishing. The big hardship now is the time it takes to cull the flubs and tag them with keywords.

    The 50mm lens is going to be difficult to use. The D40 requires motorized lenses for autofocus, and this lens is not motorized. It opens up to f1.8, which means a depth of field of like 20 angstroms. And getting the focus right, manually, under low-light conditions, in which I am likely to open up that iris all the way, is nearly impossible. I might have to do a continuous shutter thing while scrubbing the focus through a plausible range, and then discard all of the blurry shots. :)

    I am still looking forward to the arrival of the cute little bounce flash.

  • First day with the Nikon D40

    Posted on April 9th, 2008 ben No comments

    Our camera arrived today, and I took it out for a spin. I think we’ll have a lot of fun with this camera. Already we are seeing pictures of much higher quality than we ever got from our smaller snappies. I can’t wait to get the little bounce flash and the 50mm lens!
    Here are a few of the shots I took today:
    Elliot on woodpileElliot half profileElliot giving speech

  • We're done with the little digicams!

    Posted on April 6th, 2008 ben No comments

    Cheryl and I have sported a succession of cute little digicams over the years. My first was a Pentax Optio S40 in 2004. Its lens extension motor failed. Since then we have taken around 13,500 pictures and movies with that camera, and then a Kodak V550 (whose lens motor failed), and then a Leica D-Lux 3 (whose lens motor failed after an unexpected trip to the floor) and a Kodak V1253 (which was returned to Costco after it was discovered that it took shitty pictures). We’re sure tired of blown-out photos, blurry photos, noisy photos in low light, etc…

    We really liked the small form factor and the video features of each of these cameras. We have 1,500 little videos. And the quality has made amazing progress; we started out at crappy, blocky 320 X 240 and ended up with much smoother 1280 X 720.

    But it’s time to get some really good pictures, for a change. It’s time to get a more serious camera. So we’re expecting a Nikon D40 in the mail soon, along with a bounce flash and a normal, prime lens. I think we can expect the quality of the pictures to go up significantly soon.

    We will have to look into a little solid-state video cam soon. The Aiptek HD one I tested out last summer worked surprisingly well and took snapshots as well, so it might be a good option. I think that the technology in this area is going to jump really fast right now, so it might be a good idea to buy something on the low end of the market and wait a year or two for things to settle down a bit. We’ll see.

  • Who killed Relakks?

    Posted on March 17th, 2008 ben 2 comments

    It appears that the Swedish anonymizing VPN called Relakks is dead. The pptp server is totally unresponsive, and the homepage has been replaced by a generic search-and-links page like domain tasters and squatters put up.

    The strange thing about this is that I have not been able to find a mention of this event anywhere on the web. Is Qwest just playing some kind of prank on me? Did I miss some crazy takedown news from Sweden on #obscure-swedish-news or alt.askdhjs.skadjhksad?

    Looks like it’s time to check out BlackLogic and others.

    UPDATE: they got their domain back, it looks like, and there is no mention of anything on their “news” blog. VPN won’t connect yet, though.

    BlackLogic seems to work well as an alternative. It’s a little pricier, but I think I’m getting better throughput with them. I wonder about their logging policy, though. Is it as safe as Relakks claims to be?

    UPDATE II: Now everything seems to be working again. Again, no notice of anything strange going on in the news or blogs about Relakks, either. Very strange.

  • Sorry for the lack of posts!

    Posted on January 21st, 2008 ben No comments

    I was all excited to upgrade my Mac apps last year, and am glad I did, except that the upgrade to iPhoto '08 seems to have broken my WordPress export plugin. This means I have to do some actual thinking when I want to post pictures…

    WordPress does have some kind of image handling, and initially that's how I was getting photos uploaded and posted. I suppose that until some genius coder re-engineers the plugin I will have to go back to that method.  

  • Will Apple allow all iPhone apps? I doubt it.

    Posted on October 17th, 2007 ben 2 comments

    Apple plans to release the iPhone SDK in February of 2008. They are warning that there is some risk of "viruses, malware, privacy attacks, etc." from third-party apps, and say they are working on a way to avoid that problem. I have heard folks speculate that Apple will do this through a developer certification program, an iTunes distribution/installation monopoly, and some trickery with digital certificates which prevent unauthorized code from running on the device. 

    I broke my iPhone out of jail fairly soon after the software was available for my PowerPC Mac. I installed the and I played around with a bunch of those third-party apps. And I liked many of them, too. But if you subtract from my use-count all of the times I started an app just to see what it did or how it worked, and then subtract all of the times I started an app just to show it off to someone, the average use-count for those third-party apps is very close to zero. There just aren't very many daily-use apps out yet. 

      I would, however, use an anonymized Gnutella client, say one that goes through the Relakks VPN, which offers the files on my phone and which puts downloaded files in a new playlist in the iPod section called "iPhone Gnutella" or something handy like that. Dear world, please write such an app. I believe it is technically feasible and highly desirable. But something tells me that Apple will never allow a P2P file-sharing app on the phone. And that leads me to believe that Apple will keep pretty tight control over which apps can be installed and which cannot. 

    I would also use an app which gives me remote access to my home media, such as my iTunes and iPhoto libraries. This function will come quickly, I think. I await it with some eagerness.