Monday, November 24, 2014

Took A Little Trip

In October Janet and I went to Barbados for our 25th wedding anniversary. Lovely little island in the West Indies.
We had beautiful hot weather for 7 days with hot rain on the last two days. We rented a car and traveled the circumference of Barbados stopping at the beautiful beaches, gardens, wildlife reserves, churches, towns, restaurants and stores.

Didn't really rest. Didn't really relax. It was a whole lot of go-go-go. Although the sun did disappear at 5:30, so we spent the evenings in our beach hotel, reading and relaxing.

Monday, February 04, 2013



So I got a free Acre Aspire 64 bit AMD Acer Aspire. Since we have Macs at home, and no desire for a PC I thought I'd turn this box into a Network Attached Storage device, NAS for short. After some preliminary research I found that FreeNAS would suit my needs... it is light enough to run over Linux off of a USB thumb drive, freeing up all of the internal drives for the NAS. The Aspire supprts four SATA drives natively and more when I buy an expansion SATA card. To start and experiment with NAS I bought two 2-Terabyte drives and configured them in a mirrored array through the FreeNAS interface. I'll add two more 2TB drives so I can take full advantage of FreeNAS's RaidZ2 and dual redundant drives.

The first problem was setting up FreeNAS. Although it is famous for it's 5 minute setup, that depends greatly on one's famillarity with the terminology. To try to understand some of  THAT I looked at PDF's that were to make it easy to understand the relationship between VDEVs ZVOLs and ZPOOLs and whatever. After two days I was still lost. It didn't help me. Although these third part help said "RTFM", when I did that, the terminology had changed. The freakin manual that I read has no information on what steps are necessary and which are optional. It assumes that we know all that already.

So... a trip to YouTube was in order. Within 15 minutes I had my FreeNAS configured and showing up in my MacBook Pro finder over wi-fi ( thanks to TooSmartGuys ).

My next problem was that with the added network traffic, with some other work I was doing to clear two 1.5 TB drives I was already using, the WiFi router was overheating. The wifi in our house would suddenly slow to a crawl and then stop completely. While examinig my setup I realized that an old 10/100 Netgear switch was creating a bottleneck and was unnecessary in the data path - so I removed it. Then I hung the router in a position with better airflow. Time will tell if overheating is still a problem.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Add A Custom Icon for Any Web Page On Any iDevice

You can give a website it's own custom icon on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch home screen. Traditionally you you would use the icon provided by the site creator in the form of a supplied Apple home screen icon, or a screenshot of the web page itself, which is not attractive. 

You can also zoom into the web page to an image or graphic. The screenshot the i-device uses to make the icon is the top square portion of the visible web page. 

By zooming into the page first you can create an attractive home page icon.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New Blogger App...

... Or at least it's new to me. Maybe I'll blog more from my iPhone than I did from my computer. I wonder if I could actually stick to a schedule and blog every day? I won't commit, but watch this space for more frequent updates.

Today's news is that I took the day off to get our hot water heater replaced. In June our tank started leaking. So last summer Janet found a lightly used gas fired hot water tank on kijiji for $200. Online I found a plumber - Hotshots - with very reasonable rates who was willing to do the installation for $300. Providing that the inspection goes well, we ended up saving over $500 over the going rate from mainstream channels.

After the tank replacement I picked up some unbelievably cheap computer parts - 4Gb RAM and a 500 Gb Hard drive for under $200. Then at noon I picked up the kids from school... Early dismissal... And went home and played with an old Mac Mini for the rest of the afternoon.

It was a good Wednesday overall. I just wish I didn't have to go to work tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

RIP Steve Jobs

RIP Steve Jobs

I'm watching a retrospective on Anderson360 less than an hour after Steve Jobs death announcement was made, and the impact Apple has had on my life is hitting me full force.

I was 15 and in Grade 10 when I heard of Apple Computer the first time. I heard that school was building a computer lab using Apple IIc's to replace the card-reader Fortran lab. That was 1981. I saw the original Macintosh ad - although on the news, not during the Superbowl. I watched with jealousy anyone who had, or had access to, the original Macintosh. I didn't know it at the time but I already had an acute aversion to PCs (as in "IBM compatible"), and an allegiance to Apple.

It would be ten years before I was able to afford my first Mac, but in the meantime I studied them, pined for, longed for , dreamed of, a new Mac. In my 1985, my second year of college, PC's were starting to show up at school. My mom bought me an electric typewriter, and instead of backspacing my mistakes, I went through gallons of whiteout. After college I got married, and in 1994, together with my wife, we bought our first Macintosh - a Powermac6100/60AV. It was too late to use it for college, and to be honest, we played with it for a few days, and thought - now what? I was a little disillusioned with the computer and had trouble finding things to do with it. It took a few months to explore the possibilities, and found that it was most useful for communicating with other people - but how? I signed up for a Compuserve account, using those free floppy disks they used to mass mail to everybody. That was fine for email - but for fun I signed up for Mactropolis, a local Winnipeg Bulletin Board Service (BBS). In Mactropolis, I joined online games, had access to Mac programs not available anywhere else, and chatted with fellow Mac users.

In the same year - 1994 - Mactropolis sent out a notice asking its users if they intended to stick with Mactropolis when the Internet came to Winnipeg. I replied 'of course, why not? This is a great place to be'. I did 'subscribe' to the internet when it came - through - and that became my first real internet email address - The Internet was small then, but confusing with Gopher terminals, FTP sites, USEnet, and more BBS's that you could shake a stick at. To make sense of all this I sunk hundreds of dollars in internet magazines, and I signed up for yet another service - eWorld, an Apple only web service to rival Compuserve and the new AmericaOnline. eWorld had it's own email service, but it collapsed soon after its birth. With the Internet growing steadily I found Compuserve to be redundant, so I dropped that too. Mactropolis quietly left the scene. WpgOnRamp got swallowed up by someone and I changed my Internet Service Provider to a new startup - Rates were low at $20 month for more hours than I needed, so we stuck with them for several years. Eventually they got swallowed up by Manitoba Telephone System, and they still service that domain. With the rate hikes, we moved on to the new internet giant in town - That was our third real email address. One more change would bring us to our present address - the buyout of by SHAW Communications. All of this happened on our Powermac 6100/60AV.

When the newness of the internet wore off (around 1998), and it became a necessary part of life, and when we could finally afford a replacement, and when I went back to school for training for a 'second' career (as if you could call my previous job a career), and when Steve Jobs returned to Apple from a too long hiatus, we bought our second Mac - a 'Dalmation' (spotted blue) 600mHz iMac with USB and no floppy disk drive.

I have to stop - Steve Wozniak is on TV.

OK, So the Dalmation iMac died - but only the tube. The electronic guts are hanging in my backroom ready to sell or turn into a - something or other. We replaced that with a Mac Mini with Intel duoCore, which is still in service, and then with multiple MacBooks and iPods... So with the prices falling and number of devices rising, our contribution to Apple has been substantial.

I can attribute my second career directly to Steve Jobs. Because of the Apple, and the Apple IIc in high school, and Adobe Photoshop from the first version on, and other great applications for the Mac, I wanted to get into computer programming. I didn't aim for business programming - which is where I'm stuck now, but I work for a great company and I'm happy here.

I learned about the death of Steve - on a device he created (those were President Obama's words actually). It really tears me up to think of a world without Steve Jobs.

RIP Steve.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

NEW - in BBedit 10

[some new stuff]

  • The ponies

 learned that their saronite shoes were not RoHS compliant and had a huge carbon footprint. So, they've switched to Five Fingers and Birkenstocks. They've also been studying the post-apocalyptic arts, because fortune favors the prepared.
[some more new stuff]

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Why you might not want to link OS X Mail to your Gmail account

A few weeks ago I "cleaned up" my gmail account, making up rules for every kind of junk mail I receive there, and leaving only those messages which do not fit the junk mail rules. 

Then I figured that if only a few real messages were left in the inbox, I could link my Mac Mail app to gmail and retrieve only those messages… right? Well, sort of. 

In Lion's Mail, I see only the few messages from gmail that I want to see… it true. But Mail appears to be doing something else as well - it is indexing every single piece of junk mail hiding in my gmail folders. All 22,709 of them. I hope it's not downloading all messages and attachments - but it IS building a cash of these messages in case I need to access them. Hopefully when this cacheing procedure is done, updates will be quick. This has been going on for two days now.