December 2005 Archives
Today's early morning task was to get my address information over from the Mac addressbook to first Outlook (because if it's beautiful, automatic over-the-air sychronization with my Treo 650) and then to Thunderbird. I figured that this will be easy, bucause I have the [mistaken] impression vCard is a vCard and I can rely on both Apple and MSFT to get this right.
So I exported my addressbook on the Mac to a vCard file. One file. All vCards. Ok - I would have preferred the option to have one per person, but whatever...Send over to the XP box. Get outlook to import a contact. No dice. It chokes on the file. I write a little program to turn in to pure ASCII, and that sorta works. I just get the first card in the file. Another program, splits into 600 separate files. Ok - that's better. I'm able to digest those into outlook.
Now import into Thunderbird. That's kinda cool - it knows about Outlook and how to import. I wonder what happens if you import again? I'll want to update in one place - in Outlook because I can do that on my Treo and it will sync over-the-air automatically. Lets import again... Hm. It imported all into a new addressbook. I would have preferred the option to put into the existing, but I can survive.... Maybe this won't be so bad.
AppRocket Update : it has a problem. It won't figure out when you have an instance of an app already running, and will try to launch a second one, blindly. Not so good when launching Eclipse... This might be fatal. I sent the developer a note and looking for an alternative.
So far, I'm rapidly getting used to the WinXP box. The software is pretty awful by Mac standards, but it's making me re-think how I want to work - ensuring that I'm less tied to the box/OS/apps and able to switch back or to elsewhere if I choose. Mail has been a biggy. I'm almost convinced that the right way to do is an IMAP server somewhere, hosted because I can't trust that my cable company (ISP) will keep it together and I dont' want the bother. Seems like POBox will do it for $50 a year for 1G, which may not be the optimum price for it, but we re talking only $50 of headroom to dicker over... I also have to stop archiving things that are archived elsehwere, like Apache mail lists. Apache does a good job, and there are others as well. I can fish a mbox out of apache if I really need to search locally. So tha would free me from mail.
How do I get Thunderbird to spell-check as I type? Seems like the obvious thing to do. Also, why won't it always update it's display when it gets new mail? I've noticed that I can see that I have an unread message in my Inbox in the account/folder tree, yet no messages in the inbox are bold. Compress the folder and boing! there it is! Sometimes it won't seem to admit there are new messages. If I close and open tbird, it then shows them.
Is it common to have the whole UI just freeze up? Sometimes, like when something is working hard - oh, like an installer (!) - the whole UI can be momentarily unresponsive. Can't alt-tab to other apps. I am using something called TaskSwitchXP so maybe we can blame it on that. I'll remove and try again.
What is good photo management software? I now have a Canon RebelXT and between the 8M pixel images and the fact that an SLR can shoot much faster than the canonical "digital point and shoot", we are generating a significant amount of image-bits. (At least comared to what we used to do... I think we took about 300 on Christmas day...) I have Adobe Photoshop Elements 4 and Picasa. Picasa is really fast, and very smart, but it doesn't feel quite the same wrt editing pictures. Adobe has a lot more features if you bother to look past the "consumer workflow" interface, but, boy howdy!, is it slow. I only have 1GB of RAM and of course, the World's Slowest Disk, but when sorting pictures to take for printing, my wife keeps asking "What's wrong with it? Why is it so slow?" And when she's at that stage w/ a computer, I've moved to the point where I'm seriously trying to decide if there's a better chance of making it into the pond when thrown from the master bedroom window when the laptop is open or closed.... I also get the heebie-jeebies when using it because it always wants to apply editing changes to the original photo. A friend recommended ACDSee. I'll give that as we're trying to get our photos organized for the year....
Another UI gripe - hitting escape in a dialog box should make that dialog go away if "Cancel" is an option, on any Windows program. Ok?
Nice Things To Say
On the upside, it's refreshing to have a change of interface. I've been working on the Mac for the last 5 or so years steadily as my main machine, and it's always refreshing to go to something new.
During a discussion about threading in a VM, I wondered... how many single-threaded Java apps are there running real work today? We have environments where you can think of yourself as single-threaded, but I can't think of apps that really are from the VMs POV....
As part of my new personal "!hctiwS" (Switch Back (wards)) initiative to start using Windows again, I needed a regular mail client for my non-corporate email. I'm coming from Apple's "Mail.app" which is just wonderful. My few friends in the know suggest that all mail clients are awful in Windows, but that Thunderbird would be a good choice. I used to use Eudora and might look at that too. Suggestions welcome.
So far, it's ok, but I'm not being bowled over. Granted, Mail.app is a high bar to set, but you figure that The Bazaar can outdo The Cathedral, especially in something as well-understood and universal as email, right? ;). It has all the basic features. No built-in GPG encryption support, but I can apparently extend with something called Enigmail. There's a bunch of plug-ins and extensions to investigate (why are there two categories of extender-thingy?)
Thing that I like - it's fast. Of course, I have no mail in it yet. I'm keeping my OSX mail going and doing things in parallel until I'm happy. Thing that I like - it has RSS reader built in. Very nice. I'm sure it does NNTP if I wanted to go back to yesteryear, Daddy O. Thing that I don't like and can't figure out why it's this way - when you stat organizing things into folders, the folder won't rollup the new message count for some reason. So if I have two blogs that have new entries, and they are oragnized inside of a "people" folder for example, the "people" folder won't be bold and show that there's something to read. This is so (@#)!)!@ braindead it must be that I'm not configuring it right. That in itself would be just as (@!#)@! braindead because that is exactly the sort of behavior one expects - that's necessary information for the user, and should be on by default....
Cute. All the Google Ads on this site as of this posting are about travel... Hint....
For the past 7 months, I' ve been carrying two laptops around, a corporate PC laptop, and my beloved Apple Powerbook G4. IBM and Intel both have corporate email systems that require a specific client (Lotus Notes and MSFT Exchange, respectively) as well as access only over the corporate VPN.
I'm tired of carrying both, and I do think it's time for a refresh on my working environment - I've been using OS X since it came out as my main work platform. So yesterday, I decided that I was going to take an honest run at switching to...... windows. I have a nice little T43 from Intel with what appears to be the worlds slowest disk drive, which I'll fix later.
So my challenge will be to find all the software that I use daily for Windows, and in a form that doesn't make me switch back. I think this will be hard, at least getting used to the chaos and incoherence that pretty much defines the Windows user interface experience. I had switched to the Mac from Linux just to get a user interface for daily tasks like mail, calendaring, addressbook, IM/IRC, etc. that didn't drive me to tears of rage and frustration and would let me just get my real work done. Daily tasks shouldn't be like work - they should be transparent and simple. Over time, OSX became the state of the art, with things nicely integrated, clean UIs, consistent UIs, and features that just made sense.
Any suggestions are welcome. So far, aside from the required Outlook that I need for INTC email, I've started with Thunderbird, which... well... um... more later. I'm now deperately trying to find something to let me post to my blog that doesn't look like a sample program in the .NET SDK.. I found one but it was unconfigurable - georgeous UI, but the account setup would put up dialog boxes with winsock error codes. Now, people might call me a UI snob, but does anyone really think that putting up "Socket error #11004" when testing the name/password for a Movable Type blog account is even vaguely acceptable as a UI?
I flew in friday afternoon to San Diego from SF for ApacheCon. It's a great conference with the odd requirement than any keynote speaker sports facial of some sort or another (tip of the hat to Simon himself for that one... :)
As always, I look forward to talking to many people in person that I consider friends and spend oodles of time interacting with and working with online.
Well, it was a good week in Argentina. It's an interesting thing to start with absolutely nothing and begin to build a new facility. There's a heavy focus down there on CMM(I), which is apparently required by the state.
Trip back was in the back of the plane again. Nuff said.
I flew out this afternoon to SF, the start of 11 days on the road. (Then I'm really hoping I'm done for the year...) American Airlines has built a beautiful new domestic terminal (and Admiral's Club) at JFK. However, in the air, they are taking a different approach to customer service, in business class anyway :
Now in Argentina. Buenos Aires. Flew in on a 10.5 hour redeye and have fallen out of favor with the Upgrade Gods, so I did it in the back of the plane. I thought it would be far worse than it was, but I had dinner before I left for the airport, and I guess I'm getting used to sleeping sitting up. Or something. I guess it keeps one appreciative of the upgrade blessings that befall thee....
It turns out the internal airline is on strike, so we're had a charter to take us to Cordoba, my final destination. 12 seat two engine turboprop. Very bouncy. I never knew clouds were so hard. At one point, the pilot seemed to be reenacting a WWII dogfight he was twisting and dodging the clouds so fast.
I'm here actually on actual business helping to hire the first few people for the new Intel Córdoba Lab. This is awfully fun - it's amazing how effective and efficient this team is. I hope I can keep up.
(Córdoba at night. Ok, it's a crappy picture. I'll have something better tomorrow during the day.)