Suunto D9 gets even more expensive

The Suunto D9 dive computer has been updated for 2007 with a titanium bracelet. Apart from looking cooler in my opinion the bracelet also includes the strap extension that is a seperate piece on the elastomer version which I have in the past either forgotten, misplaced or dropped the little loop that stops the tail end of it flapping about on my wrist.

I contacted Suunto support to find out whether the titatanium bracelet will be available for existing D9s with the elastomer strap and apparently it will be.

I’ve better start saving…

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iTunes 7?!

Let me cut to the chase; iTunes 7 should be rammed right up Steve Jobs’ backside… bang!

I’ve written on my opinion of the iPod and Apple’s approach to software before but really, this thing is the biggest pile of crap since Vista.

Apart from all the other problems that people have been having, like, oh, I don’t know, destroying people’s iPods, when I have iTunes installed, Nero 7 won’t work. Granted, it could be Ahead Software’s problem but somehow I doubt it. While quality is a continuum, and as such all software has quality, iTunes is so poor I’d have to say the reason Apple software doesn’t have release notes is because the developers have all knocked themselves out cold from all the banging of their heads into their keyboards which took place during their, for want of a better word, ‘development’ of the software.

That, or the release notes would just say something along the lines of ‘duh… we am rite suftwere, it go bang.’ Which is subsequently deleted by some poor long suffering Linux, or, yes, I’m going to say it, Windows user before being disgorged to the Apple fan boys (who, quite frankly, need to re-evaluate their decision-making paradigm) and those of us who appreciate the ubiquity of the iPod and are, to a greater or lesser degree, prepared to tolerate Apple’s peculiarities. My tolerance is waning.

Look at it this way; ‘Apple’s software is great; look at OSX oh sure, it’s actually a dumbed-down shell over the top of Unix but they make up for that by making really good hardware, well, except for the self-destructing laptops that overheat and have dodgy batteries and dodgy Wi-Fi (aerials don’t work well inside metal cases, who knew?), the self-destructing iPods whose batteries expire after a year or get killed by iTunes or scratch really easily or stop working if they’re knocked or have firmware which disables functionality. Oh, but wait, their machines are really great for media and stuff, well, if you overlook the small detail of Mac’s being basically PCs and so they’re all really good at media and stuff. Well, okay, but their customer support and respect for their customers is…. oh, forget it.’

So, to summarise and to render unnecessary any and all ‘yeah but…’ or ‘what about…’ questions: I will never buy a Mac[Insert ‘Cool’ Moniker Here] computer. The day a device emerges to rival* the iPod from a reputable company that respects its customers I’m there. If Apple went bang! tomorrow, it would cause me to raise a wry smile.

Questions?

* Understand that ‘rival’ in this context includes but is not limited to having appropriate connectivity and accessories to replace the functionality provided by the iPod in the context of my use of the device.

iPod Camera Adaptor Revisted

Having been using my camera for some photo journalism today (well, recording the postion of buried water pipes, anyway) I decided to give my iPod Camera Adaptor another go with the EOS 350D. I set the camera to ‘Print/PTP’ mode and hooked it up… Now I tried this once before but I didn’t have any luck but I’ve updated the iPod firmware since then so who knows?
I shoot RAW + JPG so I was expecting, if it was going to do anything at all, that it would copy the JPGs and probably ignore the RAWs but when I checked the iPod hard drive from my PC there were the RAWs too!
So, the iPod does work as a photo storage drive for RAW images. I’m not sure whether it can handle displaying them, I doubt it but it can cope with eight megapixel JPGs without any trouble.

Take Two Browsers Into The Shower?

Those boys at Google have done it again (maybe).

They’ve released an extension for Firefox 1.5 (you are using that, right?) that synchronises your browser state between machines. What do I mean by ‘state’? Well, try this:

 

·         Cookies

·         Saved Passwords

·         Bookmarks

·         History

·         Tabs and Windows

 

Tabs and Windows! That’s pretty cool. Any or all can be switched off (switching them all off would make the extension a bit pointless though) and they can all be encrypted.

I’m trying it at the moment and don’t have an opinion on the performance yet, which is why I said they may have done it again. 😉

If you’re feeling adventurous, give it a try. The FAQ is here. It’s good to see some cool companies give you information.

 

Wearing Out F5?

Windows PCs are funny things; each one has its own unique personality. My work PC, for example, wouldn’t show changes to the file system through Explorer unless I manually refreshed the window by pressing F5. This was particularly irritating when creating a new folder because while the folder was created with the name highlighted to allow me to rename it, I couldn’t see it! Refreshing the window displayed the folder but cancelled the rename operation, so I had to highlight the folder and select rename again and finish the job. It doesn’t sound much but when a two step task becomes a five step task for no good reason it makes me wonder why.

The cure for the problem is of course in the Registry and if your PC is afflicted with the same problem here’s how to fix it:

Start RegEdit and work through the tree until you reach ‘HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Update’. In that folder there should be a Value called ‘UpdateMode’, if it’s not there, create a binary Value and give it that name. On my work PC the value of this Value (stay with me) was 1. I’m guessing this a polling interval or something similar. Change the value to 7 and close RegEdit. That’s it; you’re done. Make a change in Explorer that normally would need you to refresh by hand to see it and you should see the change immediately without having to do a thing.

Alternatively, save the text below as refreshfix.reg and double-click it, agree that you are sure you want to add the information to the Registry and you’re ready to go:

 

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

 

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Update]

"UpdateMode"=dword:00000007

 

Sshhh… It’s Apple

Me: Well, Apple have released a firmware update for the iPod.

Not Me: I didn’t hear about that! Did you get an email?

Me: Nope. iTunes has been updated and I was using Google to find out what had changed when I saw mention of the iPod update.

Not Me: Hang on, you mean Apple didn’t say what was changed

in iTunes?

Me: Not a thing. The forums say it’s something to do with the

Nano/Nike bop while you jog thing.

Not Me: I see. Well, I’m capable of choosing my own music and have

no need for a musical pedometer.

So about this iPod update; what does it do?

Me: Apple say ‘Bug fixes’.

Not Me: Bug fixes are good, but that’s a bit vague.

What kind of bug fixes?

Me: Not a clue.

Not Me: Alright, so they didn’t go into detail but they said something about the video playback bug, right? I mean, that screwed-up a lot of the Apple faithful.

Me: Nope.

Not Me: I see. I’m noticing a pattern here: So I’m expected to install this update which may or may not fix something that’s been bothering me and it may introduce more problems or change functionality, like the last one did?

Me: Pretty much, yes. Though I don’t think Apple actually care. It’s not cool to worry about things not working. People who aren’t cool aren’t Apple.

Not Me: Have Apple even heard of release notes?!

Me: I’d have to go with ‘No’ on that one. You see, my confused friend. Apple aren’t like other companies; their products exude an… Appleiness that means that details like what’s wrong, what’s fixed and when it happens just aren’t ‘cool’ and don’t matter. In the same way that things like good engineering, customer support, value for money, profit and loss, working Wi-Fi, overheating and lifts that work just don’t matter; they’re not ‘cool’.

Not Me: I’m installing Linux on a home built rig and listening to FLAC files on a valve amp.

Me: You said it.

Some Vista Graphic Cleverness For XP

One of the few things I’m looking forward to in Vista is the 3D Alt-Tab mechanism. Well, now that’s available on XP thanks to TopDesk from the good people at Otaku Software. Click the link to see what I’m talking about if you don’t already know. Give the trial a run.

Something to watch-out for is if you have another application, like the Microsoft Alt-Tab Replacement PowerToy, then that will have control of Alt-Tab and prevent TopDesk from working. The solution is simple; remove or disable whatever else you’ve been using!

An additional benefit for users of Logitech mice with a task switch button is that the program doesn’t have to respond only to Alt-Tab. So what? Well, this provides an opportunity to get away from the <cough> functional task list provided by Logitech by re-mapping the mouse button to a key combination in the mouse driver and then telling TopDesk to use that combination to activate. Once that’s done, all the task switching gets done using the same cool technique.

All this for about £5 a go! Can’t be bad. Now if only Linux had the same kind of thing…

In case you’re wondering, alt-tab won’t work as a key combination for the mouse button because you’ll switch away from the software before it can record it. Which is why if you do this make sure to re-map the mouse button before configuring TopDesk or you’ll have the same problem.

Poor Man’s Hybrid Drive

I haven’t heard anyone else suggest this so either I’ve had a really good idea or I’ve been missing out on something:

Hard drive manufacturers are starting to make drives with a lump of flash memory in them so that frequently used files can be reached more quickly; the trouble is, these drives are so new they’re barely available and the ones that are available are as expensive as you’d expect something as new a revolutionary as this to be. So, what to do? Well, the other day I saw a message box pop-up on my PC , followed by a click from my hard drive as it woke-up followed a second or two later by the playing of the sound file associated with the message box and I thought to myself how that whole process wasn’t as smooth as anyone would like and won’t it be great when we get these hybrid hard drives. Then it hit me: Use a USB flash memory stick to hold files that get used often! Things like sound files, wallpaper, all the things that are used so often they more or less blend into the background (or at least, are supposed to). This idea can be used for other files too, like perhaps mail client files (Outlook PST files, for example). The only real limitations are how much space is available and whether the program can be convinced to store it’s files there. I’m thinking this will let things happen more smoothly on PC’s where the hard drive has spun-down and also save power and wear and tear on the hard drive. I’m also thinking about perhaps installing Firefox on a stick to see whether there’s any performance gain to be had there. This ties in neatly with Portable Apps and the work they’re doing on being able to take your most important applications with you from computer to computer.

[Edit] Apart from the limitations mentioned above, the real disadvantage of this approach is that you have to do it by hand, finding the files and changing settings. The advantage, apart from cost and availability, is that you get to chose the files that are stored in flash. The files I mentioned above are most likely not going to stay in a cache for long because they aren’t used often enough so by my choosing which files to move I can taylor the storage as I want it and after all, isn’t that all any geek wants? 😉

So, what do you think? Is this old news or a good way to get flash storage working for you without the big outlay?

Podless, I mean, pointless (IMHO)

Since I had the opportunity to read PC Gamer today, I happened on an article highlighting that iPodLinux is now available for the video iPod. Now, I’m no stranger to Penguin love so I thought I’d take a look. Well, I sort of wish I hadn’t. Why? Because for all the brilliant work that’s been done to make the project work, I have to ask, what’s the point? Sure, on an older model you can now run videos and that can be a good thing depending on the screen but other than that and the ability to play FLAC files on some of the variants that’s about it. It seems to me that the vanilla iPods (no, that’s not a new colour for them) are slooowly catching-up with what iPodLinux can do. Oh, you can run a file browser and Doom and there’s a Matrix style screen saver thingy that doesn’t save the screen but take another look at those three and the flaws soon appear: Doom is never going to be as playable on an iPod as, well, practically anything else with an interface so that’s more of a technology demo than a real game. The Matrix scrolling demo is just that, another demo among many that are available and as for the file browser; without Linux there’s no need for it anyway! Who would sit on a park bench and need to know where the files are organised on their iPod? Bearing in mind that we’re talking about files that aren’t video, photos or music because they have dedicated lists in the iPod interface.

I don’t know… it’s very clever, no question. There are a lot of talented and dedicated people producing iPodLinux and they’ve been doing it for some time but it seems like a solution looking for a problem; unless someone produces a killer app for it, what’s the point?

If I’ve missed the killer application that’s going to make me want to use it just show me and I’ll flash the little fella right there and then

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