Archive for the ‘tech’ Category

amazon unbox on tivo

Wednesday, February 7th, 2007

I think someone may finally have put together a usable video download service: Amazon Unbox on TiVo. It looks like you can order videos, movies or TV shows for purchase or rental on and they will be sent to your beloved broadband-connected TiVo box for viewing on your own schedule. The blurb says that it’ll be better than best-quality from TV – I’m editorializing that it might not be as good at DVD, but still this is an exciting and techy development.


Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

One of the things I totally love about the Mac experience doesn’t actually come from Apple. It’s the Quicksilver app, which basically allows the machine to be controlled through keystrokes and keywords rather than having to click all over the place. For example you can bring up the dialog (command-Space) then type “it” and it will list all the apps with I and T in their names, starting with iTunes. Then it’s a matter of hitting Enter to launch the app, or for some applications Quicksilver will show a list of options or features which you can choose to run. The list is refined as you type more letters so you can be quite specific. Plus the app itself is very extensible so you can add Google searching and various other things – I’ve only really scratched the surface in my own use.

Last night I looked around for a similar tool for the PC. There are two or three, the most popular seem to be Launchy and Colibri – I decided on the latter mainly because at first glance it looks similar to Quicksilver and I’m a creature of habit. So far I’m very impressed – it was easy and quick to install and set up, and in the hour I’ve been working this morning I’ve saved tons of time by not having to click around and spend time finding applications and docs. Colibri doesn’t seem to be as customizable as Quicksilver or Launchy but for my use so far it’s looking good.

ipod update

Saturday, December 16th, 2006

A couple of days ago I got the new iPod firmware, and I’m very impressed. My iPod had been having a few minor issues – firstly it sometimes froze after I’d undocked it, secondly some files would cause it to crash and restart (the GQ Magazine podcast was for some reason one of the main culprits) and also a game I had downloaded from the iTunes store wouldn’t play (Apple gave me a refund so no harm done).

The update fixes all of these things, and was also no problem to install, so once again my trusty player is the perfect thing


Friday, October 27th, 2006

I’ve been using FireFox 2 for the last few days and it’s just grand – easy and fast, exactly what you would want.

Even better today I came across some tips in Lifehacker which demonstrate how to consolidate your toolbar (otherwise known as the chrome). I’ve done this now and everything’s on one line, no extra menus, all nice and clean:

firefox and activex

Monday, September 25th, 2006

For some reason lately I’ve been getting an error in FireFox when I visit web sites with ActiveX controls. It’s been really annoying – a message pops up saying

active x error:
could not create the control {00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000}. Check that is has been installed on your computer and that this page correctly references it

but after I click OK the page works just fine. It’s been especially annoying on pages with multiple controls because you have to click on the popup once for each control.

Nothing a quick Google search couldn’t fix though. I found the solution which is simply:

1) Navigate to your FireFox plugin folder (usually C:\Program Files\Mozilla FireFox\plugins)
2) Find file npmozax.dll
3) Rename the file to BAKnpmozax.dll
4) Restart FireFox.

You’re welcome.

ipod update

Wednesday, September 20th, 2006

Yesterday I logged a post saying how my iPod was skipping any songs purchased from the iTunes Music Store (now called the iTunes Store because it does videos and stuff now)

I heard back from Apple on the issue I’d logged – the response basically said “I’m an iTunes person and I can’t answer questions about your iPod [even though the form appeared to allow someone to log iPod issues]. Please check the iPod site for help.” This, of course, I had been doing for a couple of days since I found the problem, and Apple’s help was no use.

So I started casting around the user discussions, and most were people saying that they’d had this problem. Eventually I came across a long thread with a
.long potential solution which I thought I’d give a try.

In a nutshell it seems that an authentication file probably vanished from the iPod when I upgraded to iTunes 7/iPod 1.2. The instructions got the file back – it was a bit of a palaver but not that hard and totally worth it. I wrote to the guy who suggested the fix:

Enable the iPod for disk use.

Go to “my computer” and from the tools menu/folder options/view tab, enable “show hidden files and folders” in the advanced settings pane. Open the iPod in “my computer”. Look for a file called “iEKinfo”. Is it there? If so, make a copy of this file and save it somewhere easy to find (the desktop for instance). Do this also with the “iTunes DB” file. Don’t worry if you can’t see these files.

** I had the iTunesDB file, but not iEKinfo. Not sure if that got lost when I upgraded to iTunes 7/iPod 1.2 **

Create a new administrator account. Log out of the current account and log in to the new one. Then restore the iPod to factory settings.

Open iTunes, connect the iPod and set the transfer preferences to manual transfer. Then download the free single of the week from the iTunes Music Store. Verify that song plays in iTunes.

Now, drag this song only to the iPod, and eject the iPod from iTunes and disconnect it from the computer.

Does the song play on the iPod ok? If so, log out of the new user account and log back in to your normal one (the one you have issues with) and reconnect the iPod to the computer. Keep manual transfer selected for the moment. Drag some of the older purchased music (the ones that wouldn’t play before) to the iPod.

Eject the iPod and disconnect it. Do those songs now play ok?

** Yes it worked just great. I had iTunesDB and iEKinfo on the iPod too. Then I set the iPod to automatically update, synced all my music and everything plays like a treat. **

itunes and ipod

Tuesday, September 19th, 2006

When it came out last week I was very excited to get the new iTunes 7 – it’s got some pretty nice features including the very nice new album browser. However there’s one massive problem I’ve encountered – my iPod no longer plays music purchased from the iTunes store.

I don’t have a whole lot of songs purchased from iTunes – most of them were actually free after I’d bought some plane tickets – but even so, it’s supposed to be my music and it’s not usable on the iPod (they do play on the PC through iTunes but that’s hardly the point). They show up on the iPod’s screen, but when I select one of the purchased tunes it just skips over it after a second or so.

I ran through all the help from Apple but it still doesn’t work at all.

From a quick google, it seems that a number of other people have faced this problem, including one blogger who had a great result in the end. I hope it works out for me too. At the moment I’m less than impressed.

new tech

Saturday, August 19th, 2006

I finally got round to buying a webcam last weekend – it irritatingly doesn’t work with the Mac as well as the PC, but we have it set up in the home office so hopefully we’ll be doing video calls with family soon.

Also because it was bonus week at work last week I finally got a new DVD/stereo. The old one stereo had done really well but the CD player totally wasn’t working and it didn’t integrate totally well with the other things we have – DVD player and TiVo. Well I suppose it did but it was not as easy as it could have been.

So after having done a lot of research for many weeks I decided on the Denon S-101 which is just an excellent machine. I set it up last night and it was all fairly easy. Sound is great, picture quality seems good too and it has some nice features, one of the main ones I’m noticing is that it changes the output processing based on what you’re doing – it’ll do the surround sound for a DVD or TV but will switch to regular stereo for the radio or a CD. Also it integrates really well with the iPod, and actually better than any other system I’ve read about. When you plug in the iPod it displays the iPod screen on the TV, so you can navigate through playlists etc – every other system I looked at would only control play and pause so you had to do the actual selection of a playlist on the iPod itself (and also many others won’t play music you’ve purchased from iTunes). The only very slight criticism is that the port for the iPod connector is on the front and it would have been nice if they’d also hidden one away on the back, but that’s pretty minor. Needless to say the cats were fascinated by all the new unpacking of boxes and clearing out of space and they were also very helpful in the setup process.

perfect browsing

Thursday, January 26th, 2006

Paul told me today about the Camino browser for the mac. I may have noted before that there are only really two things I don’t like about the mac so far – lack of an inbuilt FTP agent in Finder, and the Safari browser, which has a couple of things which just don’t work so well. I’ve been using Firefox, completely my Windows browser of choice, but it has a few niggles on the mac, such as tabbing through online forms, where the non-text fields are skipped. So I have just been trying Camino and it’s a revalation. The speed is outstanding, the text is clear and it just works, the way things should for the mac.

I also downloaded the CamiTools add-on which makes it even more powerful, with an ad-blocker type feature, and also the ability to fool websites into believing that you’re running a different browser (which as far as I remember is a feature in Opera on Windows). This means I can tell gmail that I’m actually running Firefox so the scripting runs just a little more smoothly. I’m going to tell Emma about it too – her college website is coded only to run on Internet Explorer, and as you may know IE is basically desupported for Mac, so now she’ll be able to view it on Camino, pretending that it’s IE. Nice and easy.

google earth for mac

Friday, January 13th, 2006

More mac goodness – Google have just released Google Earth for Mac. Totally fantastic (I’ll resist saying mactastic).