April 28, 2004

still looking for six more iTunes...

Suggestions still welcome! Does anyone know if there are any binaural recordings on ITMS?

worm suicide cult

Last week, we had about seven straight days of rain. One result of this was that I mowed the lawn on Thursday afternoon, and then again on Sunday afternoon. The grass is growing like weeds. Or maybe it's the weeds growing like weeds. Thanks to Southern Spray we only have to deal with rye grass and not dandelions or other more unsightly weeds.

The other result is that it triggered the worm suicide cult that lives outside our house. Evidently, their prophecy said something to the effect of "when the downpours come, journey to the big box where the humans live, squeeze through the gaps at the bottom of the giant Two Glass Gates and you will be greeted by 57 virgin worms." Since worms aren't picky about looks, you'd think this wouldn't be such a draw, but evidently, they're all drinking the Worm-Aid. On Friday morning last week, I found two cult members lying on our breakfast room floor, gasping for moisture. Not thinking this would be a big deal, I tossed them into the garbage can. However, that was the wrong move.

On Saturday morning, I found no fewer than twenty worms all over our breakfast room floor, and a few who made it even deeper into the kitchen and den. Evidently, the first two who had made it in on Friday had told the rest of the cult, "if we find out the prophecy is wrong, we'll come back and tell you... otherwise... head in after us!" The rest of the cult were in varying states of dryness... some still trying to move forward, others heading back, probably to break the bad news and try to get out of the cult. In the track of the sliding glass door, they were packed in three-deep, trying to crawl over each other to get inside.

Luckily, Lydia was still asleep and not able to be grossed out by the scene, so I collected all of our new-found house guests and tossed them in the trash, except for a couple of the more alive ones, whom I tossed back out in the yard so that they could spread the word to all the woodland creatures that the big box was an inhospitable place. My strategy must have worked, because we've only seen one or two in the week that followed.

prepping for the buzzing

This year, Brood X will be descending upon the Eastern United States. There are fifteen broods of cicadas that are currently tracked that have 13 or 17-year hibernation cycles. I was here in 1998 when brood XIX came out... and it was haywire. Now that I'm in a real house (was in apartment back then...) I'll have to think about making sure my plants don't die.

Luckily, the next time a 13- and 17-year cycle happen simultaneously in Tennessee will be 2076, 2089 and 2093. I probably won't be able to hear them when I'm over 106.

April 26, 2004

sd pix are up!

Here's our extensive collection of pictures from the trip to San Diego in April. Enjoy!

April 25, 2004

xbench 91.25

My iBook cranks in at 91.25 on the Xbench suite of tests. Evidently, the thing dragging it down is hard drive response (especially when doing 4K blocks.) Guess I'll eventually need to save up for one of these. I'm happy with the score though.

Updated 4/26 with a link that works.

hurrah for raging menace software

Alex emailed me today and said the likely problem of SideTrack not working was a "stale kernel extension cache." All I had to do was fire up Terminal and...
sudo touch /System/Library/Extensions

and it's working great. It really does incredible things for your trackpad. I have the Expose F9 key mapped to the upper left-hand corner, right click mapped to the bottom left-hand corner (ahh... a right click....) and vertical scrolling when I drag along the right 15% of the mousepad. You don't need two mouse buttons when you have SideTrack. And it's freeeeeeeeeee!

Again... do they get Inter-Karma points when I link to them multiple times?? SideTrack SideTrack SideTrack SideTrack SideTrack

April 24, 2004

eight songs to go

I'm taking suggestions for tunes I should buy with my iTunes gift certificates. Leave comments so I know what to buy... I have to redeem them by April 30!

To get the most bits-per-free-song, I should purchase Prashanti by Ravi Shankar. It's the longest single song available on iTunes at 13:38. However, I'm not a big fan.

cache flow

<more geek speak>
I've got a rerun of the ScreenSavers on in the background and they just pointed out that the iBooks now also have 512K of level 2 cache. That probably accounts for the snappiness that I've been experiencing.

So, an Apples to Apples comparison of the 12" iBook and 12" PowerBook:
Processor Speed
(which diehard Mac users
will say doesn't matter)
1 GHz1.33 Ghz
Level 2 Cache512K512K
Shipped RAM256MB256MB
System Bus100 MHz133 MHz
Hard Drive30GB60GB
(DVD-R option)
WirelessAirport Extreme ReadyAirport Extreme and Bluetooth included
PortsEthernet, 56K Modem, two USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire 400 portEthernet, 56K Modem, two USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire 400 port, one FireWire 800 port
GraphicsATI Mobility Radeon 9200NVidia GeForce FX Go5200
Dual Displaywith hackyes
Audioheadphone out, built in microphoneline in, headphone out, built in microphone
Weight4.9 lbs4.6 lbs
List Price$1099$1599

Really?? $500 for a line in jack, 33% more speed, 30 more GB and .3 lbs less? Is it worth it?? If you factor in $99 for the Airport Extreme card and $50 for a Bluetooth module, I guess it narrows the gap a bit.
<geek speak ends>

April 23, 2004

iBook reloaded

<begin geek speak>

The 1 GHz iBook arrived today around noon. As soon as the plastic was off, I registered with Apple (still had the goofy situation of it trying to find my Apple ID before connecting to the Internet, despite already being plugged in) and connected the 800 MHz iBook via FireWire in "Target" mode so that I could move across the (not many) files that I had on the first one. To speed things up, I didn't move the 8GB of music... although I probably should have (more later.) I plugged in the AirPort card and then set about the task of restoring the old iBook to its tabula rasa state in preparation for its return trip.

Now that I have it home, I'm able to get on the Internet without unplugging another computer. Everything seems 20% faster. (kidding) Everything does seem faster though. I am expecting another order of magnitude in performance once the additional 256MB arrives. Any time you can double your RAM... in any computer, you should see an improvement.

I am a VERY happy expercom.com customer. Did I mention that? Does expercom.com get some sort of Internet karma brownie points for every time I link to them? If they do, then expercom.com expercom.com expercom.com expercom.com expercom.com expercom.com expercom.com expercom.com expercom.com expercom.com...

Right now, I'm copying over our MP3 collection via our 802.11b network. It's on song 872 of 2623. It would be faster if we had an 802.11g base station, but we only move files like this... oh... every once in a whenever we buy a new computer, which is really not that often... if you count out the past fourteen days.

Only one hitch. I haven't been able to get SideTrack to work. Its preferences panel is loaded, and the sidetrackd application is running, but never the twain shall meet. I just get "The SideTrack driver is not loaded" when I try to go to the panel. I've emailed the developer to see if there's a manual way to get the two to talk.

<end geek speak>

April 22, 2004

welcome to our world!

Sarah Virginia Bateman is here! For an idea of how radical the world will have changed when she grows up, here are some links to help you remember what the world was like eighteen years ago.

expercom is teh r0x3r!

The new ibook should be here tomorrow having paid $0.01 for ground shipping yesterday. I am a highly satisfied expercom.com customer right now!

we got a gmail address!

Email us at patrickandlydia (a-t-s-i-g-n) gmail.com.

I'm not including the @ so that mean spammers don't find our address. Help us fill up our 1GB mailbox!

April 21, 2004

please hold

We need to blog about our San Diego trip very badly, but we have a bunch of pictures... and no time to go through them. Look for something on this site in the next week or so.

ibook 2.0 on order...

Order #: ...
Status: Processed

Patrick Watts
25 Music Square W
Nashville, TN 37203
Phone: 615-687-6676

Order Items

EXP # Description Qty Status
267638 IBOOK G4 12.1IN 1.0GHZ 256MB 30GB COMBO DRIVE 1 Processed
251457 256MB DDR PC2700 SODIMM 333MHZ 200PIN SODIMM 2.5V DEF REPL ONLY 1 Processed

Shipments & Tracking
No shipments have been sent for this order.

Expercom has a deal for the new iBook, plus a free 256MB stick of RAM, free shipping and no tax. I called them this morning and they said it should ship in 1-2 days. So when it arrives, it'll have double the memory and 20% more processor speed. Zing!

April 19, 2004

the great re-mac-ing of 04

As intimated in my previous post and commented on by Giles (good luck between now and Wednesday, by the way), the new ibooks are here. Since amazon.com has a 30-day return policy, I can essentially get a 20% speed increase and 128 more MB soldered on the motherboard for the price of shipping. Both of these items are no-brainers to me... I was feeling bad about the second 128MB that I'd have to ditch when I upgrade the RAM.

However, there's a catch right now. I'm still looking for the best deal on the replacement iBook. It only appears to be shipping from the Apple store right now, and amazon.com doesn't even list it on their site yet. And, if you look at macprices.com, you can see that I'm living in almost the worst state for Mac iCommerce possible... Tennessee... which means that almost every store charges sales tax. :-/ CDW / MacWarehouse seems to be the best current deal... but again... not in stock yet.

April 18, 2004

Tim's must Tivo TV

We just saw a promo for OLN's wall-to-wall coverage of the Tour and knew he'd be glued. Katherine, if you need us to help with an intervention... let us know.

April 16, 2004

mmmm... what to do... what to do...

The rumor sites are almost unanimous that we'll see new iBooks and PowerBooks next week. This French forum (translated by google) and Apple Insider say the 12" iBook will get to 1 Ghz and maybe get another 10GB of storage.

Did I mention that amazon.com has a 30-day, no questions asked return policy?

listen to Paul McCartney while you catch up with Paul the Apostle

Put the entire KJV text of the Bible on your iPod. [via macslash.org]

The only catch is that sporadic words have "i" added in front of them. "The Lord is my iShepherd, I shall not want, He maketh me to lie down in green iPastures." (kidding)

April 14, 2004

not water

Tyco (the conglomerate, not the toy company) has come out with Sapphire - a substance that looks, flows and acts like water, but isn't. Things go in... and come out dry. Therefore... it has all the fire extinguishing capabilites of water without the water damage.

What's next? Artificial air?

April 13, 2004

it just wo... it just wo... it just wo...

I ran into my first chronic problem with my iBook today... and I can already predict what my mac friends will say:

1) You should be using Keynote.
2) It's no wonder since it's a Micro$oft program... they probably rigged it that way so that you'd buy a WinBloze machine.
3) You wouldn't have had the problem if you hadn't started on a PC.
4) You should be using Keynote.

While editing a presentation today, PowerPoint kept "unexpectedly quit"-ing. It was repetitively annoying.

"The Application PowerPoint has Unexpectedly Quit"
"The Application PowerPoint has Unexpectedly Quit"
"The Application PowerPoint has Unexpectedly Quit"

The best I can tell... it seemed to have something to do with redrawing the screen when I was "nudging" text (using the arrow keys.) I don't have a Windows version of PowerPoint handy here, so I couldn't compare to see if the problem was with the file. However, once I did a "Save As...," the crashes decreased, but weren't eliminated. I just got real handy with the Command-S.

I kind of doubt #2, I don't have the time to test #3 and as far as #1/4 is concerned, I couldn't justify the pricepoint of Keynote versus getting the whole suite of programs... plus an upgrade to Office 2004. Maybe the new version will work out the bugs. Or maybe, next time, I'll start and finish the presentation on this machine.

exhausts me just at the thought of the amount of work!

Congratulations to Jason on completing the most complex item ever assembled for a workshop. This is one of those projects that I saw Norm do and thought "hey... can't you just spend $40 on a Black and Decker table?!" The final project is quite snazzy and the pictures are great.

it just works, part 2

The "switch" campaign needs to run ads like this. This morning, I walked down to the hotel lobby, opened the iBook, and immediately it found two wireless networks... one paid and one free. I (naturally) picked the free one, and am now sitting on the deck outside, drinking my coffee and eating my granola parfait. (Hey, it's California. You gotta eat granola.) Not five minutes passed when a guy came by and said, "excuse me, could you get on the Internet out here? I'm having problems." He had an HP notebook, not unlike the one that Lydia and I have at home. I couldn't help him out. Again... another case of "it just works."

I do want to say that there have been some issues. Safari can't connect to my work webmail system. And, interestingly enough, neither can IE for Mac. I have to use FireFox.

wi-fi supersized

McDonald's has awarded Wayport a contract to set up wireless access at hundreds of their restaurants. This sounds like either a colossal misjudgement of the McCustomer. I don't know anyone who considers McDonald's a place to linger with the ambiance condusive to concentration. Maybe they think soccer moms will come let the young ones run on the playplace and check their email. $2.95 for two hours is okay, but I'd love to just "Wi-Fi" size my value meal.

April 12, 2004

it just works, part 1

I can use that phrase about a lot of things, but most Mac-aficionados use it about their machines. Well, here's a case where it applies. We had our friend Caroline over for her fifth birthday last Friday and took a little stack of pictures. When we went to the Bonus Room Computer this morning to offload them... the Kodak software (mind you... the software that came with the camera) told us that there were "no pictures on the camera." Of course, we could see them on the camera ourselves. So, on a whim, I took the USB cable and plugged the camera into the iBook. Immediately, it started iPhoto. I pressed "Upload," and within seconds, all the pictures were there. I command-selected all the ones that needed rotating and chose "rotate clockwise," clicked the "Burn" button at the bottom, and now they're all on a CD. Chalk one up for the iBook.

Why is this part 1? Because I'm sure I'll find more things that the iBook just "does." In the interest of full disclosure however, I need to tell you that I'm blogging this on the HP laptop. :-D

April 8, 2004

the IM name you have been messaging... has been changed

Please make a note of the new screen name...


I've had "dpwattstn" for several years now, but when AOL bought Word Entertainment, I converted it into an AOL account. Unfortunately, now that Time Warner has sold Warner Music Group, my AOL account can't be converted back into an AIM name. Oh well.


I guess I owe many people an explanation of why I bought the iBook. I get the feeling some of you are saying, "but this was all so sudden!!" Well, really, it was pretty well calculated. As many of you know, last summer, we were foster parents to a PowerBook that showed up on our doorstep, looking for a good home. When that computer went back, I started saving with the thought that I might purchase a Mac. That blog entry has some pretty good background on the things I liked.

At the time, Apple was still putting G3 processors in their iBooks and had just announced the G5. I could see that very shortly, the G3 would be a completely obsolete processor. In that post, I said...
In a couple of notebook generations, if Apple has... say... a lightweight G4 iBook with a 12-14" widescreen, USB 2.0 and a combo drive in the $999 to $1299 range, we might have to take a good hard look at it.

Lo and behold, this past October, Apple introduced a 12" iBook with a G4 processor, USB 2.0 and a combo drive in the $999 to $1299 range. So, one reason I bought it is to make good on my comment. The only missing element is the widescreen.

Maybe it would be easier to just itemize some reasons.
  • We quickly got used to two laptops in the house. Having two portable always-on-Internet laptops spoiled us. We joked a lot about IMing each other instead of talking, but it was very convenient not to have to push the other off when you want to look something up quickly.
  • I wanted something smaller. The HP laptop we purchased was a great deal. After all the rebates and everything, we ended up paying about half the retail cost. However, we didn't have a great deal of variety to choose from when we selected it... and everything in that price range had a good weight of about 8-9 lbs. The fifteen inch screen is nice, especially for watching movies and sharing with each other, but it doesn't really fit on a tray table in coach.
  • I'm intrigued with how some of the Mac apps can help. The main candidate for change is iPhoto. We have a ton of digital pics, but no organization to them. The HP has some photo utilities, but nothing that organizes. The software Kodak bundled with our camera is abysmal. Apple's bundled programs are very mature, especially now that we've hit the '04 iteration. They're a very good example of what most mac-o-philes mean when they say, "it just works." Plus, I picked up Microsoft Office v.X so that I could deal with all of the files that I generate at work. And... because it was a deal! I'm getting a free upgrade to Office 2004!
  • The iBook is probably Apple's most price competitive system for its size and power. When you enter the "Thin and Light" world in PC notebooks, there tends to be a premium because they're aimed at business travelers. They tend to have lower powered processors, less expandability, and higher prices. The pricing issue probably comes about due to scarcity - high demand and relatively low supply. While the iBook is not specifically marketed as that segment, it is very close to it. The value equation increases when you consider that you get a "full speed" (read: non-"Celeron" and non-"Mobile Edition") processor, Radeon 3D-accelerated graphics (integrated graphics are more the norm on the PC platform) and a complete software package.
  • There was an immediate need and an immediate ability. Meaning... I had saved up the money so that I was ready to buy, and I'll be leaving on a business trip where I would have taken the HP, leaving Lydia without a laptop. Granted, Lydia would not have starved or gone insane without a computer, but she does use it on a regular basis. Purchasing the iBook for me allowed me to give Lydia the gift of the HP while I'm gone. (Yes, everyone reading this, I know it sounds really lame of me to brag about how ME buying ME a computer benefits Lydia, but it is a very small part of the benefits of buying the computer.)
  • It's cool lookin', and it's cheaper than a BMW.

thrill to Gill

In honor of the Mac, the fonts on this blog are now all Gill Sans (unless you don't have Gill Sans installed... in which case you get the easy-to-read Georgia.


This morning, I have Office v.X installed (you may be thinking... why did he get that when Office 2004 is just around the corner? Well there's a method to my madness and have gotten the ibook to talk to both windows printers on our network via SAMBA. This is now a pre-set option in 10.3.3, but you still have to choose advanced options.

April 7, 2004

further to the left of the slash than anyone ever dreamed

I'm calibrating my new ibook's battery right now and it kind of feels like Kramer in this episode of Seinfeld.

16 minutes left on the battery...

RICK: Have you ever been completely below the slash?

KRAMER: Well, I almost did once, and I blacked out. When I came to, the car was in a ditch, and the tank was full. I don’t know who did it, and I never got to thank them...


The massive cardboard box with "amazon.com" on the side of it was atop my desk right at noon today. I IMed all of my Mac friends in the building, and they were all out to lunch. So I got John to come in with his camera phone and document the unveiling. Unfortunately, he just got the phone... so it may be quite some time before he figures out how to email them to me so I can add them to this blog entry.

The box contained a ton of peanuts surrounding another box which held the Apple iBook box. Upon opening the snazzy Apple box, I was greeted by a simple white piece of card stock that covered the whole styrofoam insert with silver lettering that said "Created in California by Apple Computer." I was a little surprised that they were so proud about the California aspect. I guess it goes to show their perspective. If they move, will it say "Created in Utah?" or "Created in Idaho?"

Underneath the board was a whole stack of stuff - the instruction book (good job Mark, assuming you had something to do with this...) the SIX restore disks, plus OS X 10.3.3 system install disks. I haven't read enough of the manual to tell whether you have to install the system first and then do the restore, or if the restore will just work on its own.

Then, I pulled off the styrofoam to reveal... the mac. It was wrapped in that funny translucent packing plastic that lots of electronics are wrapped in. So... if you count all the layers, it was box, peanuts, box, box, styrofoam, plastic... pretty well kept.

Not wanting to rock the boat, I followed the instruction book, plugged it into the wall and the network (at work) and then powered on to the beautiful iBook chime. Within about two minutes, the boot-up had completed and I was in the Apple registration wizard. Unlike the WindowsXP wizard, there's no background music, just serene silence. The one glitch in the process: it asked me for my AppleID before it figured out that I was plugged in to the Ethernet network. Duh.

Once I got to the Finder, Software Update launched and located eight updates! I kicked off the download and went to lunch.

Upon returning, I rebooted, then shut down and installed my Airport Extreme card. When I first put it in, I didn't get it seated all the way (none of the manuals tell you that it "snaps" in) and so when it didn't find it the first time, I had to shut down again and re-seat the card. In addition, the keyboard is extrememly picky about how it gets latched in. Taking it out is simple. Putting it back in you have to hold your mouth just right and stand on your head and chant "I love Steve Jobs... I love Steve Jobs..." Then it snaps back into place.

Going back and re-reading this, it's kind of reading like a baby book of firsts.

The first person I iChatted: Lydia. The first website I Safaried: Dr. Phil (thanks to a link Lydia sent me.)

After work, I went to church for the normal Wednesday night activities and showed it off to Wesley, Rick and Sam... two Mac aficionados and one skeptic. I'll let you decide who's who.

When I got it home tonight, I did a little poking around. Out of great curiousity, I launched GarageBand and quickly found out that 256MB is about the minimum you need to run it. Everything else I tried (playing a DVD, surfing, connecting via wireless) is pretty snappy. When I initially decided to purchase it, I considered buying a 512MB stick to throw in, but as long as I'm doing okay, I will probably hold out for the price to come down on one of these.

Right now, I'm following the instructions in the manual and trying to run down the battery to "condition" it (while I blog.)

The most important thing: this works. We can all rest easy now.

Next things to do:
- install Office v.X
- get ChickenoftheVNC working.
- look for a third-party utility to allow me to use the right 15% of the touchpad as a scrollbar
Found: SideTrack, which also gives me a virtual right-click
- badger John for the pictures
- find time to play with it.

Thanks to Giles for sydnicating the saga, Scott, Rob, Mark, Andy, Mark (see comments) and Katherine (I feel the force, flowing through me...) for the encouraging words and Jason... will you ever believe?

almost... there...


Track Your Package

Ship Method: UPS Next Day Saver
Tracking Number: 1Z1806392913276645
Shipment Date: Apr 06, 2004
Destination: Nashville, TN, USA
Order ID: 002-0498764-7066419
Date Time Location Service Area Checkpoint Details


Apr 06, 2004 08:57:00 PM CHICAGO IL US ARRIVAL SCAN
Apr 06, 2004 08:37:11 PM Carol Stream IL USA SHIPPED
Apr 06, 2004 08:11:41 PM ADDISON IL US ORIGIN SCAN

April 5, 2004

believe it...


Open Orders

Order Date: Apr 5, 2004
Order #: 002-...
Recipient: work - Patrick Watts

Items not yet shipped:
Delivery estimate: Apr 7, 2004 1 of Apple iBook Notebook 12.1" M9164LL/A (800-MHz PowerPC G4, 256 MB RAM, 30 GB Hard Drive, DVD/CD-RW Drive) [Personal Computers]

April 3, 2004

public apology

Update: Despite my presence at the game on Saturday, the Predators did make it to the playoffs. - Lydia

Lydia would like to publicly apologize for attending the Nashville Predators game today and dashing their playoff hopes. Of all the games she can remember attending, the Predators have lost all of them. Thanks to Philip and Susan (and Sara) for the tickets!

April 2, 2004

extreme makeover: car edition

We now have a new "show of the moment" to recommend... it's reality TV meets West Coast style. Believe it or not, it's on MTV, and, as such, has a title that probably wouldn't be suitable for a family-friendly blog such as ours. In each show, the host finds a deserving 18 to 20-something with a "beater" $500-$1000 car and lets West Coast Customs put about $20,000 worth of paint, electronics, wheels... basically stripping the car down to the frame and rebuilding it. The best part, watching the reactions of the owners (who probably had no idea they'd go to the lengths that they'd go when they turned their car over.) They find some pretty bizarre cars to convert too... like a Daihatsu HiJet.

When you Tivo this half-hour show, you can watch it in about 12-15 minutes... great fun in a short amount of time.

today's terror alert level:

Terror Alert Level

Click the image for more details on every Muppet terror alert level.

the producers on broadway (actually, on deadrick)

Last night, Lydia and I got to see The Producers at TPAC. If you are a fan of broadway, or at all a fan of the original movie, find out when it's playing near you and run buy your tickets now. The night we saw the touring cast in Nashville, one of the understudies played the Leo Bloom (Matthew Broderick / Gene Wilder) part. We didn't notice. It seemed like he and the Max Bialystock (Nathan Lane / Zero Mostel) were taking parts of both of their predecessors' performances, but making it their own. Their performance was stellar. And, the rest of the cast, from Ulla to Franz Liebkind to Carmen Giya to Roger De Bris all nailed their characters. Interestingly, Lorenzo St. DuBois is missing from the musical. He was probably dropped because the story is now set in 1959 and would have been pretty anachronistic.

Aside from dropping the F-bomb in the first act, the language is not too over the top, but Mel Brooks is definately an equal-opportunity offender. The songs are singable and memorable, and almost every line is hilarious without having to be a "one-liner."

To top it all off, this morning, I found out, that Mel Brooks is planning to make a movie about his show about a movie about a show. The guy is genius.

that's entertainment (cheap)

All of the 2004 Entertainment books at Entertainment.com are just $10 now, probably because there are only nine months until the offers expire.

Lydia and I used ours last night at the Commerce Street Grille to get $17 off our dinner (buy one, get one free.) We've used it to get a $49.50 hotel room in Austin, TX and used both of the buy one, get one free coupons at Miyako... and much, much more.

I'm not normally an advocate of paying to get a discount, but in this case, it truly is worth it.