OSX: Print Contents of Folder as Text List

This Explains how to get a text version of any folder’s contents in OSX (and possibly other *NIX) added to the clipboard to be pasted wherever you like.

  1. Open the Terminal.app and CHANGE DIRECTORY to the folder you want to print
    1. Open Terminal and type
      followed by the directory path to the folder you need the list of contents for (example: /Users/jason/Desktop/foldername)
    2. press ‘enter’
  2. Change Directory in Terminal

    NOTE: Copy/Pasting these right now doesn’t work. I’ll get a little smarter on this and update this post as soon as possible.

    1. To get just the file names of the directory to which you just moved your Terminal, paste the following into Terminal and press Enter:
      1. ls -lT | awk ‘{print “\””substr($0,index($0,$10))”\””}’ \ | pbcopy
    2. To get file names, Creation Date, Size in CSV (If you don’t know what ‘Comma-Space-Delimited’ file is, look it up. Actually, this output is semicolon-delimited. Keep that in mind when importing into spreadsheet program) format, paste the following into Terminal and press Enter:
      1. ls -lT | awk ‘{print “\””substr($0,index($0,$10))”\”””;””\””$6″ “$7”, “$9″\”””;””\””$5″\””}’ \ | pbcopy

This seems to work, though not as smoothly as I remember OS9 doing it. πŸ˜€ However, I seem to recall OS9 having a few other problems that are not replicated in OSX. I attempted to write an applescript to execute this, but every time I try to get interested in AppleScript I quickly lose interest. If anybody out there can help me out with this, please do. I would think it would be as simple as that “File Path to Clipboard” applescript, but that’s a post I have yet to make. Let me know if this improves your Data-CD burning efficiency.

Yellow Dog Linux on G5 1.6GHz

I finally decided to go all-Linux and downloaded all 4 Yellow Dog 4.1 iso files this weekend. If I’m going to put Linux on the G5, it might as well be the most Apple-hardware specific type of Linux. I even have fantasies of checking out Compiz since all the rest of my hardware is so old and pathetic. Having Linux on my desktop as well as my laptop will allow me to move between the two of them more easily.

I can’t believe it, but I’m even starting to dislike working in OSX. It’s the little things. Does anybody know of a way to download one specific photo off of a camera using iPhoto? I don’t. The other day I was taking a pic off of my brother’s camera and I ended up spending 15 minutes downloading all 162 pictures. GTKam is so much more intuitive. More and more I am getting the feeling that OSX caters to the ‘For Idiots’ crowd. Not that they’re idiots, but they certainly don’t want to know very much about how their computer works or how and where it saves their data.

Okay, so it’s not really all that bad. Maybe I’m being way to subjective. Sometimes I wonder if I would have ever learned anything about Linux if I had bought a PowerBook instead of a G5 tower. Oh well. So I’m starting to prefer Linux over OSX. I’m still telling people that they should buy a Mac if they don’t want to worry about viruses. So I haven’t turned away entirely. Back to Yellow Dog:

I burned the first disk and tried to boot the G5 with it. It didn’t work, continued to boot into OSX and then caused a black-screen freeze or kernel panic as the Finder fumbled with the disk, unable to mount it. Once I got the disk out of the drive everything returned to normal. I guess I will download the first disk again and try it one more time. If that doesn’t work I’ll be extremely confused and frustrated. How hard can this be?

Internet Explorers 6, 5.5 and 5 on Linux

This is a pretty sweet and easy set up for web developers on Linux. Just download and double-click and IEs4Linux takes care of itself. It is running IE using Wine. Apparently this is the same old Internet Explorer application surrounded by some programs that allow it to run on Linux. They warn about security issues and not using it as your primary browser, but I honestly don’t know who’d think of doing that. Anybody that is using Linux and goes to the trouble of getting this to run IE on it isn’t going to use it for recreation.

How does it work? Looks good to me. For troubleshooting anyway. The fonts are weird but that’s expected. IE 6 gives me lots of bold type and the IE 5s don’t have that problem. They’re just not anti-aliased. These IEs also run as fast as they would on Windows as far as I can tell. Actually, on my Pentium II 266MHz laptop, they load faster than Firefox.

How do you get it? Well, no need to comprehend Wine, thank god. (Has anybody else noticed that there is no explanation on their site to even attempt installing a Windows app on Linux?) Just go to IEs4Linux and follow the instructions on that page. You will have to install Wine and Cabextract and then finally run their IEs4Linux file. You will be in IE heaven soon! Now, if only they had a set up package for OSX.

OSX: Mounting Digital Cameras, Getting and Deleting Pictures

Initially, these cameras were being used with a WindowsXP box. The camera would be connected via USB to the computer, it would mount as an external drive, the files would be copied to the computer’s hard drive, the files would be deleted from the camera drive and the camera would be unmounted and turned off. When the camera is used to take more photos the compact flash disc would be empty and ready for another shoot.

Well, our department changed a bit and the main photographers for the company were now two OSX users. It seemed like a waste of time to continue using the now vacant WindowsXP box just to pull the files off of the camera. I’m all about diminishing silly myths regarding OSX and its support for external hardware. “Puhshaw! Of COURSE it works with a Mac!”

So, we plugged in the camera and tried it out. Everything worked as expected. Once the files were transferred, we hit the ‘Delete’ button on the finder (or Command-Delete or dragged the files from the camera’s folder to the trash) and unmounted the camera and turned it off. Everything’s cool.

When the next shoot was began however, we realized everything wasn’t cool: the files from the previous shoot were still on the camera. Sort of. There were no existing images to browse through, but the available picture counter wasn’t showing its usually capacity. So, we plugged it back in to the Mac and to our surprise the folders on the camera showed that they had no contents. Where were these mysterious files? Well, an obvious clue if you noticed is that those files you thought you had deleted reappear in the Trash when you remount the camera.

To make a long story short, this is an excellent example of how OSX handles deleting files. It was a little frustrating, but after thinking about the process I realized that it’s really a great method for saving people from deleting the wrong file. Here’s how it works:

When you tell OSX to delete a file on any drive you’ll notice that the files are quickly removed (unless it’s a network drive. In that case, after telling OSX to delete the file you will be reminded that the files will be completely deleted and asked if that is indeed what you had intended.) This process is quick because the files are simply moved to a folder on the same drive named ‘.Trashes’. The specified trashes directory is hidden on every drive. Any file whose name starts with a ‘.’ will be hidden in OSX and all Linux OSes as well. This is a little confusing since anything you trash on any locally mounted drive shows up in the ‘Trash’ on your dock. The Trash would seem to be one location on the computer, but in reality the ‘Trash’ is a collective display of the contents of all .Trashes folders in all locally mounted drives. If you’d like to see these hidden files in Linux it’s usually an option under ‘View’ in the file browser. OSX’s Finder doesn’t have that option for the general user, but it’s easy enough through a simple command in the Terminal or the use of an AppleScript to run the Terminal for you. Anyway, here’s what you need to see hidden files in OSX.

This method works flawlessly as long as your mounted drives do not get moved or unmounted very often. You know that those files won’t be deleted until you remove them from the Trash. So, the secret to working with any digital camera or external drive is to move the old files to the Trash and be sure to empty the Trash before you unmount the camera or drive. That action will completely delete the files. No more mystery files on your camera.

Now, this brings up an issue with using OSX’s Trash as a holding place for files you are not quite ready to completely delete. If you want to delete files from your camera those files will be permanently deleted as well. To avoid interrupting this method of using OSX’s trash I create a folder inside my home folder and I name it ‘Not Quite Trash’. I then drag it to the dock and set it right above the ‘real’ Trash. This way you can still drag files to it just like the ‘real’ Trash. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good.

Finally, I have to say that OSX should probably ask the user about what to do with the contents of the Trash that are associated with any drive they are attempting to unmount. That would make the above post completely unnecessary. However, Xubuntu 6.06 doesn’t even have a trash mechanism. You just delete the file and it’s gone forever. Definitely getting some use out of my ‘Not Quite Trash’ folder on this system.

Ubuntu 6.06 on 1.6 GHz G5

I received a shipment of Ubuntu discs today from France from what I can tell. I have already downloaded Xubuntu and Ubuntu 6.06 so it wasn’t too exciting. However, I have not tried Dapper for the PowerPC processor. The last shipment I got was Ubuntu 5.1 and the stack included two PowerPC install discs upon my request. It was interesting to try out on the original iMac and seemed to work pretty well as far as live-cds go. However, I could never get my G5 to boot 5.1. It started out, but soon locked up. It may have been an error in the discs, but whatever. Dapper boots though. That’s all I needed to be impressed. I would really like to see how snappy it is once it’s installed. Needless to say I haven’t yet got up the nerve to install it on the G5.

One issue that jumped out at me was the maximum screen resolution of 1024 x . It would be nice to go a little higher. After looking around in the System Preferences I got the impression that, if you are hooked up to the internet, the system would go search for video drivers specific to the machine’s video hardware. So maybe that isn’t much of a concern. I just haven’t read much about running Ubuntu on Apple hardware. Maybe someday I’ll at least get so bold as to make the G5 a dual-booter with Ubuntu.

So check it out. Let me know if you are running Dapper on a PowerPC and what your impressions are.

A Few Xubuntu or XFCE or Linux Key Commands

These may or may not be common knowledge, but my top and bottom panels in Xubuntu disappeared on me and my contextual menu for the desktop didn’t work either. All of the open applications ran fine. I figured I would have to restart, since logging out wasn’t an option. However, I started poking around with some Control-Alt combinations and was delighted to find a few really important commands:

  • Control-Alt-Delete: Locks the screen, maybe turns on screen saver. (mine’s set to ‘blank’)
  • Control-Alt-Backspace: Log out of current user.
  • Control-Alt-Escape: Force Quit via your cursor turning into ‘Skull and Crossbones’. Left-Click on a window to force quit any application. Right-Click to cancel.

P.S. I didn’t have to restart after all.

An ‘Eject iPod’ Button for Xubuntu (XFCE)

iPod Mini Silver

Using an iPod with Xubuntu is not as slick as using an iPod with Ubuntu. It will mount automatically just fine, but the right-click-unmount action doesn’t quite do the job. I had been using this routine for attaching/unattaching my iPod. Everything seemed to work fine, but I guess unmounting isn’t all that can be done. The ‘No Access’ flashing sign did not go away and change to the regular directory list on the iPod’s screen. The command to ‘Eject’ the iPod actually causes the screen of the iPod to go back to the list screen like it would after being unmounted in Ubuntu 6.06, OSX or Windows. This post is a brief description of how to make a button on the top panel of Xubuntu to avoid using the Terminal every time you want to thoroughly eject your iPod.

Xubuntu Program Launcher Setup Screen

  1. Right-click on the top panel (or whatever panel you’d like) and select ‘Add New Item’ and then select ‘Program Launcher’. You will get a screen like the one shown above.
  2. In the ‘Name’ box give the function a name like ‘Eject iPod’. Give a description if you like. In the ‘Command’ box type this:
    eject /dev/sda
  3. Make sure ‘Startup Notification’ and ‘Run in Terminal’ boxes are unchecked. Leave the generic icon for now. Hit ‘Close’.
  4. Now, simply hit that button when you are ready to disconnect your iPod and wait for the ‘No Access’ symbol to change to the iPod’s normal user interface before disconnecting.

If you really want to get fancy you can create your own icon for the mounted iPod and the new ‘Eject iPod’ button. (Actually, since I drew them I guess it’s my artwork, so I am making two iPod icons available for download. They are the Silver Mini shown above and a Black Nano. Help yourself. They were made with Inkscape and are SVG files.) This will make the purpose of the button unmistakable. To do this you must replace the file ‘multimedia-player.svg’ (you have to name your new icon that in order to work) in
/usr/share/icons/(name of icon theme)/scalable/devices/

Be sure to backup the original system icon before doing this. In order to move your custom icon to that folder you will need root privileges via the ‘sudo’ command and that means using the Terminal. First, save your custom icon onto the desktop as a plain .svg file with the name ‘multimedia-player.svg’.

Open the Terminal application and type the following:

sudo mv /home/(your user name)/Desktop/multimedia-player.svg(enter a space here)/usr/share/icons/(name of icon theme)/scalable/devices/

hit enter

Again, you will need to enter your password. ‘Sudo’ gives you short-term root priveledges, ‘mv’ stands for ‘move’ and the first directory is your new file, the second directory is the destination. Now right-click on the iPod Eject button, select ‘Properties’ and add “/usr/share/icons/(name of icon theme)/scalable/devices/multimedia-player.svg” to the icon input field to update it with your new icon.

Changing The Default Browser in Ubuntu (Debian-based) Linux

To get to the straight poop skip to the red text below.

I’m a web designer of sorts and I like to have a good variety of web browsers on whatever machine I’m using. At work I have a most excellent setup with OSX having Firefox, IE 5, Safari and Opera. Then I use Remote Desktop to run an XP box with IE 6 and Firefox. Between IE 6, Firefox (OSX and Windows) and Safari the bases are covered for a web designer who is trying to reach as broad a customer base as possible.

At home I mostly use my old Gateway Solo running Xubuntu 6.06. I have Firefox by default. Once upon a time this old laptop with an 8GB hard drive was dual bootable with Ubuntu and Windows 2000, but rebooting sucked. Maybe when I get the cash together to get a more powerful laptop I can use Qemu to run a virtual Windows machine to test IE. Anyway, for now I just wanted an additional browser that might show things a little differently. So I installed the Dillo browser that I had been introduced to with Damn Small Linux and Feather Linux. It will at least show me what happens when my style sheets don’t work. Dillo is really small and aside from resolving DNS addresses is very fast compared to our more graphically inclined browsers. So it works great. However this brings us to the title of this post.

After installing Dillo I soon noticed that any hyperlink that showed up in my e-mails in Thunderbird would now open in Dillo upon clicking them rather than Firefox. I didn’t really want to use Dillo that much. I went to Xubuntu’s ‘Preferred Applications’ and it insisted that Firefox was my ‘Preferred’ web browser. So I went to the internet to learn more. I found an excellent blog post on this very subject here: The Gnuru. You can read that blog post (and it looks like there are many more gems there as well) or you can continue with my attempt to simplify what you need to do. I will try to make it clear for those that might need a little more help.

So you need to switch your debian-based (Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, etc.) Linux back to Firefox for default web browsing?

  1. Open the Terminal application (Applications/Terminal or Applications/Accessories/Terminal).
  2. After the ‘$’ sign in the terminal, type the following green text:
    sudo update-alternatives –(two dashes precede ‘config’ here. I just couldn’t get two dashes to display as two separate dashes for some reason.)-config x-www-browser

    Hit ‘Enter’. ‘sudo’ means that you are asking to do the following action with the root user’s priveledges. You will be asked for your password. The cursor will not move while you type the password. When done hit ‘Enter’ or ‘Return’.
  3. There will be some semi-legible text generated. Focus on the text similar to the picture shown below.
  4. terminal screen for x-browser default change

  5. At this point enter the number next to the browser that you want to be your default web browser and hit ‘Enter’ or ‘Return’. You will then most likely see the following output correlating with the browser you specified, not necessarily Firefox.
    Using `/usr/bin/firefox’ to provide `x-www-browser’.
    Just close the Terminal window when you’re done.

That’s all there is to it. Please let me know if my instructions were helpful.

Xubuntu 6.06 loses wireless device after install

Xubuntu 6.06 desktop
Last week the sluggishness of Ubuntu 5.1 on my Pentium II laptop aligned with the new release of Xubuntu 6.06 (and the rest of the Ubuntu family) lead me to wipe my hard drive clean and start over with a fresh install. Xubuntu 6.06 is a big improvement. I now have support for my sound card on this old laptop and Xubuntu is a very small install that’s relatively snappy and startup and shut down are faster as well. Exactly what I wanted.

The weird thing is that the LiveCD booted and my wireless card was up and running just fine. After the install my pcmcia card stopped working. Why it worked while booting from the cd but not from the fresh install seemed very odd. The ‘Network’ application only showed a modem device. eth0 was nowhere to be found. The problem, after a few hours worth of piddling around, reading and trying a reinstall (hoping that it was just an install glitch) turns out to be some sort of ‘clean up’ program that runs after the installation is complete. This clean up application removes files that were not needed for the installation or are biproducts of it. I can’t remember the name of it. Anyway, the issue is a ‘pcmcia-cs’ file that needs to be reinstalled. If the laptop you are using also has an ethernet plug, simply plug it in for internet, run Synaptic and search for ‘pcmcia-cs’. Install that file and your problems are solved. If, like me, you have an old, crappy laptop that DOESN’T have an ethernet port on it, find a computer with internet and download this file:
pcmcia-cs file

One of the cool features of the Ubuntu 6.06 family is the ability to double-click on .deb files and get the option to install it via Synaptic. Do that to the above file once you have it downloaded. You may have to restart to get your pcmcia support working. Of course, I have to say that I in no way guarantee that this action will correct your problem or that it will not have a negative effect on your system. That said, let me know if this solved your problem. It certainly solved mine.

Apart from that the new Xubuntu is a wonderful experience. Mounting my iPod Mini isn’t a problem, though it isn’t as cool as how it automounts and has a new iPod Nano icon in Ubuntu 6.06. Ubuntu has also improved how the iPod is unmounted to the point that the iPod screen actually returns from the ‘no access’ blinking screen to the iPod interface screen once it’s unmounted. In that regard Xubuntu is a little bit of a step back (but I fixed that issue), but the performance difference is entirely worth it. I was hoping to use Damn Small Linux or Feather Linux as my new system, but installing them to a hard drive turned out to have some problems that I certainly cannot resolve. Xubuntu is easy to install and customizing it with Synaptic is a breeze. Again, let me know if this helped repair your pcmcia functionality in Xubuntu 6.06.

Reconsidering OSX’s Text/Edit

Text/Edit preference pane

NOTE: The first paragraph is a rant about using commercial html editors. Continue to the second paragraph for the meat and potatoes.

As a web designer I prefer to work with a text editor that usually can assist me with the markup (Quanta Plus, BBEdit and the text editor side of Dreamweaver) but I also use plain vanilla text editors as well. I resist becoming dependent on an application like Dreamweaver. In the past I’ve made the mistake of becoming an expert in a specific application rather than understanding the details of what that application was doing. I think web design is a common victim of that evil. Dreamweaver is very powerful, makes complex things easy and from what I can tell is writing pretty good html these days. However, it is proprietary software and you must pay for it. Right now a full version of Dreamweaver is $399. That’s perfectly fine, but if I had $400 to spend, I’d probably buy a ‘newer’ laptop πŸ˜‰ More importantly, html is available for our uses for free. I like to think of it like a spoken language: It’s a part of our culture, there are different levels of knowledge about it and if you know it well it can be a very powerful tool of communication. No need for a liaison.

Whew, that was a long introduction! Let’s get down to brass tacks:
A lot of people don’t even know what Text/Edit is even though its name is self explanatory. A lot of other people complain about its default rich-text mode and how it saves ‘.rtf’ files. A few others hate that when you open html files it tries to read the html markup and show the appearance of the web page rather than the source (and very poorly at that). Well, this is all true. However it is also true that on the menu bar, under its name, is a link to Text/Edit’s preferences pane (hey, it took me two years to get around to going there). Go there now and apply the following changes:

  • New Document Attributes
    • Check ‘Plain text’
    • For editing html I recommend turning off ‘Wrap to Page’. You can always turn back on via the ‘Format’ menu.
  • Saving
    • Uncheck ‘Append “.txt” extension to plain text files

These changes turn Text/Edit back to a simple text editor that doesn’t interfere with what you are trying to do. Anybody remember SimpleText in OS9? Exactly. Aside from not having html markup assistance capabilities, or even the ability to apply color codes to html markup, Text/Edit works great. Remember that Text/Edit will no longer automatically add an extension to your files. Happy text editing!

Burning ISO files as boot disks with OSX


So you’re interested in GNU/Linux as either an operating system to install or a ‘live CD’ to use for formatting and retrieving files from hard drives. Either way you will need to be able to download ‘.iso’ files and burn them to a cd in order to get anywhere. It doesn’t take many cd-coasters to realize that whatever method of disc burning you are using isn’t doing the trick.

I’ve yet to have a Linux-box that is recent enough to have a cd-burner and the PowerPC version of Ubuntu 5.1 that I have, although it works fine on the old iMac G3, doesn’t appear to work on the perhaps more sophisticated G5. So, the only experience I have at the moment is using OSX 10.3.9 to burn ISOs to disc. I sure couldn’t find a lot of information about doing this in OSX when I needed to know how.

  1. Download the .iso file that you are interested in. My first was actually a set of four or five Fedora Core 4 discs.
  2. Then in OSX go to ‘/Applications/Utilities/Disk Utility’ and open that application.
  3. In the menu go to ‘Images’ and click ‘Burn’.
  4. Browse to the .iso file that you wish to burn to disc and double-click.
  5. Insert blank CD-R disc and hit the ‘Burn’ button. I usually don’t bother with ‘Verify’ since you’ll know soon enough if it doesn’t work and generally there are few problems unless you have a janky internet connection that causes problems with your download. I take it that if you are downloading something like Fedora Core that you are on broadband and that you won’t have any problems.
  6. Insert the disk into the computer on which you’d like to install (You’ll have to set up your PC to boot from the CD drive via the BIOS settings. If your PC is too old to boot directly from a CD you will have a whole other beast on your hands.) and boot or reboot that machine to see the fruits of all of this labor.

That’s all there is to it. If you poke around a bit you will see that the Disk Utility application is a very powerful tool for creating iso files as well. However, I don’t have much use for all of those features. You are now on your way to the world of creating boot discs. No doubt you will have the envy of all of your friends.

iPod as OSX/Windows/Linux USB drive

iPod MiniTake advantage of your iPod as a cross-operating system file transfer or backup usb drive. If you’ve read my ‘About’ page you know that I employ OSX and Ubuntu Linux at home and use WindowsXP at work as well. Having a usb drive to plug into all three of them is what makes using three different operating systems livable. Hopefully this short post can save you all of the time I spent reading on the net about this idea. In the end it was so simple I vowed to start my own site where I could give advice to other power users that don’t want to sell their soul to the tech-geek gods.

First: What is the operating system you use to alter the music/video content of your iPod? Windows or OSX? I use OSX. If you use Windows this is going to be very easy. In the iTunes preferences make sure your iPod is set to ‘use as external drive’ or whatever (sorry I don’t have the exact wording).

Second: Something to keep in mind is the file system that the two different operating systems employ:

  • Windows: FAT32 or NTFS
  • OSX: HFS+

When an iPod is first used on either operating system it is reformatted with either a 3-partition HFS+ file system or a 2-partition VFAT (which I can only assume is another name for FAT32 or some relative of FAT32) file system. (The iPod may technically not be reformatted depending on the format it is initially formatted in. The difference is irrelevant to the issue at hand.)

Linux uses its own file system (usually ‘ext3’). However, Linux has been working with Windows for a long time and apparently it has no trouble reading FAT32 file systems. The same goes for OSX because, let’s face it, when you’re 3% of the personal computer market you adapt to work with the competition. So, you guessed it, if you already use Windows to manage the content of your iPod you don’t have to do a thing. Just plug your iPod into either a Linux or OSX box and it will mount as a removable drive. With Linux this experience can vary depending on the version of the Linux Kernel being used as well as the distribution of Linux. With Fedora Core 4 I had to manually alter a text file to allow the system to mount the drive. However, with Ubuntu 5.1 usb drives mount automatically. (NOTE:If you think the word ‘terminal’ is usually associated with some sort of illness, I recommend installing Ubuntu.) In OSX you’ll see a generic usb drive icon instead of the iPod icon. That’s easily corrected with a simple trip to the ‘Get Info’ window of the iPod and copy/paste of the correct iPod icon.

Now, for those of you using OSX to manage your iPod content. You need to reformat your iPod for Windows. Don’t worry, you can still use your iPod with iTunes in OSX. I do it all the time. File transfers are a little slower with FAT32 (VFAT) but the benefits of going between operating systems outweighs the cost in file transfer speed. The other issue has to do with file name length and possibly a limited use of certain characters in file names. Seems like a small cost.

The trick is finding a Windows box to use for the reformatting. Find a friend with Windows and bring a $7 six-pack of beer with you.

Next, you’ll need to download the appropriate ‘iPod Updater’ for Windows from Apple.com. Try this page:


This will have to be installed on the Windows box. Then you’ll plug in your iPod and start the program to reformat your iPod. NOTE: Backup any music or files you have on the iPod prior to this step. Reformatting will erase the iPod’s drive and create a new file system. If you have music on the iPod that you don’t have on your computer, download this applescript to pull those songs off of your ipod πŸ™‚

Import iPod Audio Files Applescript

Once that’s done you’re ready to go. The reformatting is easy. You will now be able to take files in between different operating systems.

Woody Allen’s ‘Match Point’ is Great Art

Just because it’s paint on a canvas doesn’t make it art. Just because it’s on film and is being advertised by Hollywood doesn’t make it art. I always enjoy Woody Allen films. Well, I at least appreciate what he’s trying to do. Sometimes he can be boring. Sometimes he can be bad (like that film with Jason Biggs and Christina Ricci). This time out the content, music and mood are not at all familiar Woody Allen elements. The credits in the beginning and the composition of the scenes are all familiar, but the film is unique.

Go watch the film. It’s about our private desires, our actions and how we understand our actions. It’s refreshing to see a film express the subtleties of our lives as opposed to the generalized morality that is so common in most mediocre art (and that’s most of what many consider to be art). It’s not easy to create characters that the viewer can both empathize with and despise. Mr. Allen gracefully unfolds the story, giving the viewer just enough information to speculate about the plot. Half of an hour into the film the plot looks obvious. Fortunately it’s not that simple. The film doesn’t get boring fiddling with details that are irrelevant to the plot and it doesn’t try to show a great sex scene either. At one point there is some obvious foreshadowing, but the effect it has on your anticipation for what’s to come is successful. Foreshadowing can be cheesy, but its origins are in classic literature. Ghosts returning to speak to the living can be cheesy as well, but not if what they say is a relevant element of the story.

I have read one positive review of this film, but I can’t say that I overheard anybody at work discussing it. I blogged this comment with the hope that it will make the film intriguing enough for more people to go out and watch it. I’d hate for it to go unnoticed.

Linksys router + ZyXEL DSL modem = suck

Linksys Router I was excited to finally upgrade to DSL from dial-up. Before I got home I went ahead and bought the Linksys WRT54GS. My laptop only has an 802.11b wireless card but I figured I’d be prepared for the future while I’m at it. I did some brief research and checked reviews of this particular model. I’d helped my girlfriend and her roomates set up their older 802.11b Linksys router and I liked the interface. So I went ahead and spent high dollar (approximately $90).

I got home and plugged it in between the DSL router and the old iMac in the office. Suddenly I no longer had internet on the iMac. I could, however, bring up the admin page for the router. For some reason the internet specifically wasn’t coming through. I spent some time fiddling with the ip addresses and later called my ISP for help and they suggested changing the default ip address to in order to avoid any conflict with the ip address of the DSL modem. I tried that with no success. At one point I was even able to bring up the admin page of the DSL router through the Linksys, but internet remained unavailable.

All of this could be due to a lack of knowledge on my part, but I don’t think a router should be this complicated for such an expected setup. I just wonder what someone less technically savvy would do in this situation. The Linksys is very Windows-specific. The setup CD included will walk you through setting it up apparently. The instructions say to just put the CD in and let it take care of itself. Unfortunately, this is strictly for Windows. There’s a pdf in there but it wasn’t much help. The older Linksys router that I mentioned above actually had a paper manual with some generally helpful information about ip troubleshooting and more.

In an attempt to better understand my situation I unpacked my slightly older D-Link router (not wireless) and plugged it into the same situation that the Linksys was in. I let the DHCP reconfigure itself on the router and the iMac and then I immediately had internet. Everything just worked. This did not include any setup whatsoever. It looked like different hardware might be the solution. The Linksys’s wireless worked great, I had a strong signal down in the basement and everything. Just the detail of actually getting internet to pass through the router didn’t work. I think this may be a unique problem having to do with the way the ZyXEL modem and Linksys router interact as unlikely as that would seem.

My hardware setup is unusual (original iMac running OSX 10.3.9 and an old laptop running Ubuntu 5.1), but TCP/IP and the wireless protocols are standards that are not proprietary, so that isn’t an issue as much as the tech-dorks at the stores would like to convince me otherwise. Fortunately Staples accepts returns and in my agitation I most likely told them more than they cared to know about my situation. Now I have a Belkin in my car that I hope will ‘just work’ (especially since it cost $50 less than the Linksys). I’ll update this comment with the outcome.