Wednesday, October 26, 2005

What a difference 1 character can make

One of the fundamental problems with computing is that it requires us humans to be less than human. 'Course, that true in life as well, oftentimes.

Maybe I should rephrase that - the problem is that too often to go through a day PROBLEM-FREE requires us to be less than human.

Two examples:

I've heard a story about NASA losing a Mars Lander because of a misplaced comma. Now, you would think that something that simple would either have beebn caught before the satellite was a tad out of reach, but it wasn't. (Granted, the story could be apocryphal, but let's assume it's relatively true for the purpose of illustrating my point.)

For the machine to work properly, it required the programmers to work like a machine - something that is impossible for humans to do on an extended period of time. (Humanity has some significant advantages, don't get me wrong!). This causes problems for both the machine and for the humans trying to get work done. Work gets lost, machines lock up because of human error, etc. etc.

Second example:

I sold the 8500 on ebay. The website - the machines - everything required me to work like a machine and not make a mistake for the transaction to go smoothly. Unfortunately, the 8500 was advertised as a PowerMac 8600 - related to the 8500, but different!

....and in all my proofreading I never caught the error.

Unfortunately I shipped the thing off. Fortunately, the recipient let me know about it, and has given me a chance to fix the error.

**sigh** There are days I ***WISH*** I could be a machine!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Studio update - part 3

The mac 8600 died - a moment of silence, please.

Well, it didn't EXACTLY die. I had decided to simplify my setup, so I pulled the external hard drives out of the setup after copying the data and system to one of the internal drives. After getting things settled, naturally, the 700 meg drive died rather catastraophically - and with no warning, of course.

It took every app I had with it. The larger drive I had reserved for data storage (lots of audio files), so I put all the apps on the smaller dirve. Oh, well!

So, again, the setup changes. I'm trying to sell the 8600 on ebay - the machine is still good, there is just no hard drive with it. I now have a mac G3 desktop (233 MHz machine) to go with the mini. The plan is to get my old sequencing software running on it, plus some editor librarian for my synths. This will act as the master clock for Garageband / Soundtrack / Reason.

What is simply wonderful is that the modern-day machine (the Mac mini) will transfer files over to the old-style machine (first the 8600, ow the G3 running either mac OS 8.6 or 9.1).

I could even have the mini dial up the 'net, share the connection, and have the G3 on the 'net through the same connection. Gotta love it! - though that does sound like one of those things you COULD do, but ti doesn't really make sense to actually do it!

When the Human needs the Technology to tickle the funnybone.

A great Flash movie. Prepare to laugh - cartoon humor in the best tradition of bugs bunny!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Cell Phones, Ringtones: Why and how to get new stuff for your cell

The downloadable cellphone ringtone industry has created a huge buzz among a certain segment of the internet industry. Although you don't yet see reports of this stuff on the broadcast network news reports, there is a lot of money changing hands.

One big question: Why?

I asked my teenaged son this question: Why do kids like to customize their phones? After getting the typical "Dad you just don't get it look" that I get quite often (!), the answer boiled down to "It's just cool".

Bottom line, if I may be permitted to extrapolate the rest of the story, ringtones allow you to personalize a gadget that has become a part of your everyday workflow. Ringtones have the advantage of being cheap, and very easy to deal with as well.

So how do you download some new material on your phone? The answer varies a bit with the capabilities of your phone. Some phones can only play one note at a time, some phones can only play modified MIDI files, others can do samples of one format or another. It can be a bit confusing.

Help for the confused

Enter This is a ringtone site that keeps track of what your phone can use. All you ahve to do is select a tune you'd like, and then select your phone model. If you don't see your phone model listed, your phone can't use that type of file!

The site has thousands of ringtones available. It also offers wallpaper (for changing the backgrounds on the cell phone screen), pictures, and even videos (for the latest phone models). The inventory is constantly being updated, and is very easy to use. Downloading is quick, easy, and secure - not to mention cheap!

How to download ringtones to your phone

First, swing over to and select a ringtone, wallpaper, or video. Click on your selection to preview it. This will create a popup window, so if you have popups blocked you may have to CTRL-click the link (command-click for you Mac people).

After you listen to it, select your cell phone service provider (i.e. Verizon, Cingular, AT&T, etc), then your phone manufacturer (Motorola, Samsung, etc.) and then your specific phone model. Only those phones that can use your selection will show up in the list - so you can't buy something you couldn't use!

Simply click the "Buy" button, and the window will be replaced with instructions on how to finsih the download. generally, use your cell phone to send a specific text message to a specific number, and the material you ordered will be automatically downloaded to your cell phone.

Prices are low - somewhere in the $1 to $2 range, and the site is available internationally as well.

It's fast, easy, simple, cheap, and secure. So check it out - it's a lot of fun, actually. They have a wide selection of tunes available, and it's all legal.