After several years in its current location, I have decided to move my blog to something I don't have to actually look after myself. Partially this is due to laziness, and partially it is due to having rubbish web hosting.
Anyway, from now on, go to Cuppa Tea and a Biscuit at Blogspot for further ramblings.
After using my lovely Gen1 Macbook for nearly three and a half years with it's default Tiger install, I decided to take the plunge and upgrade to the latest incarnation of Mac OS X, Snow Leopard. I never upgraded to Leopard because, well, Tiger did everything I want and better the devil you know. Or something. I dunno, Leopard just never really "clicked" with me. However, as soon as I heard about what Apple were doing with Snow Leopard I signed up for notification of release.
A lot of Apple haters have been rubbing their tiny hands with glee recently after news reports of a security flaw in the iPhone OS 3.0 that could allow hackers to "Hijack every iPhone in the world". Many were quick to point out how slow Apple were for not releasing a patch, and many simply made it a soap box for "iPhone sucks, use Android" rants.
However, on July 31st, Apple released iPhone OS 3.0.1, with a patch for this SMS issue. It installs easily enough, job done. Of course, not being privy to such information as how to hack my own phone with this exploit, I can't check if it does the job. Either way, there it is. A fix. More detail on the OS 3.0.1 release notes.
One continuous gripe I have with OpenOffice.org on Mac OS X is the apparent failure to properly handle bullet points. It only affects MS Word .doc format, and looks something like this:
This is apparently caused by the .doc format itself. Saving a .doc file in Word or OpenOffice.org and opening it in OOo will result in this bug. It is caused by a complete encoding failure on the part of the Word document format for bullet point symbols, as it explicitly looks for a particular glyph in the Symbol font rather than looking for the Unicode code point for the character. So, on machines that don't have the Windows version of Symbol.ttf installed ... it simply displays a nonsense character. OS X has its own Symbol font with different glyphs.
Fortunately the workaround for this is very simple. You can use font substitution to make OOo look at a "Symbol compatible" font for the glyph - in this case, OpenSymbol. Open the preferences panel and navigate to the Fonts page. Then, enter a font substitution for Symbol to OpenSymbol, to be applied Always.
This will take effect immediately, so any documents you have open will magically get their bullet points back. Smashing! Here is the same document immediately after closing the preferences window:
So I just got back from seeing Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, and having read various reviews from serious film-lovers and SF fans, I really didn't know what to expect. After all the anti-hype, I hoped it wasn't as bad as all the reviews made it out to be.
But do you know what? I really enjoyed it. Yes, sure, it was absolutely ridiculous. The storyline was present, sort of, and there was a lot of very silly slapstick moments throughout the film, but none of that is really a criticism. If you were hoping that the Transformers franchise would be turned into a serious, epic SF story arc with poignancy and emotion, then you will definitely be disappointed. If you were hoping that it would be a comedy action flick with lots of things blowing up and big robots fighting a lot, then you are most certainly in for a treat!
There's not a lot else I can say about it really. It was a good film insofar as it was very entertaining. If that's not the point of such things, then I await to be enlightened.
Good news! If you are fortunate enough to own an iPhone 2G, and have unlocked it to any network using my previous instructions ...
the OS 3.0 upgrade will present no problems at all!
Just let iTunes do its thing and upgrade the phone. The baseband on the 2G remains untouched, as does the bootloader. It's all good.
Last weekend, the company that host this blog (4Uhosting) had a major meltdown, along with several other companies using the same datacentre. The UKGrid Greenheys DC had a major power outage, taking out many servers entirely and effectively causing many hosts to drop off the 'net completely.
A news update on the support page at 4uhosting.co.uk had the following to say:
"We would like to make it very clear that this incident occured through no fault of ours. It could happen at any facility at any time. We rent floor space in UK datacentres to run our business and we do not expect this kind of thing to happen. Unfortunately, from time to time it does and we can neither predict, or prevent such problems."
So I finally joined the 21st century, boosted my Apple nerd cred, and got a funky phone to boot. An iPhone is now in my posession! So far so good, except for one small problem - I have 12 months left on my Orange contract and I don't really want to pay all that off now just to get an O2 contract. I need a way to get the iPhone to work with my Orange SIM.
Enter ... QuickPWN and PWNTools! These two excellent apps allow you to unlock and jailbreak your iPhone in style and comfort. It's not as straightforward as just following the instructions, though, so allow me to elaborate a bit.
For some reason, several places on the web with streaming video (e.g. ITV player) have gone with Microsoft's Silverlight for the interface. I have no idea what Silverlight is like as a platform, but I do know that it's a really bad choice for streaming video.
The main problem I have with it is that, on a 6MB/s ADSL connection, I get skip free performance from the likes of youtube and the BBC iplayer. Silverlight players, not so much. 0% left in the buffer every 30 seconds or so for even small videos, and there is no apparent way to change the buffer settings.
If anyone knows how I can make Silverlight less crappy, please to be posting comments!
Being the Luddite I am, I have thus far shunned the idea of having a television in my flat. I really couldn't see the point, given that I have plenty of other things to entertain me, and the fact that there is seldom anything on. Anything I do watch I do so on DVD, iPlayer, or *ahem* handy, handy torrents.
However, I do have two children who like to watch the these things, and it is much nicer to watch DVDs on a decent sized screen than on my 13.3" MacBook. I have previously used a projector for such purposes, but it's a faff to set up (don't have anywhere permanent to mount it) and in recent months the picture has turned increasingly yellow.
So, I had a plan. Don't get a telly. Get a decent monitor instead. A nice TFT monitor would let me do all the things I currently do on a much better display. Genius. And that's exactly what I was going to do, until I saw a UMC 21.6" TV in Tesco for very little cash.
I went over to my local Tesco (all of half a mile from the flat) and picked one up last night, and was immediately impressed. Everything just worked out of the box, and it has an impressive array of connectors. There's the usual SCART and component inputs, as well as HDMI for HD content and a VGA connector. This last addition is what swayed me. For £170, I got a 1080p HD television that doubles up as a 1920x1080 monitor for plugging the laptop into.
It's quite an impressive little thing, for the money. The interface is clean, easy to use, easy to read and responds quickly to user inputs. It does everything you could want of a TV, and the built in Freeview tuner picks up a suitable amount of channels. The 1000:1 contrast ratio is very nice, producing a clean, crisp and vivid picture even when using my grotty low-bitrate AVIs I have acquired from the internet.
The only problem, really, is that there's still nothing on!