Monthly Archives: January, 2006

iMac Extended

Apologies to those of you not interested in Mac-related posts. I expect the current flurry to die down soon!

I noticed a subtle but interesting change in the graphics specs for the new Intel-based iMac:

For the first time ever, iMac lets you use a second display in extended desktop mode, in addition to simply mirroring the first.

In the past, the iMac and the iBook have supported external displays but only as a clone of the main one, unlike the PowerMac and PowerBook. This was never a hardware limitation, only a marketing decision and there’s a good reliable hack to get over that foolishness. But it’s nice to see it won’t be necessary.

How To Install Front Row

Here’s how you can install Apple’s Front Row software on any Mac running Tiger 10.4.4.

Works for me…

Hopeful news from the USPTO

Quoted on Paul Bissex’s blog:

Last month, USPTO representatives met with members of the open source software community…The meeting focused on getting the best prior art references to the examiner during the initial examination process.

I’ve always felt that published applications on the patent offices’ websites needed a button labelled ‘Click here to report possibly relevant prior art’. Maybe this is a step closer to that goal.


One thing my new MacBook won’t have is a PCMCIA (PC Card) slot. I’ve been rather fond of this on my old Powerbook – a CF card adaptor lives there permanently, and it means that I can always get photos off my camera without the need for cables.

CFCF adaptor

The new machines have an ExpressCard slot. This is the replacement for the old PC Card standard; it has been around for a while and has lots of advantages, but I haven’t seen any cards for it yet, and the slot is too small for a Compact Flash adaptor, so it’ll be back to cables, I guess, for transferring my photos.

Patience is a virtue

Well, I’ve been very patient. Patient, first, while my insurance company took two months to pay up after my old Powerbook came to a tragic end, and then patient while I waited for Steve Jobs’ keynote address. But it was worth it, because he announced the Powerbook replacement, the MacBook Pro, and I have one on the way… Hee hee.

But my patience is not yet exhausted, and it’s just as well, because though they’re taking orders now, delivery is sometime in February. And the Apple retail stores will no doubt get them sooner than the local dealer with whom I placed my order. I’m hoping that good things come to those who wait…

Inuit Words for Snow

Everyone talks about how the Eskimos have 100 different words for snow. Well, apparently, here they are.

Thanks to Dale for the link.


Not only did Apple come out with some great new stuff yesterday, but Google Earth is now available for the Mac. Wonderful!

Self-referential silliness


Bridging the Global Digital Divide

I spend an enjoyable but exhausting couple of days in Bath last week, at the ‘sandpit’ brainstorming session which distributed a modest chunk of UK government academic funding to projects working on ‘Bridging the Global Digital Divide’.

It was a great experience – meeting some wonderful people with whom I had much too little time to chat – and I came away pretty impressed by the overall process. Getting 30 academics to agree on anything is a well-nigh impossible goal, and these ones came from a wide variety of disciplines and from institutions around the country and around the world. Amazingly, we managed to come up with what I think will be four interesting and valuable projects and divide the money between them in a way that seemed to meet with general approval. Bill Thompson was there and has a nice write-up. Kudos to Alan Blackwell and all of the others involved in making it happen.

Ndiyo new look

We’ve been updating the Ndiyo web site, and there’ll be more news postings appearing there over the next few weeks. Please take a look and sign up for the email announcements list if you’re interested. We’re very respectful of your inbox and will try only to put quality announcements into it!

Global media generation

Alex Lindsay of PixelCorp has some interesting things to say about the out-sourcing of media to the developing world, in this IT Conversations podcast.

Tabloid troubles

Simon Jenkins has an interesting article in the Guardian – thanks to John for the link – where he talks about how newspaper circulation in America and much of Europe is declining, while, surprisingly perhaps, the quality newspapers in Britain are seeing rises in circulation. He attributes this to the fact that in the US and elswehere, “publishers are trapped by archaic unions in a quasi-monopolistic market stripped of any zest to compete”.

Well, I think he may be right, but I’m still pessimistic about the UK situation. I don’t think we produce any major publication now that is of the quality of the New York Times, for example, though we have a few that come close.

And while it’s encouraging to see that the fall in tabloid sales is offset (though not matched) by a rise in the quality papers, I don’t think that this is because the average Brit has realised the folly of reading the Daily Mail. It’s because the entire press has slipped down-market to the extent that many people who used to read the Mail and the Sun now read the Times and feel at home.

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser