Monthly Archives: July, 2006

MacBook Pro battery recall

About a week ago I wrote that “I may take any ‘battery recall’ notices a little more seriously in future”.

And today I read that Apple is recalling batteries for some of the 15″ MacBook Pros, including mine.

New Mac Project Management software

I’ve often looked at the various project-management offerings on the Mac, and never found quite what I wanted. I’ve wondered about trying to do my own system using Excel or, more likely, OmniOutliner.

So I’m pleased to see that there’s a new option available – OmniPlan – from the people who brought you the wonderful OmniOutliner and OmniGraffle. Looks very nice at first glance.

How to silence cellphones in your meeting room?

Paint the room with this.

Dell laptop explodes

I’m a bit late in posting this, but the pictures are worth seeing if you haven’t already.

It looks as if we haven’t quite nailed down all the potential issues with batteries yet!

This isn’t the first time Dell has had this problem, though, to be fair, they have such market coverage that if anything goes wrong with any machine, it’s likely to be a Dell, through simple statistics.

I may take any ‘battery recall’ notices a little more seriously in future.

Ingo Gunther’s globes

Mountains of debt

Ingo Gunther makes globes. About a thousand of them so far, showing all sorts of different views of the world. The one above is called Mountains of Debt, but others show satellite coverage, population, pollution, gold deposits…

You can see many of them here and listen to him talking about them on IT Conversations.


I was in our local hospital today for a minor checkup – nothing serious – and in fact I’d never been there as a patient before so it took me a while to find the right department.

“Are you here to see Sister Ruth?”, asked the receptionist, and I said that I wasn’t quite sure, but it sounded plausible. I took a seat and waited for the matronly figure in a white coat to appear.

“Mr Stafford-Fraser? I’m Ruth.”, said a voice, and I looked up to see an exceedingly pretty and… ahem… curvaceous young blonde in a tight, brightly-coloured top, short skirt and high-heeled shoes.

“Now”, she said, leaning over me. “I’m just going to take your pulse and measure your blood pressure”.

And are you also running a control experiment?, I wondered…

Visit to Exbiblio

Hugh Fraser of Blog Relations has been visiting my friends at Exbiblio. I think he captures the spirit nicely.

The importance of friendship

Humphrey Carpenter is a great writer of biographies, and I’m currently enjoying The Inklings, a sort of ‘group biography’ of C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, Charles Williams and friends. I liked this quote from Williams:

Much was possible to a man in solitude, but some things were only possible to a man in companionship, and of these the most important was balance. No mind was so good that it did not need another mind to counter and equal it, and to save it from conceit and bigotry and folly.

Net Neutrality

If you think you’re confused about the Net Neutrality issue, you should read what Senator Ted Stevens had to say.

Or you can listen to him. No need to listen to the whole thing. I’m sure you can gain enlightenment by scrolling around and listening to a few snippets…

The Seven Screens

I was over at my old company, Newnham, today, and they were setting up a cool demo.

7 screens

What’s particularly cool about this, for those of you not familiar with Newnham, is that the machine driving all these displays is just an ordinary PC with a regular single-output graphics card in it. It could have been a laptop.

7 screens

If you’re used to dragging your windows around a screen, it’s much more fun being able to drag them around the room!

Network-boot a Parallels Workstation client

Warning: Geeky stuff ahead!

The Parallels Workstation virtual machine software for the Intel Macs has a BIOS which doesn’t support network booting.

I wanted to simulate an LTSP workstation, which would boot over the network from our Linux server. Here’s how I did it:

On the ThinStation project site, I found a link to a Universal Network Boot package – a zip file containing disk images for floppy, CD and HD.

From this I grabbed the ISO CD-ROM image eb-net.iso and set up my virtual machine to use this as the CD instead of the physical CD drive. I also configured it to boot from CD first, and, for my purposes, I removed the hard disk from the config as well.

Sure enough, it boots up just fine and I have an LTSP terminal in a window. Much easier for experimentation than rebooting my embedded device all the time.


Here’s a web service I’ve always valued:

Have you ever wanted to send a web link to somebody and discovered that it has a long and unwieldy URL like this one?

It really messes up your email formatting, some email programs fragment it so it isn’t clickable, and it’s impossible to dictate to somebody over the phone or to send in a text message.

If you hop over to, though, you can just paste it in and get back something like this:

which does the same thing and is much easier to hand around.

There are other services like this, but TinyURL has been around for a long time and seems to do a good, efficient and quick job.

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser