Monthly Archives: August, 2006

Curves in Detroit

Edison steam engine

Harley-Davidson police bike

The first is a steam engine which formed part of Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park laboratory, and which, along with the rest of the laboratory, as been transplanted to the Greenfield Village museum, just down the road from Rose’s parents’ house.

The second was gleaming in the bright sunshine, just outside a Mexican restaurant where we had lunch on Monday.

Where the hell is Matt?

Amidst the chaff, there’s some really interesting stuff available on YouTube.
I think this is great, for example, and keep asking myself why it’s so compelling:

Matt became quite a celebrity as a result of this trip; see him on Good Morning America, for example. More info on his site.

Thanks to Garr Reynolds for the link.

Back on Safari

In June I tried switching browsers. Since then I’ve been using Firefox for the web and Vienna for reading RSS feeds. It’s a good combination, but I never quite liked it as much as Safari, which shows me the RSS counts on my bookmarks bar. And having to start up or switch to a different application to read RSS stuff meant that I was never quite as up-to-date with news as I was in the old days.

It’s true that Firefox is more capable when it comes to AJAX-based sites, or WISIWYG editing of blog posts. The Web Developer Toolbar is invaluable when developing web sites. You can even use themes to make it more Mac-like, but it’s never felt quite as smooth as Apple’s offering.

So for now, I’m back to Safari as my main browser with Firefox as a backup. The good news is that I haven’t touched Internet Explorer in years…

Firefly Press

At my high school, we had a small, old-fashioned printing press. I was allowed to use it once – but under careful supervision, because it was deadly.

It had a big flywheel which was gradually spun up to speed by a treadle, and which regulated the rhythm of the ink rollers picking up the ink, rolling it over the type, and the type coming up and being pressed onto the paper. You had to put the successive sheets of paper in by hand, but you didn’t want to leave your hand there too long because the flywheel had a lot of momentum, and it wouldn’t have stopped simply because there was a hand between the type and the paper…

But I loved it, and that brief half-hour experience made quite an impression on me, fortunately only metaphorically!

So I loved this 6-minute documentary about a small press in Massachusetts, which celebrates all aspects of printing the old-fashioned way.

Time machine and parallel universes

A couple of years ago I wrote a piece describing my ideal backup system. It was essentially a jog-shuttle wheel allowing you to scroll back to any point in your computer’s past.

Just a few minutes ago, Steve Jobs announced the backup system that’s going to be built into Leopard, the upcoming operating system for the Mac. It’s called Time Machine, and – hey! – it lets you scroll back into your computer’s past, on a coarse granularity at least. Of course, it also looks very pretty!

Can’t wait to see how well it works in reality. How do you look at the contents of a folder that’s no longer present, for example? How much work is it for application developers to incorporate this? And what’s the underlying storage mechanism?

It looks as if there’s lots of other good stuff on its way in Leopard too – calendars which multiple users can edit, sharing of presentations and slideshows, and desktops, through iChat, full 64-bit support, and so on… We have to be patient, though. The release date is Spring 2007.

Update: Steve’s keynote is now online.

The Two Towers

The Two Towers

Sunshine in Seattle a couple of days ago. Stifling heat in Detroit last night. Am now in Toronto and it’s raining…

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser