eXtra Notes

Blue Apple

Graham K. Rogers

Unpublished ideas that are not going to make it into print

Previous note (1) can be found here.
Previous note (2) can be found here.
Previous note (3) can be found here.
Previous note (4) can be found here.
Previous note (5) can be found here.
Previous note (6) can be found here.
Previous note (7) can be found here.
Previous note (8) can be found here.
Previous note (9) can be found here.
Previous note (10) can be found here.
Previous note (11) can be found here.

This time, I am going to start with a mention of what is being called the Asian Earthquake Disaster, particularly with reference to how it affects local (Thai) interests. Up here in Bangkok, I was in total safety, of course, and unaffected. Indeed, I did not even know for some hours, until my sister sent an e-mail. What has made this one so immediate is that the news travelled worldwide really quickly and that, in the days after the event, more and more amateur images (still and movie) became available.

My deepest sympathies to those who lost family members, to those who were injured, and to those whose houses or boats were damaged in Phuket, Phangna, Krabi and surrounding areas.

It is unlikely that such an event will be repeated in the near future. Disasters can happen in any part of the World. Indeed, statistically they are more likely to occur in the United States, Japan, or Europe. Apparently, the last one in this area of a great magnitude was some 40 years ago; and the last with such destruction hapopened in 1833: there are no photographs. I was down in Phuket a month ago to talk to the local Mac users. I have been in touch with some of them and they have kept me (and others) appraised of the situation. For these guys, and so many others, their livelihoods depend on tourism. For tourists to remove this part (or any part) of Thailand from their list of destinations, would be a further disaster for these people and a decision that is not rational.

Some of the guys I know -- Mac users all -- (or their employers) have websites that are worth a visit: John Marmon, a photographer; John WIlliams and Bent Posejpal, of Siam Dive 'n Sail (with updates on the current situation); and Sam-Eric Ruttman of the Dusit-Laguna Hotel.

I had a problem with the old Palm m130 that I have been running for a while. The battery was obviously on its knees as, once out of the cradle, the indicator would move quickly towards empty -- much like the fuel indicator of a Rage Rover at about 100mph (been there, seen that) -- and after a couple of pokes with the pointer, would need a quick transfusion of electricty again. I had moved a lot of tasks to the phone or to the iPod, but it ticks me off that an otherwise-working piece of equipment (albeit old for such a device) was not at its peak. I contacted the Thai Palm User Group webmaster, Kuhn Somphop, and he suggested the Brando Workshop in Hong Kong. Within a few minutes the battery was on its way for a total of US$18.00.

When it arrived, I asked our technician if he would do the replacement task for me, and it was in my hands within an hour or so. I had the cradle with me, so started to charge it. When the screen came up I noticed that a couple of the applications were missing, and then found that all the data had gone too. The replacement of the battery must have also meant a total reset. At home, I connected the Palm to the eMac and started a sync, just to see what would happen. It took ten minutes in all and I watched as the software was updated and then all the data. I was back to where I had started that morning. Some things do get designed properly.

I recently came across a site that has customized computers, particularly in the Apple/Macintosh range. The iMac G5 looks especially cool. Or hot. The prices are listed at #399, whether you have a 12" iBook or a 20" iMac, and you would have to take care of shipping as well. iPods are somewhat cheaper at $49. It is the sort of customization that could really appeal to some users, although in my case that $399 would be better put to something like an external hard disk. That said, if I could have something like this, I would.

firefoxSafari has beengetting some flak recently and it would seem to be due an update. It was only a year or so that it was the new kid on the block: plus ça change. These days, Firefox is à la mode (excuse all the French) and it is not hard to see why. I run three or four browsers regularly, although I dumped Internet Explorer (ugh) and Firefox has jumped to the top of my list, although Safari is still default. I was playing about with Firefox a few days ago and in the tools Window saw "Extensions" of which there were none at that juncture. Using "Get More Extensions" I was presented with a list and found a bandwidth tester which was a quick (automatic) download of 11KB. When I restarted Firefox and ran this tool, I found that the speed was a reasonable 493kbps (512 connect speed). This morning it is 433.75kbps, which is still acceptable. It is considerably slower (156kbps) a couple of days later, although running the test again 5 minutes later gave me a speed of 312.5kbps.

speed test

Another extension that I brought on board -- and this is where Safari is really showing its age -- was one for RSS feeds. I took the one from the link in the panel, which takes you to the Mozilla site, and that was version 0.3.3. I could not add any channels as that facility had been removed and I was stuck with the defaults. The writer's website showed that there was a version 0.4.0 but trying to download this gave me 3.0 and it was not until I deleted the plug-in (click on the X in the bottom of the plug-ins panel) that I was then able to get 4.0 to show. Within 24 hours 0.4.1 was on the web and that installed instantly.

True or False

Back with the local ADSL provider: still living with one eye firmly shut; or facing only in the direction of Redmond. A couple of new twists on the USB modem story. Or stories. Before I start, however, let me repeat that the best way, in my opinion, to connect an OSX-equipped Mac to the Internet via ADSL is using a modem/router. True do have one, although it may be one of the best kept secrets this year.

Someone I know of has signed up for the TRUE service and, instead of the Billion USB modem, has received a Zyxel Prestige 630-11. I do not if OSX drivers are included by TRUE at this stage (see below), but there is nothing shown on its downlaods page, where there are three USB modems listed: Billion, Zyxel and ASKEY. A driver for the Zyxel, can be found at the Zyxel downloads pages. Other users may need the Billion driver download page. Initial reports from the Zyxel Mac user were not positive and several variations of the setup had been tried without luck. I will update this page if the answer to a connection is ever revealed.

That downloads page is so well-hidden that it took me days to find it a second time (now bookmarked) as I had cleared the browser history for some reason. It is on that page that three USB modems are listed. There is also mention of an Askey USB modem. Not that I have heard (as yet) of any local user -- particularly a Mac user -- being issued with one of these. Askey is another company with a not very easy to use site. Although the ADSL modem pages say that the USB modem is OSX compatible, the download pages have no OSX driver listed.

I sent a query to Askey Support and the reply was slightly mystifying: the writer admitted that they did not develop a driver for the Mac and then asked for the address of the web page. I mailed them their own URL to see that the page they put up clearly says that the device supports OSX. It uses the Globespan chipset and a Google search reveals some sites (especially in Italy and France: Tiscali modems apparently use the same circuitry) where this is available. I have downloaded this myself and if push comes to shove, I will put it online; although as yet it is totally untested. I simply repeat waht I wrote above (and before): the best way, in my opinion, to connect an OSX-equipped Mac to the Internet via ADSL is using a modem/router.

A Happy New Year to All

All materials ©copyright G.K. Rogers. Free for individual use.

Other links:

Bangkok Post, Database
Mac Center: Thailand
OSX Faq Mac Dr Smoke's X Lab Site George Mann
Applelinks MacNightOwl MacNightOwl

Phuket Mac User Group

For further information, e-mail to Graham K. Rogers.

To eXtensions, Current items

To eXtensions, Year Two

To eXtensions, Book Reviews

To Education Page

To Motorcycles Page

Back to homepage