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Unpublished ideas that are not going to make it into print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.

In Singapore, the G5 iMacs have begun appearing and at the Apple Centre store at Funan which has had more than 10 phone inquiries a day since the new iMac was announced in Paris, they have been selling the entry-level 17-inch model since last week. There are apparently (23 September) 50 pre-orders mostly for the 20-inch model.

In Hong Kong the prices are

Prices have not been announced for Thailand yet, although some shops are listing the iMacs (with prices shown as xx,xxx). These details will probably be known after the press release on Tuesday 28 September.

Someone recently asked a question on the Apple forums about turning off the animation that a file makes when opening. I like this, but these are personal computers. Participant, Gregor Alessi came up with the answer: it needs the brave user to start Terminal and tamper with the Unix. Gregor writes, type

defaults write com.apple.finder ZoomRects FALSE

As with any such tampering, you need to have an admin account.

I decided to change my phone from the Ericsson T39m on which I made many discoveries about BlueTooth. I had had a go with a Nokia N-Gage shell-shaped thing: there is no software for OSX provided by Nokia, and the local retailers shake their heads sagely and say that the N-Gage will not work with the Macintosh.

However, the Apple iSync pages do show it as one of the phones that will work and indeed it does. When I had a look I managed instant recognition using Bluetooth; instant synchronisation with iSync, and easy transfer of pictures via Bluetooth as well.

We were not so lucky with transfer of MP3 files. The transfer was shown as taking place on both computer and the phone but the fles would not work. Simplicity won: I put in the N-Gage USB connector and the phone showed on the desktop. Music transfer was accomplished with a basic drag and drop. There is a 299 baht download for Thai language on this ugly phone, but it seems that it is fated not to work with the Mac as the files produced by the download are .exe files. Well, three out of four ain't bad.

For myself, the experiences with Nokia and the retailers convinced me I should stay with Ericsson, even if the company is now known as Sony-Ericsson (see below). I had a look at the data and the T610 looked about right for me, even if it did have a silly camera. After a hunt around Central Pinklao, I was about to buy the phone when the lady said that they were out of stock. She tried hard and was quite friendly so I finally settled on the T630. To keep the T39m in circulation I bought one of those 199 baht packages and now I have an emergency phone in case I get stuck in a lift.

At home, I paired the new phone with no problems -- the Bluetooth Setup Assistant walks you through the process -- even though the phone was being charged across the room (about 6 paces away and well within the 10 meter limit).

As there were no data on the phone (calendars and contacts) apart from a few entries that had been saved to the SIM card, a synchronisation was necessary. I opened iSync to start the process and the T630 appeared in the lineup with no help from me. I put the Palm in the cradle, the T39m on the table beside the computer and I plugged the iPod in as well. The latter goes through its iTunes processes first.

It was really cool to watch all five (two phones, iPod, palm and eMac) going through synchronisation, ending up with shared data on all of them. What impressed me most was that I had two Bluetooth devices working together. The specifications suggest that up to eight may be shared.


A basic but useful utility is ChemiKa (v2.0) from Mafia Designs (although I downloaded mine from VersionTracker). All it consists of is an onscreen display of the periodic table of the elements.


Click on an element's square and a simple information panel appears.


That is it. A 5Mb download that just does one thing with no pretensions. If only all software were like that.

I read on Applelinks that ThinkFree Office, the $49.95 downloadable alternative to another nameless Office suite, has changed hands and is now owned by a Korean company, but has a subsidiary HaanSoftUSA with HQ in Cupertino: same neighbourhoood as Apple. It is now up to Version 2.2.

Sony confirmed this week that it is trying to add MP3 support to its portable music players. This is a big turnaround suggesting that maybe the mammoth Japanese company has (A) learned the lessons from battles over technology such as BetaMax, and that (B) a little humility may go a long way. Of course, what it really comes down to is an acceptance that Apple really has got the right idea with the iPod and iTunes; although as far as the latter is concerned, those of us in Thailand should not hold our breath for proper access to the iTunes store.

Nok AirI have a load of books -- both read and waiting to be read -- on computer security. Many of them have sections about the weakest link in the chain: the human. A friend told me of his visit to Don Muang, Domestic Terminal last week when he tried to buy some Nok Air tickets. While he was waiting, facing the backs of the monitors at the ticket counter, he glanced around and was able to read a list of passwords that had been stuck on the wall.

Which goes quite well with a story doing the rounds in the US where the California air traffic control computers that run the communications (Voice Switching and Control System, or VSCS) were updated from Unix machines some while ago to Dell computers running a product from Redmond. Owing to a human error, the computers were not reset and the system shut down without warning, leaving some 800 aircraft without communications.

Would you want to fly to California knowing your safety depended on such a system. The full stories were carried in the LA Times and the NY Times as well as other publications including Techworld where (ironically) an advertisement for the Microsoft Windows Server System was being carried on the same page as the report.

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.

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