The L&L Blog

Rants and Miscellanea

I didn't save anything for the swim back...

KB / 20 JAN 2008

There was an interesting discussion on the forums recently about Blade Runner: The Final Cut. I love Blade Runner. That whole Rutger Hauer speech at the end about teardrops in the rain? Brilliant. And from the Final Cut DVD documentary, I discovered that Rutger Hauer came up with that line himself - my favourite line in the film. Oh, and for the record, I am also a massive Philip K. Dick fan, too (though I was alarmed recently to find a speech by him in which he suggested that we are all really living in Judea 2000 years ago - although I'm not sure why I'm surprised by this). And actually, I quite like Total Recall, too, which may be pertinent information when you consider my next opinion...

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Rants and Miscellanea

Whatever happened to...

KB / 5 JAN 2008

Like most of the readers of this forum/blog, I read a lot. Duh. Obviously. That's what got us would-be writers (if you are actually a real writer please don't boast here) going in the first place. But in my twenties, I read voraciously. (These days I toss books aside if they don't grab me within a chapter or tell me anything new or interesting - I'm halfway to being a septuagenarian this year, after all!) In my early twenties, I had a temp job which had long periods of doing pretty much nothing, mainly because my employers were of an older generation and had no idea how long it took to do basic administrative tasks on MS Excel or Access. Thus they gave me jobs that they thought would take me weeks which in fact only took days and then kept me on regardless. For a whole year I was given the job of scanning in old engineering blueprints. Any normal person would have run a mile; me, I was the longest serving temporary worker there. The reason I stayed so long was that no one bothered me - and in all that empty time I usually managed to read sneakily. Whilst scanning in blueprints, I would feed paper, press a button and then return to my book as the paper whirred through the feeder.

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From MacBook woe to MacBook Pro

KB / 17 FEB 2007

Well, the final straw came last week that broke the bond between me and my MacBook. Not that I ever felt very bonded to it in the first place. I bought my white 2.0Ghz MacBook in the first week they were released, and boy, was that a mistake. Everyone said, "Don't buy a first generation Mac product," but did I listen? I did not. Listen: "Don't ever buy a first generation Mac product." Will you listen? I doubt it. Anyway. I wanted an Intel replacement for my beloved iBook, given that I was developing Scrivener and wanted to ensure that it was fully "universal" (that is, ran properly on both PPC and Intel Macs). Or, at least, that was my excuse to my other half. Really, I just wanted a shiny new iBook replacement.

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Postcard from the West Country

KB / 10 AUG 2006

See Cornwall? No, actually you can't - not on the weather map, anyway, as it's covered by cloud. It doesn't matter what time of year I come here, it's always clouds and rain interrupted by sunny spells. Not that I'm complaining. Or maybe I am.

It has been a good and bad week or two so far - mostly good. Good because I'm on my hols. Bad(ish) because my other half wrote an article for the Independent last week that was harldy, er, Apple-friendly. That wasn't the bad part. That bad part was that I couldn't resist the urge to flick through some Mac websites I frequent a couple of days afterwards; I wish I hadn't. To see the name of the mother of your children abused in such puerile ways is hideous. It didn't help that the Independent subs butchered her article so that it started with the words, "When I switch on my MacBook, the first thing I see is the happy Mac icon..." (or some such). She didn't write that, they did. As soon as we picked it up, I said, "You are going to be crucified for that. Every Mac user out there is going to read that first line and say, 'No, it isn't.'" And unsurprisingly, such was the case. Many assumed that the writer of the article didn't use a Mac, was an Apple-bashing liar, and so on. But the article made some very valid points about recent Apple QCA issues and their tendency to treat the press with disdain. She tried hard to give Apple the opportunity to respond to everything in the article, but they weren't interested in getting anyone to speak to her personally, other than to send her previously-published press-releases. So it goes, as old Kurt Vonnegut would say. Ho-hum.

Anyway, that's the defence of my better half done; not that she particularly cares - hell, she got paid decently for the article. It's just that I happen to care when I see her name slandered on websites that I, as rather keen Apple user (and actually, she is a Mac-fan herself, she just happens not to worship at the temple), frequent.

As for Scrivener: it really is going well. I just finished writing the Spotlight importer today. It was a pain, but it only took a day to do, so I'm not complaining. Services support is done and dusted, so is the search function, find and replace, and several features that I said would never make it into 1.0. Another month or two, and there should be a beta release... I'm looking forward to it. It's been over two-thirds of a year since the last beta was released, and I seriously think that this version is a downright good program, and holds its own against some very stiff competition.

Anyway, back to scouring the Cocoa forums for a tidbit I need.

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Rants and Miscellanea

MacBook Problems Continue

KB / 24 JUL 2006

Argh! I don't believe it! (As Victor Meldrew would say.) I'm on my third top case and trackpad for this ruddy MacBook, and now they are starting to discolour too - after less than a week. This is ridiculous. Will I have to send my MacBook back to Apple every fortnight forever just to make sure that it doesn't look like a dirty pancake? What was the point of them agreeing to repair it (twice) if they didn't have replacement parts that were immune to the same problems? Is it just me? Do I have corrosive, yellow sweat? I think not... My white T-shirts and work shirts don't turn yellow. My white iBook never turned yellow. But this MacBook... It would seem that there is a whole batch of faulty plastic still out there, and the Birmingham repair centre is still using them. Very frustrating. Anyway...

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Buggy monitor...

KB / 17 JUL 2006

I think this is the funniest post to the Apple support forums I have ever seen:

http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=562848&tstart=15

I feel sorry for the guy, I really do, but I couldn't help laughing my head off. Here's a direct link to the YouTube vid, in which you can see the guy try, but fail, to swat the insect living inside his monitor:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tu_yBEZ-is

I'm going to make no jokes about buggy machines... Oh, wait - I just did. And in the title too. Whoops.

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When I was teaching at Harvard, darlings...

KB / 15 JUL 2006

In today's Grauniad, Zadie Smith writes about the "genesis" of her recent Booker-prize winning novel, On Beauty. Some quotes:

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Rants and Miscellanea

The Mac is back... to Apple

KB / 12 JUL 2006

Sigh... UPS just came around to take my MacBook back to Apple - again. I do hope they fix everything this time around - the discolouration, the poorly fitted replacement top-case, the chip they caused in the polycarbonate and so on. I don't have particularly high hopes, but at least they are trying to do something about the whole mess. It does mean that I am back on my beloved iBook for a few days, but I do miss the lovely keyboard of my MacBook, not to mention the glossy screen. (A lot of people were very upset that the MacBook had a glossy screen, but I actually prefer it.)

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Rants and Miscellanea

Edward Wheatley of Norfolk

KB / 11 JUL 2006

Edward Wheatley of Norfolk, wherever you are, I salute you for your hilarious parody of antiquated and anachronistic attitudes in your letter to the Sunday Times of 9th July, 2006! It perfectly captures the sort of thing you might have expected a Daily Mail reader to have written twenty years ago. Ha! Oh, hold on a minute. You weren't being serious, were you?

"The problem with Saxondale (BBC2) is that it is simply not funny. But, of course, it's not meant to be. Like so much comedy, its purpose is not to amuse a mass audience but to impress the writers' friends, demonstrate their "right-on" credentials to students and win prizes from gullible judges. How much better it would be had these writers and their target audience done national service rather than gone to university."
- Edward Wheatley, Norfolk

Yes, because national service clearly did you the world of good, didn't it? Quite honestly, I think that anybody who can possibly suggest that the best strategy for sorting out the world's ills is to put guns in the hands of the younger generation and train them to think like sheep and shoot Johnny Foreigner is clearly pathological and should be locked up for everybody's sake.

That said, I often think of the inverted "Assylum" in So Long And Thanks For All The Fish. The number of toothpick-like triggers out there is accumulating exponentially on a daily basis (if this last part means nothing to you then your life is impoverished but you can fix it immediately: go out and read the Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy collection - now).

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Rants and Miscellanea

M for Mac Junkies

KB / 9 JUL 2006

I am a Mac-user. Obviously, or I wouldn't be developing an application in Cocoa for OS X. I like OS X. Actually, I love OS X. OS X is a wonderful operating system. And Apple machines look rather nice. THIS DOES NOT MAKE APPLE COMPUTER INFALLIBLE. It just means they have some good software engineers and designers. Okay. There, I said it. Now go ahead and flame me all you want.

Again and again I am baffled by the fanboy-ism of a certain breed of Mac user. This is, I know, only a sub-species of Mac user which just happens to be the most vocal. They no doubt emerged from the same shallows of the gene pool as did PlayStation and Xbox fanboys who have endless slanging matches about which console is "best". They do Apple no favours. Such fervent and inherently irrational devotion to a computer manufacturing corporation put me off buying a Mac for years. (I still feel queasy if I have to step into the Apple church of Scientology, sorry, I mean Regent Street store.) The quiet majority are a much better advertisement for Apple; I doubt you will ever find Phillip Pullman on a forum accusing anybody of being a Microsoft troll merely for stating that they have a problem with an Apple product, as did one poster to the Apple support forums today:

"Quite honestly I think a majority of the complaints are coming from non-Mac users who have infiltrated these newsgroups. As an OS/2 advocate for many years I was always under attack by Microsoft fanatics masquerading as OS/2 users. Their intent is to scare or drive people away from one OS and to their chosen product. Microsoft was actually found, at one time, to have paid employees to do such work... So don't pay much attention to them."

Paranoia, paranoia, everybody's coming to get me... Whenever I post on that forum, I feel that I have to balance any problems I have with my machine with praise for Apple, lest I am flamed for daring to imply that a single Apple machine out there might not be perfect. I confess that there are times when such users, and Apple's attitude to its users and the press, make me think about returning to a PC just to be away from such ugliness of attitude. Of course, such madness is only momentary: one look at OS X, or at the Cocoa support forums, where Apple software engineers such as Douglas Davidson, John Randolph and Ali Ozer all give support to programmers for free, reminds me that I could never return to Windows. But like I say, such users do Apple no favours.

Meanwhile, the new top case to my MacBook - which was replaced because the old one suffered from the discolouration problem - seems to be, er, suffering from some minor discolouration already. It was only replaced three days ago, and already, if I look at it from an angle, I can see a yellow-ish patch which I cannot clean off. It seems that Apple are aware of the problem and have taken a decision to replace affected top cases but still haven't tracked down the root cause. Great.

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