Apple Hacks Users’ TVs

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

Well isn’t this interesting. Details are slim, and this may yet prove to be false, but first reports are that Apple seems to be accessing users’ AppleTVs without notice or permission to disable user installed software and cripple the devices the users’ purchased. If I wasn’t already convinced I wasn’t going to buy an AppleTV, this would do it. Frankly, if this proves to be true, it will make me think twice about buying Macs.

When are manufacturers get it through their thick skulls that they do not own the machine after the customer hands over the cash and takes it out of the store?

Styling abbr with CSS

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

Proper use of the abbr and acronym elements is good for accessibility and good for conversational style writing. No longer do you have to write phrases that grate on the ear such as, “Many problems are much easier to solve with a native Extensible Markup Language (XML) database and XQuery than with a relational database and Structured Query Language (SQL).” Instead, you just assume 99% of your audience knows what you’re talking about, and instead you write:

Many problems are much easier to solve with a native <abbr title="Extensible Markup Language">XML</abbr> database and XQuery than with a relational database and <abbr title="Structured Query Language">SQL</abbr>.

However, there are two problems with this:

Le Pont du Nord

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

Yesterday afternoon after visiting my accountant (tax time, you know) I stopped over at FIAF for the Tuesday afternoon movie. It usually doesn’t matter a great deal what’s playing. It’s mostly just about practicing French, but boy did this one test me. If I didn’t have another event at 7:30 I might have left early. Apparently Eric Rohmer is not the only nouvelle vague director que je deteste. The poor sound quality in the print we watched didn’t help either. It’s hard enough to follow French without having to strain to hear every word.

I wasn’t the only one who felt this way either. At least a third of the audience, most of whom speak much better French than I ever will, had left by the end of the film. That the audience is almost entirely composed of FIAF members who get free admission may contribute to that. Mostly it’s Francophone senior citizens who show up no matter what’s playing. Usually one or two people leave early, but I’ve never seen an exodus like yesterday before.

Still, I can’t help but think there was something more going on that I (and most of the audience) just didn’t get. The Don Quixote theme was apparent, but there were lots of hints of other things. I suspect this may be a deeply symbolic movie, but if you’re not clued into to the symbolism, it’s just flat-out incomprehensible. I’ve googled a little looking for further info, without a lot of success so far. Does anyone understand this picture?

Looking for a New ISP

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

Speakeasy is planning to be acquired by Best Buy sometime next year. Speakeasy has been far from perfect in the 5 years or so I’ve had it (roughly since Northpoint went under). However, it’s usually been adequate, which is more than I can say for most ISPs. That’s why I’ve been willing to pay more for the service. It’s hard to believe simple competence will continue under Best Buy. (Just consider what a Best Buy acquisition did to the Geek Squad.)

Any other suggestions for quality ISP service? I’m currently paying about $120 a month for SpeakEasy. Perhaps I should just combine a couple of different low cost ISPs (e.g. Verizon and Cablevision) along with a hosting package at DreamHost or some such. Probably wouldn’t cost any more and would provide some level of redundancy for the inevitable outages.

Quicken Blows at Tax Time (Again)

Monday, March 26th, 2007

So I spend a few hours struggling with Quicken, trying to make it download my mutual fund info. Eventually I fire off an e-mail to tech support and wait. Then when scanning my Inbox tonight to see if they’ve replied yet, I notice that I had the same damn problem last year. It’s Quicken’s fault, and they still haven’t fixed it. Quicken cannot download transactions for single mutual funds. Doesn’t matter what brokerage you use or what the user name and password are or what options you set. Quicken simply cannot download transactions for a single mutual fund account. Full stop.

So here I am manually entering all my mutual fund statements one more time. Word of warning: if you have more than a couple of mutual funds held outside of brokerage accounts, Quicken is not for you. I wonder if Microsoft Money can do this? or GnuCash?

Good Cliffhangers; Bad Cliffhangers

Monday, March 26th, 2007

I was fairly impressed with last night’s season finale of Battlestar Galactica. Spoilers after the fold.