oops teach me to be stupid…

That will teach me to brazenly copy-paste with no thought to the consequences. Wondering why new posts weren’t showing up, I discovered I’d replaced the index page template with the entire contents of my darling blog’s statically-generated page through some rather careless editing. Oops. Lucky I backed-up the templates, no?

It all looks… err… normal now, none-the-less, I stil get the delightful XHTML 1.0 Strict (oh yes it is), error that “there is no attribute ‘name'”. Well either I live with being invalid, or you live with no search function. Perhaps to entertain yourself by reading the stuff at the top of the right column? Yes, it’s coming along nicely.

(Meanwhile, thoroughly enjoying the feeling of being whipped from behind as I run for candy which is Things. I do love Merlin, but it’s a bit clobbering-ish for simple tasks like, ‘wax your legs’, and ‘fix the damage you did to your blog’.)

things with bits

For all of you with Apple computers, iPods, iPhones, wireless internet, other bits and pieces of hardware, a need for various design things, anything else you can think of with a laptop or desktop, I’m finally offering what some of you have already enjoyed – Mac support and design services – from my years of fiddling around inside Macs.

THINGS WITH PIXELS

design

video – from documentation to dvd, web
design – print and web
web – sites, blogs, web2.0, social networking

mac stuff

software and hardware support
networks, security, ipods iphones mobile sync
getting things done
backing up your data
help it’s not working
data recovery

learn to do it yourself…

contact

frances d’ath
frances@francesdath.info
+49 1522 63 53 740

costs

call out: €15 to your place
mac stuff hourly rate: €20
design hourly rate: €20
longer projects by agreement
66% off if i think i can’t solve it

negotiable for: students, unemployed, low income, dancers

7 years experience living inside macs

Image

buzkashi, self-portrait & laptop

When I was a student, I would trundle up to Melbourne Uni and on weekends and holidays hole up the the stacks somewhere, a large Sikh pushing the trolley of returns often the only other person in the vicinity of my nest in the Central Asian shelves where I’d devour everything from Kazakhstan to Pakistan, paying careful attention to those parts most mountainous and wild. My enduring favourites were old travelogues, especially of women who ventured out on their own to spend winters in Skardu or years in Kabul, or meandering across unmapped stretches. I planned to go, at least through Baltistan, and maybe along the northern side of Tian Shan mountains. Adventures in China and sundry wars detoured me though.

Since my recent time in Melbourne, I’ve re-found my love for Central Asia, even when I had to spray Issey Miyaki on the pages of Louis Dupree’s Afgahnistan to mask the rank odour of stale cigarettes in its 600 pages, the cover of which has beautiful men with long hair and daggers jumping and dancing, and another of Buzkashi. I added many blogs from the ~stans to my reading in those and subsequent months.

Yesterday, I discovered Buzkashi: Game and Power in Afghanistan, and of course was immediately smitten. Especially the photo, taken by Pouria Lotfi which now graces the desktop of my darling Mac. Sitting in the kitchen tonight feeling lonely and somewhat lost, I decided to take photos…

ftp blah…

I have no idea why none of my FTP applications are able to run LIST -a while using Internode’s wireless connection and trying to do something simple like blog. What this means is I can’t get to the images directory and upload images, nor create new monthly folders, which makes all my entries kinda suck.

Lucky I can still upload using ecto, but the thumbnail images seem to have a rather large file size. All round kinda sucky and I need to find an non-crappy (-internode) connection to find out what’s going on. Not that you really need to know, it probably looks all the same to you, just annoying my sense of order and elegance.

… return

I was up till quite late last night methodically going through installing all of my add-ons, plugins, bits and pieces that make doing things on my laptop so much quicker and often just possible to be done at all. Not a few of these I had to find the latest versions now that I am on 10.5, which is rather nice. I’ve decided to play with some of the new features instead of my usual one-step up from command-line simplicity, to see if they are indeed useful and not just candy.

My biggest moment of terror though was opening ecto and finding around 500 of my blog entires completely not there, and anything I tried to do made things worse. Eventually, things seemed to be normal-er-ish, though all my custom tags had vanished, and while I’m sure I recall seeing them in some .plist, I couldn’t find them and re-entered them by hand.

There is an ecto3 beta out, but if this doesn’t crash when I try and post it, and retains a semblance of order, I’ll stick with this till everything else is ok-ish.

Gallery

end … begin

Since mid-December I have been using one of the Centre for Astrophysics white MacBooks, which has been a joy. A proper working laptop, not the Frankenstein monster my beloved old PowerBook had become. Dead battery, dead hard drive, dead optical drive (with Japanese sexploitation film stuck in it).

Today I turned it on for the first time in three months, not even as its own machine, but slaved through FireWire to the MacBook, and then overwrote its disc with two and an half hours of:

0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

Then I went and bought a new MacBook Pro.

in/out error

I’ve been living dangerously with my PowerBook for the last couple of months, bad sectors and other arcane hardware malfeasance, along with torturous doubling back and forth with my back-up drive, until Friday night when it all turned crap. Somewhere in the midst of a kernal panic, my System Folder got unravelled, and now exists in no small part, completely disorganised in a folder called ‘Rescued Items’. This is a Bad Thing.

I’m considering trying to write the contents of my back-up drive to laptop, but with all the bad sectors that have left a nasty trail of corruption across my life I have a fear of more damage and catastrophe. The obvious solution is to buy a new drive. However, my laptop being so ancient is worth slightly less than 5400rpm of spinning magnetic discs. Also I need (emphasise need, not merely want) a new pair of shoes, and I’m too scared to even look at my credit card.

Anyway, lame excuse for not blogging.

chk chk chk chk chk chk chk chk chk … again

My harddrive didn’t really make that sound this time, but this evening while backing up, I got endless corrupt files, and when I finally rendered the drive insensible enough to open up Terminal and dig around smartd I found 20 or so fatal errors. So I’ve been copying over to my backup drive the last week’s files, and trying to make sure it’s all ok. I’m thinking of putting that drive into the PowerBook, but at the moment, many files that get created or modified seem to end up freezing the system. I’m far too poor to afford either a new drive or a much needed new MacBook, and I don’t know how long this drive is going to hang on.

Blogging might stop for a bit.

(edit …)

It’s Thursday morning and I’m waiting for my bicycle to arrive from Melbourne, so I’ve had some time to reassemble everything I salvaged from my dead drive with my last backup. Everything seems to be ok, but … lurking madness might be somewhere in my Home folder. Anyway, I’m now running my life off a 2.5″ firewire drive I bought in Hong Kong on a 6 year old PowerBook that pretty much doesn’t work. Kinda precarious…

i can’t stop hacking my system

It is a real drag getting around the China Firewall. Well, not really if I bothered to take my internet privacy as seriously as I do mucking around with my PowerBook. The firewall has been getting more stroppy lately, or maybe its’ my enhanced internet suctioning. So I spent the evening installing some back-end software that I hoped would make the appearance of a firewall something of a non-sequitur. Once it was all mostly running, I started thinking about what other condiments I have added to my system, and it turned into quite a list.

The three applications I use everyday and in heavy conjunction are Safari, Mail, and iCal, and all of them are fairly tweaked. Safari uses Saft primarily for url shortcuts, and some other gui hackery, followed by PithHelmet for hardarse piss-off ad-blocking and page-view modification. Yes I read your code too, and it looks pretty colours with SafariSource. The final and very heavily-used add-on is LiveDictionary, for all my Chinese-English translating. I also like rewriting plists, so LiveDictionary now also works in TextEdit, Mail, and ecto blogging utopia.

Mail I left alone until I destroyed it in January. Then I added Mail-Tags and Mail Act-On. I’ve given up on organising stuff via specific folders, and just dump everything into folder by month then use lots of smart folders and Mail-Tags to find stuff, and it looks like a candy-store now, mmm so pretty… Mail talks to iCal (keeping the correct time in every city with iCalTimeZoneFixer) with Event Maker, a very simple gui for some AppleScripts that shunts stuff across without having to screw around filling out every field. And they all talk with my Sony-Ericsson K750c (full of Chinese-input goodness) thanks to BluePhone Elite.

Staying with my phone, shortly after I got it, I discovered I could foo with some stuff and my very old PowerBook would run Front Row and my phone would become the remote control. I’d use it more if I didn’t have Sex & Fury stuck in my DVD drive…

Beyond the really quite beautiful gui of OSX (besides ‘brushed metal’ that kinda sounds like Zoolander’s ‘blue steel’ and looks very like a fat robot has dumped on the screen) is the joy of command-line. Yay for Terminal, yay for uptime – the first command I learnt and still use. My hard drive I fear is getting old, and there are no good SMART tools around except for smartmontools, that MacOSXHints has been on about over the last few days.

The other recent addition to /usr/local/bin/ is TOR, and that takes me back to the firewall. I’ve tried a lot of circumvention methods recently, and in the past when I would try out any and every network exploitation/anonymisation/encryption thing I’d come across. Most of them are either crap or don’t work. The category of ‘crap’ includes everything that in any way is noticeable in a deleterious form on normal network usage. This includes the most common two circumventors, anonymouse and stupid censorship. I’m still not sure about TOR yet, it works but is slow. Like dial-up.

Besides all that, I also have WeatherDock tell me it is sunny in Guangzhou (it is rainy and nighttime), MenuMeters telling me I’m pulling down 50k/s of traffic (I’m not), ecto is writing this (I’m in bed asleep), NetNewsWire takes care of 223 feeds, added privacy from Little Snitch, I’ve disabled Exposé and Dashboard (both are unnecessary if you’re handy with the keyboard and using existing OSX software and some plugins).