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Sunday, July 17, 2005

Rob Costlow

I heard one of his tracks for the first time on Adam curry's daily source code podcast. Instantly, I thought "man, that's some very good movie score".
Rob Costlow is a new artist trying to find his way into the music business and his CDs are not yet available in US music stores (I don't think it is avaiable here in Europe either).
He plays keyboards (piano) and he says that his ultimate goal is to create music for television and film.
Keep up the good work Rob and you will be there.
You can freely download a couple of his songs of garageband.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Bricked iPod

Here is the situation, my iPod (4th Generation, 20 gegs) is currently unusable. Today, after fully charging the iPod using the AC adaptor, I plugged it into my machine. I didn't wait to see what was going on cause usually it gets auto mounted and synched with my iTunes podcasts. When I came back to the computer, the iPod was displaying the "Do not disconnect" message but it didn't appear to be mounted either (No iPod icon on the desktop or in iTunes). Fine, the iPod froze on me a couple of times before, so I decided to reset it like I usually do. No matter what I did the "Do not disconnect" message won't go away.

I have googled for some advice and apparently the ultimate solution is to leave it for a day or two till the battery drains. I still don't know though if this have anything to do with the recent 10.4.2 update or not.
Now only if iPods were running the Linux kernel ;)

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Me and OS X (Part two)

Instant Messaging

In the GNU/Linux world, I have been using Kopete. Kopete is KDE's instant messenger just like kMail is KDE's mail client (I told you I am a KDE diehard). Of course, there is Gaim, famous for its library libgaim which powers many other multi-protocol messengers like Adium and Proteus. However, I didn't dig Gaim mainly because of its GUI. Gaim is a GTK based application, which in a QT environment, feels out of place.
Gaim is more robust and stable though. At times when I couldn't connect to MSN through kopete, Gaim did work just fine. Moreover, the file transfer support in Gaim is by far superior to that of kopete's.

In OS X, Apple provides iChat pre-installed in OS X. iChat uses AOL's AIM protocol. But given all of my friends are either on MSN, Jabber or Yahoo iChat was pretty useless to me.

Let me take the opportunity here to give you a quick idea about the state of MS products on the Mac. Unlike GNU/Linux, MS has its MS office suite for mac as well as other products like MSN Messenger and Virtual PC. The only problem is that MS products for Mac are not always as updated as their WIndows counterparts .
For two long years I was able to get away without using a single MS product on my personal machine, and heck I can do it again in OS X. After all, OS X is just UNIX with the nice shinny Aqua slapped on top of it.

Adium to the rescue. Think Gaim done the Apple way, that's what Adium really is. It is by far one of the best messengers I have ever used. It is skinnable, very stable and you can change about everything in it. And yes, it uses libgaim !

The "Where is apt-get?" dilemma

Now imagine this for a sec, what if I told you that some OS has a secret button that when hit it updates/patches all of your installed programs including the Operating System itself.
Think of the wasted time and hassle such a button would save you from. Instead of updating you OS manually as well as cycling through each and every installed program and updating it individually (either by checking the author's site or by using a built-in updates checker).

Well, Debian has such a magic button. In fact they have had this button since the stone age. That is what apt-get is all about. Apt-get is Debian's package management system.
The command "apt-get update && apt-get upgrade" checks for new versions for every single piece of software installed on your machine downloading and installing it. How cool is that ;)
Moreover, apt-get can be used to install new programs, remove previously installed programs and above all resolve dependencies.
Dependancy hell was one of the biggest problems facing RPM-based distros (like Fedora core). What this meant is that when you tried to install for example music_program.rmp, the OS would complain that music_program depends on libX which is not installed. As consequence, you go and install libX.rmp only to find that libX.rmp depends on libY which is not installed and so forth, hence dependency hell.
Apt-get in more intelligent though, when you want to install music_program, you issue the command apt-get install music_program. Apt-get being smart, checks if music_program depends on any other libs/programs that are not installed. If it does find any, it downloads and installs the missing stuff, and then installs music_program.
Apt-get fetches programs from a central Debian repository with over 16K packages. The thing is that you never need to leave the terminal or open a browser to download and install a program. Want to install firefox "apt-get install Firefox", want to search for an mp3 encoder "apt-cache search mp3 | grep encoder".....AMAZING.

Sure enough, there is no APT in OS X. To update OS X and other "Apple" applications you use the software update utility just like the other unnamed OS.
However, some nice folks have ported apt-get to OS X under the name Fink. I have installed it and it is very similar to apt-get. To install a program using Fink you use "fink install" just like "apt-get install". Although Fink's repository is substantially smaller than that of Debian, it works. I used Fink to install the text based lynx browser :). There is something called Darwin ports but I didn't try it yet.

Yeah Apple...give me back my apt-get :).

To be continued...

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Me and OS X (Part one)

In the upcoming series of Me and OS X posts, I will writing on my thoughts and experiences about me moving from Debian GNU/Linux to Mac OS X. Okay, time for a few facts:
  • I neither owned nor used a Mac before in my whole life.
  • I have been using Debian exclusively on my home machine since two years (well, and now at work :)). So any comparisons will be that of Mac OS X versus GNU/Linux. There is no mention of a single MS Windows-based application nor will be.
  • What I have done is by no means "a once and for all switch" from GNU/Linux to Mac OS X. I still use and love GNU/Linux (both at work and on my old laptop at home). And I am not going to ditch GNU/Linux anytime in the foreseen future.

I have broke things down according to what I usually do on my machine. This includes Instant messaging, emails, playing movies/music, word processing (mainly Latex), importing photos from my camera, BASH scripting, using the GNU toolchain (make, gcc...etc) and some occasional Java programming.

In Debian, The mail client I have been using was kMail (yeah..I am a KDE diehard). kMail, simply put, rocks. It did everything I wanted and expected from a mail client. You can control about everything including mailing lists, spam filters, GPG...etc.
In OS X, there is the infamous mail.app. Mail is apple's mail client which comes pre-installed. I start setting up my mail accounts (POP3 et al.), start downloading my emails, everything looks fine. I decide to reply to one of the emails (To make sure SMTP is working) and BANG. Mail defaults to top posting. That is when replying to a message, your reply goes above the original message you are replying to.
Okay, no problem, I can change this, right?. The answer was no. I couldn't find any option/setting in the preferences to switch the reply format from top posting to bottom posting. For me, that was a show-stopper and I discarded Mail.app right away.
Since my brother was already using Mozilla's Thunderbird on his Debian machine and was happy with it, I decided to give it a shot. Thunderbird (for OS X) was able to handle everything I threw at it although I needed to install two additional packages (Enigmail extension for GPG intergration and the crossover theme ). kudos for the mozilla team for saving the day.

Quick time comes pre-installed in OS X. Quick time doesn't play all movie formats neither can give you a full screen view of what it is playing. You need to purchase Quicktime Pro to get such a feature (what a rip off!). I still can't believe it that we are living in the year 2005 and Apple tells me that I need to purschase a separte license to watch my movies in full screen.
On the other hand, the legendary mplayer is already ported to OS X. I used to use it on Debian and it can play about every movie format, this includes divx, wmv and rm. VLC as well exists for OS X. Oh, and both are free of course.

For my music needs, iTunes comes to the rescue. iTunes is not just a music player. It takes as well on the task of managing my music library, playlists and interacting with my iPod. Its interface is very very intuitive and easy to use.
I had only a few problems with iTunes. One of problems was the album artwork. iTunes has an option to display the album artwork of the current playing song. However, it doesn't provide any option/tool to fetch them from the internet. It took me really a lot of time to find a free and reliable software that does the job (I use Fetch art for that).
I used to use amaroK in Debian and it had such a feature built-in already. I think amaroK is one of those music players that has a lot of potential. It is improving at a very fast pace and have some really cool features. For me, amaroK's main problem is usability and the GUI design. Now KDE teaming up with the folks from openusability, I am pretty sure those issues will be resolved. Keep an eye on that project.

Installing GPG (GNU Privacy Guard) for OS X was a breeze. I downloaded GPG for mac and got it installed in a few minutes. I then exported both my GPG Public and private keys from my Debian machine using:

gpg -a --export "keyname" > export.gpg.asc
gpg -a --export-secret-keys "keyname" > export.gpg.asc

These commands essentially exports both my private and public keys to the file export.gpg.asc. I then copied the file to the Mac machine (using ftp), then imported them using

gpg --import export.gpg.asc

In part two, I will be writing about Instant messaging, X11 and the "where is apt-get?" dilemma. stay tuned....

Saturday, July 02, 2005


I just came one hour ago from "War of the worlds". Well, All I can say is that I feel disappointed like many other people that have seen the movie. The main reason for that is the abrupt ending of the film. The story of the movie is basically about the earth being invaded by alien tripod machines (a retelling of H.G Wells's classic sci-fi).
The first 20-50 minutes of the movie are the best IMHO. The visual effects in the scenes where the tripods break out from the ground and start blasting buildings/humans are insane and very well excuted. The real eye-opening thing is Dakota Fanning, Tom cruise's daughter in the movie. This 11 years old girl is a class A actor.
The movie ends strangely by the sudden collapse of the alien machines with no reasons or explainations whatsoever. Well, I was able to convince my not-so-happy-with-the-movie friend that the aliens' machines were running some variant of MS Windows ;)

Friday, July 01, 2005

Flying to Hamburg

I just booked a flight to Hamburg. I will be flying on 12/07 and will back to Stuttgart on 16/07. The thing is that I need to get some important university paperwork (read boring) done. It would be nice as well to see my friends, I didn't see them since almost 10 months. Sheesh, I miss repperbahn ;)
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Germany's geographics, Hamburg is in the north of Germany while Stuttgart is in the south. They are around 670 KM far apart. It takes 5 1/2 hours by the fastest train (ICE) to get to Hamburg from Stuttgart. By plane however it is less than an hour !

War of the worlds

Yesterday "War of the worlds" spielberg's new epic was released to theaters here in Germany. I have been waiting for this movie for so long and I will probably be seeing it tomorrow.
The problem is that in Stuttgart there are currently only two theaters that play movies in their original language. I have seen "Batman begins" in one of them. Although small, the sound/picture quality was stunning (THX certified theater). This one however won't be showing "War of the worlds" till August or something.
The other theater apparently is not that good. I have asked a couple of friends about it and if it was any good. The replies were something like "hmm....its OK". Well, I don't want to see "War of the worlds" in an Ok theater but I guess I have no other option. I will let you know how did it go tomorrow esA....see ya.

Hello everyone

Okay, so I finally decided to bite the bullet and start blogging. That will be my first post for today....Interesting posts coming soon ;), stay tuned.