Results tagged “Apple” from VANTAN.ORG

Happiness is a geek with gadgets

March 8, 2009 11:47 PM

In the middle of class today (yes, I had full day class on a Sunday), I took out my MacBook Pro. Soon after that, a Taiwanese classmate sitting at my table extended her hand and shook mine, enthusiastically. She thanked me for supporting Taiwanese components as I had so many gadgets (I had an iPhone and a camera beside me). She also told me that she had been responsible for this particular screen component in my MacBook Pro.

I told her that I bought this particular MacBook Pro for its screen. I had in fact requested for the glossy screen model but the Apple Store had given me the matte one by mistake, and I had gone back just to return it for the glossy one.

Later I showed her this photo, just to give her an idea of how much I supported the industry over the years:

P1060734

I love making people happy.

In any case, R made me happy too. Another classmate thought my screen was dirty. That’s because I put a rubber protector over my keyboard and whenever I closed the MacBook Pro, it would smear my glossy screen. I gave up rubbing away the smear marks because the next time I closed the MacBook Pro, the screen would be blurred up again. However, since someone noticed my smudgy screen, I decided to give it a wipe tonight. But the screen cloths I bought previously were not very effective and I would spend a lot of energy and time rubbing the rubber marks away.

Then I met R for dinner and he gave me a gift. A ducky that wipes screens. See exhibit below. I’m now looking into a super shiny, glossy and very clean screen as I’m typing this post.

Ducky in action

R makes me happy :)

Fairer App ratings

February 27, 2009 11:09 PM

Apple has restored fairness to a system that I felt was being abused. The App Store, which allows users to browse and download Apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch, no longer accepts ratings from those who haven’t used the Apps before.

I noticed the loophole in the system myself, when reading a review about a French conjugator App (blogged about previously). I eventually purchased it and thought it was an excellent App, and realised that the earlier reviewer had his facts wrong. He alleged that it could only translate from English to French and not back, which was totally untrue. I wrote my own review, which was more positive, rebutted his claims, and gave it a 5 star rating to offset his (which was 3 stars only).

I was annoyed that people could rate Apps based on screen shots and presumptions without even trying them out. It is unfair to the creators of the Apps as it would affect their ratings and possibly their sales. Maybe some nasty reviews were posted by rivals, or these were people who just had nothing better to do.

Whatever the case, I’m happy that things are fairer now. May the best App win.

MacBook Pro out of disk space!

February 5, 2009 11:52 PM

Startup disk full

Somehow, in less than a year I’ve managed to fill up my MacBook Pro’s 250 GB hard drive. In a relatively short period of time I’ve accumulated a lot of photos and videos, and as a student I’ve saved lots of notes onto my hard drive. My MacBook Pro got sluggish a few months ago and I realised it was running out of space. I deleted some files and upgraded the RAM to 4GB. That helped.

Then I was tempted by a classmate to install Windows 7 beta on my Mac. This exacerbated the disk space shortage when I installed VMWare Fusion which partitioned 40GB of space by default (somehow I couldn’t change the settings to a lower allocation).

Importing even more photos and videos left me with only a few hundred megabytes of space tonight, which wasn’t enough for Windows 7 to launch. In which case I might as well uninstall Windows 7 until I upgrade my hard disk or transfer some non-essential files out of my MacBook Pro. I’m inspired by Kevin’s hard disk upgrade though I have to put it off until the holidays at least. Can’t afford to mess up my computer with deadlines to meet and exams coming up in 3 weeks.

I may even upload all my photos to Flickr and delete them off my hard drive. I do have portable hard disks but their space is limited and I prefer using them solely for backup purposes.

So, upgrading the hard drive is a new item on my growing to-do list…

For the past few weeks I’ve contemplated getting a multiple language dictionary. I found a couple of possible models at Funan and was considering the price tag (between S$500-800). I wondered if it was worth it and whether I’d really use most of its features and languages.

Now that I’m able to buy apps from the iTunes store, I decided to see whether I could do without paying another big bill and handling yet another gadget. I’d be happy with a relative micropayment if it could help me access French words so it can help me with my devoirs (homework)!

After some browsing around, I decided to buy the Ultralingua French and English dictionary, which was just released this month.

According to the stats (0 downloads so far), I might be the very first purchaser! Contrary to what the only reviewer has stated, this dictionary does not just translate from English to French, but switches the other way round too. I’m baffled as to why he gave it a 3-star rating without having even tried the app yet!

Purchasing the app was easy. I entered my iTunes Store password and it was downloaded. See bottom right corner:

Downloaded

I was asked to type in a French word. I decided, since I just had lunch, to type ‘dejeuner’. The dictionary immediately added the ‘accent aigu’ so it became ‘déjeuner’, which is the correct spelling.

Ultralingua home page

When I held my finger against the word ‘déjeuner’, a second-level balloon box appeared. I had the option of looking it up in the dictionary, conjugating or checking it on Google.

Type in a French word

I got it conjugated in the present tense by default.

Conjugated!

In total, it was able to conjugate the word in the following tenses:

  1. Présent,
  2. Futur,
  3. Futur antérieur,
  4. Imparfait,
  5. Passé composé,
  6. Plus-que-parfait,
  7. Passé simple,
  8. Passé anterieur,
  9. Conditionnel,
  10. Conditionnel passé,
  11. Subjonctif present,
  12. Passe du subjonctif,
  13. Subjonctif imparfait,
  14. Plus-que-parfait du subjonctif,
  15. Impératif,

Considering how I’ve only covered nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 15, this app is more than I’ll need for my INSEAD third language exam. I hope!

Amusingly, you can also switch to English and conjugate the word as well, except it would be very obvious to native English speakers like us - ‘I lunch, you lunch, he/she/it lunches, we lunch, they lunch’… It’s another noun that’s become a verb, I guess.

I’ll update this post if I find any bugs or other good features. So far, so good, and now I have no more excuses to ‘fais mes devoirs’!

Review of iPhone free apps

July 30, 2008 4:22 PM

After playing around with free iPhone apps for half a day, I’m pretty satisfied with most of them. Here’s my take on a few of them.

Bloomberg app

I think Bloomberg’s app has done a fantastic job in terms of providing lots of information but in a user-friendly way. It managed to display recent news on every Singapore share I own.

Speaking of shares, I wondered how Apple was doing, so I decided to check them out:

Bloomberg - Apple stock info

Recent news on Apple:

Bloomberg - Apple recent news

And if you flip your iPhone sideways, you’ll be pleased to see this:

Bloomberg - Apple chart

I give Bloomberg 5 stars for this very intuitive app, and so have most other people.

Facebook

The Facebook app looked and behaved as expected. It took a bit of time to display my friends’ data, but that could be because I have nearly 1,000 friends.

Facebook app

Likewise, the Chat feature took a while to load, but managed to get there.

Netnewswire

I was glad that Netnewswire did not charge for the iPhone version of their software. The Netnewswire app syncs with the version installed on your Mac. You need an online account with them for this. I have decided to replace my old Google Reader bookmark with this app, since I can use this while offline.

Netnewswire

Twitterrific

I decided to try the Twitterrific app. So far so good. It, along with a couple other Twitter apps I’ve seen so far, has a geolocation feature although I have yet to see how this gets reflected on my Twitter updates. [Update: I have switched it off because it’s annoying.]

Twitterrific with Geolocation

Currency app

This was a simple app that alllows you to view major currencies compared with a baseline currency. You can configure all of these. The only catch is that some smaller countries’ currencies are not included yet.

Currency app

Bible apps

My quest continues for a good iPhone bible. The app I installed is useless without an internet connection. If we were in an old church that doesn’t have wireless, or at church camp/bible study etc, we would prefer something that was ready to go. There are many more Bible apps but they all come at a price, so I may wait for the reviews to accumulate before deciding and purchasing one. I am primarily looking for something which has the NIV. It would be nice to have other types of Bibles, commentaries and dictionaries as well.

iPhone enhancements

July 29, 2008 11:55 PM

Just upgraded my 2G iPhone to firmware version 2.0 and man, it rocks!

The new Address Book has a search feature.

The Calendar interface has improved. Buttons to view list / daily / monthly are now at the bottom of the screen, making it easier to select with my thumb.

I appreciate the extra Memory buttons in the new Calculator. (Next, can someone write a Financial Calculator app for MBA students? :P)

However, I missed my old Apps and went to the iTunes Store to see if I could download any free ones. Then I realised that the iTunes Store now accepts Singapore credit cards - at least for the apps! It recognised the last card I used when purchasing Apple products online … and automatically filled in most of the details.

So now I’m allowed to download Apps for my iPhone! Will be syncing it via iTunes later. This is so cool!

Free Apps I’ve downloaded:

  1. Bloomberg (stock ticker which shows graphs if iPhone is tilted. Excellent app. Managed to add local stocks without a problem)
  2. The Bible (by Lifechurch.tv. Comprehensive links to commentaries and other online resources)
  3. Remote Entertainment (control AppleTV or your Mac’s iTunes using iPhone! Just tried it and it works brilliantly.)
  4. Netnewswire (syncs with the Mac-based app - but you need a Newsgator account)
  5. Pownce (ha, maybe this will make me update it more regularly)
  6. Instapaper (saves web pages for offline viewing - needs an account)
  7. iProcrastinate mobile (task manager - works fine so far)
  8. Evernote (to go with my Mac desktop version - synced well with my online account)
  9. Younote (takes notes, doodles, photos with tagging and geolocation - and it’s free?!)
  10. Sudoko (played a game; not bad!)
  11. Mixmeister Scratch (play your music and scratch the record)
  12. Lifecast (connects to Blogger)
  13. Facebook (but of course, how can we do without this?)
  14. Othello (haven’t played it in ages. This app is bilingual - Mandarin, English)
  15. Moonlight Mahjong Lite (this is the solo game where you click away pairs of tiles)
  16. Talking French Phrasebook (ooh lah lah, c’est pour l’iPhone!)

I’m still deciding which is the best Twitter app for iPhone… Maybe Twiterrific or more unusually, GPSTwit.

(You can find these Apps on the Store by searching for their names.)

Apps that I can’t install but am impressed with:

Oracle business indicators. Who’d think such a heavy-duty database company would write a free app for clients to sync with their Oracle databases?

Those who love classic stories, check out the Books app. You can buy books for US$0.99.

Alexander meets my MacBook Pro

March 25, 2008 2:18 AM

Alexander is attracted by my red-clad MacBook Pro, and ventures towards it. However, there is no fear! For MagSafe, protector of notebooks and small children, is here!


Alexander meets MacBook Pro from Vanessa Tan on Vimeo.

GarageBand Singapore group

March 18, 2008 3:32 AM

Ivan’s just started one. Sign up at the new blog.

I am actually more of a Logic Pro user but I did use GarageBand initially when I got my first Mac. Thanks to integration by Apple, which bought over Logic, the latest version of Logic feels very much like GarageBand.

What I hope to get out of joining this group:

  1. Meet other Singaporeans, or people currently living in Singapore, who are interested in making music on their Macs
  2. Share ideas and tips with fellow musicians, discuss the latest add-ons and hardware, and troubleshoot problems
  3. Help GarageBand users who may have more advanced needs and would like to know more about Logic

(Aside: Ivan and I seem to be involved in various GBMs… GahmenBloggers meetup, GarageBand meetup… what’s next? :)

MacBook Pro add-ons

March 17, 2008 2:07 PM

This is a list of all the extra applications and accessories I’ve added to my MacBook Pro (glossy) since I purchased it. I will update it as I go along. If you have any more suggestions, do post a comment!

Software

  1. iWork, because I think Keynote’s presentations look better than Powerpoint’s. (installed)
  2. FlickrExport, because it’s neater to upload photos directly from iPhoto. It uploads the photos according to the names I’ve given it, and not the default numeric names given by the camera. I previously didn’t have to pay for it but I guess it’s worthwhile supporting good software. (installed trial version, planning to pay for full version)
  3. Firefox 3 beta, because it already rocks on the PC and looks even better on the Mac, taking on the metallic look that Safari has but with added features. No serious bugs encountered yet. Check out the predictive address input feature, and zoom in on text and images at the same time. Bookmarking is also smarter. (installed)
  4. Adobe Photoshop. I may transfer my old Photoshop licence from my G5 PowerMac to this laptop, as I forsee myself editing and uploading more photos on the MacBook Pro. (planning to install)
  5. Macromedia Studio. Likewise, I expect to do all my web stuff on this MacBook Pro, so I’ll remove it from my G5 PowerMac. (installed it, thinking of upgrading to the 2008 version)
  6. Logic Studio. While it’s currently on my G5 PowerMac, Logic can only open if you have the USB token inserted. I think it is nifty, because that means you could have Logic running on different Macs (e.g. one at the big studio, one at the home studio) and still keep usage down to one machine at a time. (planning to install) (installed)
  7. Second Life. Even though none of my friends seem to be using it anymore, I like to log in and take my Avatar for a spin, because this MacBook Pro’s graphics card rocks!
  8. Microsoft Office for Mac Despite having iWork, I still have an extra home user licence for Office 2004, and after drooling over Kevin’s review Update: I have upgraded to the 2008 version!
  9. Facebook Exporter for iPhoto I wondered if there was such a program, Googled and found it! It is so handy. It can even tag people in each photo you want to upload. And it’s free.
  10. Senuti, which transfers music files on your iPod back into your Mac. When my hard drive containing countless music files crashed, I was in despair as that meant I’d have to re-rip all my audio CDs. Now it’s restored, complete with all the track info including the ratings and number of times played. Also free.
  11. Evernote, a handy tool that helps you store your ideas, notes, doodles etc. Thanks to Kevin for the link.
  12. Dropbox, a user-friendly interface for keeping shared folders between different systems. Works between PCs and Macs. Thanks to Kevin and Coleman for the link.
  13. Newsgator, popular feed reader for the Mac. Just in case I get tired of the web-based Google Reader.

Hardware and other accessories

  1. iSkin Protouch keyboard protector, because dirt, eyelashes and other little pieces of grit tend to get stuck in between the keys.
  2. Speck SeeThru red hardshell case. It’s been catching people’s eyes and some even think the MacBook Pros now come in different colours! Heh.
  3. MobileGear USB hub and card reader. This is an old gadget I bought two SXSWs ago but as the MacBook Pro only comes with 2 USB ports, I have to extend it. What’s cool about it is that it is entirely white and glows different colours when plugged in.
  4. iPhone. For mobile synchronisation purposes. OK, I just had to rub that one in :)
  5. ExpressCard reader that can be inserted into my MacBook Pro slot, so I don’t have to lug around a USB hub when I’m out of the house or office. Anyone have recommendations? (planning to get)
  6. *Backup. * Once my credit cards recuperate from the consecutive purchases of an iPhone and MacBook Pro, I will get an external hard disk as backup.
  7. Screen protector that doubles up as a matte display. This is for when I go outdoors, so that the screen doesn’t shine so much. Even now, the reflection isn’t too bad. I’ve seen it worse on other laptops. Anyone know a good brand?

I got the iPhone!

March 4, 2008 12:41 AM

i came, i saw, i Conquered. iPhone.


I got the iPhone! from Vanessa Tan on Vimeo.

Spending the past 2 days going from shop to shop and not finding the 16GB iPhone in stock was like an anticlimax. However after calling a few more shops around Los Angeles, I finally found one Apple Store at Beverly Center which had stock.

When I finally bought the iPhone, I went back and Googled for help. Initial attempts didn’t seem to work, then I discovered Ziphone (then saw Kevin’s comment on my earlier post). It was really good! Only thing is, don’t run the software alongside iTunes, as iTunes will think something funny is happening and ask to restore your iPhone.

For part two, YouTube was quite helpful (again, I’ll leave you to search for the links) and with the ‘drop of a pin’ (or should that be ‘push’?) my phone was working! I made a phone call, messaged my parents and sent a message to Twitter.

I had heard all kinds of stories back home, with friends hiring people to saw off their SIM cards. I thought things were pretty straightforward, and I’m using firmware version 1.1.3. So far, there have been no problems on my side, fingers crossed.

Anyway, I am still on the AT&T network. Screen shots, photos and a video will soon follow. Am having trouble connecting my Dell laptop to my relatives’ network, so have to rely on thumb-driving my data back and forth, and using their computers when they’re available. Once I’ve uploaded everything I’ll post them on this blog.

MacBook Pro - my conditions

February 4, 2008 12:47 AM

Rumours abound of MacBook Pro updates.

I've owned a G5 for a few years and have been planning to get a portable (yet powerful) Mac for a while - though at 15 inches wide the MacBook Pro may require some weightlifting, from what I've been told.

I'm not tempted by the MacBook Air, as slim as it may look. I'm a power user. I plan to run Photoshop and other creative/graphics programs, as well as Logic Studio on this baby when I'm on the move.

What would make me buy a MacBook Pro soon:

What I wouldn't mind having as well:

  • A slight drop in price (wouldn't we all want one?)
  • A slightly slimmer body, inspired by the Air
  • One or two new features or improvements on existing ones
  • Better screens that are also more environmentally-friendly
  • More USB ports, if possible. Dare I suggest removing Firewire?
  • A built-in memory card reader. Of course I can always get a 3rd-party one, so it's not a big deal
  • Better battery life (this is a difficult one)

What's on your wish list?

Installing Mac OS Leopard

October 28, 2007 1:49 PM

I am glad to report that Leopard finally arrived at my doorstep a day later than promised… but it made up for it by being so darned easy to install. I started with my iMac G5 and there were no problems.

P1000301.JPG The package.

Leopard box What was inside.

P1000307.JPG Selecting a hard drive.

It was just that to be safe, the system checked the DVD for consistency before proceeding with the installation. That took quite some time. For my subsequent upgrade of my PowerMac G5, I skipped that function.

It hung on my PowerMac though, which got me worried. On restarting, the system hung again probably because it was trying to boot in Leopard which wasn’t installed yet. I managed to restart the PowerMac and immediately eject the DVD. Then I realised my external hard disk could be making things complicated so I turned it off as well. Immediately, the system started up, and I installed Leopard without a hitch.

What I thought was cool:

  1. How my PDF and Office document icons suddenly took on their own individual look, displaying their contents.
  2. Similarly, Quick View was handy when flipping through my music scores and notes.
  3. I like how I can select a section of a website in Safari and it will display it as a widget.
  4. Coming from OS10.3.9 I finally got to play with Apple widgets. Goodbye, Yahoo! Konfabulator.
  5. The stacked documents in the Dock is useful. If I used a Mac for work, I’d arrange all my projects this way.
  6. Finally, I was able to install The Missing Sync for my HTC Touch (Windows Mobile 6) phone! Needed OS10.4 or above to do so.
  7. The latest version of iLife came with Leopard! Woohoo.
  8. This is one of my favs: Time Machine. A bit slow because I have so many files to backup, but I think it will give me a sense of assurance. Assuming my external hard disk doesn’t die, like it did for Kevin’s.
  9. Things look a bit better than before. Like the icons and the Dock.
  10. Full screen video preview.

I don’t have much time to play around with it today as I’m now doing some paperwork… but will definitely get round to it!

What are *your *favourite features?

Waiting for Leopard to pounce

October 6, 2007 12:15 AM

According to rumours, Mac OS X Leopard (aka version 10.5) will be out on 26 October 2007. That means we can upgrade the two Macs at home, and my sister will be able to run Final Cut Studio which we purchased a couple months ago (only then to realise it wouldn't run on our Mac OS 10.3.9).

It will be a big jump for me, I suppose. I don't have fancy widgets because that came with OS 10.4. So I expect to be pleasantly surprised.

Hopefully the upgrade process won't kill me. Better backup all my Logic Pro songs. Or else I'll really cry.

More updates: Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac will be coming out, too.

VanPod III retires after hardware coup

October 7, 2006 3:12 PM

The history of the VanPod royal family has been a tumultuous one.

The first VanPod was established in 2004. Its reign lasted over a year until it died, of premature old age. A detailed autopsy was performed and captured in photographs.

Its successor VanPod II had the extra ability to display photographs. However, this didn't mean a thing after a scandal in the Hardware Ministry, which rendered the entire Administration useless. The perpetrators were unable to be identified, even after a thorough AppleCentre Orchard inquiry. VanPod II was duly returned to its Maker while a search for a new leader took place.

After a few weeks of political uncertainty, a replacement, VanPod III, was installed. It contained the same characteristics as its immediate predecessor. It performed its duties faithfully, until September 2006 when it started to display signs of mental instability - namely, an unhappy face.

As news broke in the kingdom, citizens questioned the ability of VanPod III to perform its duties. Members of the main opposition party proposed a new leader for election - a broader-minded model with the magical ability to display moving images with sound. Its supporters said it also had 'more drive' and thus had a greater capacity for ruling the kingdom.

The second largest opposition party nominated a more slight candidate who could appear in costumes of various colours, namely silver, pink, blue, green and black.

As debate raged hotly among Parliament members, VanPod III underwent medical treatment by the royal family doctor and was cured. Snap elections were held, and VanPod III was restored to power.

All was well until this October morning, when VanPod kept skipping tracks without producing any sounds. The unhappy demeanour was once again displayed, and this time the illness could not be cured by the royal family doctor, who declared that VanPod III was no longer tractable. Listening to VanPod III's heart, a small, regular thudding sound was heard. Its heart was alive, but its brain was dead.

VanPod III was rushed to AppleCentre Orchard for treatment this afternoon. Attempts to revive its unhappy body were futile. The diagnosis? Another failure in the Hardware Ministry.

However, as VanPod III was still covered by life insurance, the Centre was obliged to provide a replacement. As news broke, a bloodless coup took place as army generals stormed the VanPod family palace and dissolved Parliament. Citizens, already used to the frequent political instability, posed for photographs beside uniformed guards.

The two main opposition parties continued the clamour for a brand new leader which was not directly descended from the makes of VanPod II and III, as they seemed to display "genetic deficiencies".

The parties have been organising protest marches, chanting statements such as "Videos!" and "Colours!" respectively. Even with the arrival of VanPod III's direct successor, which is estimated in the next 2-3 weeks, there are questions as to whether the new King's reign will be short-lived as well.

Meanwhile, compact discs have returned to fashion in the kingdom of Van.

Just realised I've posted my 1000th entry (below). Hurrah.

Anyway, VanPod II went brain dead on Monday, when iTunes hung while attempting to add my gazillion new Christmas photos. I rebooted the computer, and VanPod II displayed a sad icon with a link to the support site:

Sad iPod

Towards Saigon

October 31, 2005 11:07 PM

We fly to Saigon today. I prefer to call the city the way its locals call it.

I consider myself a fairly seasoned traveller. The biggest dilemma for me is deciding whether or not to bring the newly-polished* VanPod II, as well as my digital camera charger.

My main bag will be small, because I don't need a wardrobe of clothes, and I don't like to shop.

I will bring a dainty backpack, but will keep it in front of me in crowded places so the pickpockets don't get me. A local will take us around, and I hope to see the Cuchi tunnels as well as some markets and art galleries. And to partake in fine cuisine. And take lots of photos.

*I bought iDrop, which was about all that AppleCentre Orchard had in terms of scratch removers. It removed one big scratch but another still remains. Lots of little scratches disappeared, poof. View the night-before and morning-after pictures.

Innovative dreams

October 13, 2005 1:08 AM

I had lucid dreaming last night. Thought I'd better write about it...

You know how you start off doing one thing in a dream, and it slowly modulates into something else?

First, I dreamt that I was with a group of friends in a studio, watching a band play. But I ended up playing in the band because one of the members (the drummer) had gone somewhere during the break and was held up. Just as I struck the snare and cymbals, he walked back in with an Apple bag.

[Subconciously, I must have been thinking of Steve Job's forthcoming announcements.]

Since he was going to be busy playing, he handed his bag to me and told me he had just purchased Apple's latest product, which had arrived at the AppleCentre and was not due for release until the next day. However he had friends at the store who let him pick up the product early.

And what was the product I dreamt of? No video iPod ... but the coolest typewriter in the world. It looked like it was made of the same plastic material as the Apple mouse - transparent with a whitish base, and slightly wider than a sheet of A4 paper which you could fit in. I even typed on it and held it in my hands twice - it felt like I was holding something real!

Later on, my dream modulated further and I was now in a semi-heaven, walking through a peaceful area where my yuppie uncles and aunts stayed. I bumped into an aunt who was driving a golf buggy on the road (Apparently, in this dream city, people drive small vehicles to conserve fuel and reduce pollution). So I hitched a ride and she took me to a newfangled cafe which served a concoction of coffee. Inside the cafe, at the counter, the barista pointed and named each unusual type of coffee beans they had. As this was a dream, every name I heard was probably invented because I didn't recognise a single thing.

Intriguingly, each type of bean was turned into liquids of varying colours, such as mustard yellow. My aunt explained that she liked this place because they had beans which were different from any other cafe, and you could mix different pots of coffee to create your own cuppa. I agreed it was a very innovative concept. Shortly after that, I woke up.

In summary: Apple 'vintage' typewriters and multicoloured coffee.

It's time for me to go to sleep.

Read the MacRumors.com report. Arghhh... why couldn't VanPod have died a little later. Or, why couldn't I have waited a little longer?

Oh well... I've never been a big watcher of TV or movies, so I won't die without video capabilities. But a thinner iPod would definitely have been nice.

Also, I wonder if Apple will consider switching to a harder type of plastic so that iPods won't scratch so easily.

iPod scratches - treading a fine line

September 30, 2005 11:56 PM

It isn't a tragedy of Nano proportions (oxymoron intended), but VanPod II already has superficial scratches. The one that bugs me the most is the single hairline scratch, shaped like an eyelash, at the top left corner of my display. Yes, why couldn't it have been anywhere else BUT the display. Strangely, rubbing at it with my fingers, seems to have made it better. Or maybe it's just obscured by finger grease.

I have no idea how that odd scratch occured, because VanPod II resides almost exclusively inside a pouch which I took home as a wedding favour at my friends' recent dinner. However, the pouch was meant to carry a normal-sized mobile phone, meaning it was a bit of a tight squeeze fitting in a 60gb iPod. There are now more, very fine vertical lines all over the iPod. So fine, you wouldn't notice them unless I told you. But I know they're there, and that makes me sulky.

I am also slightly annoyed with the AppleCentre Orchard salesman who assured me that my old 40gb iPod was the same thickness as the new 60gb photo iPod I was planning to purchase (I thought the 60gb model was thicker, but thought that Apple salesmen would know better). Thus, he said I could re-use my old dock instead of purchasing a new one. That meant that I would also be able to use the new iPod with my Bose SoundDock, which did not come with a 60gb 4th-generation iPod slot (the largest slot provided was the 40gb 3rd-generation one).

Hence, believing that VanPod II could fit, I pushed it into both docks. At first, I didn't see any scratches around VanPod II's base (front and back). However, after a few days of usage, somehow it did get scratched. Bah. I should be less forceful when synchronising VanPod II. I have also decided to REMOVE my old iPod dock - VanPod II shall now connect to my Mac directly by cable, resting on its pouch.

[Update: Bose's Singapore agent, Atlas Hi-Fi, has informed me that I can collect a complimentary 60gb iPod slot, upon presenting my receipt to them. I am very pleased to hear that. Do pass the word around to your friends who also own SoundDocks and are planning to get new iPods. ps: AppleCentre staff, take a few pointers and give this tip to your customers next time, so they don't force-feed their SoundDocks. ]

And speaking of pouch, it's time to start looking for a proper-fitting one. Or a protective film. Aw heck, maybe both.

VanPod II needs clothes.

[Update 2: Bose's complimentary 60gb iPod slot works fine. A bit loose though - but shouldn't be a problem. View pics of iPod in its new slot. ]

Long Live VanPod II!

September 26, 2005 11:19 PM

After one night without VanPod's music, and half a day of working in silence, I went out and bought the 4th generation 60gb iPod (Photo).

And the new Apple mouse.

I needed to console myself.

And you probably don't believe that.

VanPod dies

September 26, 2005 10:16 PM

Obituary

VanPod (March 2004 to September 2005)

"I have shone the blue light. I have run my course. I have kept the faith."

VanPod displayed warning symptoms for many months. Despite a drastic increase in stamina (from 8hrs to just 30mins), it performed its duties faithfully.

Yesterday afternoon, VanPod struggled to perform basic functions. It was unable to play most tracks, skipping past songs continuously.

Last night, its condition deteriorated further and it was unable to display its main menu.

It was rushed into Intensive Care, but was unable to connect to its big brother Mac, so no synchronisation or firmware updates could be done to resuscitate it.

Past experience with other people's iPods which died a similar death, and the quotes they received from Apple's service centre, as well as a consultation with a resident hardware expert, indicated it was not financially feasible to pay for a new heart (battery) and brain (hard drive).

It is thus with some regret, and fond memories, that VanPod shall be retired. A new Pod shall be chosen within the week.

(An detailed autopsy was taken to examine the cause of death. View photos. )

SuperMac!

July 18, 2005 10:54 PM

[Folks, I realised it's been just over a year since I switched to a Mac. I've had a lot of fun with it, making music, making new Mac friends and seeing the cyberworld a little differently (nicer fonts, at least). Cheers!]

Thanks to your advice, I finally made the trip to Sim Lim Square today, and picked up two x 1GB RAM from SGL at S$200 each. To think I nearly bought 1GB of RAM at S$599, from AppleCentre Orchard! That's nearly three times the price. And I've got lifetime warranty on my new RAM.

After I'd paid up, the lady at SGL asked me how I heard of them. I said I blogged about it and other customers wrote in to recommend this store. At this point, the only other customer stopped talking to the other lady manning the store, and looked at me. I thought he might have been a reader, but it seems he just perked up at the word 'blog'. Of course, if you happen to have been that reader, just drop a note to let me know, because I'm curious.

Anyway I told them I was glad I found this store. The lady told me they were around long before AppleCentres came along. They had contemplated jumping on the AppleCentre bandwagon, but decided against it. They don't have to worry about renting a larger space and renovating the place, and their prices are lower. Which is great, because I don't mind picking up a new 20GB iPod for S$500 (instead of S$528) or a 60GB iPod for $700 (instead of S$728).

However, since it is rumoured that iPod video is coming out, I shall wait. Not that I watch many videos, but you know what I mean.

In other news, VanPod held out for an hour this morning when I didn't skip tracks. Which is another reason why I think I can hold out a little longer :)

Mac stuff

June 30, 2005 11:28 PM

Being confined to rest (mostly) at home today, I upgraded both the iMac and PowerMac to iTunes 4.9, and entered the world of Podcasting. So far so good, the only thing limiting me is download speed and VanPod's capacity.

VanPod, in the meantime, threw a tantrum and rebooted constantly while docked. This was after it took eons to complete a self-scan (CD/magnifying glass icon). Checking an iPodlounge forum thread, I ran Disk Utility and put an end to the madness ... for now.

Those new colour iPods sure look good. Mmm. *Wishes VanPod died, again*

But there are other gadgets higher up in priority. Like my PowerMac's RAM upgrade. The family package upgrade licence to Tiger (OK, I just want the widgets and bragging rights). The compact Ixus 7 megapixel camera (because it is not glamorous lugging around a black bulky prosumer Olympus C5050 while wearing an evening gown and heels at a posh wedding dinner). A whimsical upgrade to Reason 3.0 which sounds really kickass. After all these things, comes the colour iPod.

iPod seizures

June 27, 2005 1:13 AM

VanPod had the closest thing to a heart attack just now - multiple times. I docked it to my PowerMac and it kept on restarting. Which is exactly what happened to my sister's 15GB iPod which I bought for her. 2 AppleCentres quoted a high price to fix the problem, which was apparently quite serious. (She ditched it for a new iPod instead)

VanPod is back to normal now - I managed to eject it without problems. But it's made me wonder, is it something we've both done to our iPods, that made them behave this way? Is it a setting in our power supply?

:-(

Replaceable You

June 14, 2005 12:58 AM

Dear VanPod,

You've been married to my ears for over a year now. I don't know why, it feels like I've owned you for 2 years. Maybe this just isn't working out.

Truth is, I sometimes wish you were dead. Kaput. I mean, I loved the size of your mammaries - I mean, memory. That's a big reason why I chose you in the first place, let's be upfront about it. And whenever we synced, be it on the old PC or the PowerMac or the iMac ... no matter where we did it, we could just 'connect'. Or, as Singaporeans like to say, we 'clicked'. Sure, there were problems, but we always got through the hard times, for better or for worse.

I knew where to go, what to do, and depending on my mood you whispered and cried out the things that I wanted to hear.

I bought you lots of pretty things you could wear out to dinner. They looked really good on you.

I introduced you to my other best friend. You both got along splendidly, though eventually you found being with him physically draining.

Now, when I look into your eyes - I mean, your reflection of me - things aren't so clear anymore. Mostly due to my neglect. And the way I left my finger marks all over you. Why does your back bruise so easily?

Lately, after we connect, I can't even eja - I mean, eject you. That didn't happen during our honeymoon.

When the new models came out, I swore not to be tempted by their allure. I recently laughed at the iPod Photo, thinking it was too fat for me. I held out for a long time, really.

There were times I cheated on you in my heart. Once, like Hugh Grant, I even wondered what it would be like to be with a black model. Some respite was found through other friends' happiness - those who had yet to find a soulmate were introduced by me to slimmer, younger versions of you.

Some liked them more petite and nubile - I mean, mobile. They liked them dressed in pink and blue and silver and green. It wasn't pimping really - so far everyone I've matchmade is happily married. And that's how I wanted to be with you, really.

However, your behaviour has been erratic. I've been faithfully replenishing your energy whenever you've felt depleted. But, darling, being charged for several hours and only lasting minutes, sometimes even seconds, is embarassing. I can no longer take you out in public and show you to my friends, because I never know when you're going to fall asleep as we connect. (Yes, I like them to watch.)

I hear there are some operations for old models like you. Plastic surgery: Some chemicals applied to your exterior to remove your light scars. Or, some fancy new skins we could wrap over you. You could also get your, um, stamina replaced.

But the fact is, some new models are on sale now and I must confess, I may be visiting them soon. I hear some of them can last 15 hours per session!

If I do make the decision to take on a new partner, be assured you will still be my first love (though never my last), and for alimony you will get to reside in the Bose SoundDock for the rest of your (possibly short) lifetime.

I hope you understand.

iChat and an iPod sale

March 20, 2005 9:23 PM

I just set up iChat(AIM) our iMac to connect with AIM on a laptop PC (my sister's). At first we had some trouble viewing video on the iMac, but it turned out to be a configuration oversight on the PC.

In the meantime I had done some Googling and even though this comprehensive article didn't help me in the end, I thought it would still be useful to would-be iChatters.

In other news, I went to a members-only iPod sale at an Apple Centre, but a S$40 discount off a S$788 iPod Photo 60GB wasn't tempting enough. Especially now that VanPod has been most responsive ever since the firmware update. The only problem is its 1 hour stamina, which could be resolved by getting a car charger, or replacing the battery - both much cheaper options than an iPod upgrade.

Smashingly good headphones

November 14, 2004 11:37 PM

I succumbed and bought a pair of Sennheiser 280 Pro headphones at CK Tang's. The fun part was that I got to try out various Sennheiser models, which were connected to Nakamichi amplifiers (yeah!).

At first, the salesman tried to pitch the wireless models to us. But they didn't sound spectacular, although the reception was OK. Then I recalled that various sound-production type friends had advised me to get a pair of professional headphones by this brand. Only thing is, I had forgotten which model to get and Tang's had several of them on trial.

So I tried out the HD212, which were not too bulky, and silver. The sound quality was good but nothing spectacular. The next model was the HD280, which the salesman highly recommended (after I told him I was looking for something not just to listen to music with, but to do studio monitoring).

It definitely sounded more robust. But I wasn't quite sure about their choice of sample music, since I seldom listen to Bryan Adams. Another album had pleasant-sounding acoustic guitars but it got terribly boring after the fifth track. So I asked the nice salesman if he could plug the headphones into my iPod!

He obliged, and Stacey Kent (Remastered, Gold CD audiophile version, ripped to Apple Lossless Format) sounded so clear I could almost imagine the hair on the insides of her nostrils blowing back and forth as she breathed out, "That would be so nice..."

Unfortunately, at that point, VanPod died. The ever-unreliable battery meter said it was at about 40%, I was about to make a big investment, and it had to conk out. Bad Pod!

So I didn't get to play another 'audiophile' series of tracks by jazz band Flim and the BBs, who have a very dry sound and are pretty refined and intricate with all of their instruments, sometimes so subtle they are barely audible (to inferior speakers) and sometimes loud.

Then I looked at the remaining models and realised they were 'bigger' in number and presumably of higher quality. But according to the salesman, that wasn't the case. I tested another pair of headphones from the 500 series but because they had an 'open' design, I could still hear a lot of noise around me. The HD280 had a 'closed' design which shut out more sound and I preferred that. (However if that's chiefly what you're looking for, I do recall trying out a pair of Bose headphones which were even better at silencing the environment.)

So I splurged on a pair of headphones. As I typed this entire post, it was clamped onto my ears. If you speak to me now, I might not hear you. I might be conscious of a bomb blast, or if the building collapsed. It's rather exciting because I'm running through iTunes, choosing challenging tracks to test my headphones on. Flim sounds pretty good. I can almost see the drummer tinkling on the cymbals with his ... left arm.

The headphones plug was (what else but) gold-plated. The screw-type 1/4" adapter was also gold-plated. I learnt that screw-types were better as they ensured a good connection. I also received a Sennheiser teddy-bear and a Braun shaver. Oh, glorious day.

The sad thing is, now my Bose computer speakers sound amateurish...

Introducing the iPod Photo

October 27, 2004 10:48 PM

iPod with Photos

The rumours were true. Apple has just launched the iPod Photo with a 'razor sharp LCD display'.

No doubt this new iPod interface looks rather pretty - more similar to the Mac OS X interface. But somehow I don't think this model will sell as well as its predecessors. I don't want to look at photographs from a small screen, knowing that would sap my precious iPod battery power.

The Apple website says this new iPod gives you up to 15 hours of continuous music. If you add in the slideshow, however, it goes down to 5 hours.

And so I'm sticking with VanPod, through thick and thin (though being the 3rd generation 40GB model it'll remain on the thick side), because playing music is what it does best.

Anyway, speaking of iPods. Apple just sent me a notice saying my one year iPod warranty is ending and would I like to purchase AppleCare? I'm OK with forking out S$99 for two years' coverage. I would love to hear testimonials from any readers (good and bad) about AppleCare. Above all, I'd like to find out if my iPod battery can be replaced preferably free of charge, under this warranty.

The 'Switch' Log - monthly findings

October 27, 2004 12:03 AM

[Update 27/10/04. Just when things were going hunkydory ... My screen turned dark and I received a warning message telling me to shut down or reboot my Mac. This hasn't happened for a while, but this isn't the sort of thing that should happen at all! Worse, I can't seem to find a solution in the Help section. Anyone has any ideas what to do?]

[Update 27/10/04 part 2. It's a 'kernel panic'. That's what happens when the mice discover they've run out of grain. Just kidding. What else can I do? I mean, I've updated to the latest version of Mac OS X already. I don't understand the gibberish in my Panic log. All they can say is, it's a software issue. Bah.]

So it's almost the end of another month and yes, I'm pretty happy with my G5 PowerMac and Cinema display. On the other hand, I just had dinner with a friend who has, like, over 20 of those machines each with a 23" display in his workplace. Which goes to show that you can never get enough of a good thing!

My Mac does hang occasionally, though. When this happens, the cursor becomes a spinning pizza-disc, and no amount of force-quitting (ALT+APPLE+ESC) the Finder will help. My desktop icons all disappear. I usually shut down the computer, then start it up again.

My Apple wireless keyboard, miraculously, is holding up at 3/5 battery power. The Apple wireless mouse, however, has been sentenced to life imprisonment in a dark drawer for sucking the life out of two batteries in just as many months. Its replacement, my old Microsoft wireless optical Intellimouse Explorer, is doing well. And - I can right-click with it! [Update 17/1/06 Duh, after over a year later I discover that I can also scroll horizontally using the Intellimouse. Pretty good for a Redmont rodent :) ]

Software-wise, Logic is holding up well, although I am now careful not to open too many music programs at the same time due to some MIDI/Sound card conflict. I am contemplating upgrading to the full version of Reason after I earn more money, because it still is easier to use where dance/D&B music is concerned. Of course, what I'd hate is for Reason 3.0 to come out right after I upgrade to 2.5 - which is exactly what happened to me and Logic Pro 6 7. I expect better integration now that Emagic has been bought over by Apple.

But enough about old stuff - I have some new software installed on my Mac and they're legitimate and free!

I confess - I actually installed one (1) game on my Mac. It's called Wesnoth and it's a toned-down Warcraft, so to speak. It has Elven soldiers and the Undead, with human commanders. It runs pretty smoothly on my system. However I've only done the tutorial. You can download it here (PC and Mac).

(Yes, yes... I know I should get the Sims 2!)

Next, there's a new Bible tool for the iPod called BiblePlayer. I installed it last week after reformatting VanPod, but didn't get to blog about it until today, when its creator, Pablo, wrote in to me. Anyway the scripture text loads fine, though I haven't installed any of the MP3 readings yet. Give it a try. Oh, and if you hate people like us, at least give the poor guy a break - he's already been flamed for simply creating this tool. Anyway at the time of writing this is ranked no. 4 on Apple's iPod popular downloads list.

Notice

October 17, 2004 4:13 PM

I'm making changes to this blog. A lot of broken links will occur. Please ignore the rest of the site for now. Thanks.

I tried to move everything to dynamic publishing but it didn't work. That htaccess file killed access to my entire site. I'm frustrated and I don't have time, ability nor a strong enough interest to pursue this any further at the moment.

What's more, by switching to dynamic mode for my archives, my original archive pages' file names were prepended with a '.static'. After restoring everything back to static mode and rebuilding the whole site, the size of my archives has doubled because I now have two of everything (something like 'pagename.php' and 'pagename.php.static').

Oh, incidentally, yesterday afternoon my iPod somehow refused to display any of my songs, albums, playlists etc at all. This was bad timing because it happened during my jazz lesson, and so my jazz teacher couldn't hear any of the music I produced, which was meant to be part of my homework. I reformatted VanPod, and loaded all the songs back into it. Thank God for Firewire.

Around the same time that VanPod misbehaved, my Nokia 6600 phone malfunctioned. After a few restarts and a re-insertion of the SIM card it seems to have gone back to normal.

My camera will apparently cost over S$200 to repair, and I will proceed with it, seeing how I paid several times that amount for it originally.

Bah.

[Update: I successfully ran a script which closed all comments posted a month earlier. However my pages still gave the wrong impression that you could post comments. I did something with MTElse that was obviously wrong because the comment fields still show, and now all my pages are not XHTML compliant. I will fix it another time.]

The 'Switch' Log (Day 2)

July 13, 2004 4:41 PM

I only had about 4.5 hours of sleep today, thanks to my new Mac fetish. While I was able to accomplish most of the items on my 'to-do' list, I did feel disappointed that I have so far been unable to:

  • Find an OS X driver for my HP LaserJet 1000 series printer. HP only has OS X printer drivers for the LaserJet 1010, which do not work. No, they don't even have a OS 9 version for the LaserJet 1000, either.
  • Get Mozilla Thunderbird to import my Address Book exactly the way I want it. Some of my contacts' fields have been mixed up.
  • Locate the other computers on my home network. Maybe I should attend the free Home Networking seminar at Apple Centre Orchard tomorrow.

Also, my G5 hung for the first time today. I was unable to force-quit an installation of an upgrade for Stuffit Expander which had stalled, because it didn't even appear on the list of active applications. I tried switching to my sister's user account but there was no response. When I did a physical reboot, I was taken to the usual Login window - but this time, my user name wasn't there, just my sister's.

So I clicked on 'Cancel', and got taken immediately to a black DOS-like screen! There, I could see a log being created of all the startup applications running. I tried hitting some commands on my keyboard but that didn't help. After that strange diversion, I was taken back to the main login screen, and managed to log in as myself. Everything seems normal now.

I used to think this would only happen on a PC, but now I think it's just me. I jinx all my computers. I made a brand new PowerMac, running on dual 2.0GHz processors with 1GB of RAM, crash. Admittedly, I tried to install StuffIt at the same time as Microsoft Office. But isn't this the second fastest personal computer model in the world (the fastest being the 2.5GHz PowerMac)? Didn't they say, Macs never crash?

However this isn't an anti- OS X rant. Many problems involve external applications and I am sure there are workarounds to them. Thank you, kind readers, for all your Mac tips. I have found them extremely valuable.

On a more positive note, I have been able to:

  • Record a track in GarageBand in a matter of minutes. The sounds are pretty good, actually (though nothing, yea, nothing, compares to a Korg!). However I really ought to connect my music keyboard to the G5 (after I purchase a MIDI adapter), lest I click my mouse to death.
  • Convert my GarageBand track, as well as WAV files exported by my Korg Triton Extreme workstation, to AAC files which were then transferred to VanPod.
  • Plug-and-play external USB devices like my memory card reader. There I was, expecting some Hardware Wizard to pop up, Windows-style, when all I had to do was insert my CF card and it appeared on my desktop. Duh.
  • Watch a DVD. I hardly ever watch DVDs. What's with this zoning thing? I can only change my region five more times and I'm feeling thrifty.
  • Gaze at my photos in a completely different way (yes I'm still doing it). A winning combination of iPhoto and, most definitely, the brilliant display.
  • Turn off my computer by pressing a button on my monitor. I just love doing that. Also, activating the display controls the same way.
  • Discover other websites dedicated to OS X tweaks. Like this one.

The 'Switch' Log

July 12, 2004 10:57 PM

Things I have done while in the process of switching from PC to Mac, in chronological order:

  • Wiring the 20" display to the G5. Fitting in wireless keyboard and mouse with batteries. Starting the computer for the first time!
  • G5 detects the wireless mouse and keyboard. I wonder why the connection to both devices is so shaky. Then I realise it's because I hadn't plugged in the Bluetooth antenna at the back of the G5.
  • I plug in the ethernet cable. G5 immediately connects to the home network / internet. I register my hardware with Apple.
  • I run the software updater. Lots of programs need updating.
  • Computer speakers are plugged in.
  • I test out iLife's pre-installed programs. I visit kottke.org to see what Jason means about being blinded by his own site's colours on his Cinema Display. I visit Zeldman to see why he raves so much about smooth fonts. Then I visit my own site. I think Safari is nice, but why doesn't it have tabbed browsing? [OK guys, I get your message, I stand corrected. Safari does have tabbed browsing!] I decide I still prefer Mozilla Firefox. Yeah!
  • I answer a couple of emails.
  • My mobile phone pairs and syncs with G5, after an initial problem with memory shortage on my phone. I view my contacts in the Address Book, and my schedule in iCal.
  • G5 meets VanPod! Music files and documents are transferred.
  • In the meantime, I decide I'm not entirely happy with the default Mail program. I think I'll get Thunderbird. Yeah!
  • I realise that I need to export my default Address Book to Thunderbird. I learn of this handy Address Book Exporter.
  • I learn of a software treasure trove for OS X. However I am not going to do anything fancy until I figure out how to get my printer working...[Update: Drat! HP does not have a driver for the Laserjet 1000 series. And no, installing the driver for Laserjet 1010/1150 does not help.]
  • Oh, Glory to God in the highest ... I had no idea my photographs looked so good, until I saw them on my cinema display. Heavenly!
  • I start looking for desktop wallpaper and other fashionable accessories. I just found this.
  • My eyeballs are popping out. I already darkened my oh-so-brilliant and sharp-looking screen, but to no avail. I'm going blind, folks. I'll continue tomorrow.
  • Yeah, right. I'm having my second wind early this morning. Now I'm looking for newsfeed readers and all-in-one messaging programs for OS X.
  • More to come...

Making light of the situation

June 30, 2004 6:09 PM

How many Singaporean readers were hit by yesterday night's blackouts?

I was in the middle of redesigning vantan.org and had just hit upon the right colour combination and layout.... BEFORE I got to save the page. I suddenly found myself thrown in pitch darkness.

My immediate reaction wasn't something like, "Oh no! I'm scared!" but more along the lines of, "Shoot, I should have saved! Dammit!"

Anyway. Almost immediately, VanPod lit up in its dock right in front of me. Saved by the 'Pod! After setting its backlight to permanently on, it shone brightly enough for me to locate the torchlight in another room.

Rip roarin'

June 22, 2004 3:03 PM

Remember the problem I had with hard disk space? I tested out a theory today and it solved my problem.

Since my iPod (hereafter known as VanPod) also serves as a spare hard drive, why not reassign my iTunes music folder on my PC, to a directory in VanPod itself?

So I copied all my music files from my PC to a folder in VanPod. I reconfigured my iTunes settings. At first, nothing seemed to register. I exited iTunes and started it again. Voila!

Now when I rip my CDs, the music files get stored directly and immediately onto the 'hard drive' section of the iPod. These files can be restored to a computer (when I get a bigger hard drive). The files are then synchronised with the 'music playing' section of the iPod, which I heard is copy-protected(?).

Basically, it's like shaking hands with yourself.

However that does mean I have reduced VanPod's capacity to 50% since these files are duplicated. I seriously doubt I have that many CDs left to rip, though. And hopefully by the time I do, I'd be on a new G5 Mac anyway (yes I have decided to Switch, after the house is rebuilt).

Grumpy.

April 11, 2004 3:28 PM

We're experiencing a couple of problems with iPod and iTunes synchronisation here. Advice and provision of any links to tutorials, troubleshooting and FAQ pages would be greatly appreciated.

It seems that my sister's new 15GB iPod is unable to sync with my PC. My PC only recognises VanPod, my own 40GB iPod. We've already registered her new iPod on the Apple website. By default, 15GB iPods don't come with the dock, so I thought she could use mine, and since some of our CDs are shared, why couldn't she load our files onto her iPod from my PC and dock?

So we decided to install iTunes on her own PC. However as she's on Windows 98, she couldn't perform the installation. Bah! [Update: Problem solved. My sister's iPod was suddenly able to connect to my PC, after my last re-insertion (!).]

The other thing that irritates me is the fact that the Apple Singapore iPod section has had a broken CSS link for eons and hasn't fixed it, even though I wrote in to inform them of it last week. I even told them which link it was. Heck, I'd do it myself if they'd let me, because the site isn't very pretty at the moment. [Update: They haven't done anything about it, probably because it looks fine in IE. But it doesn't look OK on my Firebird.]

[Update 14/4/04: Zeldman's walk with the Panther, just in case any Mac users are planning to upgrade. ]

iPod Radio

April 5, 2004 11:47 PM

Introducing the new iPod home radio station!

I couldn't resist it. I bought the Belkin TuneCast™ Mobile FM Transmitter for the VanPod. Still I couldn't believe that the music transmitted by this device would be better than radio quality.

I was wrong. Happily so. I can't say it's as good as listening to a CD, but it's closer to that than the music we get from radio. The trick is positioning the transmitter beside the stereo for the best reception - a few inches made a world of difference.

So for just S$59 (that's US$35) I got myself a 'wireless' media server!

I'm wondering: If the transmission is strong enough, will I be able to play the same tracks from one iPod, from stereos in different rooms?

(Next on the shopping list: some funky noise-cancelling headphones!)

Here's something I just discovered about the default iPod earphones. Try bringing them gently together, metal sides facing each other. They repel! :-D

The number four

April 4, 2004 8:35 PM

Four gigs. VanPod has just crossed the 1,000 song barrier with just over 4 gigabytes (3 continuous days) of music, and heaps more CDs to go. [Which goes to say that, cute as it may be, the baby iPod isn't enough for me.]

The album I was ripping was Mavi Muzik, a compilation of chillout music, mostly by Turkish and other middle-Eastern artistes. Mavi is to the Turkish, what Levi's is to Americans.

Multiple fours. Today, I visited two friends at their home. 'Nothing much to it, unless you see it in numbers: 04/04/04 at #04-40!

Triton Extreme + iPod (try 1)

March 31, 2004 11:36 PM

Today I finally laid my hands on the ONLY Triton Extreme in Singapore (as yet).

Touch-wise, it felt like any typical unweighted keyboard. Sound-wise, it was very, very commendable. Umpteen electric piano variations, jazz brush kit, zillions of funky basses, brass, synths... Didn't have time to run through everything but it generally feels 'mature' and not raw or fake.

Feature-wise, it had what I was looking for:

Effects. My old 01/W could only apply two effects across the board, whereas this baby can take 5 different effects with up to 5 individual tracks in a sequence. [For those who are losing me - when you want to produce a full song you can combine up to 16 possible tracks (e.g. keyboard, bass, percussion, strings...) together. Sometimes you want the piano and strings to have a bit more reverb. However you certainly don't need the same echo in your percussion. This is where you can apply different effects to different tracks, something which my 10-year-old workstation can't. ] You can also apply 2 master effects on top of that, across all 16 available tracks.

Storage. I tried plugging in the VanPod to one of the Triton Extreme's USB ports. The great news is that it was able to browse my iPod's hard drive! The bad news is the boys at the shop couldn't transfer a pre-recorded song from the keyboard to the iPod. They were stuck on the last step, which had to do with 'bouncing' the song (it had to be exported to .wav format first). We will continue this little experiment in the next week or two, when their resident expert returns to work. No major issue; after all I could still connect the Triton Extreme to my barely-used D1600 hard disk recorder with CD writer. Or any external CD writer with USB connectivity. The 512MB Compact Flash card I bought at the recent Computer Fair will also come in handy, as there's a slot for it. Wicked isn't it?

Fancy thingamajig: That bright blue globule at the top left corner of the keyboard. They call it a valve. When I press a button and turn a knob or two, my sound becomes punchier. Wow. I don't know how to explain this thing. Yet.

Price: Not very pretty, and still rather vague seeing how it isn't supposed to be launched yet, anywhere in the world (so they say). But it is probably slightly cheaper than previous Triton models which also come with less sounds (not that you'd need several hundred of them at any one time).

Expandability: Apparently, none. KORG has put every possible expansion board INTO this baby, so there is nothing left to, ahem, expand into.

Colour: Dark blue. Almost black. Some buttons light up red. The big touch screen is bright blue. I hear the older models are being phased out, so it looks like I'll never own a sleek silver Triton (ha!).

Due date: Singaporeans will have to wait till late May or June for more units to be shipped. Dang. Sigh.

Long time no blog

March 21, 2004 1:09 AM

Yours truly was feeling a little under the weather this week, hence the lack of blogging for a record 6 days.

VanPod is doing fine. The Belkin voice recorder works marvellously well. I made a recording in church last Sunday. I could hear the voice of the guest speaker clearly from the back row. A couple minutes later, my nearly-exhausted battery died unceremoniously, making a buzzing sound which I tried to stifle violently. Bad Pod!

In other, more important news, I finally got to see the light of the Holy Spirit during my weekly Bible Studies session. As we bowed our heads for the closing prayer, I saw through the darkness of my eyelids an incandescent bulb of light where each of my friends were sitting. When I opened my eyes to figure out what was going on, I only saw their physical selves. When I closed my eyes again, I saw a dazzling white light where each of them was sitting. As my group leader (sitting on my left) prayed, through my closed eyes I saw white flames and sparks coming out from his side, just as he mentioned key phrases such as giving God thanks. Amazing, isn't it. The Spirit lives in each of us who believe, let's not forget that!

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