I received my Mac Pro yesterday, thanks to the company I work for, and I have to say that I love it! It's super fast, of course (takes only 30 seconds or so to boot and applications launch instantly), but I think what I like the most is how incredibly quiet it is. Basically, my external FW drives are noisier than the Mac, now. The difference with the QuickSilver it replaces is just amazing. Like night and day.
And the Cinema display is amazing too. Since I've got it, my other monitors (which seemed perfectly fine to me) have suddenly become awfully dark and yellowish.
My friend Seth having mentioned to me a couple of times (privately) that I didn't post anything here in more than a month, I thought that I owed him and my other two readers a little apology and some explanations. So here they are:
- First, I'm in one of those periods where my coworkers and our customers seem to have made an arrangement to keep me particularly busy.
- Second, one of their requests would have been much more user friendly being implemented in AJAX, so that's what I did. But since it was the first time I was using AJAX (and Prototype), it took a bit longer to develop than their usual requests (even though it was surprisingly easy).
- Third, I've got a lot to do with the applications I beta test and/or localize (hmm, I wonder if their developers know my coworkers ;) ).
- And fourth, last weekend, an external disk of my QuickSilver lost its partition map for some completely mysterious reason.
This disk had four partitions: one for my main user's home directory, one for all the third party applications I use, one full of backups, and one with a test system. I don't care much about the third party apps and the test system, but I found out on this occasion that my daughter Jessica deleted from her Mac many of the files she copied to this backup volume. So these lost files weren't only backups; they were the only existing copies of her files. Ouch!
Thankfully, in this case the data is still on the disk, and Data Rescue was able to recover almost all of it. But without the partition map it cannot determine the blocks layout and I had to figure it out manually, which was quite time consuming. Also, the few files it failed to recover led it to crash. Therefore, the recovery operations took even longer.
So you see, if I didn't post anything here in one month, it's not only because I was too lazy; it's because I was too busy. :)
You may have read in a number of places that France legalized the peer-to-peer. It's not exactly what happened, though. In short, the government (and especially the minister of culture) tried everything to pass the DADVSI bill (largely written by media companies) in urgence (allowing it to skip the third and fourth readings in the National Assembly and Senate required by the usual procedure), during a night session just before Christmas, when they obviously hoped it would go unnoticed.
Unfortunately (for them) it was far from being unnoticed! More than 130.000 persons and 700 companies and universities signed the online petition asking for this bill to be discussed further, as it would have the potential to kill open source, private copies and a large part of personal privacy. A number of deputies (the members of the French National Assembly) also protested against the way this bill had been put together and was presented to them.
But the government refused to listen and kept attempting to force pass it anyway. There were even people from Virgin and La Fnac, badged as "Ministry of culture", trying to demonstrate their online stores to the deputies before the session and offering them free download coupons!
So the deputies voted the addition to the bill of a couple of amendments whose effect would be to make P2P legal, by creating a new tax on Internet connections that would go to the copyright holders. The side effect of these amendments, of course, would be to make the rest of the DADVSI bill irrelevant and meaningless. Obviously, the government couldn't let this happen and their only solution was then to call for further discussions, which is exactly what everyone was asking for.
It was a very smart move from the deputies, but as you see, it doesn't mean that P2P is now legal in France (it will probably never be) or that the DADVSI bill is no longer a threat. But at least that darn government, completely in the hands of the industrials and media companies, had to step back and accept the discussion. So… à suivre.
The French government is about to enact the worst copyright law in Europe, using an emergency procedure to cut discussions short, and doing it by night, just before Christmas, when people are looking away.
Then, creating your own compilations from a CD, extracting your favourite piece of music to listen to it on your computer, transfering it on a MP3 player, lending a CD to a friend, reading a DVD with free software or duplicating it to be able to enjoy it at home and in your country house, all these common practices and many others, perfectly legal at the moment, will in fact be forbidden. And this shouldn't concern only the French, but also many software developers and open source projects!
The copyright and neighbouring rights in the information society bill (DADVSI) (n°1206) which the French government tries to force through will actually legitimate the technical devices (DRMs) installed by CD and DVD editors and producers to control their use. And above all, the bill plans criminal penalty against people who would dare to remove those:
An amendment to the proposed DADVSI bill has the aim of making criminal counterfeiting out of publication, distribution and promotion of all software susceptible to being used to open up data protected by author's right and not integrating a method of controlling and tracking private usage (technical measure). All software permitting downloads is concerned, such as certain instant messaging software (chat) and all server software (P2P, HTTP, FTP, SSH). This surrealist amendment has been redirected from its start by Vivendi Universal, then reworked by many members of the Sirinelli commission, a commission of the High Council of Literary and Artistic Property CSPLA.
Put differently, in addition to killing off the right to private copying while keeping the fees associated to it, according to the DADVSI bill, the simple act of using software to read a DVD that is not authorized by the DVD editor could lead up to a 3-year jail sentence and a 300 000 Euros fine. The act of converting to MP3 format a "protected" file that was bought from an online store would also be considered as infringement, and bringing to light, directly or indirectly, a tool prohibited by the bill or a tool or a method allowing to remove or alter information attached to a digital copy of a document would be assimilated to criminal counterfeiting.
Mike Evangelist, former director of product marketing at Apple, responsible for Final Cut Pro, DVD Studio Pro, iDVD and few others, is writing a book (titled Jobs I’ve Known) about his experience at Apple.
The cool thing is that he's writing it online, on a blog, so anyone can read it, see it evolve, and even comment. There's not much yet, as it's still less than one month old, but you can already read about the birth of the iPod, keynote rehearsals or reality distorsion fields.
Seth has assembled software packs that just started being auctioned on eBay.
These packs are constituted of software donated by various developers and compagnies, and all proceeds will be donated to the PMC to support research and treatment of cancer.
The Mac CD contains 34 softwares: games, utilities, Internet and productivity applications, including big names such as BBEdit, NetNewsWire, OmniOutliner, Escape Velocity, Snapz Pro X, and much, much more.
Here's your chance to make a great deal and help people at the same time. Check it out!
The stage 13 of the Tour de France went by under my windows, today, and I didn't even know it passed by Montpellier! For some reason I'm only interested in motor sports, but since I know that my friend Seth is a fan of le Tour and would love to see it live, here's my report (also it will wake up my weblog which took advantage that I'm quite busy at work to fall asleep behind my back!).
The first thing I noticed was the calm (I'm in front of a rather important road, and when it's closed you can hear the difference!). I also noticed some people and cops hanging around, but since I was working I ignored them. One hour later, the first ad cars went by, and then I couldn't ignore any longer that something was going on. They make lots of noise, playing ads and honking. They were going quite fast, though (at least 60 or 70 km/h), and didn't throw any junk to the crowd as I thought they were supposed to. They were grouped by advertiser, thankfully for our ears, and a few hundred of meters separated each group (maybe 7 or 8 of them).
Nothing else happened for maybe one hour, except an occasional car or a bike passing fast but silently.
Then the runners arrived, announced by the sound of the choppers. Since this must have been a flat stage, there were two groups of them separated by only 30 seconds or so. They were going as fast as the ad cars, and they were all gone in less than two minutes. They were followed by team cars and ambulances which were all gone in less than five minutes.
Five or ten minutes later a few (five or six) late runners passed by, with the "voiture balais" and the last cars. And it was done. The crowd and cops started to leave, and that was it. Better watch it on TV, if you ask me, Seth! :)
OK, things aren't eternal and it had to happen at some point. But this disk was replaced only height months ago!
The problems started very suddenly: one minute everything was fine and the next one I was getting the Spinning Cursor Of Death all around. But the applications weren't completely unresponsive like when they're hung and I could still switch between most of them. But I couldn't launch any app or do anything that involves disc accesses. I couldn't even log out or restart. I forced the machine to shut down and rebooted in verbose mode. And then, I saw the following being reported repeatedly: IOATAController device blocking bus.
My first reaction was "Uh-oh! That's not good!". The second was to Google that sentence from my other machine, and everything I read confirmed my first impression. I kept the TiBook shut down for the night, rebooted it from an external drive, and checked the internal one. DiskUtility detected and fixed some minor errors on my system partition, but the S.M.A.R.T. status was still "verified", at this point (the fact that the disk had got all its time to cool down definitely helped). I immediately ran a full backup of my users partition to a disk image on the external drive, thanks to SuperDuper!, and it succeeded. But it wasn't too smooth: I kept checking the disk activity from ActivityMonitor and noticed that it frequently stopped for some time. So I did something I figured out the last time its disk failed: instead of keeping it flat, I put the TiBook down on its left side. And again that helped a lot for some time. But I couldn't clone my system partition as well (which would have saved me a complete reinstall). The disk stopped responding completely (when the copy was about 98% done, of course) and the last time I checked, its S.M.A.R.T. status read "failing". By now, AppleCare has confirmed that it must be replaced.
Thankfully nothing is lost except time (I had a fairly recent backup anyway), but I hate when that happens. Since it's my main machine, it always breaks completely my workflow. For example I planned to release DesktopSweeper 1.2b2 to beta testers this weekend, and because of that I couldn't. :(
Enfin, c'est la vie...
Update: Somehow I've been lucky that the disk died when it did: the TiBook's AppleCare protection plan ends in three days. Being lucky from time to time doesn't hurt, does it? ;)