Sunday 31 October 2010

MacBook Air & iLife '11 & Mac OS X 10.7 Lion [News]

[Post published by Liviu on Liviu's [Computer Science] Blog]

Did you know that Apple launched the new MacBook Air [Apple section on MacBook Air]? I only found out recently. It looks slimmer [design], has some nice features [features] and specifications [specifications].

I've watched the short video [Apple] and the ad [Apple] for the new MacBook Air - nice.

Steve Jobs' et. al. 90 minutes keynote-on-everything [Apple] crashes Firefox 3.6.12; Safari 5.0.2 plays it, but there are no controls, i.e. there's no way to skip ahead or go back to some point of the video or the stop/pause options hardly work. Wtf? Did anyone watch this in the browser? Could this be happening due my slow Internet connection?

Solution: I finally downloaded the .m4v file [Apple link] of the keynote - it works perfectly. If interested there's also a RSS with all Apple keynotes [Apple RSS].

Opinions/Comments on:
  • iLife '11:
    • iPhoto - bla bla, whatever
    • iMovie - nice; I already like iMovie '08; the latest should obviously be better
    • GarageBand - looks nice; only played a little bit with '08, but I should play more
  • FaceTime: ok, may look nice, but I still like it in-the-browser like GTalk or the standalone Skype; probably Android devices will get some GTalk-like capabilities, I don't know
  • Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: looks nice, pretty cool (App Store, Mission Control)
  • The new MacBook Air: starts at 1:12:00; quite nice, see below. I expected more details (i.e. more bragging like amazing-awesome-beautiful) on this puppy.

The funny summary [YouTube] of this keynote - indeed, a great-nice-beautiful-amazing-phenomenal-awesome summary. You'll laugh quite a lot. [reached there via LifeHacker]

The New MacBook Air

Pro: Solid State Storage

It was about time computers gave up hard disks, which have mechanical parts therefore break too often. It is the time now also because flash memory offers an affordable price & high storage capacity.
N.B.: Affordable does not mean cheap, but cheap enough for some to buy. 1-2 years from now it shall be cheap enough for everyone to buy. Great!

Pro: multi touch with many fingers in many ways [Features - the pictures at the bottom of the screen: 2 series of 5 pictures]

Con: 13 inch screen

I still like MacBook Pro's 15 or 17 inch screen [Apple]. Maybe I'm just an old fashion guy, I don't know, but I like a big screen.

Con: No CD/DVD drive in the Air generation

Never liked that missing. However, I must say Apple does a pretty stupid job with that SuperDrive anyway, i.e. the native API of MacBook Pro does not allow one to read/write a multisession CD/DVD [1] etc. - yes, Windows's Nero [official site] is one killer app that makes a Windows PC much better than any Mac OS X MacBook Pro. So, there's not much to miss about Apple's (lack of) support of CD/DVD - on one way, it's better they have removed the SuperDrive.

Specifications [specs] - CD/DVD sharing: Without a built-in optical drive, how do you install new applications? Simply use DVD or CD Sharing. This convenient feature of Mac OS X lets you wirelessly “borrow” the optical drive of a nearby Mac or PC. So you can install applications from a DVD or CD and have full access to an optical drive without having to carry one around.

Installing a fresh OS works too, but there seem to be some hiccups [article]. Anyway, Air looks nice, i.e. it is a beautiful-great et. al. product :))

[1] Ok, you can write a multisession DVD only in Apple's special-whatever-way, or read a multisession CD/DVD if it has been written on PC in UDF format. PC Joilet - no way, not with MacBook Pro at least. I still throw bad words (and grow white hair) for that at Apple and praise Windows. And Apple calls the unit SuperDrive - oh, spare me! I'd rather call it ShitDrive! No joke on that.

Thursday 15 July 2010

Google Buzz - get it out of my inbox

[Post published by Liviu on Liviu's [Computer Science] Blog]

Like most Google Buzz (launch event video) users I've been buzzing around, i.e. sharing stuff and commenting with my friends. It was and still is quite fun but there's a problem.

Problem 1 (P1)

Google Buzz notifications appear in inbox, making the inbox unpleasantly crowded with useless details.
Note: Friends' comments through Buzz are useful, but not in my inbox! When Buzz comments get into my inbox, they become annoying and useless.

Solution to P1

Go to GMail > Settings > Buzz > Buzz in your inbox and uncheck all those 3 boxes. That's it.

Problem 2 (P2)

When my friends comment in Google Reader, the comment appears both in Google Reader and Google Buzz. It's unpleasant to read it in Buzz, but not be considered as read in Reader.

Solution to P2

I don't know yet.

Sunday 11 July 2010

GMail - Has someone hijacked your gmail account and is now sending emails on your behalf?

[Post published by Liviu on Liviu's [Computer Science] Blog]


What if a malicious hacker/spammer has hijacked your gmail account and is now sending emails on your behalf? Besides privacy violation, your account will also get marked as spammer and all your e-mails will get in the spam folder of your recipients.


If they have also changed your password, then you have a problem which I do not know how to solve - technically you need to contact GMail administrators. Good luck!

For the rest of the post I'll consider the case in which you still have access to your account, i.e. the password has remained the same:
  1. Make sure your account has really been hijacked.
    Read thoroughly the Google Help page explaining what to do when Someone is sending from my address - also click on each of the 3 links at the end.
  2. If you can confirm spam has been sent through your gmail account, then the useful link is My Contacts say I sent spam to them, or I found suspicious access to my account.
    Report it to Google
Otherwise, just to keep yourself safe, make sure you set your browser's connection to always be https. For example, looking at my account's settings I noticed it had none of the always use https and don't always use https options set, which I suspect to be because it's a very old account; my friends' old accounts were the same.

Hope this helped you in case you were in trouble.

Friday 4 June 2010

Flash - my opinion: Adobe shall have to reinvent Flash in order to save it

[Post published by Liviu on Liviu's [Computer Science] Blog]

This post is about Flash - my opinion:

There's an entire discussion on whether to support or not Flash. Google (at I/O 2010 for example) picks on Apple for not supporting Flash... well, I'd say Apple announced this too early, just that. If Apple had only waited some 1-2 years, it would have been ok.
Oh, and they can't just ignore Flash when launching something [ugly, useless, expensive] like the... iPad.
Why was it only later that Steve Jobs provided a full reasoning?

I must admit that Eric Schmidt is kind of evil in the Google I/O 2010: Google TV Keynote, Day 2 - CEO Partner Panel - we all know that HTML 5 will kind of make Flash obsolete. If you've read my 2009 I/O post, you've probably watched the I/O 2009 Day 1 Keynote which talks about offering pixel level control in-the-browser... right? (Anyway, start watching again at 18:31)

Also, in last year's keynote - this is going to be SO FUN!...

Skip to 19:08 and listen the reasoning with respect to the Canvas... [...] just use silverlight, vml or flash... but what if we wanted something that was part of the open and transparent internet that we know and love? Now, is it just me hearing this or has Mr. Gundrotta just said Flash was not open and transparent in 2009? :))

19:48 - drawing and animation APIs with pixel level control.
Now, what will Flash be used for? I don't know.

You can stop at 29:50.

Hey, watch another demo of in-the-browser capabilities - nothing fancy, just...
The Quake II GWT port brings the 3d gaming experience of Quake II to the browser. 
And the video...
Cool? I'd say yes.


Now, tell me, what shall we need Flash for?
I don't know. Not now. Maybe later I can come up with some ideas.

I say that Adobe shall have to reinvent Flash in order to save it. Until then, it must be supported - Apple should have supported it, and Google is [almost] right when picking on Apple. However, if Google supports Flash now and ensures that Flash shall not be reinvented... :D... then Flash shall disappear in the next 2 years...
I still wonder on whose side Google is...

Friday 28 May 2010

Google I/O Day 2: My opinion(s) on 2 keynotes: Android demo, Google TV keynote & CEO Partner Panel

[Post published by Liviu on Liviu's [Computer Science] Blog]

Main ideas
  1. The Android platform is really cool - it will (1) do more than I thought and (2) work on more than just the phone.
  2. Apparently Android and Chrome go hand in hand. 
Doh! It should have been obvious... well, I did not foresee all these...

Google I/O 2010 - Keynote Day 2 Android Demo - Full Length

They just love picking on Apple :)) continuously.
I think this keynote got Steve Jobs a bit nervous: Hey, stop picking on us, 'cause we create beautiful devices, probably he said to himself.
I agree that the iPad itself appears to be crap (although I haven't tested / played with it), but not supporting Flash... well,  you'll have to check my next post for the opinion on that...
Other than that, indeed Google has a strong point picking on Apple, e.g. the multitasking part missing from the iPad.

Anyway, the Android platform is really cool. You really need to watch the keynote. The demos will get you impressed.

Tethering done by Android devices? Cool. I bet the iPad appreciates it :)

The bug reporting feature for Android Market apps - cool.

Regarding making money, the new Google Mobile Ads approach seems cool. (Ok, I've read about some of these formats on Google's blog and/or saw them on presentations on YouTube etc. However, now I've seen for the first time a live demo with respect to a mobile device.)

Google I/O 2010: Google TV Keynote, Day 2

Note: It's a list on YouTube for now. I wish they had glued all videos into one big, continuous, easy to watch video. I'll post an update in the future if they do that.

Smart move from Google to enter the TV market. Really smart.
I bet their analytics will redefine what we call now rating and/or TV advertising. All the apps and features are (and will be) cool, people might appreciate them and so on, BUT the killing feature will be the analytics in my opinion. I'm curious on what the data about the advertising TV market will look like in the next 1-2-3 years.

Too bad the TV is dead and buried :) - let me explain:

My generation and all following don't want a TV at all, since we have the Internet and complete all our tasks using portable hardware/devices (laptop and/or smartphone).

In the paid-TV system, I won't search for (1) a video/movie on the TV and/or (2) a channel's schedule, using the keyboard and/or other peripherals they envision - I'll search it on the net from my portable device and then request to be sent to the TV to be played... Most likely I won't even call it TV, just something like: You know what? Don't play it on this small screen, send it to the big screen/display in the living room.

My generation envisions the whole TV system as an old technology, in which we, as customers, are powerless since the both content creators and distributors used to big & bad, but only now they have become an adorable puppy or pussy-cat etc. because the Internet communication paradigm has left them with no choice.

Will Google TV make it all easy and fun? Maybe.
I personally desire only one feature: to push video content from a portable device to the TV.

Google I/O 2010: Google TV Keynote, Day 2 - CEO Partner Panel

Picking on Apple again? Yes. Of course. Why not? :)
Anyway, it's a nice many-CEOs-discussion. Everyone's so happy and joyful and complementing everyone else... I had several doubts I was attending a technical presentation vs. only-marketing-and-PR talk.

Did you notice the moment when the Best Buy CEO said dominate? :D It was so funny!


Android? I have a feeling technology is moving too fast at this moment; never have thought of saying this...

Chrome? Now I understand why Google started making their own browser - obviously, they need a whole platform (ok-ok, you can [still] say it's a browser) that they can develop really fast, implement on it exactly what they need and deploy applications on top of it.

Stay tuned, 'cause the next post will be about... Flash, since Apple's move has drawn kind of a lot of attention.

Monday 29 March 2010

Google I/O 2009 keynotes and "resuming video" feature in YouTube

[Post published by Liviu on Liviu's [Computer Science] Blog]

Indeed, it was about time I watched the 2 full keynotes of Google I/O 2009. (For the record, I have watched bits and pieces over time, so I wasn't that lazy, but never actually watched the 2 full keynotes, so I was lazy to some degree.)

Anyway, here they are for the ones too lazy to click on the Google I/O 2009 page:
Google I/O 2009 - Keynote Day 1 (full)
Google I/O Day 2 keynote - Google Wave Developer Preview at Google I/O 2009

On this occasion, I've noticed YouTube has introduced a new feature I had no idea about - resuming video... - should one stop watching a video and minutes later reopens it, then it resumes from where one stopped last time. Pretty awesome I might say. - Did I say new? Well, it appears it has been launched quite a long time ago - if interested, see the post with the detailed description of the feature on YouTube's official blog - the "Resume where you left off" paragraph of the post.

Monday 22 March 2010

Google Maps problem

[Post published by Liviu on Liviu's [Computer Science] Blog]

Apparently there's a Google Maps bug that screwed up a bit my Netherlands map.
Cool bug - due to all entries having the same place details (this is the bug), all my entries show the link to my latest NL blog post now! I shall feel sad when they fix it but happy that my map will be correct again...

Thursday 18 March 2010

Firefox 3.6 runs very slow - Solution

[Post published by Liviu on Liviu's [Computer Science] Blog]


I've installed some 2 days ago the Firefox 3.6 and noticed several problems:
  1. GTalk: first, it took some 1-2 minutes to detach/pop-out the window when video conferencing, then when it finally did it, the conference got ended due to some error - this was extremely annoying
  2. Opening pop-out pages became extremely slow, somewhere between 30 seconds and 2 minutes


I've read a lot of googled solutions, none worked.
I've installed Firefox 3.5.8 and then 3.5.6 and the problem persisted - that was strange, since 3.5.6 surely worked.
I suspected (frightening!) problems due to interpreting JavaScript or whatever, which in turn (even more frightening!) could be because I've installed recently some cool stuff, i.e. MacPorts.
I've tested the same pages with Safari and everything worked fine.
Then finally the solution hit me...

Actual solution - short and simple:
It was because of the extensions I've installed some time ago.
I went to Tools > Add-ons > Extensions and just uninstalled all of them; all pages seem to load fine at the present time.
Therefore I'm running Firefox 3.6 with no extensions.

Now surfing life is again fast and pretty.

Thursday 11 March 2010

MacPorts, Xcode, gnuplot

[Post published by Liviu on Liviu's [Computer Science] Blog]

Problems on a Mac OS X 10.5:

P1: One needs to install on Mac OS X commands like calc, wget (although Mac offers the equivalent curl) etc.

P2: One needs to install gnuplot (wikipedia on gnuplot), but would prefer not to go through all the steps (i.e. configure, compile etc.) with the source code of gnuplot.


    First, install MacPorts. According to Wikipedia, DarwinPorts has become MacPorts - I recommend the easiest installation possible, i.e. Mac OS X Package (.pkg) Installer.

    Second, get familiarized to using MacPorts, by reading that specific part of the manual describing the port command.

    From now on, you should install the piece of software causing your problem:

    P1: calc, wget etc.
    sudo port install calc
    sudo port install wget 

    P2: gnuplot (It will be installed in the same way as above, but I encountered a few problems)

    When I first tried to install it, I encountered an error:
    On Mac OS X 10.5, gnuplot 4.2.5 requires Xcode 3.1 or later but you have Xcode 3.0.
    Error: Target org.macports.extract returned: incompatible Xcode version
    Error: Status 1 encountered during processing.

    , so I cleaned the failed installation:
    port clean --all gnuplot

    Given the error, I uninstalled Xcode 3.0 (pages on uninstalling Xcode: 1, 2, 3) and installed Xcode 3.1.4 which I've downloaded from Apple.

    Then I ran the selfupdate for MacPorts
    sudo port selfupdate
    and checked for outdated ports
    port outdated
    but there weren't any, so there was no need to upgrade any installed ports.

    Should you find any outdated ports, just run (as it recommends when finds those outdated ports)
    sudo port upgrade outdated
    You can also use the other command, which tries to upgrade all installed ports
    sudo port upgrade installed

    Then I finally installed gnuplot
    sudo port install gnuplot
    in order to upgrade all your installed ports and their dependencies.

    Feel free to check its man page, or type gnuplot in terminal etc.


    Friday 12 February 2010

    How to download embedded content in webpages

    [Post published by Liviu on Liviu's [Computer Science] Blog]


    Would you like to download content (audio, video) embedded in web pages? e.g. YouTube, Trilulilu etc.

    RO: Cum downloadez un cantec (fisier audio) dintr-o pagina Trilulilu, sau un film (fisier video) dintr-o pagina YouTube etc.?

    Solution 1

    I've found a page describing how to do it, but now let me tell you the long story, i.e. my approach, because it's nice, harder and doesn't always work - indeed, CS people have a funny sense of humor.
    The truth is this is the first solution I've tested:

    First, install in Firefox the add-ons called FireBug and DownThemAll.

    Second, open the page with the targeted content. Click on the little bug (because we use FireBug now) found at the bottom of the window, on the right side; click Net, click Enable, reload the page. Then sort the links by the downloaded size of content, i.e. click Size - now all links are displayed in descending order of the loaded content size. The first link(s) should be the one(s) you're interested in. Copy them, one at a time.

    Third, Tools > DownThemAll > Manager > Add URL - insert here the links you've copied at the previous step. Download the content corresponding to each link, rename appropriately, i.e. if you've downloaded an audio file from Trilulilu then rename so the downloaded file ends in .mp3

    Solutions 2, 3 (easier solutions)

    Fast Video Download - good add-on for downloading videos embedded in a web page, e.g. YouTube.
    Just click on the blue icon at the bottom of the window, on the right side, or in the upper right side of the window.
    I recommend you disable Hover menu icon, i.e. the blue box which appears when you select some text, like this: Tools > Fast Video Download > Fast Video Download options > Settings > Search Menu Advanced > click to uncheck Hover menu icon.

    FlashGot - a very good add-on.
    Just click on the blue icon at the bottom of the window, on the right side - it shall download all content.
    I recommend it if you desire to download audio files from Trilulilu, for example.
    I also recommend you deselect Autostart downloads: Tools > FlashGot > Autostart downloads (click to deselect it, id it appears selected) or Tools > FlashGot > More options > Downloads > make sure Autostart downloads appears unchecked.


    I recommend you use (1) FlashGot, or (2) Fast Video Download.

    FiraBug could be useful for debugging or other more complicated tasks, but not for this solution.
    Also, DownThemAll might prove useful in the future.

    Wednesday 10 February 2010

    Share your Google Reader shared items to a website / blog / feed reader etc.

    [Post published by Liviu on Liviu's [Computer Science] Blog]


    Have you ever wanted to share your Google Reader shared items with the world, by inserting them in a website/blog?

    I have wanted that since I started sharing items: hey, if I share something, let the world know it and read all shared items, since they might find it useful!


    Solution 1: RSS feed
    At some point, I inserted on my professional website a link to my shared items' RSS feed.
    The RSS feed can be found on the page with your shared items, if you made them public: Settings > Reader settings > Folders and Tags > View public page >Atom feed.
    Downside: that does not make too much impact, doesn't it?

    Solution 2: Add a clip with your Google Reader shared items to a website or blog
    Later, I saw this cool feature in Google Reader of adding a clip with your Google Reader shared items to a website or blog and realized I wanted to display them on my personal blog. So, I created the clip - that was some 6 months ago or more.
    A few days ago, a friend asked how I did that, so I searched for the feature and found the solution described in Reader's Help: How do I add a clip to my website or blog? - note that Tags in now called Folders and Tags. Afterward, configuring your clip is straightforward.

    Solution 3: Send to...
    This is new apparently: Settings > Reader settings > Send to. From there you can choose some predefined websites or add your own.
    Each time when sharing something, on the same row with Share, Share with note etc. you also have the option Send to - last one in the right.
    I tested it a bit with Facebook, but it either makes things appear unattractive/unpleasant in my profile (e.g. for Dilbert strips only a link appears) or Facebook crashes when hitting the button Share (e.g. for Academia Catavencu).
    I do not recommend this feature for now: I'll further test it and recommend it once it behaves nice.

    Wednesday 3 February 2010

    Steve Jobs, Bill Gates. Apple, Microsoft. Oh, and the iPad...

    [Post published by Liviu on Liviu's [Computer Science] Blog]

    A couple of days ago I've had an intense and exhausting 2 hours conversation with Andrei on the launch of the new iPad. (I recommend you watch the demo, which is short, and then the keynote, although it runs for 2 h.)

    Andrei had a strong opinion on this, i.e. against the iPad, based on various comments on the web against the iPad. He later gathered all these links in a nice post against the iPad.

    I've also shared with him a playlist I've compiled a long time ago, with the interview with both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates - it's a really great and inspiring interview, showing the spirit and leadership of these 2 prominent figures that have influenced the IT industry.
    Andrei made several interesting comments I think are worth reading. Regarding the documentary, I've found both part 1 and part 2, but it feels like there's also a part 3 still missing.

    The BBC podcast feed (interview section) that I've subscribed to presents a fresh interview with Bill Gates. Enjoy!

    All in all, I think it's great we're part of the evolution of the IT industry. We should learn from people like Gates and Jobs, and from their products (be they mistakes or successes).

    Sunday 17 January 2010

    A BRILLIANT way to handle interruptions and annoying colleagues

    [Post published by Liviu on Liviu's [Computer Science] Blog]

    Reading the Dilbert comics, I've come across a few days ago to a BRILLIANT way to handle interruptions and annoying colleagues.
    You should think of implementing it if you have such a problem.

    Friday 15 January 2010

    Google vs. China

    [Post published by Liviu on Liviu's [Computer Science] Blog]

    Thanks to Financial Times, I got informed on what has happened recently between Google and China; see the so called Google vs. China section on FT.
    I will enumerate just a few articles I've read and found interesting:
    1. Google’s defiance of China really is praiseworthy
    2. Beijing seeks to limit Google fallout 
    3. Google is not alone in calling China’s bluff
    4. Google stands up to China’s censors
    5. Cyberattacks aimed at defence groups
    My position is simple: I have always in the past and shall in the future (1) support competition and freedom (since I consider these the building blocks of our society) and (2) criticize any form of censorship and/or threat to competition.