NosillaCast 02/26/2006 Show #32

Fun with taxes, more new countries, Media Central update, listener feedback, great fun at a user group, MacBook Pro 1st impressions, iChat interviews in GarageBand, Superbowl commercials, public domain movies on bittorrent, how to find out how far you jogged.

Listen to the Podcast – Time: 29 minutes 45 seconds

Have you done your taxes yet? Gosh, it sure is my favorite thing to do each year. This year I got the biggest laugh one of the questions is actually did you receive any Ottoman Empire Settlement Payments? I love it! You KNOW they put stuff in there like that to see if were paying attention, right? I found a discussion group talking about this new tax question, and one guy said, “what’s so strange about that? My family is still being paid compensation from the Mongols… I dont know what the exchange rate is for Yak pelts.” It turns out this is a real thing, but I defy anyone to deny that our tax laws are arcane!

New country update
Welcome to our new listeners from Egypt, El Salvador, Lebanon and Nigeria. I bet you thought we were plum OUT of listeners, didnt you? I sure did! That makes the NosillaCast audience now from 86 countries. Isnt that simply amazing?

Media Central update
Last week I reviewed MediaCentral from and I mentioned there was a thing called WebTV and I wondered if it was a live broadcast. Tonite we installed it on my buddy Rons powerbook and ran it a few minutes later on my computer, and it started up at the same spot Rons computer had gotten to, so it looks like it is live. I know you were all sitting on the edge of your chairs till I solved that little mystery.

Listener Alfred responded to my comment about how my goal is to make as many people as possible never buy from Samsung, and that so far two whole people have avoided them, and he said that now it’s THREE, because he bought a 19 Westinghouse LCD Widescreen Flat-Panel; and that Mac OS X looks great on it! He said they also make a 17 LCD Widescreen Flat-Panel that has a white casing around it, for those stylish folks that need to match their iMac, mouse, and keyboard. thanks for the tip Alfred, I checked them out at and they look like they’re a good value ($400 US for the 20″), cool to know that the display looks good too.

Listener Susan, author of the podcatcher @podder Ive reviewed recently, is interested in synthetic voices for assistance to the visually impaired. She asked me what vendor supplies synthetic voices for the Mac. I didnt exactly understand the question, but I gave a whirl at answering anyway (never stopped me before not understanding the question!) I explained that the Mac operating system comes with a built in screen reader with several voices, many of which are really hard to listen to. To help her visualize I turned the voices on, and moved around in the menus so she could hear how it reacted. Since I have no experience with screen readers, I have no idea if this worked well or if it was lame! Oh, and most importantly she said she knew not to buy from Samsung! Thats four people now!

User Group Presentation
Wed my buddy Ron and I were the guest speakers at a local Mac users group, and we presented on Podcasting. We explained what podcasting IS, how to catch podcasts using iTunes and the open source Juice Receiver, how to find podcasts using my favorite directories. The audience asked very intelligent questions (and I knew the answers to the questions!) They even laughed at my wise-acre cracks throughout my presentation.

I pushed my luck when I decided to show them how to actually created a podcast. To be fair, I gave them a choice of showing them my favorite podcasts or learning how to make one, so it was really their fault what happened next. I recorded some nonsense, and then made them applaud my tomfoolery. Each step along the way during this whole show I wanted to prove each step was legitimate so I tried to play the audio back for them. I got some feedback because my microphone was still plugged in. so I unplugged it – and I got a kernel panic! For those of you who dont know, thats the unix equivalent of the blue screen of death! It was so embarrassing! The audience was so cool though, they insisted on waiting till I got it back up and managed to actually post the podcast and showed them how its done.

This is when it really got funny. So Ron and I are sitting at a table at the front of the room with 3 microphones in front of us, and our two powerbooks. Were connected to a projector which is facing a screen thats actually in front of us and to one side. I hope this visual works its important to the story to realize that I cant see the screen. So finally I get the machine rebooted, and Im waiting for the login screen to show up on my laptop, and finally someone in the audience tells me that its waiting for me! I realize that instead of mirroring my screen, its actually screen spanning, so were seeing two different pieces of the same screen. This is when the comedy came in in order for me to log in, they have to tell me where to move my cursor, so everyone is yelling left left leftno, too far, wait, up! No down, left, no your other left! It was really hilarious. The 70 or so attendees were waving their arms and hollering and laughing it was wonderful! How often do you get full audience participation like that? If I ever do this pitch again, I may unplug the mic on purpose.

We finally got it up, recorded in GarageBand, posted the podcast feed using Feeder from my Mac, and then Ron proved that it magically came into his computer. The audience went wild! I enjoyed myself immensely, and my assistant Ron had a great time too. I sure hope they ask us back some time!

I picked up my Mac Book Pro this week, the dual core 2GHz model, with 2GB of RAM. You know how I LOVE to be on the bleeding edge, so having the first Intel-based Mac around is awesome! As I talk through my early impressions of the Mac Book Pro, any speed comparisons are between that and my previous 1.25GHz G4 Powerbook. so far what’s screaming fast:
– Spotlight (Apples Finder-based search) is awesome searching 80 GB of disk is literally less than a second now. I was always unimpressed by spotlight before, now I love it.
– quitting apps – this seems like a silly thing, and I never realized I was waiting, but now that its instantaneous I really notice the difference.
– switching applications this is a lot like quitting apps, its so fast its really the blink of an eye
– wake from sleep right away, which matters to me because I never shut my system down, I only sleep.
– VLC for videos I can open a movie in VLC now and move it around on screen, change its size and it all happens without a frame loss, very smooth
– Opened 47 Quicktime movies at once and they FLEW open
– iPhoto is significantly faster (as judged my daughter who uses it a lot more than I do.
– Tested opening GarageBand on both machines, and the MBP came up about 10 seconds faster. When I get more time Ill run a convert to podcast test in GB on both machines and give some stats.

Tested Photoshop Elements under Rosetta on the MBP vs. on the 1.25GHz G4 native
– G4 opened the app about 5 seconds faster. MBP opened the file a split second faster.
– So far, no applications seem slower on Rosetta on the MBP than on the G4 PB.

– Physically they’re pretty similar – the MBP is definitely thinner – it’s 1in vs. 1.1 for the Aluminum Powerbook, but its .4 inches longer and a tenth of an inch deeper. Screen is bigger by a quarter inch, and higher resolution, and brighter, and a wider aspect ratio so the bezel is actually taller on the top.
– MacBookPro is written in shiny letters at the bottom of the screen.
MPB has the new MagSafe power connector instead of a traditional connector, its held in place with a magnet. If you pull straight on it, it holds in really well, but if you knock it from the side or the top or bottom it pops right out. The purpose of this is to keep your laptop from being yanked off the table when someone trips over the cord. Steve Jobs in his keynote said, youre tired of breaking them, and WERE tired of fixing them!
magsafe connector
– Wireless signal is better (4 vs. 3 bars in the worst room in my house.
Migration Assistant
I did the firewire target disk mode thing to transfer all my documents, settings, apps. Worked great! Only things I had to do was reenter my Snapzpro registration number, reload MS Mouse, and run an updater on my MS apps (odd).
– I use Textpander to use a keystroke to type out commonly used phrases, and it wouldnt launch after the upgrade. However, I checked the developers site, and Peter Maurer at had already come out with a Universal Binary version of the tool! I trashed my old preference pane for Textpander, installed the new one, and all of my commonly used phrases and their keystrokes were still there. Excellent!
– Same thing with RBrowser didnt work, developer Robert Vasvari from had a Universal version too. Unfortunately Im having trouble connecting to my site, probably a Keychain password issue, so I cant verify if the new version works or not.

Research department Niraj found out about a flaw in the NIC on the MBP that causes it to get horked up if you’re on VOIP like I have at work. network speed is abominable on a wired connection, I’m talking 40 seconds to open to Google. Seems to be isolated to web services (port 80?) but doesnt seem to affect Mail or chat protocols, or even using Samba to get to network servers. on wireless all is good. New VPN 4.9 Universal binary worked like a charm.

– Built in iSight is cool, but the funniest app ever written is PhotoBooth. If you want a good time, head over to an Apple Store and play with it. You can make the FUNNIEST pictures of your friends and family – hilarious for kids through the old folks!
– Gave me ComicLife for free!
– Ive been using iScroll2 on my Macs, and love that two fingered scroll. I was all sad when I realized it didnt port to the MBP, but then I remembered its built in now! Yay! If you havent tried iScroll2 I really recommend you give it a whirl, its addictive.
– Safari crashes once in a while

– Front Row takes too long for me to wait (I waited >30 seconds). I podcasted about MediaCentral last week which is a freeware app that does the same thing, and it didn’t have any problems on the MBP. Id pick MediaCentral hands down over Front Row.
Front Row:
front row showing four iApps
MediaCentral showing some photos
– The cursor seems to get kinda stuck Im wiggling my finger on the track pad, but nothings happening on screen for a second or so. Ive seen it happen a bunch of times, havent really bracketed how/when it happens yet though.
– speakers are nasty on this! Very muffled and icky.
– Not really seeing the screaming speed across the board I was expecting, I guess that will come when all the apps are Universal
– Driver for Samsun microphone doesnt work, had to record on the old G4 tower!

My buddy Ron and I tested out iChat with GarageBand tonite. The idea is if you launch an iChat audio conference, you can easily record the conversation into GarageBand as two separate tracks. The advantage of course is that if theyre separate tracks you can apply affects separately, such as bringing up the level of one speaker if theyre too quiet, or perhaps removing noise.

First you have to launch iChat for both people, and the recorder has to launch GarageBand. The order is unimportant. The recorder has to initiate the audio chat first in iChat. The next step is to start recording in GarageBand. GarageBand will notify that an active audio chat is in session and query whether there is a desire to record the conversation and will list the buddy names of the two people.

Once the recording has started, its hands off operation. The coolest thing about this (besides the obvious real benefit) is that each time one of the people talks, the podcast track changes the picture to the buddy icon of the speaker! This will be fun in an enhanced podcast, that is if the buddy icon makes any sense at all. Ron is the producer of the famous Ricos House of Squid commercial, so of course his icon is a penguin, which Im not sure would make sense at all in a podcast!

Superbowl Commercials
The best part of the Superbowl is the commercials, right? If you missed them this year, or wanted to go back and watch the better ones again, Google has organized them for you. My friend Jean sent me a link to

After watching the commercials, I decided to check out the rest of Google’s beta video offerings at You can watch an episode of McGyver from season 1, the Ozzie & Harriet episode when Rick grows a beard. Unfortunately it looks like this is all paid content – even Ozzie & Harriet! it doesn’t tell you that until you’ve watched for 30 seconds or so, then it comes up with a screen saying you can buy it. Get this, you can only buy it if you have Windows 2000 or Windows XP! How totally lame. Why the heck would you need a specific operating system to buy a show? I went back and double checked that the commercials are free – there’s even a download button (for Mac, PC, Video iPod or PSP). Wonder why you can’t download for linux? I bet it works anyway, just open it up in VLC.

Public Domain Movies on Bittorrent
Evidently there are a lot of old movies that are in the public domain now, and the folks at have put them online as bittorrent files for free download. This is a cool and legitimate use of Bittorrent technology. For those of you new to the show, Bittorrent is a peer to peer file sharing technology that allows you to download bits of a show from a bunch of people at the same time. this is efficient because you can download faster than people individually can upload to you, so if you can download from a bunch of people at the same time, it’s much faster. It’s still a geek lover’s tool, but it’s getting easier to use than it used to be. has the shows sorted by content – from Action/Adventure to comedy to drama and more. I love the tagline at the top, it says “Movies that made History…Sort of…” These aren’t your top run movies in general, but some look pretty interesting. i’m downloading a Sherlock Holmes movie for my iPod called “Dressed to Kill”. What makes bittorrent work so well is when a lot of people are downloading and uploading the same file – that’s when it gets going really fast. It doesn’t work well at all when there’s only a few people working the same file. Some nice person is uploading to me at a whopping 3.6Mbytes per second, which will take one day and nine hours to complete if I wait that long! I guess not. I did find “Night of the Living Dead” on there, maybe that will be more popular and come down faster! anyway, interesting site, check it out at

How far did I run?
Did you ever want to know how far you ran or maybe drove you knew the path you took but didnt know how far it was? Check out its an overlay program on top of google maps. Start by finding the basic area where your trip started, and double click on the intersection. Then find each turning point and double click to set a marker. Note that it doesnt follow the roads, its going as the crow flies between your points, so be sure to mark curves in the road or it will draw the diagonal. As you go along your path, it will show you the total distance, and will show you the length of the last leg. You can turn on mile markers, and even calorie counters! It shows the elevation gain/loss as a function of distance too. You can export the route as a GPX file, which I think is the format you can use to pull the file into your GPS unit. Im not too versant on that part, if you know anything about this, maybe you could check it out and let us know if the GPX export works into a GPS unit.

Looks like thats going to wrap it up for the NosillaCast this week. I really appreciate you tuning in feedback is ALWAYS welcome at [email protected], thanks for listening and stay subscribed.

1 thought on “NosillaCast 02/26/2006 Show #32

  1. Suzanne Elger - March 14, 2006

    Hi Al,

    Happy anniversary to you and Steve! I checked out your gmap thing and it is swell. Now I know exactly how far I am running. No more sandbagging for me. Bummer! Perhaps the group that screwed up a marathon in Chicago by adding one mile could use the site too.


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