#176 MP3 File Too Big, Crossover Redux Redux, Windows 7, Mac Trojan Horse

Happy 90th birthday Harry! How I have a fear of sewing, Donald explains how to get static DHCP (or more correctly “reservation DHCP”) on your Linksys router using Tomato firmware from polarcloud.com/tomato. In Dumb Question Corner we learn what the activity is going on in the background in Mail.app and how to better control how much sent mail gets saved. I learn from Marc-André from HumanWare how I’ve been making your MP3s 8MB larger than necessary for the last 8 months, Crossover reviewed yet again from Codeweavers. Chromium (Chrome for Mac) available for free at http://www.codeweavers.com/services/ports/chromium/, my favorite text editor for Windows is NotePad++ from sourceforge.net. In CCATP we talk about the latest Trojan Horse for the Mac blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2007/10/mac-users-get-a.html, how much we LIKE what we hear about Windows 7 (arstechnica.com and winsupersite.com) and finally Bart tells us about the historic discovery of TWO asteroids this month by two Irish amateur astronomers http://www.astroshack.net and
http://webtreatz.com/content/view/68/1/.

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Today is Sunday November 2nd, 2008, and this is show number 176.

Harry’s birthday Harry!

I believe we may have established at this point in the show that I’m a nerd and a geek and an engineer, right? I’m fearless in the face of IP configurations, loading new software, even a little bit of hardware work doesn’t scare me. But you know what DOES scare me? Sewing. See my friend Gary had a back rest that fit him just perfectly that he bought about 20 years ago. It had a brown corduroy cover, but he finally wore through it after about 10 years. As a joke I went out and bought some baby blue fabric with Looney Tunes on it and made him a new cover. I had the luxury of being able to unsew the old cover. Well fast forward 10 years and he’s worn through the “new” cover.

I was digging around in a cabinet the other day looking for a toga I made for Kyle many years ago (Ok, a toga is a bed sheet with some purple ribbon on the edge, not too complicated) and I found the original Looney Tunes fabric! I brought it in to show Gary how nice it USED to look (his back rest was pretty grubby and faded). He has a new back pillow thing now so all I have to do is figure out how to make the cover for the new one, but in this case it’s NOT wrecked yet, so I don’t want to take a chance and wreck it so I’m trying to do this without any kind of pattern. Picture how an engineer would handle this – I took tissue paper and I’m folding it around these curves pinning it down sort of, and then drawing with a sharpie an the fold lines, and I sort of come out with some crude patterns. Then I pinned them down to the fabric and cut them out, so I’m on a roll, but then I had to get my sewing machine to work.

I probably used that sewing machine as recently as 5 years ago, maybe 10! Unlike listener Lynn who has this fancy schmancy sewing machine that’s programmable even, I have a $100 Brother machine used maybe 10 times in 25 years. I fired it up and it has decided that I want each stitch to be 1mm long. I’ve played with the stitch length dial, the stitch type, the tension, heck I even OILED the darn thing and still it’s making these teeny tiny microscopic little stitches. I’m going to try and do it by hand but I’m NOT optimistic, I’m terrified of sewing!

Static DHCP
Last week on Chit Chat Across the Pond, Bart and I were geeking out about what matters to us in a router. One of the things he said was that he likes a router that lets him do static DHCP. That confused me because I thought DHCP meant to have your IP address of your machine dynamically assigned each time you connected, while static by it’s definition means that it never changes. Bart went on to explain that what he meant was a router would always be in charge of dispensing the IP address to the machine (so it’s not really static) but it is set to always give it the same IP address. The subtlety I was missing is that when you set up a static IP, you do that on the computer, not the router. If you do it on the computer that way, then when you go to someone else’s house or work, it will try to force that IP into that network which may not work. Let’s say I give my laptop a static IP of 192.168.1.100, where 192.1.168 is the space that Linksys routers use, but then I go to a friend’s house who has an Apple router, but Apple uses 10.0.1 for the IPs, I’d be out of luck. Does that clarify at all? So if you leave the IP assignment up to your router but tell the router to always give the same address, and you tell the Laptop to accept dynamically assigned IPs, then you’ll be able to play at home and on the road.

Anyway, I bring this all up because Donald Burr of otakunopodcast wrote in with some comments about that discussion.

You’re right Allison, “static DHCP” is an oxymoron, and is in fact an incorrect term. What Bart is referring to is technically called “reservation DHCP.” And indeed, not very many routers support it. The Apple ones (Airport, Time Capsule) do, but the Linksys ones don’t… UNLESS you upgrade to the third-party Tomato firmware, which I briefly mentioned on the chat channel last night… it adds Reservation DHCP support, as well as QoS (quality of service – ensures that bandwidth hogs like huge podcast downloads or BitTorrent don’t totally choke other peoples’ email, casual web browsing, etc.), live bandwidth monitoring (great for Comcast users or anyone else who has to deal with bandwidth caps, or if you’re morbidly curious as to how much bandwidth you use), and tons of other features.

more info on Tomato and where to download it:
polarcloud.com/tomato

Well thanks Donald – I mentioned how fearless I am on geek stuff but the one thing I’m not fearless on is messing with my perfectly functioning router! If I had two, and a week to experiment maybe, with no one at home whining at me that they lost their connection, maybe I’d give Tomato a whirl, but for now I’ll just dream about such experimentation!

ScreenSteps
So I think I’ve mentioned a few times that I’m trying to learn Aperture. Yes, James, I AM reading the manual AND I bought a book to teach myself! It’s slow going though from the philosophy perspective, trying to figure out the best way to organize my photos – because Aperture has projects and albums and folders and I’m trying to figure out WHY I would use one over another. Enter DebbieT from splashofstyle.com. She’s been a Godsend to me on getting all this figured out. Guess how she’s been instructing me? With ScreenSteps of course! She has been making little tutorials for me and posting them on screenstepslive.com. At Screensteps Live you can upload lessons to their servers so you don’t have to host them yourself, and they have a really nice automatic interface that gives you little tabs and just formats it beautifully. You can see what I mean by checking out the Audacity manual I keep pretending I’m going to finish over at nosillacast.screenstepslive.com. They have a free version of ScreenSteps Live that’s good for one person, and more advanced versions at a fee if you’re collaborating with some other people or you need to limit access to your ScreenSteps lessons. Check out the options at screenstepslive.com/signup. Remember you get 25% off the purchase of ScreenSteps by putting in the coupon code NOSILLA when you make your purchase.

Dumb Question Corner
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Pierre has a couple of great dumb questions:

I have two dumb questions about Apple Mail.

1. In the bottom left corner, I have mail activity. I notice sometimes that the activity bar starts up and indicates that it is downloading messages. But I do not see new messages in my inbox. What gives (it is downloading messages in my spam folder)?

One thing you can try Pierre is to double click on the rotating arrows when you see them and the activity window will come up to show you what’s going on. You can also access this window by going to Window and pulling down to Activity. I did it just now and while I was writing this email it showed a bunch of activity – saving a draft of this email, doing some synchronization with Gmail online. It even updated some cache files. Strangely I don’t actually see the double arrows showing the activity, but a bunch of activity IS going on!

Pierre’s second question is:

sent mail how to not save2. Is there an option to save or not save messages as you send them? In order to avoid filling up my outbox with sent messages that I do not want to keep, it would be nice to have this option (even Lotus Notes has this feature). I looked at preferences and did not see a preference that would give me this.

I have a solution to your second one too. In the menu choose Mail, then pull down to Preferences. Then click on the Accounts Tab. Select the account you want to change in the left sidebar. On the right, the third option down is to control how Sent mail is saved. You can choose to save Sent mail on the server, but the option below that is to delete sent messages when…you can choose Never, which is the default, delete after a day, week or month, or if you never want to keep them at all, you can set it to delete sent messages every time you quit mail.

These were fun questions – I didn’t know the answers when I started, fun to figure them out!

mp3 file size
You might remember last week I interviewed a guy from a company called HumanWare which makes accessible products for the visually impaired. Completely coincidentally a visually impaired client of HumanWare’s asked them for assistance playing my podcast on one of those devices. Evidently it wouldn’t play and Marc-André from HumanWare had to diagnose the problem. They have a data buffer responsible for keeping in memory data that is usually often accessed (like the header of the mp3). The mp3 decoder was requesting to keep the whole header in memory but it couldn’t because the header file was too big – it was nearly 8MB! He dug in and discovered the issue was that my cover art was actually an 8MB file.

Now a while back when the AppleTV started supporting podcasting, I looked at my cover art on it and it looked DREADFUL, so I had my logo artist Ryan Sakamoto from graphicforce.net make me a much higher resolution version. What I THOUGHT we had done was make a 600x600dpi logo, but it turns out all this time I’ve been wasting your bandwidth by sending you a 6000x6000dpi image! I can’t believe this is the first time someone noticed this! I did an experiment: last weeks’ show was 53 min long and was a 32MB file. I swapped in the 188KB 600dpi version for the 7.6MB 6000dpi version and the mp3 file size went from 32MB down to 24.5MB, just as it should have! I think we should all thank Marc-André for saving us 7.5MB per week for the next 20 years you’ll be listening to me!

CrossOver
You may have heard that this week the fine folks over at Codeweavers decided to give their software Crossover away for free for one day, in honor of George W. Bush accidentally meeting one of the 6 challenges they set for him. The website is pretty funny, worth checking out, but the main point here is that Crossover was free for a day. Luckily I found out about it the day before, and since it was 11pm where I am when I found out, and they’re evidently on East Coast time, it was already tomorrow where they were so I got in early. I say it was lucky because their servers were totally overwhelmed the next day and many people were never able to get in and take advantage of the free offer.

Let’s back up for those who might not have heard of Crososver, its software that allows you to emulate Windows system calls on your Mac, allowing you to run Windows only programs without buying Windows or running it on the Mac. I tested Crossover and reviewed it on the show back in September of 2006 running Open Office on it, and again in February 2007. Back then I tried loading a few unsupported apps – Open Office for Windows which worked in 2006 and Firefox for windows in 2007, which didn’t. One issue here is that if you don’t actually own any Windows only applications it isn’t very entertaining to test this software.

They have supported packages, which means if you OWN those applications you can install them and they’re fully tested. The odd thing to me is that they’ve gone to a lot of work to test out apps that already exist on OSX, so why would I want to run them in an emulated mode? They have Photoshop and Lotus Notes, all the MS Office products too which run on OSX, but not Microsoft Access which does NOT run on the Mac which would be great! They do have Outlook and Viseo that don’t run on the Mac, and QuickBooks which I’m pretty sure don’t either. Windows Media Player 9 might be handy since it’s pretty common to find sites that require it, but luckily fewer and fewer. Same with IE6 – when you really need it, you really need it, but most sites have moved over to the right side of the world on that issue!

I was hoping that in the two years since I started reviewing Crossover there would be a lot more supported applications but the list looks pretty much the same from back then. Perhaps this would be a good solution for switchers who don’t want to buy their software all over again – like Photoshop for example!

I installed IE6 and it ran beautifully, pretty much like last time, but again surprised that Crossover didn’t have an approved IE7. I guess we don’t NEED IE7 the way we might occasionally need IE6 if a web developer is still living in 1995. What I’d really LIKE is Chrome though, so I tried installing it, but it failed. Then I downloaded the free Chromium Crossover for Mac which doesn’t require Crossover at all, available at a link I put in the shownotes: http://www.codeweavers.com/services/ports/chromium/. I was able to go to Google, then Google/ig but it drew the screen twice for some reason which was a problem I complained about 2 years ago. Then I tried to go to podfeet.com and it crashed. Reopened just fine, and very quickly, but still it crashed. I went to surfbits.com and it worked, but when I clicked a link to podfeet.com on Tim’s site, it crashed again. Why would Chromium not like my site?!? It didn’t just crash one tab which is what happens in real Chrome, it killed the whole beast.

One application I really like at work is the open source text editor called NotePad++ from sourceforge.net. I use it to edit editing php code in WordPress theme files, and it does a great job of color coding things to make sure you’re not making mistakes – like forgetting to close a comment and thereby leaving the entire rest of the file as a comment. As you write your php commands it’s automatically changing the colors to let you know your syntax is proper. I went to the Codeweaver website and found listings of over 4800 “unsupported” applications that people have tested, and I found NotePad++ in there saying that it works. I downloaded it from SourceForge, installed it into what they call a “Bottle” for Windows XP and it worked right away! I’m excited that I have this at my fingrtips because I just hadn’t found anything I like quite as well on the Mac yet.

Discovery of the unsupported apps really opens up my thoughts about what CrossOver can do. They rate the applications as gold/silver/bronze and even Honorable Mention with that rating telling you how well tested it is, and if there’s any tips to make it work properly.

If you’ve got a need for an application that only runs on Windows and you can’t bring yourself to shell out hundreds of dollars to Microsoft to buy Windows, then you should give the 30 day trial of CrossOver a try – it’s only $40 now, it used to be $60 back when I first reviewed it!

Honda Bob
If you have a Honda or an Acura and live in the LA or Orange County areas, do NOT let your car break down for the next week or so. You see, Honda Bob is off visiting his Mom and brother back in Louisiana right now. Isn’t that sweet? He says she had a big ol’ list of honey do’s all ready for them when they got to her house. I think he and his brother get along great though because they got it all done really quickly. Imagine being lucky enough to have a mechanic who loves his mother? I know, I know, it’s not an ESSENTIAL element in choosing your auto mechanic but it does talk to character. Honda Bob is reliable, VERY hard working, tells bad jokes, and drives to your HOUSE to fix your car so you don’t have to be in the tiniest bit inconvenienced! It’s really the perfect service model from the end user’s point of view – I can’t believe no one has thought of this other than Honda Bob. Well if you’d like this kind of convenient in home care for your Honda cars, just give him a call at (562)531-2321 or shoot him an email at hdabob@aol.com. HDA Bob’s Mobile Service is not affiliated with Honda, Acura or Honda Worldwide.

Chit Chat Across the Pond
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Security Lite
Trojan Horse for OSX – Ever Present Vigilance
blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2007/10/mac-users-get-a.html

Windows 7
Bart:
arstechnica.com
they have come up with some good UI improvements
still way too cluttered for my tastes
but a great step forward
and some cool features that OS X does not have
so that will certainly make an interesting topic I think
because no one will expect ME to like anything about Windows 7!

Al:
winsupersite.com
* Best thing is there are no architectural changes
o I know those are important but what normal people really care about is how it interacts with us
* Nofication area – hidden icons by default, custumizable – good and bad
o good because it’s less messy (drives me nuts figuring out what they all are
o bad because apps throw crud in there all the time and you won’t know why your system has slowed down because the icon’s not showing
* Like the hover over icons showing open stuff, and that you can mix in favorites with running apps, AND control where things stick
* Good start to show desktop but way too much travel to get to the button on the lower right (love my 4 fingered swipe in OSX)
* Aero snaps is cool
* Support for multi- touch – but they are doing it on screen which is wrong in so many ways
* Navigation changes – less clutter – I ONLY care if these changes are available in Open and Save As dialog boxes!
* Didn’t see anything encouraging about elimination of the stupid default columns in list view – for some reason how many STARS I rated a file is a default, but size and date are NOT. It looks very much tailored to a media browser when at work I couldn’t give a rats behind about media-like details

Asteroids
Two of Bart’s Irish friends discover asteroids!http://www.astroshack.net and
http://webtreatz.com/content/view/68/1/

Email me or send in a 3-5 minute audio review to nosillacast@gmail.com, follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/podfeet. Thanks for listening, and stay subscribed.

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