November 2007 Archives

November 28, 2007

Changing my Kindle order to next-day delivery moves me up the list

I was paying close attention November 19th when Amazon announced their Kindle reading device.  In the morning, you could order the Kindle for next day delivery, but as the day went on, the delivery date starting stretching out.  That evening I wasn't sure if I wanted one, but I decided to put my order in to hold a place in line.  With 2 day delivery, Amazon said I would get my Kindle Tuesday December 4th.

I'm an Amazon Prime member, so changing the order to overnight delivery is only an extra $3.99, so I decided to change the Kindle order to see if it would change my delivery date.  I expected Amazon to immediately come back and say I'd get it one day early - next Monday - but instead, Amazon said to check back later for a delivery date.

I check this morning, and it says my delivery date is November 29th - tomorrow!  Changing to overnight clearly moved me up in the queue.

Techdirt reported last week that Amazon has a patent on juggling delivery dates based on the value of orders they expect you to place. Interesting ....

November 12, 2007

Leopard's built-in VNC server doesn't quite work

Mac OS 10.5 has a VNC server built in to allow remote access back to your Mac.  Many sites have claimed that standard VNC clients will work with Mac OS VNC.

Well, that may be true for some people, but I haven't been able to connect  back to my Mac outside of my local network using Apple's built-in server. 

It worked fine from a Windows machine on the local network.  But outside my network - no go. I tried opening port 5900 across my Buffalo home router.  I tried RealVNC and TightVNC, both from a Windows XP system, and both would let me get to a password prompt, but then died promptly. I tried tunneling port 5900 across an SSH connection to my Mac. I tried squinting and chanting "Apple is my friend."  Nothing worked. 

My solution was to download the Vine Server VNC server from Redstone Software.  I configured it to use a different port to avoid conflicting with Apple VNC server.  Vine Server is free.

It works very well. Vine Server also pays attention to other VNC options that Apple's server doesn't - it will work with 8 bit color, for example, which is important for speeding up the connection. 

I also went in and turned off the Dock animations.  (I wish there was a way to do that automatically when logging in via VNC.)

It still doesn't work as nicely as Remote Desktop does for the PC, but it's a good start.

November 4, 2007

If Emacs is broken under under Leopard, time to reinstall

I bought a Mac Mini a few weeks back.  I bought it just one week shy of Apple's release of Leopard, knowing that I'd have to do the upgrade myself and pay an extra $10 for the DVD, but the siren call of pretty new hardware was too strong to resist.

I did the upgrade the Monday after Leopard came out - a straight in-place upgrade - and everything seemed to be fine. 

But all was not well.  Emacs was my canary in the coal mine; when I fired up a terminal and started emacs, I got the cryptic message " Fatal malloc_jumpstart() error"

This discussion convinced me that something broke doing the Leopard upgrade in place, so I went back and reinstalled Leopard using the archive and install method.  Problem solved.

November 1, 2007

My back says 'thank you' - a new chair

For years, I've been using Lifetime folding chairs as computer chairs at home.  They're relatively affordable - perhaps $35 - and quite good as folding chairs go.  No more.  Last night I bought myself an Steelcase Leap chair.

At work, I've sat in Aeron chairs for the past 10+ years.  They're good, but it took me a while to discover that the Aeron chair has one nasty flaw - the mesh fabric is abrasive.  I started getting holes in the seat of some of my khaki pants, and I finally figured it out - that's where my wallet is.  (And I have a very thin wallet - the ALL-ETT, which despite the weird name, is quite good.)

The wide consensus is that you get what you pay for in an office chair, and that really you can't get a decent chair for less than $500.  The Leap chair isn't cheap - mine cost $800, but it should last a long time.

I bought mine at Sam Flax in Atlanta.  I think of them as an art suppy store, but they carry office furniture, and they service what they sell - if I have a problem, I can take it back to them.