RDS – Radio Data System

I was in someone elses car last night. The car stereo was tuned to ZM. For some reason, the stereo appeared to be switching between 90.9 and 93.5; the two frequencies that ZM broadcast on. But it was seamless. And then a new song started to play, and about 15 seconds later “DON T” flicked up on the screen, followed by “LIE”, then “TO”, “ME “, “BY”, “BLACK”, “EYED”, “PEAS”, “ON ZM”, “ZM ZM ZM”, then continued to alternate between “ZM 90 9” and “ZM 93 5”. I was tripping out, and everyone else in the car apart from the driver was all like “WTF?!” at it too…

Turns out it’s called Radio Data System (RDS), and does more than display text on the radio’s display. It can transmit the current time, so that your RDS enabled car stereo will remain sync’d, monitor other frequencies for traffic reports, and even turn the volume up if an emergency broadcast is detected…

Pretty neat huh? There aren’t many stations in New Zealand that support it, but I found what could be a partial or complete list on the Wood Electronics site.

MacOSX: First Impressions

OK, so it’s not my mac, but I guess I’m gonna be the one using it the most. Work just bought a Mac mini, and it is so quiet! And of course, it runs MacOSX, that sexy smart OS.

After some initial oversights (Didn’t have any USB keyboards), I got it up and going with my existing CRT monitor, mouse and keyboard. First things I learnt: Home and End go to the top and bottom of your document, not the start and end of the current line. Just to clarify:

Document Navigation Keystrokes
  Windows MacOSX
Start of line Home Command + Left Arrow
End of line End Command + Right Arrow
Start of document Ctrl + Home Home
End of document Ctrl + End End
Start of (previous) word Ctrl + Left Arrow Option + Left Arrow
End of (next) word Ctrl + Right Arrow Option + Right Arrow

But I should get used to all that. I guess I wish I had a real Mac keyboard, but I did find DoubleCommand, which I have yet to try, but looks promising.

I did however, try Quicksilver! I really like this tool — it lets you do things you might do quite often all from the keyboard, things like start applications, upload files. If I was going to replace my Windows box with the Mac as my desktop machine, I’m sure Quicksilver would definetely become handy ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s like a command prompt on de-obfuscation pills!

The main reason we have the Mac is for testing websites in Safari and IE5Mac. Safari is quite good, but as many of my web designing and developing friends out there will likely know, the bane of our existances is Internet Explorer, and IE5Mac triplely so. So I stand to learn a lot about the inadequacies of crappy browsers… as if IE6Win wasn’t enough… ๐Ÿ˜›

Webfroot is looking smart in Safari — the one-liner doesn’t render correctly, but hey, can’t win them all. Haven’t tried looking at inner.geek yet… will do that tomorrow.

Getting to know the ins and outs of a highly polished, well thought out operating system is an exciting prospect. I’ve tried several KDE and Gnome installations over the years, and they don’t have squat on MacOSX.

If I wasn’t saving to go to WE05, I’d be all like saving hard core for a Mac… I have been dreaming of a Mactop to call my own for a while now…

Can anyone out there recommend good freeware apps a Windows Poweruser “switching” to OSX should look at?

Sunday through Friday (or: How I learned to stop caring and bomb the HP)

Below is the log of some of my personal time during the last 5 days. It’s in no way everything I have done.
Update: I forgot to mention my iPod is broken
Sunday:
After having an enjoyable time at my Dad’s place in Otaki, I return home to realise I left my USB thumb drive in my Dad’s computer. I have my IM program and PGP private key on there.

Monday:
I finally spring into action fixing an old computer for a family — it’s an HP Pavillion 4404 (404 not being a good omen). Try to install Windows 98 SE on there, it works. Download drivers for the HP from their website. When I install them, they don’t take hold, and a driver for the video card is missing ๐Ÿ˜› That’s not gonna work… Off to MysteryMovieMonday… the world’s most disturbing movie Visitor Q is shown… when it is over, everyone is glad.

Tuesday:
Time for another attempt at this HP. Use the crappy “system restore” CDs which basically factory-fresh the operating system. Try to install Windows 98SE over the top — wrong! I need a Windows 98 SE Update disk… :P. I go to my church cell group (for the uninitiated, bible study group)

Wednesday:
My iPod was being stupid just before I went to work — it didn’t copy the playlists across, probably because it was full. There is lag between docking and windows suddenly recognising it. I was late for work, and got impatient. I removed the iPod from the dock and accidently dropped it on the floor.

DO’H!. I reset the iPod and it went into a perpeptual reset cycle — apple logo, file error icon, reset, apple logo, file error icon, etc. I left it in my dock and went to work iPodless.

I call my Dad and get him to send me my thumb drive. I am getting paid to tutor my friend Bevan in CSS tonight. I get home late and I don’t want to touch the stupid HP.

Thursday:
Tried to get the iPod working before work, No good. Actually, having the iPod in the dock crashes WinXP during boot-up. Weird. Boot up without the iPod, then try to dock the iPod — Windows hard-resets. WTF?

I have lunch with Bevan, and he borrows my Designing with Web Standards book. We pop into Dymocks and I see a copy of The Zen of CSS Design by Dave Shea, mastermind behind CSS Zen Garden. I buy it ๐Ÿ™‚

That night, I had borrowed the Win98 -> Win98SE upgrade CD from work and start it installing… then it bluescreens… ๐Ÿ˜› Need to system restore from CD again. SE is no longer an option. I go to Curry. After a restore, I just try to install IE6. It starts installing, but for some reason, it says at the end that it didn’t work properly, and leaves Win98 borked beyond repair, needing another system restore from CD. Something doesn’t want this machine updated ๐Ÿ˜› Then the computer spontaniously turns off — the power supply overheated… ARGH. I go to bed.

Friday:
I get my USB thumb drive; Dad has posted it to me. Yay! Zen of CSS Design is pretty awesome, and written really well, but in an interesting style. It looks at the different Zen Garden submissions and pulling out tidbits of design and css wisdom from them, in a very logical and well thought out order. Maybe I’ll write more about that later…

New Fandangled Camera

So I bit the bullet and bought a digital camera — a Nikon Coolpix 3700. It’s 3.2 megapixels, takes SD cards, and supports video up to 640×680 at 30fps, and can do time lapses. So while I’m writing this post, my camera is on a mini tripod and is taking time lapse photography of my hands typing this post. I haven’t done any before this, so what you’ll see linked to this is my first attempt!

Camera cost me NZD$449, and the metal mini-tripod was NZD$21.95, both from Photo Warehouse in Wakefield St., and they threw in a free carry case ๐Ÿ˜€ I had the manager, so he was real nice and cool. The benefit of buying from a store is you can do a little barteration: put them up against their competitors, get them to throw things in for free.

So hopefully you’ll see more photos in my flickr photostream, and not crappy 128×128 pics from my Alcatel 735 (more like alca-smell!)

Andrew Kepple is dropping by this evening — I think we’re gonna do some collaboranimutation… more on that next post!

Here’s that timelapse (715kb 640×480 QuickTime file)

Glutnix Hearts Half-life 2

I can’t believe how many frames I get on Half-Life 2! Well, not an earth-shattering frame-rate, but it’s higher than I expected ๐Ÿ™‚ Here’s my box’s specs:

CPU Type: AMD Athlon XP, 1250 MHz (6.25 x 200)
Motherboard Name: Asus A7V333 (5 PCI, 1 AGP Pro, 3 DIMM)
Motherboard Chipset: VIA VT8367 Apollo KT333
System Memory: 512 MB (DDR SDRAM)
Video Adapter: nVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4200 (Leadtek WinFast A250 LE) (64 MB) (DirectX 8.1)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2
Game: Half-Life 2 Retail Collectors Edition

So the game suggested:
800×600
Model Detail: Medium
Texture Detail: Medium
Water: Simple Reflection
Shadow Detail: High
AA: None
Filtering: Trilinear
Shader Detail: High
Wait for Vertical Sync: Disabled

This game kicks serious ass. This is one game you will have to play! Kick ass! I know my setup isn’t the best around, but it’s extremely playable at recommended settings ๐Ÿ™‚ And it’s mightily more playable than Doom 3 ๐Ÿ˜€ I’ll try and run a benchmark sometime and see how I get on.

The story is great ๐Ÿ™‚ The character animation is phenomenal! The gameplay so far has been exciting! And Headshots with the pistol! Headcrabs! Airboats! And so much more!

Yay!