Archive: October 12th, 2004

Apple documentation

There’s a very old joke about a man who goes to the doctor and says:

"Doctor, it hurts when I do this."

To which the doctor responds:

"Don’t do that."

I was reminded of this recently when I was having some troubles with my iPod and my iMac. I was trying to drag over some songs in iTunes. The iPod would freeze up and iTunes would give me the spinning beachball of death.

Using the scientific method, I was able to determine that it wasn’t a software problem and it wasn’t a cable problem. The only weird thing I noticed was that my iChat graphic would sometimes switch from video to telephone when I plugged in the iPod.

The iSight and the iPod both use FireWire and my iMac has two FireWire ports. A little bit of googling confirmed my suspicions that there was some kind of conflict going on.

It was this support article on the Apple website that reminded me of the old joke. Here’s the description of the problem:

"Connecting or syncing an iPod via FireWire can cause a computer to stop responding (hang or freeze) if you’re also using an iSight."

And here’s the prescribed solution:

"Don’t use iSight at the same time as your iPod if connecting over FireWire."

A very helpful piece of documentation, that. Not.

Then again, Apple are (in)famous for not documenting stuff. Here’s a really useful feature that I just came across. Basically, you can access OS X’s spell checker from any Cocoa app:

"Just type the first few letters of the word in question in a text input box (like the Safari URL bar or iChat’s input area or TextEdit or … you get the idea). Once you have a few characters, hit Option-Escape to see a pop-up list of possible completions…"

It also works with F5. I can also confirm that it works fine with <textarea>s in Safari: I just wrote this entry with extensive help from this feature.

Farewell to Erin

I’m back from my trip to Ireland. It was a short visit but I managed to pack in quite a bit of activity.

The day after we showed up, Jessica and I took a daytrip to The Hill Of Tara and the magnificent passage tomb of Newgrange in county Meath. Newgrange really is a remarkable structure. I took some pictures but they don’t come close to capturing what it feels like to enter a structure that was built before the pyramids were conceived.

On Saturday, I was left to my own devices while Jessica attended lectures as part of a symposium organised by graduates of Mount Holyoke College. I strolled around the streets of Dublin and wandered in and out of museums before meeting up with my good friend and Dublin resident, Diarmaid. We used to be in Art College together so, appropriately enough, we went to an exhibition of Jack B.Yeats paintings at Trinity College and perused the offerings on display at the National Gallery.

That same evening, I donned my glad rags to join Jessica and her fellow alumni in attending a banquet in the salubrious surroundings of the Royal College Of Surgeons. One of the lectures that Jessica had attended there was given by Dr. Garrett Fitzgerald. Throughout my teenage years, he was Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland. Irish politicians aren’t generally known for instilling feelings of respect, much less admiration, but Dr. Fitzgerald is almost universally regarded as a gentleman and a scholar. I was extremely pleased that he also came along to the post-lecture banquet. I was even more pleased when he came over to myself and Jessica to shoot the breeze.

All in all, it was a most stimulating weekend, filled with constant reminders and connections to Ireland’s history. But don’t get the wrong idea: it wasn’t all academia and culture. Many creamy, black pints were consumed with relish in the smoke-free environs of pubs that stayed open ‘till civilised hours.