Quicksilver and iTunes

I just discovered a cool feature in Quicksilver on the Mac. It has iTunes integration.

In Quicksilver’s preferences, click on the iTunes pane. Make sure you’ve selected ‘Show Artwork’, ‘Monitor Recent Tracks’ and ‘Display Track Notifications’. Now, whenever the song changes you’ll get a popup showing you the name of the new song and the album artwork associated with it. Very cool.

Also, in Quicksilver’s Triggers pane, you can set up some keyboard shortcuts to control iTunes. I’ve got mine set up to map Command-Option-Space to pause/play, Command-Option-Right Arrow to ‘Play Next Track’, Command-Option-Left Arrow to ‘Play Previous Track’, and Command-Option-Up Arrow to display the current track. I also mapped Command-Option-Plus to increase the current song’s rating, and Command-Option-Minus to decrease the current song’s rating.

Little things like this make a huge difference to the usability of your computer. No more fumbling for the iTunes window when you want to pause the music or skip to the next song. I really, really wish I had something similar in Windows at work!

3 comments April 4th, 2006

World’s Worst Code Snippet?

Check out this code snippet.

The programmer couldn’t figure out why the AccountId variable sometimes wasn’t set right, so he decided to read the value from the application’s debug log file! What the hell?!

March 24th, 2006

Commonwealth Games Medal Tally

Just in case you’re curious, here’s a handy medal tally for the Commonwealth Games:

March 17th, 2006

My Lab Is Open (Again!)

The lab where I work has been officially opened. Again. This is the second time it’s been opened since I started working here! Strangely, it wasn’t officially closed between the two openings.

My employer, Andrew Corporation, has put out a press release to mark the occasion.

“The members of this world-class Andrew team in Wollongong are innovators in wireless location services and recognized for their work in defining the new architecture and standards for secure user plane location (SUPL) and control plane location capabilities, as well as determining location in internet protocol networks,” said Terry Garner, group president, Network Solutions, Andrew Corporation. “This is a significant addition to Andrew’s presence in Australia, and the outstanding work here in Wollongong will resonate throughout the Asia-Pacific region and the world.”

The future certainly looks better now than it did under Nortel.

Press coverage:

March 15th, 2006

Mac 2GHz Shootout

Bare Feats have done a performance comparison between 5 different 2GHz Macs:

  • Dual Core G5 Power Mac
  • iMac Core Duo
  • MacBook Pro
  • MacBook Solo (i.e. a Pro with one CPU disabled)
  • PowerBook G4 (upgraded to 2GHz by a third party)

The MacBook Pro really holds itself up well, even compared to the iMac Core Duo. There’s not much trade-off in going for an Apple laptop instead of a desktop anymore! The MBP even holds its own against the Dual Core G5 Power Mac.

March 14th, 2006

Keeping Schools Off The Internet

Here’s a really, really dumb situation.

The Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) charges Australian schools a per-student fee (totalling around AUD$31 million per year Australia-wide) to allow them to reproduce copyrighted works. From what I understand, the fees collected are (partly) distributed to copyright holders to compensate them for the copying. The idea is to allow schools to copy parts of books, magazines, newspapers, audio, video, etc without having to buy a retail copy of the work for every student, which would obviously be uneconomical. Good idea.

Now, CAL wants to add a fee to schools for their use of the internet.

How the hell does that work? Why are the government and the courts even listening to them on this issue?

Works posted on the web are generally covered by copyright, but they’re made freely accessible to the public. If a student visits a publicly-available site and reads some articles, they’re not breaching anybody’s copyright. They’re doing what the copyright holder intended them to do.

How can CAL have any basis to collect a fee in this situation? How could they actually distribute the fees collected to the copyright holders, who may be anywhere in the world?

What a stupid way to hold back our kids’ education!

For more info, see this article in The Australian: Copyright makes web a turn-off.

March 3rd, 2006

Adding Heading Tag Support To CityDesk

One of my annoyances with CityDesk is the lack of support for H1/H2/H3/etc tags. It really bugs me that I have to switch to HTML mode whenever I want to format a heading. That stuff should be provided in the WYSIWYG interface.

Since Fog Creek Software never showed any interest in supporting heading tags, I figured out this neat workaround.

I downloaded a free keyboard macro utility called AutoHotkey and set up the following macros in the default ini file:

^!1::
KeyWait Control
KeyWait Alt
Send !vs{HOME}{RIGHT}{DEL}h1{END}{LEFT}{BACKSPACE}h1!vn
return

^!2::
KeyWait Control
KeyWait Alt
Send !vs{HOME}{RIGHT}{DEL}h2{END}{LEFT}{BACKSPACE}h2!vn
return

^!3::
KeyWait Control
KeyWait Alt
Send !vs{HOME}{RIGHT}{DEL}h3{END}{LEFT}{BACKSPACE}h3!vn
return

What this does is maps Ctrl-Alt-1 to send the key sequence to CityDesk to switch to HTML mode, move the cursor to the start of the line, go forward one character, press Del, type “h1”, move to the end of the line, go back one character, press Backspace, type “h1”, then switch back to Normal mode. It does the same to map Ctrl-Alt-2 to “h2” and Ctrl-Alt-3 to “h3”.

To use it, just put your cursor on a line that you want to change into a heading, and then press Ctrl-Alt-1 (or 2, or 3, depending upon which level of heading you want to create). The macro will switch to HTML mode, change the <p> at the start of the line to a <h1>, change the </p> at the end of the line to a </h1>, and return you to Normal mode.

There are some limitations – your heading-to-be needs to be on a single line (not broken across multiple lines), and it needs to be a normal <p> paragraph with no extra spacing at the start or end of the line. If you’re just typing your article in directly in Normal mode, you should be OK with these restrictions.

Try it out, and let me know what you think!

February 23rd, 2006

Vim Assistant

Okay, this is one for the hard-core geeks. My apologies to everyone else :-).

This is an animation showing the new Assistant for Vim in action. It’s not just the Office weenies that get help from animated characters now!

February 13th, 2006

Free eBooks From Apress

Apress is giving away some free eBooks in hopes of getting people to sign up for their newsletter.

Titles include:

  • A Programmer’s Introduction to PHP 4.0
  • Writing Perl Modules for CPAN
  • Google, Amazon and Beyond: Creating and Consuming Web Services
  • Practical Common Lisp
  • plus several others

You don’t even need to sign up for the newsletter – just leave the checkbox blank if you don’t want it.

Apress are the people who publish Joel Spolsky’s books:

2 comments January 23rd, 2006

Sarah’s Tea Party Video

A while ago, I video taped Sarah hosting a tea party for Grace and several of her dolls and teddy bears. Later, while browsing through some old audio files, I found the perfect backing track by the Animaniacs. Enjoy!

Sarah’s Tea Party (4.6 MB). You may need to download the free Quicktime 7 player to watch it.

1 comment January 7th, 2006

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