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Happy Birthday Apple (had to do it...)

It's only Friday afternoon where I am at the moment (London), but between opening my editor and committing the previous blog entry, Sydney time clicked over to midnight, making it April 1.

I thus feel duty bound to congratulate Steve, Woz, Mike and Ron on the company that I am most happy to have been associated with for such large portion of my life (albeit in different ways). May there be at least 30 more.

09:24 AM, 31 Mar 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

I remember Computerland very well, but I never knew anything about it's history. Luckily for me, even Australia's traditionally anti-Apple press is getting into the fun of Apple's 30th anniversary.

How Rudie brought Apple to Australia [].

Computerland founder Rudie Hoess was importing programmable calculators into Australia until he fell in love with the Apple ][ and started importing them in 1977 only one year after it started shipping. That's quicker than Australia has received plenty of more modern devices!

And how about those sideburns - the 70s were a very good era for facial hair :)

My how times have changed. The Sydney Morning Herald is even running:

  • an Apple Computer flashback slideshow(I've used all the computers pictured. Wish I had attended the computer familiarisation course at Club Med Noumea though ;)
  • an Apple Trivia Quiz(I scored a shameful 8/10)
  • and asking us to give thanks to the two Steves in a poorly concevied and written blog (successfully) designed to provoke stupid discussion in the comments.
  • As much as everyone knows how much I love Apple, I just can't wait for all this madness to stop!

09:16 AM, 31 Mar 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

The 30th anniversary of Apple Computer this weekend, combined with the recently positive media attention to all things Apple and Steve, you just know there's a load of bad articles on their way. I've read two already.

One thing I have just finished reading that really didn't suck, is this Apple Heroes and Villains on Wired.

I remarkably agree with basically all of their decisions and the comments are pretty accurate. Even to the level of pointing out that the only truly unreliable hardware produced under Steve Jobs has been the Apple III.

It's an entertaining read with short pieces of text and photos - it would actually make a great coffee table book!

Another nice short piece I found is by long time Silicon Valley journo Evelyn Richards: Change is as comfortable as a black turtleneck.

On a related note and almost as if to celebrate their shared history in recognition of Apple Computer's achievments, Beatles label Apple Corps are back at sueing Apple Computer over the use of the Apple name in the music business. Nothing would be more remeniscent of the old days except perhaps a look and feel suit :)

12:07 PM, 29 Mar 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Now this is an interesting rumour. It makes a lot of sense to me. Apple has been quietly building market share and making quite a lot of money in the server and storage hardware markets.

If Apple could ship an XServe + XSan combo that out of the box ran efficient virtualized MacOS X, Windows, Linux, Solaris, etc. boxes it would be a real seller and make Apple a serious name in the business market.

It also opens the way to make money in the Windows market without having to beat windows. Imagine a small business who need an email server and web server. They really want to use Exchange (kindof like how children always want to grab boiling hot pans off the stove) but they've heard that Unix based web servers are better. They buy and install an XServe from Apple, ideally with both OS's pre-installed (yeah, like MS will license that...) and they get the best of both worlds. Then when spam get's too much for them they hire a consultant (me :) to configure spamassasin on another un*x virtual machine to pre-filter their inbound internet email before it gets to the MS Exchange virtual machine.

Makes sense to me.

07:19 AM, 28 Mar 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Sybase, it's Californian for ****

In my inbox I found a quite useful sybase-specific blog:

It contains actually useful info and discussion (unlike 99% of the other Sybase sites on the net). Unsurprisingly, the first page already contains info on two blatant mysql-esque violations of the ANSI standard that make your code more dangerous and less portable:

Yes, Sybase silently truncates if you try to insert a string that is too long for the field. Handy.

A NULL is a NULL, unless it's a Sybase NULL (or a mysql NULL for that matter). NULL = NULL should be false right? Well in a Sybase where clause, it's true. As if that weren't bad enough, Sybase is not even self-consistent: In join clauses NULL = NULL will not match ie. is false. GAH!

In both cases there are runtime options you can specify to trigger more ANSI-ish behaviour. If I was designing coding standards for a team I would enforce these settings in all code at the point of instantiating a db connection.

08:48 AM, 26 Mar 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

The pointy end of the plane

By happy circumstance (and a fantastic special offer from BA) I am currently flying to London the way God surely intended - in first class.

I know some readers will be eager to hear how it compares with the woeful rating that I gave to United business. Well that just wouldn't be fair. BA is, after all, competently run - at least they make enough money to buy new seats from time to time. So I will try to resist comparison.

The one similarity is that I have further confirmation of my theory that the toilet seat gets murkier the higher the class. Thankfully there were baby wipes (in a polished walnut dispenser) on hand to clean it down. In this case, however, I believe I was the first male user of the toilet (as soon as the seatbelt light went off). I just think it was very poorly cleaned. The rest of the bathroom was similarly not that great. I gave some of the chrome a polish while I was, you know, sitting there. I'm sure it is a generic airport supplied crew who clean all the toilets, but this is supposed to be first. If I was in charge of the cabin I would have someone on my team personally check the first toilets. Oh, and the toilet paper is terrible.

Speaking of attention to detail - why did the steward ask me if I needed an arrival card for Singapore? One look at the flight manifest would have told him that I'm travelling to London - there's only 14 seats in first, it wouldn't have killed him.

But putting aside my anal tendencies, it really is pretty nice. There is a smidgen more legroom than I remember from flying first a few times in the 90s. The cabin size is the same, but the seats are intelligently angled to use some of the available width to make room for a horizontal foot rest. The nibbles (sorry, canap├ęs) were really nice, and the bourbon is good quality (not sure of the brand - I didn't see the bottle) The TV screen is big and I have 3 crystal clear windows :)

The seat is strangly lacking in little pockets to stow all the bits and pieces that you end up with (toilet bag from airline, noise cancelling headphones for in-seat entertainment, my noise cancelling headphones for laptop/ipod, drink glass, dry ginger ale can, ipod, water bottle, book, f1 racing magazine, first class pyjamas (aka. "sleeper suit"), wallet, passports (x2), mobile phone (off), pda... I don't actually have a pda, but you get the picture! I really miss the little vertical storage cabinets you used to get when you are upstairs in business - do they still have them now that there are beds? I didn't get to fly upstairs with United, and my return business flight is currently positioned downstairs - must see if I can change that.

Oh right - you want to know *why* I'm flying to London. Does there have to be a reason? Having seen the Queen once already this week it can't be to visit Her Majesty... I'm actually doing some training for my new work in the exciting world of international banking - in Royal Mint Place no less (see if you can work out the company from that).

Looks like dinner is on it's way - must pack away now. Oh nearly forgot - for those of you who have never travelled first but might some day, look out for the tremendously loud noise when the nose wheel retracts - it's funny seeing the face of those sho have never heard it before!

03:45 AM, 20 Mar 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

An architectural legend in his own lifetime, Harry Seidler has passed away. I will always regret missing my chance to hear him speak two years ago (by leaving registration too late) but thankfully his art will live to tell his story.

Rose Seidler House
Cove Apartments
Capita Centre

Update: Todays SMH contains a very basic article about the man and his work - worth a read if you are unfamiliar with Seidler: When Harry met Sydney

12:23 AM, 09 Mar 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Dealing with random Sybase client on Cygwin problems

For some random reason, all my cygwin software that links with the Sybase client started failing. I determined that when the Sybase dll's were being linked in the SYBASE environment variable is somehow being unset (or ignored) and the default value of c:/sql10 is being used. The tell tale error is:

The context allocation routine failed when it tried to load localization files!! One or more following problems may caused the failure

Your sybase home directory is c:\sql10. Check the environment variable SYBASE if it is not the one you want!
Cannot access file c:\sql10\ini\objectid.dat

I reall have no idea why this is, why it changed or how to fix it. After much searching I decided to use a hacky workaround instead, so here's what I did.

  • I made an empty directory c:\sql10
  • I copied the directories $SYBASE/locales and $SYBASE/charsets into c:\sql10 (these are static lookup data, so they never change unless you upgrade your client software).
  • I created an empty directory c:\sql10\ini
  • I added a line to my .bashrc to copy over the up to date ini data:
    rsync -r /cygdrive/c/SYBASE/ini/ /cygdrive/c/sql10/ini/
  • Pretty bogus but it works.

10:07 PM, 07 Mar 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (1)

You know you've become a cultural icon when...

People sell clothes in a collection to look just like you :

People are so fascinated with your clothes that you can dress up your own doll (virtual or otherwise) : Joy of Tech (cf. Similar web pages for pop idols which won't be linked here)

Cartoons deride you and your products, while still enhancing your enigma : VG Cats (cf. Genuinely derogotary Newton reference in The Simpsons episode "Lisa on ice")

People talk about people talking about you : Valleywag

07:09 PM, 01 Mar 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

More RSS changes

I have set my main blog rss to redirect to a FeedBurner optimised rss feed. I haven't changed dev-blog or my software blog.

Please let me know if you notice any problems.

12:06 AM, 01 Mar 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)


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