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OMG - Lego Turing Machine

If this isn't the coolest thing you've ever seen in 2009 I'll eat my hat:

11:05 PM, 29 Jan 2009 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

25 years of Macintosh--illustrated timeline

I have owned or used every item in this picture except for the Lisa and Macintosh Portable (though I have seen both of them at one stage). I even have the eWorld disks still and DB has a copy of the (pictured) MacWorld edition 1.

Via @guykawasaki

04:28 AM, 27 Jan 2009 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (2)

MacBook (Nvidia) video flicker or "tearing" on scroll/video

My new MacBook has an annoying issue. Especially after sleep, the GPU goes a bit mental and has issues with high bandwidth data - eg. fast scrolling or video (eg. YouTube) playback. It seems basically that it just can't ship the bits to the display fast enough because if you scroll slow enough there is no flickering.

After sleep/wake it is really bad—to the point that it distracts. It is in multiple applications (Safari, Xcode) so I assume it is a video driver issue. Some 'net reports for MacBook Pro users say that it is not an issue if you choose the faster GPU on that laptop (the GeForce 9600M GT) suggesting that it is a driver/chipset issue with the Nvidia GeForce 9400M.

I found one tip that improved the situation, when you get the problem you can force some sort of vido reset by pressing Control-Shift-Eject (you might need to hit a key or wiggle the mouse to wake the screen back up again).

It doesn't completely eliminate it, but at least in normal non-video use you don't notice it so much.

Since a reset of some sort improves it, I assume it is something to do with the way the chipset is brought up after sleep so hopefully either a driver or firmware update should be able to either resolve it or if it is a chipset issue at least work around it.

06:25 AM, 25 Jan 2009 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (2)

Barack Obama Inauguration photos

07:57 PM, 21 Jan 2009 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

CocoaHeads Sydney - February 5th 2009

After the very successful, and inaugural, Christmas beers event held by Sydney CocoaHeads in December, our first meetup for 2009 will occur on Thrusday February 5th.

What is CocoaHeads?

CocoaHeads is a global collection of groups devoted to discussion of Apple Computer's Cocoa Framework for programming on MacOS X. During monthly meetings, members present on their projects and offer tutorials on various programming topics.

February, the ever interesting André Pang will be speaking. You can find more details about the Sydney meetup by joining our Google Group: Sydney CocoaHeads.

There is also a calendar you can subscribe to:


Or add just this upcoming meeting to your calendar:

09:06 AM, 21 Jan 2009 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

heads up 'tunes featured on

James Powell has featured heads up 'tunes on his and also has some neat feature suggestions.

I'm not sure where the slowdown he is seeing is coming from so I'll quiz him on that, but clicking the song and hiding the dock icon are good ideas.

He has a pretty eclectic playlist :)

06:51 PM, 19 Jan 2009 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Apple I with 6502 cpu on an FPGA board

No pretty pictures, but the idea of a 6502 running Woz's monitor completely running inside an FPGA is pretty sexy.

Trust a Japanese person to think of it :)

06:18 AM, 19 Jan 2009 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)


As a software developer I consider myself aligned with creative workers like designers and architects. As such we have similar goals of solving problems with beauty and order (with a little randomness thrown in).

Perhaps as programmers we feel a little inferior or less developed as creative people because we (or I anyway) feel just ever so jealous each time we see a photo of a designer's desk—it's so beautifully neat, tidy, organised, and usually white (or perhaps light wood grain).

But most (not just a few) developers' desks are horrendously messy. Few dress *really* well and who wouldn't admit to a half empty coffee cup/coke can under their desk.

So that got me to thinking, perhaps there is a reason for this disparity.

The working representation of a designer's or architect's work is visual—something you can see, hold, spread out. Your eyes take it in and you form new ideas. Visual cleanliness and neutrality of their surroundings is probably essential.

The working representation of a developer, however, is the code. Occasionally the UI on the screen, but mostly the code. When a programmer is working hard, he is lost in the code itself—the stream of tokens (words), the imaginary mental model of associated objects, structures, relationships. Without getting all Matrix-y, the developer genuinely *sees* the program, and it is cleanliness and order in the code, the structure and these relationships in the program that are essential and the developer is temporarily oblivious to their surroundings (visual and auditory).

If you're not a developer yourself, just ask the spouse of one and you will find that the above is true (at least the being lost in something other than the world around them part :)

So if a good designer or architect may be respected for the way they refuse to give in to clutter, then good programmers should be respected for the way they insist on the right structure, or continually refactor, even when there might seem to be a quicker or cheaper way. Sometimes they may seem to be anal-retentive, but you will be grateful in the future when their creations stand the test of time.

Einstein Image via swissmiss.

08:27 AM, 16 Jan 2009 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (2)

Photo taken from ferry helping crashed US Airways plane

The crash was this morning - this is an amazing photo:

08:07 PM, 15 Jan 2009 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Unibody MacBook VGA = sucky

Last week I bought a new Unibody MacBook. Nice and fast, perfect size, so far so good.

Then I connected it to my venerable (but still awesome) Silicon Graphics 22" CRT monitor with the mini displayport -> VGA adapter.

I knew the maximum resolution supported via VGA was going to be 1600 x 1200 from the manual (p66) which was fine with me since that is the resolution I usually use.

What the manual and tech specs page gives no mention of is that the highest refresh frequency you can run at 1600 x 1200 over VGA is 60 Hz. That's enough flicker to drive you mental immediately (and give you a headache in about a quarter hour).

The next resolution down offered is 1400 x 1050 at 85 Hz. Plenty fast enough, but that's 450,000 less pixels. No thank you.

Thankfully, with the magic of DisplayConfigX you can change the refresh/resolution combinations MacOS X will offer you. You can't squeeze any more bandwidth than the hardware maximum, but you can make different compromises. I figured I can run 1600 x 1200 at 65 Hz (too flickery), 1536 x 1228 at 67 Hz (still too flickery) or 1472 x 1177 at 69 Hz. This last combo is just about palatable as long as I boost the brightness a little (to increase phosphor persistence) and degauss regularly.

DisplayConfigX is $12 USD, but that's easily worth the 26,2544 pixels I have reclaimed thanks to its flexibility.

Of course Apple's tech specs and docs should have provided the relevant detail. Not that that would have changed anything (other than a frustrating discovery) since to my mind the 15" laptops are just a shade too big and heavy (I am upgrading from a PowerBook 12" remember...).

02:11 AM, 12 Jan 2009 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (5)

What? No new Mac Mini?

I was ready to buy one today :(

No mention of Snow Leopard either - I guess the new hardware and Snow Leopard go hand in hand, so look for a "special event" at 1 infinite loop sometime this quarter I guess...

Now what do I do? I need to replace my broken 15" PowerBook media centre, but I'll die if a new mac mini comes out after I buy the current one :(

05:04 PM, 06 Jan 2009 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

"Half a billion bucks of UI"

I don't usually just post a link (that's what is for), but I like a good exposé of horrible and expensive software.

Take a look at this software screen from a US Defense system:

Here's my comments:

Not to defend the UI, which admittedly seems poor, most people will look at it and think "yuk what a horrible UI" because of the colour and simplicity. That is, however, what you should be doing because when under poor conditions (ie. battlefield) you want very high contrast.

That aside, here's what strikes me about the interface. The cryptic F I P R O A etc. down the bottom right are stupid - what do they mean? Is the progression red, orange, amber, green an indication of severity or just different colours? If the former, then it's awkward that a change in the black number on red will be less easy to notice than against the yellow or white. And what's with the two slightly different clip boards at bottom right?

The black on brown tab is impossible to read.

Source (of the image and the title):

10:17 PM, 04 Jan 2009 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Royal North Shore Hospital - not that bad!

Well I hope you have all enjoyed your Summer break more than I have. I've had over a week suffering from food poisoning/gastro/something nasty since just after Christmas.

I wouldn't bother blogging about that (and I'll certainly keep the symptom descriptions and my friends jokes thereof offline...) but I feel compelled to report on my experience with the Royal North Shore emergency department.

For those outside New South Wales, the Royal North Shore vies for hospital most often in the news (in a negative way) with Campbeltown.

My experience was anything but negative. The triage nurse was polite (actually nice - not just for a triage nurse) and sent me right through after the requisite paperwork (which in hindsight probably means I looked like death).

The two doctors I saw were fine and gave me reasonable time, but the nurses (including one male nurse) were just fantastic. Gave me feedback on what they were doing etc. and were very good at checking in on me and having helpful suggestions when the oral liquid they tried to get me onto failed painfully. Oh, and being ready with the panadeine forte was nice ;)

To be fair the treatment mostly consisted of pumping saline into me (stat) along with some other stuff (mainly buscopan) and giving me pain relief if I threatened to cry, but for a 1am hospital visit I really couldn't have asked for better treatment.

It would have been much less bearable without Kath there—where would us tough men be without our ladies :)

04:37 AM, 04 Jan 2009 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)


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