Skip to content


[geeky] Odd stuff I’ve learned setting up a new Mac

I've been in the process of setting up a new computer and in the process, as is expected, discovering long lost files and stuff that is easier or harder to move over. I thought I would capture some of the tidbits because there might be something useful here for you

  1. To set the scene, this is a new Mac Pro (the tower, Intel, 64bit, running Snow Leopard) replacing an old Power Mac (the old tower, PowerPC, 32bit, running Leopard.) You can stop now if you're a PC. To the untrained eye, these computers are exactly the same inside and out. But wait.

  2. Based on past experiences (with all computers) I decided not to let the automated process 'move over' the stuff from the Old to the New computer. Instead, this is a good moment to get rid of all the dreck that has accumulated over the years and start with a clean slate. Good choice.

  3. Moving over my considerable size iTunes library ran into snags. Not moving it, that was easy, but discovering a bunch of music that didn't play anymore.

  4. The new iTunes 9 has a very nice new feature (called Home Share) which solves the problem of having several computers in the house and several iPods, and constantly having to move songs from one to the other etc. Instead you can have iTunes publish the whole library in a way that other computers at home can see, and in addition (and this is the new part) import onto the other computer. So I simply Home Shared the library on the Old computer, and then went to the new one, and imported the whole thing. Very nice.

  5. But some songs said, "This computer is not Authorized." Etc. What I discovered was that you can go to a song like that, on the old computer, and look at the info box, where it will show what old email account you had used when you first ripped that song from your CD, and then simply go to the new computer and "Authorize" it on that email address.

  6. Which works just fine, as long as those email addresses all correspond to various iTunes Store accounts you've had over the years. I had 4 and I remembered all their passwords, and all was good. So here's a headline: it is perfectly possible to Authorize one iTunes install with multiple iTunes account. Any particular iTunes account can only be Authorized with 5 iTunes installs though. Very confusing, the world of DRM!

  7. But, I discovered a handful of songs in my iTunes library that were associated with an email address that I never used in iTunes. So when I try to play one of those, they say, this computer is not Authorized, please Authorize it. And then when you try to Authorize it, it asks iTunes Store, who says "Never heard of this guy", and essentially the effect is that those songs cannot be played.

  8. Cannot be played, even though they were copied from physical CDs that you own!

  9. My theory is that I ripped those particular CDs, by mistake, with AAC encoding, which is Apple's DRM encoding. But for some mysterious reason the resulting files are associated with a nonsense email (don't know where they came from) and therefore they cannot be read!

  10. The Apple "Specialist/Expert" was totally useless in solving this problem. I am now trying to prove that this is somehow the result of the new iTunes.

Hope that some tidbit in that is a little useful to someone. I now it's ridiculously arcane but I just had to share my voyage of discovery with you 🙂

Scott Kirsner wants to put Albert Einstein on a box of wheaties

This is actually a pretty cool idea! Here's a quote from Scott's post:

"I'd like to see a Wheaties box featuring Sally Ride, the first American woman in space (who also happened to be an astrophysicist and Stanford PhD); Internet pioneers Tim Berners-Lee and Vint Cerf; the great primatologist Jane Goodall…" (from:Dear General Mills)

Sunlight Foundation’s Apps for America

Sunlight Foundation is a very cool organization that I've been close to. They are involved with many efforts to further government transparency and accountability, often using technology, but not only.

Recently they ran their second competition looking for interesting and useful applications and tools to be built using or leveraging data published by government.

It's a clever model: offer $10,000 or so to a winner who creates and submits the most interesting entry. Give applicants encouragement, publicity and assistance. I have to believe that this creates a groundswell of energy and hacking that furthers the foundations goals and uses the prize money in a highly leveraged way.

" “By setting government data free on its new site, the Obama administration enabled and encouraged the creation of fresh, new ideas that could help citizens get more involved in their government,” said Clay Johnson, director of Sunlight Labs. “Seizing upon this important moment, Sunlight organized this Apps for America contest to catalyze the development of useful applications and visualizations to make this information more comprehensible to more people. We also wanted to demonstrate to the government that when it makes its data available, it makes itself more accountable and creates more trust and opportunity in its actions.”

The latest Apps for America competition has just announced its winners.

The first prize winner is, a Web application designed by Forum One Communications that lets anyone—no programming background required—choose different government data sets and mash them up to create visualizations and compare results on a state by state basis.

The second prize winner is GovPulse, which allows viewers to quickly search the Federal Register in a variety of ways, including by agency or date. And the third was, which lets users type in their zip code and get back a wealth of information about their neighborhood drawn from different agencies.

Very cool!

DC Lingo – from my notebook

More stuff that I learned at Transparency camp.

Every city has their own way of talking. In New York, I guess you talk about wall street and finance and so on. In L.A. you talk about movies and moviestars. In D.C. you talk about all things politics. (In Boston you talk about the Red Sox 🙂

The President's limousine, is known as "The Beast "

You've heard the expression: "It's easier to apologize than to ask permission." In DC it's "Proceed until apprehended."

You mark yourself as an out-of-towner if you don't know what CQ stands for.

Originally posted on Mar 03, 2009. Reprinted courtesy of ReRuns plug-in.

[GEEKY] Best 24″ Flat Panel Display for a Mac Pro?

I was looking at the Apple LED Cinema Display 24" which, of course, looks gorgeous in the store. But it's a little expensive ($899, which I was willing to eat.)

Looking at the customer comments, they are glowing , as expected. But there are many that say that the display suffers from a very short (and specialized) video chord. Not sure how short is short, but one said "2 inches" (can't be right) and the other one said it didn't reach the floor from a normal height desk. The other negative that I saw, which is no surprise , is that the built in speakers are so- so. So I am wavering.

I'd like to find some options for a nice 24″ flatpanel with built in microphone and camera. Any suggestions?

Insightful (and not positive) article about Barack Obama

Peggy Noonan is always a favorite of mine. Here's another good op-ed piece, and this time, showing that I am fair and balanced, it's not positive about Barack Obama and contains some useful insights 🙂

"They are all now busy planning and strategizing his congressional address on health care [Pito: which will happen later this week]. It will be hard to pull off well. The president will be talking, essentially, to three groups: the political elites of both parties and the media, his supporters on the ground, and highly informed citizens who are already either for or against the plan but want to hear, ponder and form an opinion on the speech." (from Peggy Noonan)

[GEEKY] RSS is about as dead as XML or 120V AC

I've seen a couple of "RSS is dead" headlines in the last few days, and even though I am on vacation I couldn't resist a quick post. Googling, I see it's actually something that has been floating around for a few months. My 2 cents:

RSS is so thoroughly part of the plumbing now, there's no way it's gonna die. All kinds of applications, web sites, humongous services are totally reliant on RSS, it's just that you don't see it anymore. Sort of like XML is everywhere and of course, at least here in the USA, 120V AC, electricity, is.

Health Care Stories from the U.K.

Sure, one isolated story doesn't prove anything, but then our health care debate often seems to be carried on the basis of isolated stories, so here's an article about the British Health Care system that I came across this morning. From that article:

"[…]This, I learned, is what the NHS is about -- common decency. It is about the shared belief that all the people who live in the United Kingdom constitute a society, and a decent society provides certain necessities for its members. Freedom from hunger is one. Police protection is another. Free healthcare from the cradle to the grave is simply one more item on this list.[…]" (from Salon, Why I love Britain's health care system")

In a world of a gazillion people it's easy to find a convincing or touching or outraguous (true) story to argue one side or another of any argument. This is one more, and it reflects my belief: in a wealthy country, or any country, health care is a basic human right , like shelter and food, it is not a privilege.

Op-ed in Mass High Tech about

Gavin Murphy (of Annkissam) and I have been talking about the implementation of an idea that has been floating around the philanthropic community for a while, which is leveraging the web to create kind of a match making service where grass roots community projects who need people, equipment, expertise or money can be matched up with individuals and organizations who have indicated their willingness to offer those.

We recently were asked by Mass High Tech if we wanted to write an op-ed about the project, and it just came out today. The purpose of the article as much as anything is to find out if there is interest and support for doing such a project. Here's the last paragraph of the article:

"Does [] make sense to you? We are looking for partners who believe in the potential of this idea and are interested in working with us to make it a reality. If your organization would like to discuss ways in which to partner with us, please get in touch." (from Mass High Tech)

Separately, I also participated in a podcast where I described more details about the history and background of the project. You can find it at Blog Talk Radio, on the Social Actions section.

If you are interested in knowing more, or better still, helping us get this off the ground, please, get in touch or post a comment!