Saturday, October 1, 2005

Lexus Navigation hack

I have a 2003 RX300 and its annoyed me since I got it that I cant do
some operations on the NAV system while moving. It seems like a
random set of features are disabled but its not like they turned off
enough to make it totally non-distracting. And add that to having a
passenger that wants to use it in a totally safe way, the feature is
dumb. I'm looking into hardware hacks but in the meantime there's a
cool non-intrusive way to shut off that "safety feature":

When not moving, press menu, system option, then press top left
corner of the screen, bottom left corner, top left corner again,
bottom left corner again, then bottom right corner. This brings up a
special diag menu, press the override button and until you shut off
the car everything will always be enabled whether you're moving or
not. Sounds long but once you get used to it it goes fast. Seems to
work on most models of Lexus.

Its annoying that this hack can only be done when you're initially
not moving (i.e. if you start a long drive and then remember you want
to use it you have to stop first) but at least once you've done it
its good for the rest of the drive.

Thursday, September 29, 2005


Its amazing, i'm even getting spam in my blog comments....

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


I can't wait for the day for the free wifi hotspots. Starbucks is a
good example, $4 coffees AND you have to pay for wireless access.
What a joke. The answer is a good cell phone (motorola v710 for me)
and a data connection through that.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Traveling with a Mac

Its a great machine for traveling with. iTunes on the plane,
bluetooth data connections via the cell phone (Motorola v710 on
Verizon), and the Etymotic Research ER6i Isolator headphones which
are nice and small and block the plane noise.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Street Atlas USA for the Mac?

Evidently Mac people dont like maps:

" Thank you for your interest in DeLorme and for your email. In
the past we supported the Macintosh platform, for nearly 3 years, but
the development costs exceeded the purchase habits of Mac users, and we
were forced to discontinue the program. It was a difficult business
decision that we had to make, but we are not a non-profit organization
and Mac sales were flat over that three year period.

If you have any further questions please call our Customer Service
team at 1-800-511-2459 and we will be happy to assist you. Thank you
again for your interest, and have a nice day!

DeLorme Customer Service

Wonder if they'll change their mind as the Mac popularity continues
to increase?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

More Mac stuff

Another peeve on the mac is that there are some apps I like that don't exist (or poorly exist) for the mac:
1) MS Project -- I need this for work and nothing decent exists on the mac. There are a couple open source initiatives but they're far from capable for what I need. So i've resorted to Virtual PC and running it under there. Virtual PC is good if you need it, but i'd rather not have it at all.
2) I used to love Street Atlas USA on the PC, but it doesn't exist on the mac. While you can use MapQuest it requires you to be online and can be sluggish and doesn't have as many options. I liked being able to pull it up while on the road, do research etc and do it all at decent speeds. On the mac the only thing I found so far has been Route 66 USA which is a poor product. The speed is horrible and the UI is very cumbersome. I'd rather use a real atlas. While I did buy Route 66 USA, i've regretted it ever since.

Mac Issues

So now that thats through, here's a few nits on OSX right now:

1) Cisco VPN -- don't use the latest, use And then periodically that wont work, you need to do a:

 sudo /System/Library/StartupItems/CiscoVPN/CiscoVPN restart

To get it to come alive again

2) Mighty Mouse -- I like the mouse but the buttons stop working which requires a reboot of the mac. After lots of googling and searching the Apple Tech Support forums I found that others are having the same issue. The answer appears to be shutting off the side buttons via the mouse preferences. Of course that sort of disables part of the reason you paid $50 for a $5 mouse (and USB at that).

3) Sleep/Display issues -- I use a PowerBook 15" and at work I use a Dell 19" monitor and at home I use an Apple 21" Cinema display. I've found that unless I unplug the monitors before putting the mac to sleep then when the mac comes back out of sleep it hangs with the spinning ball and only a reboot will get the mac back. Seems to be a driver bug, but just unplugging the monitor and letting the mac adjust before I close the lid works around this.

4) Quickbooks Pro 6 R2 -- When you enter new items in the checkbook register the "record" button doesnt light up. The workaround is to press "command-c" which will then light the record button. Would be nice if they fixed this BASIC problem. Seems Tiger caused it for them. Perhaps they're holding off on fixing it to force people to QuickBooks Pro 2005...

5) Xcode -- While Apple seems to imply that Xcode works for Java development (and i'm admittedly a novice Java developer) I spent hours trying to do something basic in Xcode -- I had 3 Java classes I wrote and wanted to use the Jakarta Commons CLI classes with my code and for the life of me I couldnt figure out how to do it. In the end I gave up and downloaded Eclipse and had it going in 5 mins literally. Apple needs to get real about Java development on the Mac or just point people to Eclipse.

a Mac Fan

In case you haven't guessed yet, i'm a Mac fan. I started using Apples back in 1980 with the original Apple II. My first view of a Mac was a Lisa when I worked at American Express Bank. I bought an original Mac 128 when they came out (still have it, signatures inside the case and all), and got a PowerMac when they came out around 1989 or so. Later on in my career I went over to the dark side when work started giving me free PC's at home. It saved on upgrades for many years and the Mac really wasnt a business machine to me at that point. After a dark 10 years I finally made it back to the Mac when my Unix/Linux work merged with my Management needs for Office apps. OSX was the perfect answer and i'm now using a work-provided PowerBook G4 15" which I love (although I like the format/size of my wifes PB G4 12" better...). One machine for home and work. Everything from playing World of Warcraft (Level 59 dwarf Paladin) to MS Office Apps, Virtual PC, Eclipse Java development etc.

Blogging client search update

Ok, so I found there's a number of ways to blog for free in OSX:

1) Email - my favorite. Blogger supports this via Settings->email->mail-to-blogger address.
2) Application - MacJournal -- freeware blog client that can post to Blogger
3) Dashboard Widget - Its basic but its easy to access and out of the way when you dont need it. 

And blogger is cool, it supports RSS feeds too: 

So now i'm all setup for easy blogging.

Finally broke down

Ok, so I finally broke down and started a blog. Who knows if i'll stick with it.

Next steps, find a client that works well. Key features are local performance/access, OSX access (!), and offline support