MaCinJay’s Musings

another case of inverse vandalism

Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Champions League: Liverpool v Arsenal (second leg)

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Halftime and it’s one-all yet again. Arsenal started strongly with Diaby scoring early on. Regrettably I missed the goal as a result of the satellite feed breaking up, but Rena looked at fault from the replay. After that Arsenal continued to dominate but were undone after thirty minutes when they conceded yet another goal from a corner kick after Hyypia lost his marker – the hapless Senderos – and sent his header soaring into the top-right of Almunia’s net. Sad to say, Arsenal just aren’t as solid in defence (especially against set-pieces) as the team of old. Anyway, the second half is about to start…

We were robbed! All Arsenal needed was to draw and score more away goals than Liverpool. So all was not lost when Torres scored with about twenty minutes to go. After that Wenger threw on Walcott and Von Persie for Diaby and Eboue in a desperate bid to turn the tie around. For a wonderful moment it looked like it had worked after Walcott ran past the entire Liverpool defence to lay on a goal for Adebayor with full-time approaching. Within a minute of the restart though joy turned to despair after Liverpool were awarded a very dubious penalty, which Gerrard duly dispatched to the back of Almunia’s net. Markus Babel scored again in the closing seconds of the match to make it safe for Liverpool, almost every Arsenal player having been thrown forward in a frantic attempt to level matters yet again.

So 4-2 to Liverpool on the night, though it could so easily have gone the other way. Wenger will have to take stock now that Arsenal’s one realistic chance of winning a trophy has gone; it will take a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for Arsenal to win the Premier League from their current position. I’m sure that he regrets not strengthening the side during the last transfer window. Tonight the team was let down by poor defending by Senderos, who in my judgement was responsible for Liverpool’s first two goals. So we desperately need a quality centre-back, as well as a decent holding player in midfield. As for the attack, Henry’s departure was almost a blessing because it encouraged the younger players to take more responsibility. But in big games like this you need players of his sort. Wenger will need to persuade the Arsenal board to put up the money for one.

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Written by macinjay

April 8, 2008 at 9:48 pm

Posted in General

Mac OS X Leopard: Time Machine

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In October last year I related how I inadvertently blew my iMac’s logic board. Reluctant to pay the steep repair bill I decided instead to buy a MacBook Pro to replace it. I never regretted this decision but the one drawback was that I had to make do without the data stored on the iMac until such time as C3 (the repair shop I took the unit to) finally got around to extracting its hard drive for installation into an external enclosure. Eventually I got my data back last Friday, which I proceeded to migrate to my MacBook Pro.

This left me with a 250 GB external hard drive to try out Time Machine, Leopard’s new back-up utility. I’ll be honest, like many others I find backing up data to be a tedious chore. As a result my efforts were patchy to say the least. (Fortunately however I used an online back-up service called Mozy to back up my most essential data a few weeks before my iMac crashed.) With Time Machine though Apple has not only taken the tedium out of the process, it has actually made it fun.

It’s also easy to use – as soon as you plug in your your external hard drive Time Machine will give you the option to use it to back up your data. After I began the process it took several hours to back up the sixty or so gigabytes of data from my MacBook Pro using a USB 2 connection. In the meantime though I was able to carry on using my Mac normally.

The fun part comes once the back-up is finished and you can start playing with the Time Machine interface. (Regrettably I wasn’t able to take a screen-shot as Apple’s Grab application doesn’t work in Time Machine mode.) In keeping with its the sci-fi connotations, Time Machine has a very futuristic feel about it. When you activate the utility it transitions away from the normal OS X desktop environment into a 3D representation of the cosmos, with the active Finder window in the foreground. Behind it are numerous other Finder windows – select one of these and, voila, you are transported back in time to the Finder window as it would have appeared and a particular point in time. (A timescale on the right of the screen lets you keep track of the exact time and date.) If you want to restore a previously-deleted file merely select it and click on the gear icon in the Finder toolbar and click again on the relevant option. (Alternatively you can also delete all back-ups of the file.) You also an option to restore the entire system by clicking a button at the bottom right of the screen. Time Machine also works with Apple’s Mail application – very handy if you need to retrieve that vital email that you stupidly deleted.

Detractors have criticised Time Machine for using too much eye-candy. No doubt that Apple could have designed it to resemble your average run-of-the-mill back-up utility. But what would the point be in that? For me Time Machine succeeds in part because it delivers that ooh-ah factor that Apple is renowned for. It also makes backing-up an easy exercise for people like me who didn’t have the inclination or discipline to do proper back-ups in the past!

Written by macinjay

March 4, 2008 at 9:32 pm

Mac OS X: Calculator replacement

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One of the most useful tools in OS X is the Calculator. To be honest though it is a bit limited. For instance, it doesn’t have a percentage function.

Enter R.L.M. Software, which has created several emulations of HP’s well-loved financial and scientific calculators for the Mac. I downloaded the simulator of my own HP calculator, the 10BII. This has all the functions of the real thing, plus a lot of other useful features like voice feedback, register and paper tape views. Not bad for $11.

Written by macinjay

January 23, 2008 at 10:06 pm

Posted in General

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Steve Jobs, The Magician

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I believe it was Arthur C. Clarke who said that any advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Enter Steve Jobs, stage left, at today’s Macworld Expo in San Francisco. For Mac fanatics this is the most eagerly-awaited date in the calendar; during his keynote Jobs will reveal the latest products conjured from Apple’s workshops.

Last year it was the iPhone, which will certainly be a hard act to follow. However I know that many purists were disappointed by the dearth of new Mac products then. In their eyes the iPhone is little more than a gadget; they hunger for upgrades and new additions to Apple’s range of Mac computers. Rumour is that Jobs will unveil a flash-based ultra-portable laptop but there is no way to be sure given Apple’s legendary secrecy. On the other hand the iPhone may once again steal the thunder if Jobs unveils a 3G version.

One product that won’t be featured is the Mac Pro; a new eight-core configuration was introduced last week, presumably to clear the way for the more consumer-oriented products that traditionally debut at Macworld. Similarly Apple’s iPod range also received a recent refresh so new models or upgrades are unlikely. However if the rumours are to be believed Jobs will announce that Apple’s customers will be able to rent movies from its iTunes Store some time in the future.

Further speculation is really futile though; to my knowledge these are the only rumours with any real sound basis to them. One thing is for certain – Jobs will be pulling more than one surprise out of his hat. Roll on the keynote!

Written by macinjay

January 15, 2008 at 9:51 am

Posted in General

Tornado in Johannesburg?

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The weirdest thing happened today. I was forwarded an email from a colleague which contained the following warning:

Please take this serious (sic). A weather warning has just been issued. Within the next hour we will have a temperature drop of 10 degrees. And we will have a severe storm early this afternoon. This covers the whole of Gauteng. Please be careful as a tornado dropped in Randfontein on Saturday and is expected today.

The original email was apparently sent from someone working for a news media organisation. However it struck me as bogus. A tornado “dropped” in Randfontein (a town about 30km west of Johannesburg)? Now, there were some serious thunderstorms on Saturday evening west of Johannesburg  (one man was killed in the township of Lenasia after taking shelter under a tree) but nothing that could be described as a tornado. So I dismissed it.

Later in the day we received an email from the boss’s personal assistant to say that we could leave early to avoid “the storm”. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth I packed up and left along with the rest of my team. But before that we picked up from the news services that the threat had been “exaggerated” by people sending text messages and emails. The traffic along my route home was a little heavier for that time of day but was apparently a lot busier elsewhere as a result of people evacuating their workplaces. I noticed that the skies looked mildly threatening but seemingly not enough to justify the earlier hysteria, and I arrived home without incident. (It is now 7.30 pm and the “tornado” is nowhere to be seen.)

It got me thinking about the power of modern communications. Mostly of course the advancements made are immensely beneficial but in this case they had been used to whip up the proverbial storm in a teacup (if you can excuse the pun), with who knows how many working hours lost as a result.

Written by macinjay

October 8, 2007 at 5:38 pm

Sleepless night

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Chantelle went to see the doctor yesterday and was diagnosed with bronchitis. By the time I got home she was feeling really poorly so I had to bath David by myself and then get up to feed him at two in the morning. (Chantelle usually does the honours as she is still on maternity leave.) As a result I overslept and got to work a little later than usual.

Thankfully she is a lot better today!

Written by macinjay

September 26, 2007 at 8:08 pm

Posted in General

Welcome!

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I’m feeling guilty. I should be working now and instead I am writing this. Problem is, I don’t get as much time to go online at home anymore after my son was born – parenthood has changed my life in ways that I never imagined!

The other day I heard that the average Facebook user in the United Kingdom spends about two hours of his working day on the site! I’m not that drawn to Facebook myself – I’ve got an account but don’t use it so much now that the initial fascination has worn off – but I certainly appreciate the impact that the Internet has made in people’s lives.

Which is one of the reasons I decided to start this blog – increasingly I am looking for ways to make a contribution. The other day I came across a term for this – inverse vandalism i.e. a senseless act of creation.

Another reason?

I needed a place to rant – it gets on my wife’s nerves!

Written by macinjay

September 18, 2007 at 9:37 pm