New Theme – Whiippii!

I’ve moved into a new theme called Aqueous-Lite. Those of you reading my blog through my feed are welcome to check it out…

I felt kind of restricted in the old theme since it wasn’t fluid and it would be a shame not to use the full screen to show content, mainly for long posts (which I do have a tendency to write once in a while ;-) ).

Of course, this theme is widgets ready (like the previous one) so it’s nice to have the ability to switch themes without changing things too much on the widgets (mainly background colors and stuff).

I also moved the Google Ads to the right side (its inside a widget) so it won’t bother and take screen space at the top of the screen (it will probably hurt my CPC but it wasn’t that great to begin with :-) ).

If you have comments or anything else, comment here or contact me through my contact form.

Twitter and OpenID

Dave Winer says:

“[…] we could make Twitter the open identity system we’ve been looking for. Make your Twitter ID the one that you use to log on to other service […]”

I say let Twitter support OpenID with all of the good Relaying Party Best Practices including (but not limited to):

  • Ability to associate an existing account with an OpenID
  • Ability to switch to another OpenID (sort of a password recovery for OpenID)
  • Ability to create a new account directly with an external (non Twitter) OpenID (be a standard relaying party)

If they want to, they can also be an OpenID provider (which should be good for them, of course ;-) ).

Amazon Recommendations, Big Giant Collection Books, Reprints and New Editions

I really like Amazon. I really like Amazon’s recommendations and ever since I inputed most of my books into Amazon I get really good recommendations.

There is one thing that bothers me, though.

I recently made a big order from Amazon and included two books which I was long overdue in owning and reading them. The books were “Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul” and “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” both by Douglas Adams.

After the purchase, Amazon recommendation started to offer me other Dougls Adams books such as “Mostly Harmless“, “So Long and Thanks for all the Fish” and “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe“.

I previously told Amazon that I already own “The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy” which is one large book containing all 5 of the hitchhiker’s guide novels (3 of them are the books mentioned above).

Since I own a book that include those books I would have figuring that Amazon will know that and handle that similar to how they handle situations in which a book is reprinted or has some newer edition (usually with minor changes or no changes at all). The recommendation engine doesn’t handle that because it probably doesn’t take into account that this one book is a collection of other books and in addition to that.

Due to the Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy movie they have re-printed the series so there are newer edition out there, which is probably one of the causes I see these books again.

It’s not that uncommon to have such a book that contains multiple previous titles that were a part of a series before. For example I also own “The Great Book of Amber: The Complete Amber Chronicles” which is one big book that contains the 10 books in the Amber series by Roger Zelazny (luckily I haven’t told Amazon about that so I’m not getting recommendations to buy the same books again).

Perhaps Amazon should take a look into such collection books as well as handling re-prints and newer edition in a different way.

For example, for reading books (not technical books that often have newer editions that do change and add things) I would expect by default to not see any new re-prints and things like that unless I specifically opted that in my settings.

For technical/reference books I would like, by default, to see newer editions because these new editions (usually) add and update information and in most cases its important to stay up-to-date or at least know that there is a newer edition.

For paperback vs. hard cover editions, Amazon seems to handle it well and does understand that if I have the paperback edition I don’t need to be recommended of the hard cover edition and vice versa. I can only assume they implemented it by saving some kind of a reference between these books, so perhaps they should add a new type of reference/link for books that are a collection of other books and other such links to handle the rest of the things I’ve mentioned above.

What do you say? Am I the only book maniac/Amazon maniac/Recommendation maniac out there that thinks about this? :-)

Mac Software Updates – I expected more from Apple

We recently got a Mac Mini to the office so that we can test Yedda better with Safari and in general how Yedda looks, feels and works on all of the various browsers on Mac (mainly Safari, FireFox, Camino and Opera).

It’s a cute little machine. I can easily understand why people fall in love with Mac and Apple products in general.

After setting it up and powering it up I ran the Software Updates so that I will have the latest, greatest and safest Mac software.

After running it and updating various things I ended up with 3 items that needed an update:

  • Java for Mac OS X 10.4, Release 5 (Version 5.0)
  • AirPort Extreme Update 2007-002 (Version 1.0)
  • iPhoto Update (Version 6.0.6)

When I wanted to update them, it downloaded them and when it tried to install the updates I got an annoying error (I don’t have the error in front of me now so this is paraphrasing):

“An unexpected error has occurred”

I tried twice and it didn’t work, so I went to the knowledge base articles of these updates and manually downloaded and installed them.

To my “surprise” manually doing it worked like a charm.

Now I know this is a bit of a petty rant, but as a user that never used a Mac full time (the only two Apple computers I used full time was an Apple IIc and iPod) the expectations that were set by Apple’s marketing machine and others were quite high.

The expectations were high, and my disappointment was about the same height.

I’m not a normal/novice user so I did know what to do, but I think Apple should have the decency to tell me why the update/installation failed, or at least provide a button or a link to say what happened (a link or a button would be good so that it won’t alarm the regular users and will give the necessary information to those who knows what to do with it).

It’s as simple as that. Really. – Invitation

I always get a little bit envy when I see all the cool events various people arrange in the USA for all kinds of stuff. Camps, Conferences, Confluences, un-conferences, whatever.

Now, the Israeli Internet scene is starting to wake up and everyone will see what cool events we can do :-)

You are all invited! Register, come and enjoy!

Nokia PC Suite Content Copier .nfb / .nbu Fiasco

This is going to be a long rant about the new Nokia PC Suite Content Copier backup file format and how its software is NOT compatible with previous versions and there is no mentioning anywhere from Nokia (other than the fact they changed the backup file format stated in their help).

My wife recently upgraded from her Nokia 6230 to a brand new Nokia E61. She really liked the personal information management (PIM) features and that it had a full QWERTY keyboard.

Before switching to the new phone, she backed up the old phone’s content using the Nokia PC Suite Content Copier and it created a .nfb file which seems to contain all of the information.

After she got the new E61, she wanted to restore the data (mainly the Contacts with their phones and all) to the new phone, so she fired up the PC Suite only to find out that she needed to upgrade to a newer version (v6.82.22).

We upgraded, run Content Copier again and wanted to restore the files and then all hell broke lose…

The Content Copier pointed to another folder, not the one that her previous version used to store the backups (which was in My Documnets\My Backups folder). No biggie, so we searched for the term “nokia” around the machine and found the place where it kept the backup file (the one with the .nfb extension).

I pointed the Content Copier to that folder (that’s the only thing you can do) and it didn’t recognize it.

A little Google-ing and a little RTFM and apparently in the latest version of PC Suite, Nokia switched the format of the backup file to .nbu. Previous versions used two files, one with a .nfb extension and one with the .nfc extension. The new versions use one file with the extension of .nbu and according to their help (the one provided with the Content Copier) it contains both of the data of the .nfb and .nfc files.

They did not provide any help or way of figuring out how to restore an old backup in any way or form and it wasn’t even available after a lot of searching around the web.

There are a few pointers on the web in the Nokia forums for others with the same problem (you can searched with other terms and get lots more).

Luckily I’ve stumbled upon this program which can export all of the data from the .nfb files into plain text (and also extract the images and videos backed up in the .nfb file). There are also a Perl module and a Python library that can read and write .nfb files.

The best way to overcome the problem was to import the contacts which I now had in plain text into Outlook and sync Outlook back to the phone.

You can import CSV and tab delimited files into Outlook, but since my wife used the phone’s memory, it meant that we now had multiple numbers like cell phone number and home number assigned to the same contact (at least in some of them) and Outlook (and Excel for that matter) had problems figuring out how to map things.

So, I’ve cooked up this little Python script which converted the PHONEBOOK file (the one that contains the contact entries) into a CSV file. I probably messed a few of the fields there (and I’ll post some info on the PHONEBOOK file format later) but it worked.

We edited the entries in Outlook, synced the phone and finally had most of the data. My most you ask? because even though my wife specifically asked to also backup the SIM card, it did not do that and we lost a couple of contacts. Luckily the majority was in our hands.

I’m a VERY long time Nokia user and I think (most) of their phones are REALLY great but this is simply negligence. There is no other word I can think of at this moment to describe this situation.

So you’ve upgraded your software, great. But there is NO reason for you NOT to read your old backup files. You can generate the new ones but people, have you heard about backwards compatibility? Nokia is usually well knowned for their backward compatibility in user interface and other areas, but apparently someone screwed up big time with the newer version of PC Suite.

Why not read the old backup files? Why not say that I need to do this and that to convert them? Why not supply and program to convert them? This is not how things are done. Even Microsoft allowes you to open Office documents that were written in previous versions of Office. Come on, that’s one of the basic things you do!

What will other less technically savvy people would do? Start to re-generate their contact list?

Even if Nokia does have a way of doing it and they haven’t made it VERY clear for NORMAL users (I’m not included as a normal user, of course) how to find such a program (or guidelines) and use them its really really bad.

These are the sort of things that makes people switch to another cellular phone vendor.

I do hope someone from Nokia is reading this and will take care of these issues for the next version of PC Suite. It will also be nice to make sure that when someone sells you a brand new Nokia cell phone the customer is aware of what needs to be done to restore everything back to the new phone.

libtool: compile: unable to infer tagged configuration

I got the following annoying little error after I tried to upgrade to a newer mod_python on my Gentoo Linux box:

 libtool: compile: unable to infer tagged configuration

It seems that the main problem was due to the fact that I’ve switched to GCC 4.1.1 and when compiling mod_python, the compilation uses libtool that is brought and compiled with Apache (located under /usr/share/apr-0/build/) which should have been recompiled after I’ve upgraded to the new GCC (I was too lazy to continue running the “emerge -e system” command so I stopped it after GCC was recompiled).

To solve it, simple recompile Apache and emerge upgrade mod_python.