Category Archives: News

Fire seen from the 19th floor of my office

After I got into work and began checking email, I began to hear a lot of fire engines outside. I got up to the window and saw that a home across the street was ablaze and went back to my desk to grab my camera.

It was amazing how fast the building became an inferno and how ineffective the fire department was at putting the fire out.  Overall most buildings in Taipei are made of concrete, so this is not an ordinary occurrence because this was obviously a wooden structure.


The 31st came and went with no Adobe Acrobat updates in sight

I guess I should not be too surprised that Adobe isn’t supporting the Mac platform to the fullest. The thing I don’t understand is how they were unprepared for the Leopard 10.5 update.

When Leopard was first updated Adobe released a notice concerning their support for the latest version of Mac OS Leopard. Interestingly enough this report was published as an Acrobat file. Now why is this interesting? Well, one of their comments was that Acrobat 8.0 will encounter issues on OS X 10.5. Well how could you view this support article? Well, acording to Adobe you couldn’t use Acrobat, but don’t take my word for it:

[Adobe Acrobat Professional] Requires update to 8.1.2 for full compatibility. Expected to be available in English, French, German, and Japanese in late January 2008. Additional languages expected shortly thereafter.

Adobe had a similar comment for their free Adobe Reader application:

[Adobe Reader] Requires Adobe Reader 8.1.2 for full compatibility. Expected to be available in late January 2008.

Well January 31st came and went and there was no update from Adobe. Sure, the press gave a pass to them, but what about the “Creative Professionals” who rely upon these tools? Well, I guess Adobe has been giving similar signals for the past few years and it seems like they would rather all of the Mac users just switch over to Vista because the 12% of the market Mac users will have by 2011 is too small of a market for them.

The thing I do not understand is how MacWorld can claim that Adobe is one of the closest developers to Apple and they don’t cry foul when Adobe was unprepared for the stealthy and minimal release of Mac OS Leopard. I guess Adobe thought that no-one would upgrade, and I guess MacWorld was worried about losing advertising dollars from Adobe. That’s journalism for you.

How many episodes are left due to the writers strike?

OK, OK, I am in Taiwan, but this doesn’t mean that the Writers Strike that is occuring in the US isn’t affecting me.  I do regurlary download episodes from iTunes and watch them on my iPhone or iPod, so yes I need to stay on top of this.

So what shows am I really into lately? Well honestly I can care less for Heroes.  For some reason I feel “tired” after watching those episodes (too many pointless plot twists), and iTunes stopped carrying season two anyway, so no big loss.  I am however watching Kyle XY, a show about a cloned boy who was brought out of the artificial womb at the age of 15, an subsequently has the emotional and mental abilities of Data on Star Trek.  I am also digging the newly released Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, but the problem is when will all the “good” shows stop airing?

Well I found a regurlarly updated page that is going to be your salvation.  Find out how many more episodes of your favorite show are left on  the page Effect of the 2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike on television.

Crypto Everywhere

Recently I was reading an article on C|Net news concerning a company that is developing a cryptographic chip to lock out companies from creating “compatible” ink cartridges for inkjet printers.  The idea is that by encrypting the controller chip on the inkjet cartridge no one can copy the cartridge.  Even if a company could decrypt the chips, doing so would be illegal under current laws in the US making the compatible cartridges illegal to sell and illegal to own.

One of the major printer companies, HP commented to C|Net on this and said the following: “There are other folks who want to avoid the (proper) process altogether and design a cartridge to work with an HP printer.”  HP considers that buying any printer cartridge that is not manufactured by HP is “illegal competition”.

Now what does the US legal system think about this?  Well a few years back Lexmark sued Static Control who created compatible printer chips for non-OEM print cartridges. Ultimately Lexmark lost the court battel even after attempting to appeal the case.  Now if Lexmark introduces encryption into the mix this will be a whole other matter.

Historically the Supreme Court has frowned upon suppliers marking up and selling consumable products, however they tend to take a strong enforcement stance when it comes to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act which “criminalizes the act of circumventing an access control, even when there is no infringement of copyright.” ->

Ok, this note goes out to everyone who reads my blog: I am changing my URL! Yes! Something new for you to read.

So what is my new URL? it is I figure I never write anything that really is special or noteworthy, so this name is the most applicable.

So be sure to update your links, because I should be talking weekly about Nothing Really Poignant.

By the way, my email address is still the same: james (at) humandesigned (dot) com

No more incandecent light bulbs in 10 years?

Incandecent lightbulb
CNet recently ran an article covering advances in indoor lighting as well as suggestions on how you can save quite a few dollars by replacing your incandescents. This is a great article, but they had one FAQ that really disturbed me:

Traditional bulbs could be phased out in the United States over the next decade. Australia and the Canadian province of Ontario are set to ban them.

Whats so bad about replacing lights with compact fluorescents? Well if you ask me, almost nothing. They do tend to have an annoying buzz, but hopefully that will go away as I get older and lose my hearing. As the article points out compact fluorescents are now even dimmer switch compatible and many companies are releasing bulbs the exact same size as traditional incandescents.

Fluorescents are great, but if you ask me there is nothing like the warm glow of an incandescent on a book, but I guess we will be replacing paper with electronic paper, so who really should care because we all want to be modern. If you ask me only the owners of the classic Easy-Bake Oven should care, but owners of the newer versions shouldn’t fret, because Easy-Bake Ovens no longer use a 100 watt light bulb to heat the cakes.

Cosmic Osmo being re-released for Windows, no Mac version in sight

Long before I got my first Mac I asked for the CD-ROM game Cosmic Osmo and an AppleCD drive. I ended up borrowing a friend of the family’s Mac Plus to play the game and I was hooked. You could say my love affair with apple products started with this game.

Osmo'sCosmic Osmo is a game set on exploring a surrealistic world. You start off in a strange spacecraft that can visit pre-planets ranging from a giant fish to a planet with a house on one side and a boat on the other. This game was created by Cyan, the creators of Myst and was an evolutionary step in Cyan creating Myst.

This game has no start or end and is pure exploration. Almost anything you see in this game is click able and will start a animation and music sequence.

Recently I downloaded a program called Mini VMac which lets you run old MacOS 6 programs. After booting up an old system hard drive and I opened up my Cosmic Osmo CD and booted it up. It worked, although some of the sounds were out of sync, some of the audio was scrambled and some animation was too fast.

Osmo Reading Inside a Fish

Many people have fond memories of Cosmic Osmo. It was the first CD I ever played on my Sony Diskman (the game had a music track with jazz songs from the game). I also know that my nephews in Portland played the game quite often. So what games can be compared to Cosmic Osmo? Unfortunately there arn’t any.

Myst focuses on solving puzzles, which isn’t the main focus of Cosmic Osmo. There is Leo’s Great Day, a Flash 3 game by Pepworks, but once again this is a story with a beginning and end and a few puzzles, although the animation style and game design approach seems to be similar to Cosmic Osmo. There are really no other games out there like Cosmic Osmo where you can just explore and interact with the world.

Blind Mouse Playing Cheese Piano

So if Cosmic Osmo is so great, why isn’t anyone selling it now? Well for one it was released as a B&W game just for the Macintosh using Mac only technology. There were hints at a masterpiece update to this eleven years ago from a story writeup on the creators of the game, but unfortunately there hasn’t been much progress or cash to throw at a project like this – until recently.

I happened to buy a piece of software last year that is similar to HyperCard, called Runtime Revolution. Every month or so the company that creates the software sends me a developer newsletter. Normally this goes into my special circular file called a trash can, but the last one caught my eye because it was an interview with a developer who is updating and converting Cosmic Osmo. Here are the facts I picked out of the article:

  1. This game will no longer be released as a HyperCard based game
  2. At least 90% of the original game can be ported, the other 10% will be re-created for modern operating systems
  3. All of the original sounds and music will be included in the game
  4. There is a hint at a technology advance that is available and that was not available in the original HyperCard version (I imagine this is hinting at color graphics)

There is one more point from the article. This will be released as a Windows only application – even though it is being developed and can be ported to an updated Mac version with the flip of a switch. This started out as a Mac game, and is being released on Windows even though a Mac version could be created by a flip of the switch, or as the developer puts it:

There are currently no plans to re-release a Macintosh version, though if that should change it would be trivial to recompile the main stack for OS X, which is all that would be required.

I understand the need to release this for Windows, but what about all the loyal fans who have been waiting for a re-release. This is really heartbreaking.

How do you feel about this?  Please leave your comments here for requesting a Mac version of Cosmic Osmo.