I made the mistake of starting “fink update-all” on my Mac OS X system early this morning, expecting to wait a few minutes and then head off to work. It was to be a short day, since I have a singing engagement about 90 km away from home, and I wanted to get home to eat and possibly to change first. That plan was shot down when the fink update kept going, and going,…

I called in to the office to say I would be late, and that I would be in for a meeting at 11 no matter what, but a short time later I got a call to let me know that the meeting was postponed for a day so that I could take care of my problem and stay home. That was fortunate – I babysat for most of the day, with the update finally completing around 4 pm.

I slipped out around lunch time to pick up some supplies for the pond at Big Al’s Aquarium Services. I bought some water hyacinth and water lettuce, which should grow reasonably well in the time left this summer, and intended to buy a couple of comet goldfish. Instead, I was persuaded by the sales person to buy four paradise fish. Big mistake!

These fish are a variety of gourami, and I had good luck with gourami in an indoor aquarium, so I figured I would give them a try in the barrel ponds. I released them about two pm and spent a half hour watching them swim around. They were hard to see against the black of the pond liner, but they came to the surface from time to time and were pleasant to watch. Remember, fink was still running, so eventually I went back inside the house to check on progress.

When I came back out a half hour later I was surprised to see one – no, two – three! fish on the ground! Paradise fish are jumpers! I scooped them up and dumped them back into the upper barrel, and two kicked rather sluggishly and swam away. The other dropped like a stone to the bottom of the pool. I waited a couple of minutes, but there was no recovery, so I grabbed a net from the basement aquarium and took him (I figure any fish dumb enough to jump to a concrete floor has to be male) to the compost heap, leaving him by the side of the composter. I took the net back into the house, and when I returned, the fish was gone. Some bird is presumably having a treat!

I’m a little annoyed at Big Al’s, but I’ll still go back and pick up a couple of comets. Perhaps when I let them know what happened, I’ll get a discount on the comets. Meanwhile, it’s anyone’s guess how long it’ll be before the paradise fish make another (stupid) break for freedom.

Smoke gets in my eyes

Saturday was a very strange day, locally. The morning weather was beautiful, with deep blue skies and a warm sun. Over time though, the haze seemed to build up to the point where it was hazy just looking to the end of the street, a matter of a couple of hundred metres. Accompanying this was a faint smell and and off-taste to the air. I thought of pollution, but don’t forget, this was a Saturday, and most factories are shut down for the weekend.

As it turned out, the source was pollution, in the form of smoke from forest fires in Quebec – 900 kilometres away! This kept up as long as the wind was from the north, but fortunately the wind direction changed overnight, so the current weather is again clear and sunny.

That lets me enjoy my new toy, a mini-pond based around two whiskey barrels. Water from one barrel is pumped up into the second barrel, which sits balanced on top of the first, The water then flows through a spillway to fall back into the first barrel, and the cycle continues. At first it had a somewhat rude sound, but with a bit of adjustment to the flow the sound was brought down to a more random level. After a rest to allow the chlorine to dissipate, I’ll add a couple of plants and a goldfish or two (gotta keep the mosquitoes in check!).

The Open Video project is moribund. There is apparently no plug-in mechanism for iDVD, so I’m reduced to considering iMovie plug-ins. I’ll probably do something with that, but not under the name of Open Video. As it turns out, there is a sizable project with that name dedicated to providing video clips over the Internet at no charge. I’ll leave them to that task, and consider other names for my own project.

Speaking of duplicate names, the title “Charon’s Ferry” turns out to be popular, with the first site delivered by Google being that of a gay obituary site (an example of how the evolution of English usage can result in startling juxtapositions). In this case there are enough other cases where the phrase is used that I don’t expect there to be much specific confusion. I’ll keep the title for these notes as is.

Garbage? We don’t need no stinking garbage!

Toronto is in the midst of a city workers strike. Garbage is piling up in the streets, and the temperature is typically in the mid-thirties. While the smell is high, the real stink is the city’s reluctance to negotiate with its employees. They want job security – jobs for life, as the mayor puts it – while the city wants to contract out much of the outside work.

I’m not particularly or immediately affected – I live north of the city, and the place where I work apparently hauls its own garbage anyway. So far, though, the strike has resulted in two of the World Youth Day events where I was supposed to sing being cancelled. Merde!

More on the Open Video Project

I located a software developer kit for iMovie plug-ins, so one foot of the foundation is in place. However, I still haven’t located anything remotely like a developer kit for iDVD, so this may not fly. On the other hand, the iMovie kit may make it possible to create some interesting toys anyway….oh, sorry, none of the important stuff I create will be a toy, it will all be “useful” stuff.

Someone on the MacDV list also posted the location of Apple’s iDVD suggestion site, so that might be a route to follow also – some other day (I know tomorrow’s another day, Scarlett, but frankly, I don’t give a damn).

An Open Video challenge

I have just done what may be a very foolish thing: on the MacDV list, faced by a thread on a so-called ‘deficiency’ of iDVD, I proposed that if a plug-in mechanism exists for iDVD and if somone could get me the plug-in specifications for iDVD and iMovie, I would write a plug-in, or set of plug-ins, to allow chapter markers within an iDVD movie.

Now, writing a plug-in is not necessarily an onerous task, but my last experience with publicly distributed software was painful. If the interface is at all complex, making comprehensible documentation is a nightmare, and post-distribution support is a major headache. In some ways I’m hoping that no-one comes through with the resources I requested, but if they do I intend to follow through with this to the – possibly bitter – end.

Bearing in mind that I have a day job and choir commitments are fairly heavy this summer, this could be a major undertaking. Maybe I can rope Katherine into assisting with the design and code work, and get Caroline to help with testing….for a share of the putative profits, of course.

Hot, ain’t it?

Today is a ‘floater’ day for me. That is, it’s not a national holiday, but has been added to the number of days off the company includes in the compensation package – a notional holiday, if you will. That’s a Good Thing, at least this weekend. The temperature is in the mid-thirties celsius, but even after a long weekend the pollution index (however it is measured) is still in the upper fifties – and thirty two is considered the upper limit of acceptable. Remaining indoors for the day seems like a good option, as long as the air conditioning holds out. This is choking weather.

Actually, I tried surviving outside yesterday without benefit of air support, but the humidity and temperature combined to give a humidex of 45. That is, without a breeze, the effective temperature was higher than body temperature, and you were cooking yourself just standing in the shade (don’t even think about lying in the sun!). The police were handing out bottles of water in the traffic jams to prevent people from collapsing from heat prostration. I had a table with an umbrella set up in my garden, but even with minimal clothing (think “beached whale” rather than “buff bod”) and a cool drink I beat a retreat after half an hour. Call me a wimp, but if air conditioning is available, I’ll take it.

Mac Hospital – Emergency Ward X

The sick Mac is in recovery – I reinstalled both OS X and OS 9, and while I was at it, upgraded both sides to the latest version. Alas for me! After I spent about four hours babysitting the machine through the various updates, my daughter told me the G3/266 is still too slow for her to work on. She’s probably right, but if she’s angling for a new system she will be fishing for a long time – it’s a dry hole, considering how many Macs we’ve bought in the past year or so. I think it’s a sickness….

Meanwhile, I’ve added style sheets to control the appearance of the log. That’s right, it’s supposed to look like this!

The log name is currently “Charon’s Ferry” but will probably change when next the whim strikes me. Aside from the obvious reference to the ferryman before the gates of hell, there is no significance to the name. Really.

The ravell’d sleeve of care requires knitting, so I’m off to bed.

Woe, woe, and thrice woe!

I don’t know what it is about a long weekend. Today the stores are closed, and the city is sealed up tight except for the restaurants, theatres, and so on. That’s great for most people – boys and girls just wanna have fun – but right now, I’m stuck with a sick Mac and I need software!

Sometime last night my younger daughter’s Mac crashed, and when it came time to restart it came up in OS 8.6 from an old drive. The main drive wouldn’t boot. I dug out a copy of Norton’s and managed to get the disk up to the point of remounting, but in the process I munged the boot blocks, so the system still won’t boot from that disk. I obviously have to reinstall in order to reset the boot blocks – Norton’s doesn’t know about OS X – but I’m nervous about the disk itself. I need DiskWarrior, which is still not OS X aware, but has the reputation of being able to save disks which are in really bad shape. But it’s a holiday weekend, and all the stores are closed. Sigh….