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Did the Mac 10.7.2 Lion update fix the NAS bug in iMovie?

When OS 10.7 came out, a number of digital photographers and filmmakers were aghast.  Terabytes of data stored on Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices were no longer visible as option in many common Mac programs.  Of course, to be fair, things like iMovie were never design for NAS units, but some enterprising hackers found a way through this simple command line:

defaults write -app iMovie allowNV -bool true

Unfortunately when Lion came out, even this command line option was no longer working.

But today OS 10.7.2 was released by Apple and when I booted up iMovie after the update, viola–there it was again.  My Drobo in the other room hosting 100s of GBs of home movies was once again accessible to iMovie.  I’ve tried reading the release notes but didn’t see any mention of this new ‘feature’, but hey, I’ll take it.

So if you haven’t run that command line or updated to 10.7.2 and are looking to store you digital media elsewhere, try out this tip and see if it works for you.


A high-tech homesickness cure.

In the early days of PenguinRadio, I noticed my business partner was often listening to BBC London in the office pretty much throughout the day.  It wasn’t that he necessarily liked what was being played he said, it’s just that he enjoyed hearing the traffic news as it made him feel a bit like “he was back home”.

If you’re never really been away, you probably won’t understand how “the little things” can often trigger memories or even satisfy some longings you might have.  Once when I was in Happy Valley I could smell grass being cut on the race track, which brought back many recollections of life in the American Midwest oh so far away from now.  Smells, sounds, and sights have a very powerful ability when you are thinking of someplace else.

Which is why this really interesting little “trick” is quite attractive.  A company has developed Winscape which at first glance looks very successful, after all the demo video shows their home in the Marin Highlands overlooking the San Francisco Bay Bridge.  But a closer look reveals that these are mere windows overlooking some spectacular views, but a virtual window running on an HD TV.

Through some high tech gimmicks you can have a window overlooking whatever part of the world you want. At the moment it is rather limited to HD playback, but the thought has crossed my mind of trying to do this with live HD webcams from different places. For example, I called up a webcam from Abbey Road in London and was just watching the morning traffic compete with Beatles fans who wanted to get their picture taken on the immortal crosswalk.



It does open up some interesting ideas.  A virtual window outside your “house” back “home” so you can see what’s going on in your neighborhood is now only a webcam and a bit of streaming kit away.  Watching the neighbors and your home just as if you were looking out the window.

Might have to investigate this a bit further.




Videos from the Apple Store Hong Kong Press Day

Spent the morning with the Apple fans and media checking out the new Apple Store in Hong Kong.  Basically it’s an Apple Store, but with a few tweaks here and there for the Asian market, such as a slightly different POS payment system, and more iPads on the floor than you’ll see pretty much at any other Apple Store.

Queen & Freddy Mercury play Live Aid, for all you young ones who don’t know your music history

Freddy Mercury would have turned 65 today had he not been tragically taken away too early.  I have no doubt he’d still be playing, or at least having fun trying.

For those too younger to remember Queen, let me just add this clip from their performance at the Live Aid festival in the 1980s.

And for those who just watched that and don’t get the meaning of that event, here is a documentary specifically about Queen at Live Aid.

Fixing Evernote in OSX Lion. The simple way.

One of the first conflicts I noticed after install Mac OSX 10.7 was the total failure of the popular cloud storage program Evernote.  I got a message saying Missing Plug-In when trying to view PDFs in Evernote.

The solution, published by Evernote’s support staff, involved reseting the Java preferences or drilling down into the library to remove some Adobe PDF thing.  Yeah right.

My solution, and one I recommend for you as well, is just to reinstall Evernote.  It’s free, it’s in the App Store, and once you reinstall it runs just fine.

Sometimes simple answers are often the best.

PenguinRadio is no more. is where it’s at.

Nearly 12 years ago I was working as an attorney for the US Congress.  Boredom does not begin to describe my life back then.  I was writing a memo on a health insurance case we were investigating in Japan, when I happened to realize that Arsenal v. Manchester United in the FA Cup was on the BBC online stream.  Our rather moronic office policy forbid speakers in the office, but as a lawyer who really didn’t care about bureaucratic rules I brought in some headphones.  No one ever challenged me.

Anyway, I was listening to this game…yes–it was the Giggs goal game of 1999, when something annoying happened.  My stream from the BBC started to sputter as the computer couldn’t handle my working on a memo in MS Word and running Real Player at the same time.  I thought to myself, as I closed the MS Word file :-p “What I really need is a bigger computer.” But then, as lightning bolts off do, it hit me.  “No, I don’t need a computer.  I need something that just does Internet audio–no PC needed”.  And with the pain of listening to that game (Arsenal lost in extra time) was relieved by the thoughts of a really new hot idea.

Internet radio, no pc needed.  The PenguinRadio.

The next 12 years have been a roller coaster.  I got angel funding, I got VC funding, I got an office and staff, we built prototypes and websites, we tried raising more money in the US and UK and then, 9-11 hit.  As you may remember the days were dying before the World Trade Center was attacked but those incidents put the kibosh on any new VC funding for a few years.  I put PenguinRadio on hold and concentrated on some other things.

PenguinRadio was basically brain dead for a bit.

But then I came back to the idea a year or so later.  Prices for parts had come down.  Everyone was listening to streams.  The idea of Internet radio, and more particularly, of .mp3 audio was growing larger and larger.  With a new round of funding I launched a few radios, rebuilt the website, and then attracted the interest of some folks in the UK who were thinking much the same as me.

So PenguinRadio was reborn into a new company, that, unfortunately, managed to reach the prototype stage of a really neat player device at basically the same time as Apple introduced the iPhone.  This meant that there were suddenly several million devices out there that could do Internet radio without a PC at a cost just about the same as our device, though with the marketing and support of Apple Inc behind them.

Thus PenguinRadio died a second time.

The website stayed up for a few years after this latest adventure, but the new new owners of the domain recently completed the sale of PenguinRadio to another party (hint: they also have Penguin in their name).  As I sat on my couch in Hong Kong at 1:00 am in the morning watching, guess what, Arsenal once again (a nil-nil disaster against Newcastle) I went to check the PenguinRadio site and got a DNS error.  The transfer of the PenguinRadio domain name had taken place.  It was no longer there on the web.

Truth be told the site died a long time ago, but the site was out there as a reminder of my first startup and the great adventure.  It’s a tad weird to think it’s no longer there.  That the logos and t-shirts and links have all turned to dust.  I have other sites, such as that continue to host radio streams, but the closure of the site is like the end of a large chapter of my life.

On to new and more interesting things I guess.

RIP my Penguin.

*PenguinRadio is (now) a registered trademark of Penguin Publishing.

Hong Kong’s iPhone postage stamp

Was poking around the post office today looking for some stamps when I came across a new issue from the HK Post Office which looked oddly familiar.

The Volunteerism series of postage stamps contains one stamp which shows an “An email from co-workers brings good news on school redevelopment. Children’s smiling faces in the photo are the best gift for the aunties and uncles volunteering in the project”.  The email is done as a message on an iPhone, complete with a battery indication, wifi and clock (but no carrier information).  Kind of an interesting, if low budget way of designing a postage stamp.

Available from your local post office.  If you really wanted one shoot me an email or a comment and I’ll see if I can get one and mail it to you.

They also have one that looks like a blog posting, if you are feeling really geeky:


$1.40 – A simple note and a green leaf on a diary page record happy moments of planting trees with mom. This shows that the seed of altruism has taken root in the child’s heart.

$2.40 – A volunteer recruitment leaflet has been uploaded onto a blog to rally support from young people for a community charity event.

$3 – An email from co-workers brings good news on school redevelopment. Children’s smiling faces in the photo are the best gift for the aunties and uncles volunteering in the project.

$5 – A reminder on the calendar tells of an upcoming home visit with an elderly volunteer, conveying a strong feeling of worthiness among the silver-haired in caring about others.


Tracker reveals my iPhone travels over last few months

There is a lot of buzz on the Internet about a small little file being stored on the iPhone and sync’d with the computer containing the exact location of your iPhone over the course of the day, week and month.  At the moment this file isn’t really being uploaded or used for any purpose, but a group of coders have found a way to de-encrypt the file and reveal the GPS goodness that is hidden inside.

Attached you see the results of the simple iPhone tracker app (download iPhone tracker here). It shows you which towers I’ve connected to most frequently and you can play back the results day-by-day if you are seeking to really stalk someone.

Oh, one other bit. See that travel across the border into Shenzhen? Interestingly enough I had swapped SIM cards up there and used my China SIM card. Apparently the gadget doesn’t care what SIM you are using–it just tracks it no matter which card is in there. So while you may escape a trace effort from the phone company by removing the SIM, should they get your phone or your desktop, they’re going to find out where you were.

And for those who wonder, the way to disable this is to turn off your phone (though I suspect some hacks will come out shortly to improve this option).

Here is a 20 minute interview about how the file was discovered.

Facetime as a security camera in one simple command line

Apple’s Facetime (Free on your iPhone/iPad or .99¢ on your desktop) is a nice high resolution way of doing face-to-face conferences between any two people in the Apple iOS environment.  Want to Facetime grandpa from the iPhone?  It can be done (with a wifi).

But with such a nice interface, the question has arisen throughout the net “Can I use Facetime as a Baby Monitor?” and “Can I use Facetime as a security camera”.  The problem was that Facetime required you to actively accept an incoming request, much like you have to pick up a phone to speak to someone who is calling you.

Intrepid hackers moved quickly to find a solution to the auto-answering Facetime question.  A simple Applescript solution has been posted for a few months now that enables, when running, Facetime to answer an incoming call without any human interaction.  But after just a few minutes of playing with this script (hanging up, reconnecting, failing, etc) I discovered it wasn’t the be all end all of answers.

Wouldn’t you know, there is a much more elegant solution, thanks in large part to Apple’s foresight (and possible future software upgrades).  Hidden in the preferences for Facetime at the configuration file level is a function for Auto Accept incoming calls.  Typing this simple command for example would enable your Facetime to start automatically anytime Steve Jobs sent you a request, simply by opening your terminal and typing in this line:

defaults write AutoAcceptInvitesFrom -array-add [email protected]

Now the slightly more confusing bit is that you should probably have a second Apple ID tied to the Facetime you intend to use as a security camera.  I used a second email address and registered a new Apple ID to tie to that computer running the auto-accepting Facetime.

But I can confirm it works.  I have a monitor now set up in the living room so I can check on the boys as they terrorize the nanny and the neighbor kids.  Works so well that I’m now thinking of getting a higher resolution camera (Logitech 1080p Webcam Pro C910) to record their crimes for future prosecution.