Tag Archives: awesome

Graphing Calculator Story

I asked my friend Greg Robbins to help me. His contract in another division at Apple had just ended, so he told his manager that he would start reporting to me. She didn’t ask who I was and let him keep his office and badge. In turn, I told people that I was reporting to him. Since that left no managers in the loop, we had no meetings and could be extremely productive. We worked twelve hours a day, seven days a week. Greg had unlimited energy and a perfectionist’s attention to detail. He usually stayed behind closed doors programming all day, while I spent much of my time talking with other engineers. Since I had asked him to help as a personal favor, I had to keep pace with him. Thanks to an uncurtained east-facing window in my bedroom, I woke with the dawn and usually arrived ten minutes before Greg did. He would think I had been working for hours and feel obliged to work late to stay on par. I in turn felt obliged to stay as late as he did. This feedback loop created an ever-increasing spiral of productivity.

via Graphing Calculator Story.

Possibly my favourite Apple-related story, ever.

Six drives in a four-bay MicroServer?

Read my original MicroServer intro post right over here!

The eagle-eyed among you will notice that there are four drive bays in the HP MicroServer, and yet I have managed to squeeze six drives in there. Not really that impressive, to be sure, but still a decent effort.


If you’re prepared to forego your 5.25″ bay and optical drive, essentially you’re after something like the Nexus DoubleTwin (sorry, PC Case Gear don’t seem to stock it anymore?) or the OWC MultiMount. Same thing, different name — it’s just something that mounts in your 5.25″ bay and allows you to fit two standard 3.5″ drives in there.

What about the SATA end of business, you say?

The good news is that there’s technically two extra SATA ports you can use — one is internal and designed for the optical drive in the first place, and the second isn’t a SATA port and it isn’t internal. Instead, it’s an eSATA port and it’s located on the outside.

The bad news is that these ports are also locked to SATA I speeds, which means a max of 1.5Gbps speeds from those ports — not a huge concern if you’re just using those ports for boot or storage drives, but you don’t want to be limiting your RAID array if you’re adding those drives to an array.

Luckily, there’s an OCAU post that contains the instructions to flash a modded BIOS to the machine to fix that right up. If you’re thinking of getting one of these machines, do this BIOS flash first, then start putting in drives and setting up software and whatever else. I know it sounds potentially dodgy, flashing a modded BIOS and all, but you can always re-flash back to stock if you find that you want slower array speeds. Plus, plenty of people have been running that modded BIOS without any issues at all, so it should work just fine. I’ll cross my fingers for you, anyway.

Oh, and that other eSATA port on the back? You just need an eSATA to SATA plug, and extra molex splitter or two, and away you go. Easy, right?

This post part of Blogtober 2011, just a little thing of mine where I (attempt to) post something up on my blog every day in October 2011.


I love Instapaper. There, I said it.

I do a fair bit of public transport, and that means lots of time to chill out with tunes and just read. Sometimes I even write, but it’s mostly about reading.

I don’t know when it happened, but about a year or two ago I stopped reading things in the browser. Not just the long-form articles or editorials I occasionally come across, but pretty much everything — shorter news pieces, reviews, basically anything and everything longer than a paragraph or two. I use Google Reader a lot, and nothing there gets read either — only skimmed, and if found to be interesting, sent to Instapaper for later perusal.

I don’t read books as often as I used to (which was sparse to begin with), but I do read my Instapaper list. I’m usually only a week or so behind my unread list — but there are some things in my “serious reading” folder (for long-form stuff) that is years old. With Instapaper, I’m never without anything to read. Now my only problem is running out of battery power when I’m out and about, but that’s a story for another time.

Instapaper isn’t just for reading, though! I also use it as a bit of temporary link storage. Links come in — from Twitter, from interesting websites I don’t want to read right now, from things on the internet which I want to refer to later — and links go out, either when I read items, or get to my Mac and open up all the stuff I’ve Instapaper-ed from Twitter or wherever else.

Remember how I was saying it’s all about the apps? Throughout my experiments with various smartphone platforms over the past month, I found that exactly none had decent Instapaper clients. IOS obviously has the official client, but there’s no such thing for Android or Windows Phone 7 — at least no client that matches the iOS one, anyway.

All the niceties you’ve come to expect from the official client just don’t exist elsewhere. There are a lot of clients that sync with Instapaper, but none that do the job as well. I’m not even talking about things like jumping to the top and then returning to the bottom, I’m talking really basic things, like the reading interface itself. Typography, style, layout — all of these things matter. If you’re an app developer, it’s great that you’re making an Instapaper client for something other than iOS, but make sure your app is good for reading; if your app isn’t usable for reading, it probably isn’t suitable for Instapaper.

This post part of Blogtober 2011, just a little thing of mine where I (attempt to) post something up on my blog every day in October 2011.