Scripting News for 9/22/2006

Paul Krugman on 9/21/04: “It’s hard to identify any major urban areas outside Kurdistan where the U.S. and its allies exercise effective control. Insurgents operate freely, even in the heart of Baghdad, while coalition forces, however many battles they win, rule only whatever ground they happen to stand on.” 

The math of anonymous discourse on the Internet. πŸ™‚ 

Wired: “Apple Computer has slapped Podcast Ready with a cease and desist letter, claiming that the terms Podcast Ready and myPodder infringe on Apple’s trademarks.” 

A question about iPod that’s sure to get me flamed. πŸ™‚ 

Jason Lefkowitz: “I do not agree that Microsoft has the right to ‘turn off’ my computer remotely if I’ve paid them for their OS, just because they don’t like a new piece of hardware I’ve slapped in.” 

Keith Veleba: “Like most ‘activation’ schemes, it’s a grave inconvenience to the honest folk, and no concern for the pirates, cause they’ve already broken it.” 

Jay Rosen says when he explains his to journalists, they predict, “If people do step forward to fund assignments, they will be interests with an agenda who only want results that support that agenda. Or they will be passionate believers in a cause who know the truth and won’t accept an account that differs. By taking their money you’re asking for trouble.” 

BusinessWeek: “Google and Yahoo at times passively profit from click fraud and, in theory, have an incentive to tolerate it.” 

Salon: “If one good thing can come from our country’s apparent decision to legalize torture, perhaps we can finally agree to kill off the ‘Myth of the Independent Republican Senators.'” 

Today is OneWebDay. Yaaay web. Go team! 

No doubt the Apple zealots are going to flame me for this 

But I swear I can’t figure out how to copy some podcasts onto my iPod so I can listen to them on my daily walk.

Details. I hosed my Sansa by copying a 2GB folder on it. Now it just loops endlessly, refreshing the database, restarting, refreshing the database, restarting, until the battery runs down. I’ve been emailing with their tech support people, to no avail. The device won’t respond to updating the firmware. I’ve tried all the magic incantations. Sansa == dead.

So back to Plan B. Try to use the iPod. It’s plugged into my MacBook, not my desktop which is a few miles away at the old place. No problem, I have it configured for manual updating. But here’s the rub, when I drag an MP3 file onto the “Dave’s iPod” icon, in iTunes or the Finder, nothing happens. No file gets copied. I tried everything I could think of, honestly, so go ahead and flame me for being dumb, because I can’t make this easy to use software do what it was designed to do.

Message to readers: Helllp!

Where do you want to go today? 

I had an exceptionally unpleasant experience installing Windows on my ThinkPad yesterday. I answered all the questions it asked, entered the long registration string from the back of the package, but then the OS refused to boot, saying that I had installed it too many times. I could re-enter the number (which I tried, same result) or call a phone number. So I called. On the other end of the line was a robot, of course I was talking to the same piece of software that already said no, so it wasn’t a surprise when I got the same result. You’ve installed the software too many times. So I hit the O button on my phone. Nothing happened. I hit it again, and again. Finally a voice with an Indian accent comes on the phone mumbling so I can’t make out what he’s saying. I guess that he wants me to read him the number, so I did, and this seemed to make him happy until I got about half way through it, then the line went dead, and a minute or so later another Indian voice comes on saying “How can I help you sir?” So I explain, again, he responds, not mumbling, and we get through it, and no surprise, it doesn’t work. He says that I’ve installed it on too many computers. I explain for the third time that I paid for the software, got it just that day, installed it on exactly one computer (which I might add, already had a valid Windows license, so they got paid twice for this machine). I guess there was something in my voice that sounded sincere, and they give the guys in India some discretion because he gave me a number, that I entered, it worked, and the software is running. Needless to say if the computer needs a fresh install of the OS I’m surely hosed.

Straight talk 

John McCain wants to be President.

The last thing he would do is cross the current President, because that might mean he doesn’t get to be the next President.

So when he “fought” the President and then made peace with the President, they were obviously just doing photo ops for TV ads they’re going to run next month that explain how American democracy runs just great with Republicans running the Senate and House as well as the White House. They were also shooting commercials for McCain’s primary campaign which I guess has already started.

So John McCain is some different kind of Republican?

Nahhh. El Diablo. Capitol Hill smells of sulfur.

28 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by gwtree on September 22, 2006 at 9:35 am

    “Nahhh. El Diablo. Capitol Hill smells of sulfur.”

    It is a sad state of affairs how much you hate this administration. You are consumed by it … blinded by it. You would rather see a U.S. president hurt rather than our common enemies. Don’t you see how far you have slipped.


  2. I don’t know who you are gwtree, so I can’t make a personal comment about you.

    I’m way past “my country right or wrong” — these days my country is wrong more often that it is right.

    Imagine playing politics with torture. How far we have slipped. What’s next, ethnic cleansing?

    But this is a one-way conversation, until you say who you are, I’m just talking to myself here.


  3. Re: the pain of installing Windows —

    Join us in Ubuntu-land, Dave. it’s free, easy to install and sets you free of validation/CD-key/”too many computers” hell.

    What’s not to like? πŸ˜€


  4. Salon has a very intersting comment on this general topic in their war room:

    Its titled the “myth of the independent republican senators”

    My favorite excerpt:
    “Anyone who, at any time over the past five years, has placed faith in those Republican senators who parade around as independent checks on the president has suffered nothing but one disappointment after the next. The poster child for this complex is Arlen Specter, who may be the most vivid example, but he is far from the only one.”

    It is high time for a change of the guard…


  5. Jason, it’s quite possible. In this case I needed to get at the data that was on the hard disk, some of it dating back to the 80s, believe it or not. I’m copying it onto DVDs now, and once that’s done, it may well become a file server for my home network. I bet Ubuntu would make a good file server for a network of Macs (and one or two Windows machines, esp for visitors). Dave


  6. Posted by Keith Veleba on September 22, 2006 at 10:30 am

    Re: Windows installs and activation

    I’ve shared that pain recently. I’ve been through the India ringer three times on my most recent occasion. Since I bought my copy in 02, I’ve had to reinstall multiple times.

    I’d just recently started using Windows again for some consulting gigs, and if I didn’t need it for that, I’d have not purchased Parallels and a MacBook to replace my recently departed beige box.

    Last time and the time before, I had to activate on the phone. I had to read in the 60 or so numbers, wait for the automated system to fall through and talk to an Indian representative.

    Most recntly, I had to explain, in detail, why I was reinstalling again, where I’d purchased my copy of windows, and what machine I was installing it on now. Doing it once was enough, but I was transferred to three different operators and had to go through the same drill. One said I’d have to buy a new activation key. I said no. After telling “Larry”, operator #3, I’d been through this three times, and I just wanted to get my computer up and running, he relented and gave me the code. Like most “activation” schemes, it’s a grave inconvenience to the honest folk, and no concern for the pirates, cause they’ve already broken it.

    How does this thank a consumer and build a brand when you call for help they make you feel like a criminal?

    I enjoy reading your blog. When you hang up your spurs later this year, it will leave a void few can attempt to fill.


  7. “Activation” is actually what pushed me to try Linux in the first place.

    I’ve been running Windows 2000 at home practically since its first release. It’s solid and does everything I need.

    When XP came out, I considered “upgrading”. But Product Activation is fundamentally something I cannot agree to. I do not agree that Microsoft has the right to “turn off” my computer remotely if I’ve paid them for their OS, just because they don’t like a new piece of hardware I’ve slapped in.

    If you agree to that, you’ve essentially agreed that you don’t own your computer, you just rent it. And I believe that I own my computer.

    So, when MS started to back off their support for 2000, I started looking for alternatives. Macs are attractive and lack activation (for now), but in a lot of ways you’re just trading one demon for another; the Apple ecosystem is even more closed and insular than the MS one, in that you not only have no choice in your OS, you also have no choice from whom you get your hardware. You live or die by the whim of a vendor. Not cool.

    I tried Fedora Core for a while, but never really felt at home there. With Ubuntu, though, it’s actually become plausible to me that my primary desktop could be Linux. It’s not perfect, but it’s Close Enough, and it gives you “freedom zero” — the freedom to use the tool however you like, without having to ask permission.

    It’s too bad MS doesn’t agree that freedom zero is important. I liked and used Windows happily since version 3.0. But they’ve shown no signs of turning back, so away I go…


  8. RE McCain:

    Way back when, in the winter of 2000, I ran a 3rd
    party political blog in support of McCain, McCain’s Navy.

    I liked him then. Not so much now.

    This cave-in on torture and presidential uberpower
    is so so sad.

    I’d like an active old-Testament God to come out of retirement
    and subject everyone in the chain of command who’s okayed this
    useless evil to get subjected to a few years of “alternative” questioning
    procedures. GW should get the drowning and hypothermia treatment

    — stan


  9. Dave,

    I’m no iPod expert. I have a phone with itunes, actually.
    But, out of curiosity, does the icon show up in iTunes on the laptop when plugged in, or just like an external drive on the desktop?


  10. Posted by John on September 22, 2006 at 3:57 pm

    You have to use iTunes to copy podcasts onto your ipod. Finder won’t work. Drag and drop the mp3s into your itunes library and then drag them into the ipod inside of itunes.


  11. John, I dragged the files onto the iPod icon in iTunes. Nothing was copied.


  12. I think he meant from itunes library to the icon, and not from any other directory to the icon in itunes.

    I got fooled on this. Had to play the mp3 on mydesktop in itunes first, and then drag it from the itunes library->most recently played list to the mobile phone icon.

    You may have tried that already, just wanted to make sure that was clear.


  13. Posted by Tim King on September 22, 2006 at 4:13 pm


    For the Sansa, if you switch the key-lock to on (slide switch on top to the right), then hold the record button (on left side) and the power button down simultaneously, it will go in to “recovery mode” and ask you to hook up your USB cable. Unfortunately, I do not remember what to do after that. When I first got mine, I noticed that if you delete a whole folder, the folder is gone in your PC file manager but some un-playable tracks remain on the Sansa’s menu. I called tech support and they stepped me through this process. This did not fix the problem but the latest firmware update seems to have fixed it. I’ve had better luck calling their tech support than with email.



  14. Tim, yes, I’ve been through that drill, over and over. When I complete those steps and restart the Sansa, it’s still looping as I described.


  15. Re: iPod

    Im pretty sure you have to drag it form the playlist in iTunes to the iPod in iTunes and into a folder. HOWEVER, Ive always just set it to auto and let iTunes deal with duplicating my playlists onto the iPod. Maybe thats a better way to go?


  16. I do the manual iPod update with audio podcasts and have a playlist on my iPod that I copy the podcasts to from a smart playlist (within my iTunes library) of podcasts that have been added to the library in the last 2 days. The playlist on the iPod is titled .podcast, so it’s at the top of the music directory and easy to find. This keeps them in a single playlist, unless you want iTunes to automagically update your podcasts, which then adds them to the Podcast menu. It also makes it easy to remove the playlist and tracks from the iPod using “Playlist and Tracks from iPod”, which you should be able to find at Doug’s Applescripts for iTunes.


  17. Posted by ajcann on September 22, 2006 at 7:05 pm

    Re: iPod

    Have you set the iTunes iPod preferences to update as you want to? Then if you manage your podcast subscriptions in iTunes, it should update automatically when you plug the iPod in.


  18. Dave,
    With the Ipod – what you are trying to do should work – it does for me on a mac mini with the ipod set to manual update. Maybe the ipod is full? If not, maybe take it to the apple store -sounds like its broke..


  19. I’ve had that happen, too. I use the “import function” rather than dragging and dropping — import the file, then update the iPod. I haven’t tried it in iTunes 7, but it worked fine with iTunes 6.

    Your Morning Coffee Notes podcasts were always the ones that gave iTunes fits…that’s how I learned to bypass the automatic updating.


  20. Hi Dave, Folks are right that you need to do everything in iTunes – the source and destination should be within iTunes. However, you hinted that the iPod was originally registered to your desktop Mac. I believe that Apple intend each individual iPod to be subservient to an individual installation of iTunes*, for DRM reasons, and therefore the iPod would be effectively read-only on your MacBook unless you choose to make the iPod subservient to the MacBook instead of the PowerMac. In doing this, of course, any content previously placed on your iPod by the PowerMac will be wiped off iPod.
    *Things may be slightly different with the latest iTunes 7 and iPod 1.2 software, but I’m not going anywhere near that yet…


  21. Posted by Arlen on September 23, 2006 at 6:26 am

    ” With Ubuntu, though, it’s actually become plausible to me that my primary desktop could be Linux.”

    I used to think that as well. Then when I upgraded to the next major rev, it lost my wireless card. That’s a major disconnect. The previous version of Ubuntu installed off the CD and recognized my card “out of the box,” so i thought I’d finally found Something Good. Then the new version wipes out the old and takes me off the Internet.

    Yes, before you say it, I could spend the half-day required to bring the card up manually, just as I had it up in the Red Hat and Mandrake distros I tried before. But I’m not inclined to. I’m more inclined to just reformat and move on. I spend my job time fixing computers; I’ve ceased liking to do that at home as well.


  22. Posted by Bryan Schappel on September 23, 2006 at 1:02 pm

    Regarding your iPod issue,

    You are experiencing one of the “cave-ins” to big media. Even though the iPod is set to manually update you can’t update it from which ever computer you choose. Apple did this so the iPod would not become a giant piracy device. Your iPod gets “linked” to your primary computer and can update only from that box. At least officially.

    To get around this you need to copy a couple of files from your desktop to your Macbook. In your “home” folder on the desktop mac is a Music folder. Inside this folder is an iTunes folder. Within this folder are two files: “iTunes Library” and “iTunes Library.xml”. Replace the files on your Macbook with these two files from your desktop. iTunes can’t be running when you do this.

    This will screw up the links to the music files on your macbook. You can delete any songs that from the library that you do not have on the macbook and add in the songs/podcasts that are missing. You should now be able to update the iPod from either computer.

    There is some identifying “code” in the files that allows the iPod to update to the computer.

    If this is too complicated (or makes no sense) the easiest thing to do is to copy the entire Music folder from the desktop Mac to the Macbook. Relaunch iTunes and you are all set. Add back in the new stuff to your iTunes library and you can update the iPod from either computer.


  23. Posted by Barry on September 24, 2006 at 10:12 am


    Apple, by adding the iPod management to iTunes 7, removed the ability to manage the iPod “Library” (by clicking on the iPod icon in the source list).

    To solve this problem (unitl it is hoefully fixed), create a playlist for your podcasts on your iPod and drag your podcasts to that playlist when copying them over.

    Works for me.


  24. I’m glad Dave’s problem is solved. But Bryan, I’m not experiencing what you described. And Barry, I’m still able to manage my iPod content manuall in iTunes 7 f

    I’m using iTunes 7 on two computers. (a MacBook, and a G5 tower). I have no trouble managing files from either computer. There’s no such cave in here. The only restriction is that you can’t (without a hack) copy files from the iPod to a computer. It’s set up as a one way system–not a one-computer system. (UNLESS… you’re using auto-sync. see below)

    I can drag files to the iPod from either computer. I can use either computer to delete the files. It’s working no differently in iTunes 7 than in any other version.

    Not only that, but I can drag music to as many iPod’s as I want.

    The catch is, though, you have to set the iPod up not to auto-sync. Auto-sync for iPod is essentially one-way–the Mac or PC will bomb out whatever is on the iPod… you can designate only a single computer as the host for that iPod. (although you can switch at will)

    In i= iTunes 7, there’s new tabbed U-I that let’s me set up auto-syncing for podcasts, while keeping music set to manually manage.


  25. Posted by Bryan Schappel on September 24, 2006 at 2:12 pm

    I don’t want to sound negative but I’ve run into this before. In fact It’s happened several times. And I after some more thought I think I have a better workaround for Dave.

    #1: Start with an empty iTunes library. Grab a copy of Senuti — — and use it to restore your library from the iPod.

    #2: Reformat the iPod and link it the computer with the restored library. You can download the music again to the iPod.

    #3: Copy the entire iTunes folder (with your music in it) to your other computers.

    You should now be able to sync from any computer to which you’ve copied your library.

    I know that this works. I’ve done it. I can update my iPod from my work Mac, my iMac at home, and my Macbook Pro.

    I think that it is a very tedious scenario to setup. I should be able to do what I want with my music. I bought that music — in some cases THREE times!!! I bought the computers. I bought the iPod.

    We no longer live in a country where we are citizens with rights. We are consumers. Nothing more than wallets with eyes. Our so-called representative government has no problem giving our rights away every time that copyright law is tinkered with.

    I’ve read that some people are loading Linux on to the iPods so that they can play OGG files and other formats that the iPod does not support. If some enterprising company could pare down Linux and make it easy to install on the iPod I could see that company making lots of money “opening” the iPod.

    It makes sense. The money has never been in the hardware but the software. There are over 50 million iPods out there. I’d gladly pay $30 to be able to use the hardware I purchased the way I want. I bet a lot of others feel the same way. That makes for a very ripe market.


  26. If all you want to do is be able to copy and sync podcasts from multiple computers it’s quite simple…

    On your main system, you choose to sync your library and your podcasts automatically. On system #2-5 (as Apple DRM permits) you can actually choose, to manage music manually (you can copy purchased and regular tracks with drag and drop) while still syncing podcasts automatically.

    I do this now on two powerbooks – one personal and one from work. Works without issue.


  27. Posted by heavyboots on September 25, 2006 at 7:55 am

    Blink, blink? I totally missed this controversy having left on Friday.

    You can copy stuff ONTO an iPod from anywhere manually. It would be a bad idea to sync from more than one computer, imho, but if you must it sounds like there are ways…

    You’re just not ever allowed to copy music off (by Apple). Get Senuti if you want to copy it off. Also be aware that Senuti works by comparing album length, so it won’t work reliably if you have tons of same-length songs.

    If you want to experiment with a completely DRM-free iPod, go download RockBox at, which will replace your iPod software with an open-source OS thingy.


  28. Posted by vanni on September 26, 2006 at 10:59 am

    hello; i think this will help manage podcasts as it does for itunes.

    PS if you are dragging stuff into iTunes 7 make sure you drag and drop ONTO the icon i.e. your iPod icon in the iTunes Menu area on the left pane.


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