Monthly Archives: May 2009

Awkward photos

My wife has a well developed sense of the absurd. There are some things out there that just crack her up. Sometimes I just don’t get it but today she found a real gem.

I would caution everyone to check their parents’ photo albums before casting the first stone. I’m pretty sure we’ve all got a few awkward photo skeletons in the closet.


This is one of those songs that I’ll always just love.  Tonight, courtesy once again of Boing Boing, Courtney Woolsey with her own multi-track version of this classic.

There’s lots to like with the video and Courtney.  She has a nice voice, a great smile and the playful way she performs each of the tracks fits just so.  Solo performances of harmonies aren’t new but this is the first I’ve seen as a video.

It’s also interesting to reflect upon all the magic (good and bad) behind the scenes.

The video was made by a 19 year old girl at college on a personal computer.  Think about that.  That is why I love personal computers.

The video was made available to the entire world by a single person.  Think about that too.  That is why I love the Internet.  The Internet isn’t about ABC joining it’s about personal publishing and Courtney’s wonderful unique, personal voice.

The video was published on YouTube but it could have (and may have) been published on many different video sharing sites.  Although YouTube has a strong market position, the underlying technology has become commoditized to the point where different video sharing sites have a very hard time differentiating themselves.  But, they exist anyway and that is a good thing.  If YouTube were to become the only video portal then it’s corporate overlords would be unable to help themselves.  They’d get greedy and stupid and ruin it for everyone.  Unfortunately that kind of behaviour is all too common and takes decades to fix.

The odds are good that some automated music recognition system is trying to figure out what intellectual property was used and whether to issue a DMCA takedown notice or to send YouTube the bill.  It would be a crying shame if Courtney’s voice were to be stifled by fear of a new medium and greed.  We desperately need a new approach to intellectual property.

A roundup of Mac tools

Over time I am gradually mastering the finer aspects of Mac OS X.  As with any system a lot of value comes from third party utilities.

One recent discovery is something called sleepwatcher.  It will automatically run ~/.sleep and ~/.wakeup as your Mac goes to sleep and wakes up.  The first application of this is the following command:

hdiutil eject /Volumes/Encrypted

This unmounts my encrypted volume.  What’s the point of an encrypted volume if it’s always available?  The act of sleeping my Mac ensures that the encrypted data is locked tight.

Another useful tool is something called DropScript that wraps a file oriented shell command to a Mac app.  I’ve used this to create the Mac equivalent of the wonderful open command.  Why do I need this?  Because Firefox, Thunderbird and Postbox all insist on maintaining their own mappings between MIME types and applications to open them.  This almost makes sense but is quite annoying when all I really want to do is to defer the decision to the Mac default.  I currently do this quite naively with the following script:

open “$*”

Looking at the manual page it’s clear that there’s opportunity for refinement.  One minor benefit is that when I need to create a new association I’m always going to the same place (~/bin/

Finally there’s Tomboy.  Although I don’t use it all the time I like having it around.  It finally runs on the Mac although the port is somewhat simplistic so operations like copy and paste use Control-C and Control-V instead of Command-C and Command-V.

Got any cool tweaks for your Mac?