This is my iPod, this is my gun…

…this is for fighting, this is for fun.

Newsweek reports that the US Army are using iPod Touches and some iPhones for translation and other purposes. They’re cheap, rugged and many recruits are already familiar with using them.

Could be quite interesting if integrated with DARPA’s locationally aware wiki TIGR.

Not sure if the users get to upload their own content onto them though.

IceTV wins

In good news for Australian EyeTV and Topfield users and others who use IceTV’s Electronic Programme Guide (EPG), the Australian high court has ruled that it is legal for IceTV to publish its version of Channel 9’s TV schedule. Legal info on the IceTV v Channel 9 ruling at Austlii. The case had been running since 2006.

Why I force quit BBEdit

BBEdit and I have a relationship that stretches back some 10 years at least (It still doesn’t suck).

I tend to open lots of new text documents in BBEdit to use as multiple scratchpads. These are titled ‘untitled 1’ through ‘untitled 85’ (currently). In recent versions BBEdit has introduced a scratchpad, but there’s only one scratchpad document, so you have to do all your scratchpadding in the same place, whereas multiple new documents provide some isolation if you’re doing full document search and replaces for example.

Somewhere along the way they added document persistence. So if what I’m working on kills the OS (or Safari beachballs it to death again) and the machine needs rebooting, when I relaunch BBEdit I get my documents back again. When you relaunch, the untitled documents are all there, still ready to be used. Occasionally I go through and close old ones I no longer need.

The problem is, when you quit BBEdit, it asks you to save the documents. And saving them means you have to name them all, and re-open them next time.

But not if you force quit it 🙂 Then they are recovered automatically on the next launch, and you don’t need to think up names for them.

Perhaps they just need to implement multiple scratchpads 🙂

[Edit: What they did add was “Sleep BBEdit” command, which saves the state and Quits. Yay!]

Western Digital 500Gb 2.5inch Scorpio Blue’s are hot!

I bought a 500Gb 2.5 inch Western Digital Scorpio Blue with the intent on sticking it in my MacBook Pro. To give it a a bit of a test run first I put it into a “G2 Mini Combo – USB 2.0/FireWire 400/800” external case from Zytech.

Formatted it with lots of Zeroes, copied the MBP’s contents onto it. And noticed that by this stage it was literally too hot to touch.

Checking out the data sheets shows that it’s maximum operating temperature is 60 degrees C. It requires 2.5W for read/write, 0.85W at idle, 0.25W at Standby and 0.1W in sleep. I’m guessing that the drive currently inside the MBP is a Fujitsu MHY2200bh drive with 1.9W read/write, 0.6W at idle, and 0.13W in Standby and Sleep. Maximum temperature is 55 degrees C.

Unfortunately the SMART utilities like smartmontools don’t seem to let me grab drive temperature information when it’s in an external FireWire case. So I’d have to install it in order to find out more about it…

So the question is, will installing the drive inside the MBP fry the machine or the drive? Will the fan run continuously? Will the machine be way too hot to put on your lap? Or will I be forced to use the drive externally? (I know of one person who’s had the same drive installed in their MBP, but haven’t had any adverse affects)

I note that the largest BTO drive Apple offers in MacBooks is 320Gb. Is that because they’re the only drive to run cool enough?

What Apple’s Disk Utility doesn’t tell you.

I’d recently purchased a new hard drive and so fired up “SMART Utility” to have a look at it out of the box. Annoyingly, the external firewire case didn’t support passing the SMART commands through to the drive, but that isn’t unusual. What was interesting was that SMART Utility reported that the internal drive on my MacBook Pro had failed its SMART tests.

Looking at the detailed information it seemed that the drive had a non-zero (1) “Reallocation event count”. A quick check on the Wikipedia’s SMART page indicated that this is a “potential indicator of imminent electromechanical failure”. Some poking around in the Google study “Failure trends in a large disk drive population” indicated that once a drive has attempted a reallocation event it’s 16 times more likely to fail in the next 60 days.

Despite this indicator of impending failure, Apple’s Disk Utility reports that the SMART status of the drive is verified. So I grabbed a copy of the free open source smartmontools

A check with the local AppleCare provider indicated that drives would be replaced if their SMART status indicated they were failing (ie not yet failed). I’m not sure if this applies to all SMART indications, or only to failures reported by Apple’s tools. In that case it would be to Apple’s advantage for Disk Utility to be less conservative in what it reports as failure in order to avoid having to cover warranty claims (although the drive is probably warrantied by the manufacturer, Apple probably still has to cover some of the costs, such as labour).