nullstream weblog - September 2008

Kokopelli Music iPod Repair


September 22, 2008 12:05 AM PST

ipodScreen.jpgEarlier this year I dropped a 30GB iPod Video at the gym and broke the screen. The screen didn't actually have that split crystal look to it, but was just a scramble of lines and blank spaces. After looking around for a while, I decided to get a do-it-yourself iPod Video screen replacement kit from Kokopelli Music for $37 shipped, including tools and instructions. I figured that doing it myself woud be cheaper and also save me from having to ship my iPod in.

I'm happy to report that I did the transplant myself using the excellent instructions and am really happy with the new screen. I think it's brighter than the old one. There are a lot of vendors out there doing iPod repair, and I just wanted to thank and recommend Kokopelli Music for being fast and honest to deal with by doing this unsolicited post and link back. Thanks, guys.

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What are we expecting from new Macbooks?


September 21, 2008 11:51 PM PST

A substantial refresh is said to be coming for the MacBook and MacBook pros. This includes a new case design which is rumored to bring an aluminum case to the lower end MacBook. Also potentially the chipsets will be updated to Intel's latest. Also the new machines are said to be aggressively priced. More tenuous rumors suggest tablet capability. Either way, Apple's laptop market share has already jumped to 10.6 percent. The fact that John, Paul and I all use laptops as our primary machines now is indicative of the laptop numbers carrying over to total market share numbers.

So what do people expect of the new MacBooks? I know Paul is in the market. John wants one but can't quite pull the trigger. I'm tempted by an upgrade. This could be the first "Nullstream Laptop" - something each of us is willing to buy (very rare).

I'd be happy for aluminum case and hardware bump. I'd really like to see what I expected the MacBook Air would be - an aluminum MacBook with no optical drive. That alone would be very interesting to me. On another note, my next laptop will have 8GB of ram. Just saying...

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What are we expecting from Android?

Mobile Tech

September 21, 2008 07:39 PM PST

Well this week the first Android based phone will be announced by T-Mobile. But what are we expecting here? Something as cool as the iPhone? Probably not. Will this be a game changing platform, or just another me too phone? Chime in with your thoughts.

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Headless Mac Mini


September 19, 2008 09:00 PM PST

How about this for a crazy use case: I have been testing a configuration that will allow me to use the Mini away from my house with no monitor, mouse or keyboard or even a real network.

I am running the Mini headless connected to my XP Laptop via a firewire cable and accessing it with VNC. Tuning VNC for the firewire bandwidth gives me performance that is nearly as good as connecting local. Moving large windows stutters slightly, but everything else is smooth even animations and video.

Some of the tricks:

Continue reading "Headless Mac Mini"...

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Itunes ain't done until Windows won't run


September 11, 2008 12:47 AM PST

Has anyone out there experienced the BSOD that is apparently being caused by the new Itunes 8 update? Don't get me started on iTunes for Windows.

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September 8, 2008 10:09 PM PST

spore.png I'd love to buy Spore. Really. But I'm not going to do it.

The DRM on it is insane: you can only install it three times and then you're out of luck. Ever have to repave your Windows install? Ever feel like playing a game you bought a few years (and computers) back? Too bad.

I understand that piracy can be a big problem, particularly for game developers, but treating your honest customers like criminals is not a strategy for success.

See the reviews on for a good example of the protest vote.

And, while you're at it, pick of a copy of Stardock's Sins Of A Solar Empire instead: DRM not included. Check out Stardock's Gamer's Bill Of Rights. Well played.
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Zune Innovation


September 8, 2008 08:15 PM PST


Microsoft has announced new Zunes features on the Eve of Apple's Ipod related media event. New models include a 120 Gbtye and a 16Gbyte model.

The more interesting part of the announcement however is the new software features. Starting on Sept 16th the Zune will support a feature called 'Buy from FM'. This feature, which will work with over 450 radio stations at launch, allows a listener to 'tag' a song they are listening on the radio for purchase. If the user is connected to a Wifi hotspot (public or private) the song will be purchased and downloaded instantly. Otherwise it will be queued for when they connect or dock next. Although I don't listen to the radio much anymore but there are a significant number of people that still do. Many Zune owners have listed the FM radio feature as a significant reason they chose a Zune over an iPod. (I'm sure the fact that their Dad works for Microsoft could be listed as another reason.) I can see how this feature will be popular. It is pretty cool and dare I say innovative?

Additionally MS has announced an unlimited music subscription program for 14.99 a month. It should be noted that many are predicting Apple to announce a similar program tomorrow.

Additional feature are the ability to update the 'Zune card' sharing in real time, as well as support and some new games. It should also be noted that MS is giving this update away to existing Zune owners for free and not charging them the (required?!) 10.00 amount that Apple charged iPod touch user's for new features.

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Google Chrome


September 2, 2008 02:16 PM PST


I've been working on Google Chrome, our new open source web browser. I wrote the SafeBrowsing (anti-phishing and anti-malware) feature with another engineer, the download manager, and a bunch of random other bits. I'm currently working on the Mac and linux version. I guess I'm now a paid open source developer, which is cool.

Some of my favorite things:
- fast and minimal user interface
- fast rendering (via webkit) and javascript (via v8)
- resizable input text boxes (thanks to webkit)
- downloads don't prompt you 15 times
- multi-process architecture makes Google Chrome robust to crashy sites
- tabs are slick and easy to manage by popping in and out of windows
- search / address bar and the new tab page train themselves to my usage very fast

Since each tab can use its own process, looking in the Windows Task Manager might be a bit confusing. You'll see multiple chrome.exe instances and on XP, shared memory isn't accounted for properly so it'll look like we're using a ton of memory. So we built our own task manager: right click on the title bar and see what the tabs or plugins are doing. In any case, browsers are doing much, much more these days than rendering static pages, so the resource usage is going to more, too.

This is a beta launch, so there are likely to be missing features. Leave your wish lists here.

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