Free electronic waste recycling in Ann Arbor

For those people who read my blog and happen to live around Ann Arbor, there are two free electronic waste recycling opportunities coming up.

  • Tomorrow (April 28, 2008) from 10am to 4pm at the Best Buy on Lohr Road
  • Saturday May 10 from 9am to 2pm at Pioneer High School

Keep that mercury, lead and other nasty stuff out of our landfills by taking your electronic junk to one of these places. It’s finally time to get rid of that 14″ CRT and the 486.

Leap (Mac software) is very cool

Based on having looked at and purchased previous MacUpdate and MacHeist bundles, it doesn’t seem like the current MacUpdate bundle is doing quite as well. Maybe it’s because they broke the magic price barrier (charging $64.99 rather than $49.99). It’s funny how prices work that way. It could also be that people aren’t as interested in the software that’s in the bundle. Things might take off once Parallels is unlocked, though.

Now that I’ve bought the bundle and actually used a couple of the programs, I just wanted to specifically mention Leap. Leap is a great reimagining of the Finder. It gives you a simple way to slice through your files based on when you last modified them, what kind of file it is, and any tags you apply to the file. Mountains of files become easily manageable this way, and it’s a far better and easier-to-maintain system than having tons of folders.

It wouldn’t surprise me to see Apple crush Leap in Mac OS 10.6 by releasing a Finder that does much the same thing. It’s about time that Finder had this kind of work done to it.

Dear Lazyweb: flipping screen image on Mac

It’s kind of a weird thing to want to do, but I’d like to be able to “flip” the screen image on one of my displays on my Mac, in real time. The Mac lets you rotate the image (in 90 degree increments), but there is no way to make it like an image seen in a mirror. Does anyone know of software that lets you do that?

Audiobooks without DRM

Surprise!

“Our feeling is that D.R.M. is not actually doing anything to prevent piracy,” said Ms. McIntosh of Random House Audio. [From Publishers Phase Out Piracy Protection on Audio Books – New York Times]

What’s funny about the music industry and now the publishing industry taking these steps away from DRM is that this has all been done before! You don’t need to look any further than what happened with copy protected software… and things that you really want to take with you (like music, audiobooks and now movies) are even more likely to suffer from the problems people disliked about copy protected software.

Music, now audiobooks and even many ebooks are going DRM-free. How long will it take for movies to do the same?

Can Borders’ new concept store push toward a brick-and-mortar future?

I haven’t been there yet (it just opened today), but Borders has just opened their first new “concept” store right around the corner from my house. Eighteen months in development, this store is out to change Borders’ future prospects and help stop the losses.

At this point, it’s unclear to me what bookstores will look like in 10 years. The Kindle, while certainly not perfect, is a glimpse of a more paperless future that I think will come to pass at some point. In the meantime, though, something like this new Borders sounds like the right idea. They’re looking to blend their traditional book and music selling business with how people are actually making use of the content. They’ve got kiosks where you can buy prints of photos or custom burned CDs. You can also load up your MP3 player… except…


The only glitch so far: The digital services don’t work with Apple’s iPod, something Borders says it’s working on. [From Borders offers preview of new concept store – Latest from the Ann Arbor News – MLive.com]

It’s hard to say who’s at fault for this, be it the record labels or Apple, but Borders’ inability to sell music that can be loaded directly onto iPods eliminates 70% of the digital music players out there. Just as online sellers have been battling these past 10 years to sell content in convenient electronic forms online, brick and mortar stores like Borders are going to have a challenge creating interesting and useful physical destinations in an age of electronic content.

1Password gets iPhone login support

Taking advantage of the fact that bookmarklets can be just about any length, the new version of 1Password can now fill in forms with your login information on your iPhone. This is in addition to 1Password’s previous mechanism for passing along your 1Password data in a secure bookmarklet.

For the security minded out there, 1Password stores your passwords in encrypted form in the bookmarklet. The decryption code is written in JavaScript that runs on the phone and you have to type in an access code that you set up. Unless someone has your access code, they won’t be able to use your stored passwords.

Over the past 3 weeks, 1Password has potentially picked up about 44,000 new users from MacHeist. For those of you with iPhones, go check out this update!

Blogging with ecto

Blue Sky On Mars has been around for six and a half years now. For the first time in all of that time, I’ve started blogging with a desktop client (ecto). Ecto is not perfect, but so far this seems like a really nice way to work. I particularly like how easy it is to include images (with automatic resizing and everything). WordPress makes it fairly easy now, but you still need to have the file on disk which is one more step away from what I get with Ecto. I can just snag an image, crop it as needed in ImageWell and paste it in. It’s just on the clipboard the whole time.

ecto feels a little rough around the edges. For example, I had to create a custom tag to do headings. After entering a heading, it doesn’t revert to normal paragraph style when I hit the next line. I couldn’t find a way to get out of list mode short of switching to HTML editing.

Rough edges aside, ecto is easy and worked well without hassle. I haven’t tried MarsEdit to see how it compares, and I’m certainly game for any opinions that people feel like putting in the comments here…

New MacHeist: PixelMator, Snapz Pro X

MacHeist is back with a new MacHeist Bundle. For people not familiar with MacHeist (or similar), they take a bunch of indie Mac developer apps and put ’em together for cheap ($49). I’ve been eyeing 1password for its iPhone support, which will undoubtedly be better when the iPhone SDK comes out. AppZapper sounds useful. The others, I’m less sure about… until you get to the ones that need unlocking.

Snapz Pro X, which I don’t need because I already own and use it for screencasting, is a great tool. Pixelmator looks quite slick, and I’ll definitely buy the bundle if it gets unlocked.

The eBay “Just Sold” Scam

Today, I nearly fell prey to a phishing scam. I am totally not the kind of person who falls for phishers, but this was a wild one.

I was selling my PowerBook G4 12″ on eBay and the auction ended today. As usual, the bidding intensified at the end, but a winner was declared at a price I was happy with. A short time later, I received an email from eBay saying that a payment has been made and giving me a link for the details. I clicked that link, not suspecting anything because I had, indeed, just sold an item. My browser’s location bar started out at cgi2.ebay.com, and went through a couple of forwards before landing on isapitems.pisem.su.

That page was done up with eBay’s logo and login page appearance, and I actually submitted my eBay username and password. Just after I did, something felt fishy about it and then it brought up a page styled like an eBay home page. When I saw that, I knew for sure it was a scam and immediately changed my eBay password.

I was really puzzled by this. eBay only lets you contact other members if you have an open transaction with that member. How could I have gotten such a targeted phishing scam? The answer came a couple hours later. eBay’s security people alerted me that the winner of my PowerBook’s account had been tampered with and bids had been made without his knowledge. That’s quite the scam. Take over one eBay account and then win auctions just to get the passwords for more accounts.

While I’m glad that I escaped from the phishing net, it was a drag having to re-list the item. eBay deleted the entire auction. Thankfully, Google’s cache still had it so I could just cut and paste the text back in to a new auction.

If you’re a seller on eBay, just be aware that even emails with links that route through eBay could lead to phishing sites.

p.s. If you’re interested in my PowerBook, the fresh auction runs through Christmas day.