The Radio

So there are a couple of stations local to NJ/NY that I really like. One is WKCR 89.9 FM Columbia University, and the other which I first stumbled upon when moving to New York is WFMU 91.1 & 90.1 FM. When I was driving my stuff up through Jersey four years ago they had this amazing set of music from the 60’s (and if I had known about their webpage I would’ve been able to get the playlist). Both these sites obviously have live streams online, but for better quality I’m going to buy an actual radio tuner. Hopefully something compact with digital sync.

Which leads me to the question, how is it that with a fresh installation of Windows XP SP3 Windows Media Player cannot instantly play .PLS playlist streams? Why do i have to upgrade to WMP 11? or 13? How is it, that 10 years ago Winamp could play streams but Microsoft chose not to add this ability natively. I’m sure there is a way to make it work in WMP 9 or 10 but how in the world did Microsoft not see this as being important? John C. Dvorak had a good article in PC Magazine (his Windows 7 “wishlist”) expressing amazment that something as simple as VLC Media Player can do everything WMP can and more without requiring an upgrade or a reboot or Vista. And he has a reasonable point when he mentioned code base improvements. When I installed Leopard on my Core Duo it actually ran faster than Tiger. That was one of the biggest reasons I was hesitant, but now that I know OS’s can actually improve in speed over time on the same system, really it must blow Microsoft’s collective mind. Also, as aside do you know what plays them just fine?  iTunes.  Do you suppose people running Window’s have installed iTunes on their machines due to WMP’s shortcomings? I’m just punting here.

Still talking about music, I watched the bio-pic Control about the band Joy Division.  It was good.  The movie’s sound quality and sound mix in general were fantastic.  It co-starred Alexandra Maria Lara who I had just seen in Coppola’s Youth Without Youth, she played the French-Belgian ‘zine writer that Ian Curtis had an affair and fell in love with while the band toured Europe.  She and Sam Riley (Ian Curtis) were pretty good as the hot young couple that complemented Curtis’ life outside of Manchester to his young wife Deborah (Samantha Morton) with their daughter.  I don’t know what the moral was, except that it was sad, he was young and that epilepsy treatment especially at that time was still hit or miss.  Now to find a decent used tuner.

Upgrades… and AWESOME! OS X Keyboard Shortcuts you never knew

So I was sitting on WordPress 2.3.3 for some time, 2.5 came out, and then finally 2.6.1 came out and I figured what the hell? Why not try a one click update and so far things seem good.  One of the problems I still haven’t sorted out is that my author title doesn’t list my full name, continuing to limit my status as the #1 (number one) Mark Beattie on the internet (via search engines like “The Google” or “The Yahoo” but probably not the MSN Live Search .NET nonsense).  Basically it comes down to “Mark Reid Beattie” or “Mark Beattie” not occurring often enough in this blog.  So there, I’ve increased it a couple more times.

OK, now you want to hear about some awesome OS X keyboard shortcuts you’ve been too lazy to hunt down, right?  Have you ever minimized an application only to have it hide somewhere on that dark lower right-hand corner of your dock and wished, ‘Man there must be some keyboard shortcut I’m missing because when I press [Command+TAB] the application I want just stays minimized.’  Well you’re right there is a keyboard shortcut and as it turns out in OS X “hiding” is better than “minimizing” to the Dock.

To prevent further disambiguation especially for users more familiar with Windows keyboards the Command key on modern Macintosh keyboards is represented by either  or  and/or the word ‘Command’.  The Alt key on the Mac layout is usually referred to as ‘⌥ Option’ and the Control key is ‘⌃ Ctrl’.  Now that’s in the open one more area of disambiguation is “hiding” versus “minimizing” versus “closing” under OS X.  

I’ve had this MacBook Pro for two years now and I suppose it’s sad that it’s taken me this long to find all these keyboard shortcuts but hopefully this entry might help other switchers.  It seems Minimize [⌘ + M] was introduced with the advent of OS X and The Dock (Aqua interface *nix heritage, etc) whereas “Hiding” windows [⌘ + H] has been around since at least OS 7.  When you [⌘ + H] the application literally hides and there are two way to bring it back, click on its icon in the Dock or use [⌘ + TAB] until the application you want is highlighted.  Simple.  But when you Minimize the app (using either [⌘ + M] or clicking the Yellow Minus circle at the top left corner of the active window) a small icon’d version of the window buries itself in the dock next to the Trash Can.  So what’s the secret keyboard command?  [Command ⌘ + TAB] and then when you select the application you want from with the TAB menu hold down and release [⌥ Option].  

Now the caveat is that this seems to work only in Leopard (10.5) but not Tiger (10.4) however  [Command ⌘ + L] to open the browser location once you’ve tabbed to Firefox or Safari will restore a Minimized window.  Another option is Witch a third party Tab management “switcher” enabling full restore capability to  [Command ⌘ + TAB] also allowing you switch between multiple active windows of any given application.  A third option is the somewhat kludgy ability for  [Command ⌘ + F3] to highlight and control the dock using the arrow keys, also allowing you to activate a minimized window.  Using a laptop often requires the addition of the FN key, so [FN + Command ⌘ + F3] the use arrow keys to navigate.