Mounting your MobileMe iDisk on Windows

Posted by Chalky on Feb 8, 2009 in Computer

Back in the days when it was still .Mac, there used to be a simple tool for connecting your iDisk called the iDisk Utility for Windows. Whilst performing a Google Search will allow you to find it eventaully, you will probably find that it doesn’t work on Vista correctly.

The MobileMe iDisk is based on WebDAV, a well known internet technology that is supported by all major browsers and has been supported in Windows for some time. WebDAV compliance has been much improved in Windows Vista. In order to retrieve this useful bit of functionality you can follow these simple steps:

Open up My Computer (just called Computer in Windows Vista) and click on Tools -> Map Network Drive…

Map Network Drive

Select an empty drive letter (I usually use Z) and then in the Folder field enter: http://idisk.me.com/yourusername (replacing yourusername with your MobileMe User Name):

Map Network Drive Wizard

If you want your MobileMe iDisk to be automatically connected when you restart your computer, click on Reconnect at logon. Then, click on Connect using a different user name. In this Connect As dialog box, enter you MobileMe User Name in the User name field and your MobileMe Password in the Password field and click OK:

Connect As Dialog

Click on Finish on the Map Network Drive Wizard.

Your computer will process this for a little while and will then present you with a Windows Explorer window with the contents of your iDisk. You can now also access your iDisk as a drive in the My Computer window:

iDisk in My Computer

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Black Marble Technical Update 2009

Posted by Chalky on Feb 7, 2009 in Computer, Technology, Work

I really need to get into the habit of finishing writing entries, rather than starting them and leaving them for weeks where they’re not really relevant anymore!

Black MarbleA few weeks, I attended the Black Marble Technical Update for 2009. It was held at the Leeds/Bradford Holiday Inn. The Hotel itself is in a nice setting, outside both Leeds and Bradford surrounded by trees and fields. I think that if I go to the Conference again next year (which I’m hoping to) then I might treat myself to a night there!

A big thumbs up to the Black Marble team and the Holiday Inn who put on a great spread for the Delegates. A large selection of cake, chocolate bars, Seabrooks Crisps and sandwiches. It is also one of the few events that I have been to that actually catered for people who don’t drink tea or coffee with a wide range of soft drinks and fresh fruit juice.

The first part of the event, was mainly for Business Management and the tools Microsoft provide to facilitate this. As me and Mark weren’t really interested in this, we didn’t go in favour of staying at home!

Windows 7The second half was the bulk of the Technical Update. We got to have a sneak peak of the latest Windows 7 BETA which I was pleased to see was running on a couple of DELL Mini Netbooks. It was great to see it running on generally low powered Hardware that I knew from experience wouldn’t run Vista. As a result of the event, I have installed Windows 7 on my work HP Compaq nx6310 which has also failed to run Vista in the past. I am hoping to finish writing up an entry for that soon. We got to see some of the features that will be included in Windows Server 2008 R2 which gave me and Mark a renewed interest in the Server Operating System after our initial enthusiasm had been wiped out! The Black Marble team walked us through the Road Map for these and other Microsoft Products including a very brief look at Microsoft Office 14. There was also a look at Microsoft Azure, Microsoft’s rival project to Amazon’s EC2.

Ed Gibson - Chief Security Advisor (Microsoft UK)The evening session was a talk from Microsoft’s Chief Security Advisor for the UK, Ed Gibson. This was by far the highlight of the day. Being an ex-FBI Agent, you’d expect a very serious presentation. However, Ed presents himself in an amusing way but still get’s his point across very well. He presents his information is a story-like fashion and makesman links between different subjects that you would never normally link but leaves the impression behind that makes you wonder why you never did in the first place. The fact that he doesn’t use technical jargon nor any equipment, not even a microphone makes this man even the more interesting when he speaks. He doesn’t hide behind PowerPoint Presentations and booming speakers. Just him and his thoughts. A truly great speaker.

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iPhoto ’09

Posted by Chalky on Jan 28, 2009 in Computer, Technology

iLife '09 LogoSo my copy of iLife ’09 arrived in the post yesterday and I got it installed and immediately went to play with iPhoto ’09. iPhoto seems to have been given the most attention out of the entire suite of apps so I was looking forward to having a go. The most eagerly anticipated feature in my opinion had to be the Face Detection and Face Recognition closely followed by the Facebook integration. So without further ado, here’s some of my thoughts on the new toys in iPhoto ’09

Face Detection

Face DetectionThe first new toy that I was eager to play with was the new Face Recognition feature. But, before any of that, iPhoto has to look through your library and find all of the faces within your photographs. As you can see, iPhoto took about an hour to go through my 3,930 photographs that I had previously loaded into iPhoto and placed them into Events. I left mine overnight, because by the time I’d actually got round to installing iLife and rebooting my iMac, it was already… well… today.

I noticed that as it was going through, it was picking up multiple people in photos and also the faces of people that were in the background of the photos (with other people in the foreground) so I was very impressed with the level of detail in the detection of people’s faces, it even detects the sides of people’s faces! It even managed to find people in some of my not-successful night pictures without a flash where it would be difficult for a human to see a face, let alone an algorithm. It also made light work of my poorly scanned film photos and photos from my first digital camera, back in the day, which had an amazing(!) 640×480 resolution.

It seemed to whizz through photos pretty quickly so I’m confident it won’t take very long at all for iPhoto to handle a ‘normal’ import of photos.

An amusing anomaly was the fact that iPhoto managed to recognise the “face” of a goat produced with flowers for the Hope Valley Well Dressing last year:

Face Detection gone mad!

Face Detection gone mad!

Face Recognition

Empty Faces Corkboard

This was one feature that I was a bit skeptical of in the Keynote. I thought it would be an idea that would be good in practice but doesn’t really work in reality. I was therefore pleasantly suprised to find that it actually works quite well.

For those who don’t know, you simply select one of your pictures from your Library with some faces on it and you tell iPhoto who the picture is of. iPhoto will then look through your Library and looks for pictures that contains what it thinks is the same person. The more you confirm within iPhoto, the more reliable it becomes:

Dublin Faces

I was impressed that it iPhoto was able to recongise faces even if they weren’t looking directly at the camera and that it can sometimes recognise people even if they are pulling a funny face. I found that it likes certain people more than others and is therefore able to recognise them more easily. I also found that it seemed to recognise females more accurately than males.

It was also interesting to see that sometimes it me and my sister, Jill, mixed up. I suppose this has something to do with everyone saying we both look like my Dad. Interesting that it didn’t cross reference any photos of me as my Dad, Jill as my Dad or vice-versa.


PlacesUnfortunately, I don’t currently have a geo-tagging camera or an iPhone so I can’t really benefit from this new feature. That being, the ability to plot where you’ve taken all of your photographs onto a map.

You can go in manually and tell it where you took each photo, or a general location for an entire event/album. It’s not quite as good, but it gives you the idea. I found that whilst it handles cities and towns very well, it doesn’t recognise many locations (like Museums, etc) outside of London. You therefore have to find them via their postcode, road and town.

Photo Upload

Photo Upload OptionsThe new version of iPhoto has a wide range of options for you to be able to upload your photographs to other places, particularly on the Internet. Along with the familiar export to e-mail and iWeb (iLife’s Web Authoring Application) you can now upload to MobileMe (Apple’s replacement to .Mac and rival to Microsoft’s Mesh), Facebook and Flickr. I’m really excited about these because it means that I can now use iPhoto to centralise all of my Photographs and what I do with them. It means that I will be able to load my Photographs straight into iPhoto from my camera, rotate/crop them and then upload them straight to the relevant place depending on what the photos are, without having to then re-export them from iPhoto, log into Facebook/Flickr and then make an album and upload them. Now, it’s all just one click!


I’ve always been a big fan of the Slideshow capabilities with iPhoto. It’s one of the reasons I bought a Mac in the first place. As mentioned before, it’s often that I get asked to do slideshows for family and church events.

The best feature in my opinion is infact the most boring one. A complete redesign of the way iPhoto exports the slideshows. The slideshows always look awesome in iPhoto, but sometimes they looked awful after being exported and you often found that the slideshow wouldn’t open in anything, including Apple’s own iTunes and you couldn’t play them back on the Apple TV. Now, Apple have made it possible for, not only for you to play them back on these devices and automatically add them to iTunes, but to be able to choose the size of the exported slideshow file. Previously, when exporting video, videos were 800×600 wether you liked it or not!

Apple have also introduced Themed Slideshows, much like the titles with iMovie. So you can now create a great looking slideshow within seconds along with all the usual music and transitions. I thought rather than rabbiting on about these, I’d just upload one:

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

So there you are. If you have a Mac, it’s certainly worth buying and if you have friends and/or family with Macs, club together and go for the Family Pack license. If you haven’t got a Mac, why not, go out and buy one now!

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How Not To Save Energy with Windows Server 2008

Posted by Chalky on Nov 26, 2008 in Computer, Technology, Work

Having read Microsoft’s documentation on how Energy Efficient Windows Server 2008 is compared to Windows Server 2003, I thought I’d show my findings with some Real World Testing. In the documentation found here (yes, you can only read it if you have Microsoft Office 2007), the graph below is presented:

The following footnote is also included:

Power comparison of server unit only. Does not include external drive arrays. 

This immediately made me realise that the results of the graph would be inaccurate as this means that they will have not installed the Operating System onto the local hardware but a SAN-type array. Meaning that the power usage for the discs would not be included. Anyone who has used Windows Server 2008 or indeed Windows Vista will know that there is excessive disk usage even when the computer is seemingly idle.

Read more…

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Christian 'Guitar Hero' game planned

Posted by Chalky on Aug 30, 2008 in Church, Computer

I saw this article over on DigitalSpy and it gave me a chuckle!

A Christian clone of Activision’s Guitar Hero is to be launched for the PC and Apple Mac.

Guitar Praise, which is being created in the US, will see users play along to Christian rock acts.

Developer Digital Praise writes of the game: “Grab the guitar and play along with top Christian bands! Shred those riffs or blast the bass…you add a unique sound to the solid Christian rock… you’ll soon be rockin’ with the best while praising the Lord.

“As the song and lyrics play, colorful notes scroll down the screen. Players must keep up by matching the notes to the fret buttons on the guitar controller included with the game”.

The game, which has no association with Activision or Harmonix, will feature 52 tracks from original Christian rock bands and offers the option of unlocking more songs as the player progresses.

Guitar Praise is scheduled for release in the US next month. A UK release has yet to be confirmed.

What on earth will they think of next?

I’m pretty sure they’ll be several Lawsuits from Activision along the way!


iMac in disgrace!

Posted by Chalky on Sep 7, 2007 in Computer

I finally decided that I’d rebuild my iMac as it was running pretty slowly and my Utilities folder had magically disappeared.

I’ve re-installed Mac OS X 1.04 (Tiger) but I’m beginning to wonder whether I should have waited for Leopard to come out first before starting from scratch!

The iMac is now in disgrace because I decided now, as I’m going back to uni, to give Boot Camp a try. The iMac is running Microsoft Windows Vista Business with all of the Boot Camp drivers. I am quite surprised as to how well it was working on the Mac, although it really doesn’t look right having such an ugly Operating Systems on a machine so beautifully designed! Although, I suppose it could be worse, Vista is considerably prettier than XP just awful to use!

I then decided to be a little more adventurous and have now installed SWSoft’s Paralells Desktop for Mac. This allows me to boot my Boot Camp volume concurrently with Mac OS X! Meaning I get all the benefits of both OS X and Vista. This means I can take full advantage of Microsoft Office 2007, as I find Office 2004 for Mac to be pale in comparison to the Windows version.

Anyhoo, I’m sure you’re all suitably bored with my ramblings, so I’ll shut up now!



My friend Tom has produced a response to “iMac in disgrace” and gives you “VAIO in disgrace”:

VAIO in disgrace


R.I.P. Floppy Disk

Posted by Chalky on Jun 27, 2007 in Computer, Work

You may all say the Floppy Disk has long since died a death but in Univerisities and Colleges, it is a reality that these are still used. For some reason, students all over the globe are using this redundant technology, sometimes leaving their only copy of their coursework on them dispute them being so unreliable. I’ve lost count of the amount of tears and frustration that these little buggers have caused students whilst I have been working at JLC.

However, today was the beginning of the end for the use of Floppy Disks within JLC. James and myself destroyed all of the old ‘lost’ Floppy Disks that have been handed in over my year there and destroyed a number of other random Disks that were lying around. I don’t really think we needed to bin as many as we did, I think we began to enjoy it a bit too much!

The new DELL units that we have purchased to go into the Open Access area will not be having Floppy Drives installed as this is an optional extra which we would have to pay extra for and would probably increase the lead time in us getting the units.

I think this will be met with a few complaints but, to be fair, you can pick up a 2Gb USB Flash Drive for about a tenner these days. There’s really no need for Floppy Disks, USB Flash Drives are very cheap these days, more reliable and can store a hell of a lot more data (2Gb USB Flash Drive = 1422 Floppy Disks)!

The Floppy Disk Mountain!