I’ve been doing a bit of work in my spare time to try to learn Objective-C and Cocoa programming for the Mac. I got sidetracked from that a bit today to explore Mercurial. I’ve been meaning to try out some of the newer version control systems, like Git and Mercurial, but just hadn’t gotten around to it. The Mac programming stuff seemed like a good excuse to set up a test environment, and get my “Hello world” exercises under version control.

I set up an account at Bitbucket today, installed MacHg on my MacBook, and started messing around. I had a few false starts, and did a few things wrong, but I think I now have things configured so that I can track my work in a local repository, and push it up to Bitbucket whenever I want.

I was attracted to Bitbucket largely because it’s run by Atlassian. I used JIRA at my last job, and like it a lot. My Bitbucket account was pretty easy to set up. It’s got a nice interface for browsing your source files, and looking at changesets. And it’s got an issue tracker and wiki built in.

And I decided on MacHg on the client side, largely because of some recommendations I saw on Stackoverflow, and a couple of other places. It took me a little while to get used to the interface, but now that I understand it, it’s pretty easy to use.

xcode project template grief

I’m trying to learn a bit of Mac programming right now. I’m using Cocoa Programming: A Quick-Start Guide for Developers, which is turning out to be a pretty good book so far. I just stumbled across an issue with my XCode install though. It’s pretty well explained here and here. Having fixed that problem, I am apparently ready to write a Hello World program. Joy!

I should probably just clear out my “/Developer/Library/Xcode/Project Templates” folder, and maybe a few other folders, and do a clean XCode install. But I know that will take some time, so I’m going to put that off. for now.

Borders Stores Closing

I don’t see my local Borders on this store closing list. I buy most of my books at Amazon these days, but it’s nice to have a bookstore where I can go to browse through actual, physical, books, on actual shelves.

Around here, we’ve got one Borders and one Barnes & Noble, and not much else. In Somerville, we used to have one small bookstore for new books, and two used book stores. They’re all gone now, though I think one of the used book stores just moved to a different town.

I do hope Borders survives. I try and buy stuff there once in a while, even if it’s more expensive than Amazon, just to help keep them afloat.

Verizon iPhone thoughts

I’ve had my Verizon iPhone for a few days now. I’m mostly liking it, but I admit I miss a few things about my BlackBerry.
Stuff I like about the iPhone:

  • I haven’t had to reboot it.  (I used to have to reboot the BB almost every day.)
  • Lots of apps. (I had just a handful of apps on the BB.  The way memory worked in the older BB OS, you just couldn’t install too many apps.)
  • Much better web browser.
  • No more need for Missing Sync.

Stuff I miss from the BlackBerry Storm:

  • Dedicated camera button on the right side.
  • User-assignable button on the left side.  (I had it assigned to QuickLaunch, which I also miss.)
  • Ability to star a GMail message right in the native mail app (via the enhanced GMail plugin).
  • SurePress.  I know most reviewers weren’t keen on it, but I kind of liked it.

Kindle DRM

OK, one more Kindle gripe. When I first set up my Kindle 3 yesterday, I opened a couple of the books that I’d copied over, just to make sure I could. I didn’t have a problem, so I assumed that there weren’t any DRM issues with the books. I was wrong on that; apparently, I’d picked a couple of DRM-free books when I was checking them. So this morning I had to go through and delete 40 DRM’d books off the Kindle. They all now show in my archive view, and I haven’t had any trouble re-downloading a couple of them, but why should I have to do that? The device is registered to my Amazon account, and it’s got internet connectivity. Why can’t it just quietly go up to Amazon’s servers and re-authorize any files I’ve copied over from the old Kindle?

new Kindle

I got my new Kindle 3 in the mail today. And I’ve successfully transferred all my stuff over from the Kindle 1 to the Kindle 3, wiped the old Kindle, and boxed it up for Gazelle. It’s worth $15, which I guess is fair for a three year old, two generation behind, device.
So now here’s my list of gripes with the new Kindle:

  • Biggest gripe: I didn’t realize that old magazine issues are DRM’d to the Kindle on which you received them, and cannot be transferred to the new one. Apparently, you can re-download recent issues to your new Kindle, but you cannot just copy the files over from the old device to the new. I had a bunch of Newsweek back issues on my old Kindle that I hadn’t read yet, and I was quite surprised to see that I couldn’t open any of them on the new Kindle. And they’re old enough that they’re no longer available for re-download. I don’t have any current Kindle magazine subscriptions going, and now I’m a good bit less likely to start any new ones.
  • The keyboard. It’s just not as easy to use as the Kindle 1’s keyboard. And there are no dedicated number keys, which just seems weird. I’ve discovered that Alt-Q works for 1, Alt-W is 2, and so on, so there is still a way to type numbers, but it’s weird.
  • Collections. I was fairly excited about this feature, but it turns out that, when you put something in a collection, it stays on the main screen also. I was really hoping to use collections to get some stuff off the main screen, just to make that more manageable.
  • No user-removable battery. No SD card slot.

And now for some stuff I do like:

  • The screen. It’s definitely an improvement on the Kindle 1, which itself was pretty good.
  • The size and weight. Not that the Kindle 1 was heavy or anything, but it’s nice to have something just a little smaller and lighter.

Stuff I’m not sure about:

  • The case. I bought the default M-Edge case. I’m not sure if I like it or not just yet.
  • The navigation pad. I’m just not digging this yet. It might grow on me though.

I probably sound like I’m not that excited about the thing, but I am really excited to, once again, have a Kindle with a working battery in it. My main problem with the Kindle 1 was that the battery was pretty much dead. I’d thought about just buying a replacement battery, but decided that it was time to just go ahead and get a new Kindle. I bought the old Kindle in Feb 2008, so it had a pretty long life, as first-gen consumer electronics devices go.

done with taxes

I managed to talk myself into doing my taxes before the SuperBowl started. I bought TurboTax this year instead of the H&R Block At Home (aka TaxCut) software, which I’ve been using for more than 10 years. I was curious about TurboTax, since I’ve never used it before, but it turns out that there’s not much of a difference between them. Either one is fine.
I think this may be the earliest I’ve done my taxes in years. I usually wait until around St. Patrick’s Day to file.