Intel Launches Quad Core Xeon & I Want an 8-Core Mac Pro

Announcement from Intel yesterday on the availability of the new Quad Core Xeon chips:

Intel Launches Quad Core Xeon

On October 26, Apple Insider ran a piece convinced that Apple would move the Mac Pro to the 4-core Xeon “Clovertown” chips almost immediately.  I have to admit, believe it or not, while I have a dual-2.5 Ghz PowerMac G5, as I play with the new Intel-based Macs, I’m starting to get a lot of processor envy.  My photo library is now approximately 50GB and 30,000 shots.  With an average image size of 3-8MB, I can really feel the increased speed of the current Mac Pro when I play with them at the Apple Store.

I found this article on AnandTech where they actually replaced the current dual-core Xeon’s in a Mac Pro with the new chip, giving them 8 cores in their Mac Pro.

I have to admit – when Apple announced the Intel transition, I thought it had a lot more to do with marketing than strategy.  What better way to neutralize negative comparisons with PC hardware than to coopt the platform and let software be the differentiator.  However, I definitely underestimated how Apple would leverage the Intel pipeline to produce some really dazzling machines, at dazzling price points.  I know several people who have finally decided to get a Mac, and it was the price point of the Mac Pro vs. Dell that pushed them over the edge… I guess people forgot how much the PC manufacturers still like to squeeze margins out of the high end.

So, in case you are wondering, this makes another great holiday gift idea for me… I’d love an 8-core Mac Pro, if you could.  Thanks.

Zune vs. iPod: Microsoft’s Third Strike

You know, I was all ready to write a really long article comparing the new Microsoft Zune to the Apple iPod. But then, some guy I don’t even know (Jeremy Horowitz) went and wrote up the exact article I was thinking about… and even did it better. So read his.

Microsoft’s Third Strike: Zune Hyped, Lessons Learned

I found another blog, hosted in Japan, that just rips Zune pretty hard.

Personally, I completely understand why Microsoft built the Zune, and rushed it to market. Microsoft is not used to being on the other end of network effects, and while they’ve been focusing on Google as their new enemy #1, Apple has somehow locked up the digital media marketplace around music. Worse, they seem to be in a good position to leverage that monopoly into other areas of the digital home.

In digital media, it’s like the Bizarro planet, where the planet is square and you say goodbye when you enter, hello when you leave. Apple has the entrenched monopoly, tied together with a powerful alliance of hardware, software & digital rights management. Microsoft is the underdog here, because they can’t really leverage their strength in the enterprise, and their consumer marketshare doesn’t help them much either since the iPod & iTunes are cross-platform.

It really is strange through the looking glass, because in this world Apple has the broad product line and thousands of third parties, including auto manufacturers! Microsoft has just a few models, and insignificant ecosystem support.

I’m not sure I understand why Microsoft abandoned PlaysForSure with Zune. One of the things I learned from Michael Porter about corporate strategy is that you need to build your moat around your unique value proposition – not try to and just mimic your competitors. The Zune smacks of a bit of desperation, and I’m not sure hundreds of millions in marketing dollars will change that.

Still, Microsoft has deep pockets, and they are going to be in the game for the long term. My prediction is that they’ll lean towards tighter integration with the Xbox, and use that as the lever into the digital home. I do wonder, however, whether they could have just embraced the iPod, and worked to make the Windows Media, Xbox, iPod ecosystem flawless, thus containing Apple to what will eventually be a small piece of the overall digital home. It would have been a lot cheaper, and would have spared them another round of embarrassment.

Embrace & Extend. Whatever happened to that oldie but goodie?

Tivo Series 3: Holiday Gadget Guide Review

There is a really good review of the Tivo Series 3 on the new Holiday Gadget Guide being hosted by Federated Media.  It’s written by the guy who writes for PVRBlog.

Tivo’s going HD: The Series 3

Very balanced review, but I think it highlights the dilemna that everyone has.  There seems to be no question that this is the best HD DVR out there, bar none.  But the price!  Ouch.

As a result, I’m going to add this to the same list that the Nintendo Wii is on.

It’s the “feel free to buy me one for the holidays” list.

Much appreciated!  Thank you in advance.

Sequencing the Neanderthal Genome: 1 Million Down, 2 Years to Go

A very exciting article was published in Nature magazine today:

Analysis of One Million Base Pairs of Neanderthal DNA

This is really more of a report of a proof of concept, the ability and technique to sequence ancient DNA from a 45,000 year old specimen.

There is also some good coverage on the Science Blog:

The veil of mystery surrounding our extinct hominid cousins, the Neanderthals, has been at least partially lifted to reveal surprising results. Scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the Joint Genome Institute (JGI) have sequenced genomic DNA from fossilized Neanderthal bones. Their results show that the genomes of modern humans and Neanderthals are at least 99.5-percent identical, but despite this genetic similarity, and that the two species cohabitated the same geographic region for thousands of years, there is no evidence of any significant crossbreeding between the two. Based on these early results, Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis last shared a common ancestor approximately 700,000 years ago.

Most of the coverage goes out of its way to say that there was no inter-breeding between  Neanderthals and modern man.  However, for some reason, the Gene Expression blog is reporting the opposite.

The most exciting news is that they are kicking off a 2-year program to fully sequence the Neanderthal genome.  The New York Times has the best article on the topic I can find online.

We are going to learn an incredible amount about hominid evolution and ourselves through this process.  I’m also quite excited about the eventual ethical debates about whether or not we should at some point try to clone a real Neanderthal.  In particular, I’d be very interested to hear the arguments from the anti-evolution crowd about whether or not they would consider this cloning a human being.

Purely theoretical at this point, since we don’t have the technology… yet.

Psychohistory is a Top Blog… For Today

Wow. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, here are the daily visits to my blog over the last 30 days:

As some of you know, I decided a few months ago to give blogging a try. Over the past two months, I’ve written about ninety posts, on a wide variety of topics.

Until today, my most popular post was:
VMware Fusion Goes Beta & Virtualization for Mac OS X Goes Pro

This was a post that got a lot of hits for a couple of days, most likely because the Mac has a pretty intense fanbase, and the news was pretty timely.

Today was the first day for a new post I made last night on one of my favorite TV shows, Battlestar Galactica:
My Theory on How Battlestar Galactica Will End

Here are the latest stats on the top posts for my blog over the last 30 days now:

All those visits in about 24 hours. It’s exciting, largely because unlike other posts, this one was something purely driven by personal interest, and less about “what people want to read”. It also is a more frivolous topic.

What really happened is this: someone found the post, and started a thread on the SCI FI channel website chat boards for Battlestar Galactica. So, it’s kind of like I was SlashDot’ed, but at one millionth the scale. 🙂

But success breeds success, so I’m happy to announce that today, for the first time, my blog is actually ranking well across all WordPress.com blogs!

My post is currently the 8th most popular post on WordPress.com today!

My blog is rated 22nd for the fastest growing blogs on WordPress.com:

And, as I mentioned, it is now in the Top 100 ranked blogs on WordPress.com (#41):

It’s possible that the fifteen minutes of fame for this blog have started counting right now. In the end, the goal of this blog was not to become any sort of popular site or property. At eBay, we typically measure success in the millions, if not billions, of page views.  It’s funny to think that 600 page views is significant.

But it is kind of a kick to see the numbers jump like this, even if in absolute terms they are small. I continue to learn a lot about blogging through this process – I’m just glad that people are interested and enjoying my writing for the time being.

It’s also definitely fun to watch people debate my little theory on a potential ending for Battlestar Galactica.

Tomorrow I’ll be back to posts about personal finance and growing tomatoes.

Strong Leonid Meteor Shower for 2006… But Not on the West Coast

I love the Leonid Meteor shower.

Every year, at this time, if you are willing to stay up late and drive to an area that is relatively dark, you are rewarded with a great show. It’s always exciting to see a shooting star – it’s even better to see dozens of them in one viewing.
I got excited by this news on Space.com today:

Strong Leonid Meteor Shower Expected This Weekend

On the surface, this sounds like incredible news:

A brief surge of activity is expected begin around 11:45 p.m. ET Saturday, Nov. 18. In Europe, that corresponds to early Sunday morning, Nov. 19 at 4:45 GMT. The outburst could last up to two hours.

At the peak, people in these favorable locations could see up to 150 shooting stars per hour, or more than two per minute.

“We expect an outburst of more than 100 Leonids per hour,” said Bill Cooke, the head of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. Cooke notes that the shooting stars during this peak period are likely to be faint, however, created by very small meteoroid grains.

Now, here’s the problem:

Unfortunately for viewer’s on the U.S. West Coast, the peak occurs before Leo rises. Outside of the expected peak, the best time to watch for Leonids is in the pre-dawn hours, when the constellation Leo is high in the sky.

Drat. If you are interested, the Space.com article has great information about the cause of the annual Leonid meteor shower (it’s caused by the Earth rotating through the trail of the comet Tempel-Tuttle every year), and how to best view the shower wherever you are in the world.

Too bad. 2 shooting stars per minute sounds amazing.

Saving Energy: Installing New Windows & Doors

I have now received the first empirical evidence that replacing your old windows & doors can have an impact on your utility bill.

Our house is one of the standard, ranch-style houses that were popular in the SF Bay Area in the late 1960s. It had the original, single-pane aluminum windows, and hollow-core doors.

We replaced the exterior doors a couple of years ago, but we just completed last month the installation of new, double-pane windows throughout the house. We also replaced the large sliding glass doors in our living room.

It’s a large expense, and while you are comforted somewhat that the money will come back to you when you sell the house, that seems like it will be very hard to prove. As a result, I’m really glad to see that our heating bill (our kerosene heater is gas-driven) for the first cold month of the year is actually quite a bit lower than last year.

Of course, the low gas bill could also be the result of us doing less cooking at home around the birth of my second son on October 30th. I’ll keep monitoring, but hopefully, the energy savings promised around this type of improvement turn out to be accurate.

My Theory on How Battlestar Galactica Will End

A lot of pop-culture posts today, but time for just one more.

I’ve been a big fan of the new Battlestar Galactica series since it first launched a few years ago. It’s one of the television highlights for me these days for a lot of reasons, some of which have to do with the quality of the show, and some of which have to do with the propensity for the networks to cancel other shows I like.

I’ve read some coverage of the series in Entertainment Weekly, and it sounds like the show is written in an incredibly open style. Some fiction know the ending of their stories from the beginning, but not necessarily the path. Orson Scott Card writes like that, as does J. K. Rowling. From the press, it sounds like the Battlestar team is incredibly open about where the series will end up. They say they haven’t decided on an ending yet, and are taking the story season-to-season.

To me, however, the ending looks painfully obvious. So, I thought I’d share it here, and see if people agree. I’ve been searching online, and I’ve found just a few posts on the subject, but there are clearly a couple people who see the same thing I do.

Here’s what we know, from the new series:

  • 3,000 years ago, humanity split into 13 colonies to settle. 12 that were close together in one system, and one remote planet. This journey was captured in religious text that is part history, part prophecy.
  • The one remote planet is Earth
  • The 12 colonies have a polytheistic culture that matches Greek mythology exactly. Even the pilots have call signs like “Apollo”.
  • The 12 colony locations match the Greek names for common constellations, like Gemini.
  • 40 years ago, the Cylons (which are the robots built by the 12 colonies) revolted. There was a war, and they retreated. Now, they have come back and literally obliterated the 12 colonies, to the point where only 41K or so humans survived and are now searching for Earth.
  • The Cylons have made themselves in their creator’s image (human), and have developed a powerful monotheistic culture. They are also aspiring to breed the next step in their evolution – a human/cylon hybrid.

So, how does it end?

I see two possibilities:

  1. The series takes place in modern times, or the near future. It turns out that the original 13th colony ended up founding Atlantis, approximately 1000 BC, which they will posit was the basis for Greek culture, etc. The humans connect with modern humanity on Earth, and somehow the Cylon problem “goes away” – either through victory, or via the Cyclons deciding that humanity deserves their respite on Earth.
  2. The series actually takes place in the past. When Battlestar Galactica and fleet get to Earth, it is roughly 2000 BC. They discover that the previous colony lost its technology, and has regressed to primitive status. They fight off the Cylons in one final battle, and settle on an island in the Mediterranean called Atlantis. They reach out to their distant brethren in nearby Greece, and start re-educating them in math, philosophy, democracy, and of course, religion with the Olympian gods. Meanwhile, in a teaser/ending, one of the last Cylons lands in the desert across the sea, and speaks to a nomad named Abram, and convinces him that there really is only one true god. There is an implication that the Cyclons are somehow the progenitors of the Judeo-Christian faith, maybe even extending to some concept that they are still around somehow.

In case you think I’m off the deep end here, consider the original speech that Patrick Macnee used to give as part of the opening narration of the original series. I never watched the original series, but it stands to reason that this does integrate into the vision for the end of the new series.

“There are those who believe that life here began out there, far across the universe, with tribes of humans who may have been the forefathers of the Egyptians, or the Toltecs, or the Mayans. They may have been the architects of the great pyramids, or the lost civilizations of Lemuria or Atlantis. Some believe that there may yet be brothers of man who even now fight to survive somewhere beyond the heavens…”

I love ancient mythology and history, so I’m clearly rooting for (2) as the potential ending. Would love to hear what other fans of the show think.

Update (11/14/2006): My blog traffic is up nearly 100% due to this post. It looks like people are discussing this post on the boards. I’m seeing a lot of links to this blog from this thread on the Sci Fi Channel Forums. Thanks for reading!

Update (1/8/2007): A new post is up on the potential spoilers for the fifth and final unknown cylon.  Season 4 is almost here.

South Park Episode on Nintendo Wii

With many thanks to Chad Alderson for finding this episode online.

This was the South Park episode from last week. Cartman is so obsessed with getting a Nintendo Wii, he can’t wait the two weeks, and has himself frozen. He accidentally ends up 500 years in the future, and, well, typical South Park things happen.

(Update: 12/2/2006 – Due to the original video being pulled, I’m linking to the South Park Zone, which maintains links to all of the episodes from Season 10. It’s a two-part episode called “Go God Go”)

I don’t know what is more disturbing:

  1. That South Park has now had two episodes this season so close to my heart (World of Warcraft, Nintendo Wii)
  2. That Chad is reading & responding to my blog within seconds of me posting

Chad, you might be my only dedicated reader, but thank you very very much for this link. If it’s OK, I’m not going to post all the video links from your blog, although this one did make me laugh.

Why I Want a Nintendo Wii

So, before I get cynical, let me be perfectly clear:

If you want to buy me a great holiday present, buy me a Nintendo Wii. I want it, I love it, I need it. Get it for me.

Now, as the buzz builds, and I see machines priced at $300 over retail due to the scarcity of the machines, I thought I’d comment on why I want one.

It’s not because of the name. Wii? Are you serious? Even the codename, “Revolution” was better. If Nintendo needs to trim the fat on their marketing expenses, I’m pretty sure we can find some of the people responsible for that name to top the list.

It’s not because of the new controller. Nintendo really seems to have gotten the press going after E3 this year. All I see now are articles highlighting this new controller that lets you “swing a bat” or “cast a rod”. It seems to have hit some sort of chord with journalists who for the most part don’t play video games, but see some sort of excitement in a video game system that has more interaction in it and is easier to learn. Forbes has even reminisced about the old codename for the machine, by saying Nintendo’s Wii is a Revolution.

Maybe.

But you are talking to a Nintendo fan from the mid-1980s. Someone who bought the Light Gun. Someone who bought the Power Glove. Someone who has been promised these type of innovations before, and eventually realized that they are, in fact, just a gimmick.

Some of the best games ever had a single joystick and a single button. Or used four keys on keyboard. There have been exceptions – games that became famous because of their input device. I’m thinking of Centipede with the trackball or Dance Dance Revolution. Sometimes they create an entire genre of games (how many shooters with pistols have you seen in the arcades over the past 10 years.) In most cases, however, the input device does not define the quality of the game.

I’m just not convinced that Nintendo is going to redefine the input device for all games, which means that most good games will be designed for a traditional controller. And that means that someone is going to make a lot of money selling a traditional game controller for the Nintendo Wii very soon.

It’s not because of the price, although who would have thought $249 would be the “low end” price in late 2006 for a modern game system. And that’s without HD!

No, I want a Wii for a very simple reason, and it is the reason I’ve wanted every game system that I’ve ever owned since the Atari 2600.

It’s the software, stupid.

Nintendo continues to make unique and great games. Games that you cannot find on the other platforms, games that are better designed for all ages. I want to play the next Zelda, I want to play the next Mario. I’m excited about the fact that in a year or two I’ll be able to play the next Mario Kart with my son. I’m even excited about the fact that I may be better than him at it… at least until he turns 6 in 2010.

Sony has tried this round to differentiate themselves with better graphics. It’s ironic, since this was the approach that Microsoft tried to take with the first Xbox, and failed. Why? Because in a world where most games are made by third parties, the games tend to be cross-platform. Cross-platform means lowest common denominator development, in most cases.
That’s why it was rare to see significant improvements in the Xbox version of a game over the Playstation 2. And that’s why it’ll be rare to see significant improvements in a PS3 version of a game over the Xbox 360.

Microsoft is smarter this time. They have unique software for their platform based on in-house game developers that they have built or acquired. Of course, Microsoft has it’s own strategic fault, which is that they are a dual-platform gaming company. They continue to build games both for the Xbox 360 and for Windows. As a result, since most people have a PC, they can buy a PS3 and know full well that they will be able to play any game from Microsoft on their Windows PC, and any others on the Sony PS3.

I’m sure I’ll end up with an Xbox 360 or PS3 at some point, when the prices come down, and when I actually have an HD television in the living room.

But for now, buy me a Nintendo Wii. I need to start practicing now if I’m going to maintain my video game edge over my son through 2010. After all, he’s already 2.

SunPower (SPWR) Presents at Solar Power 2006 Conference

Some nice information from the Cleantech Blog on the recent Solar Power 2006 conference, specifically on advances made by SunPower on increasing the efficiency of photovoltaic (PV) cells:

SunPower is approaching a 23% efficient PV. This helps it take business from typical 17% efficient PV. Dr. Richard Swanson, CEO, SunPower gave the conference good reason to expect continued high growth. He pointed out that in 1975 solar modules cost $100/watt. By 2002, the cost had fallen to $3 per watt. The industry learning curve of 30 years has been consistent – each time that production doubles, cost drops 81%. Dr. Swanson expects $1.40 per watt by 2013 and 65 cents per watt by 2023.

There is a lot of fascination with green technologies in the Valley right now, but solar really looks like the real deal in terms of technology plays.  The economics are very close to fitting consumer pocketbooks (a 2.5kW single home system costs approx. $15,800 after taxes, and can cut your utility bill by 95%), and they will continue to get dramatically better.  Even more exciting, it looks like a lot of competing technologies are going to be released in the next few years to really drive down the cost, and drive up the efficiency of these systems.

I found this news through Seeking Alpha, but clicking through I found a few really neat blogs on the topic:

This is technology news that is worth getting excited about.

iSale 3.3 Adds Support for eBay Express

I normally don’t highlight every application that supports eBay Express, but I thought this one deserved a note for a few reasons:

  1. iSale is a great eBay listing tool. It has a very intuitive user interface, and they have really gone out of their way to design a beautiful and easy-to-use application.
  2. iSale is built for Mac OS X. One of the most common questions I get at eBay Live every year is about listing tools for the Mac. There are two that I love: iSale and GarageSale. So I love to see great news about either product.
  3. eBay Express integration. eBay built eBay Express to be backwards compatible with eBay.com. As a result, all qualifying eBay sellers & listings will appear on eBay Express with no additional effort. However, iSale has really thought hard about additional features that sellers will want on eBay Express, and they integrated them into their application.

The webpage outlining the new features in version 3.3 is live. In particular, I’m very excited about their support for:

  • All global eBay Express sites: US, Germany, and United Kingdom.
  • The ability to list items that only appear on eBay Express (Germany & UK only)
  • The ability to preview any listing in the eBay Express look & feel.

So, kudos to the equinux team. If you are a Mac user and you sell on eBay, you should definitely check out the new iSale. They offer a free trial where you can use the software free for up to three listings.

Please note, this is my personal blog, so the above post represents my opinion only. It does not represent any official endorsement of this product by my employer, eBay.

Harvard MBA Indicator for Wall Street (HBS)

I caught this article a few days ago in the New York Sun. It came up in one of my Google News searches:

Equities Swing with Harvard MBAs

It’s a fun piece, and it brought me back to my Private Equity class with Prof. Bill Sahlman at Harvard Business School in 2000. One day, Bill shows the entire class these beautiful rising bar charts. It turns out that each of them shows the rise in percentage of HBS graduates at key times in history – Wall Street in the late 1980s, Internet companies in the late 1990s, and in 2000, a rising trend towards Private Equity. The conclusion was obvious – a strong ramp in HBS hiring looked like a pre-cursor to a bust.

The article quotes Ray Soifer, who was HBS Class of 1965. He seems to have tailored the theory exclusively to measuring the ups and downs of Wall Street. Investment Banking always draws a large number of HBS graduates, but for Soifer, the magic number is 30%. When the number of Harvard MBAs destined for banking in a given year crosses that threshold, it’s bearish. Lower, is neutral or bullish.

Interestingly, a little web searching reveals that Mr. Soifer seems to trot out this theory every year, and speaks on it quite a bit. Check out this list of articles on his website. It includes this one from Slate in 2004 that sounds awfully familiar…

My take on the theory is little less dramatic, but more plausible. Harvard MBAs tend to be very intelligent people with excellent credentials. They also tend to be expensive and discerning hires, since most people go to business school to not only learn but also to take their careers to another level. The breadth of the student body introduces them to a wide number of global industries, and provides contacts and insights into most of them. It’s not surprising that the industries that are currently economically flush have more resources to pursue these candidates, and its not totally surprising that when one industry gets too flush, it’s a sign of some sort of bubble.

As part of my searching, I found the Coyote Blog, from another HBS graduate now running a small business in Arizona. He found another version of Soifer’s piece, but used it to describe his take on career paths for HBS graduates:

A more interesting HBS graduate job indicator for me has been “how has the jobs people have evolved since they graduated”. When I graduated, everyone seemed to be investment bankers and consultants. At our fifth year reunion, everyone was posturing as to how successful they had been, how far they had risen, etc. Most people were still in the same type jobs, with only a few outliers who had switched careers already. Our tenth reunion was totally different. At our tenth, no one talked about their job – everyone talked about their kids. The contrast was dramatic. Many people were in different careers, including a number who were testing the dot-com waters.

At the fifteenth reunion, everyone seemed much more relaxed. Job performance stress at from the fifth and family starting stress at the tenth were mostly gone. Many, many people (including me) had their own businesses, and few of these were ones anyone would have predicted; I don’t think anyone was a consultant anymore. Here are a few examples just from our 90-person section of businesses graduates are running now:

My observation – very few were the types of businesses that come recruiting at HBS.

My parting observation about career choices through life comes from Dan Simmons’ great Hyperion series, where the prophet Aenea gives here famously concise advice to humanity:

Choose Again.

Certainly true with careers.

 

I just got back from my fifth year reunion in June, so this gives me something to think about.

Blogs I Read: Ben Stein

I really love to read Ben Stein. His first burst of fame, as you may know, came from being the teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off back in the 1980s. More recently, he hosted a game show for a while (Win Ben Stein’s Money), and he writes regularly for the New York Times on Sunday.

What people may not realize from his typical movie and TV stunts is that Ben Stein is really intelligent. Not just in a book smart kind of way, but in a profoundly intellectual way. As an actor, writer, economist and lawyer, he seems to have internalized not just the facts and theories of several different fields, but also how they fit together. I find his writing style compellingly simple, and yet rich and articulate.

More recently, Ben has become more proactive with writing articles to help guide people with their own financial lives. Here is an article he wrote in 2005 on saving for retirement:

The Early Bird Gets the Next Egg

An example passage, which I think demonstrates both his easy way with numbers and his compelling presentation of basic financial facts:

If you start at 25 with six months’ salary saved, you need only save 3 percent of your total, pre-tax salary per year to get the nest egg you need (roughly 15 times earnings at retirement) by age 65. But if you start at age 45, you need to save 18 percent of your salary (again, assuming you start out with six months’ of salary saved). If you start at age 50, you need to save 28 percent of your salary. And if you start at age 55, you need to save nearly 50 percent of your gross salary to get where you need to be.

In other words, if you start with a sensible plan at a young age, you can get to your savings goal without breaking a sweat. If you wait until you are middle aged, it takes some serious doing. If you wait until you are a silver fox, you’re required to do some heavy lifting indeed. If you assume the stock market has passed its glory days, you need to save even more.

I’ve found two great resources now for Ben Stein fans:

  1. He has a website. It’s worth bookmarking.
  2. He has an RSS feed. It’s worth subscribing to.

I’m going to be writing a follow up post on one of my favorite pieces by Ben Stein, clipped from the New York Times last year. I’m having trouble finding an online copy, so I may have to type up the whole thing. In the meantime, check out his RSS feed. It’s so exciting to me to find out that some of my favorite columnists and authors have their own feeds – it’s something I just wasn’t finding somehow before I started blogging myself.

How to Rebuild Your iPhoto Library (iLife ’06)

This is more of a quick tip, just in case you start having the same problem that I did.

I made a mistake recently where I pulled out my compact flash card before the iPhoto import was complete. Instead of handling this gracefully, I ended up with a bunch of images in iPhoto where the thumbnails don’t display. Instead, I get a bunch of white boxes with grey dashed-line borders.

Searching the web, I found out that other people who had this problem were able to solve it by rebuilding their iPhoto Library. Unfortunately, Apple changed the super-secret command key combination to do this between iPhoto 4 and iPhoto 5, and there is no help documentation on it.

Still, for those who are curious, here is the answer:

iPhoto 4: When launching iPhoto, hold down the Shift and Option keys.

iPhoto 5 & 6: When launching iPhoto, hold down the Option & Command keys.

Interestingly enough, if you hold down Shift & Option keys at launch, you can tell iPhoto 6 to use a different library folder… pretty nifty if you wanted to maintain different libraries for some reason.

Here is the web page where I finally found the answer. Looks like this guy wrote a clever “iPhoto Extractor” application based on his experiences with this problem.