From Hell’s Heart I Stab at Thee, iCal

One might legitimately ask why I still use iCal, with alternatives like Fantastical on the market. Honestly, I don’t really know why. As a matter of fact, this is probably the irrelevant little wart that pushes me over the edge:

ical reminder screenshot

That’s right — iCal’s reminders do not respect the 24-hour global system preference. I suppose that shouldn’t come as a surprise, since iCal itself doesn’t.

Mass Effect 3 — early report

Monday morning I woke up, and I could tell that, after several days of giving ME 8 hours of my life, and more on Sunday, my brain had, as with Zhuangzi’s butterfly, decided that my corporeal existence was the dream, and ME3 the reality. In those hazy minutes of snoozing between sleeping and waking, instead of thinking “I should get up, take a leak, make coffee, and see about what on my schedule for the day,” I distinctly heard my brain thinking “I should check my mission journal, talk to Liara T’Soni, feed the fish in my captain’s cabin, hit up the galaxy map and see about kicking some Cerberos bitches off a colony”.

When I finally got up, I felt like what I imagine it would feel like had I spent all weekend in AC snorting blow, drinking, and stuffing $20s into G-strings. In other words, dirty, sleazy, and run-down.

iCal should be taken out back and shot

Pop quiz: How many different types of windows should a calendar app have for editing event info? 1

iCal has three. Three identical, redundant windows. You see, iCal’s designers weren’t confident that they knew how to design the UI for a calendar app, so they left that to the user.

iCal with it's multiple, redundant info panels

Why stop at three?

You’ve got your “attached” window. That pops up when you double click an event. For some reason, you then have to click “edit” if you want to change any values there (in the image I’ve already clicked that button). Unless you click on the window and drag it far enough away from the event that it detaches. Then it becomes an “info” window.

You can also just get the “info” window by clicking on an event and choosing the “Get Info” menu item (CMD-I). That window has some funky behaviors, but that’s not the point of this post.

And finally, you’ve got your “inspector” window… that one is identical to the “info” window, except that like the prizewinner in The Highlander, there can be only one, and it’s intended to float over your calendar displaying the info for the last event you’ve clicked on.

Damnit, Apple. Get your shit together on this piece of crapware.

  1. The answer is one per context. In iCal’s case, it has only one context, so one event editing window. 

Yet another reason that iCal is the worst calendar app ever

As if I needed more reasons. iCal is the SYSTEM app for calendaring. Made by Apple. Should integrate with everything right? Well, it does not respect your setting for 12-hour or 24-hour time. So while my menu bar says 15:46 right now, my appointment for 17:00 on my calendar says 5pm.

Fuck you, iCal. Do you realize the iPhone calendar app is a better desktop app than you?

I like the new digs

UPDATE: my import problem turned out to be a version incompatibility issue with php and libxml2, and was a general problem with the xmlrpc API as well… Upgrading to latest versions seems to have fixed it.

At long last, I have finished migrating Terminus Est from blogspot to my own WordPress install. My old site now redirects here, please make note ofthe new address. My feed address has not changed.

The migration did not go as smoothly as one should, despite there being an importer that is supposed to handle things for you.

For one thing, the importer doesnt handle images hosted on blogger. It seems there is a plugin which might take care of it, but I didnt know that until it was too late. Fortunately most of the images in my blog are actually hosted on Flickr, so that was actually not so terrible.

The real issue, however, was that every post had its angle brackets stripped out, necessitating a manual correction, very annoying. Also for some reason it converted all of bloggers tags to WordPress categories, which is mystifying, and required manual correction as well.

MobileMe desktop syncing truly “automatic” now

At last!

Since the release of MobileMe, the “automatic” setting for sync preferences has been a bit of a farce — at most, it would sync your data up to the cloud once every 15 minutes. With the release of OS X 10.5.6, finally you can rely on your desktop updates being propagated within a minute very handy for those of us who like to make a calendar entry, put our macs to sleep, and walk out of the house without stopping to worry about manually running a sync to make sure our iPhones get our updates.

From their release notes:

Contacts, calendars, and bookmarks on a Mac automatically sync within a minute of the change being made on the computer, another device, or the web at

iCal’s continuing failures

Oh iCal. Is there no end to your sucking?

Here’s the latest example of breakage. At my company some of my co-workers use a hosted exchange server for calendaring. I use iCal and MobileMe. Sometimes we invite each other to events, and often the invites are even successfully transmitted to each othe via email.

Then I started being an hour late to meetings. Why? Well, see if you can pick out the bug in the below screencap…

That’s right. In the info panel, the time of the event is displayed as noon, while in the graphical calendar view, the event starts at 1pm. Once again the iCal team earns my Harsh Glare of Ultimate Derision.

A Thing for the iPhone: Typing Tutor

It’s so obvious, really. Apple should bundle with the iPhone a typing tutor application. I didn’t need one, and I can type like blazes on an iPhone, but I’ve now encountered several people who are pretty fumbley They are all making one simple and understandable mistake: they are trying to keep their eyes on the letter they are typing, and so they try to put a sliver of their finger on the lower edge of the key they are going for. But I digress.

The point is that some people are for whatever not getting it by intuition, but they get it when you tell them. So how about these things:

  1. A tutor mode for the keyboard that learns how big your finger surface tends to be by sampling, then prompts you to enter particular letters while giving you a blob transparently overlaid on the keyboard, of where your finger should land. There could be other feedback mechanisms, that’s just off the top of my head.
  2. iPhone should come with tutorial videos already loaded. Or iTunes should detect a new iPhone and offer to subscribe you to a vodcast of said videos.

New Aleph Jawbone survives laundry

If my Jawbone headset were a song I’d give it five stars. If it were a woman I’d ask it to marry me.

Yesterday I did my first load of laundry in the basement if my new apartment building. As I put the load in the washer, I set a timer on my phone. As I did so I noticed that my phone was actively paired with a headset, although I thought I’d left it upstairs. I should have checked my pockets – had I done so, I’d have noticed that it was not there.

Over the next hour I realized that I could not find my headset. As I moved my laundry to the drier, I went through the pockets of my garments… Sure enough, in one pocket was a lighter, and BOTH my iPhone headphones (with he sweet clicky-button microphone), an my Jawbone.

“Oh, noooooo, critical laundry fumble!” I thought. And yet by some amazing fortune, the headphones worked, unlike the last pair of apple headphones I laundered. The Jawbone I didn’t even try to turn on. I mean, the first-gen Jawbone I had died by immersion in nothing more than a rainstorm. How did this one stand a chance?

Well, I left it to sit overnight and this morning plugged it in, and was astounded to see its little charging LED come on! So I let it charge for 10 minutes and turned it on — it worked!

A bluetooth headset that functions after being put through the wash goes so far above the call of duty I’m not sure I can find the words to express my amazement, so I’m hoping that quantity will make up for lack of quality here.

From Aleph: “Thank you very much for taking the time to write to us – we love hearing how Jawbone is making life a little better for our customers!

Though we don’t recommend putting Jawbones through the wash its great to hear that your is fine.”

So take note! YMMV.