To protect and serve

A pair of pics to got with an article on what it’s like to run a local police station.

Afbeelding

Local officer “Mon” has been on the beat in Willebroek for more than 20 years.

Afbeelding

Chief Commissioner De Ley of the Willebroek police force.

As always © Gil Plaquet 

Who you gonna call?

Another set of shots that never made it to print. A few weeks ago we got a bit of a storm, causing trees to snap and fall, in this case, on a busy acces to the E19 freeway. Most of the debris had been removed once I got there, but seems appropriate to give some […]

Easy Rider

© Gil Plaquet

An image that didn’t make it to print. This was one of those moments where I realize I really love being a freelance photographer: making money doing what I love, at a place I would be passing by anyway (a local record fair). #awesome, right?

Whoops!

It might be bad for my accident karma, but I just wanted to share this scene I passed by earlier. Looks like the truck grabbed the car by the side and dragged it along for a bit. If that’s the case, that’s one sturdy VW.

2012, the year of …

My upgrade to the Nikon pro line

Nikon just launched the D4 camera, it’s latest (and greatest) in it’s pro digital DSLR line. My D300 just turned 3 years and it’s starting to show. Autofocus isn’t responding the way it should and I’m under the impression that the right part of my sensor might have shifted (from dropping, motorbike vibrations, not sure) making it constantly, ever so slightly out of focus. So yes, I will be upgrading, now it’s just a matter of saving up the dough.

My move to the cloud

And I’m already a big part of the way there. iCloud with iTunes match, spotifiy, … More and more of my media is being streamed rather that stored. I’m looking forward to seeing extra features being offered on the iCloud platform: in-app services, hosting (hey Apple, where’s my iDisk?!) and a MobileMe galleries like service (I actually used that).

My 5th trip to the US

January is the month for booking cheap flights and that’s exactly what I did. The misses and I are heading West again with a stop at my aunt in Tucson, a visit to friends in LA and a whole lot more. We’ll probably be documenting the trip in true geek style. If you can recommend any pre paid data plans with good coverage on the West Coast, do drop a line in the comments.

Living in the cloud

This past monday, Apple gave quite a long keynote at The Moscone Center during WWDC ’11. Some desperately needed iOS features, lots of OS X lion and, last but not least, moving to the cloud. It looks like it are going to be exciting times to be an Apple user.


iOS as it should be

iOS 5 is going to be the most important update of Apple’s mobile platform to date. It might just be that my fanboyism isn’t what it used to be but some of the announced features are so blatantly obvious I don’t think they need a big applause during a keynote. Things like the new notifications with the “slide down from the top” feature. Granted, it looks great and will be super efficient, but can we all admit that it’s almost exactly the same as what Android has had since it launched? Taking a picture with the volume up button? I’m sorry, but my Sony Ericsson did that back in 2004. Don’t get me wrong, they’re all great features, but they don’t really induce a big “keynote” applause in my case.

Another long awaited feature is task management. If it works as good as it looks and integrates as seamlessly with iCal as they claim, it looks like I can say goodbye to the 25 euro I spent on Things for Mac and iPhone. I’m especially looking forward to the location aware notifications (eg: “Don’t forget the milk” pops up when you’re about to pass your local super market). I know, Android fanboys, hold your horses. I know this sounds an awful lot like Locale.

A rundown of some other goodies you can expect:

  • iMessage: what appears to be iOS-only WhatsApp like messaging integrated right into the OS.
  • PC free: autonomous iOS devices: no more need for a computer to set up your device.
  • Twitter integration: one time login in system preferences to rule them all + integration throughout the entire OS.
  • Safari: tabbed browsing, reader (Focus on the text, remove all clutter. Already a feature in Safari for Mac).
  • Wireless sync: more on that further down this article.

King of the OS world

The next version of your Mac’s OS has been talking to it’s iOS nephews. Lion will incorporate even more touch gestures for your built-in or external “magic” trackpad.Combine that with the new Mission Control that gives you a complete view of everything that’s happening on our and you’ve got yourself Exposé on steroids. More system apps (and I presume API will also provide it for third party apps) will have a full screen mode, keeping you focussed on the job at hand,. Be it writing a text in Pages, obtaining inbox zero in Mail or taking silly pictures of yourself in Photobooth.

A combination of a new feature called Launchpad and the Mac App Store you might already be using today is going to give your Mac even more of the iOS look’n’feel. Buying applications and browsing through them will feel just like you’re on the iPad. For me personally, it makes the OS feel a bit, well, childish I guess. I know the way forward is simplifying interfaces to be more efficient and accessible, but I’ll need to get used to it.

My favorite new features are Resume and Version. Whether you’re writing a text or editing a photo, Lion will allow apps to constantly save every move you make and provides the ability to browse through past versions of your document. Kinda like Time Machine but throughout the entire OS. After you’ve restarted the app takes you right back where you left off. Students are obviously going to have one less excuse to not get their papers done in time. Finally, I’d like to mention Airdrop, a nifty new feature that’s integrated into the Finder and allows you to transfer files to any Mac in your vicinity. You don’t even need to be on the same WiFi network. I’m interested to find out if they use WiFi or Bluetooth to airdrop (hence the name) an important business document securely into your collegae’s Download folder. Sharing files never was this exciting.

Some other stuff to look forward to:

  • Conversations in Mail (Did anyone say Wave?)
  • You’ll be able to receive FaceTime calls,  even if you’re not running the app (Don’t worry, you can turn it off if you want to.)
  • Full screen Screen Sharing

Goodbye MobileMe, hello iCloud

MobileMe has always been one of those service that, if you use it intensively, is immensely useful but, if you don’t, feels like a total waste of money. Soon, everyone will be able to enjoy Exchange for the rest of us without having to pay for it. Mail, calendars, contacts, documents, photo’s, you’ll be able to sync them between you Mac, iPad, iPhone and iPod Tocuh without having to connect one single cable. On top of that, you can see all your past Music, Book or App purchases on all of your devices and download them instantly. Those purchases don’t even use your 5 GB of free cloud space. You can even set things up to automatically download new songs or apps you bought on your Mac to your iOS device(s).

The thing that’s got me excited though, is iTunes Match. For $25/year you sync up to 25.000 songs (even the ones you ripped from CD’s or got through some other sneaky way). Wirelessly over all your devices. You’ll even get Apple’s 256 kbps version of the songs you own. When you get to a charger in a WiFi hotspot, just plug in your device and the Cloud will do the rest. My biggest concern is whether SABAM and the Belgian music labels are going to block this feature just like they did with movies and shows on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, … you get the picture. Only time will tell …

Mac server slowing down your network?

I had only been tinkering with MacOS X for a few days when I had my first annoyance yesterday. It might have been just my fault, but judging by the amount of Google result on this problem, I thought I’d just quickly write out my solution.

The symptoms:

– Server Admin takes 5 minutes to actually appear, before that it’s shown as “not responding” in Activity Monitor.
– Server has a working internet connection, but you can’t load updates or a web page in Safari.
– Overall, all computers in your network are taking forever to load web pages, almost looks like your ISP put you on limited bandwidth.

The cause (in my case):

– I had done a few consecutive installs of the OS to dial in the ideal settings. When you select some of the options under “What is this server going to be used for?”, the wizard starts up DNS service automatically. Apparently, this new DNS server is stored in your Airport Extreme base station.
– With every page you load, your computer goes knocking on your server’s door for DNS info which obviously isn’t there, resulting in a prolonged load time.

The solution (in my case):

– Open up Airport Utility > Manual Configuration > Internet and delete the local DNS server (10.0.1.x).

Your Airport base station will automatically reboot, relaying all updated DNS info to the computers in your network. Et voila … your at full speed and your server will respond normally once again.

I hope this post will help frustrated users restoring faith in their MacOS X server. If not, good luck looking for your particular solution.