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Hey, who wants to hear me bitch about iMacs! I don’t care, here I go:

Switching to a Mac has been great in every way except for like… the hardware. I should point out that I began this switch by buying a refurbished 27″ iMac from to save $300. I’m not made of money you guys. I’ve bought many things from there before and all the devices have been flawless. Except for iMacs I suppose. A rundown of the iMacs I have known:

iMac #1: Worked great! Then I went to install an additional 8gb of RAM. One of the RAM slots was so out of alignment I couldn’t get one of the sticks in there. I contacted Apple Support, they offered to let me buy another one and then refund my money for the first when I returned it. Fair enough.

iMac #2: Right away I noticed the hard drive was noisy (even when idle). I had iMac #1 and iMac #2 beside each other before I returned #1 and could easily tell the difference. Turns out it was a noisy Seagate drive. Since I’m recording with this thing, that’s kind of a big deal but bleh I didn’t want to return it yet again. Then I noticed the left internal speaker kept making annoying intermittent crackling/static noises even when the audio wasn’t in use.

I talked to Apple support and they suggested I unplug the power cord and plug it back in and see if that helps. The iMac didn’t immediately make the noise when I started it back up, so the friendly Apple guy said to call back if it did.

It did later, but it took me three days call back. I was out of my 30 day return window at that point and was told I’d have to take it in for repair + be without a computer indefinitely. I told them that made me so so sad so they talked to various managers and eventually agreed to replace it, plus gave me $150 credit back for my troubles. Nice!

iMac #3: This is the one I have on my desk as I type this. The RAM slots are fine. The internal speakers make no unwanted noise. But I’ve noticed the fans getting loud a lot whereas I realize now I never even heard the fans on the other ones. When I’m recording for instance or watch a few Youtube videos in a row, the fan turns on and is pretty loud in this small office. After an hour of mixing just now the top of the case is too hot to leave my hand on for more than a second or two. The others were pretty warm but not at all like that.

So. Do I have the energy to complain about this one? The fan noise is annoying and maybe not tolerable. The extreme heat worries me that it’ll be prone to failure over time. But I’m getting pretty tired of swapping these bastards out. Basically I want to give up on buying refurbished and go buy a brand new one, but what if they’re prone to the same issues?

So: ugh.

Update: well, that resolved itself. The display on iMac #3 died last night. So now I’m on hold with Apple support. Woo hoo hoo.

Update #2: Here is what the display looks like! (The lines move!)

broken imac











Update #3: Talked to four supervisors. They’re taking iMac #3 back and refunding my money. I’m gonna drive to the Ottawa Apple store and buy a new iMac that hopefully isn’t a piece of junk.

iMac #4: Seven hours later my Time Machine backup is restored and I’m back where I was almost 24 hours ago.

Posted on - January 27, 2011 [at] 4:25 pm by Brad
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image Here is a nerdy data complaint:

Earlier this year the Ottawa Police announced they would be publishing daily crime data via, it’s a nice searchable interface using Google Maps. I loved the idea and thought it was fantastic that citizens had an easy way to search and view this data.

Fast-forward a few months and I had some ideas I wanted to try with the public crime data. I hunted around for a way to access the data in a usable format or at least an RSS feed, but there were none that I could find. I looked into scraping the data from and that was non-trivial. offers emailed crime reports (blegh) and here’s what their Frequently Asked Questions page says on the matter:

How can users access crime information for their areas of interest? is a community-facing Web application, and as such, emphasizes the user experience. A user simply enters an address of interest (home, office, school, etc.) and clicks on "Get Report" to see criminal activity in a given area on an easy-to-use map interface. The Web application also integrates data from multiple agencies into a single interface and offers automated, location-based alerting services.

Which to me is code for “ would rather lock-in the data, and as such, not help potential competitors.”

Finally, I contacted the Ottawa Police and asked if there’s a way for regular folks to access the daily data they’re providing to They pointed me to the weekly reports (which look like this, and would be usable with some parsing). Only problem: these have been discontinued in 2009 in favor of sending all the data to They said there’s no public feed for that data and that I’d need to make a Freedom of Information request.

So we have a situation here where the Ottawa crime data has been moved to a site that’s easier for 99% of citizens to access and understand, but the data is locked up in a third-party website and inaccessible to anyone who wants to do some serious work with it. Which to me is a huge step backwards.

Posted on - May 29, 2009 [at] 2:13 pm by Brad
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After having so many live performance troubles with the M-Audio Firewire 410, I looked around for the best alternative. My research lead me to the MOTU UltraLite mk3. People referred to it as “rock solid” and I had previously heard lots of great things about MOTU hardware. There’s not a lot of competition in this area for some reason. Anyway, I bought one.

Immediately I started having audio drop-outs. Firmware upgrades were involved. I filed a trouble ticket and I complained on Twitter. I read lots of posts and comments about MOTU’s “legendary” bad support (which was not so legendary that I knew about it before I bought one of their products). I wound up going back tonight to have a look at my ticket’s status and check this out:


Wow, ten days later and my ticket’s still Unread. I mean I guess appreciate that they’re up front about not caring, but maybe putting forth at least the illusion of customer service would be a better business strategy. I don’t know.

Posted on - May 1, 2009 [at] 12:46 am by Brad
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new-indiana-jones-4-and-the-kingdom-of-the-crystal1 Having now seen Indiana Jones 4 I am finally free from looking forward to anything by George Lucas, hooray!

Indy 4 was terrible and at least as bad as The Phantom Menace. I’m not sure how it’s managed a score of 78% on Rotten Tomatoes as I write this, but I have to assume that will be lowered by time and careful reflection.

Here’s my ranty spoiler-filled list of things I can remember disliking:


Posted on - May 27, 2008 [at] 10:55 pm by Brad
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Time to take stock of my social networking participation.

Twitter – Still updating on Twitter against all odds. Being able to monitor and update it via IM is really all it’s got going for it. I’ve had to start ignoring certain people though because the noise level got too high.

Pownce – I’m really not sure what to do with Pownce. It’s nice, but the lack of IM makes me lazy about it. I really like the reply-to-posts feature. I’ve started experimenting with uploading songs I’ve been listening to, which is fun but would be way more fun if everyone I knew had access to it.

MySpace – I still log in and add friends who request it and try to reply to messages in there. Spam has reduced from a few months ago so MySpace doesn’t bother me much anymore.

Facebook – Even though I only have around 70 friends on there and don’t whore it out like MySpace it’s rapidly becoming the most annoying social network. Check out what I’m met with when I log on:


Hey Facebook, I’ve got 1 leave me the fuck alone request for you. Oh and a fortune friend request.

Posted on - August 10, 2007 [at] 9:36 am by Brad
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As a follow-up to my hard drive terror I guess I’m now in a full-blown Windows apocalypse. I was fairly sure it was the power supply crapping out on me and it was only crashing during the night, so I was waiting till this week to get a new one.

Then yesterday it rebooted in the middle of doing something. Then would only give me an “lsass.exe – System Error Object Name not found” error and reboot when I hit OK. Much research and fiddling hasn’t righted things so I think my Windows is just toast.

Anyway if I’m extra slow to answer your emails that is why.

Posted on - July 3, 2007 [at] 11:54 am by Brad
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Woke up this morning to my desktop machine frozen on the Windows boot-up screen. I hit a key and it rebooted. What the. Let it go through, it froze again. Tried safe mode, froze again. And a second time. Uh oh.

Tried some rescue LiveCD rescue stuff, maybe my Windows install was just barfed. My hard drive seemed to be gone. I fearfully checked the state of my backups — was pleasantly surprised to see they were intact. Also Gmail meant my email still worked and Google Browser Sync meant I had all my bookmarks and cookies on my laptop. Sweet.

I started going through the motions of getting a replacement hard drive, rebooted the desktop again for kicks and everything worked fine. “Windows has recovered from a serious error.” I’ll say.

Hard drive on the way out? Power supply dying? Heat? I don’t know but that was a dumb way to kill a couple hours.

Posted on - June 28, 2007 [at] 1:55 pm by Brad
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And the award for “most annoying music loop used in a Flash product demo” goes to Creative for the Zen Stone Plus! Way to go guys! You’ve driven me insane!

Seriously though, you make audio products. Let’s show some hustle.

Posted on - June 27, 2007 [at] 10:35 pm by Brad
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Way back I posted my hesitation about using a Firewire audio interface. While I love technology, years of abuse at the hands of SCSI, USB and many other acronyms has made me scared and wary. After dual booting my laptop and stripping XP down to its most efficient, I wrote to M-Audio asking why my Firewire 410 inputs kept hanging whenever I, like, used them. This was the reply:


You’ve seen a lot of problem with the newest Dell laptop. The new dual processor have made computer to go faster than ever, but when there is IRQ sharing (or if the IEEE 1394 adapter is on a virtual IRQ), the chipset seems to be less robust with resource sharing.

I would recommend you to try a PCI firewire card (or PCMCIA or ExpressPort Firewire cards) to get rid of any IRQ conflict.

If I give a hundred dollars to everyone on the planet will all my problems go away?

Posted on - March 29, 2007 [at] 4:50 pm by Brad
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So bands on MySpace are limited to posting 4 songs. Lame in this age of massive affordable bandwidth but OK. I can’t change my songs around because lots of people have them added to their pages and I’ll break those. But OK. Then there’s this Myspace announcement today:

You know how you can list four songs on your band’s MySpace page? Well, thanks to the fine peeps over at Bodog Entertainment you can now add a 5th song. More music means more ears, more ears mean more plays, and more plays mean way more exposure. Add Bodog Entertainment as a friend and up your band’s song list to five on your MySpace Standalone Player.
Get your 5th song heard.

Wow, that’s ballsy. I mean it’s one thing for everyone else to treat the MySpace friend system as the dumping ground of the internet, but for MySpace itself to just whore it out like that takes some nuts. They must really not care.

Update: Ryan points out that when you Google your new “friend” Bodog you find out he’s really into online gambling. Check their Wikipedia page. I’m still surprised MySpace did this and now even more surprised News Corporation (MySpace’s owners) are cool with potentially being accused of marketing gambling to the kids.

Maybe we can all add Joe Camel and the Marlboro Man as MySpace friends for a sixth and seventh songs on our musician pages! Hooray!

Posted on - March 21, 2007 [at] 10:39 pm by Brad
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