Skip Navigation

The race that stops a nation

Tomorrow is the first Tuesday of November, and Australians everywhere know what that means… it means it’s time to gamble.

Since primary school I can recall that day; the day where everything, everything, stops for the couple of minutes it takes for the horses of the Melbourne Cup to run the length of Flemington race track. The teachers would just stop teaching as they tuned in the radio to listen in. It’s nothing short of bizarre, this obsession we have; horse racing isn’t what you’d call a national pastime, but while those horses are running you ain’t doin’ nothin’.

Tomorrow I’ll be working, which isn’t out of the ordinary since plenty of people will be at work as they listen eagerly for the results; hell, I’ve never heard of anyone’s boss getting angry because you took a couple of minutes out of your day to stop working, go down to the break room, and watch the Cup being run. But hey, I work behind a bar most days of the week, a sports bar, so I can tell you now it’ll be pure fucking chaos. Big screen TV’s and decorations are already set up, and I gather we’re expected to wear colorful silk shirts instead of our usual black and white garb, but from eight o’clock tomorrow morning I’ll be pouring more beer and champagne than I’ve ever poured in my short career as a peddler of life’s guilty pleasures.

Then, I’ll get drunk.


I know you like Panther, you know I like Panther, and you already know my (relatively short) list of gripes with Panther, but I must now add a few more woes to the list after a couple days of working “as normal” and putting Panther through its paces.

  1. The “crufty Home partition” seems to be more trouble than it’s worth and a hell of a lot more confusing than it seems. After toying with other users’ accounts (creating new users and NetInfoing their Home directory to new locations, for example) I’ve proven to myself that there is no harm in having your Home directory in a non–standard location (where standard == the /Users directory). Therefore, by elimination, the root of my problems is cruft. Library cruft and, perhaps, other unidentified cruft. Cruft is now considered to be the cause of two separate woes that I shall define… now.
    1. The missing zoom effect, chronicled earlier. Not really a deal breaker, but a missing nicety.
    2. An inability to play CDs through iTunes, nor import the contents of said CDs. This is a problem given that I bought four new CDs just the other day. A big problem. Downloading Audion, I know that it’s not a system problem (Audion is perfectly capable of dealing with CDs) but rather an iTunes problem. Trashing my iTunes prefs, all Library items with the word “iTunes” in it, and the iTunes music library files from the /Music/iTunes directory has no bearing on the matter.
    Since I’ve already tried deleting all iTunes–related cruft from my hard drive (including trashing and reinstalling iTunes) I’m left utterly baffled. Stuck. Fubar. I’m left with two choices:
    1. Back up my important Library items (Address Book database, Stickies database, keychain, things like that) then throw away my Library… moving my crap back once it’s safe.
    2. Back up my personal files (including important library files as above) and format the Home partition… moving my crap back once it’s safe.
    It’s not much of a choice, really, and it’s obvious I’m going to try the first option before the second, but what can I say? It’s a real bummer.
  2. Pixlet just isn’t as great as advertised. Using my personal benchmark, “the Rose video”, Pixlet proved to be six times faster than DivX… but the resulting video was of poorer quality and eight times the file size. I’m sure it has professional applications, and there may be a number of options unavailable to iMovie users when exporting with the Pixlet codec (deinterlacing, for instance), but for my “home movie from a firewire MiniDV camcorder, edited in iMovie” purposes, it doesn’t do the job. DivX does the job admirably, though it’s much slower. I guess we all need to make sacrifices.
  3. Exposé is great… that much is certain, and though the use of screen corners for activation is a wonderful application of Fitts’ Law it often proves to be counterproductive for that very reason. According to Fitts’ Law, screen corners are one of the easiest places on the screen to hit with your mouse; and while that’s awesome when you want to use Exposé it’s a pain in the ass when you hit a corner by accident. And you will hit a corner by accident from time to time; going for the Apple menu in the top left, going for the Fast User Switching menu in the top right, or (if your dock occupies 100% of the bottom edge of your screen as mine used to) going for the Finder or Trash. Makes me wish I had a multi–button mouse, though making my dock slightly smaller has mostly solved the bottom–corner crisis.

So now I plan to back some shit up, delete my Library folder, and hope for the best. Let’s see what comes of it.


Well, that was actually relatively painless. Remarkable.

Backed up the important Library items, trashed the Library. Received notices that certain things couldn’t be deleted because they were in use. Logged out, logged back in holding Shift to disable Haxies, trashed the remaining Library items. Logged out and logged back in again to be safe.

Restored important library items, added my favorite apps back to the dock (should’ve backed up my dock plist, I know), fiddled my system prefs back to where they should be, fiddled my app prefs back to how they should be, and voilà. Admittedly, I should never have needed to put up with shit like that in the first place, but what’s done is done. It’s nice to know that the cruft of plists from a thousand trialled applications is gone, though. Very reassuring… at least until 10.4