To follow up on the A2DP (stereo bluetooth) post on Mac OS 10.4 (Tiger) here, here and here, I would like to introduce the method to get A2DP to run on your Windows XP via Boot Camp on Mac computers.

If you are still using Windows XP and refused to upgrade to Vista (and probably waiting for Windows 7 to release later this year), you would realize that Win XP does not allow you to use headset profile (mono or stereo). It is because Microsoft did not include those profile stacks in Win XP and never bothered to include them in the subsequent Service Packs!

As a result of that, you cannot enjoy neither mono nor stereo sound on your computer even though your laptop/pc comes with built-in bluetooth (especially true for Macbook/Macbook Pro/Macbook Air).

The solution is first proposed by U.C. and further explained by reesd at InsanelyMac forum. I decided to combine their solutions to make an easy-to-understand step-by-step guide.

Also, this guide deals primarily with getting those profile stacks installed on Mac computer running boot camp in Windows XP. However, it also works with any laptop that has built-in bluetooth.

1) Download the Toshiba bluetooth stack profile and driver from

*Please know that the Toshiba Bluetooth Stack only valid for 30 days. After that, you would probably have to purchase the software in order to continue to use it. HOWEVER, if you are savvy enough, you can search and download it from torrent site.

2) Install the Toshiba Bluetooth Stack. It will reach a point where it tries to find for a compatible hardware, but cannot find it. Click "cancel".

3) Go to Device Manager and look up your built-in bluetooth device info under Bluetooth (the device is probably called Apple Bluetooth). Look for DeviceID and copy the info down.

For example, my DeviceID is USB\VID_05AC&PID_8205

4) Browse to the folder "Program Files\Toshiba\Bluetooth Toshiba Stack\Drivers\tosrfusb"

5) Open tosrfusb.inf file using notepad or any text editor.

6) Scroll down the file to the middle until you reach [Standard] section. You will need to assign a new number that has not been taken by other items in the [Standard] section.

For example if the list has up to 140 items, I will type in the following line after the line %TosrfUsb.DevicDesc140%=TosrfUsb_Device, .....

%TosrfUsb.DeviceDesc144%=TosrfUsb_Device, USB\VID_05AC&PID_8205

7) Scroll down the file until you reach [Strings] section.
Type in the following line after line
TosrfUsb.DeviceDesc140 = "xxxxxx"

TosrfUsb.DeviceDesc144 = "Apple Built-In Bluetooth Toshiba"

8) Save the tosrfusb.inf file and reboot your computer.

9) Return to Device Manager. Select the first Bluetooth device and choose to Update Driver. Don't let Windows search for the driver, but choose the option that you want to search for the driver on your own.

You will reach a point where there is an option "Have Disk". Click it and select Program Files\Toshiba\Bluetooth Toshiba Stack\Drivers\tosrfusb as the directory.

It will prompt you about unsigned driver. This is because you have edited the .inf file. Proceed with the driver update.

10) With the update, you can click on the toshiba bluetooth icon on your taskbar. Enable the bluetooth and choose new connection to search for your bluetooth device.

**The usual default passkey for pairing bluetooth devices is 0000 (as in four zeroes)

***I assume you know how to set your bluetooth device to pairing mode. If not, read your user manual. It is usually by holding the power button on your device for a certain amount of time (a couple of seconds) until both LEDs blink continuosly (usually red and blue)

****Handsfree (hf) is a newer mono bluetooth profile than Headset profile. Both are mono audio, but handsfree seems to support more options.

11) After you have paired the device to your built-in bluetooth, you can go to Bluetooth Settings (or double click on the icon on taskbar), double click on the selected bluetooth stereo device.

*****If you are using A2DP and the audio skips, go to Bluetooth Settings->Right click on your paired device name->choose a lower Quality setting such as Standard to see if there is any improvement.

12) Enjoy your full headset/A2DP/AVCRP support on Windows XP! (for up to 30 days or unlimited if you decided to torrent)

13) To disconnect, go back to Bluetooth Settings and right click on the bluetooth stereo device, choose Disconnect.

Note: Another software that enables A2DP on Windows XP and Vista (non-mac) is covered here.

If you have read the Tim Hewett's method to implement A2DP on your Mac OS 10.4 (Tiger) - (2a) and have problems with the sudo kext command, this post will try to assist you to get things going.

Again, the errors and solutions stated below are obtained from the the user comments at David Connolly's blog. This post is to summarize the most common problems mentioned and how to solve them. (and save you from going through 200 comments)

Common errors
1) kextload: extension /System/Library/Extensions/AudioReflectorDriver.kext is not authentic (check ownership and permissions)
Type the following command in Terminal (each sentence is in one line):
sudo chown -R root:wheel /System/Library/Extensions/AudioReflectorDriver.kext

sudo chmod -R 755 /System/Library/Extensions/AudioReflectorDriver.kext

sudo kextload /System/Library/Extensions/AudioReflectorDriver.kext

2) If you have problems with the choppiness of the sound and adjusting the value in /usr/local/bin/a2dpcast aa-bb-cc-dd-ee-ff 20 did not help, you can try to unload kext and reload it.

However, according to Tim, a2dpcast-0.3 shouldn't give you this problem. So you should not try this solution unless you have tried all other options.

Type in the following:
sudo kextunload /System/Library/Extensions/AudioReflectorDriver.kext (you may need to do this twice)

sudo kextload /System/Library/Extensions/AudioReflectorDriver.kext

3) a2dpcast does not work with Motorola S9! If you have S9, you best bet would be to use Softick Audio Gateway for Mac OS which is mentioned here.

You will see the following message in Terminal when you run /usr/local/bin/a2dpcast aa-bb-cc-dd-ee-ff with Motorola S9.

Found audio device "Motorola S9"
No such audio device 'Stereo Bluetooth Headset'. Using System Default.

Using audio device "Motorola S9"

sample rate is 8000, channels is 2
discover : received
SEID = 2
SEID 2 : MPEG codec
SEID = 1
Sent set configurations command
set_config : accepted
open : stream channnel
open_stream : ok
start_stream : ok
mtu = 672

frm_len = 2
6000 bytes/sec, hdr.sampling_frequency is 0
Transmitting A2DP, press RETURN to stop.
Bus error

Notice the bus error. If for any reason when you use your bluetooth stereo headset (other than Motorola S9) with a2dpcast and Terminal gives Bus error, it probably means your headset cannot use method (2).

4) Here is a list of supported and unsupported bluetooth stereo headset available from another post on David Connolly's blog.
Working (intel mac):
Motorola HT820
Griffin Bluetrip
Plantronics Pulsar 260
Plantronics Pulsar 590A
Jabra BT 620s (1 report of performance problem, Other reports of success)
Sony DR-BT22A

Not working (intel mac):
Sony Ericsson's HBH-DS970
Omiz Combo BT headphone
Motorola S9
Motorola DC800
Jensen WBT212

Enjoy A2DP on your Mac!

From the previous post on getting stereo bluetooth to work on Mac OS 10.4 (Tiger) at here, there is actually two more methods available. One is first proposed by David Connolly at his blog and another by Tim Hewett in David's blog comment section. Both methods are almost similar, but the one by Tim Hewett is more elegant and easier to use (but harder to set it up).

David's blog has a lot of useful information in the comments section, but I am writing this comprehensive guide to save you the trouble from searching through the all the comments.

I will describe Tim's method on this post since I think it is easier to use after you have successfully setting it up.

However, Tim's method requires a bit of Terminal knowledge. If you don't know what Terminal is, don't worry. This post will have a step-by-step guide to help you to enjoy A2DP on your Mac.


*I suggest you download the following 2 items onto your Desktop

1) Download a2dpcastAudioDevice.tgz file from

2) Download a2dpcast from

3) Turn on your built-in bluetooth on Mac OS and allow your bluetooth stereo headset to pair with it. The usual default passkey for bluetooth equipment is 0000 (as in four zeroes).

4) After pairing, go to Preference->Bluetooth->Devices. Click on the name of your device and copy down the Device Address. It will be in aa-bb-cc-dd-ee-ff format (12 characters).

5) Launch Terminal. What is Terminal? It is similar to the "command prompt" in Windows or the "Terminal" in Linux. You can access Terminal by:
Click on your Mac HD -> Applications -> Utilities -> Terminal

6) A new window will pop up with the word "Welcome to Darwin!".
Type the following and press enter:

cd /

7) Type the following and press enter:
sudo tar xfzp DOWNLOAD_DIR/a2dpcastAudioDevice.tgz --same-owner
where DOWNLOAD_DIR is the directory where you have downloaded/saved the file

For example, my Mac OS user account name is linkopia and I have saved my files on desktop. So I will type the following:
sudo tar xfzp users/linkopia/Desktop/a2dpcastAudioDevice.tgz --same-owner

Terminal will ask for your password. Type in your password and press enter.

8) Type the following and press enter:
sudo kextload /System/Library/Extensions/AudioReflectorDriver.kext

9) Double click on the to extract the zip file. A new folder called a2dpcast-0.3 will appear.

10) Click Finder. You will then see "Finder", "File", "Edit", "View", "Go" ... on the menubar on top of your screen.

11) Click "Go" and choose "Go to Folder".
Type in the following:
and click Go

12) Copy the file "a2dpcast" from the a2dpcast-0.3 folder to bin folder. Mac OS might prompt for login name and password or confirmation to copy the file. Allow the file to be copied to bin folder.

13) You are almost there. Now go to Terminal again. Type in the following and press enter:
/usr/local/bin/a2dpcast aa-bb-cc-dd-ee-ff
where aa-bb-cc-dd-ee-ff is the Device Address of your Stereo Bluetooth Headset.

**If your music skips, you can try to lower the sound quality. I think the default value is 32 (You can change the value anything from 0 to 32, the lower the value, the sound quality gets worse). So you can type the following:
/usr/local/bin/a2dpcast aa-bb-cc-dd-ee-ff 20

14) Launch iTunes and enjoy your music wirelessly!

15) Leave the Terminal open while you are using A2DP. You can minimize it, but don't close it! Go to Terminal and press "Enter" to stop A2DP when you don't want the stereo bluetooth anymore. You can close the Terminal now.

***When you want to use A2DP again, enable your Bluetooth on Mac OS. Launch terminal, and type the following again:
/usr/local/bin/a2dpcast aa-bb-cc-dd-ee-ff
/usr/local/bin/a2dpcast aa-bb-cc-dd-ee-ff 20


Enjoy A2DP on your Mac OS 10.4 (Tiger)!

If you encountered errors while going through the steps above, click here to read about some workarounds that might help you to get a2dp fully running.

A2DP (Stereo bluetooth) on Mac OS Tiger (10.4) - (2b)

If you are still using Mac OS Tiger (10.4) and haven't upgraded to Leopard (10.5), there are two workaround solutions to get A2DP (stereo bluetooth).

1) Softick Audio Gateway for Mac OS X
This is the easiest to use solution to get your a2dp fix on your Mac. You can download the beta version for free (unlimited duration, but only works on Intel Mac). It installed easily and
has no problem detecting my stereo bluetooth headset (Sony DB-BT22).

A final version is also available for purchase at 19.95 USD. However, it seems that the development for this software has died along with the support of A2DP in Leopard. There is scarce information about the difference between the beta and final version. I would assume that you get more control with the purchased version.

Compared with solution (2), the beta version do skip when playing music on my iTunes. You'll get about a second of no sound every once in a while. The final version might have solved this problem, but I believe the skip is mainly due to the bluetooth bandwidth problem (older bluetooth specification, especially version 1.0+).

Lastly, solution (2) seems to have a better sound quality than the softick audio gateway.

Solution (2) will follow shortly after this piece. Stay tuned.

Download Softick Audio Gateway for Mac OS 10.4 (Tiger)

Click here to read about Solution 2

If you are a heavy internet user, and your ISP has a cap on your download/upload limit per month, SurplusMeter is the software that I would recommend you to use (Note: only if you are using Mac OS).

Quote from the website:

"If you have a broadband internet service with a monthly download limit, you may find SurplusMeter comes in handy. It measures the download and upload traffic on your Internet connection and keeps a record of your traffic volume. It gives you all kinds of useful output statistics, like daily allowance, average daily usage, accumulated surplus, and more.

Statistics are presented in three ways: simple bytes in/out; summaries of megabytes used and remaining, and graphic meters which display at a glance when you're getting close to exceeding your limit.

Privacy Note: SurplusMeter measures only the volume of traffic on your connection. It does not look at the content of data in/out or record where it comes from. Also, SurplusMeter is completely passive; it does not send any information to anyone.

SurplusMeter is freeware. It's open-source, released under the GNU General Public Licence. You can download the source code from our Downloads page.

Current Version: 2.0.2

What's New:

  • Today's Usage figure only turns red if it exceeds daily allowance and surplus combined.
  • Archive gives data in GB as well as MB and bytes.
  • Slovak localization (courtesy Rudolf Gavlas).
  • Universal Binary (now supports only 10.4 or later)."


SkoobySoft - SurplusMeter

While searching for Japanese language podcast (note: not your typical how-to-learn-Japanese podcast, but rather podcast in Japanese language for Japanese people), I have came across a very good website that catalogs all the podcast websites from Japan. So if you are interested to improve your Japanese listening skills or just to learn more about latest news and issues in Japan, go straight to the link!

Click here: Podcast Juice

お楽しみに! is a relatively new website that strives to provide next generation puzzles for all generations. If you looked carefully, Samgine is the reverse for Enigmas :) The website has a lot of free online puzzles available that will certainly entertain you for hours.

Quote from website:

"Samgine (enigmas backwards) regularly adds free online puzzles and logic games. We also create original puzzles and provide a fun family-friendly experience you cannot get elsewhere."

Check it out at!

Have fun playing the puzzles.

An interesting article from NewScientist, which touches the rationality of human being. If you have taken economic classes, you would know that one of the basic assumption for the field is we act rational in order to improve our lives. We seek to increase the limited resources that we have and as everyone starts to do so, we indirectly promotes market efficiency.

Quote verbatim:


AROUND the time of the G20 summit in London on 2 April, the streets of cities across the world were filled with people protesting against the excesses of the banking bosses, among other things. Chances are you agreed with the sentiment. Chances are too that if you had been asked to put your hand in your pocket to fund a campaign to seize their bonuses, even if you wouldn't see any of the money, you'd have been sorely tempted.

If so, congratulations: you have just confounded classical economics, which says that no rational person should ever reduce their own income just to slash someone else's. And yet that's exactly what we do. Classical economics, it turns out, is a pretty terrible predictor of how we actually behave.

But why do we inflict pain for no gain? On the face of it, it is rather a perverse way of going about things. Does spitefulness stem from an affronted sense of fairness? Or something altogether darker: envy, lust for revenge - or perhaps even pure sadism?

It might be all those things. Economists, anthropologists and evolutionary biologists have been teasing out how, used judiciously, spiteful behaviour can be one of our best weapons in maintaining a fair and ordered society. But intentions that are noble in one situation can be malicious in another - making spite a weapon that can all too easily backfire.

Human spite is a complex affair. It is not pure selfishness in the Darwinian sense, like a stag that picks a fight with another. Though it might be gored in the process, the stag is actually acting in its own best interests. If it ends up with more mates, then the chances of passing on its genes are increased, an evolutionary prize worth fighting for.

Nor is spite as we practise it true spite in the biologist's sense. That would involve diminishing our own evolutionary fitness just so we can lower that of some unrelated individual. That behaviour exists, but it is hard to come by, says Stuart West, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Oxford. There is a particular type of parasitic wasp, for example, some of whose larvae do not develop into adults capable of reproduction, but instead kill unrelated larvae of the same species, freeing up resources for their siblings. And in several types of bacteria, spiteful cells produce chemicals that kill both themselves and other members of their kind, unless they carry a genetic marker of relatedness to the suicidal individual. That makes microbes the kings of true spite, says West.

Human spite is something altogether subtler. Psychological motivations and social contexts influence our course of action. That requires a very special set of circumstances and skills, says Marc Hauser, a biologist at Harvard University. First, it needs a stable social grouping in which unrelated individuals interact regularly, and in which costs incurred retain relevance. What's more, you must also be able to spot when you're getting a raw deal, identify the guilty party, and be willing to do something about it.

That requires what Hauser has dubbed "floodlight" intelligence - the ability to see the big picture and combine many cognitive inputs over time. That, he suggests, might make both spite and reciprocity - the doing and returning of favours - uniquely human qualities. The "laser-beam" intelligence of most animals might be superb at solving individual problems, but it is simply not good enough at generalising experience to develop such complex behaviours (see "Is spite uniquely human?").

Naughty but nice

If that's true, the floodlight is switched on at an early age. At a meeting of London's Royal Society in January, Hauser reported preliminary results from experiments in which children between 4 and 8 years old were offered varying numbers of sweets for themselves and another child unknown to them. They had to pull either a lever delivering the sweets, or another that tipped the sweets out of reach. Infants of all ages almost always rejected one sweet for themselves if the other child was set to receive more. The older children often also rejected sweets if they got more than the other child. Where that kind of concern about inequality disappears to is unclear, because we adults certainly don't have it. "Imagine you have four dollars on your side, and there's one on the other side," says Hauser. "It's highly unlikely that you'll dump your four dollars." But the negative, spiteful version persists: most of us would be quite prepared to sacrifice a dollar to stop someone else getting four. "Spite is the ugly sister of altruism," says Hauser.

What motivates this ignoble behaviour? A clue is provided by laboratory experiments known as public goods games. In a standard public goods game, each participant is given the same amount of money, some or all of which they can pay into a common pot. What's in the pot is then multiplied by the experimenters and divided equally between the players, so that even those who put in nothing get a share of its contents. The best outcome for all is if everyone puts their cash into the pot. But that does not naturally happen. In repeated rounds of the game, some individuals hold on to their own cash and hope to leech off other people.

Deterred by these freeloaders, the players who at first cooperate start to hold onto their cash. Cooperation breaks down entirely, and the whole group misses out on the bonus - society as a whole suffers (see diagram). But allow participants to pay for the privilege of punishing defectors, and it is a very different game. Cooperative players eagerly part with still more of their cash to punish cheats - who soon learn that cooperation is the cheaper option (Nature, vol 415, p 137).

Simply, it seems that niceness needs nastiness. Our sense of fairness and our willingness to inflict damage on one another combine to encourage contributions to the common good and deter people from cheating. Researchers call this altruistic punishment. "But at the end of the day, it's still spite," says economist Benedikt Herrmann of the University of Nottingham, UK. The benefits of this constructive spite might not be immediate, but they are real - in the long run, we all benefit more if we can ensure others in society toe the line.

Our brains are certainly wired to respond positively to this constructive form of spite. Although we might lose out financially, scans show that a region called the striatum, which responds to rewarding experiences, lights up during altruistic punishment (Science, vol 305, p 1254). So, problem solved. Spite is in our own best interests and our brains reward us for it, so we should welcome it, right?

Not quite. The problem is that it's not only doing bad things to bad people that makes us feel good. Recent studies have shown how the striatum responds in the same way to schadenfreude, when we take a morally dubious pleasure in others' misfortunes (Science, vol 323, p 937). Adolescent boys with aggressive conduct disorder show similar brain activity when they watch a video of someone hurting another person (Biological Psychology, vol 80, p 203).

The problem with spite is that it's not just doing bad things to bad people that makes us feel good

Sadism aside, it is easy to imagine why evolution might have wired us up like this, according to Hidehiko Takahashi of the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Chiba, Japan, leader of the schadenfreude study. "Altruistic punishment might bring an indirect benefit to us from society, and schadenfreude a direct benefit from a rival." But it also suggests that the line between the cooperative and competitive prompts for spiteful behaviour is blurry and subjective. If the prospect of bankrupting a few fat cats gives us a twinge of pleasure, it is hard to say whether that is because we believe they have robbed society, or because we are envious of their wealth and success and happy to see them toppled.

Daniel Zizzo, an economist at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK, points out that we shouldn't necessarily feel too bad about being bad - as long as we don't take it too far. "Envy has a stigma attached to it," he says, "but it's a powerful motivation towards egalitarianism and entrepreneurship." But it can also be used to cut down anyone who seems too clever or successful, possibly stunting innovation to the detriment of society. Accusations of witchcraft, which are often levelled against the successful, are a classic case in point, he says. If we can't raise ourselves up, we might find dragging someone else down just as good.

And there is evidence that, in some parts of the world, the rewards of spite can lead to just that kind of counterproductive behaviour. Last year Karla Hoff, an economist at the World Bank who is currently working at Princeton University, and her colleagues reported the results of experiments conducted in villages in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh (American Economic Review, vol 98, p 494). In these tests, two players started out with 50 rupees each. The first could choose to give his to the second, in which case the experimenters added a further 100 rupees, giving the second player 200 rupees in total. The second player could decide to keep the money for himself, or share it equally with the first player. A third player then entered the game, who could punish the second player - for each 2 rupees he was willing to spend, the second player was docked 10 rupees.

The results were startling. Even when the second player shared the money fairly, two-thirds of the time the newcomer decided to punish him anyway - a spiteful act with seemingly no altruistic payoff. "We asked one guy why," says Hoff. "He said he thought it was fun."

Hoff found that high-caste players were more likely to punish their fellow gamers spitefully than low-caste players, leading her to suggest that context is everything. It is not that people in Uttar Pradesh are nastier than elsewhere, but rather that the structure of their society makes them acutely conscious of status. The sensitivity of higher castes to their position makes them tend not to support any changes that threaten to level the social hierarchy, such as development projects. But higher castes can also put others down, safe in the knowledge that "untouchables" are unlikely to strike back. "If you're low caste it's dangerous to rise in status," says Hoff. "You'll get beaten up or worse."

The moral seems to be that, while spiteful behaviour can be a powerful force for keeping a society functioning smoothly, the structure of that society must be able to contain and channel those spiteful urges. "Social norms are a moral scaffold that keeps aggression and spite under control," says Herrmann. Societies that have strong laws tend to be those where individuals have a strong sense that they should treat strangers fairly - and are willing to punish cheats informally through gossip and ostracism.

So if you want to squeeze the bankers till their pips squeak, it might indeed be the case that spite is right. But it pays to examine your motives carefully. Woe betide a society in which altruistic punishment gives way to an envy-driven contest where everyone stands to lose. Hoff likes to illustrate the dangers with a Russian joke. A genie appears to a man and says: "You can have anything you want. The only catch is that I'll give your neighbour double." The man says: "Take out one of my eyes."

Is spite uniquely human?

Are we humans really alone in our spitefulness? It makes sense to take a peek at our nearest relatives to find out. "Chimpanzees are very competitive," says primatologist Keith Jensen of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. "They're good candidates for spiteful motivations."

To test that, Jensen set up an experiment with two chimps, the first of which could pull a rope to deprive both it and the other of a food reward (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol 104, p 13046). If the second chimp stole its food, the first chimp was quick to pull the rope. But if Jensen took the first chimp's food and gave it to the second, they pulled far less often. On that evidence, chimps don't do envy. "Just having another chimp better off than they are doesn't affect them," says Jensen.

Frans de Waal, a primatologist at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, thinks the results are inconclusive - the chimps sometimes pulled the rope when no food was available, so might simply have not understood the experiment. Given what we know about chimpanzees' intellectual and social skills, he says, a sense of fairness - and so a capacity for spite - would not be a surprise.

De Waal's own experiments suggest that capuchin monkeys are sensitive to fairness. If another monkey gets a tasty grape, they will not cooperate with an experimenter who offers a piece of cucumber (Nature, vol 425, p 297). A similar aversion has been spotted in dogs (New Scientist, 13 December 2008, p 12), and even rabbits seem affected by inequality, leading de Waal to believe that an ability to detect and react to injustice is common to all social animals. "Getting taken advantage of by others is a major concern in any cooperative system," he says.

But do social animals lash out against inequality in the same way as humans do? Marc Hauser and his colleagues Katharine McAuliffe and Kyle Foreman of Harvard University are experimenting with cotton-top tamarins, another species of monkey, to find out. Preliminary results show that some monkeys would forfeit a piece of food if it stopped an unrelated monkey getting more. That looks a lot like spite - but the monkeys' true motivations remain unclear. Until we understand more, says Hauser, we remain the lone champions of spite.

John Whitfield is a freelance writer based in London



There are another a few more interesting menubar applications for Mac OS X which improves your desktop experience! Let's get to the list-->

Note: All the apps below work with Mac OS 10.4 (Tiger) except for Menubar Countdown which only works with Mac OS 10.5 (Leopard).


1) Caffeine
Caffeine is especially useful when you are watching long YouTube clips or movies on your computer. If you have enabled screen dim or screen saver, they will pop-up and annoy you during the middle of you videos and basically you have to either nudge the mouse or keyboard to resume. Here comes Caffeine! You can set the time duration (1 hour to indefinite) that you want your screen to remain active and keep the screen dimmer/saver settings out of sight. Furthermore, it is a freeware!

Quote from the website:
"Caffeine is a tiny program that puts an icon in the right side of your menu bar. Click it to prevent your Mac from automatically going to sleep, dimming the screen or starting screen savers. Click it again to go back. Hold down the Command key while clicking to show the menu."

Download Caffeine


2) Menubar Countdown
Menubar Countdown is a useful tool if you need some sort of a countdown for your work. For example, you want to remind yourself to get the brewing coffee after 5 minutes. Instead of having to keep reminding yourself that the coffee is done in 5 minutes, you can go back to your work and use this application to pop-up when the time is up! And it is a freeware too!

Quote from the website
"Menubar Countdown
is a simple countdown timer that displays itself on the right side of the Mac OS X menu bar.

To set the timer, click the display and select the Start... menu item. A dialog will appear that allows you to specify the countdown time in hours, minutes, and seconds. The dialog also allows you to specify which of the following forms of notification you want when the timer gets down to 00:00:00:

  • Play the system alert sound
  • Display an alert window
  • Make a spoken announcement. You can specify the text to be spoken."
Note: It works with Mac OS 10.5 only!

Download Menubar Countdown


3) Countdown
Countdown serves the same function as Menubar Countdown. Both will appear on the menubar. Another mentioned feature of Countdown is the support for Growl notification. Growl is a notification system for Mac OS available for free. It will be covered in the next posting.

Quote from the website:
"Waiting, it's a fact of life. Whether you're cooking or waiting for a train, you don't want to miss your deadline. Countdown helps you keep track of these deadlines. All you do is enter how long you want to wait or enter the date that you're waiting for and Countdown will take care of the rest. Include a message and you won't wonder what you were waiting for. With Countdown, you won't miss a train or burn a cake again."

Download Countdown


Enjoy the post!
I came across three easy-to-use cross-platform remote access software that could save you all the headache if you are using Windows Remote Assistance. Since they are cross-platform, you could it any of them on Windows machine to control Mac, or on Mac to control Windows machine.

Remote access is very useful if you are good in computers and your friend needs your help but he is at another location. Just ask him to launch the remote access application, give you some info generated by that application on his computer, and voila, you can connect to his desktop and help him to solve his computer problems remotely!


1) LogMeIn
Not as powerful as the pro version, but at least it supports voice. The other two software do not have voice support.

Download LogMeIn


2) TeamViewer
For TeamViewer, the main selling point is that the person requesting for remote access or help from you do not have to install anything on his computer. He/she just needs to download and run an executable file either for Windows or Mac version. The app will generate the code and once he/she gives you that code, that app can be deleted from the his/her computer.

Another good feature of this app is that it has a portable version for Windows machine. So you can just download it into your flash drive and bring it wherever you go. Unfortunately, no portable version for Mac yet.

Download TeamViewer


3) CrossLoop
CrossLoop has just recently introduced the Mac version. As with TeamViewer, you don't have to register to use this software.

Download CrossLoop


Happy remote accessing!
Ever wondered if you could check the current bandwidth that you are using straight from your menubar on Mac OS X? Here are two cool apps that could just do that: iStat menus and MenuMeters.

iStat menus

It is a freeware, so download it at Do remember to donate if you have a spare change!


MenuMeters is released under GNU GPL which means it is a completely free software. Unfortunately, the last update for this software was in January 25, 2006, a little over 3 years as of today's writing (2009).

However, if you are a proponent of open source and free software, you can download it at

Again, if you have a spare change, consider donating to the author of this software.


On to the next topic, the maker of iStat menus also has 2 different widgets for your Mac OS X dashboard.

i) iStat pro

Download it here at


ii) iStat nano

Download it here at


Happy tweaking your Mac OS X!!
This is a 80-minute lecture on Arithmetic, Population, and Energy by Dr. Albert A. Bartlett. It is uploaded into eight 10-minute long video in Youtube. Even though the lecture was made in around 1999/2000, you should definitely take your time to watch through all the presentation as it is very fascinating and still relevant to today (as of 2009)!

The opening statement for the lecture is "The Greatest Shortcoming of the Human Race is our Inability to Understand The Exponential Function".

A couple of fascinating quote from the professor.
1) To calculate the doubling time for exponential function
Time = 70 / % growth per unit time

For example, a town population of 100,000 people with a growth rate of 7% per year, will take 10 years to grow to 200,000 people, another 10 years to grow to 400,000 people, and another 10 years to grow to 800,000 people.

T = 70/7 = 10 years

2) An analogy of the bacteria in a bottle (from part 3/8 of the video)
Imagine bacteria growing steadily in a bottle. They double in number every minute. At 11:00 am there in one bacteria in the bottle. At 12:00 noon the bottle is full.
Question 1: At what time was the bottle half full?

Suppose that at 11:58 am some of the bacteria realize that they are running out of space. So, they launch a great search for new bottles. They search offshore on the outer continental shelf, in the overthrust belt and in the arctic, and they find THREE NEW BOTTLES.
Question 2: How long can the growth continue as a result of the discovery of three new bottles; this quadrupling of the proven resource?

Highlight this page to see the answer. (or press both the CTRL and A on your keyboard)

Answer 1:
11:59 am
11:54 am 1/64=1.6%full 63/64empty
11:55 am 1/32=3.1%full 31/32empty
11:56 am 1/16=6.3%full 15/16empty
11:57 am 1/8=12.5%full 7/8empty
11:58 am 1/4=25%full 3/4empty
11:59 am 1/2=50%full 1/2empty
12:00 noon 100%full

Answer 2: 12:02 pm
11:59 Bottle 1 is half full
12:00 Bottle 1 is full
12:01 Bottle 1 & 2 full
12:02 Bottle 1, 2, 3 & 4 are full

The First Law of Sustainability
Population growth and/or growth in the rates of consumption of resources CANNOT BE SUSTAINED!

Watch this interesting video! It will stimulate your mind and definitely one of the best 80 minutes in your life!!!
When you run, which part of your foot touches the ground first?
A) the heel?
B) mid-foot?
C) fore-foot?

Recently, there is a movement that calls for "barefoot-style running" which promotes landing your feet on mid- to fore-foot. It is said this is the most natural way human runs before all those Nike, Adidas, Puma running shoes were invented.

When the running shoes were invented, we were told that landing on the heel was the correct way. Many "gimmick" running technologies were introduced to the market, such as air, shox, cell, etc to further lead us into using our heels as the first point of contact with the ground.

However, if you have ever run barefoot or on sandal, you would have realized that landing on your heel first hurts a lot! Unconsciously, you would change your way of running and land mid- to fore-foot. This further shows that evolution has made our feet to adapt to mid- to fore-foot stride running style.


From Popular Science: The Sole of a Winner

First of all, let's set the record straight. Man is a natural long distance runner. Despite impressions to the contrary foisted on us daily from our predominantly sedentary and "well-fed" modern lifestyle, it is interesting to note that for long enough distances a well-trained human can outrun just about any other creature on the planet.

Of course, recognizing the health benefits of exercise, not all of us live a sedentary life, and running has become a popular form of physical activity. In addition to the exercise aspects, however, those of us with a competitive or goal-oriented nature, from the elite athlete to the recreational runner, might be interested in running faster. Obviously accomplishing a 5K personal best or qualifying for the Boston Marathon requires a solid training program and a substantial amount of hard work. But what about those incidentals that might enhance our ability to train and thus augment our performance on race day? (We're not talking about performance-enhancing drugs here.)

That's where the video comes in. Running is a complex biomechanical phenomenon and this advertisement caught our attention because the design of these innovative shoes appears to seriously take some of the science into account. We are not endorsing a product here (especially since we haven't actually tested the shoes yet), however, let's analyze some of the issues presented in the video.

The major feature that separates these shoes from most other standard running footwear is that they force the runner into a mid-foot to fore-foot landing on each stride. Most running shoes have a large well-cushioned "heel counter" that makes it possible to strike the ground heel first without damaging the foot. While we do naturally walk heel first, it is true that heel striking is an inefficient way to run. Apropos of the video, let's apply Newton's third law. In order to land heel first, the foot must make impact in front of the center of gravity of the runner. This requires that the heel is going to push into the ground with a component of that force in the forward direction. The ground will then exert an equal and opposite reaction force, which means that there will be a braking effect on each stride. A mid- to fore-foot landing is going to take place more directly underneath the runners center of gravity alleviating this undesirable hindrance to forward motion.

In fact, consider the following: Man evolved to run barefoot, and shoes arrived on the scene only in the last few tens of thousands of years or so. Try running barefoot some time (preferably on a softer surface like grass) and pay attention to your foot strikes. You might find that it's almost impossible to land heel first. Your command central (your brain) just won't let you do it. Too much jarring. Your bare heel isn't designed to handle that pounding. The evidence supports that landing nearer the middle to front of the foot is the most efficient way to go. However, heel strikers should be advised that it might take some time to retrain your gait so that this feels at all natural. Trying to reform too quickly from a lifetime of heel striking could be a recipe for injury.

Finally what about those "actuator" thingies on the bottom of the shoe? The claim (put in more specific physics terms) is that they store elastic potential energy upon compression which is transformed back into kinetic energy upon push-off. While it is undoubtedly true that this must be happening to some extent, just like with a bouncy ball, the question remains as to what magnitude of an overall effect this could actually have. Let's do a rough estimate:

Exhibit A: The kinetic energy of a 75 kg runner moving at a speed of 4.0 m/s = ½ mv2 = 600 Joules.

Exhibit B: The amount of energy stored in a highly energy efficient spring (spring constant k = 1000 N/m) compressed a distance x = 1.0 cm (.01m) = ½ kx2 = 0.05 J.

Based on this calculation, it shouldn't surprise us that most of the elastic energy stored and released during the running motion takes place within the muscles of the body itself. The elastic properties of the shoes appear to be incidental and probably aren't going to make a lot of difference!

Nevertheless, one out of two ain't bad, and these shoes do represent one of the more interesting innovations in running shoe technology to come around in a long time.


From Popular Science: Tested - The Sole of a Winner

A few weeks back we analyzed some of the features of the innovative Newton Running shoe in terms of the relevant physics principles. While at the time the point was to assess the theory behind the shoes, it was suggested that I put them to the test in my "lab." In other words, out on the roads and trails where, being of the distance-runner species, I generally spend at least an hour per day. While this is in no way any kind of systematic scientific experiment (which is beyond the scope of my resources), based on my personal experience with the shoes, I'll make an informal attempt to further address the claims made by the two Newtons (Running and Isaac!).

Let's address the two major issues from our previous article.

1) As we discussed last time, a mid- to fore-foot strike is a more efficient way of running than heel striking. Does running in the Newton shoes force you into a mid- to fore-foot strike?

That's easy. They sure do. It's those "actuator lugs" on the sole of the shoe, which make it very awkward to strike with the heel. You have to land mid-foot on the lugs or it feels like your foot is unnaturally tilting backwards. Running in the shoes does feel a bit odd at first, even for a mid-foot striker like myself, so if you try them, be aware they do take some getting used to. Because the lugs come down several millimeters below the rest of the sole, it feels like there's a small but perceptible mound under the ball of your foot, upon which you are balanced while running. As with barefoot running, you feel most comfortable in the Newtons when you run "light on your feet," landing mid- to fore-foot. However the feel is really rather different from barefoot running, due to that ridge of lugs underneath the ball of your foot.

2) As per the claim, do the actuator lugs really have superior elastic properties that conserve and return energy more effectively than "regular" running shoes?

This is a very interesting question, it turns out. According to the analysis from the previous article, physically it appears quite unlikely that the actuator lugs can store an amount of elastic energy significant enough to improve running economy. While the elasticity of the lugs may well be greater than in the sole of a traditional shoe, the amount of potential energy stored in the shoe itself will be negligibly small when compared to the total energy of the runner's stride. Does this mean that the claim of greater energy efficiency is bogus? Not necessarily! One thing that stands out for me while running in these shoes on a smooth hard surface (asphalt) is that during the time between foot strike and push-off -- that is, when my foot is in contact with the ground -- the lugs grip really well. There is no slipping.

If so, then it's possible that these shoes actually might improve running economy. My (highly subjective) experience during my test runs was one of less effort than usual at a given pace. This, of course, could be a purely psychological artifact -- maybe I was just excited to try out a new pair of fancy shoes. To really determine if this is true would require a controlled experiment with multiple runners over a long period of time. (Well worth the effort, I think, by the way!)

However, if there is an improvement in running economy compared to standard shoes, I hypothesize that it's not the elastic properties of the lugs that makes the difference. Rather, it's the friction between the lugs and the road that does the trick. Interestingly, while browsing the Newton website, I was interested to find that one of the features they advertise is low friction. I think that they're getting that one sort of backwards. A large amount of static friction between a running shoe and the running surface is a good thing. We're not talking about getting stuck to the pavement like a fly on some half-dried puddle of grape juice. We're talking about a no-slip foot strike.

With my current non-Newton shoes, I can often feel a small but perceptible slide during contact with the ground. The muscles have to work harder to make small adjustments every time this happens, which results in a decrease in stride efficiency. So with the Newtons, although the energy stored in the lugs themselves may not be a major factor in improving economy, the energy saved in the body due to less slipping -- the result of a large amount of static friction between the shoes and the road -- may well be.

Newton Running represents a relatively new innovation in the design of running shoes: an attempt to create shoes that facilitate a more natural and energy-efficient stride, an attempt to return us to our barefoot running roots without having to cut up our feet. Despite all of the cushioning and stability features of most "traditional" contemporary running shoes, the incidence of running injury is actually greater now than in the days of those primitive Pumas and Adidas. Is this because cushioned shoes with thick heel counters have taken us away from a more natural running stride? How well Newton Running shoes are able to resolve this and take us back to that ideal stride is not yet certain, but it's a worthwhile endeavor and a thought-provoking new option in the world of running shoes.

Finally, what of barefoot running itself, the true au-naturel version of the sport? Its devotees swear by it. Look for an investigation into this controversial topic a few weeks down the road!

Shoe brand:

Newton Running

Terra Plana Vivo Barefoot

Vibram Five Fingers

Wetsuits Reef Walker

Popular Science: The Sole of a Winner
Popular Science: Tested - The Sole of a Winner
Society for Barefoot Living

Another interesting read about "The running shoe debate: how barefoot runners are shaping the shoe industry" from Popular Mechanics.
From Microsoft website:

PowerToys add fun and functionality to the Windows experience. What are they? PowerToys are additional programs that developers work on after a product has been released.

Note: We take great care to ensure that PowerToys work as they should, but they are not part of Windows and are not supported by Microsoft. For this reason, Microsoft Technical Support is unable to answer questions about PowerToys. PowerToys are for Windows XP only and will not work with Windows Vista.

Recommended tools:

RAW Image Thumbnailer and Viewer - Allows you to edit RAW format files right from windows explorer!

HTML Slide Show Wizard - This wizard helps you create an HTML slide show of your digital pictures, ready to place on your Web site.

Alt-Tab Replacement - With this PowerToy, in addition to seeing the icon of the application window you are switching to, you will also see a preview of the page. This helps particularly when multiple sessions of an application are open. This cool function is already built-in in Windows Vista.

Image Resizer -This PowerToy enables you to resize one or many image files with a right-click. If you are using Windows Vista, you can download Image Resizer Clone.

Virtual Desktop Manager - Manage up to four desktops from the Windows taskbar with this PowerToy. Similar function as the desktop manager for Linux!

Check out the website for more cool add-ons for Windows XP.

Microsoft PowerToys for Windows XP
If you have used, you would have noticed that firefox could not display the list on the website. It seems that the website on works fine on Internet Explorer. However, there is a solution to use on firefox without ever launching Internet Explorer anymore. Here is the simple 2 step:

1) Install Greasemonkey add-on for Firefox

or you can read more about this add-on at here

What greatmonkey does is allow user to customize the way a webpage displays using small bits of JavaScript.

2) Install this user script

or you can read about this script at here

via (chinese language website)