3 January 2005

6 January

7 January

8 January

The iHome?

Yum yum — and it’s all the more credible as it’s called iHome, contrary to the usual rumor, but in accordance with John Gruber’s observation that Apple would be unlikely to release a low-end iMac G4 when iMacs are now at the G5 level.

But I’d be surprised if a “iHome Media Centre” were sold under $500 — and this, too, is consistent with Gruber’s interpretation that Apple’s peeve isn’t that Think Secret announces products before they’re released, but that it predicts prices well below reality.

And it’s all the better for me anyway, as it spares me the hesitation between a mini-Mac and a top-of-the-line iMac.

P.S. Seeing the pictures in full size, the thing looks more like a cardboard box than anything. Damn.

11 January

MWSF ’05 (live on IRC)

The iPod shuffle is amazingly ugly. Whatever could they be thinking? As they were detailing the characteristics, I was thinking for the first time ever I’d want an iPod — never really saw the point of a full-fledged one, maybe because I’m not a commuter — and then I saw the pics and just forgot about it. Sure, it makes for an Apple-branded USB key, but I don’t really think it’s worth it.

Not much new on the Tiger side: the only thing I was interested in, Dashboard’s “widget dock”, isn’t documented on the website (and it intrigues me, because I wonder how they could cram a widget bar below the system dock); more importantly, I’m a bit disappointed by the latest variation about Aqua. It looks… uh, just bad.

I’m interested in Pages, obviously, “professionally”, but I’ll have to wait and see before I make my opinion: the site’s screenshots only show the page layout aspect, when all I want to do is typing. And an “iWork” suite doesn’t make much sense if it’s only Pages plus Keynote, so maybe it’d be best to wait until they beef it up a bit.

And, finally, there’s… mrrr… bllll. 650€ if you put in 512MB of RAM and take an Apple keyboard. 1000€ with a good flatscreen. But it’s only a G4. Rhaaa. As I said earlier, I did hop the iMac mini wouldn’t exist, because it’d spare me the additional hesitation when it comes to choosing what to buy. Well, looks like I won’t be spared after all. A G4 would be perfectly sufficient for most of what I need it for. But what about the occasional, even rare, need for more firepower?

As everybody said in rumor discussions, it’s an adder’s machine, not a switcher’s. And I never intended to throw my PC away. So?

P.S. Hmm, ok, well, maybe I still would like an iPod shuffle. But still, besides the overall looks, I can’t understand they didn’t find anything better to do than strap the lanyard to the USB cap. Particularly considering you’ll have to take it off everytime you want to recharge the player: how long will it be able to hold.

P.S. After seeing the video, it appears the “widget dock” was just a misinterpretation of the IRC transcript. It’s only the place where docklets are shown when you press the “+” button, but widgets still only appear when you press F12. (Which is actually a weird limitation — are they afraid Konfabulator would sue them if they were really too similar?)

P.S. Okay, I got to watch the keynote and it’s clear: I want an iPod shuffle, and I want to have a Mac! A real one, a complete one, a recent one, so I can make pretty DVDs and records and sort out my photos and damnit all of it is so great (know someone who still doubts the superiority of Apple? show them the keynote).

I just don’t understand why Apple wouldn’t integrate the earplugs in the included lanyard. It’s so obvious in the new TV ad: the iPod shuffle is all wire, feets and feets of wire. I know third-party accessories will tackle this, but it won’t really be good unless Apple thought of putting audio out within the USB connector.

12 January

MacWorld 2005: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly:
“Part of the genius of this machine is that I don’t want one. I’m a professional designer and lifelong Mac user and I’m perfectly fine with my 12” PowerBook and 20” iMac. And if I did a lot of video work, I’d be fine with a PowerMac. In other words, this extremely low-margin Mac Mini should not eat up any profits from higher-end Mac sales that were already going to happen.”
“Apple is learning about phone interfaces, cellular standards like GSM and CDMA, and what it takes to make the ultimate personal communicator. It won’t be long now until companies like Samsung and Sony will be offering phones with high capacity music players built-in, and Apple knows that this will dry up the standalone iPod market pretty quickly.”
“I love Steve Jobs because he loves computers. I hate Steve Jobs because he hates TV. […] You say you are the “digital lifestyle company” and yet you won’t address one of my primary digital lifestyle needs?”

Binary Bonsai:
“And Apple is really doing everything they can to get switchers over. Have a look at their accessories section, notice anything?”

Latest iTunes update deletes de-DRMized AAC files. Microsoftian.

P.S. I had only read the headline, as I don’t have any AAC files: it seems iTunes flags those songs as non playable, and hence deletes them from the iPod (which kind of makes sense), not from the computer. It’s still stupid, as in “DRM”, but doesn’t quite warrant the “microsoftian” epithet.

I wonder whether the RIAA regularly phones Jobs to complain “OMG OMG it’s terrible people can unprotect the songs they bought from iTunes (duh) OMG OMG you must do something quick”, or Apple’s software engineers take it upon themselves to collaborate the best way they can (oops, Godwin).

13 January

16 January

The iPod mini shuffle is starring Apple’s website and its commercials, while the iMac mini, which should be the revolution from Apple, only has a small corner. Maybe it’s not such a good idea to buy a Mac this year: what if the mini was just the final shout, and they were getting ready to jettison the Macintosh line by year’s end if the sales don’t become miraculous? Oh, don’t roll your eyes. It’s not like Steve Jobs isn’t capable of doing just that.

No, seriously, the lack of emphasis Apple puts on the iMac mini really bothers me.

P.S. They’re really cracking me up, the competitors proclaiming loud and proud that they can’t understand Apple reinvented the walkman again, and who’ll quietly release their own shuffle clones six months from now — only ugly and less practical than the iPod, with software that’ll be ugly and less practical than iTunes.

19 January

Apple’s director of iPod marketing worldwide, Stan Ng, has ruled out a video-capable version of the music player anytime soon” et… la principale raison serait l’imbroglio juridique qui serait lié au transfert de DVD sur l’iPod ?
Vrai que la loi américaine interdit la simple opération de copier un DVD protégé (contrairement aux CD audio), mais dans ce cas quid de l’intégration des vidéos de vacances dans iPhoto, ou de la présence du PDG de Sony à MacWorld pour vendre des caméras HDV ?

Google launches rel=”nofollow”

Before you thank Google (and its competitors, who got an agreement, against all odds — unless they’re still powered by Google these days? I’m not sure), you should note that it’ll benefit them much more than you: the improvement of search accuracy should be visible rather quickly (with a minimum of all Blogger and LiveJournal blogs instantaneously implementing the change), it’ll be much longer before widespread adoption makes comment spam improductive.

You should also note that, if they hadn’t given in to semantically correct, and had created a <div robots=”nofollow”> (inside which all links would be ignored), it would have been so much simpler for everyone.

The new Google iPhoto is rather nice (up to renaming the auto-correction button “I’m felling lucky”), but just like the previous version it crashed after five minutes. Yet I don’t really feel like I have so much more pictures on my computer than average.

Note how the above collage’s background picture is crappy because Picasa resized it to my desktop resolution without offering me any other choice. A bit too 1.0, particularly compared to the equivalent, but incredibly more developed, function that Jobs demonstred at MacWorld.

20 January

Coral [via]

Add .nyud.net:8090 to the URLs of your images (or any page, more or less static), and your visitors will download it from a worlwide network of proxies, sparing your server’s bandwidth.

It’s that simple. It’s free. It’s magical. Where’s the catch? Why isn’t everybody using it? Will it disappear as soon as everyone learns about it? Why aren’t you using it?

P.S. For a test, click the “via” link above: The Tao of Mac is served by Coral. If it’s not working for you, you’d better say so now, before I switch all my image links.

21 January

BBspot : “Firefox - A giant fox with his tail on fire attacking the earth. That’s the stuff of nightmares. Not as scary as a communist Godzilla but close.”

Andy Budd : “Alternatively some people may still link normally to high PR sites but try to minimise PR leaching by applying this attribute to low PR sites. […] I could see things getting messy fast and this anti spam method could have far wider implications.”

Quente Cafe : “As far as I am concerned the only media player with a successful DRM is the iPod…Why you ask?…Because its secure enough to keep the higher ups appeased while insecure enough for the average computer user to get around.”

23 January

24 January

I just received my very first spam on the account I dedicated to Gravatar. No thanks to the blogger who displayed my e-mail address unprotected on his site.

That’s why I signed garoo@example.com every time a blog demanded an e-mail address, and I’m not sure that Gravatar will ever catch on if they insist on checking the validity of addresses.

P.S. And Opera is too dumb to exempt outgoing messages from the manual anti-spam filter I’ve just had to set up.

25 January

padawan.info: “Six Apart just released a bug fix to Movable Type, to plug a quite serious ‘vulnerability in the mail sending packages for all Movable Type versions which allows malicious users to send email through the application to any number of arbitrary users’. […] Since this vulnerability has been present in all versions since 1.0, all MT users are strongly encouraged to either upgrade to version 3.15 or install a plugin that fixes it.”

26 January

27 January

Oh! VoodooPad, one of the first pieces of shareware I intended to buy in my new life as a switcher who does actually buy shareware, is now available as a free Lite version! It’s the best program you could imagine to store all your notes — the power and ergonomics of a wiki, allied to the power and ergonomics of OS X software. I need it. And I need a Mac to run it (the iBook is now on my bedside table, where it’s needed, or relatively needed, or not completely unnecessary, and that’s not the right place to manage my notes.)

Well, anyway, considering the functions they added to the full version, I might still buy it. (When I’m a rich man, and I have a rich man’s Mac. I should stop anticipating the future when everything still has the potential to go wrong.) Would I buy a Wacom tablet just so I can scribble in VoodooPad? Scribbling in your wiki is useful — and if I had a tablet on the Mac it would certainly be useful for lots of other stuff, too. Certainly.

Between the sketch functionality and HTML export — or even the remote wiki management, if it’s really usable — VoodooPad could really be the solution to my notetaking problems. I spend my time switching from a binder to another, buying notepads of all sizes, trying out wikis and databases, and I still never managed to find something that really worked for me. Whereas the VoodooPad concept convinced me after I spent two minutes with the demo.

29 January

MacSlash : “Like many of you out there, I am thinking about acquiring a Mac mini to serve as an iTunes server in my stero rack. To keep from having to have a mouse and keyboard connected I was thinking that a touch screen with an on screen keyboard would be ideal.

Why Apple Makes a One Buttoned Mouse [via]

Apple is always concerned with creating a user experience that is as intuitive as possible. Giving the average person a right mouse button is like giving a bald man a comb.

I see a fourth reason — or rather a first one — that I intended to blog when I’d get a Mac, but I’ll offer it to you now, prompted by this link (and so that I can say it’s not my fault if you think I’m wrong, it’s just I don’t have a Mac yet): paradoxically enough, it’s because MacOS isn’t designed for power users to keep their hands locked on the keyboard (unlike Windows).

With a multi-button mouse, each time your hand switches from keyboard to mouse, you have to take it exactly in an exact way, each finger in its right place — which isn’t a problem for the keyboard, because it doesn’t move, whereas the mouse is always in a different position (and, often, orientation). With an Apple mouse, all you have to do is throw your hand in the general direction of the mouse and, as long as a couple of fingers did land on it, you can operate. Seems negligible? Nothing ever is, when it comes to ergonomics.

However, even if I can imagine getting used to ctrl-click, I can hardly see myself living without a scroll wheel. There is no keyboard shortcut for that, is there?

30 January

31 January

How do computers know so much about us? [via]

Seeing how we all like to classify and rate movies, records, TV shows, etc., why not take advantage of it to do something with the information? It’s not that new, and I think I already read about it earlier, but it’s the first time I try: rate every movie you’ve seen and movielens gives you a list of recommendations, simply by looking through the database for people with similar tastes. So obvious, so simple, so unbiased (and I chose that one site because the interface is rather well designed, although it’s a bit slow at times).

As a bonus, you can publish a bunch of lists: here are all the movies I rated (also available in RSS format, but sorted by rating rather than date, so it’s quite useless), and here are the system’s recommendations, which tend to look good. And, if you have a social life, the site can also combine predictions for several people and recommend a title that everyone will enjoy for movie nights.

Apple debuts faster PowerBooks with new technologies

The trackpad that scrolls when you use two fingers instead of one is clever (well, gotta try it, but it looks very clever); the accelerometer that stops the hard drive isn’t their invention, but it’s a good thing they’re among the first to implement it; going to 512MB RAM is finally reasonable; a keyboard lighting up automatically according to ambient light is… uh, very cute, I’m sure.

But, as I was running my mouse over the little Javascripted image that compares all three sizes, I found something appalling (and that’s not new to today’s PowerBooks): the 17-incher has exactly the same keyboard layout that they managed to cram into the 12-incher, and you don’t have any benefit at all from the extra space (except for the relocated “Power” button and, I suppose, the speakers). Isn’t that completely absurd?

And I hesitated to buy a laptop rather than an iMac, so I could be mobile (just in case, you never know, some day) and because I prefer those keyboards’ touch. I think this settles that. I like the touch, not the layout.

Tofu 1.3 : “In Tofu, text is arranged in columns, and each column is only as high as your window. So lines are nice and narrow, they don’t move about vertically, plus your text is now in easy-to-digest chunks. You just scroll from column to column horizontally, and feel more in control. […] There’s a “View In Columns” service so you can, for example, grab some text from a web page.


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