SixApart releases a new blog platform. Can’t say I understand their business strategy. Do they expect to take both Blogger and MySpace down just because of their MovableType aura? I’m sorry, but even if that were at all relevant to their new target (which it isn’t), they’ve lost a lot of this aura to open-source PHP solutions over the past couple of years.
Sure, they’ve got LiveJournal. But they bought it, not made it, so that doesn’t give them any credibility. Besides, LiveJournal is way too endogenous to drive adoption of another platform. And the LJ community would be mightily pissed if they were to be forcefully relocated to a new platform.
There’s no need to test the service to know whether it’ll work, because it’s not functionality that matters, or the amount of Ajax and rounded corners, when it comes to building the community — they’re just going to crash, period. And they might have a hard time falling back on the pro blogger community once Vox bombs.
Slashdot redesign contest winner announced. It’s less ugly than the original, but still not pretty. I didn’t have much hope in this contest anyway — to produce a layout as horrible as Slashdot, the creator must have terrible taste, and not just a lack of design expertise.
Extending the ‘standard’ feed icon. Sure, it kinda defeats the original point of having a tiny icon with no text — but there are cases where you need to have labels (while I agree that differentiating between RSS and Atom isn’t one such case — that’s not an alternative regular users should be exposed to — you may have to display a blog feed, podcast, Flickr feed and so on) and this proposal is pretty cute. Where’s the web-based button creator?
Using your iPod to store and dial phone numbers. Nice and simple. Wonder how come Apple — or any other developer — hasn’t thought of making a small utility to synchronize Address Book phone numbers with iPod mp3s.
“But how does [the MacBook] handle WoW???”
Not. At. All. With everything turned off I was able to get a whopping framerate of 5. Needless to say, this thing with all the RAM in the world is a far cry from being a game machine. The Intel graphics adapter works well for work but not for entertainment.
Petition for a matte display option for the MacBook [via]. 550 signatures only so far.
Dell transportable 20-inch PC [via]. Yeah. I always kind of wondered why the iMac hadn’t remained transportable — it would only take a retactable handle and an integrated screen cover with some kind of latches to hold the keyboard and mouse.
I have doubts regarding Dell’s design, though, despite its cool looks (in a PC kind of way): considering the way the keyboard detaches from the base, I wouldn’t really trust it to protect the screen.
OmniDazzle. What the hell? They intend to sell that crap? People are going to pay to have pixie dust follow their pointer?
Yes, some of the plugins can be useful for screencasts and presentations, but I don’t see anything worth paying for. And I don’t know what I dislike most: that you can’t seem to activate two plugins at the same time (which kinda defeats the point of calling them ‘plugins’) or that the configuration window plagiarizes CoverFlow for no good reason (i.e., it looks kinda ‘cool’ but it makes no sense as window tabs).
Why First Generation Apple Products Suck [via]. I guess Steve Jobs invented the basics of web 2.0 before anyone else: Apple 2.0 is in permanent beta and has been employing its early adopters as testers, for better and for worse (the better being that Q&Aed products would be released six months later, and you know you don’t want to wait any more that Steve does). Just get used to it, like applemaniacs did, knowing full well what they’re signing up for — and nevermind that entering Apple betas costs an awful lot more than on the web.
Tom Skerritt, of Picket Fences fame, introduces Windows Vista [via]. The Flash+video interface is gorgeous… but the videos are insanely dull, and the poor actor looks and sounds like he wants to kill himself.
Cheaper UMPC with wifi ISP subsidy? It’s a nice idea, in that it worked great for mobile phones, but at $780 with vendor lock-in and a cheaper CPU than the current one, it’s hardly a recipe for success.
Speaking of which — why doesn’t Apple lease iPods, tied with an iTunes subscription that’d impose buying n tracks per month? (Okay, maybe because they’re selling well enough as it is.)
Google launching a web-based Excel killer is a bit of a WTF in its own right (it just looks like Google has one articulated thought — conquer all! but not being too evil, if possible, but conquer all! — but no coherent, coordinated strategy beyond releasing bits of software at random until the whole market’s covered), but this one looks interesting:
There is also a marked emphasis on multi-user editing. Two or more users can view and edit a document at the same time. Users can be invited to view or edit a document, and Google Chat has been integrated into the application so that multiple users can offer input during the work session. When you’re done, spreadsheets can be exported as HTML, XLS, or CSV.
Several people simultaneously editing a spreadsheet while discussing the numbers and results in a chat window? Wow. I’m pretty sure if I had any use whatsoever for a spreadsheet program I’d be all over this. (Whereas I’m actually not going to try and sign up for the beta, because, well, some people need it more than I do.)
Google Video Player for Mac. Cool. Well, it would be, if there were anything of interest on Google Video. (Or maybe there is, and I just don’t know? Considering that Google’s player doesn’t allow you to browse, sending you back to the inhospitable website instead, I probably won’t know any time soon.)
Sometimes you wonder why you read the crap you read. Apple releases a technote acknowledging an occasional shipping fluke in MacBooks, and half the Apple news sites sport titles along the lines of “Overheating MacBooks were only about some leftover plastic wrapping”. Even though anyone with half a brain and a passing interest in Apple news already knows that most discussions about MacBook temperatures start with “Yeah I know about the plastic film and I checked for it and there wasn’t any”.
Or maybe it’s just anyone spending all day reading tech news sites, like me — but even then, you might expect people writing on specialized blogs to actually have an interest in what they’re writing about, and be reading other sites. Or, then again, you might not. Why would ‘pro’ bloggers be any more pro than MSM journalists?
Edgies: sticky notes as screen edge tabs. Drag a text snippet (including images, and links) to an edge of the screen and it becomes a tab note; with a right-click you can even insert check boxes to manage a quick to-do list. Well thought-out.
iPod U2 returns. Things I don’t get: if it’s a special edition, why is it the 30GB model (when the black MacBook is the top of the line); do they really know what a ‘special edition’ is (it’s not so special if it’s introducd again on the new iPod lineup); if they’re going to make special iPods, why U2, and why so ugly (the rumored all-pink Madonna iPod would make so much more sense, being all pink — or even, staying with Bono, the all-red iPod against AIDS); and, really, why so ugly, why U2, and why 30GB?
Plug-in posters. Gimmicky, but in a fun way.
Samsung Q1 UMPC Hands-On. In short: it’s mostly crap, except as a portable TV set (I seem to recall the Korean version integrating a tuner); gotta love how the virtual keyboard just doesn’t work in portrait mode.
Fooling fingerprint detectors with a fingerprint photograph, gummi bears and a blank circuit board [via]. In other words, if you’re trusting anything to fingerprint recognition, you should wear gloves at all times so nobody can lift your prints. Yeah, that’ll work.
Now, if Google actually announces their intention to eat Microsoft’s lunch by trying to kill their Office revenue with a full online office suite, that would be interesting. […] This isn’t about corporate secrecy – we all know that Google is trying to hit Microsoft where it hurts. It’s about deniability if things don’t work out as planned. One thing Google hates more than anything is to look stupid. They are afraid to fail.
Spreadsheets is a complement to Excel. It actually makes Excel more useful - and hence more valuable.
So why would Google put out a product that makes its arch-rival’s product more valuable? Because Google doesn’t want to compete with Office. It sees Office as part of the existing landscape, and it wants to build a new layer of functionality on top of that landscape. No one is going to stop buying Office because Google Spreadsheets exists. But what people may well do is use Spreadsheets for sharing Excel and other data online – rather than just emailing Excel files around, as they used to. If Google Spreadsheets competes with a Microsoft product, it competes with a Microsoft product that doesn’t yet exist: Excel Live, Microsoft’s own web interface for Excel data.
Google, as it has itself said repeatedly, is not interested in fighting old wars. Microsoft won the war for spreadsheet applications. Google’s fighting a new war, a war that’s barely begun.
I’m hosting a competition. I need a partner with whom to have a serious relationship but I don’t want to invest any time or effort in finding the right woman; I shouldn’t have to. I’m a great man and any woman should be proud to be with me, so I’m holding auditions. I’d like for all interested women to visit me and show me your “wares.” I’m definitely looking for someone with a hot bod, and not afraid to show it off. Extra points for staying the night and letting me sample your attentions and enthusiasm.
One lucky winner gets a $400 wedding ring and the prestige of having me for a partner (‘cause I look good). The rest of you just get screwed. Awright, who’s with me?
It’s a nice analogy, and I do admit that the Slashdot redesign contest announcement left me with a bad taste in my mouth (it really sounded like this, and I don’t think you can or should choose a finished design from a competition), but I still very much disagree with the No!Spec crowd — to me that reeks of pretentious designers who can’t stand the thought that a client wouldn’t give them a blank check for their site design. In other words:
I’m hosting a competition. I need a client for whom to make a website, but I don’t want to invest any time or effort in demonstrating I can understand their needs or desires; I shouldn’t have to/ I’m the best webdesigner in the country and any client should be proud to be with me. Many lucky winners get the chance to give me money and the prestige of using the designs I imposed on them (’cause they’ll be awesome).
Just get real. You’re not the center of the universe.
Google Browser Sync [via]: synchronize your Firefox settings across multiple computers (with encryption and all). Now that’s useful — simple and limited, but useful. And who’s better suited to ultimately launch an all-around .Mac killer than Google?
Replacing a Mac mini’s CPU with a Core 2 Duo (that’s Core Two Duo, because Intel’s marketing is led by morons) is easy as pie (once you get the computer open, that is). Yum.
First contact with the MacBook (very quickly, I was expected at the laundromat): as reported, the screen is much less glossy than equivalent PCs, and probably not so terrible in daily use (assuming this isn’t just a gradual transition to mirrory screens) and the keyboard seems very, very pleasant — if they released a desktop version I’d be buying it immediately.
BlackBook, WhiteBook, MacBook, StainBook? Didn’t write about that earlier because, really: Apple rushing products to market without sufficient Q&A testing, what else is new? (Even when it’s a new variant — wow, creepy.)
Perhaps Apple will need to alter its Get a Mac campaign to show the Mac actor (Justin Long) gradually developing enormous disfiguring bruises. Truth in advertising, people.
Incidentally, I don’t like today’s new ads more than I liked the previous ones, and maybe even less. Reducing the Mac to iMovie and Windows to Excel, uh… (Of course, the Boot Camp ad, on the other hand, is cool. Even though Boot Camp is still in unsupported beta stage, so it’s still a bit misleading.)
Black and white differences: “
Retesting […] still shows the white 2GHz model performing better than the black model.” Somehow I didn’t see anyone pointing out that, as they write in the first paragraph, they received the white MacBook some time later than their other test units, and I don’t find it hard at all to imagine the very first production units’ performance to be slightly inferior. You know, what with Apple screwing their early adopters and all.
i360 iMac Turntable. Just awesome.
Switched both my blogs to Cambria instead of Georgia — shift-reload to update the stylesheets, and google “vista fonts download” to get them. I read that the fonts are optimized for ClearType to the point of looking like crap when it isn’t enabled, so if you’re not using an LCD screen you may be better off not installing them, ever.
Working at Microsoft must be fantastic for a font designer — your works are installed on the whole world’s computers and used by everyone, and yet you don’t have to bother caring about OS security and whatnot because, really, you’re the one person who needn’t be concerned with it — and the result is, they manage to hire quite talented ones.
I think I liked Georgia’s italics better, though.
Moved most of the webserver’s static file serving to lighttpd on port 81, and the results are amazing. Last night when Apache was getting a bit hammered the discrepancy between image load times on ports 80 and 81 was unbelievable.
That’s good and all (and was pretty simple), but I’ve got a feeling my server is still very poorly configured: even when sites start getting unresponsive, top still shows CPU loads under 30%. Or maybe it’s just top I don’t know how to use right? Damn, I hate system administration — and I also kinda hate my host for delivering dual-core Opteron servers with the same system configuration as Celerons.
Netscape’s Digg clone offers a twist: popular stories will get follow-ups, interviews and analyses from hired journalists. I’m quite curious to see how that turns out — they’re basically mixing the most democratic web 2.0 concepts will old-school media (although the hired journalists are actually bloggers), and the result can either fail miserably or be the best thing since sliced bread. The whole operation is apparently supervised by Weblogs, Inc., and while I don’t particularly take that as evidence of excellence you can count on them to know how to build momentum.
Synchronize your Macs by copying the FileVault disk images. A bit too hackery, but pretty smart — an automated log-on script/app would be cool. And it would also be cool if Apple had its users’ best interest in mind rather than try and sell .Mac to them, and implemented it in OS X.
And more lust. Which makes me think — did anyone try installing a hacked OS X on a Tablet PC?
Apple’s Get a Mac page demonstrates Parallels Desktop rather than Boot Camp [via]. It’s weird but makes sense without resorting to wild speculation: I think Apple may simply not want to emphasize the possibility of quitting OS X to Windows, because new users could end up spending all their time in Windows, never using OS X enough to find out why it’s better, end telling everyone they regret buying a $1,500 iMac when a $500 Dell would have worked just as well.
It makes sense, yes, but in the real world it’s stupid: the real reason why home users (the campaign’s direct target) need Windows isn’t some proprietary software; it’s games. And games need Boot Camp, not Parallels Desktop.
Note that Apple now wanting you to boot to Windows too much is also the reason why they are very likely to license Parallels Desktop into OS X 10.5 or come out with their own solution, so the speculation isn’t far off — not to mention that they’re publicizing virtualization now, which would make it pretty hard to make a big deal of 10.5’s dual-boot capabilities. It’s just that the mention of Parallels Desktop on Apple’s pages doesn’t actually give out any hint as to which of the two alternatives they’re more likely to use. (I do think licensing Parallels is what makes most sense — because developing a whole virtualization solution has to be a pretty big task and I’d rather they allocated their resources to something else — but Apple strategy and common sense don’t always go hand in hand.)
Also note that they’re just addressing my point that advertising Boot Camp while still in beta wouldn’t be quite honest.
I thought I was so clever, but of course company firewalls block port 81 — no more CSS, no more images, no more nothing, poof! Damnit. I have to buy another domain name and add an IP address to my webserver so I can use lighttpd on it.
An article and comment thread about the Uncanny Valley (and the theory that the Wii has an advantage over next-gen consoles in that its characters can’t look as uncanny due to inferior hardware — well, yes, that’s a pretty stupid point, as stupid points go) made me think: ten bucks that whoever isn’t freaked out by uncanny-valley characters is an Asperger’s. Which is also why games and robots move further into the Valley. And why many gamers and geeks don’t mind so much.
The Endless Forest is a MMORPG where everyone plays a deer. And no, the aim is not to shoot other deers. There’s no violence, no particular rule to follow, neither does the game feature any chat-functions. All communication happens through deer-body-language. You can roar, sniff other deers, eat mushrooms from the trees, pick up and carry flowers on your antler, etc. Players do not even get “proper” names, but pictograms that represent their characters.
Sounds pretty cool. Not to the point of turning my PC on, though. Don’t hesitate to try it out and let us know what it’s like.
Availabot real-world IM presence indicator. If they were cheap, and designed in such a way that you could conveniently have two dozen of those on your desktop (plus, compatible with every possible IM program), this would be great. Since neither is likely, I doubt it can ever work. What would work, however, is a kind of tiny coffin or cryotube that a regular, user-supplied Lego character or Kubrick would pop out of when your contact is online — simple, standardized, buyable in bulk, and easily customized.
But then, I didn’t believe in Nabaztag either, so what do I know.
Meet someone in your train, sponsored by the French railways [via]. “
This service is not for love meetups” (since ads are pre-moderated, I doubt they’ll accept “blow jobs in the toilet” offers either) and it costs 1.50€ per contact? Are they completely clueless, or there’s just something I don’t grasp?
(This is a web service created by a French semi-administration. The same that inflicts voyages-sncf.com to its users. Yeah, it’s probably the former alternative.)
One of these days I’ll have to get to programming a revolutionary meet-up site targeted to wap / i-mode / Windows Mobile / café wifi users.
Microsoft acquires iView. In other words, Windows Vista is going to include (either at release time or as a free download later on) a superior iPhoto alternative. They must be reminiscing so many fond memories… ah, the good old days of Internet Explorer starving Netscape off.
And, a couple years from now, Microsoft management will have completely ruined iView’s software, to the benefit of Adobe’s Lightroom and Apple’s Aperture. (Aren’t they letting Virtual PC die right now?)
How can someone create a company to sell Mac software, and end up selling their business to Microsoft down the line? Have you no shame?
OS X 10.4.7 includes “
ensuring icons are spaced correctly when viewed on desktop.” Yeah, they’re spaced correctly: they’re all gone. Empty desktop, empty ~/Desktop directory.
I had a lot of stuff on my desktop, and was a bit tired and absent-minded when I did the upgrade, so I forgot to make a backup this time. (Oh wait, I have a three- or four-week-old backup, so I can get most files back.) Damn you, Apple Non-Quality Assurance!
[2006.08.25] Just stumbled onto my own Desktop folder. I don’t quite know how it moved by itself to where I found it, but… in any case, it didn’t get deleted, and a find or Spotlight could find it if it happens again. (I mention find because it was in a place I had excluded from Spotlight.)
MacBook Pro Disasters: A Case of Yellow Journalism. Well, of course it can’t be as bad as the blogosphere would have you think — that’s the flip coin of idol status.
And it just pains me to read that in 2006 there can still be flaws in the decoding of “inert” formats that allow for things like D.O.S. attacks. Well, it particularly pains me when it’s coming from Apple instead of Microsoft. And when it’s cross-platform (in iTunes / Quicktime) so it just looks bad to Windows users. How do you expect to entice people to switch (and advertise your system’s security) if you’re adding vulnerabilities to Windows?!
Blinged cords. I love the DC adapter with beads. There’s a market right there — that’s much more interesting than cellphone charms.
Freedbacking. I’m not quite sure how tagging your post with the name of the application you’ve reviewed isn’t enough, but, hey, I’m not a web 2.0 guy anyway.
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