1 November 2006

@apple@

iTunes 7.0.2 seems a bit less slow at playing videos — but maybe it just so happened that my computer was feeling less bloated than usual when I tried it.

However, the missing chapters button hasn’t returned yet. This is what happens when you let Windows developers design Apple apps (the lack of a specific button in less annoying on Windows, since the menu is right above the buttons).

 

@windows@

Windows Media Player 11 is out, looks cute, mimics the iTunes interface as much as it can, wants to become iPhoto as well, and… prominently integrates with Urge, that online music store that shouldn’t be compatible with the Zune — is there rivalry between the different digital audio teams at Microsoft, or is that just a parting gift to MTV, featuring Urge for a month or two before switching to the Zune Marketplace?

As you start ripping CDs into Windows Media Player 11, information is compiled through a database and waveforms are matched to identify the song.

Weird. Does Apple have a patent on ripping tracks and identifying the CD itself? Because I fail to see how computing each track’s audio fingerprint is more efficient.

 

@apple@

Implications of Adobe’s Intel-Only Soundbooth: in short, it’s quite worrisome. D’un côté, Adobe is setting a very bad precedent for other developers; on the other, I can’t help but wonder how skilled Adobe’s programmers are if it’s so hard for them to make their cross-platform app work independently of hardware architecture. I know there’s got to be some optimization for real-time processing, but I can’t believe it’s that hard.

 

@apple@

Inquisitor 3, the Safari plug-in that displays search result previews and suggestions, looks nicer and is now free — looks like the programmer relies on Yahoo and Amazon affiliations for revenue (sorry, I immediately switched it back to Google).

 

@web@

Le Monde switches from Typepad to WordPress [via]. Wow, that’s big. Not that their hosted blogs are huge, but they’re rather high-profile — plus, switching a whole blog hosting platform from one software to another is pretty spectacular.

 

@web@

Didja know that you can use Gmail as an SMTP server?

 

@misc@

What the hell was I thinking? I should have made thumbnail reflections when redesigning this blog. I totally dropped the ball on this one.

3 November

@apple@

New AirPort vulnerability — for pre-2003 Macs this time.

 

@apple@

John Gruber: Why Is Adobe Soundbooth Intel-Only?

The irony here is that many of the people buying Power Mac G5s [in 2006] did so because they’re creative professionals who use Adobe software — software that doesn’t run natively on Intel hardware and isn’t going to until sometime in 2007. I.e., Adobe, more than any other software developer, is responsible for creative professionals buying late-model high-end PowerPC hardware.

As for the technical explainations, he figures there must be a bunch of Intel SSE assembly code (which would have to be ported to AltiVec) and that, yes, it makes sense because an audio app has real-time requirements, but then Apple’s Final Cut Pro and Soundtrack Pro are universal, so it’s not unfeasible.

 

@windows@

Retail Vista license now allows for unlimited transfers — until it changes again next week, I suppose.

Our intention behind the original terms was genuinely geared toward combating piracy; however, it’s become clear to us that those original terms were perceived as adversely affecting an important group of customers.

Ooh, Microsoft is totally placing user convenience ahead of fighting piracy now. Like, really.

4 November

@music@

Zune and Marketplace hands-on gallery, long walkthrough video, review. I decidedly think they’re sexy. Actually, apart from the lack of a click-wheel, I really find them sexier than current iPods. Apple ought not to wait too long to introduce a full-screen iPod (and an all-you-can-eat iTunes Store subscription, too, pretty please).

Another not-published or seldom-talked-about feature is guesting. A friend can take his Zune over to your computer, set up a “guest” relationship with your Zune Marketplace software (as opposed to a regular owner relationship), and you’re free to drag songs and pictures from your library onto her device. These songs do not have the 3 play 3 day limit on them. Depending on whether you purchased or you’re leasing these songs, you can do this with either 5 or 2 Zunes, respectively.

Interesting concept. Is there a limit to the number of computers a Zune device can be guesting — i.e., to the number of friends you can freely borrow music from?

A cool feature that iTunes doesn’t have is pre-rated, or community rankings. When you buy songs from the store, you’ll notice that they already come pre-ranked on a scale of 5 blue stars. When you rank a song, it’ll rank it in orange stars.

 

@music@

iVue transparent iPod. Interesting, but ugly.

 

@apple@

OS X proof-of-concept virus.

8 November

@apple@

Infinite Loop reviews Ecamm’s driverless Mac webcam. In short: image quality is rather crappy and the ‘driverless’ claim is all but false advertising: it requires a plug-in, not a driver, see? No driver!

Damn Apple not upgrading the iSight to comply with European regulations. I don’t know what to do: buy a cheap USB webcam? buy an expensive Firewire webcam? shop for the cheapest camcorder around? forget it and save my money?

 

@apple@

I’m hesitating to drop 280 euros on a memory upgrade. Going from 1GB to 2GB ought to make my iMac lag much less when I switch to NetNewsWire or Yojimbo, right? I mean, spectacularly faster? Woulds there 280 € worth of performance increase? That’s no less than a quarter of the price of a MacBook, which would be four times as fast as my iMac despite a dire amount of RAM.

9 November

Yeah. Now, Mac mini or MacBook?

10 November

@phone@

I don’t understand how other manufacturers can keep on selling their crappy cellphones after they’ve had a Sony-Ericsson in their hands. See? It is possible to make user-friendly phones — all you have to do is try and use them before you ship them!

I can’t say it feels very sturdy, though. Actually, my Samsung, which has spent years in my jeans pocket and has a horribly scratched screen, feels much more solid — the Sony-Ericsson is mostly good as new, but creaks every time I press a button.

15 November

@apple@

Here’s a nice new iPhone mockup — it looks sleek, and the dialing interface is an interesting idea (although it’s not quite more efficient than a 0-9 keypad, it just looks cool).

 

@music@

Kottke complains about theme music on netcasts. I agree that “filling airtime” with music is stupid and irrelevant — I hate netcasts that play songs between segments — but a title sequence (or whatever it’s appropriately called) is absolutely needed for people listening to netcasts one after another on their iPods.

 

@web@

An unexpected surprise, listening to an old Floss Weekly episode: Slashdot’s CmdrTaco sounds very cool — surprisingly so for someone who created such an… a… you know, that thing.

 

@misc@

And either the news is still amazingly slow, or I’m really getting out of touch. Although maybe it’s just that everyone is leaving room for the big console launches, which I don’t intend to cover here (and the Zune, but I’ve written more than enough about that one already — the install is hostile and the software is buggy? what a shocker!).

@apple@

New Leopard screenshots [via]: Spotlight takes a page from the Google book and integrates the calculator (I can’t wait to slow down my system with Spotlight searches every time I want to compute 2+2) and dictionary (on that one it’s kinda puzzling that it didn’t in Tiger); but I don’t even know if this batch of screenshots is legit, though, because the resolution independence demo looks like a five-minute Photoshop mockup made by a two-year-old.

 

@games@

First contact with an Xbox 360 on a generous 720p TV — and playing Gears of War, no less.

Holy crap!

16 November

@music@

The Zune Marketplace’s $15 all-you-can-eat monthly subscription does not cover the whole library — if you want the most popular songs, you apparently have to buy them in addition to your subscription.

That’s what I call a scam. And, knowing there could be such absurd demands from the music publishers (I hardly imagine Microsoft offering that idea by themselves — not that I’d put it past them, but I have even less faith in the humanity of publishers than of Microsoft), I lose any hope in ever seeing the iTunes Store implementing a monthly subscription (because, if Steve Jobs is willing to fight to keep a unique, one-size-fits-all for songs, there’s no way he’ll ever accept that — thankfully).

 

@music@

It’s just so cute.

18 November

@apple@

The latest rumor on the block (apart from the “really this time for reals the iPhone is so coming up, it looks like an iPod nano and it’s teh cool” — to which I respond, that’s the worst form factor I can think of for a mobile phone) is that Apple would be preparing an AMD-based laptop. Sure, it makes perfect sense from a technical standpoint, and everybody found it tactically surprising that Steve Jobs would emphasize their relationship with Intel so much rather than just talk about the x86 architecture, but isn’t it a bit early to change directions? Apple is still very much enjoying their honeymoon with Intel; sure, Jobs isn’t the last one to ditch a partner at the first opportunity (Hello Moto), but I still don’t see it happening that soon. If they talked so much about Intel, there must have been some sweet deals there, and they can’t have expired yet.

 

@misc@

Dear Lazyweb:
Don’t you think it would be cool if unread-mail or unread-blogs badges faded logarithmically from red to black according to the age of the last unread message?

21 November

@apple@

John Siracusa mulls Leopard’s “top secret” upcoming features. I had been puzzled by the resolution-independence screenshot but hadn’t thought it through (the disadvantage of preparing my posts at 4am):

Look at how poorly those “stoplight” window widgets are integrated into the window background, for example. Does that match the high-quality that you’ve come to expect from in the Mac OS X UI? To me, that screenshot absolutely screams “temp artwork.” It looks like a bunch of filler images quickly whipped up to give developers something to test with.

Sure, it could also be that it’s only “temp artwork” because the graphics team is working on more detailed high-res representations of the current state of Aqua, and that, by itself, takes time. Seeing the latest evolutions on leaked screenshots (iCal losing brushed metal, Preview getting Mail-like capsules…) started to make me think that the interface was now about as refined as it would be. But, on the other hand, if they were indeed going to introduce a seriously altered look, and didn’t want anyone outside of Apple to know, then it would make perfect sense to ship their developer builds with these graphics.

There’s something wrong when your thought process goes from conclusion to hypothesis, but I guess that’s the way it goes when you discuss a rumor. Damn, I hate posting about those Apple rumors, but there isn’t much else these days.

 

@apple@

iPod shuffle reportedly trumps all other models. Nobody — including Apple, I’m pretty sure — expected that at all. And they only just released the ad.

22 November

@apple@

New MacBook Pro runs “much” cooler (I’m adding quotes because I have no idea how much 20°F is, and I’d rather leave the conversion as an exercise to the French reader than check for myself). Which might just as likely mean that Apple fixed their thermal paste application guidelines.

Also, there’s been dramatic discrepancies between models of the same generation before, and that test was done on one machine of each revision, so the data is quite insufficient to draw any kind of conclusion, actually.

 

@web@

The main use of FTP in this world is uploading web pages; OS X, faithful to its Unix roots, hides .htaccess files from the Finder. Why can’t I find a Mac FTP application that will automatically rename files from htaccess.txt (or something else) to .htaccess when I upload them? I’m forced to use Path Finder to manage my websites (setting the Finder to display hidden files is not an option, it makes a mess of everything, including the desktop), and I hate using Path Finder — it’s bloated and slow and annoying and not worth its price for a second.

I know I’m not the only webdesigner developing on a local hard drive and mirroring to the remote server (that’s what Transmit’s DockSend is for), so how on earth can I be the only one thinking automatic file renaming is required?

@photo@

Flickr’s Camera Finder [via] is so obvious and so awesome: Flickr leverages all the EXIF data it gathers to let you know what pictures any given camera is capable of making. Including cameraphones.

The opportunity to prove, as Monsieur Lâm just wrote yesterday: “a good photograph is 9/10th photographer.

 

@games@

Wii sensor bar appears to be just an array of infrared emitters and the Wiimote is only a light-gun that detects where those emitters are. Well, okay, it’s more complex than a light-gun and must be using the gyroscopes to detect orientation — actually, it’s quite impressive that they manage to calibrate their system in order to compute a reliable enough cursor position when the only external data the Wiimote receives is “the TV is somewhere around here, and you’re that far away.” (Distance being determined by how small the sensor bar appears on the Wiimote’s camera.)

It’s kinda disappointing that it’s so low-tech, but at least does explain why the black plastic part on top of the Wiimote is so big. Oh, and it also definitely explains how some lighting conditions could compromise Wii usage (but who places their TV with its back to the sun?).

 

@apple@

In the “I have nothing to say about it but I guess I ought to mention it” department: a malicious .dmg file can crash your Mac.

Question for Apple: How many times must [Safari’s “Open safe files after downloading” preference] be exploited before you remove it from Safari, or at least turn it off by default?

Feels like ActiveX all over again.

 

@apple@

Ad-sponsored MacBook Pro. When I saw the pictures, I couldn’t understand why brands would want to be included on such an ugly, illegible billboard — when she opens her laptop in a café, people won’t see the individual logos, but only the general affront to Jonathan Ive. Turns out the reason it works is the million-dollar-page clone: her website has a big photograph of the MBP with links over each logo.

It makes sense, but I wonder if it couldn’t be interesting for a company to subsidize a whole MacBook by themselves — make a pretty engraving or tattoo around the apple, and give it to someone contractually bound to spend some amount of time in Starbucks cafés. Just like those ad-subsidized Smart cars you can see around Paris, only cheaper and classier.

 

@apple@

29 November

@windows@

Microsoft justifies Vista Home’s no-virtualization policy, saying it’s just because they don’t want to incur the added support costs. I’m no conspiracy theorist, and I can believe that they just wouldn’t want to train their whole support department to cope with virtual machines.

One thing to note is that this only applies to retail and OEM licensing: copies that are downloaded via MSDN do not have this restriction.

 

@misc@

I didn’t blog when Art. Lebedev announced that the Optimus-103 keyboard will have 103 keys instead of 113 (doing away with the added context-sensitive shortcuts keys that promised to be quite useful) or that some of its keys (such as space and shift) would not sport screens at all in order to avoir manufacturing costs for custom shapes, but now for the straw that broke the camel’s back: the screens will be monochrome.

Sure, the reasoning makes sense: true enough, color isn’t required to display Photoshop icons or whatever — but, as one commenter put it, there’s nothing required about key screens at all, and the whole thing is a luxury gadget anyway, so what it needs to be is sexy.

At this rate, it better not sell for more than 60 bucks.

 

@misc@

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