4 January 2007

@apple@

I don’t like that kind of marketing, and it’s not like Apple’s never been guilty of overhyping before, but you’ve still got to wonder what they’ve got in store to be that bold.

And a two-hour keynote. Damn.

 

@apple@

A screencast of Parallels running in “coherence” mode [via] — it’s so miraculous it’s hard to believe the video isn’t edited.

(Well, the real miracle would be not to have to test pages in MSIE, but you take what you can.)

 

@apple@

Hack a copy of Terminal into a separate application dedicated to a single command, e.g. ‘top.’ It’s not as pretty as GeekTool (but you can’t type in a GeekTool window), and I try to save my dock space rather than multiply app icons, but it’s still a nice idea.

I think there was a Terminal widget for the Dashboard, but I don’t remember where, nor whether it worked right.

8 January

Macworld Predictions

@apple@

It’s time to get my hands dirty and enter the big prediction game. I listened yesterday to the immensely boring two-part Dan Benjamin vs. John Gruber podcast (seriously, you know, it’s even worse, you know, than the Engadget, you know, podcast), and John Siracusa just published his Macworld bingo, and everyone’s doing it, so I guess I have to join the fray if I intend to ever be a serious Apple blogger.

 

@apple@

Apple phone: could be there, could not. Apple’s teaser — “The first 30 years were just the beginning” — most certainly implies that the most dramatic announcements tomorrow will be computer-related, and you know that, whatever Steve announces, launching a phone would trump everything else.

For which reason I wager that the phone should be announced on its own in a specific event. At least that’d be the sensible thing to do.

Oh, and I don’t think it will be “an iPod with phone functionality.” Makes no sense.

 

@apple@

iTV: Well, it has to be there, and I don’t care what it does or how it works (or what its definitive name is). Unless it doubles as a fileserver for your home network, which I doubt. (John Gruber’s speculation that the included hard disk will only be used to cache network data makes a lot of sense.)

 

@apple@

Apple HDTVs: I have the logs to prove that I mentioned them in IM conversations before the Hivelogic podcasts. Apple made computers, and sold monitors; Apple makes iPods, and sells a boombox (at the risk of annoying the iPod accessory makers); Apple’s going to sell an iTV, Steve Jobs has to want you to connect it to an Apple-branded set.

Besides, an update to the Cinema Displays has been rumored for quite a while, now; how about all new displays sported an iSight, HDTV tuner, HDMI and component inputs? (In which case I really, really wish they also included a Firewire output — if you’re going to include analog-to-digital conversion, it might as well double as a video capture card.)

 

@apple@

Ultrathin MacBook Pro, with dream specs and amazing battery life: it’s not impossible… if it’s using a flash drive. That would justify it being a ‘Pro’: it’d be terribly expensive, but really ultra-portable. And it would also account for the absence of a 12-incher in the original Pro lineup, as they would have been waiting for the flash drives to be a sensible option.

 

@apple@

MacTablet: if they’re making an superlight MacBook Pro, why not make a tablet model, too? Sure, Steve Jobs has been saying over and over that he didn’t like tablet PCs, so what? There’s nothing he likes more than changing his mind once his engineers have finally found the optimal solution (and there’s obviously got to be a whole lab working on that on the Apple campus). And he says there’s no market, and everybody agrees that Apple isn’t in the business of creating a market for niche products — wait, what? Are you kidding me? Who seriously thought there was such a bright future for MP3 players before the iPod took wind?

The one real hurdle, in my opinion, is that Steve Jobs is clearly not a Transformers fan.* Just like he’s very unlikely to commission a clamshell Apple phone (which I think is unfortunate), I don’t expect we’ll ever see an Apple tablet somehow integrating a keyboard — so it all hinges mostly on the feasibility of a 100%-software-emulated keyboard (or the absolute lack of a need for one), which I don’t think is quite there yet.

Or maybe… [via]

 

@apple@

New MacBook Pro and Mac Pro: most certainly possible, but I’m not sure what they could look like. Seeing how the disappearance of brushed metal from OS X is pretty much a given by now, it would obviously make a lot of sense for aluminum to get replaced as well, but with what? Shiny plastic, both white and black, is more of a staple of the consumer line, and they need the Pro models to have something distinctive.

All Pro computers could get the black shiny look, sure, but then the black MacBook would be considered a MacBook Pro (which would certainly make sense when you look at its price) and that would null any chance of getting that 12-inch MacBook Pro for the foreseeable future.

 

@apple@

New iPods: don’t know, don’t care at this point. That touch-screen iPod has been rumored for way too long already.

How about the disappearance of hard-disk-based models, though? Or the introduction of a “nano deluxe” model with 32 to 64 gigs of flash memory, and a higher price tag than the equivalent iPod? (Uh, no, that one’s very unlike Apple, it’d be confusing the lineup. A bit like a 12-inch MacBook Pro that wouldn’t be a MacTablet.)

 

@apple@

New OS X look: Yeah. What we’ve seen in Leopard previews certainly validates John Gruber’s theory that Apple’s designers will go so far out with 10.5 that the next few revisions will have to tone down the most obnoxious elements of it, just like stripes have been fading out and buttons getting flatter from 10.0 to 10.4 — I’m particularly thinking of that Spotlight field in the Help menu that spawns a big, bulging green arrow to indicate what options you were looking for.

And I also agree that this will be the equivalent of a ShapeShifter theme: every application button will still be in the same place and the same size, but it might look very different. Or maybe it won’t at all, there’s no telling — but, after last year’s WWDC keynote, Leopard sure needs some defining elements.

Also, see how the apple in the teaser image is all black and backlit. Could be indicative. Or not. (Damn. It even lends some credence to that “Illuminous” crap.) Plus, 10.5 is a good version number for a redesign.

 

@apple@

Parallels licensed or bought-out: What would be the point? First: As far as Apple is concerned, Boot Camp is quite sufficient. Second: it’s not that much in Apple’s best interest to make it that easy to run Windows apps within OS X, because that would make cross-platform developers all the more lazy. Third: why would they pick one software solution now, when there are three contenders and they’re all only getting started?

 

@apple@

Leopard’s release date: Let’s say… April.

 

@apple@

iWork, iLife: Couldn’t care less. But I don’t expect them to be launched before Leopard, for the sake of homogenous look-and-feel.

 

@apple@

Oh, and one more thing (hee, see what I did there? hee): why is everyone “speculating” that the iTV will do HD? I’m pretty certain they said so when they introduced it, and Wikipedia lists an HDMI output in its specs.

9 January

@apple@

Hee.

 

@apple@

Rumor: Jobs Invited His Friends To Tuesday’s Keynote (I refrain from quoting rumors as much as I can, but, hey, it’s Keynote Eve):

This is a blind item, but a very trusted (and extremely anonymous) source of mine in Silicon Valley told me recently that he has it on good faith that Apple CEO Steve Jobs has invited all of his best friends to his MacWorld SF Keynote on Tuesday. In Silicon Valley buzz code, that means he’s got something really special to show.

 

@apple@

WSJ Reports Apple and Cingular Launching Cell Phone (and WSJ announced the switch to Intel before it was unveiled).

I hope there’s more, though — now that I’ve got a Sony-Ericsson, I care even less than I did before, and it’s certainly not worthy of “the first 30 years were just the beginning.”

 

@apple@

Parallels Coherence + WindowBlinds [via].

First: I’m amazed that WindowBlinds works within coherence mode. Second: Hell yeah!

(This one has been lingering in my drafts for a couple days, I’m purging it.)

10 January

Worst. Macworld. Ever.

@apple@

Ah, so much for suspense, I gave it all out in the title there. Well, what can you expect? Steve Jobs had been sitting on his hands for a while now, biting his tongue everytime someone said the word “phone,” or picked up their cellphone, in a 100-meter radius around him. So, once the device was ready, they were going to send it to the FCC for approval as soon as they could, and that meant he had to announce and demo it extensively, and he wasn’t going to let the trivial fact that the expo is named “Macworld” slow him down.

This is a day I’ve been looking forward to for two and a half years

I was right about one thing in my predictions: announcing an Apple phone would trump any other announcement (well, I was also right about the unlikelihood of a slide-out keyboard). I was only wrong about which way they were going to solve that. No Mac-related announcement at all, then. Fine, I can live with that. What I can’t just live with, though, is that Jobs has been single-minded about that phone for years. That he (sincerely, no doubt) thinks this is the next revolution in phones, in music players, and computers. That he put up a “The first 30 years were just the beginning” teaser on Apple’s front page to announce a new phone rather than a new Mac. I don’t mind that Apple drops “Computer” in its name (because that made sense ever since the iPod and the iTunes Music Store), I mind that Jobs just doesn’t care about the Mac anymore, and when he doesn’t care about something it might as well cease to exist.

Hawk Wings:

I was speaking to a couple of Apple gurus via iChat today who both told me not to worry so much. The computer side of the business is ticking along nicely, the engineers are churning out the same amount of great software at the same rate and so forth. Just because Steve Jobs is so energised by the digital gadgets doesn’t mean that he is not interested in hard-core computing.

Well, I don’t buy that, as much as I wish I did. As far as I’m concerned, Steve has shown every sign that he was growing out of his interest for computers. He went to create his own computer company, failed, recouped his loss while regaining his place at Apple, earned his stay by making a few computers and promptly proceeded to diversify in the world of consumer electronics. He’s done with computers. Do you hear stories of Steve Jobs lugging his MacBook around everywhere he goes? I don’t remember ever reading recent mentions of him touching a computer at all.

I once wrote about Bill Gates’s inability to realize what actual computer users need because he’s got too many secretaries and assistants shielding him from real world needs; I’m beginning to think that’s also true of Jobs. He doesn’t need a Mac (except, I’m sure, a Mac mini hooked to his big-screen TV for Front Row — which is why Apple’s launching a set-top box) and the iPhone is certainly computer enough for him. Computers are out. Well, not in my world they aren’t.

Sure, Apple isn’t going to close the Mac department; they’ll still design and engineer great machines, and cool software. But don’t expect real innovation anymore, don’t expect huge investments in research and development. It’s all about incremental improvement from here on.

Don’t even expect a Mac tablet utilizing the same patents Apple developed for the iPhone — nobody goes by cannibilizing Steve’s baby.

 

@apple@

Anyway, on to the iPhone itself: it’s a nice device, and you can’t really resent it for being the harbinger of doom it is, can you? So, yes, it is awesome. Well, it actually looks dull and not that pretty when it’s off, but once you turn it on it’s the sexiest thing there is. But, no matter what Steve Jobs might say, it’s just one more smartphone. The best one ever, that’s a given, but it’s nothing more. And, as already established, I don’t care all that much about smartphones.

I don’t know what to make of the actual physical design. Well, I sure do know I don’t like it, but I wonder what that means we should expect for the next Macs. A chrome bezel? And what’s up with the black bottom on the back?

And, of course, it’s thin — thinner than any competitor, Steve says. With a huge, bright high-dpi screen, touch sensitivity, and enough CPU and GPU power to handle OS X (or a special version thereof) and lots of visual effects, and it gets wifi and bluetooth too. Now you better not go on a weekend vacation without your DC adapter (and I don’t even believe the claim you’d get five hours of video playback).

The interesting thing about the interface (besides that it’s many levels of awesome, no contest): we now know what Leopard will look like. And, no, it’s not going to be spectacular: flat buttons with gradients, and the new arrow buttons we already saw in the Leopard previews. Very dark-unified, very iTunes 7. Well, I guess that’ll work (unless we also get the iTunes scrollbars).

 

Random thoughts:

  • Now that iSync is dead, absorbed by iTunes, and Apple makes its own phone, is syncing to other phones from OS X going to be as well managed as syncing to non-iPod music players is?

  • Apple reportedly announced the iPhone before finalizing their agreement with Cisco over the name. Weird way to conduct business, but so Jobs-like. If I were Cisco, I’d say “screw you, you’ve announced it, now you might as well pay double.”
    Anyway, I can’t believe either of the two companies would be okay with both of their products sharing the same name, but the sure thing is that it’s no coincidence that Linksys made sure to announce their iPhone before Apple.

  • I understand much better now why Apple bought CoverFlow — it worked just fine as a freeware iTunes companion, but they needed it most in the iPhone. (Even the Apple TV doesn’t seem to have it at all, which I don’t get.)

  • I was quite surprised, that they’d announce a partnership with Yahoo (rather than Google, and while partnering with Google over other functionalities). And why the hell would they need “free push IMAP email” from Yahoo? Isn’t Apple supposed to have something of an email solution already?

  • If the multi-touch interface is so amazing, why does it seem to be only used when zooming (and possibly typing) — and then you can also zoom by double-tapping? And did anyone else find it funny how often Steve said “oops” after tapping the wrong spot? (Sure it was only a couple of times, but that’s a highly-rehearsed demo of a product that’s supposed to be simpler than any other. To his credit, though, stepping back was always another tap away.)

  • Funny that OS X’s Inkwell handwriting recognition technology had always been considered to be the most potent sign of an upcoming Newton 2.0, and in the end it’s not here at all.

 

And a few links:

  • The genesis of the iPhone [via]: “When [Apple engineers] showed him the touchscreen they came up with [for a Mac tablet], he got excited. So excited he forgot all about tablet computers.

Meanwhile, in the Mac world

@apple@

Well, not really a Mac, but closer (in that it’s in a box that sits on a table and connects to a screen): the iTV is out (almost), called Apple TV, and it’s pretty much everything we heard it was. The interface looks as cool as it did last time, though it unexplicably doesn’t seem to have Cover Flow.

Except that it only does 720p, which is pretty crazy when you think it’s a $299 box that only streams videos and music from your other computers onto the TV — i.e., the kind of thing you only buy if you’ve got oodles of money to throw at your home entertainment platform, which means you’re relatively more likely to have a 1080i/p TV.

 

By the way, I’m not sure whether I should call it Apple tv or Apple TV. The website either spells it “apple symbol, tv” or “Apple TV” — and I guess the latter makes sense in that writing about an Apple tv looks weird. (Weirder than an iPod hifi does, for instance. Well, not by much, though.) But it’s inconsistent, and Apple’s been pretty anal on capitalization in the past.

 

@apple@

The 802.11n AirPort Extreme looks cuter than the Apple TV. Ands it has USB drive sharing, which is pretty cool (well, not that I want to share drives wirelessly, but it’s nice for more trusting users), and well-timed, just as Microsoft announced Windows Home Server.

I only wish the tech specs listed RAID, though (but at least the site does say you can connect multiple drives). Oh, and, you know, that pesky port that Apple embraced a few years back named Firewire. And, on a more superficial level, I wish Apple would release matching hard drives (or enclosures) themselves, rather than leave it up to manufacturers to design “similar-looking, but not quite” stacking drives.

Anyway, wireless aficionados (which, let me reiterate, I am absolutely not) will be pleased to know that all Core 2 Duo Macs previously sold can get a software update to 802.11n (as had already been rumored).

 

@apple@

The ModBook has been unveiled, and boy is it ugly. I wonder how a serious business can figure “we’re gonna make that cool MacTablet everybody wants” and hack a MacBook into such PCesque crap, thinking people will still find it cool. I mean, you’ve really got to get out of your way to take the innards out of a MacBook’s case and put them into such a weird two-color box with oddly-designed buttons.

Anyway… so it’s a MacBook with a Wacom digitizer (and a GPS if you want one), it’s not horribly expensive for what it is, and, yeah, I could totally handle the fugliness if it works right. Check out the photo gallery.

 

@apple@

There also was an OmniFocus presentation yesterday. It sounds nice, and I particularly like this:

OmniFocus will have a simpler and more streamlined interface than OmniOutliner.

In related news, Yojimbo got an update, reportedly with extensive AppleScript capabilities (at last).

11 January

Aftermath

@apple@

I wrote yesterday (because I took my time to digest the Macworld announcements, and I almost ended up posting it after the news came out) that, since Apple had committed to using the iPhone name now before they had finalized their licensing agreement, Cisco might as well tell them to get lost and multiply their bill by three.

Well, someone definitely told the other to fuck off, but it’s a bit unclear who struck first:

Apple spokesman Steve Dowling called the Cisco lawsuit “silly,” adding there are several companies using the term iPhone for VOIP products, and Cisco’s trademark is “tenuous at best.” “We’re the first company to ever use the iPhone name for a cellphone,” he said. “If Cisco wants to challenge us on it, we’re very confident we’ll prevail.”

 

According to Engadget, Cisco didn’t want money, but Apple’s iPhone to be compatible with their iPhone VoIP platform. And, from their point of view, it makes complete sense — but they should have known better than to actually expect Steve Jobs to go along with that.

I’m pretty sure that Apple was just stalling the negotiations so that Cisco wouldn’t go around announcing “Steve Jobs tried to license the iPhone name and failed” before last Tuesday.

 

@apple@

iPhone Not Intel:

Could Apple be hush-hush about the chips because they’re using the iPhone as a relationship-starter with AMD?

Or maybe they just don’t want people to know how underpowered the CPU is?

 

John Gruber: Apple Job Listing for iPhone Software Engineer Mentions ARM Experience.

 

@apple@

iPhone & LG KE850: separated at birth?

It’s always so funny when two companies design the exact same product, and you just know one is doing it right and the other will somehow have gotten it wrong.

 

@apple@

Steve’s devices:

Gates wants to sell platforms. Jobs just wants to make tools.

Jobs, in fact, couldn’t possibly be more out of touch with today’s Web 2.0 ethos, which is all about grand platforms, open systems, egalitarianism, and the erasing of the boundary between producer and consumer. […] In Jobs’s world, users are users, creators are creators, and never the twain shall meet.

In other words, there’s a distinct possibility that the iPhone may remain locked, refusing third-party applications forever. Although, if it’s really based on OS X in any tangible capacity, it couldn’t be that hard to inject some homebrew code into the system — without having to reboot the phone into Linux, I mean.

 

@apple@

iPhone Countdown Widget.

iPhone release date countdown.

iPhone Widget.

iPhone Release Countdown Widget.

13 January

@apple@

The iPhone’s weird black plastic bottom is probably there to let wireless signal through. I don’t get why they wouldn’t just go and make the whole case plastic (à la Nano), and I don’t get why the antenna is in the bottom of the phone.

Besides, they recently patented using ceramics as a material transparent to wireless signals. Factory lines aren’t ready?

 

@apple@

Steve explains why the iPhone is a closed platform — yeah, he’s definitely going to be stubborn about that one:

These are devices that need to work, and you can’t do that if you load any software on them.

Hell yeah. Who needs software? Software causes bugs. Also, living causes death.

You don’t want your phone to be an open platform…. You need it to work when you need it to work. Cingular doesn’t want to see their West Coast network go down because some application messed up.

And that’s how much faith he has in OS X’s security, I guess.

 

@apple@

The Ultimate iPhone Frequently Asked Questions [via M.]:

Does the Web browser support Flash or Java? —No.

Wow, I didn’t realize that. I assumed from the start that you’d be able to overcome the inability to install software by using special Flash applets and special made-for-iPhone web apps — think Wiicade. No Flash in a 2007 smartphone? That’s really getting ridiculous.

Will it sync with Outlook? —No.

Geez. Well, there’s a precedent, though: the iPod initially shipped without Windows software, so they might as well sell the iPhone with incomplete Windows sync.

 

@apple@

You know, now that the iPhone’s UI has been introduced, I feel incredibly foolish for ever believing — along with everyone else — that a full-screen iPod would have a virtual click-wheel.

 

@apple@

Meanwhile, I find that the introduction of a browse-your-voicemail feature makes it all the more puzzling that Apple never thought / bothered to use the Mac’s integrated modem (when there was one) as a digital answering machine with similar functionality. I always thought it was obvious and exactly the kind of thing an Apple product should do.

 

@apple@

15 January

@apple@

A set of new status icons and message style for Adium that look pretty nice on my setup (for the record, I’m not using Adium 1.0, sticking with stable).

While I’m at it, why not offer my list layout and colors for download. That way they’ll be saved somewhere if I need them.

 

@apple@

A little detail of importance when you’ll consider that 4GB iPhone: OS X takes up a few hundred megs of that memory. Sure, it makes sense in computer terms, so you can’t exactly call that a ripoff, but people shopping for a phone or iPod aren’t exactly used to assuming that a sizable chunk of the device’s memory will be eaten up by the OS, and when the iPhone finally ships I’m pretty sure there’ll be a wave of blog complaints about that.

 

@apple@

iPhony Launcher for Palm OS — oops, too late.

Check out the video, it’s almost as good as the real thing! (Yes, that’s ironic, and yes, I’d install this in a heartbeat if I had a Treo. Because, hey, that’s what’s cool about being able to install your own software into your smartphone.)

Oh, and there was similar software for Windows Mobile and Apple C&Ds anyone who reported it.

 

@apple@

iPhone and the Dog Ears User Experience Model:

In the real world, we have physics. We have inertia. Things bounce and stretch and squash. We have follow through. Imagine a dog with long floppy ears sprinting for a frisbee. Now picture the dog coming to a screeching halt in front of the disc. What happens to the ears? They keep going. Then they “bounce” back. And it’s a big part of what separates a good animator from an amateur. […]

But it wasn’t the scrolling that made my jaw drop… it was what happened when the scrolling stopped: it bounced! The thing actually bounced if you flicked it hard and fast enough to send it flying up to the very (or bottom) of the list before it had a chance to slow down and stop. It actually bounced. And until you’ve seen it slow down and bounce, you haven’t felt that visceral, life-like, fluidity.

 

@apple@

Office 2008 for Mac screenshots. Looks like they’ve mostly done without the much-touted “ribbon” — the big honking ribbon-like thing in the screenshots seems to be only there for displaying templates and such, and I think it disappears in normal use; all formatting options are in palettes.

On the one hand, it’s nice that Office for Mac really bothers to fit in with OS X look-and-feel; on the other, the ribbon seemed really convenient, and palettes do take up more space (I don’t think I’ve ever actually liked palettes — well, they’re fine for Photoshop because you need them, but I don’t think they’re convenient for word processors, for instance).

 

Actually, I’m unsure — is that supposed to be based on the upcoming Office for Windows, or the last one? And, wait — Office 2008 ?

 

@apple@

Mac factory tour [via].

testing iconfactory’s twitterific

trying to get twitter to work with gtalk

18 January

@apple@

If you’ve got a Core 2 Duo Mac and you don’t want to buy the new AirPort Express, there’ll be a patch to activate 802.11n, and it’ll cost five bucks… because of accounting requirements due to the post-Enron law.

the company believes that if it sells a product, then later adds a feature to that product, it can be held liable for improper accounting if it recognizes revenue from the product at the time of sale, given that it hasn’t finished delivering the product at that point.

It’s so absurd (especially in those times of financial scandal around Apple and Jobs) that I want to believe they’re for real — it would make any sense as a marketing decision.

John Gruber:

Back when the 5.5G iPod were announced in September, there was a bit of speculation about why certain of the new features, like searching, weren’t made available via a firmware update for owners of original 5G iPods. A couple of friends at Apple told me their best guess was that it was for compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley.

I’m not much for granting Apple the benefit of the doubt these days, but I still choose to believe that one.

 

@apple@

The iPhone’s lackluster battery life isn’t only bad for its users, but for everyone. Just like you can’t get a phone with a monochrome screen and better battery life anywhere now (remember when you could read the time on your phone without waking it up to get backlighting? ah, good times), the market is going to follow as soon as Apple demonstrates that you can get many, many people to buy a cellphone that needs charging every night just so it can be thinner.

 

@apple@

I don’t understand why having the Beatles on the iTunes Store would be a big deal. People who like them are likely to own the CDs already, aren’t they? And I don’t think that iTunes or iPod quite need the popularity symbol anymore.

19 January

@apple@

The iPhone will cost $250 to produce.

Okay, first of all, I call bullshit on the numbers — just because some “analysts” pull a number out of their ass in order to make a name for themselves doesn’t mean every single freaking blog has to take it at face value.

Second, and most importantly, the iPhone bears on its shoulders the responsibility of turning a profit for at least three years of research and development — because, unlike its competitors, Apple decided to keep working on it in their labs rather than release iterative upgrades to basic products and charging customers for them.

 

@phone@

The Google Switch: an iPhone killer?

The interface certainly looks ugly enough to be Google’s, but at the same time the interface doesn’t look Googley at all, does it?

And what would be in it for them anyway?

 

@apple@

Apple’s 802.11n patch to be $2 rather than $5.

21 January

I feel dirty

@apple@

I’d been putting it off since I received my new Intel mini, but it was time to get things started. Internet Explorer 6 was my excuse for spending the dough, after all.

I can’t believe how much simpler — and faster — it was to install Windows XP today in a virtual machine on my little Mac mini than on a full-fledged PC a few years ago.

 

Hey, I just figured: one must be able to easily copy a Parallels image from one Mac to the other and get two working copies of Windows without having to activate it again, right? (Amazingly, I could activate my old XP via internet without any problem). I feel like buying a MacBook with an external monitor.

23 January

@apple@

Big hands okay for iPhone:

I have it on good authority that Steve Jobs himself has big butcher’s hands. That’s the reason Apple has never done a subnotebook. An Apple engineer I spoke to recently told me that Jobs’ clumsy paws couldn’t work a sexy little Sony Vaio subnotebook he brought back from Japan. Jobs’ hands were too big for the three-quarter-sized keyboard.

“How do people use this?” he asked, before shutting the lid on the subnotebook — and Apple’s plans to make a similar device.

 

@apple@

Rumor: Apple to charge[Tiger users] for Boot Camp final version. Not very surprising — unlike the 802.11n update, there’s a good reason to charge Tiger users here, as that basically amounts to giving a $30 discount to Intel Mac owners on Leopard.

Or it would if they didn’t all have already installed and paid for Parallels.

 

@apple@

Speaking of which: Parallels to enable virtual OS X on PCs? So much for those rumors of Apple buying Parallels or integrating their software — unless that’s just a ploy to drive the auction up.

 

@music@

Trouble squirting?

Universal and Sony won’t allow what amounts to 40-50% of songs available for the Zune to be [shared].

Let’s say this out loud. They won’t let you send a song to someone to be played all of three times before they’re prompted to buy it.

 

@web@

Kottke:

All links on Wikipedia now automatically use the “nofollow” attribute. […] Now it gets all the Google juice and doesn’t pass any of it along to the sources from which it gets information. Links are currency on the web and Wikipedia just stopped paying it forward, so to speak.

 

@computer@

USB Subbuteo Men.

Avatar

@web@

Identicons [via]: using a visual representation of your hashed IP address to make an avatar. Of course it’s not as pretty — or personal — as a Gravatar, but it doesn’t rely on external servers and everybody has one.

And here are two nice derivative ideas: replacing random geometric shapes with a MonsterID, and using that as a replacement avatar for people who haven’t signed up on Gravatar.

I’m totally going to do this (at first using the geometric algorithm, and later on making some kind of creature — that one requires some Photoshop work, so it’ll take longer). Here’s how it’ll go when I do it:

  • if you’ve got a Gravatar and the servers are up, your avatar is shown

  • elseif you’ve supplied an email address, the same hash that’s sent to Gravatar is used to make a custom avatar-y thing

  • else a hash of your IP is used instead

I think the way I’ll do it is that email-based avatars will be creatures (like MonsterIDs) while IP-based ones will be geometric logos. So, if you want to have an interesting avatar associated to your comments on any of the blogs I maintain (and/or if you have a dynamic IP address and want your avatar to stick), get used to providing your email address (it’ll never be used for anything else).

Or I could simply use your name (or URL) instead. But the advantage of the IP and email addresses is that they’re not published, so trolls can hardly impersonate you and get your avatar on their comments.

Realizing that I’ll have the hell of a time connecting my new external hard drive because FW800 and FW400 aren’t the same connector

26 January

@apple@

Daring Fireball:

Mac OS X is the only desktop operating system I know of that has gotten faster, rather than slower, with each major release.

That’s right — I was amazed when I recently installed Tiger on my first-generation Mac mini, with 256MB of RAM and all specs at minimum. It was actually, noticeably, more responsive.

I think it’s a sign that Apple’s executives value engineering as a core principle. Apple spends engineering resources to improve the performance of existing code.

Yeah. Just look at the Finder.

 

@apple@

The latest iPhone rumors: it isn’t subsidized by Cingular. What would you get in exchange for a two-year lock-in, then? eighteen months of free service.

This is such a weird idea — and why wouldn’t Steve have announced that at the same time as the device’s price? It’s kinda important, if it’s true. Which I don’t really believe: if Cingular is going to subsidize it anyway, why handicap themselves by not making the device’s price actually reflect it, like everyone else does? I know Jobs certainly doesn’t want the iPhone to be too cheap, but that would be some freaking hubris.

Ah, wait — two minutes after I publish this post, Cingular confirms it’s bogus. Yes, you will pay through the nose for your visual voicemail.

 

@apple@

The iPod silhouettes before editing. Are those for real? I can’t believe that’s entirely manual Photoshop work (as opposed to black or blue makeup and clothes). Don’t tell me they worked the same way on the videos.

 

@apple@

Real Tech News:

Apple has been making great cinema displays for years so it only makes sense for them to come out with their very own HDTV especially after releasing a media extender that hooks up to TV’s. Can you imagine walking in an Apple store and seeing Apple TV’s hooked up to television sets made by companies such as Sony, Phillips and Samsung?

I predicted the same thing for Macworld, but I think that ship has sailed now. Now that the Apple TV name is taken by a set-top box, whatever could they call a TV set?

 

@web@

Kottke:

A page of random posts from the kottke.org archives, featuring lots of broken links, really poor writing, but also some nice posts from back when. The posts randomize every time I update, which is every hour or two during the day.

Added to my to-do list. (Not for #FF00AA, though; that wouldn’t be relevant.)

 

@phone@

This season, cellphone use does cause cancer. Geez, how are we supposed to keep with how often that changes?

 

@misc@

USB keychain holder. I like the idea, but what do you do with your USB drive’s cap?

 

@misc@

Can a robot jump the shark? Homersapien.

28 January

@apple@

First Look: ModBook [via]:

Because of the GPS module, and the fact that the ModBook’s metal case blocks wireless signals, the top of the case has two areas in matching MacBook plastic, underneath which Axiotron places an array of antennae for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and—on models that include the module—GPS.

Ooh, so that’s (part of) why it looks so bad. Okay then, fine. But, watching the video and cringing every time he moves the poor thing, I realize I don’t want to touch a tablet Mac until it’s got a flash drive.

 

@apple@

Speaking of which, 128GB SATA flash drive. Hee.

 

@windows@

Enso [via] is an interesting take on the usual “let’s clone Quicksilver on Windows” theme: for once, they do understand that Quicksilver is more than a launcher and that the plugin-based architecture is its biggest advantage (Enso is expandable in Python, how buzzwordy is that); and rather than copy the interface like everyone else they try and do their own thing displaying a big, nicely typeset text-only overlay when you press-hold Caps Lock.

If you’re a Windows user you should be all over this — Quicksilver is the most important piece of software on the Mac, and anything remotely emulating its functionality on Windows ought to be good.

 

@apple@

Oh, and while we’re coopting Caps Lock to do anything but lock caps, the Happy Hacking Keyboard Lite 2 isn’t quite pretty but it’s cool — sporting old-style keys and having Control above Shift, all in a reduced footprint. I’m not going to buy it at $64, but it would nicely complement my mini. (Yes, it’s a Mac keyboard. Which it doesn’t actually look like, though it doesn’t feel like it’d be out of place connected to one. Provided you have a big, black, transparent Terminal window always open.)

@misc@

Long overdue: I’ve finally worked up my pseudo-wiki pages listing my computer setup and the software I use and recommend.

 

@apple@

With Quicksilver, you learn something new every day: if you hold — for just one second — the last letter in the abbreviation you typed, it registers as pressing “Enter” to activate it.

For instance, I have “g” associated to a Google quicksearch, so I can activate Quicksilver, press-hold “g” (for a very brief time, really) and I’ll be ported to the third pane, ready to type my query. Or I can press, “s,” then hold “l,” and my computer will sleep.

What’s really amazing is that the delay to register as “hold” versus “type” is extremely short, and yet it never happened to me by accident — or I would have noticed it. It’s just perfectly timed. (And very imperfectly documented, but that’s not news. It’s part of the program’s charm. Uh, not.)

I’m not going to use it much (because I don’t like click-hold triggers — no matter how fast and well-programmed, I can’t find that more convenient than just pressing an additional key to validate — that’s a personal choice). But I love how, every once in a while, you discover a new Quicksilver functionality to remind you what a nice piece of software it is.

 

@phone@

A video of the Sony Ericsson W950i (sporting 4GB of memory and a touch-screen plus stylus and handwriting recognition). Basically, it’s their iPhone, only with a smaller screen and what looks like a tactile keyboard (yes, worst of both worlds).

I’ve been known to say that Sony Ericsson were the only one so far that could produce usable phone interfaces; it seems like they completely lost it when they got to the touch-screen. Christ, that looks utterly unusable. Nothing makes you want an iPhone more than seeing how wrong the major competitors can get it.

(I haven’t seen videos of the LG almostiPhone, I’ll have to look.)

29 January

Setting up a friend’s MacBook - and fscking it up when trying to move files from one profile to another in Firewire target mode

30 January

Setting up my own personal brand new MacBook. Hee!

31 January

@apple@

Hee.

The MacBook’s user manual recommends to use two identical RAM sticks if you upgrade memory; how important is the difference in performance? I’d very much like to buy a single 1GB now and another later, rather than having to choose from the start between pairs of 521MB or 1GB.

 

@apple@

The Macalope:

The Vista upgrade forces a purchasing decision for many Windows users. Most will simply suck it up and buy a new PC with Vista already installed because they either fear change, don’t know any better or just really prefer Windows.

But if you know any wavering Windows users, now would be a good time to try to talk them down off the ledge.

 

@apple@

10.4.8 optimizes Rosetta performance in Photoshop CS2. I can’t very much test this on my 512MB of RAM — oh, wait, I BTOed 1GB on my Mac mini, but there wouldn’t be much point in installing Photoshop on it.

 

@computer@

Lifehacker reviews Enso (which I mentioned recently):

Enso takes over your Caps Lock key, meaning that not only does Caps Lock no longer work (which isn’t terrible), but you actually have to hold down Caps Lock while you type commands. Suddenly you’re a nine-fingered typist (apparently a, z, and q aren’t that important?). Since Enso has absolutely no settings configurations, you can’t do anything about it.

I did have the impression from the video that you’d have to hold Caps Lock to type your command, but assumed I was mistaken. Because, you know, it makes no sense to design a productivity enhancement tool like this and make you keep your finger on a modifier key all the while you’re typing your commands.

Well, they’ll most certainly fix it, sooner or later.

Problem 2: It’s expensive. The Enso Launcher and Enso Spellcheck and Dictionary apps are two different programs, requiring two different licenses. Launcher costs $25, Words costs $40.

 

@web@

Kottke:

Another RSS stats tidbit: I’ve served up 58 gigabytes of RSS so far this month.

Geez.

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