Hi! My name is Cédric Bozzi, I make websites and iOS apps, and this is my blog about technology (mostly a Twitter archive, really).

2 January 2009

Twitterific is annoying me more and more. I’m glad I replaced it on the iPhone; wish there was a desktop alternative. (AIR isn’t an option.)

5 January

Macworld 2009 Predictions

So, keynote, predictions, blah-de-blah, gotta put your money where your mouth is if you want to comment on the announcements after the fact. Just finding something to do, anything at all really, rather than work on this business proposal I have to do.

 

Phil Schiller: until today, I found it perfectly viable to take Apple’s comments at face value, and assume that they had just gotten bored with Macworld, and that Steve was for some reason pissed at the organizers and wanted to skip that last keynote just to spite them — because he’s impulsive enough to do this even if it’s going to fuel the speculation about his health. I was even given the most perfect explanation in last week’s MacBreak Weekly, when Andy Ihnatko said that Macworld had always been very inconveniently scheduled, but it’s not like IDG wouldn’t have accepted to move it to spring if Apple asked: well, what if Apple did ask, and IDG said no? Wouldn’t Steve do exactly what he did, now that he thinks he doesn’t need Macworld anymore?

As of now, though, I’m not quite so sure. (Well, I was never sure anyway; just giving them the benefit of the doubt.) Steve’s open letter about his health can actually be read like an admission that his health played a factor. But then, it also reads like the letter he’d write after he had slammed IDG’s door in anger and had only later realized that the way the story developed wasn’t too good for Apple — that he has to take the rumors about his health into account even if they are wrong.

 

Mac mini: it would make sense for Phil Schiller to announce a big transformation for the computer Steve likes least. I’m still waiting for the Mini and Apple TV to merge into a single range of devices, and still not expecting it to happen; in the meantime, no idea what the new incarnation will look like, and I don’t care that much. It’s nice that this week’s rumors aren’t announcing its impending death, for once — let’s hope the blogs don’t jinx it.

 

17-inch MacBook Pro: it would be about time for Apple to announce it, but I don’t understand where that fixed-battery rumor is coming from. People buying 17-inch MacBooks are the most power-user of the bunch, and there’s no way they’d go for a non-user-serviceable battery, no matter how revolutionary it might be. And why the hell would the 15-inch have traditional design and functionality, but the 17-inch model suddenly go Air?

 

iPhone nano: as far as I’m concerned, any significant announcement on the iPhone platform (by which I mean a new device that isn’t just a minor revision of what already exists, or an OS 3.0 presentation) would be a confirmation that Steve left this Macworld in Schiller’s hands because of his health — the iPhone is his baby, and he wouldn’t pass announcing a new sibling. I do believe the iPhone nano is actually a possibility (because Interface Builder is clever enough that most well-designed apps — not games, obviously — would work on the new screen size without even needing to be recompiled), but I don’t expect it to be announced now.

 

iPod tablet maxi touch or whatever: same comment. (Minus the ease of porting existing applications.)

 

Was that all? Well, I guess that’s all I vaguely care to think about. There will be a Snow Leopard presentation during which Steve would have been utterly unable to hide his lack of interest; maybe iWork, iLife (without editing videos on the cloud, thank you very much to whoever thought that one up and those blogs who commented on it as if it was remotely thinkable), Cinema Displays, a new iMac or whatever, and I’m not interested because my bank account is dry.

7 January

Damn, the Macworld keynote podcast crapped out just when I was fawning over iMovie ‘09. (This engineer needs some promotin’.)

9 January

Palm Pre Videos

Who would have imagined that Palm would be the one to introduce the first post-iPhone device that actually looks sexy? Well, it’s easier when you poach as many engineers from Apple as you can, but still, I never thought the good old Palm was able to innovate again.

The interface looks very well designed; Jobs must be double-pissed that WebOS doesn’t just use WebKit to display web pages but for everything; I love that the touch area extends beyond the screen (it’s a shame Apple didn’t think of that for the iPhone); the wireless docking station is a nice bonus.

But they intend to price it higher than the iPhone — as they need to, because they don’t have Apple’s deep pockets and economies of scale — and they don’t stand a chance.

14 January

Wondering how a hackintoshed netbook’s performance compared with an iBook G4.

Bear in mind that, the sooner Jobs is officially out, the sooner Apple releases a netbook and a cheap Mac.

15 January

I could deal with Buzz Out Loud’s inaccuracy and lack of preparation, but Natali Del Conte’s vapidness every day of the week? No way.

How in hell isn’t there a “this guy follows you” on Twitter profile pages (when appropriate)?

16 January

Just realized I’m designing a website for someone who seems to be using IE6 on Win98 or 2000. Oh god I hope it’s IE6!

19 January

TiltShift (iPhone)

I bought CameraBag, I bought an iPhone case specifically for its macro lens… I just couldn’t skip the fake-tilt-shift application, could I?

For those who don’t know, tilt-shift is a pretty complicated, magical lens system (I’m mystified by optics, couldn’t get my head around the equations in high school) that allows you to change the focal plane of your picture so that it isn’t parallel to the camera film/sensor — in other words, you can have several objects, at different distances from the camera, be in focus while the rest of the picture isn’t.

And fake tilt-shift is a very simple (but hard to do right) Photoshop technique that simulates tilt-shift with a simple blur filter and transforms landscapes into miniature models (even though, to be precise, it doesn’t have anything to do with tilt-shift if the part of the picture that’s focused is horizontal). That kind of images has been very popular last year on the internets, with interesting applications to video (thanks to Photoshop Extended, I assume, even though you probably could have done it in After Effects).

So, a blur filter — it can’t be very hard to make an iPhone application that applies it to your cameraphone pictures, then, and it’s got to give interesting results, right?

Well, wrong, and wrong.

The first problem is how the application is developed: while the interface for defining which zone of your image will be in focus (either an ellipse or a straight segment) uses the touch-screen pretty well, the interface for choosing a picture is stupid — you first have to display the list of demo pictures included in the application, then choose to access the camera or photo library (maybe because the developer was well aware you wouldn’t want to use it on your own pictures more than a couple times). And, if you use the camera from within the application, it somehow crops your picture to a square, even though it’s perfectly able to load your photos from the library. How do you sell an app that’s got such a stupid bug?

But it’s all moot anyway, for a very simple reason: the iPhone’s camera is crap. The whole point of CameraBag is that it applies downgrading filters that make your photos look better; applying TiltShift to your photo, on the other hand, only emphasizes how bad they are — because most of the picture is blurry, it makes it all the more noticeable that the sharp parts aren’t that sharp, and there’s a lot of pixel noise.

Plus, the whole fake-miniature aspect of photoshopped tilt-shift pictures involves more than just blurring — oversaturating the colors, and sharpening the picture a bit — which the application doesn’t bother with, because those algorithms are more complicated than a simple gaussian blur. (Not that you use gaussian blur for that in Photoshop; there’s a filter for faking depth of field, and it’s called lens blur, appropriately enough.)

I’d say you could download TiltShift as a novelty if it was free, but it’s not, and it’s definitely not worth the purchase.

 

Before:

After (loaded from the photo roll, otherwise it’d be cropped like the photo shown before):

Maybe it looks better with a very well-lit summer picture, but then I don’t live in the Tropics.

21 January

RAM-Shaped USB Flash Drive

I love the idea; too bad the production values aren’t higher.

22 January

Smart Packaging « Augmented Reality Blog

The Danish toy manufacturer will test launch its “DIGITAL BOX” in selected toyshops and LEGO® stores worldwide. This interactive terminal will utilize innovative technology supplied by metaio.

That’s the first really clever and useful implementation of augmented reality, and it’s tied with Lego for bonus cool points.

24 January

Yeah, “retweeting” is fucking stupid.

26 January

ClickToFlash

Flashblock is the single most important Firefox extension on my system; it’s taken way too long for Safari to get its equivalent plugin, but what matters is that it finally got there. Hallelujah.

By the way, if you’re a web developer, you should make sure you website doesn’t break on a browser that has Flash but disables it on page load.

27 January

Je suis preneur d’idées d’application iPhone. Je suis prêt à partager une infime partie du gigantesque pactole.

28 January

Prevent iTunes from auto-launching when you connect your iPhone

My iPhone is synced with two Macs — one for the music library, the other for contacts and photos. So I often have to plug my iPhone to my iMac in order to import my photos into iPhoto, but it also opens iTunes automatically, which is annoying because my iMac is a G5 with 1GB of RAM, and it takes long enough already for iPhoto to launch without having to also watch the iTunes icon bounce in my dock.

In theory, it’s pretty simple to have iTunes not launch automatically when you plug your iPhone: just uncheck the “Automatically sync when this iPhone is connected” box on the page that iTunes displays when your phone is plugged in.

But there’s a catch: if you’ve started with checking the “Disable automatic syncing for iPhones and iPods” box in the application’s global Preferences dialog, then “Automatically sync this iPhone” looks unchecked on the summary page, even though it’s not. It’s disabled, and seems to be empty, and the iPhone indeed doesn’t sync, but it’s not disabled all the way. You have to temporarily uncheck the global “Disable automatic syncing” preference, which will re-enable the iPhone’s checkbox and show that it’s actually checked; uncheck it, click “Apply,” and re-check the global preference if you feel like it (not that I would expect it to make a difference, but evidently you can never know). Now iTunes doesn’t auto-launch anymore. Filed under: stupid bug.

 

And why do I not want to sync my contacts and calendar every time I plug my iPhone into my iMac? Simply because multiple-computer sync isn’t the most tested user scenario in Apple quality control; there was one point when connecting my iPhone to the iMac would start erasing all applications from the phone (because they weren’t installed on this instance of iTunes). It was rather easily fixed by disabling “Sync applications,” but the point is that I have to be pretty attentive to what iTunes is doing, so I only want it to start syncing when I tell it to. Then I don’t let the iTunes progress window out of my sight until it’s done — always ready to grab my iPhone and cancel the sync at any time if something doesn’t look right.

 

By the way: I really don’t like that there’s a program called iTunes Helper that starts on login and is always running just so that it can detect when an iPod or iPhone is plugged in. What with my Mac being a G5 with 1GB of RAM, as I mentioned earlier.

 

P.S. Oh, the fucking morons. It looks like the “Automatically sync” preference is stored on the device — i.e., if I uncheck it on the iMac, the iPhone also stops auto-syncing on the Mini. And, if I enable it again on the Mini (which I want to, because I sync my podcasts every time I go out), iTunes auto-launches again on the iMac. Who on Earth could decide that would made sense?

Did I ever tell you how much I hate the engineering team in charge of iTunes?

QuadCamera (iPhone)

Here’s another of those great applications that make the best out of the iPhone’s camera: this one applies the same kind of filter to your image as CameraBag does (in the “Helga” or “Lolo” settings), with a new addition: it doesn’t stop with reproducing the Lomo look of the picture, but emulates the multiple-lens ActionSampler cameras, which take a timed series of several small pictures on a single filmroll exposure.

I’m not very fond of the application’s interface — the shutter button is needlessly small even though you should only have to touch the screen anywhere, and there is no visual feedback of when each snapshot is taken and when it’s done (the viewfinder keeps displaying the camera’s video long after the last exposure, while the application processes the image) — but the images look cool, and you can change the number of frames on each picture (I left it on four because it’s the classic choice) or the delay between each shot. Definitely worth the purchase.

I’m really surprised this application(and others such as Darkroom, which activates the camera continually and takes a snapshot when your hand is still) has managed to pass App Store moderation: this is fundamentally the same thing as capturing live video, and I’m pretty certain there is no way to achieve that without calling private API functions.

But I guess the Store moderators don’t know that, and their checklist of forbidden functionalities only mentions “capturing video.”

Or they just thought QuadCamera was cool.

Why do people want to retweet anyway when there’s favoriting? Is Twitterific responsible, with its non-functional favorite button?

29 January

Combien d’heures j’attends encore pour décider que le DVD d’iLife que j’ai acheté 100% légalement ne comtient pas de trojan ? C’est dur !

Je ne devrais peut-être pas être si pressé de passer à iPhoto ‘09 sur mon iMac G5 1Go.

Apple Pipboy?

Do you realize that, in a secluded lab on the Apple campus, there are a couple engineers playtesting an iPhone that wraps around your wrist?

30 January

Damnit, Intego still hasn’t announced how to find out whether your legally-purchased iLife ‘09 DVD includes a trojan.

Disappointed by iPhoto’s Places. Why can’t I just simply place my photos on a map? I don’t want to create named, bookmarked places.

31 January

“Double clicking a user’s avatar in Twitterific 3.2 takes you to their Twitter page.” Gee, no way? And maybe favorites work now, too?

What do you know, favorites do work. (With absolutely no UI acknowledgment, of course, what do you expect.)

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