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 March 2009

My first OS X application™

Okay, time to go live with my latest waste of time: I’ve finally found the courage to dive into Cocoa and Objective-C and learn how to get rich by making iPhone applications. After I programmed my first mobile web browser (for Web Is Pink), I got frustrated with waiting to have enough money to register as an iPhone developer (well, that costs one week’s worth of food!) and decided to move back to the Mac and tackle an old idea I’d had for a while: make my own Quicksilver.

I know, right? Why make something new and unique when you can rewrite from scratch an existing application that hundreds of thousands of people rely on, knowing that I’ll never be able to replicate its entire functionality and people will never switch?

Well, you know what they say: scratch your own itch. Do something that you wish existed. And I wish there was a more streamlined Quicksilver on my Mac. Plus, it’s as good a way to learn Cocoa as any.

So here it is: the first public release of my own Quicksilver, with more graphics, less functionality, but also different design choices that I think make more sense (because it’s always easier when you’re starting out with a complete functional design in your head rather than adding bits and plugins as you go along). It works, I’ve been using it instead of Quicksilver for a few days, and it doesn’t seem to leak.

Download and more information.

 

Oh, by the way, I’ve also found (or been given) the perfect idea for my first iPhone app. It’s not going to be very productive, but it’ll be pretty, and a bit fun. More teasing later.

I’d like to point out that I fucking love Safari 4 for letting me search for text in textareas.

Why Windows Mobile 6.5’s honeycomb menu is not just a “glorified grid”

That’s a pretty good point… but it still looks stupid. (Actually, it would look better with circles.)

Hrm. Photoshop didn’t use to crash before I changed my RAM sticks.

Always Innovating launching touch-screen Netbook

The product will be $299 without the keyboard, $399 with. It ships this spring, but you can preorder now.” In the grand scheme of things, it’s just a tablet with an external keyboard, but that’s a cheap tablet (can I haz hackintosh?) and the design is nice — the first post I saw today was a 3D render, and I thought it was a mockup that would never see the light of day.

3 March

Flock Ditching Firefox, Moving To Google Chrome

As to why Flock is leaving Mozilla: sources say that they’ve become frustrated with Mozilla’s lack of attention to Flock’s needs. ” I hope the sources are inaccurate, because that wouldn’t make sense — what would they expect from Mozilla? But then, Flock’s business unplan never made sense either.

The Apple Store is up

Mobile GeForce in all computers, even the Mini, at least. But we’re back to one euro = one dollar? That’s an expensive Mini.

Apple Keyboard

The new Apple Keyboard features the compact design of the Wireless Keyboard” Whaa? Well, beyond the initial surprise (and the fact that it’s the default on new iMacs), it makes sense in Apple’s tradition — but if you’re gonna make variations, where’s the wireless keyboard with numeric keypad?

The Backs Of Some New Computers

And the mini DOES have five USB ports in EXACTLY the spot that everyone said it wouldn’t.” Goes to show that Photoshop forensics experts can prove anything and its opposite nowadays.

Google Tasks standalone interface

With keyboard navigation and all. Yay! I can remove that ugly thing from the bottom of my Gmail page.

4 March

Borange, by the creator of Tweetie

The app is U.S.-only (with good reason), but I’m always interested to know more about the developers of applications I really like, and this screencast doesn’t disappoint. Borange!

Kindle for iPhone

U.S.-only as well. I can order any American book from amazon.fr; why not e-books?

Zen Bound (iPhone)

If you’re only going to buy one application for your iPhone or iPod touch, it’s got to be this one (at least until I release my own) — because this is something that couldn’t be done in a web app, and it couldn’t be done on your computer screen (actually, it’s adapted from a freeware PC game, but there’s no comparison in the way you play it), and it’s a perfect use of both touch and tilt controls that isn’t a gimmick.

When you read the description, you’ll think it’s just the kind of pretty thing that one has to download just to play once, and to show every friend who doesn’t have an iPhone: there’s a crude wood or stone sculpture in the middle of your screen, and a rope tied to it, and you have to wrap the rope around the sculpture by rotating it. Uh… yeah. (Incidentally, the PC game was originally called “Zen Bondage” but I think I read that the App Store refused found it inappropriate.)

But there are two reasons why you won’t be able to put the game down: First, the art is superb (it’s definitely the most beautiful game on iPhone, even though the 3D models are pretty simple — it’s all about textures and lighting) and the music and sound effects are great (the game starts by saying “designed for headphones,” and it’s absolutely worth plugging them in). Second, the gameplay is the kind with extremely simple rules that develops into complex puzzles that you won’t be able to let go of until you win. I started my first game just before I was going to bed, and ended up sleeping two hours later than I intended. (Fortunately, 3D games drain the battery fast enough that you won’t be able to waste your whole nights, or days, on Zen Bound.)

The good iPhone applications are all about programming to the strengths of the device, and this is exactly what it does. Absolutely worth every cent.

 

I can’t remember where was the video that made me buy it, but this one is good enough:

Now they need to make downloadable versions for the Wii and PS3.

iMac Air Hockey

Since the iMac’s glass panel is held on by fourteen magnets, and you can just use two industrial suction cups to pull it right off.” Excuse me, what?!

Facebook Redesigns Home Page — Again

Going live next Wednesday, Facebook takes yet another step into FriendFeed territory (which includes, but is not limited to, trying to knock Twitter off its perch) with a self-refreshing ajaxy home page that looks nice enough.

But then, I already can’t leave Facebook open too long because the Javascript chat seems to hog resources, so I’m a little bit afraid of what the fun scrolling news feed might do to Safari.

Thanks to updates to Facebook’s privacy settings, users will now also be able to follow others without having to become actual ’friends.’ This is basically the same ’friendship’ model that Twitter has implemented on its service.

I don’t know that I like that. That is, I know I don’t, but I’m not sure yet whether I’m right about it — feels to me like this is stepping a step too far in abandoning the Facebook “friend” model. (And it’s also going to wreak havoc with privacy settings: either your updates are public by default and people will complain that it’s stalkerish to let non-friends subscribe to your news feed, or they’ll be private and the feature will be utterly useless.)

5 March

Anyone got a good multiple-account Twitter app to recommend for the Mac?

Twimailer

Tired of shallow e-mails from Twitter when someone follows you? Want more information right in your inbox?” I wouldn’t want to add an intermediary between Twitter and me that might go boom at any point, but it’s a pretty clever idea.

6 March

Renaming feeds in Google Reader and unsubscribing from some. Stop giving cute titles to your blogs and just sign your name. (What?)

Suddenly I have six Twitter accounts.

Text to get smarter in Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard

I absolutely do not want OS X to replace “teh” with “the” when I decided I wanted to type “teh”; I’m interested however in the system providing TextExpander-like user-defined text replacements, because — like virtual desktops for example — that’s the kind of thing that only works really right when it’s done at the OS level. Although it’s going to be very annoying when you end up missing them in some random application that happens not to use CoreText services directly.

I’m a little surprised that they’d want to re-emphasize Services (by adding them in the contextual menu); at any rate, we’ll have to see how much slower it makes the right-click menus. Wonder how it could have taken so long for stuff like “Make Lower Case” to end up in the contextual menu, though.

And Data Detectors? Really? I thought Apple knew to abandon ideas when they turned out not to work; instead, they’re putting them everywhere, with a subtle highlighting that will necessarily end up being both too subtle and too distracting. Hope they can be disabled this time.

 

Oh wait, I forgot again — nobody’s asking for my opinion anyway, until I can afford an Intel Mac.

7 March

Extreme iPhone Photo Enlargements: A How-To Guide

True that iPhone+CameraBag looks as much like film as you could imagine. I’m changing the output resolution of CameraBag as we speak.

8 March

A peek at Apple’s new QuickTime X interface

Aw, shoot. I hate those fucking overlay controls.

10 March

Tweetie 1.3 rejected

Because there’s an offensive word in the [Twitter trends].” I know I shouldn’t want to give money to Apple to enter the App Store… I know I shouldn’t.

LaCie USB Drive “Keys”

I’m not sure how safe it is to leave bare USB ports dangling around on your keychain, but I like the design.

11 March

Fresh (OS X)

Fresh is another one-word application from the makers of Yep, Leap and Deep — that is, they’ve found yet another way to leverage Spotlight into helping your productivity in some way, shape or form that never really makes sense to me.

But this one is interesting, because it’s simpler: it just displays the n last opened or created files on your computer (where n depends on the size of your screen and nothing else, because you can’t resize the list). Yes, you could create a smart folder in the Finder, but who does that? And it wouldn’t open in the middle of your screen at the press of a shortcut.

Fresh also provides a “shelf” (which it calls the Cooler, because those developers are nothing if not dedicated to word play) where you can drop files you expect to need later, which enables you to clean your desktop a bit while keeping a pointer to the files you want to come back to.

And Fresh also offers an interface for adding Spotlight tags to any file you drag onto it, which has nothing to do with the rest of the application’s functionality except that it fits the general theme of helping you organize your files, and they’re evidently quite intent on popularizing OpenMeta (a Cocoa library they created that embeds tags into undocumented system-reserved Spotlight metadata fields so that they can be searchable).

The multiple concept is a bit messy, you can’t resize the icons, and the main window takes too long to fade in, but I like the clean interface and I’m interested in the idea, so I’m going to try using it for a while.

Besides, it’s the first application from Ironic Software that doesn’t take ten minutes to process what it wants to display when I launch it, so I’m a little curious to see what it’s like to actually use something they made.

The Apple Store is back up

And the iPod shuffle… has no buttons anymore. Apple caricaturing itself, hilarious. That’s right, why not add a $79 practical joke to the lineup? (Or maybe it’s an homage to His Steveness.)

If Apple is to license any technology to third parties, I’m surprised they don’t sell embeddable iPod shuffle functionality to headset manufacturers at this point.

Who’d have thought tinyurl clones would get so big in 2008/09… and keep operating with even less of a revenue model than Twitter.

12 March

Not Your Average iPhone Screencast

The developer of Tweetie releases an app to add some pizzazz to your iPhone screencasts. This guy is insane, I love him. (I believe it’s a guy?)

Apple releases iTunes 8.1 update

“With iTunes DJ, iPhone users that have Apple’s Remote application installed can request songs to be played. Users can also vote to control when songs are played. The DJ feature even has its own preferences, so you can send a welcome message to users and control whether voting is turned on or off.

There are still people in the iTunes or iPhone department capable of having awesome ideas.

iPhone OS 3.0 is coming, March 17th

Yee! Version 2.0 was the ability to run third-party apps; I’m curious to see what warrants a 3.0. Guess I’ll freeze my development effort until next week.

Here’s hoping we get a new home screen that lets users organize their apps better.

As for speculation, I don’t expect any kind of hardware announcement next week. The invitation wouldn’t be so specific. (Wait, I hadn’t seen this: “Get an advance preview”? That means no actual, downloadable update for a couple more months?)

Hands-on with the new Facebook home page

My Facebook account has switched to the new home page, and of course it doesn’t fucking remember which group of friends I want to see updates from, because of course I have to be interested in what every single of my contacts has to say.

And, speaking of groups, it looks like there still isn’t any way to just list the contacts that I haven’t tagged into a group yet. Which, you know, would be somewhat convenient if I were going to actually manage them. (But, yeah, it’s kinda moot since groups still aren’t of much use.)

I have this tingling sense that Facebook’s designers know how to make cool stuff, but are more and more losing track of what made Facebook take off in the first place — the actual social aspect. It seems to me that someone who wants to focus on “charting the social graph” ought to concern themselves with making it easy to differentiate between the friends I care about and those I accepted just out of politeness and don’t wanna read about; now that everybody and their mom are on Facebook, it’s a little bit more important to the users than being notified of what people rented on Netflix.

(I know some people have been saying that for a while, but I’m only getting there now. Unless I already posted a comment to the same effect before, in which case that means I felt that way and just forgot about it. That happens. I don’t care enough about Facebook to remember what I’ve thought about it yesterday.)

One nit: Although Facebook calls it the “real-time stream,” it doesn’t auto-update. You have to refresh the page to get the latest. But overall, this is a strong update for old guys like me who want their Web services simple. It puts your friends more in front of you than the old design did, and that’s what Facebook is really about.

What? Scratch the “they know how to make cool stuff,” then.

14 March

‘Facebook Connect’ Links iPhone Games to Facebook

Oh, Christ. (Actually, that’s kinda cool. iPhone games lack an Xbox Live-style hub, and Facebook is one of the few contenders in a position to provide that.)

It looks like Fire Eagle has improved its algorithms since last time.

The iPhone version of Who Has The Biggest Brain is 4 euros? Seriously?

15 March

ClickToFlash now automatically replaces YouTube players with QuickTime video — cool.

16 March

iPhone 3.0 Copy and Paste Described

IIRC, in the past year or so Kevin Rose got one rumor amazingly right and one completely wrong. This rumor makes a bit of sense but conflicts with Safari’s double-tap-to-zoom; at any rate, (a) people have been asking for it so much that nobody could complain about compromises, and (b) after the latest iPod shuffle all bets are off.

17 March

CameraBag keeps crashing and losing my pictures (though it’s supposed to have saved them). Definitely gonna make my own app.

Fuck iCalViewer. Free or not, no excuse for an application supposed to display events that skips some randomly.

iPhone 3.0

Well, that was boring. Not much of a surprise; I guess Apple doesn’t want to make a whole keynote about “iPhone OS 2.2,” so they’re padding the numbers like everybody else.

Kevin Rose was right on that one (except for the fact that everybody said not to expect MMS; I don’t know if he was the source for that, as I didn’t watch the video). The interface for copy-and-paste works, mostly; it’s a little annoying that you double-tap in text fields and tap-hold in web views, but I guess there’s little they could do about that. If you were still wondering, the fact that there wasn’t an identical tap-shortcut left available for both types of content views is evidence that they didn’t plan that from the start, and originally intended never to have copy and paste.

I’m waiting to see videos of the new Spotlight that “lives on the far side of all your apps” or whatever that was; the UI concept is scaring me a bit. Oh, right, that was a stupid misunderstanding. It’s funny that the most Pre-like new functionality sports huge rounded corners; not sure if that’s actually inspired by webOS or just the honest evolution of the Mac’s convention that search fields are rounded.

Speaking of Spotlight as an alternative to the Home screen for launching applications is a joke, however, on a device with no hardware keyboard. I can only pray that one of the unmentioned 1,000 new API hooks is the ability to list and launch installed applications, so that developers can finally make their own launchers. And that users can configure their iPhone to replace the Sprinboard with a custom app. Huh. Yeah, I don’t see that happening.

(I’m not sure if I — and all other Cocoa Touch bloggers — will be allowed to blog about the new API once the SDK is available for download; I think betas are still under NDA.)

 

Miscellaneous:

  • Actually, from a technical standpoint, you could argue that enabling access to third-party hardware accessories is almost big enough a change for the update to be worth the 3.0 moniker.

  • In-app downloads are a very good idea, but they won’t work if the minimum stays at $0.99, as it seems to on the examples.

  • I don’t particularly mind their excuse for not having enabled push notifications yet. It’s important, and you might as well wait to get it right from the start.

  • I’m not sure if citing the existing AIM client as an example of a background app draining the battery is disingenuous or just extreme.

  • Peer-to-peer (which is a rather misleading choice of a name) is a nice gimmick but won’t be that useful in real life, beyond exchanging electronic business cards.

  • Can’t imagine a reason why they’d enable all sorts of Bluetooth communication, but still offer no system-level keyboard support. At this point it’s a bit psychotic.

  • I wish they had announced some kind of revamping of the approval process. Even just symbolically.

18 March

Oh, I can’t even view the documentation for the 3.0 SDK until I’ve paid the $99 entrance fee.

You’ve got to be kidding me.

Bingo

Stage left, the iPhone 0S 3.0 update enables everything and the kitchen sink over Bluetooth… except for keyboards. Which can’t be harder to program for (or more of a battery hog) than stereo wireless headphones.

Stage right, Apple is going to announce a new iPhone this June, and needs it to offer some kind of new functionality that existing users and potential switchers will drool over — while avoiding segmentation of the hardware/software platform as long as possible (which makes new screen sizes, or improved processor speed, impractical).

In the middle, the Palm Pre.

Bingo.

I’d almost take bets on that one, and that’s saying a lot.

19 March

“Safari hacked in seconds; IE8 & Firefox fall soon after”

Why exactly don’t browser makers organize a “Pwn2Own” every month or so to weed out as many vulnerabilities as possible?

20 March

CSS scrollbars in Safari

Nice flashback to Internet Explorer circa 1999. I have to try putting iPhone-like scrollbars on inline divs and textareas, though.

Your message has been sent. Undo?

Google is launching a GMail Labs feature called “Undo Send,” that lets you abort the sending of any GMail message–if you use it within five seconds.

I’m enabling this on my account right now (under the assumption that Google looks at how many people adopt any given Labs feature and uses that information somehow).

This is genius UI design: functionally, it’s exactly the same as having a dialog pop-up to ask “Do you really want to send this message?” and auto-accept after a few seconds. But, as far as the user’s perception is concerned, it’s the polar opposite: instead of being an obnoxious Clippy the Paperclip, you just execute the action like the good computer that you are, but leave a small window of opportunity for the user to scream “Oh shit I didn’t mean to!” and undo.

Not sure who invented this first and I don’t care (I feel like I’ve seen something like this before); all I know is that every single developer in the world needs to look at this very tiny bit of functionality and rethink their worldview around it.

 

P.S. Forgot to mention: of course, it doesn’t belong in Labs.

“Chrome only browser left standing after day one of Pwn2Own”

a victory that security researchers attribute to its innovative sandbox feature.

Nicely done. Maybe that’s what Apple should copy for the next version of Safari.

“Source: Apple’s next-gen iPhone has video camera”

Just like I think the omission of Bluetooth keyboards in the OS 3.0 keynote is an indication that something key-shaped is in the near future for the iPhone, you can’t dismiss the idea that, if the 3.0 beta mentions movies somewhere and it wasn’t talked about on Tuesday, there has to be something brewing.

It’s hard to imagine how Apple could justify that video capture wouldn’t be enabled on existing iPhones — what I’m seeing in the Camera application’s virtual viewfinder is video, after all, right? Unfortunately, there is one possibility: if the new iPhone has a much faster CPU, then Apple can say that it is required to compress mp4 videos with adequate picture quality, and that they didn’t want to allow for anything less. It would still be bullshit, as I would much rather be able to capture 15-frame-per-second poorly-compressed low-resolution videos (like the lowest-end mobile phone is able to) than have to upgrade my iPhone (no matter how much I’m actually going to want to, anyway), but it’s something you can just see Apple saying.

I used to think that they should want to delay as much as possible segmenting the hardware platform with the introduction of a more powerful chipset, but I’m changing my mind right now: if there’s a way Apple’s own applications can leverage the new processing power, then it does make sense. And transforming the iPhone into a Flip Mino would certainly be a good reason to go there.

 

By the way, I’ve realized today that there was another possible explanation to the lack of announced support for Bluetooth keyboards: if Apple intended to launch its own wireless keyboard in June, they’d just as well not talk about software support in order to keep the advantage of surprise over third-party manufacturers.

But I’m still thinking (and/or hoping) that they’re about to launch a model with a slide-out keyboard, either Pre- or G1-style. By finally, reluctantly implementing copy-and-paste, they’ve shown that they’re motivated to do what it takes to conquer the world. They started with a single model to minimize costs and simplify the marketing process, but now that the iPhone’s been launched and very well received it’s just the right time to introduce a variant with a keyboard.

23 March

“We made it easy to add yourself to wefollow.com.” Oh, and spam your followers and add ourselves to your stream, too.

I think I’m gonna decide to unfollow anyone who consistently hashtags all their tweets.

“Labeling Backup DVD/CDs”

After burning the disc, I suggest you don’t label it. ” I always hesitate before putting the marker down onto the disc (yet always end up doing it). “Yes, the CD could become disassociated with the [labeled] sleeve or case, but if that happens, I just need a second to read the disc to see what it contains.” Valid point.

You’re… kidding?

 

Oh, come on.

“Vuze Makes Torrenting Video Even Better With Easy Conversion and Streaming”

Not sure why Mac users aren’t allowed to stream to an Xbox 360, but the transcoding part is pretty cool. Not going to make me switch back, though.

24 March

“Twitter Starts Serving Ads For Third Party Apps”

As much as I love Tweetie and have grown to utterly loathe Twitterific, I think it deserves a spot there as an acknowledgment of how much it contributed to Twitter’s impact on the Mac geek community — and, indirectly, the worrrldd! — two years ago.

25 March

Wacom Intuos4

Ooh, OLED screens. Want.

26 March

Geez, apple.developer.com disconnects me faster than my bank does. What the hell are they afraid of?

27 March

There’s something really uncomfortable about @’ing a high-profile Twitter user, and the randomness of whether they might read and answer.

“Survive the New, New Facebook”

One thing you can do — which isn’t immediately obvious — is make any of these friend groups your default. To do that, just drag the list you want as default to the top of the list of groups on the left of your homepage.

Ooh, much better then. (Yeah, definitely not obvious.)

I’m not sure it’s actually possible to make an iPhone photography app that doesn’t crash once in a while.

28 March

Am I misunderstanding something, or is NSInvocationOperation fucking awesome magical the bee’s knees yay?

31 March

“Twitter: Replies Are Now Mentions”

That is, Twitter now recognizes when someone @’s you in the middle of a tweet. That was super complicated and it only took them eight years to figure it out, so mad props to Twitter here.

Tweecious takes your erroneous use of Twitter to post links and puts them where they belong. So it’s for double-morons who do have a Delicious account yet still insist on polluting their Twitter feed with a stream of tinyurls.

And, yeah, I realize it’s really Delicious’s fault for not catching up with Twitter’s feature set. (As limited as that is.)

I’ve given in and bought Ego for iPhone because it’s pretty, it promises hundreds of visitors on my blog daily, and it now supports Google Analytics.

If you post a comment on one of my blogs, you can now receive e-mail notifications when someone sends a reply. I get the feeling that, in the days of Google Reader and Twitter, that’s the only way you can get a blog’s comment thread to have some semblance of life anymore, since nobody views comment counts anymore.

I can’t believe there still isn’t a simple, widely adopted way for RSS readers to display them, by the way.

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