Tag Archives: Mac

Apple's Future is Exciting

Sayeth Steve Jobs:

You know, there’s a porn store for Android. Anyone can download them. You can, your kids can. That’s just not a place we want to go.

But then, there’s this:

What is that? It’s the Porn Store for iPhone, aka “The App Store.” Get real. Apples doesn’t want you to run Apps because they want full control of the revenue the iPhone generates downstream. That’s it. It’s not about privacy, it’s not about children, it’s not about anything other than corporate strategy. And I predict it WILL come back to bite Apple in the butt.

Then there’s the now infamous section of the iPhone 4.0 SDK that bans the use of non-native apps on the iPhone.  But let’s get real, shall we? As Gruber said, this is about only one thing: once the apps are portable, the device lock-in is compromised.  It’s not about multi-tasking, although, there’s probably truth in that, it’s not about new APIs, although, there’s probably truth in that too.  But it’s about corporate strategy: keep people on Apple products in the Apple ecosystem.

Let’s not forget that Adobe has built its CS5 master suite with a new feature it’s been proudly touting: the ability to compile Flash apps as iPhone binaries.  So they are the ones with egg on their face since that feature is simply pointless now.

If I were Adobe, after the peak of sales after the release of CS5, I’d announce that it’s the last Adobe suite to be released for Mac.  No more Photoshop, no more Lightroom, no more Illustrator.  Maybe even cut off Adobe Air.  You could pretty rapidly destroy the enterprise presence for Apple, as people decide if they want to keep working on Macs, given the lack of true enterprise quality tools.   It would be an interesting corporate strategy. (Update: They say nope.)

If I were Apple, I wouldn’t worry too much.  Businesses are now a small subset of Apple users, who are, more and more, college students and home users.  And those users would rather buy iWork, and maybe a few more apps Apple wasn’t producing (such as Office or Pixelmator).  No big loss, right? Or is it…?

Once Apple loses the “it’s better for graphics” thing, then it might be labelled “not for serious work.”  Microsoft runs some ads pushing a new image: Macs are okay for home use, but you need Windows to do any real work.  And then “real workers” start switching back to Windows at home.  Maybe.  But it would make for a grand corporate strategy.

It’s interesting that once again, the computing landscape is full of action.  I can’t wait to see how Apple behaves in the next few years.  It may well deliver some of the best software ever.  Then again, soon enough, I might be using Windows 8, an Android phone, and an HP Slate. Either way, the future is exciting.

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How Apple Can Win Me Back

At Kroc’s request, I’m compiling a list of what Apple will have to do to win me back.  It’s not a long list, and it may not be exhaustive (meaning I may arbitrarily add more to it), but here goes:

  1. It’s time to regulate App Store approval process.  Consistency and transparency needs to be key.  I’m a web developer and I participate in the tech community.  To see Cocoa developers get screwed after spending all their time, energy, and capital writing an app only to be unceremoniously, silently rejected with no explanation is to see pure evil.  This is pretty much my main request.
  2. However, I’m tired of the iPhone being shackled.  Unlike Eugenia, I don’t have specific requests like enabling EDGE on Pay-As-You-Go phones, but I’m tired of the iPhone being a closed platform.  I do not believe in “it’s Apple’s playground, if you don’t like it, go somewhere else.”  It’s my device. I bought it, I own it.  I want to theme my phone.  I want to run background apps.  And I sure as hell don’t need Apple telling me which apps are not suitable for me to run (outside of those that actually do harm to my phone and/or me, e.g. malware, spyware). It’s time to open the private APIs to the public, duplicate functionality or not.

That’s it.  I maintain that OS X is the best desktop environment today.  I *love* my Mac and I love how integrated and “at home” I feel with it.  I don’t want to give it up.  I certainly don’t want to go back to Vista (although 7 is nice so far) or start running Ubuntu or Fedora on my iMac.

I think OS X/iLife and the iTunes/iPhone combos are awesome.    I think the Cocoa frameworks are just genius, and they inspire programmers to write beautiful and slick applications rapidly.  I want Apple to do the right thing.

Just for comparison, I have nothing but warm feelings about Amazon.com, despite some issues people have had with them. See how Jeff Bezos stepped up and took personal responsibility for a recent fiasco.  That’s how a CEO should behave.  A big company I respect.  I trust and respect Google.  But Apple leaves me with a metallic taste in my mouth that I know isn’t good.

I hope things change, but I’m not holding my breath.  Then again, stranger things have happened.

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Features I’d Like to See in iPhone OS 4.0

So here’s the day: WWDC 2009 keynote, and we’re discussing iPhone OS 3.0.  But there are still some major things I think are missing from the iPhone.  Here they are, in no particular order:

Wireless Sync
Apple is the king of “no wires.”  They did everything wireless first.  But the iPhone still needs a wire to sync.  They have the perfect syncing technology already: Bluetooth.  Why not permit syncing over Bluetooth? I don’t any limitations on why you can’t sync over wifi, let alone Bluetooth.  This seems like a no-brainer.
New Springboard
How we’ve made it to 3.0 without a better way to manage our apps, without even folders, is a mystery. It’s imperative, especially as iPhone owners install more and more apps, that there is a better way to manage and access apps. It’s time for a re-thought Springboard.
File Management
Seems awfully odd that I carry 8GB of disk space on my hip but can’t carry a single document without emailing it to myself.  It’s time to permit some storage of files on the device.  Older iPods allowed “disk use,” why can’t the iPhone? And if not, at least a manner of loading the files through iTunes would be appreciated.
Background Apps
The chants have been loud and plentiful. We want to run apps in the background. It’s not fair to say it will chip into battery life: we understand that. Let us run down our own devices as we wish, okay?
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Picasa for Mac Beta Arrives!

Last night, after several years of waiting, the beta version of Picasa for Mac was released. I’ve only had a short time to tinker with it thus far, but in short: so far, so good.

Picasa for Mac (beta)

Picasa is tightly bound to Picasa Web Albums, the first 1GB of which is also free, in contrast with Apple’s MobileMe, which runs $99/year.  In addition, in my experience, Picasa Web, while it has its drawbacks to be certain, worked pretty much everywhere, whereas I’ve had problems getting MobileMe’s photo gallery to work properly.  

I’ve chronicled my wish for Picasa for Mac for about 3 years now.  As you can see, the post continues to receive comments and remains, to this day, one of the most visited entries on my site. Clearly, there is demand for this product.

What I believe makes Picasa such a successful product is just how powerful it is. Although iPhoto works very well on the Mac and the iLife integration across applications is priceless, the fact remains that for serious editing and effects, the Mac user must venture outside of iPhoto. Picasa, on the other hand, has an entire suite of tools for photo finishing. Furthermore, Picasa features Google’s search tool, a bevy of organization tools, a plugin system using “buttons,” out-of-the-box integration with Gmail, Blogger, Picasa Web Albums, and the ability to make collages, movies, and more. In fact, there is little doubt that Picasa is a much more robust application that iPhoto.

There are some missing features in this beta: Geotagging didn’t make the cut, nor did webcam capture, screen capture, and screensaver. Also missing are the ability to order prints, an HTML export, and the fantastic Picasa Photo Viewer. Most of these features are certainly tied tighter into the OS, and while they will be missed, they are by no means deal-breakers.

I noticed the menus in Picasa for Mac are very “Windows-y.”  The menu bar still has a “File/Edit/View/Tools” bar across the top, which is decidedly “un-Mac-like,” although the preferences window does use the current Mac look and feel.  

What remains to be seen is whether or not Picasa is stable, whether or not it’s fast, and whether or not it can handle large photo libraries. I know people with well over 15,000 photos in their iPhoto collection, and the application is solid. Since Picasa doesn’t store it’s own library, but rather, merely catalogs photos elsewhere on your disk, we’ll have to see whether this translates into a performance advantage or disadvantage. It remains to be seen if Picasa for Mac can go toe-to-toe with more mature, native solutions. That said, count me in as one of the many waiting to find out.

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Who Knew that iTunes was so cool?

Perhaps it was just me, but I had no idea how cool iTunes was until last night.  I’ve used iTunes exclusively for my master music collection for about 5 years now, and, in that time, I’ve been very focused with my music collection.  I can’t say the same for my video collection.   Only recently, as I began working with my AppleTV, did I actually allow video into my iTunes library.  

However, I’ve got a brilliant combination working now.  iSquint, the gorgeous free video editor, converts my files into high quality mp4/m4v files and adds them to iTunes.  iTunes then pushes them to my AppleTV.   It’s incredible to tell iSquint to covert several dozen videos and then the next morning they are waiting on my AppleTV. 

In the meantime, I just discovered something on iTunes that I hadn’t realized existed.  I went into the overcrowded “Movies” section of my iTunes library and found that you can convert “Movies” to “TV Shows.” Here’s the best part, by filling in the metadata – by adding the TV show title, the season, the episode, iTunes will properly group and organize them.  Whereas before, I had a huge section of movies, randomly plunked down in the same view, now I have a view of many logically grouped subsets, much the way iTunes handles artists and albums in grid view.  

 Furthermore, AppleTV obeys the organization as well! Instead of a silly, long list of movies, I go to TV Shows and then drill down by show, where they are sorted by season and episode.  

Using iTunes just got much better.  I had been thinking, lately, about how well music organization works in iTunes and how poorly video organization does.  I still think that’s the case – Videos are a mess.  But TV Shows and Music Videos work well.

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Install From Time Machine

I got my new iMac in late last week – the 24″ 3.06 Ghz aluminum one with 4GB RAM – and it *is* sweet.  I’ve set up a Mac fresh, I’ve set up a machine using the Migration Assistant, and I’ve used target disk mode, but I’ve not yet had the chance to rebuild from a time machine backup.  Did it work?

Suffice it to say it was incredible.  Using just my external hard drive, it read my backup, asked me what I wanted to restore (it found 4 things: Users, Network Settings, Applications, and “Files and Folders”).  I checked them all.  After a few simple questions, it told me that it would take just shy of 4 hours to complete.   Surprisingly, it was done a scant 150 minutes later.  When I booted up, I was amazed. Not only did everything come over, it was almost as if it was my exact machine.  Barely a noticeable difference, save speed and size.  

A few things slipped by, for example, I had changed /System/Library/CoreServices/DefaultDesktop.jpg to a custom image, which it did not preserve.  I had changed some system icons, and those new icons did not preseve, but, for example, my external time machine drive had a custom icon, and it did remain.  The new install also required many updates I had already applied to my old OS X installation. 


Time Machine Restore: Incroyable!

Time Machine Restore: Incroyable!

All in all, though, I’ve never seen a smoother or faster migration.  The power of UNIX – everything living in predictable directories and segregated into “Library” folders, means that both backing up and restoring have a power that the Windows Registry simply can’t match.  In fact, in wading through all of this, it has a severe handicap when it comes to system migration due to the fact that data is mashed into so many inconsistent places.  

Apple has pissed me off quite a bit recently.  But – oh boy! – did they re-energize me with this one!

Update: worth noting, here is a great article on restoring from a time machine backup.

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Apple Support

Today is NOT my day when it comes to Apple products.  I bought Mobile Me, the ridciulously overpriced service Apple offers, specificaly for its photo album capabilities, but I cannot activate it.  Although I am logged into iTunes using my AppleID, and I am registered with my iPhone, AppleTV, etc, for me.com, it says there is no such user.   So I figured that I could very quickly get this fixed by calling 1-800-MY-APPLE. 

But Apple offers no phone support for MobileMe.    When you dial and tell the comoputer you want to discuss “Mobile Me”, it says “Our support is now available online at me.com/help.  Thank you.  Goodbye.”  Then it promptly hangs up on you.  Fail. 

My solution? Call and just ram through any menu prompt until I get to an operator and force them to help me.  Apple support is generally pretty decent, but aside from the fact that Mobile Me is priced about 5 times too high, they have the audacity to provide no real manner of support other than the massively un-realtime web.  

Boo, Apple, boo!  You’ve let me down a lot recently.  I hope my new iMac makes me happy, or it may be my last Apple product (for awhile, at least).

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The Third Great Platform

First, there was the PC.
Then, there was the web.
Now, there is the iPhone.

At long last, the iPhone will become what it was destined to be. In June, when the iPhone 2.0 update is released, the iPhone’s true potential will be unlocked. VoIP? Sure, why not!? Games? You betcha. Exchange, ActiveSync, Remote Wipe, 802.1X? Check. How about access to the entire SDK via XCode, a compact framework (Cocoa Touch), a native emulator, and access to the SQLite databases present in the iPhone file system? Yup. Lastly, how about the most innovative platform in the last 20 years that has single handedly made the mobile web viable? Present and accounted for.

In fact, the iPhone is a new generation, and it’s been grunting along the sidelines as a gloried browser. But come iPhone 2.0, it will validate itself as one of the most amazing devices out there.

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Remembering Why I Mostly Hate Apple Users, Even Though I Am One

This week, I had to make a trip to the Apple store. My iPhone began growing some “bubbles” under the screen, so they swapped one out. I had also brought back a flaky Airport Extreme, but since I only made an appt for my iPhone, they told me I’d have to make another appointment for my Airport with the “Mac” team. Frustrated, I spoke to the store manager and got in via “standby” appointment. They didn’t have an AE in house, so I had to order one and go back this weekend. The people at the Apple store were nice, but the entire thing was a cluster. The Apple Store is always so crowded and chaotic and it’s hard to find someone to help you. Luckily, it turned out ok, and I got a new iPhone and a new Airport. I wanted to post, but then I remembered what happened in the past when I posted about Apple.

I wrote a piece for OSNews some time ago called “A Month With a Mac.” If you read it, it’s not really very negative – in fact, it’s mostly positive – but I eventually decided to stick with PC, predicting, accurately, I’d add, that I’d be a Mac user by 2005, which I was.

But after a little Google’ing today, I found this thread at MacSlash. I read it today, and almost immediately, I hate Mac extremists.

In my house, in the last 2 years, we’ve owned an iBook, a Macbook Pro, a 20″ iMac, a Macbook, an iPhone, an Airport Extreme, and three iPods. We’ve purchased iLife 08, a Leopard family pack, and several Mac apps including my favorite, Transmit. We have no operational PC’s in-house. But I swear, reading this pathetic crap makes me want to burn my Mac.

What a bunch of pricks? They think I made facts up – like the error message I received. They think that the first thing you do with a review unit is break the seal. Although I mistakenly referred to 10.1 merely as “OS X,” they don’t beleive I got the discs. It’s really pretty amazing to see a decent review get such incredible responses. Genius comments like this one (where I’m apparently gay) and this one (where I’m paid by Microsoft) and this one (I don’t care what he says, he’s absolutely 100% wrong) ought to embarrass the Mac community. But instead, they stay on their own board masturbating each other and growing insanely angry about what, in essence, is a decent review. Truly, they make me hate my Mac right now and they make me hate the elitist community.

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iPhone: 1 Month Later

I’ve now had the iPhone for over a month. Let me just come out and say it: there’s a reason this device has something like a 97% satisfaction rating. The thing is awesome. It’s easy to love it: it feels like Apple, it’s beautiful, it’s easy to use, it’s pretty first and utilitarian second. It really makes its competitors blush, particularly things like the Blackberry Pearl, which looks like an old terminal compared to a 24″ cinema display: it’s just not even comparable.

There are surely missing features: no Flash is one, no current SDK is a big one, no copy/paste is often cited (but not a big deal for me), no way to mass remove images from the camera without first importing them into iPhoto, no iChat, and a big ball buster is the crippled Bluetooth profiles (no send file? No send contact? C’mon apple!) But the two biggest for me are as follows:

* No voice dial.
This is just silly. If you truly store all of your contacts, it’s a REAL pain in the ass to call a random one. And secondly, what good is a headset if you have to fish the phone out of its holster to scroll to the contact first? There is no way to go hands free on this device, period. Lame!

But the biggest one is this:

* No MMS.
This is more and more unacceptable every day. No only can I not send someone a picture via text, as my friends do to each other ALL THE TIME, but should someone send one to me, I get a stupid message that says something like “Yu’ve received a multimedia message! Go to viewmymessage.com and type in code 12345678 and password r4ndDoMPaS5w0rdd and retrieve the worthless picture that was worth a glance on your phone, but is almost certainly not worth the work it will take to check it out online. By the way, even though you have a browser in your phone, we won’t provide you a link, making it virtually impossible to check this unless you happen to be in front of a computer right now, bitch.”

Apple, please make 1.1.2 or 1.2 worthwhile and add some of these features present on like EVERY PHONE MADE IN THE LAST 3 YEARS. Seriously.

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