It seems increasingly likely that versions of Google’s webapps will be a major feature of the iPhone, when it is finally released. At D5, Steve Jobs said it would be successful because it offers “the internet in your pocket”. And if that’s with a reasonably-priced unlimited data package, he just might be right.
Someone compared a Mac Plus with a brand-new Vista-running PC. And more than half the time, the Mac turned out to be the faster machine. That said, it wasn’t strictly a fair comparison; the Mac Plus wasn’t required to do any modern computing tasks, only those that it could reasonably have done back in the 1980s. So the more reasonable conclusion of this test isn’t “an old Mac Plus is faster than a brand new PC”, but “day-to-day computing tasks aren’t very much faster than they were, despite 25 years of hardware advances”. Or, as the article itself surmises: there’s been zero advance in productivity. Oh, and something else I learned from this article: Vista requires 15 GB of disk space to install itself in. Fifteen. Gigs.
EFF: Mystery data buried in iTunes Plus tracks. I can’t say it’s very surprising. Should people be bothered? Some people hate DRM, but some hate mysterious unidentified stuff even more. Expect outrage, bluster, and conspiracy theories. Not from me, though - I’m keeping an open mind.
Finally, a download snippet: Accelerando is a very interesting collection of Automator actions…
These two men have been working together for decades. In the early days, as both of them acknowledged during their joint interview, they were dependent on one another for their continued growth. Where some Mac and Windows users have divided themselves into warring camps, Jobs and Gates actually have quite a lot in common, and a long history in the business together.
And the best thing to see is that both of them have retained a sense of humor, despite their years as business rivals.
Gates: “First, I’d like to clarify, I am not Fake Steve Jobs.”
Jobs: “We’ve kept our marriage secret for over a decade now.”
And they can still appreciate each other’s strengths:
Gates: “I admire Steve’s taste. And that’s not a joke.”
Jobs: “If Apple could have had a bit of Microsoft’s knack for partnerships early on, we would have been better for it.”
So here it is, my first DRM-free purchase from the iTunes Store. A copy of “Life on Mars?” by David Bowie, from his fantastic album “Hunky Dory”.
Why did I buy it? I already own this album, but I bought it in the mid-80s, so my copy is on an old cassette. It still plays just fine on my tape deck, but I just don’t have the time or the inclination to go through the hassle of digitizing all my tapes (I have a lot of tapes). I’m happy to buy things again on CD, and I’m also happy to buy them online - just so long as I don’t have to be tied to DRM.
And along comes iTunes Plus and takes the DRM away. I bought this digital version so I can have it on my computer and my iPod, and I don’t have to worry about Authorizing various computers. I have a digital copy of the song that I own, and I can do whatever I like with it (within the limits of the law, of course). I much prefer this to the old DRM-laden way of doing things. I shall be purchasing some more, I think. Next stop: “Dark Side of the Moon”.
But for me, the most interesting thing I’ve noticed since the iTunes Plus announcement is the songs I’ve not purchased. I heard two songs on the radio this morning (“The World is Outside” by Ghosts, and “Beautiful Liar (Freemasons Radio Mix)” by Beyonce & Shakira) that I would have purchased immediately had they been available via iTunes Plus. But neither of them are.
Yesterday, during D 2007, Steve Jobs talked briefly about Apple TV. He described it as a “hobby” more than a real business, an exploration of a new space–a set top box for the Internet. Apple TV (like Joost) is trying to find a business model that supports Internet-sourced content.
We’re still waiting for high definition iTunes movies and TV shows, content that Jobs hinted might soon appear to take advantage of the newly announced $399 160 GB Apple TV units. (Current Apple TV units have 40 GB hard drives.) And we’ll soon be seeing h.264 YouTube content directly on Apple TV.
The part of Jobs’ interview that really caught my ears wasn’t directly about Apple TV but rather about OS X on the iPhone. Apple TV, as you might be aware, runs a very stripped down, compact version of OS X that occupies just a few hundred MB. It sounds like the iPhone is going to take that approach even further, stripping down smaller and adding the multi-touch UI. In some ways, you might say that Apple TV has acted as the pilot program for iPhone technology.
As for third party iPhone applications, Jobs talked about the iPhone UI limitations: no mice, no pull-down menus and so forth, the “very different UI on the phone”. To me, this was a hedge. Apple TV has a “very different” UI as well and it runs OS X applications very nicely, thank you. On the other hand, if you’re in a two year $80/month data contract, I think people will be far less likely to disembowel their iPhones quite so readily as they currently do their Apple TVs to gain access to the underlying OS.
This is the Zune. This is the Zune playing back iTunes’ Single of the Week. (Any questions?) Sounds great, just as filling (in fact, slightly more so because of the larger file size from the 256 kbps data rate). Overly large picture is after the jump…
Interesting new technology coming from Microsoft called “Surface”. I see some fairly obvious parallels with the iPhone and multi-touch specifically. Does this mean that Apple is licensing technology to Microsoft? Because presumably multi-touch is patented and owned by Apple.
UPDATE: Christoph Priebe has explained this payment system in much more detail. See the end of the post for his comments.
Posterino is one of the more interesting new apps I have had cause to write about in recent months. It’s like Pages for your photos, offering pre-packaged templates for turning photos into attractive posters, leaflets, cards and more.
One of the newer features is a built-in postcard sending service, where you design your card in Posterino, then with a simple payment it gets printed and posted for you automatically. No trip to the post office required.
What’s coolest of all is how you pay for this service. You can simply type your cell phone number into a box, to pay via your phone account. A confirmation SMS message will be sent to the phone number you enter (to prevent you entering the numbers of your enemies, obviously) and once replied to, your postcard is on its way. That’s assuming you have a cellphone contract with the right company, in the right country.
Actually, James is up to another interesting experiment: shareware sidegrades, which he offers not in a competitive way but in a very friendly manner.
Recently, the people at Sig Software stopped updating Drop Drawers. They have such a strong sense of responsibility, however, that they couldn’t leave
their users hanging in the air.
Instead, they have decided to team up with James and provide a sidegrade to DragThing:
Update: I corrected some grammatical errors and confusing expression with help from Chris Stone. Nothing substantial has changed, but it may have become easier to read. Update2: I corrected some of the quotes by James Thomson where I had misrepresented him.
Macintosh developers looking to increase user base might have something left to consider. As soon as you upload your software to MacUpdate or VersionTracker, people will find your creation and start downloading it. Those downloads will go on 24/7 because people not only from the US but from around the world will always be online. When it is midnight for the Californian, it is already 9am for Parisians and only 4pm for Tokyoites
But this will only happen if you design your software with internationalization in mind.
If Frédéric in Paris, اهمت (Ahmet) in Dubai and 一郎（Ichiro) in Tokyo realize that your software can’t display their name correctly, things would be a little bit different.
Imagine having your name displayed in ASCII code on your birthday card like this:
Happy Birthday, 4A4F484E!
That’s why internationalization is very important.
You can be successful focusing on the US market only. But if you internationalize your software, you can extend your reach and can enjoy even greater success. Plus, your self esteem would be much higher.
Let’s see what someone with that expertise has to say.
SSL Explorer 0.2.13 is a Java-based Open Source multiplatform application that lets you access resources behind an Intranet firewall through a secure web browser SSL (https) connection. The difference between using this product and a VPN is that no client side software or configuration other than a web browser is needed.
A new project at MacForge called BridgeSupport aims to make developing in languages other than Objective-C on Apple’s OS X easier. Objective-C is considered an excellent language and there is no reason not to develop in it but if you have to have a specific bit of perl, python, or ruby in your application, now you can use tools like BridgeSupport to help you get the job done.
BridgeSupport files are XML files which describe C code used on OS X and even some Objective-C class information. They are used in the RubyCocoa Objective-C bridge and are being ‘examined’ for the PyObjC bridge and CamelBones, which I blogged about earlier. Apparently Leopard will have a more complete implementation than what is available now for Tiger but one can kick the tires right now anyway.
Belkin’s TuneCommand AV offers a video dock with a somewhat iffy remote control. (To be frank, the remote control is completely unreliable and pretty much unusable.) I recently moved the dock to the playroom along with one of our older TVs so my kids could use it to watch the many hours of Spongebob and other kid shows I regularly load onto the iPod.
It’s an eye opening experience moving back to the iPod after you get used to Apple TV. Each time you want to change playlists, you’ve got to stand up, walk across the room and use the iPod menus to navigate to the item you want to use. Sure, this is great from a cardiovascular perspective, but otherwise it’s a real pain. I don’t want to have to keep getting up every time my miniscule attention span decides to pick another song or TV show to enjoy.
Also, you have to use the iPod–the *actual* iPod. If I want to watch Apple TV, all the content is already there. It synced itself, thank you very much. If the kids want to use the TuneCommand, they steal my physical iPod. That’s fine if I’m at my computer with iTunes. But when I want to go out walking or take some of the other family members in the car, it’s not such a great thing at all. They’re now regularly stealing my iPod and using it much more than I’m really comfortable with. And I’m not exactly thrilled with the idea of coughing up another $200 to buy an extra refurb 30G video iPod.
Meanwhile, Apple TV continues to deliver. We’ve stuck it in places that we can’t get cable and discovered that not only does it have excellent video access and control but that we enjoy the remote iTunes access a lot more than we ever expected to.
I’m kinda getting hooked on my Apple TV, even if I will never love it so much as I do my iPod.
When Electronic Musician magazine asked me to write a tips article about the Frontier Design AlphaTrack, I was intrigued by the challenge. What could I possibly say about a $200 USB volume slider? I composed the first line in my head before the box even arrived: A controller with just one fader? Isn’t that like a piano with just one key?
The Frontier AlphaTrack adds a motorized fader, transport controls, knobs, buttons, and a ribbon controller to your computer. It’s powered by USB.
The magazine cut that line, but I quickly answered my own question by plugging the AlphaTrack in to my Mac and sniffing its output with Snoize MIDI Monitor. Lots of possibilities there!
After almost a month of waiting, the post office delivered a bag of goodies to me today. I ordered these from Kai Domain, one of the two successor sites to the now defunct Fifth Unit. (The other site is DealExtreme.) Both sites carry more or less the same stuff, but there were a few items at Kai that caught my eye that DealExtreme didn’t offer. So I paid for my stuff back in April and waited until today for the order to arrive.
For $7.90, i ordered this small iPod compatible speaker. It plugs into the port at the bottom of the iPod. This allows my kids to watch the iPod or listen to music without putting on headphones, and allows me to put the iPod onto a counter without having to lug along a separate speaker and worry about using up batteries. The speaker uses the iPod’s power.
So far, it works exactly as promised. The sound is a bit tinny–which is what I expected–but it has excellent volume control and is loud enough to hear when I stick it into the handlebar bag on my bike. There are two small buttons on the front to raise and lower the volume.
Also in my goodie bag was this compact webcam. Although it’s listed as a supported webcam by Macam, and it gets recognized by the software, I only can see a large grey screen when I tried it on both my Intel Mac Mini and on my 733 G4. I’m not sure if I got a lemon or if there’s actually a problem with the driver. So as far as things go, that $8.99 gamble was a bust. Any suggestions for otherwise testing the video to determine if I got a bad unit will be appreciated.
To round things off, I picked up a bunch of invisible ink pens (my kids are going to love them) and keychain LEDs for a lot less than I normally pay for them at the dollar store. Both are working great and are a lot of fun.
Months after I bought and downloaded it, this weekend I finally sat down to watch In Search of the Valley, a documentary film by three British geeks who travelled to California to discover the soul of Silicon Valley.
The hour-long film includes some classic interviews with many famous names, most remarkably Jef Raskin, who spoke to the film crew not long before his death. It’s full of insights into Valley culture, presented with a particularly British slant and tongue defiantly in cheek. The final credits, during which Marc Canter sings an outrageous (but hilarious) blues songs about venture capitalism, is worth paying the money for alone.
There’s also plenty in this film for Mac users and enthusiasts to enjoy, not least the many opinions of, and stories about, Steve Jobs and the way he deals with people.
For more details about the evolution and production of the film, read director Steve O’Hear’s interview at Read/Write Web. You can buy a DRM-free copy of In Search of the Valley online for just eight bucks (that’s four of your Earth pounds), and in my opinion that’s excellent value for money.
Matt’s latest idea is to create a plain text wiki bundle for TextMate. Once installed, it allows you to specify a new, empty directory and to fill it with plain .txt files. Any JoinedUpWords you create in those files become clickable links to new files - an instant hypertext, with the emphasis on text.
Why did Matt do this? Because he likes the wiki way of thinking and is a fan of VoodooPad, but prefers to keep his data in a non-proprietary format:
I’ve had computers long enough to know that I want my data in a format used by many, many applications over many, many years. So I use VoodooPad for arranging and notes I don’t need to keep, and make sure my final presentation notes also exist as text files.
I think that’s a sentiment that a lot of experienced computer users will share. (No criticism of VoodooPad intended, by the way - it’s a widely admired application and deservedly so. I’m sure Matt Webb feels the same way about it.)
So far his bundle is very light on features, but it does the bare minimum you would want or expect. It’s text, and it’s hyperlinked. Fantastic.
MacFusion is a Mac OS X Open Source project that puts a useful and useable graphical interface on Google’s MacFuse (Mac File-system in USErspace). It lets you easily use MacFuse to, for example, mount and use user spaces available via ssh, ftp, WebDAV and other FUSE supported file systems as a virtual disk file system. read more
Asthma Logbook X is a Mac OS X freeware that can help people track Asthma related information. It can import data from a couple of Palm OS databases to let you log information on the go. The current version (1.1.1) was released on March 30.
I have no idea what SF Mac ISV is. I wouldn’t know one if I tripped over one. However, independent developers may want to check out their planned WWDC get-together for Sunday, the 10th of June. The soirée runs from 5:30 to 8:30 PM with food and drink, allowing small companies and independent developers to network. The sfMacISV webpage is sparse on details but it looks like the event will be free for the first 50 developers to register and $20 thereafter. For more info, contact Chuck Soper via this RSVP page. And if anyone has any further information about who these people are, please feel free to drop a note into the comments.
If you haven’t cruised over to the Apple Store, head over there and look at the specs of the updated MacBook line. When I bought my MacBook last year, US$1299 got you a 2GHz Core Duo, 512MB RAM and a 60GB hard drive (I bumped the RAM in my to 1GB). The new $1299 MacBook has a 2.16GHz Core 2 Duo, 1GB RAM, and a 120GB hard drive (nice…).
A while back some site or another started giving away free Mac applications, one a day. I downloaded a bunch of them thinking that they’d give me some good blog fodder at some point. Today I trashed pretty much all of them, most of them before I ever got around to installing them.
Here’s the thing about free applications. Unless you have an absolute use for them, unless there’s a compelling reason to install and test them out, they sit around taking up disk space. And they add clutter to the system, making it harder to find important files that you want to keep.
MacDailyNew reports that Forrester Research is betting that video downloads don’t have a future. Although they suggest that paid video downloads will increase this year, generating about a third of a billion dollars in revenue, they’re predicting that this market will evaporate. Currently Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Walmart all offer paid video download services. The problem is apparently that sites like NBC and CBS offer free streaming media, where they receive ad support and they control the content and the audience.
This is almost funny, coming just days after I posted my latest raving enthusiasm for it on these very pages; but I’ve just ceased being a Quicksilver user on my primary working computer, and replaced it with Butler.
With only six weeks to go until the originally scheduled date, MacLive Expo Cologne, Germany’s biggest Apple-related trade show, has been postponed to 15-17 November. According to the press release from Expomedia Events, the show’s organizers, the new date was chosen after consulting with “industry deciders,” but no specific reason for moving the event on such short notice was given.
However, I guess it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to say that the delay of the release of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard from “spring” to October has at least played some role in the decision: if exhibitors were planning to present new products for Leopard, they wouldn’t have all that much to show next month. The new date in November should ensure that Leopard will have been released by then, and it is also perfectly timed for the holiday season.
Also scheduled for later in the year are Apple-Expo Paris from 25 until 27 September and MacLive Expo London following from 25 until 27 October. Three trade shows in three months and Leopard being unleashed, this autumn promises to be a packed trade-show season for European Mac-heads.
Asthma Logbook X is a Mac OS X freeware that can help people track Asthma related information. It can import data from a couple of Palm OS databases to let you log information on the go. The current version (1.1.1) was released on March 30.
Contactify’s slogan is It’s Email, Without the Address. Here’s how it work. You sign up with them by providing them an email address (yep, leap of faith here). Then, you create a unique password for their system. It provides you with a unique Connectify contact number (5 characters in my case) and URL. You need to wait a few minutes to get an activation email from them. Copy and paste the link from the email into a browser to activate your account.
…is a set of well designed icons freely available under a Creative Commons license. As the owner of a somewhat drab pair of websites myself, I always admire the design skills of others and wish I could at least figure out a way to use those great looking Crystal Clear icons effectively here and on my MobileViews.com site :-)
GanttProject is an Open Source multi-platform (Linux, Mac OS X, Windows) project scheduling and management tool based on Gantt charts. Version 2.0.4 was released on March 6, 2007. It can import/export from/to Microsoft Project (not sure which versions). It can also make use of WebDAV for web-based group work.
Mac OS X can read and write drives formatted using FAT and FAT32. And, it can read (but not write) drives formatted using NTFS. However, Microsoft Windows cannot read Apple’s HFS+ disk format. Fortunately, there is a free Open Source utility that can help you out with that problem…
Ruby was also the clear winner of my recent “help me pick a language” poll. So how do I get started? And how long until I can start doing useful stuff? All pointers appreciated. Remember, I need mac-specific implementation guidance. I’m just going to go with the ruby built into my Mac. where ruby tells me that ruby is installed into both /usr/bin/ruby and /usr/local/bin/ruby.
Here’s a post for everyone who’s now received their Joost invites. Leave a comment and let us know what you think of Joost and how well things are running on your machine. Also, I can’t seem to get into the “invite status” widget today, so please let me know that you’ve received your invites and whether it was relatively easy to get signed up.
I’m pretty sure I invited everyone who responded to my previous Joost posts. If you want invites, comment on this post only, okay? And please don’t use any cute [at] [dot] stuff. If you don’t want to put your address out publicly, just e-mail me. It’s a lot easier for me to cut and paste into the invite widget than if you make me start editing the addresses with foo[at]whatever[dot]com. Okay?
UPDATE: I’ve now sent out nearly 250 invitations. I’ll keep on with the invites until 5PM EDT tomorrow 11 May 2007. So if you want an invite, please make your request before then.
Update 2: If you’ve received a Joost invite and you’re looking for a way to say thank you, please consider sending a dollar or two or twenty to “Faith in Practice”. They are a non-profit volunteer organization that provides provide surgical, medical, and dental services to impoverished adults and children in Guatemala. For a week at a time, a team flies down to Guatemala and offers free services including antibiotics, surgery, dental work and so forth. You can read about them here and you can visit their donation page here. If you donate, please put the following number into the comments section: FIP number 9951. It identifies my friend Monique’s sister’s group and the money will go to help buy medical supplies for their next trip.
Update 3: I’ve turned off comments. Please do not send me any more e-mail. Thanks! I ended up sending out almost 550 invites. Enough.
I have been working on a series of articles for the MacDevCenter about alternative windowing systems for Mac OS X and I haven’t been blogging recently. I am kind of hiding out from my editor since I am a little behind with the next article, its coming soon Bruce, I promise! :)
I wanted to mention something really cool that I found in researching the articles and that something is Camel Bones. Camel Bones is an Objective-C to Perl bridge which means you can use the underlying OS X system from perl to develop applications.
While you can develop desktop applications in nearly any programming language on OS X, Objective-C is really the best choice since there is so much good Apple documentation and it is what Apple uses. Camel Bones allows you to use perl and connect to all the Cocoa/Objective-C bindings obviating the need to learn Objective-C. This might be useful since you can scour CPAN for modules that have the functionality you want and you can use Camel Bones to build a GUI wrapper around the perl code and Voila! you have a new desktop application.
There are some apps already written using Camel Bones, like a web browser for example, so there is interest in the development community and the developer of Camel Bones, Sherm Pendley, is working actively on developing so here is your opportunity to influence the future of Camel Bones.
Apple should be more active in supporting this sort of development. Third party application development is key to the success of OS X, at least so says Apple’s SEC reports, and this is an excellent way for Apple to get some slick perl hackers on board. Recently SUN stated that Open Source Software developers should be compensated for their work and I think Apple too should look into this since their platform benefits directly from so much excellent Open Source tools, like Apache, MySQL, OpenSSH - the list is long. Making sure that Camel Bones is actively developed and has the resources it needs would be an excellent move by Apple showing its support for its development community.
QuickTime’s info pane offers a great summary of many movie properties, including helpful items like format and data rate. So when you fetch movie properties in AppleScript, why is the format excluded? Is there an easier way to programatically grab codec and bitrate information from AppleScript? From the command line? Using file tells me about AVI files but not much about MP4 files.
I’ve recently been looking for a USB flash drive for my Apple TV. (A girl needs to patch her Apple TV without cracking the case, doesn’t she?) And I stumbled across these little gems over the weekend. My Apple TV needs a Darth Flashdrive or an R2USB2, doesn’t it? They’re a wee bit pricey. The 1GB drives start at $70 and range up to $150 for 4GB. But aren’t they cool?
I just stumbled across this writeup about the Apple bug reporter and thought I’d share. Scott Stevenson has put togther a particularly nice how-to showing you how to sign up, log in, and create problem reports.
Last week Amazon S3 celebrated its first birthday by lowering end-user costs. Instead of paying twenty cents to upload a gigabyte of data, users will now be charged ten cents instead. Downloading data used to cost twenty cents a gigabyte as well. Now the first 10 TB will set you back eighteen cents per gig. The next 40 TB cost sixteen cents per gig and after that the rate drops to thirteen cents each gigabyte.
PUT and LIST requests will now cost you a penny per one thousand and GET (and all other) requests will cost a penny per ten thousand.
There’s no change for storage prices: fifteen cents per month per gigabyte. It makes sense because Amazon’s core customer is not the consumer who wants to do a single system backup but the developer or business person who wants to provide reliable downloads for tens or hundreds of thousands of customers.
Steve Jobs has gone on the record saying “no music subscriptions” on iTunes. So what about TV and Movies instead? iTunes has so much content these days that I’d probably be willing to ditch cable and go entirely to an AppleTV lifestyle with an all-you-can-eat video subscription. Sure there are downsides but there’s a lot of upsides as well.
These days, iTunes has as many “channels” as I get over cable and more that I do not. Between iTunes and my free-to-air ATSC, my family would have access to all the shows we currently watch plus a huge repository of back episodes and new shows, all available on demand. That’s very attractive.
What would have to change is our notion of “appointment television”. Yes, we could still watch Heroes live because it’s an NBC show but Project Runway and Battlestar would have to wait until they showed up at the store. Sometimes this can take several days or up to a week after episodes air. We couldn’t watch them live and then run over to Television Without Pity to chat. An iTunes subscription model has a built-in “watch it when we have it, not when it’s live or convenient” limitation.
Adding movies into the mix makes it even more attractive. It would make family movie night a lot easier if we could just decide on the spur of the moment what we wanted to see (taking into account the download time) rather than having to pop out to the library a few days in advance to pick up a DVD from it’s already picked-over collection.
Yes, we could do this all now. We could ditch cable today and do an a la carte iTunes replacement. But buying item-by-item gets expensive quickly. For a recent car trip, I let my kids download 10 TV episodes. And once we bought those 10 episodes, they were ours forever. They got stale pretty fast.
For just our standard cable reception (channels 2-99, no premium channels, mostly public access for channels larger than 60), we are currently paying about $60-odd dollars a month. We’d happily ditch that for a less expensive iTunes video subscription at $39.99 a month even with giving up live TV if that money bought us lots of fresh content on-demand.
I’ve been looking around for a freeware or Open Source Mac OS X lightweight graphics editor for a while now. Paint.net has been serving that application space well for me when I use Windows but I didn’t know of one for my Mac until now:
…is an Open Source Mac OS X image editor. It doesn’t have all the features of Paint.net but it has enough to take care of those quick little tasks like cropping and resizing an image for a blog post. The latest version (0.1.9) became available on April 5.
Google Docs Spreadsheet added basic charting features this month. This is something a lot of people have mentioned as a big missing feature area. I wish it had the option to create the chart in a new window instead of overlaying it on the spreadsheet itself. You can read more about this and other new Google Docs Spreadsheet features on the Official Google Blog item… How to make a pie
I already mentioned the Open Source VirtualBox in an earlier blog item. But, that version was only available for Linux and Microsoft Windows. As of April 23, the Mac OS X version became available. It is a virtualization product that lets you run multiple Guest Operating Systems (say Windows or Linux) at the same time that the host (main) OS is running on a single computer. Parallels Desktop for Mac was previously the only production virtualization product available for Mac OS X (VMware Fusion is still in beta).
The MIT Media Lab’s Lifelong Kindergarten Group created the Scratch programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art — and share your creations on the web (description from their website). It is available as freeware for Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows. A version for Linux is currently being developed according to the note on the download page. You can learn more about working with Scratch on its Informational Page.
Here I’m presenting kamishibai stories at FOO Camp, Tim O’Reilly’s annual gathering of technology provocateurs. I cracked up when I saw the photographer’s caption: “It’s not just geeks.”
How do you present multimedia at conferences? For my workshops on Japanese kamishibai storytelling, I use a PowerPoint slide show with about 70 slides. Only the first, second, and last slides contain text, because the point of the kamishibai format is to look at your audience, not turn your back on them to read bullet points. (At FOO Camp last year, I wryly called the technique “PowerPoint for People.“)
Later this month, though, I’ll be delivering a lecture about my book and DVD, The Art of Digital Music, at a tricked-out auditorium. The bulk of the DVD is 60-second movies of the artists I interviewed for the book. For each interview, I extracted sound bites with Ambrosia WireTap, added original music with Ableton Live to move the stories along, and then synced the audio with photos I animated in LQ Graphics Photo To Movie.
My concept for the presentation is to intersperse video clips from the disc with photos and behind-the-scenes stories, such as why producer Don Was recorded the Rolling Stones on his iBook instead of in his million-dollar Hollywood studio, how I got a stealth interview with Brian Eno, and more.
My dilemma is one we often face with today’s cornucopia of creative software: Which program(s) would be best for pulling all those media together and presenting them smoothly? My first inclination was to rerender the movies and embed them in PowerPoint slides, but I won’t have my computer with me, so I was worried that the host computer might not be able to keep up. Ditto if I simply built an HTML page and linked to the media files. Perhaps Keynote would perform better, but I haven’t bought it yet. (Should I? Please leave a comment.)
I just discovered Yep, which bills itself as “iTunes for PDFs”. And I’m hooked. Like most of us, as the PDF format has continued to get more widespread acceptance, I have been accumulating more and more PDF documents on my mac. They’re scattered all over my system, in my mail attachments, in various folders, and I often have a bunch sitting on my desktop at any given time. And far too many of those pesky PDFs that came from some link I clicked on somewhere come across with meaningless filenames.
With Yep, I’ll no longer waste much time searching for that particular PDF I need, or wondering what that cryptically-named PDF on my desktop is. Yep does just what it claims to, it provides a friendly interface to all of your PDF documents, with expandable thumbnail views and every possible bit of info and meta-data you could want about them. The Yep interface is simple but powerful, with features like tagging and searching across all of your PDFs.
Yep doesn’t copy or move your PDFs like some other similar products, but rather builds a smart interface on top of Spotlight’s searching capability. (One potential downside, if Spotlight can’t find a PDF on your system because you’ve restricted what Spotlight indexes, Yep won’t see it either).
The real power and convenience of Yep comes from its tagging features. It automatically tags all of your PDFs with the folder name they live in, but it also allows for adding more tags to improve your PDF organization. If you like organizing things by tags and the simplicity of tag clouds, and have been wishing for better system for your PDFs, you should definitely give Yep a try.
Just two things to mention today, the first being the latest missive from Steve Jobs, “A Greener Apple”. In this essay, Steve stands up squarely against his environment critics and says Apple is one of the greenest computer companies around, and is determined to be even more environmentally-friendly in future:
Today is the first time we have openly discussed our plans to become a greener Apple. It will not be the last. We will be providing updates of our efforts and accomplishments at least annually, most likely around this time of the year. And we plan to bring other environmental issues to the table as well, such as the energy efficiency of the products in our industry. We are also beginning to explore the overall carbon “footprint” of our products, and may have some interesting data and issues to share later this year.
Steve Jobs isn’t exactly blogging, but what with this and the “Thoughts on Music” essay back in February, he’s being much more open about Apple’s plans, strategies and corporate opinions than previously. Is Apple opening up a little? I like to think so.
This is an important upgrade which is a Universal Binary application, replacing the previous PPC version. This release has options to set your uploaded images based on content filters and also has some changes that make Uploadr start up faster than before.
I’m definitely planning to upgrade my MacBook to Leopard when it becomes available. And knowledgeable Mac users tell me that my G4 based Mac mini (1st generation model) and iBook G4 should be able to be upgraded too. The question is: Does it make sense to upgrade a G4 to Leopard? Both G4 boxes are still in frequent use. But, I wonder if it is worth the effort and slightly higher cost (family pack vs. single upgrade). The G4s can’t, for example, seem to be able to smoothly display 720p movie trailers in Quicktime. iTunes is fine but with only 512MB RAM (and I don’t intend to upgrade RAM on these boxes) Garageband balks on even some of my little experiments brought over from the MacBook.
So, what are you other G4 owners planning to do? Upgrade to Leopard? Or stay with Tiger (or maybe even Panther)?
I just spent the better part of my evening retrieving my 2005 tax return from TurboTax. Earlier in the month, I realized that I’d misplaced my soft copy and decided that I’d better retrieve it to make sure and stay on top of my game just in case the IRS auditors ever come knocking. But then there was a problem…
Ethan Schoonover’s video intro to OmniFocus is today’s hot geek screencast, and goes into a fair bit of detail about how the GTD-inspired app (still in Alpha) will work.
What’s immediately obvious (and not very surprising) is that OmniFocus looks like a hybrid of OmniOutliner and Kinkless GTD, and I write that knowing full well that Kinkless is a set of Applescripts that work alongside OmniOutliner Pro. It’s as if the one has been subsumed by the other, and the result (so far) looks smart and slick.
In the video, Ethan puts a lot of emphasis on the concept of “focus”, comparing the job of a task management application to the lens on his camera - it has to be transparent, and able to focus on the subject at hand.
GTD old-timers will appreciate some specifics: auto synching, nested projects and contexts, drag-and-drop everything, and the filter that lets you find specific subsets of tasks or contexts.
Of course, while Omni has been working on OmniFocus, there’s been a rash of GTD apps released, including the likes of Midnight Inbox, Actiontastic, and iGTD (those are just the ones I’ve tried, there are many more). Quite how OmniFocus compares with these better-established competitors is something we shall have to judge when it is released.
What’s your favorite way of getting things done, and why? If you’ve watched Ethan’s screencast, what’s your opinion of the young OmniFocus, and do you think you might buy it?