Tracking progress on the iLife bundle is an excercise is subtlety. The global Apple site has started selling iLife today (before it was just pre-ordering), but still only vaguely talks about the downloadable updates (just that "Downloads will be available").
Meanwhile the local Danish Apple site is an hour an a half away from being factually incorrect as it promises the bundle for download in "late January".
Apple could have handled this better.
I love watching apparently intelligent people make fools of themselves when they decry the loss of a particular branch of complexity that they undoubtedly spend considerable time mastering.
This happens a lot when you're around programmers. Especially really good programmers that love the some times extremely minute particulars that complexity has a habit of opening up for.
They talk about things getting dumbed down so that "the common man" can play along. Hereby implying that they're everything and above said common man.
It's interesting how arrogance and (mathematical/logic) intelligence often make for such good partners. Maybe that's the natural progression and you have to make a special effort to grow empathy and compassion.
I wish more intelligent people would make that effort.
(This observation was inspired by a Danish guy named dave writing about C# in Danish on dot.dave)
The most important feature of the PowerMacs is their dual processor setup. This usually doesn't seem to mean a whole lot in benchmarks because they normally just run a single program through the passes. That program has to be specifically designed with dual processors in mind to take advantage of it. Most rarely are.
No, it's all about multitasking. About the system not grinding to a halt when iPhoto needs to rebuild it's index for your 1000 pictures. Or when you're extracting that 200mb compressed file. Or when you're compiling that piece of code that needs to link 20 large libraries.
That's when a dual setup will shine.
The reason for this is that it's very expensive for a processor to switch tasks. When you just have a single processor and 50 active tasks screaming for a slice of the silicon, it's going to spend the majority of it's resources simply switching back and forth between the tasks.
That's a very ineffective mode of operation that hampers the spirit of even the fastest single processor setup.
With two processors there's much less switching going on. Depending on how smart your OS is at figureing out how to utilize the two processors (and OS X is at least promoted as being pretty smart on this), you can get dramatic performance boosts.
Hopefully I'll soon be able to do a first-hand report on how much it actually matters :).
While the American Apple site still stubbornly refuses to pin down a release date on iLife, the Danish site tries with a vaguely more concrete version: "Ready for delivery in late January". Not much better than "Coming soon", but at least they're trying.
Hopefully they won't have to update the site come this Friday.
Being an impatient man, I couldn't wait until Apple decides to update the Danish shop to get the prices on the new machines, so I phoned them:
Apple just doesn't seem to ever take a break. Following hot on the heels of the new PowerBooks, here comes all new PowerMacs and Cinema Displays at outragously good prices. The gorgeous 23" screen has had it price almost cut in half from $3499 to $1999. And there's a new 20" (running 1680x1050) at just $1299.
But I like the new PowerMacs the best. A dual 1.25 Ghz can now be had for $1999. And there's a speedbump included with dual 1.42 Ghz machines starting at $2699.
Holy crap. A dual 1.25 Ghz and a 20" Cinema Display for $3298. I want that. Sooner rather than later.
Up until very recently, Apple was telling us that they would be blowing the free iLife winds of iPhoto 2 and iMovie 3 and have the for-pay upgrade of iDVD 3 available on January 25th. Today is that day. There's no iLife upgrades available on Apple.com/iLife, but merely a little comforting and anonymous "coming soon".
Hopefully "coming soon" doesn't carry the industry standard meaning of "we don't have a clue".
OmniOutliner now sings in Keynotes thanks to the improved XML-output engine of version 2.2 beta 1 released the day before yesterday. Write your presentations in OO and make Keynote soup it up. It's a dialogue, even. You can import your presentations made with Keynote back into OO (and then on to OmniGraffle if you'd like a nice graph). Very cool.
The newly grasped powers of proper XML doesn't limit OO to Keynote, though. There's also a XSLT stylesheet to make HTML outlines importable by Word and another tweakable stylesheet to make HTML look to your liking. Also very cool.
But almost more interesting than all of the above is the promise of making OO talk TeX with the proper stylesheet. TeX is that unfriendly package of typographic godness being used to produce most of mathematical and computer science reports of the world. And that my study group and I picked up for our last business report.
Wrapping TeX in OO would be very, very cool. Hopefully someone (or myself?) will do this before our next computer science project that starts is just one week :).
On December 22nd, the Danish government passed a law that handed the definition of "fair use" with music and movies to industries that have vested interests in omitting the word "fair". It was a bad day for the citizens our government is elected to serve.
Up until that day, the day before the darkest of the year (how fitting!), Danes could pride themselves on having the right to make unlimited copies of original CD's and DVD's either bought or borrowed from friend or public library. It was a good law. It was fair. And it served the citizens of Denmark well.
With the law of late last year, it's now illegal to circumvent any copy-protecting mechanisms instituted by the companies supplying the content. Amusingly, the old law still stands. Only now it's up to the producers of music and movies get to decide when it applies.
I've lost two of the four rubber feet that stabilizes my iBook on a table. I've written Apple about it. This is likely to be an unusual request and therefore a good test of how much service mind that's actually hiding behind email@example.com. I shall report on the results.
Universal Music and EMI, two of the biggest record labels in the world, "are very excited about this because it enables the industry to build a CD with their own protections built in," he said, speaking at the Midem music conference in southern France.
Imagine how much cool stuff Microsoft could develop with those $500 million, if they just followed Apple's lead, and signed up to Steve Jobs reasonable notion: "Piracy is not a technological issue. It's a behavior issue".
Update: A great quote from an O'Reilly story of last year:
"I'm a Windows-only user and I plan to switch to the Mac on my next purchase because of XP's DRM approach. Using XP would be like voluntarily entering a jail cell and closing the door."
Brian C. of Omni even added: "Thanks for letting us link to your articles; very, very cool stuff you've got there." :)
The notion that all things claiming to be good must be held up against The Best of the Best is a mistaken, irrelevant, and painfully uninteresting falsity.
So you think that the hot dog stand at the ice skating ring should have four people instead of one serving it, so you can get your food faster? Or that the consumer watchdog program should unveil master conspiracies every week? Or that your favorite discussion board should remember your name, let you instant message with your friends, alert you on new messages, and more?
Don't. The world doesn't revolve around you and your needs. People and organizations aren't working to please you. Rather, they're working to please a coarsely-grained super-type of you. One that rarely exceed or even meet all your imaginable needs.
Nobody is working to create the Best of the Best bar nothing. It's all under the constraints of certain resources. Time, money, skill. If you let your sense of comparison include this sense constraint, a happier life awaits. You'll be able to appreciate people and organizations doing good or even awesome things in light of not the Best of the Best, but the constraints governing their situation.
Despite all the media fuss about weblogs, it's not the press that will push blogging into the mainstream. It's Google. Vertical experts who puts their knowledge online in blogs are dominating tons of topics already, and Google's crawler speed pushes new insight to the top of the rankings in no time.
This makes Google return very dynamic and fresh result sets, but sometimes I still can't help to wonder how healthy or even fair it is. Like right now, where I'm fourth on a google on "iPhoto 2" — just above Apple's own product page.
So Google considers my off-hand remarks more important than the products own page. Hmmm...
DR1 launched a new consumer watch-dog show called Kontant this evening. It's presented with the incredible and repeatedly excellence of the undoubtedly best Danish TV-journalist currently gracing our TV's: Mette Vibe Utzon. (Besides this new venture, she also runs Debatten — the best debate show I can remember ever seeing.)
Utzon's new show is really, really amazing. It's the most straight-forward, tightly-packed, and hard-hitting watch-dog show you could imagine. With just 25 minutes to present two stories, they deliver a sublime cutting and presentation of the stable watch-dog ingredients:
This is Must See TV. If nothing else then for the educational Tour de Force in investigative and critical journalism. I'm in awe.
Michael Moore's fantastic Bowling For Columbine has been heavily promoted across Copenhagen on bus stops and commercial stands the past couple of weeks. Tonight it commanded a five-minute segment on Danish TV-station DR1, which included the station's US-corespondent and a lector from a Danish University, who all debated the issues raised and the implications.
Despite (or rather thanks to) his Michief Marketing tactics, Michael Moore is being taken seriously and the issues he raises are getting attention.
Having been used to around two hours of battery life on regular PC notebooks, I bought an extra battery with my iBook back in August. I think I've used it once. Or two times, at the most.
First of all, the sleep mode on Mac takes almost no battery. You can sleep for hours and hours and it might have chipped a percentage or two of the bar. But the really amazing thing is how good the battery management works with varying tasks.
Vision Engineer gives us the precise scoop:
During our tests, the default power saving settings were used. Doing nothing more than typing in TextEdit gave a battery life of 4hours 27mins. Maximum power drain was then tested by keeping the screen on, preventing the hardisk from powering down, and running the distributed.net client [i.e. 100% CPU utilisation]. Using this setting, the iBook kept going for 2hours 47mins.
For students, like me, that use their laptop for notetaking in class, this is incredible. Add in the few regular sleeps during recess, and the iBook can easily go on for an entire day without a refill from an outlet.
Rob Galbraith's pitting of two Macs against two PC's on digital photography performance is interesting. Not because of the results, though. They repeat that PC's are faster and cheaper than what Apple can produce. Anyone with half an eye on Apple knows this.
It's interesting because they bubbles the whole issue of performance and makes it explicit for debate. What does performance mean and how much does it matter? These are fundamental questions that a lot of people are having a hard time evaluating the answers for.
iPhoto is a fantastic program. It makes my Canon S30 a much more enjoyable experience by reducing the efforts it takes to consume its results. But with a library 800 pictures and growing, it's clear that the first revision wasn't build with an eye on time complexity issues. iPhoto scales badly. Very badly.
Hence, it was with great frustration that I witnessed Steve Job's demonstration of iPhoto without a single mention of the speed problems, which left the impression that nothing had been done with this crippeling issue. That, fortunately, is not true.
iPhoto 2 will deliver:
Upon launching iPhoto, two major changes jump out. The first -- and the most important for people with a large number of photos -- is a dramatic speed increase, making correct usage of the iPhoto cache files. In the original iPhoto, users with large pictures or a large number of photos were greeted with slow access to their photo albums while the pictures loaded.
Following up on the free brief Sites that Don't Click, 37signals have now released their first for-pay report entilted Evaluating 25 E-Commerce Search Engines. It's a wonderful, solid, and insightful report that can be yours for just $99. The buying experience and custom cover generation was developed by yours truely.
Safari might be the wild-man in the browser tribe with regards to speed on regular graphics-heavy websites, but how does it fair on text-heavy documents, like the Java API documents?
Duff's Domain have conducted a benchmark on the Java 1.4 SDK page serialized-form.html, which weighs in at 736 KB. On his 733 Mhz G4, Chimera beats Safari by two seconds (15%), coming in at 14 against 16, but both obliterates IE (which takes 32 seconds) and OmniWeb (which takes an incredible 4:11 minutes!).
This is interesting enough in itself, but even more interesting is that Allan (aka Duff) have clocked his own (early version, unreleased) browser at just three seconds(!) for the same page — when he does away with OS X's native layout engine.
Certainly not directly comparable (since this is not a released or even complete browser product), but never the less thought provoking. If it's possible to do a rendering in three seconds (and Allan even finds that slow) then the OS X tax from using the supplied libraries (and doing other display-related items) is around 500%. Ouch!
Most web pages aren't 800 Kb, though, and Safari has a host of other qualities that makes it seem very fast compared to the competition. Try loading Loud Thinking, for example, in Chimera and navigate with page up/down and home/end. Very sluggish. Try doing the same in Safari. Pretty fast.
There's a lot to be said for perceived speed, which may have little to do with rendering prowess, but still matters at least as much.
John Robb of UserLand: "OK. That's it. My next computer is going to be an Apple. After 18 years on a PC, I am ready to call it quits. Windows is waaaay too much of a hassle for me to maintain."
Even my girl friend, who used to bash the Mac, is getting there. Safari's SnapBack feature and the iPod link seems to be the turn-around for her. We're thinking about letting her adopt my iBook as I jump on the 12" TiBook.
Now I just need to push that Sony Vaio out the door. Any staunch defenders of the PC interested? It's cheap!
Apple's new KHTML-based browser Safari is a wonderful addition to the first-party suite of applications that makes the Mac my platform of choice, but it's missing one critical feature that's holding back my switch from Chimera: Tabs! Once you get used to browse by tabbing, there's no turning back, which renders every non-tab browser (or even editor) close to useless.
But. Safari is just in beta. There's still time to make Apple go the tab route. Put in your signature for pressure at Pertion Online: Safari Tabbed Browsing. I signed as number 993. Let's take that number up an order of magnitude and Apple will surely listen.
Apple 17" Titanium PowerBook for $3299 (next month)
Steve Jobs is launching an onslaught of new applications from Apple to make the mac an even more amazing platform (yes, I'm currently in the Jobs Reality Distortion Field). There's so much new stuff coming out:
I'll continue to update as I see the keynote...
Orange could easily settle on a better market strategy by having blind rabbits do the picking than through the "market research" I was subjected to today. At least then, management would know they were betting the company on fuzzy luck done in the dark. Unlike the false sense of security they'll get when they receive their worse-than-random report from the undoubtedly over-priced research firm in an impressing binding and with colorful graphs.
By the powers of XML-RPC, I'm now able to update Loud Thinking from the comfort of a OS X application while still retaining the key benefits of being served by a web-application. That's especially nice since Movable Type doesn't support quick tags for formatting and linking in Chimera, but EspressoBlog (the OS X app) does.
Sadly, Espresso doesn't do any editing yet. Nor changes to the templates, sending of notifications, or any of the other more advanced capabilities in MT. It's just for posting and uploading files.
NoteTaker 2003 is a unique flashback to a time before standardized graphical interfaces. A time when everyone rendered their own idiosyncratic widgets and the world of desktop applications was fraught with failures of the over-literal metaphor. AquaMinds decision to include the present year as part of the product name feels off by at least a decade.
On top of that, NoteTaker is hideously expensive at $69.95. That's more than twice the cost of the much superior OmniOutliner. I don't know where this "small team of industry veterans" have been earning their stripes, but I doubt it was on the desktop field.
Schedules aren't the only fit for the OmniOutliner. For small business owners, consultants, and other professionals with humble accounting needs, it's also the perfect tool to figure the finances. Accounting, like scheduling, has been dreaming about outlining from birth.
Something significant happened over Christmas (besides the consumption of unhealthy amounts of duck and other goodies). I completed the switch that began on August 22nd as of last year. My computer joys of both pleasure and business now belong to a 12" Queen of Snow.
It was the latter that held out for the months spanning September through December. Without a serious contender to either Netcaptor nor UltraEdit, it just didn't seem feasible. But with Chimera clocking in at 0.6 and the Apple Project Builder sporting PHP syntax highlighting there were only apologies left.
They be gone now.