Archive for June, 2009

Updates and Add-ons : Reznor, the WWDC and More Twitter Hating.

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

Town Crier Icon

So after writing laboriously to cover nin:access a month or so back… Trent Reznor has announced that he’s pulling out entirely from social networking sites… Twitter, Facebook and most likely his own forums at nin.com, although considering his heavy involvement there in the past, I can’t imagine boycotting his own forums would be a permanent thing… One way or another, Trent says he’s “tuning out of the social networking sites because it’s now doing more harm than good in the bigger picture and the experiment seems to have yielded a result… Idiots rule”.

Trent Reznor

Trent’s issues become easily recognizable to any of us that have spent even the least bit of time on forums or social networking sites… In a nutshell, there will always be people that have the sole intention of ruining things for everyone else. Apparently Reznor has a few people registered to the NIN forums that send him 50-100 messages a day filled with “delusional, often threatening nonsense”. Any attempts to delete their accounts just results in the offenders re-registering under a different email address and continuing on… Just handling my non-celebrity data flow when it comes to social networking can sometimes be daunting… I can’t imagine what it must feel like to try and have a ‘real’ presence when your forum has a quarter of a million registered users… I wouldn’t wish that on an enemy.

One way or another… NIN has been broken… a guy that went way beyond the call of duty in terms of online engagement just can’t take it any more. The godfather of goth angst has actually been brought to his knees by a few select shit birds… so thanks guys, time to move on to your next target as you continue not to live your own lives choosing instead to make other peoples less fun…

You know who you are… we know who you are… you suck.

Read the complete Trent kiss off here.

Fun With Apps at the WWDC

Moscone Center West

One fact that temporarily eluded me as it pertains to this years WWDC was that this has historically been a conference for developers that wrote software for the Macintosh… This year that focus appears to have shifted in large part to App Developers for both the iPhone and iPod Touch… with the lure of low start-up costs and potential windfalls if your App ends up catching on, legions of developers have retooled a bit and are giving the App Store a shot.

To this end, Apple figured out a stunningly cool way to both showcase their new technologies (slated for Snow Leopard this coming September) while at the same time visually illustrating how popular the App Store has become. They set up an installation of 20 synchronized 30″ Cinema Displays blanketed with over 3000 icons representing the App Store’s most popular apps… In real time (albeit a 5-minute delay), every time an app was purchased on the App Store, its associated icon would kerplunk and then ripple on the pond of icons. The whole thing was programmed in Quartz Composer using new OpenCL API’s and was powered by 20 Mac Pro towers running OS X Snow Leopard.

Plus a pretty cool set of still pictures can be found here.

Is Conan a Hater Too?

Got this one from friend of the show Mike Reid. Married to that U.S. 30 Dragstrip vibe, this one emphasizes the hype and shines a light on a concept destined from birth to jump the shark… if you’re finding value in Twitter, all the power to you… I find the occasional nugget perusing it as well… But at the end of the day…

Bro’s a no-no for coco… Easily inside the 140 character limit. Such a small space to be clever in huh?

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Snow Leopard Innovation.

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Apple Culture

The annual Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, currently being held in San Francisco, was the forum back on June 6, 2005 when Steve Jobs announced that Apple would be transitioning from PowerPC to Intel processors over the coming two years. Today, 4 years later, Apple announced Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, which in the absence of support for non-Intel Macs, officially marries OS X to the Intel processor.

Apple replaced its classic 68k operating system (1984-2001) with OS X 10.0 Cheetah in March of 2001… from there was the incremental 10.1 Puma (09/2001), 10.2 Jaguar (08/2002), 10.3 Panther (10/2003), 10.4 Tiger (04/2005) and now the current 10.5 Leopard which debuted in October of 2007 and is currently at version 10.5.7. When asked to compare OS X to Windows, I maintain that this consistency of over-haul updates that average every 16 months, interspersed with significant interim automated updates, is one of the major contributing factors to what makes OS X superior, so brilliantly stable and practically pain-free.

OS X Versions

The problem is though… to the casual user of the personal computer, those that choose to not get involved much with what’s going on behind the scenes, the value of a stable operating system is often overlooked or taken for granted… but in reality, the OS provides the very key to your computer turning on at all… without it, your computer, be it Mac or PC, is just a dumb, lifeless collection of electronic sculpture… As we’ve talked about on the radio, Mac’s and PC’s are for the most part made up of hardware produced by the same vendors; Intel processors, Seagate hard drives, RAM, USB and Firewire circuitry, etc.

Which is why the operating system becomes the all important place to start when deciding what computer is right for you.

Snow Leopard Gold Master

With that I present some of the highlights of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, which was officially announced today and will hit the streets this coming September. As described by Bertrand Serlet (Senior VP for OS X) at the WWDC today, a big part of what Snow Leopard represents is a thorough refinement of its predecessor… Apple feels, and correctly so I believe, that the current OS X 10.5 is pretty awesome as it is… so as a response to that they’ve chosen with this release to use a large percentage of their development time completely re-writing the underlying code for 90% of the OS… making it leaner while at the same time preparing the OS X architecture for what they feel is ‘around-the-bend’ technologically.

Some cool new stuff coming with Snow Leopard…

Installation time has been cut almost in half… installing Leopard took about 3 hours if I’m remembering right… so this was a feat… another benefit reaped upon installation is that Snow Leopard needs 6GB less space than its predecessor… evidence of the underlying re-write transitioning to modern, lighter code structures. So right from jump street you get 6 gigs of space back… works for me… that’s the opposite of bloatware my PC-lovin peeps…

Safari

Safari 4, which was released today for Tiger, Leopard, XP and Vista is now arguably the worlds fastest browser… it also lays claim to being among the worlds most compliant browsers with a perfect 100 score on the Acid3 test, the benchmark for compliance… this compared to a score of 21 for IE 8.

64-Bit

Come September, Mac users will enjoy an even bigger browser speed boost running Safari 4 within Snow Leopard as well…  Safari, like all other core system applications of Snow Leopard, will now run natively in 64-bit. Safari on Snow Leopard will also feature compartmentalized crashes, a feature introduced by Google Chrome that prevents a crash within one tab of the browser to affect other tabs.

To round things out, Safari 4 tracks your most visited sites and offers these up in icon view within the browser window… it also indicates those that have updated content since your last visit with a blue star… the browser will also let you view your browsing history in Cover Flow view, which to see it work is truly impressive. You can also search your browsing history using Spotlight which includes all the text within the web pages archived. Amazing.

Quicktime

When it comes to the new Quicktime X… not only was the code re-written from the ground up, but the appearance and behavior of the Quicktime Player on-screen has changed significantly as well… When invoked, the player opens full screen with the controls fading away after a couple seconds (as DVD Player now works). Quicktime has been finely tuned to eek out every last bit of hardware acceleration performance and can now be tied directly to ColorSync profiles… and as it applies to the web, Quicktime X introduces HTTP streaming coupled with h.264 compression as standards allowing it to work on 93% of the worlds web servers, including Apache obviously…

Quicktime X now also has an embedded simple editor that allows you to view a visual timeline for any movie… set a start and end point, save a trimmed clip and then post that clip to an email or any of a number of online social sites... all without leaving the Quicktime Player… As I consider the ‘delivery’ technology of Quicktime coupled with the editing prowess of Final Cut Studio… I salivate at the possibilities… Windows Media Player? Really?

Finder Icon

Without getting into too much detail… some ultra-cool enhancements for our old friend the Finder… The dock is now more 3d… how Stacks work has been refined and they can now handle a ton of files efficiently, which makes it simple to keep your desktop clean… Finder windows in icon view now allow you to scale the size of the icons in real-time… if you’re looking at the icon of a multi-page .PDF, successive clicks on the icon step through the pages of the document. A click on a movie icon, plays the movie (within the icon)… and for those of you that are fans of Expose (the system utility that allows you to step back from the desktop and see all your open documents and windows), it has now been integrated with the Dock in the most natural, intuitive, amazing way. Wait until you see this…

Grand Central Dispatch

Getting back now to 64-bit software coupled with multi-core processors… the key to increasing a computers speed in 2009 is not upping the clock speed of the processors, as has always been the case… but rather it involves increasing the number of cores. The trick to realizing speed increases is in getting all those cores to work together in the most efficient manner. To address this, with Snow Leopard Apple introduces Grand Central Dispatch, a comprehensive system utility that monitors and manages the flow of computer code to the multi-cores of the Intel processor freeing up resources back to the system in a much more efficient manner. Over the range of applications you may have open at any given time, this change amounts to an even more responsive system, fully taking advantage of the multi-threaded, multi-core architecture.

So we’ve covered a lot of ground… and I could keep writing here deep into the night… but before I sign off this time around I’d like to cover just one more Snow Leopard addition… one that could prove to be the tipping point for those of you who are using PC’s at work but may really want to get a Mac for home… You already have Microsoft Office on the Mac as well as the ability to run Windows natively using Boot Camp or Parallels… now comes the final piece in the puzzle if you ask me…

Exchange

Microsoft Exchange integration has now been built in to the three main Mac communication applications; Mail, iCal and Address Book. Simply enter your email address and the associated password… and you’re set up in all three apps. Connect to the Exchange server at your office and view all your Exchange content, on your Mac, with access to all of the OS X technology… Search your Exchange data with Spotlight, view all .XLS, .DOC, .PPT content using Preview (whether or not you have Microsoft Office installed) and view your Exchange contacts in concert with personal contacts, Exchange calendar events with personal calendar events… again, yet another reason to take the leap and I’m guessing this will entice legions of converts for whom a lack of Microsoft Exchange integration was a deal breaker.

So this post turned out longer than expected… but I get excited when feasting on a new version of OS X… Apple has never failed to impress… and for all of you already using a Mac and running Leopard… one last morsel for you is that the upgrade from Leopard to Snow Leopard will only be $29 this time around, so that’s awesome… but also know that Snow Leopard will only run on Intel-based Macs… so for those of you without… Leopard is as high as you will go on your current machines… but Apple’s track record shows that they will continue to support Leopard for at least another couple years… plenty of time to save your pennies for that quad-core…

If you’d like to watch the WWDC keynote, do so here… if you’d like to read more about the refinements in Snow Leopard, do that here… and if you like to bone up on the more hard core technology, do that here

All for now… and if there ever was a time… now is the time to consider a Mac running OS X… I can virtually guarantee you’ll never look back… why would you?

My personal countdown to Snow Leopard will now officially commence!

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