Treated myself to this as a late Christmas gift. Just playing around with it I’m pretty happy so far. Between 1990-1999 I used to support a small company’s worth of artists, illustrators, and layout people. I’ve never claimed to be any sort of artist, but out necessity I picked up some facility with the applications those folks used (primarily the Adobe suite.)
If you’d told me that I’d one day be able to buy an application that had essentially all of the functionality of Illustrator (at least the parts I used) for 1/20th of the price I’d have said you were nuts.
Apparently there’s a pretty feature-comparable iPad version that reads and writes the same files. I’ll try that out later.
No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.
Slashdot’s CmdrTaco, upon the introduction of the iPod, October 23, 2001
Apple’s iPod platform is a monster in the portable music space. Tens of millions have been sold, and the application that interfaces with the device,iTunes, runs on tens of millions of computers.
I have a love/hate relationship with the iTunes application. I use it to manage my digital collection, which it does handily, but I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that it has limitations and inconsistencies that I bump into every day.
Continued @ moodmat.
In a recent podcast, a guy complained (damn non-internally-permalinkable things — fix that!) that a big problem with the iTMS is that the files are locked to a given computer and that, if that computer takes a dump, you’re screwed. He complained that Apple makes it too hard to back your songs up.
For all the complaints one might have about Apple selling DRM’ed music (and I have some myself), the idea that the songs are “too hard” to backup isn’t a valid one, IMO, since all the tools necessary to do the backups are built into the application, and they’re not hidden, either.
Really, there are only 2 steps to backing up your music —
Creating a smart playlist
You now have an ISO-formatted CD or DVD that you can place in a media safe, a safe-deposit box, mailed to your nephew, or whatever. None of this is hard.
Steve Jobs apparently demonstrated support for downloading podcasts and syncing them to an iPod in the next version of iTunes. I imagine they'll use a UI similar to the current one for radio streams. Now that I actually have a commute again I listen to a couple of podcasts a week (though I still prefer music, thank you very much), so I imagine I might find it useful.
I haven't actually seen this confirmed, but there apparently have been talks at some level between Apple and Sony towards some level of integration between iTunes and the PSP and PS3, and the iPod and the PS3. What I would love to see is support for syncing photos and video to the PSP from iTunes and iPhoto, as the current manual process is a major PITA and Sony doesn't have any Mac syncing software anyway.
Lazyweb, I invoke thee.
You would think this would be a simple request, but you would be wrong. I've been having a devil of a time finding an OS X backup utility that meets my needs. I'm not asking for much. My requirements:
Yes, I know about .Mac backup, and it fails number 3 spectacularly. Retrospect still feels like a Classic app, frankly, and it's rather expensive. Most of the existing backup apps I've looked at are oriented towards duping to another mounted volume, which, though useful, is not what I need. I'm not averse to picking up a reasonably priced tape drive if I have to, but DVD-R media costs are such that I'd really like to stay with optical discs over tape if possible.
After a couple of days of use, I’m really liking NewsFire. It’s only at version 0.21, so it has a few rough edges, but it does a whole lot of the little things right.
Excellent autodiscovery support. You can subscribe to feeds either by:
<HEAD>, and scrape the HTML looking for feeds in pages that don’t.
Per-feed update intervals. There are still some minor nits, but it’s smart enough to use the information provided in the feed if it’s present.
Per-feed persistence settings. You can tell it whether or not to store old entries on a per-feed basis. In practice, this works great: I usually want weblog entries to be stored persistently, while things like weather feeds, BBC news feeds, and the like to be transient.
Humane interface. There’s very little clutter, just a two paned window with a list of feeds on the left and a space to display feed indexes and articles on the right. You can configure it to sort feeds either by newest content or most unread articles. In perhaps the coolest touch, it visually shuffles the feeds as new items comes in, with audible feedback.
Of course it does the basic things expected of every OS X aggregator: it uses Webkit for display, imports and exports OPML, supports all the extant RSS variants plus Atom, etc.
At least for now, it’s free.
There’s been a new release of SubEthaEdit. I’ve barely started using it, so I’m not entirely sure of what’s changed, but one change is that they’ve introduced a new URL scheme for document sharing. If you’re running SEE 2, you can connect to my test document here, at least for a little while.
I'm happy to report that it's possible with fairly minimal effort to get Markdown.pl to function as a service in OS X. This makes Markdown functionality available inside of Cocoa text fields, which means that everything from Safari to Mail to SubEthaEdit to Stickies can benefit.
First download Gust's HumaneText service.
Install it, then, using Terminal, navigate to
Copy Markdown.pl to this directory. Make it executable with this
chmod 755 Markdown.pl
This is the directory that contains the text filters used by the
HumaneText service. The service chooses which filter to invoke by
means of a simple symlink. Delete the existing symlink:
and recreate it, pointing to Markdown.pl
ln -s Markdown.pl filter
Tested under OS X 10.3.3.
The very first thing I ever used the Internet for was email. I was a freshman at U of M, and MESSAGE, which ran on top of MTS on one of the big IBM mainframes on campus, was very popular among the student population. It was tied to a number of other campuses via Bitnet, so I was able to send email to friends at a few other universities as well. Most of my online time was spent on MTS and on local BBSes. The BBSes around at this point in time were mostly islands to themselves. I realize that things like FIDONet were around, but the boards I haunted didn't use them. One BBS I used was hosted on someone's Mac II running an early version of A/UX. What made this BBS special is that the owner was maintaining a Usenet feed. You could dial into this BBS and read and post articles on Usenet. That was the moment when the potential of the Internet really hit me. You had tens of thousands (at that point in history) of users taking part in hundreds of newsgroups, being replicated around the world in something not-at-all resembling real time (most of the Usenet nodes were using UUCP at that point, connecting via modems in the middle of the night and passing articles around. You could post an article on a Monday and it might take until Thursday or Friday to propagate around the Net. One of the coolest things about Panic's page for Unison is that it takes a "when people were shorter and lived near the water" approach to describing what the application does, assuming (probably correctly) that the majority of people who happen across their product page will have no idea of what Usenet is.
Panic are really some of the all-star developers on the Mac platform. They're not huge, like an Adobe or a Macromedia or a Microsoft, but their applications are always polished, tightly functional, and most importantly, a joy to use. I registered Audion ages ago and used it for years until the crushing power of the Smart Playlist secured the universe for iTunes.
Their latest application, Unison, is no exception. Everything about the app, from the whimsical icon to the introductory setup dialogs to to the progress indicators, screams polish. If you're doing a long binary download in the background and switch out to another app, Unison even badges its dock icon with a jaunty green checkmark when it finishes. How cool is that? It really makes binary downloads completely painless, taking care of the alphabet soup of standards (uuencoding, base64, yyencoding, rar, etc.) and presenting the files in big, friendly format that even a tyke raised on P2P apps can understand. Don't have a Usenet provider? Panic has partnered with a provider to bundle access if you need it.
Anyway, it's a joy to use, and it's nice to see a Mac newsreading app that does something different, as opposed to slapping a paint job on John Norstad's ancient Newswatcher source.
iTunes 4.2 adds a "Grouping" field on the tag screen, which sounds interesting, but it's currently undocumented. I did a Feedster dig and found this thread on Apple's discussions board. Sounds interesting -- some folks are using it as a subgenre field, others have different applications. Well, more metadata to key smart playlists on is always a nice thing. One wacky thing is that it seems to have picked up the Emusic classifications scheme (for tracks I downloaded from that service), which implies that whatever field ID3 Apple is calling "Grouping" is being used for other things by other people.
It definitely shows promise, though it currently lacks the polish of a Hydra or a TextWrangler. It insists on controlling the file extension, for example -- if you're in HTML mode, you have to save the file with an HTML extension. My weblog entries are all have to end in
.txt, that's how Blosxom decides whether to render them or not, so I'd have to do a manual rename if I used HyperEdit to edit them. There are a dozen other little annoyances on this scale -- none of them a show-stopper in isolation, but cumulatively enough to keep me firmly in the Hydra camp for now. Still, I'm intrigued, and I find myself agreeing more and more with John Gruber that Webkit is the big behind-the-scenes story in the Mac world this year.
I don't know how I missed this, but the Coding Monkeys apparently shipped Hydra 1.1.1 about two weeks ago. This is a huge deal for me, because Hydra's my current favorite text editor, and I live in my text editor. The big new feature is an option which uses Webkit to give you the option of seeing a live HTML preview (145kb PNG). I love this feature -- it's especially useful for these blog posts (Blosxom doesn't have a draft-mode) -- it should save me a lot of after-post typo repairs and formatting tweaks, and should entirely spare me (and you) the bane of every hand-coder's existence -- unclosed tags.
Of course, all the other wonderful stuff that makes Hydra such a joy is still there:
Dave Hyatt asked for our Top 10 Non-UI Safari Issues as trackbacks. The good news is that I only came up with 7 things to whine about. I hope this is helpful.
Aha! Dave Hyatt explained the Safari 1.0 font situation the other day. Basically, two major things changed between the betas and 1.0. First, the default font was set to be 16-point Times. This matches the default for Internet Explorer for Windows, which is presumably the browser most sites are tested against. Unfortunately, in my opinion (and I'm not alone), 16-point type looks freaking huge on a small monitor. After setting my default font setting to something sane (in my case, Lucida Grande at 14 points), I found that CSS specified xx-small type (found, for example, in my Shoutbox), became an unreadable pile of poo. The enforcement of a minimum font size (9 points) specified in the prerelease versions of Safari was removed in 1.0 final. The reason for this is revealed in the Dave Hyatt's blog entry -- that many sites use small font size spans as spacers. That sounds like a really unreliable way to position layout elements, but I'm no professional designer.
The Safari dev team threw us a bone, however. Mr. Hyatt mentioned that it was still possible to set a minimum font size via a hidden pref. Hidden pref, your ass is mine.
defaults write com.apple.safari WebKitMinimumFontSize 9
defaults write com.apple.safari WebKitMinimumFixedFontSize 9
(you need to enter those two lines in the Terminal.)
Back when I was in high school (and no, right now I don't particularly feel like admitting how long ago that was :-) ), there was a popular saying amongst my circle of friends. It was "punch my give-a-shit card," often simply abbreviated to "punch my card" or a vague hand-wave while holding your fingers in a card-grasping position (especially when teachers and/or parents were around), when something happened that you were theoretically supposed to care about but that, in reality, you just didn't.
/me waves hand vaguely
Punch my card.
Rivers flow uphill, and watch out for flying pigs! Quark Xpress 6 is available to order for OS X.
When I saw a sign on the freeway that said, “Los Angeles 445 miles,” I said
to myself, “I’ve got to get out of this lane.”
— Franklyn Ajaye