Tuesday, September 16, 2014

2007 WWDC keynote impressions

Monday, June 11, 2007

I’m on vacation today in Chicago. It’s beautiful outside, but instead I’m setting indoors in front of my PowerBook watching live blogs of the WWDC Keynote (MacRumors, Engadget).

Since I’m on vacation I can also jot down my initial impressions now, right after the speech. I’ll probably post a follow-up post once I’ve had a chance to shake off the trance and get some other perspectives.

In the brief intro Jobs gave Intel a nice thank-you and welcomed some visitors to talk about activity on the games front. (I don’t care about games, so I won’t cover the material.)

Once the presentation got moving the content about 80% Leopard, 10% “Huh?” (Safari on Windows), and 10% iPhone.

Leopard

Jobs says there are over 300 new features. 10 were shown in the keynote.

Here’s my take on each, in the order they were presented:

New Desktop

I’m dying to see the screen shots and some demonstrative videos. Hey, maybe I should check the Web site…

(Five minutes later…)

Apple provides and overview (including videos) of the new desktop. Typical Apple refinements (the new Dock look, the semi-transparent menu bar) and a typical Apple “righting” of an existing feature (the Windows task bar). Nice.

New Finder

It actually does seem pretty new this time around (see the overview). It’s nice to see the UI learnings cross-pollinating. The Finder’s taken several cues from iTunes, which is a good thing. CoverFlow gets some cool points, though I’m not sure how often I’ll use it. It does seem pretty useful when it’s the result browser for a Spotlight search.

The sidebar is intuitive; again, it works like the iTunes sidebar.

Spotlight across computers is a nice addition.

If Back to My Mac is implemented anywhere near as elegantly as it’s been shown this feature alone will get my .Mac subscription dollars. This is a great example of Apple taking a technology that’s been available for a long time and making it work the way it should.

Quick Look

Once again, a standing ovation (in my mind, anyway), just for implementing an old feature the right way. The demo is worth a view.

Core Animation

Developer stuff. I’m too lazy to research it right now, so I don’t know how relevant it is. It’s safe to assume the result will be cooler apps. If cooler apps do actually result from Core Animation, I will point back to this column and say “See, I called it an hour after the 2007 WWDC keynote.”

Boot Camp

It’s out of beta. Not surprisingly, dual-booting is still required. There was a nice nod to Parallels and VMWare. Was there any hidden meaning when it was said Boot Camp was a “complement” to Parallels and VMWare?

Spaces

Today’s Spaces coverage was the 2007 recap of Apple’s 2006 announcement that Leopard will contain a refined version of technology originally created in 1989.

Dashboard

Dashboard now allows us to turn Web pages into widgets. This seems similar to the Active Desktop feature Microsoft added to IE 4.0 in 1996 and then discontinued (or maybe just forgot) by the time IE 5.0 was released.

I’m sure this feature implemented nicely. I doubt anyone will throw a party about it.

Oh, and there’s a movie widget. It looks kinda cool. I didn’t see the speech, so I’m curious to know how much applause a movie widget got.

iChat

Neat/cute. Once I get a MacBook Pro (note to Apple: slimmer, or at least lighter 17-inch version in October, please) I will use iChat to conference with my parents. (Side note: I talked my Mom into buying a MacBook). I may even try to con my sister into getting a MacBook so we can do a full-on conference.

Time Machine

If Time Machine works half as well as it demoes then I think we have a winner. How is it that backup software has existed since the dawn of time, yet no one has ever bothered to make it usable? My new goal is to have my mother doing unassisted backups using an Airport Extreme with a connected disc. It’s been every son’s dream, and now it’s a reality.

Safari Web site incompatibility, now for Windows

The above was my first impression. The more I think about it the more I see some logic in doing this.

It’s sort of a secondary enticement to folks on Windows. The assumption would seem to be that folks using iTunes would also like an Apple-branded Web browser. I’m sure there are hooks between the two that make using them together compelling, and there will probably be some iPhone-specific hooks in Safari as well. I’m sure Safari will be distributed with iTunes, both on the Web and in iPhone and iPod packaging.

Having Safari on both Windows and the iPhone can only help in the site compatibility department. Site compatibility is so inconsistent I don’t even use Safari right now. (I also find it slow, though I’m using it on a three-year old G4 PowerBook, which admittedly is getting a little long in the tooth.)

Jobs mentioned the Windows Safari beta was available for download, but he didn’t mention (or I didn’t catch) that the Mac beta is also available. I’ll download it and give Safari yet another chance.

I still wonder if too much human effort is being spent developing functionally identical Web browsing functionality. Oh well.

iPhone: who needs a development kit?

Such is the general message Apple is communicating. The basic idea is: Web apps work in Safari, which runs on the iPhone, so just develop Web apps and they’ll run on the iPhone. According to the Apple press release, apps
“can seamlessly access iPhone’s services, including making a phone call, sending an email and displaying a location in Google Maps.”

Jobs definitely oversold the idea. (Engadget’s response when his pitch hit its climax: “Weeeeeaaaak.”) Most of what was “announced” was pretty much to be assumed anyway. That said, with some creativity I expect there will be plenty of good stuff.

Summary

There’s more Leopard detail on the Apple site, but given that some of the “top 10″ items were a bit of a stretch, most of the rest of the changes can be assumed to be incremental.

All in all Leopard seems to be shaping up into a compelling upgrade. I just wish it was ready now.

Tech notes, week ending June 10

Monday, June 11, 2007

Today’s edition is being written at Panera Bread in Chicago. This place has more working professionals and students than a Starbucks. Given the free Wi-Fi it’s easy to see why.

I’m sweating to get this done before the WWDC keynote at 1:00 (12:00 CT). Since I’ve got the day off I’ll be tracking it. From oldest to newest:

Marc Andreesen is back on the Mac
I’d never heard he was a Mac user who left, but it’s a great endorsement. Read

iPhone developer kit at WWDC
Of all the rumors floating around, this one makes the most sense to me. Job’s already acknowledged it, and what better time to do it? Read

New MacBooks
They’re faster and I like the new display on the 15-inch. The hard disks are bigger. Tom Yager has a typically thoughtful piece on them.

Yet the case design never changes. The 17-inch is actually slightly larger than my three-year old 17-inch PowerBook. The 15-inch lost two-tenths of a pound, but the 17-inch is the same weight. The machines are still beautiful, but I want to see something new.

I was equally bummed (but not surprised) there’s no Robson caching, though at least one recent report questions the technology’s effectiveness. I’d expect if Apple’s going to implement it the technology will require Leopard.

If Leopard were already available I’d be seriously tempted to jump. My hope is redesigned MacBook Pro models will be released on conjunction with Leopard.

Parallels 3.0
There’s been of writing about the new version of Parallels; I liked Pogue’s article. I’m seriously psyched about this software. I can’t wait to retire my Dell Latitude and run Windows on a fast MacBook Pro. This made the MacBook Pro disappointments that much harder to swallow.

.Mac via Google
The rumor seems to have started with this posting, then a bunch of others followed (the Business Week blogger, ComputerWorld, etc.). This morning some site called MacScoop claims they’ve heard it from a (presumably reliable) source. A hot tip or a site hoping to gain credibility by claiming to have confirmation of a rumor they heard from someone else? We’ll see.

Somewhat off-topic but too brilliant not to mention
Floorplanner provides simple and effective tools for designing, uh, floor plans. It’s effective for my modest New York apartment planning needs, anyway.

Necessity is the mother of invention
A rule proven once again by a saint at MIT, who is working to develop the ability to wirelessly recharge batteries. I wish this existed now, because my battery is dead.

More later…

Tech Notes, week ending June 3

Sunday, June 3, 2007

This was a busy week in tech. I’ve been trying to write this post for days and the list of stuff to include just keeps growing.

From oldest to newest:

BackRow Developers’ Kit
Apple doesn’t provide one, so this guy does. Nice. Doesn’t sound like a kit “for the rest of us,” but it’s a start. Really this guy’s just trying to get a job. Nice.

Google Street View Maps (here) and Microsoft Live Search Maps (here)
The Google maps are pretty cool. I saw the front of my apartment building. Navigating them is kinda slow, and privacy concerns are already surfacing.

The Microsoft maps look interesting, but they don’t work on my Mac, and I haven’t taken the time to try them on a Windows machine. I’ll never stop being annoyed by Web services that aren’t fully cross-platform. I’m over the fact that not everything works (or works well) on Safari, but I expect everything to work on Firefox, regardless of the underlying platform. Shame.

Palm Foleo
A Linux-powered laptop-like device at 2.4 pounds is a neat idea. The fact it’s an add-on to a Treo (or other smartphone) is an interesting, if at times impractical twist.

I think the fact it’s Linux-powered is very cool, but I generally agree with Engadget’s impression of it. The TreoCentral guy is, not surprisingly, more open-minded about it. The general consensus seems to be in line with Engadget.

The fact it runs Linux and has built-in Wi-Fi (which apparently operates independently of a tethered smart phone) means it will probably be a popular hacker toy. A light, subnotebook-sized machine that will provide Web browsing for $400? It may create an unintended market.

Microsoft Surface
Cool stuff, but the initial applications are less than exciting to me.

Interesting Development Technologies
LINA, Google Gears, Google Mashup Editor. More on Google Gears and Mashup Editor later.

Real Networks. Yawn.
Real built some product that allows you to download Flash videos. Apparently the installer is less annoying.

Didn’t they build something a while back that was a “threat” to Apple? What was it called, again? Does it still exist?

AppleTV Developments
YouTube. Cool. I’m more excited by the 160 GB hard drive, though. I’ll stick with my Mac Mini for the moment.

If it gets IPTV, though, I will be really, really interested.

Jobs and Gates at D5
I’ve read the transcript and I’m halfway through the videos.

iPhone Lands June 29
It’s official, and the ads are already posted. I’m gone back and forth, but I’m now 90% sure I will be picking up an iPhone the minute I can get my hands on one. Will they be available at the Fifth Ave Apple Store at midnight June 29?

Tech Notes for April 5, 2007

Thursday, April 5, 2007

This will be daily notes on tech stuff I read or find.

Google Desktop for Mac

Google Desktop for Mac was announced yesterday.

I wasn’t really expecting it, though the announcement was probably no surprise to anyone who cared. For some reason I figured Google would somehow show “respect” for Spotlight by not releasing search on the Mac. I think I know better.

In my whopping 20 minutes of use I’m finding each has unique advantages. Google Desktop is a faster way to search Google, my Web history, and Gmail. Spotlight is still for app launching and finding local documents as well as assets managed via the iApps.

I knew better, but I hoped anyway Apple would license Google technology to do desktop search, or would at least integrate Google searching into Spotlight. Instead, as with Windows XP, I’m stuck with two incomplete desktop search tools. Vista’s desktop search sorta works, once you set the default search engine to Google, anyway. (I’ve only got Vista on my unloved personal Dell, so I haven’t spent a huge amount of time using it.)

Yes, I know there are Google Spotlight plugins. I haven’t tried one in a while; maybe I should try again.

Mossberg: New PCs “Ruined”

Walt Mossberg does a nice job summarizing the frustration that’s part of setting up a new Windows machine. I spent seven hours a couple Saturdays back setting up a Windows machine for my Mom. It was infuriating, and I know what I’m doing. The Mossberg article and this one by Ken Rockwell made me decide I should get my Mom a Mac. She uses her computer to browse the Web, write email, and manage her digital photos. Why should I keep putting either of us through phone calls to me about annoying Norton questions and vague errors?

New del.icio.us Firefox Extension

I have to agree with Arrington on this one. I will take extra steps to use del.icio.us anyway, but this level of integration with Firefox is great.

Okay, I just installed it and have barely used it, but I’ve used it enough to be excited about it. It goes onto my XP machines tomorrow.

Old News: Apple TV

The Apple TV has been around for a few weeks now. I’m a lot less excited about it than I thought I would be. I haven’t even gone to the Apple Store to play with one. Having read up on it I’m feeling better about my Mac Mini media center arrangement.

Engadget’s review seems about right. Useful as a simple iTunes extender, but it’s got some growing to do. Still, I may check one out when I’m in Chicago this weekend.

It works!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Windows Live Writer works pretty well, actually. It assigns the correct time to post, handles categories, and the editor even incorporates my stylesheets.

I find it ironic that this software supports both the Microsoft blogging platform (Spaces) and other major platforms, while Apple iWeb doesn’t work with WordPress and others.

Windows Live Writer Beta

Sunday, August 13, 2006

I’m writing this post using the new Windows Live Writer Beta. It’s not bad so far and (so far) seems to work with WordPress.

Nothing much to say at the moment, except that I rode my bike today and I finally got a freaking Wireless Mighty Mouse.

Apple notes and a sad 404

Monday, August 7, 2006

The WWDC is today. Notes and thoughts:

  • Semi-related: The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs blog has gone 404. This was inevitable, but it’s a bummer. I was really getting a kick out of it.
  • I’m already psyched for Leopard. The Spaces virtual desktop technology, Time Machine, and the SpotLight improvements all seem compelling. Mail looks to be taking additional inevitable steps into Outlook land, which would be interesting to me if was still willing to use a desktop email client.
  • VMWare officially announced a Mac product. I’m happy to hear virtual machines created on the Mac can run in VMWare on their other supported platforms and vice-versa.

Another reason to never buy a first generation Apple product…

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Apparently Apple didn’t do much real-world testing.

I guess I’m not alone…

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

apparently a lot of people have experienced a PowerBook hard disk failure, many of them in the same amount of time (18 months to two years).

I hate computers (bad computer day)

Monday, June 5, 2006

This is the second post in an as-yet-untitled series. I’m thinking of titling the series either “Tales of Petty Angst” or “Letting the Little Things Win”. (The first post in this series was “Who steals an Umbrella?“)

Today’s woeful tale is of my semi-beloved PowerBook, which fully let me down tonight when its hard disk went south. It now sounds like a coffee grinder. I’m in the process of wasting the next few hours of my life installing Mac OS X Tiger on my portable FireWire drive so I can boot the PowerBook and then (hopefully) grab my data off the soon-to-permanently-expire disk.

After all this I’ll have the privilege of blowing a couple hundred dollars on a new startup disk. Some additional dough will be required to have it installed, of course, because I checked into the installation process and I’m not going near it.

All of which reminds me how hot the thing has been running lately. Has it always run this hot? I don’t remember. Apparently, though, we’re all supposed to accept that laptop computers run hot. (Actually, we’re supposed to call them notebook computers now–we don’t call them laptops precisely because we don’t want to encourage people to scorch their laps). We might even consider being happy about this; it’s a small price to pay for faster and faster processors, right?

When I got my first Mac in 1993 I was firmly in love with computers. (Or Macs, at least.) This unconditional love evolved into a love-hate relationship following my foray into Windows use in the latter part of the ’90’s. (I gave up on the Mac for several years when it seemed like the old Mac OS would never be replaced. OS X brought me back a few years ago.)

As I experienced continual frustration with my computers I found myself more and more wanting to offload the processing complexity and software to the network. For a while this seemed imminent, but then the tech crash happened. Nirvana didn’t seem so near any more and I got tired of stressing about computers. The relative stability of Windows 2000 and XP also lulled me.

I got plain sick of Windows after a while and then started having feelings for Macs again when OS X matured a bit. I like Macs more than Windows again, but ultimately both of them disappoint me in the same ways.

I just don’t have the patience for all the overhead any more. Years ago I would have known my Mac inside out; tonight I had to reference a book to figure out how to boot my PowerBook from the install DVD. It used to be I would have spent an afternoon searching out software updates; now I get annoyed when the computer automatically prompts me to install them. At this point I have better things to do with my life than spend a bunch of time on the care and feeding of my computer. It should just work when I need it.

A lot of the time I don’t need even half the power of my computer. I expect most folks don’t. I love the promise of my computer, but I hate the reality of living with it.  

Will hosted applications that “outsource” the complexity to Web companies like Yahoo!, Google, and Microsoft fix all this? They’ve been doing this for a while on things like email and calendaring, of course. The next generation services are getting nearer and nearer. Will these services make our software and hardware-heavy Macs and PCs unnecessary? I don’t know, but I do know I’m ready for something simpler.

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