A Random Pattern

Archive for the 'Leopard' Category

5 Hours to Leopard’s Release!

Friday, October 26th, 2007

Leopard, the new operating system from Apple, goes on sale at 6 pm today.

If you’re still using Windows at home, and you want to do typical home-user things (photos, movies, music, web-surfing, email), Mac OS X is the best game in town right now.  Windows XP and Vista just don’t compare to the truly best-of-class consumer apps that Apple is providing lately.  Even better, Leopard now lets you run Windows side-by-side in case there are a few things you absolutely need on Windows.

From my point of view the absolute best feature for the average household?  The safety and security features.  You simply don’t have to worry about viruses and malware like you do with a Windows machine.  There’s the added advantage of not supporting the unethical Microsoft corporation, which has enjoyed (and abused) a monopoly for some time now.  Luckily it looks like those days are drawing to a close, as the market is already responding to the last several years of Apple innovation.

The real secret feature of Leopard is . . .

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

It’s been staring us in the face all along. I know I’ve seen a few people mention something here and there, but its never gotten the attention it deserved. The secret feature of Leopard, the one Apple didn’t want to announce early, is . . .

“Developers, Developers, Developers!” Yes, one of our least favorite internet videos mirrors the refrain that you now see across the Mac web. I’ll lay out my reasons for thinking so right up front, but you can decide for yourself after reading the many links this article offers:

1. Developers are excited, and several apps are coming out as Leopard only. That really should be all we need, but so that we can draw some reasonable conclusions . . .

2. Leopard is supposed to come out in “Spring 2007″, yet we still don’t have any announcements about the secret Leopard features. Barring some silly theories about a huge Apple conspiracy with most developers having a “placebo” Leopard, that means lots of developers have at least parts of the “secret” in their NDA’d little hands. This matches with a lot of developers saying ‘and that’s only the cool stuff we can tell you about’.
3. Apple stories have such a value, and there is such a large “rumor market” surrounding the company, that it’s hard to imagine major user features would be hidden in the developer previews and not disclosed. Apple’s good, but they’re not that good – and information from the developer previews does routinely leak.

“So what?” you say. “You haven’t told us anything yet. Where’d you get your headline from, Paul Thurrott?” I can hear you sneer. Ok, here’s the secret feature:

Delicious Library.

I’m only partly kidding here. I don’t really suspect that Apple is going to bundle Delicious Library (well, I don’t have really strong reason to suspect it anyways), and I don’t think that by itself is a compelling “secret feature”. What I really mean is that I suspect Steve will spend a good deal of time demoing some third-party apps with the release of Leopard, and for good reason.

I will add that the iPhone, and the obvious multiple uses of OS X in embedded situations (iPhone, Apple TV . . ), as well as the multi-touch capabilities, further strengthen my view that Leopard’s real strength is under the hood.  I don’t expect other multi-touch products right away – this is too new, and Apple needs to see the success with the iPhone (as well as learn from any mistakes there).  But they’ve got lots of professionals that could use a well-designed, laser-focused Apple product to help them, both in Audio and Graphic design.  Multi-touch would be another tool in the toolbox for this crowd, but I don’t see that offering the wide appeal and easy marketability that Apple needs for its “secret features”.
Note: While finishing up this article, I was edged by several other articles, though luckily no one’s come out and actually said it. So now I can use them as supporting evidence for my claims also. :)  I’m going to put this article out there, as I’ve been sitting on it for weeks.  There may be more to come, but if you follow Apple news you can put the rest of the pieces together yourself.

MacHeist -> CocoaDuel -> Peace and Joy

Friday, December 22nd, 2006

If you’ve been following MacHeist at all, you know there has been a fair amount of controversy surrounding the bundle sale at the end and subsequently, the whole event.  Most commenters appear to have dug in their heels at this point, on both sides of the issue.  Thus I see little room or purpose in further discourse on the subject.

There is a heart-warming end to the tale though.  A few of the developers / blogs involved decided on a friendly duel to settle the situation.  CocoaDuel was thus born.  Here’s the idea: each developer had something like a day and a half to write a holiday-inspired application and pick a favorite charity.  Then the unwashed masses (us) would get to vote on our favorite in the most meaningful way – with our wallets.  Yes, you get to give money to a charity, and in doing so help a developer win a case of beer (or appropriate substitution, of course).

I also should mention that all the apps are free, and some of them could be fairly useful.  They are also all supposed to be open-source, which means that you can play with or improve any of them you want to your heart’s content.

So yet again, I urge you to go vote.  This time, you’re getting an excuse to give a little extra money to a charity.  And really, who needs an excuse for that?!  

My Dream App: The “Top 6″ by Judging Criteria

Friday, October 13th, 2006

Here are my predictions for what apps make it to the top 6. First, though, a quick rundown by voting criteria, as objective as I can be. Keep in mind these are all somewhat subjective, though. These are the criteria again, as a reminder:

Judging Criteria:
A) Innovation and Creativity of the Idea
B) Use of OS X and Leopard technologies (see list of technologies at the end of the post)
C) Feasibility of Development
D) Mass-Market Appeal

Innovation and Creativity

This criteria is both easy and tough. Initially I had a very “artsy” view of creative, making this list easy. But as I look over it more, I realize some of the creative ideas, like Cookbook or even Ground Control, could also justifiably make an argument to be higher on the list.

  1. Blossom
  2. Atmosphere
  3. Whistler
  4. Hijack
  5. Portal
  6. Cookbook

Use of OS X and Leopard

This is a tough one, especially since I’m not a Mac developer. Here’s my best shot:

  1. Portal
  2. Ground Control
  3. Hijack
  4. Cookbook
  5. Blossom
  6. Atmosphere

Feasibility of Development

After this round, I don’t think this criteria will play as much of a role.  Almost everything still in the running has already been deemed feasible by the judges.  In a way, the idea of a Dream App is almost to push the limits of feasibility, not stay well within them.  Still, here’s the list, ordered by most feasible to least:

  1. Atmosphere
  2. Cookbook
  3. Hijack
  4. Blossom
  5. Portal
  6. Ground Control

Mass Market Appeal

This is probably the most critical factor, and is probably the main deciding factor or motivation for many voters.  “Would I buy this?” is, I think, a good question to ask yourself before voting.  Don’t ask “would I download this and try it for a few hours?”.  :D  This is also the most subjective list, so here are my opinions:

  1. Whistler
  2. Ground Control
  3. Hijack
  4. Cookbook
  5. Portal
  6. Atmosphere

My Personal Opinions (finally!)

The reason I haven’t shared them yet is that they’re not set in stone, especially not until I read the guest judges’ comments.  Still, I’ve got a pretty firm opinion right now.  That opinion, though, has changed since I first started following MDA, and is likely to change again before the final vote next week.

I was actually surprised when I finished doing the ranking above, so maybe you were too.  The diversity of the applications really shows through, and they all have different areas of strength.  Each of them has a different potential market, as well, which makes the “Mass Market Appeal” that much more difficult to judge.  Compound that with the fickleness of consumers, and we have an almost impossible prediction to make.  Good thing we’re utilizing the “Wisdom of Crowds“.  ;)
Before I go on, voting is likely to start soon for the semi-finals.  There are 9 contestants, and after this voting round 6 will head to the finals.  Next week the final vote will leave us with 3 winners.  After that, MDA developers will form teams and create the 3 winning apps, with (hopefully) plenty of community involvement along the way.


  1. Cookbook: I would buy this before any of the above apps.  It’s a really well-thought out idea, and I think it’d be really successful.  Still, it seems a bit “tame” for what MDA could produce.  I think of it as “proof” that MDA isn’t just for geeks, but for real people.  Plus, think of the market this way: everyone has to eat.  Those that have discretionary income are able to pick and choose what they want to eat when.  Discretionary income is good for selling an app like this.
  2. Hijack: In contrast to what I just mentioned for Cookbook, Hijack is for Forum Junkies.  That happens to include my wife, oddly enough, which is why Hijack initially caught my eye.  This idea is just hands-down a winner, especially if you look at the success of both RSS and the current interest around “social” and “community” type web activities.  I think it’s self-explanatory, someone tell me if I’m wrong and I’ll explain.  :P
  3. Whistler: This was a slow starter, but as the vision became clearer it grew on me.  This seems to me the most marketable of the ideas, one of the funnest and most creative, and after lengthy forum discussion the conclusion was that it would be feasible.  I really like the contestant’s vision, and can really see this being one of those apps used to “sell” the Mac.  Not because it, by itself, is “needed” by anyone, but because it would be a perfect example of how things on the Mac are easy and completely, mind-blowingly awesome.
  4. Portal, Ground Control, Blossom, and Atmosphere are all really close 4th places in my mind.  :(  I wish they could all get developed!

I expect iGTD, Desktop Wars, and Atmosphere or Ground Control to not make the semi-finals.  Reasons?

  • iGTD hasn’t gotten any further development attention, unfortunately.  (However, there’s a strong GTD cult that might keep this one in anyways)
  • Desktop Wars has been mired in controversy and lack of attention (except on voting days).  (Again, there’s a strong contingent of -likely- younger voters that isn’t yet interested in the more practical aspects of the other apps, and would love to download DW.  This is a good time to stress that the winning MDA apps WILL NOT BE FREE, but will cost money.  :) )
  • Atmosphere – this was a hard call, because I like the idea, but it’s simple and not enough people seem to be buying it as “worth” the vote relative to the others.  We’re getting into the hard votes, where good ideas are going to lose out to the very best ideas, on merit and not on anything the contestant has much control over at this point.
  • Ground Control – also a hard call, I really like this app and I like the contestant and his work ethic even more.  The app is a brilliant idea, really strong, but I’m afraid it may be too hard for voters to grasp before they “clicky clicky” their easy vote buttons.  It took me a while to get on board, too.

There you have it, folks.  More opinions to come, if anyone still needs more.  And commentary next week on the finals, too!
Leopard Technologies, according to Apple’s “sneek peak” site:

Here are the other core technologies per the Leopard “sneek peak” site:
-Time Machine (auto file backup – can be hooked up to your app by API so you tell it how to smartly backup your app’s files instead of grabbing everything that changes)
-Mail (main interesting thing here is the universal ToDo list stuff, at least from an MDA perspective)
-iChat (new capabilities of sharing photos, movies, and putting fake backgrounds behind the speaker…)
-Spaces (virtual desktops, I see an explosion of innovation surrounding these. But that might just be dirt on my glasses. cool )
-Dashboard (new stuff is the web-clips ability and the easy widget designer-thing – forgot it’s name)
-Spotlight (new and improved! We hope!!)
-iCal (I don’t remember. But it was cool, I’m sure. wink )
-Accessibility (the Voice, and we all hope maybe more steps towards resolution independence?)
-64-bit (uhm, yeah…)
-Core animation (which is fun to toss around, but I think mainly means it’s easier for developers to flip images and video and what-not around the screen in whatever manner they want. Or something.)

Cool and Useful: an inspiration to us all

Thursday, October 12th, 2006

A new Mac application is coming out, one that does something that sounds really boring: it burns discs (you know, makes CD-Roms).  Go take a look at this video clip – it suddenly makes burning seem a little more fun.

Why do I mention this now, in the midst of the MDA fun?  Because this approach to making applications is one of the most exciting things about the Mac, and the My Dream App competition.  Disco makes something simple, when all previous attempts I’ve seen make it complicated.  Disco makes it cool and fun, when previously it’s been boring and borderline painful.

And the kicker?  One of the guys behind AppZapper and now Disco will be working on one of the winning MDA ideas.  So yeah, that’s how cool the final product is going to be.  Let the fun begin.  :)

MDA – Voter Opinions

Wednesday, October 11th, 2006

Here are some of the recent blog entries about MDA, as well as posts where some forum members lay out their case for their favorite (and least favorite) apps:

Combination of the Dock and Dashboard – by Justin
The Semis: My Opinion – by microwavedh20
Weighing in: My Picks – by Dillon Krug, former contestant
My Picks for Round 3 – by Devon Shaw
mythrol’s picks and reasoning – err, by mythrol, of course :lol:
what do you get if you cross a guitar tuner with a dictation machine and feed it to a MIDI engine? – by The Doorkeeper
what a computer app should be – by SP3CCYLAD
I’m still holding off on posting my favorites. If you’re here, bored, only because you’re waiting to vote: just come back tomorrow. It looks like voting is delayed until Thursday. Don’t worry, you’ll still get 48 hours to show up and vote.

MDA “Top Ten” (top six, really) lists are in draft stage.  Come back tomorrow!

MDA Semi-finals: The time-restricted voter’s guide

Wednesday, October 11th, 2006

last updated 2006-10-12, 16:50 EST

Digg it

If you’re not already familiar with MDA (My Dream App), read my previous post first (American Idol for your (Mac) computer).

Quick Summary:
Here is my two-sentence summary of each application, in reverse alphabetical order. Note that the ideas generally have a lot more to them than I indicate here (skip to the next section if you want the current status of each project), and this summary is the “Cliff Notes” version for those not already familiar with the application ideas.

Whistler: Whistle to your computer, and hear your music converted to piano. Tap on your desk, and Whistler converts it to drums.

Portal: Keep your application settings, and important files, synchronized between two or more Macs. One example would be your browser bookmarks and settings.

iGTD: Use the “Getting Things Done” method on your Mac. Even if you’ve never heard of GTD, iGTD aims to be an easy-to-use version with simple tutorials to get you started.

Hijack: Keep all your favorite forums in one easy place. It’s like an RSS Reader (news-reader) for forums.

Ground Control: Imagine a more powerful useful Dock, combined with Dashboard. With a glance you can see how many new emails you have, or check your calendar without launching the full iCal application.

Desktop Wars: A war rages on your desktop, while you work or play. When you have a few minutes, watch your desktop to see how the battle goes.

Cookbook: Store, find, schedule, and use recipes easily. Order ingredients online, or just print a weekly shopping list.

Blossom: A plant grows (or dies) on your desktop. How well it does depends on how hard you work, encouraging you to stay on task instead of online or playing games.

Atmosphere: Your desktop becomes a window, showing you the current weather outside. Instead of a little icon, you see rain falling on your desktop if that’s what’s happening outside.

Judging Criteria:
A) Innovation and Creativity of the Idea
B) Use of OS X and Leopard
C) Feasibility of Development
D) Mass-Market Appeal

Current Status:
Whistler: The contestant seemed to really get in gear over the last week or two. New mockups, an icon, then a website have helped fuel a resurgence of interest and forum activity around Whistler. One spark for the renewed interest was a technical conversation on the forums (not for the faint of heart) about the mechanics of making Whistler work. That conversation sparked this web post by Rageous. In the last round of voting Whistler sat low, however that was quite possibly due to Digging by other apps near Whistler’s level. (UPDATE: The fan base for Whistler seems to be vocal and growing.)

: Another contestant that appeared to get motivated after a low showing a few rounds ago, Portal quickly developed from a monolithic mockup, to some widget add-ons, finally taking the form of a widget as the main interface. Portal also gained a website. Although Portal always had brilliant eye-candy ideas which will make for a great Mac app, the interface and usability has seen a lot of attention recently. This is now one of the more active contestants, and he interacts not only with his own app idea, but other ideas as well. The last round of voting had Portal in the top three, quite a move for this Dream App. (UPDATE: Portal has added a few more mockups in the forums.  UPDATE 2: Portal has an improved website, including the new “Pro Mode” mockup.)

: Over the last few weeks, iGTD has received plenty of questions in the forums but no answers. The contestant is dealing with life issues, and has only been able to do a little in the way of mockups or defining iGTD’s function. Still, iGTD did decently in the last few rounds of voting, and there is certainly a group that wants to see this type of app come to fruition. One fan has even offered up some better mockups as a starting point (and the contestant has asked for help). That the Omni team has announced a GTD app does make winning a bigger challenge for iGTD, especially without the attention of the contestant.

: This app has been a front-runner for most of the competition. Still, the contestant isn’t sitting on his heels, and just released a second video mockup. Strangely, Hijack still doesn’t have a website. However, the first video garnered praise from MDA creator Phillip Ryu for raising the stakes. The contestant has remained quite active, but is holding back on one answering one of the more popular questions (how to post using Hijack) until the final round of voting. (UPDATE: Continued discussion on smart keywords and folders is happening here.)

Ground Control
: Another very active contestant, with one of the bigger ideas in the competition. Ground Control has gained several mockups and an entire website. The latest, though, is an actual demo (hacked together using Javascript, but enough to get the idea across) and some sample skins. I can’t directly link to either, but you’ll see the big green buttons at the top, with the links shortly after. The last round brought some controversy, both because contestants had to use digg to stay in, and because of the title used to digg Ground Control. (UPDATE: Ground Control was the first with a website, not Cookbook. UPDATE 2: Ground Control made good use of the voting delay by unveiling the collaboration with Portal and Cookbook.  Russell also listed possible modules again.)

Desktop Wars
: DW, as it’s called in the forums, continues to endure much controversy. For awhile, a fan going by Pixel Sage was the only one doing anything with the DW idea. During voting days the contestant shows up, only to disappear again as soon as voting is over. Because of the controversy, the idea still hasn’t made it much past the original idea. However, before Pixel Sage gave up on DW, he did make some great-looking art, mockups, and concept pieces. The contestant showed up again this voting round, rehashing again what DW will be without bringing much new to the table. Still, DW has been popular every voting round. (UPDATE: Pixel Sage sparked one more controversy before ditching DW, with a suggestion that the contestant was throwing in the towel.)

: Cookbook has been neck-and-neck at the top of voting rounds with Hijack. This contestant was one of the earliest with some really gorgeous mockups. I believe it was also the first website(UPDATE: See the Ground Control entry above). Since Cookbook was well-developed early on with strong mockups, the app seems to have enjoyed a comfortable following, but also has been quieter the last round or two. Still, new mockups have shown up for the Amazon integration / shopping cart feature, as well as searching (an often-brought-up topic in Cookbook’s forums). The Full Screen mockups also saw some more refinement.

: Several new mockups and idea refinement have taken place over the last few weeks with Blossom, culminating in a new logo and even a video recently. The feedback has been mostly positive, though several have requested a different plant (for example, more cartoonish). Blossom joined in the controversy last round with a digg to stay out of the bottom results. Blossom did it right, with a nice write-up, telling the users how to vote, and even making easy voting links to Digg, Reddit, AND Netscape. Now that’s being thorough. We’ll see how that impacts this round, as contestants may find it necessary to market and sell their ideas to get votes. (UPDATE: Blossom’s new website is announced in typical, and tasteful, style by Dan.  A poll is even included!)

: One of the most aggressive and straightfoward contestants, Atmosphere is a simple idea meant to look good. With some good support for mockups, Atmosphere last week encouraged the trend of exploring settings panel / configuration options. Several fans helped, arriving at some really gorgeous (and some just plain practical) preference pane options. (Edited) Atmosphere kicked off controversy last round, using a well-timed digg to stay in the competition. (UPDATE: The contestant hasn’t been in the forum for four days, though fans have been keeping the preference panel discussion alive without him.  UPDATE 2: The contestant reappeared to assure us that he was, in fact, still alive and following along.  He blogged two versions of settings panels created by fans, and hinted at information on forecasting soon to come.  So he “forecasted” forecasting for Atmosphere.  ;)  )
Whew! That was a lot of work! Come back soon for my personal favorites, as well as some “Top 6″ lists where I’ll rank contestants and ideas based on things like Most Effort, Prettiest, Most Functional, Most Friendly, and whatever else comes to mind. Suggestions are encouraged. See you in the Forums.

UPDATE: Voting has been delayed for the semifinals, and is rumored to be starting sometime.  :D  Make sure to check the main page at MDA frequently!
Digg it

iChat in the next OS X: fun ideas

Friday, August 25th, 2006

I’ve been thinking about one of the fun little extras Steve Jobs showed off at WWDC not too long ago: The ability to replace backgrounds in iChat video chats. Here are some ideas that I’m sure someone will play around with as soon as Leopard is available:

  • Wear a t-shirt that matches the background. Presto, there’s a hole in your stomach! (Don’t know if this will work, depends on how they implemented the algorithm.
  • Take a screenshot with your head in the picture. Does your head now disappear?
  • Create a fake background with yourself, then “walk in” on yourself while chatting with someone else.

Remember, folks, you heard it here first. ;) Here’s the site that gave me the idea, with a rundown on Leopard:

… In addition, a sophisticated chroma key algorithm was added so that a user can do a snapshot of the background he is chatting in front of, and it will remove the background and key in a background image or video of the user’s choice. For corporate presentations, podcasts or just plain having fun, this is a great feature. …

Update:  Links to WWDC, the Leopard sneek peek iChat page, and a picture from Apple showing the new backdrop effect:iChat Video window

rdesktop on Mac, connect to Windows

Monday, August 21st, 2006

Interested in getting a Remote-Desktop-type setup to work?  I’m overdue for another post on the Ubuntu and Kubuntu methods of doing this, but in the meantime here’s a good link for setting up between a Mac and a Windows PC.  It uses rdesktop, as the Microsoft client for Mac is apparently not very good.

Dapper Expectations?

Wednesday, August 9th, 2006

Mark Shuttleworth, benevolent sponsor and launcher of Ubuntu, posted an email discussing what went wrong with communication / setting of expectations for what the latest Ubuntu release would deliver. He also points out the very good “problem” of Ubuntu being compared to Windows.

Among other linux-y items, Jorge has this response:

I think that it’s difficult to gauge exactly what users expect. Pre-warty’s users (like me) were usually experienced Linux users who enjoyed being lazy and having things Just Work(tm). By the time Dapper rolled around, if it wasn’t doing your laundry, then it’s game over. I’m sure those of us that advocate Ubuntu regularly run into this all the time …

I think people on the web just get their expectations set too high regardless – some high profile blogger makes a small, unsubstantiated statement with no real concrete communication, and next thing you know the whole blogosphere undergoes a severe case of speaker feedback, until one of the speakers blows.  The next round of feedback starts, since the blogosphere is recursive in nature, and …

Anyways, back to my topic.   Oh, yeah, Ubuntu and Dapper Drake.  Well, I think Mark’s right about “polished” not being a good word to use.  For example I, as a new user to Ubuntu (and Linux), just assumed that of course there was a graphical installer.  It didn’t cross my mind that there wouldn’t be, and I certainly didn’t know it was the first time one had been included!

I’m a fairly technical person, so it’s not an issue for me.  But I’m really interested in seeing (at least one) mainstream challenger to Windows, with significant market share (preferably two or more).   So when I hear that Dapper Drake is “LTS” (Long Term Support) and “polished”, I’m thinking Windows and Mac (and hoping as good or better in all areas).  Some might laugh to see Windows and polished in the same sentence, as I am.  But you have to remember that the world sees computers as Windows.  Linux is better in myriad ways, as is Mac OS X.  And each is good for specific purposes.  But unless Ubuntu has immediate, short-term benefits over Windows, you are going to be hard-pressed to get Windows users to switch.  (I’ve got a screenshot I’ll put up later illustrating how an old-school linux user’s worldview differs from your average citizen, and why it has been hard for linux to take over the desktop market.)

This, by the way, is the reason that the first thing I did on Ubuntu was check out the games, looking for Spider in particular.  That’s because that’s what my mother-in-law does on the computer – plays Spider.  If she can do that as well or better on Ubuntu, fine.  If not, go away.

One last comment, since I brought up Apple and inflated expectations earlier.  I was quite pleased with WWDC, and I suspect anyone who was displeased wasn’t really grounded in this universe before the keynote.  The indications were all over the place from most respectable bloggers on what to expect (linked post is from after the keynote, but reflects my thoughts).  I’m happy, because it sounds like Apple will again deliver things I actually need (eeeaasy backup) and want (spaces).  They seem to be pretty good at doing that.