mac

Happy 30th Anniversary, Mac!

[This is an updated repost from the 25th anniversary.]

It's the 30th anniversary of the introduction of the first Macintosh.

I first used a Mac back in high school in New Zealand, where I volunteered as head student librarian. The school had mostly Apple IIe computers, but bought one of the newfangled Macintosh computers in 1984. It was an original 128K Mac, with a single internal floppy drive. Back then, the OS, an application, and data fit on a single 400K disk. We used MacWrite for letters and other documents, MacPaint for occasional graphics, and the OverVUE database for some records... though not a full book catalog.

I bought my first Mac four years later while at university, in 1988. It was a Macintosh Plus, one of the new platinum-colored models. And I even had a second 800K floppy drive and a dot-matrix printer! Later, I added an external hard drive (I think it was 10 MB, though I could be wrong).

Those were the days... working on a 9-inch 512 x 342 pixel monochrome display... which is actually not much more than the original iPhone screen resolution, to give some perspective.

Later I bought a Macintosh II, which I subsequently upgraded internally to be a Macintosh IIx. Then I used a number of other models provided by a Dejal client.

When my wife and I got married, Apple gave us a PowerBook 150 as a wedding present, since we had met while using Macs with the fledgling internet. Our wedding was covered on local TV news and newspapers. Yep, meeting over the internet was a novel concept back then.

Just before we moved to the US, we bought a clamshell iBook G3, which we still have, though it is retired now. Then an iMac G4 that died of old age, a PowerMac G5 that I still very occasionally use for Mac OS X 10.4 testing, a 17" MacBook Pro that died due to graphics system failure, and my current machine, a 27" iMac.

(We've also had a few other Macs: a Mac mini we used to use with our TV, a MacBook I bought to take to WWDC before I got my MacBook Pro, then subsequently gave to my wife's mom, and my wife has had a couple of 15" MacBook Pros and now has a 27" iMac like mine.)

All in all, it's been a great 30 years. I've enjoyed using and owning the various Macs over this time, and look forward to many more years. Happy birthday, Mac!

Visiting big cats

Lion, leopard & tigerMac OS X 10.7, more commonly known as Lion, was released last week, and has been very popular. Dejal customers have been very quick to upgrade.

So, I thought I'd report on the current OS usage stats, and the status of each of my apps.

Tiger

Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger" was released over six years ago on April 29, 2005.

Simon: Version 2.5.7 was the last to support Tiger; with the major 3.0 upgrade I made Leopard the minimum OS version. Despite that, there are less people using Simon 2 on Tiger than those who are eligible to upgrade to Simon 3 but haven't gotten around to it yet. About 4% of the user base are on Simon 2 on Tiger.

Time Out: The current release of this app still supports Tiger, but only about 2% of users are still on Tiger.

Caboodle: Version 1.3.7, the current release version as I write this, still supports Tiger, but the next release, 1.4, which is currently in beta, raises the minimum to Leopard. But only 3% of users will have to stick with 1.3.7.

BlogAssist: The current release, 2.2.6, still supports Tiger. Only 2% still need that, though.

Leopard

Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" was released almost four years ago, on October 26, 2007.

Simon: Current releases of Simon require this OS as a minimum. 15% of Simon users are on Leopard.

Time Out: If I do another version 1 release, it'll require Leopard as minimum. 16% are on the spotty cat.

Caboodle: As mentioned, the 1.4 release requires a minimum of Mac OS X 10.5. 13% are on Leopard.

BlogAssist: The next version of BlogAssist will require Leopard. 7% are still on this OS release.

Snow Leopard

Mac OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard" was released almost two years ago, on August 28, 2009.

Simon: Most Simon users are on Snow Leopard currently, at 61%... though people are quickly moving on to Lion.

Time Out: Again, a majority of customers: 66%.

Caboodle: Interestingly, more people have moved to Lion than are still on Snowy for Caboodle: 16%. Version 1.5 will require Snowy.

BlogAssist: But back to the majority here: 65%.

PowerPC

Another implication of Snow Leopard was that the PowerPC (PPC) processor started to get phased out; Snowy no longer supports it. How many people are still using PPC machines?

Simon: Still supports PPC, and will for at least the rest of this year, perhaps longer. Currently 11% of Simon users need it, so I want to maintain PPC support for a while yet.

Time Out: Still supports PPC, but version 2 will no longer support it. Only 2% would be affected by that.

Caboodle: Still supports PPC, for just 3% of customers, but version 1.5 will no longer support it.

BlogAssist: Still supports PPC for now, for just 2%.

Lion

Mac OS X 10.7 "Lion" was released about a week ago, on July 20, 2011.

Simon: In just a week, 24% of Simon users have moved on up to the latest big cat. The current general release (3.1.1) mostly works fine on Lion, but version 3.2, currently in beta, adds full screen support and has some fixes for Lion compatibility. Please help test version 3.2!

Time Out: This app appeals to a wide range of people, including those typically not early adopters, so it's not too surprising that Lion adoption is lagging behind the other apps, at only 16%. Still, that's not bad for a week. Time Out does have a known issue with Lion: breaks don't currently appear over full screen apps. I'm not sure why that is yet, but will see if I can fix it. I am working on Time Out 2 (with lots of interruptions for other work), but if I can solve the full screen issue for version 1, I'll release version 1.6 with that fix and some other enhancements. If I do that, version 1.6 will require a minimum of Leopard or maybe Snow Leopard.

Caboodle: This has the fastest Lion adoption of all my apps, at 32% in just one week. The current release version, 1.3.7, works fine on Lion, but version 1.4 is in beta testing, and includes full screen support on Lion and some other improvements.

BlogAssist: I haven't noticed any problems with Lion for BlogAssist. Currently 25% of users are on Lion, which is a pretty decent adoption rate. I'll probably do a 2.3 release in a month or two with some minor tweaks for Lion, but otherwise it's all good.

Concerns or Questions?

If you find any issues with any of my apps on Lion, please let me know. Or if you have any questions or concerns about dropping support for older OS versions or PPC, I'd certainly like to hear from you. You can reply to this blog post, post in the forums, or contact me privately (via web form or email).

Of course, it should go without saying, but the current versions of all apps will continue to run on your current OS versions and Macs, and you will not be forced to upgrade to newer versions.

Happy birthday, Mac!

Saturday is the 25th anniversary of the introduction of the first Macintosh.

I first used a Mac back in high school in New Zealand, where I volunteered as head student librarian. The school had mostly Apple IIe computers, but bought one of the newfangled Macintosh computers in 1984. It was an original 128K Mac, with a single internal floppy drive. Back then, the OS, an application, and data fit on a single 400K disk. We used MacWrite for letters and other documents, MacPaint for occasional graphics, and the OverVUE database for some records... though not a full book catalog.

I bought my first Mac four years later while at university, in 1988. It was a Macintosh Plus, one of the new platinum-colored models. And I even had a second 800K floppy drive and a dot-matrix printer! Later, I added an external hard drive (I think it was 10 MB, though I could be wrong).

Those were the days... working on a 9-inch 512 x 342 pixel monochrome display... which is actually not much more than the iPhone screen resolution, to give some perspective.

Later I bought a Macintosh II, which I subsequently upgraded internally to be a Macintosh IIx. Then I used a number of other models provided by a Dejal client.

When my wife and I got married, Apple gave us a PowerBook 150 as a wedding present, since we had met while using Macs with the fledgling internet. Our wedding was covered on local TV news and newspapers. Yep, meeting over the internet was a novel concept back then.

Just before we moved to the US, we bought a clamshell iBook G3, which we still have, though I only use it for Mac OS X 10.3.9 compatibility testing. Then an iMac G4, which sadly seems to have passed away, a PowerMac G5 that I still use for Mac OS X 10.4 testing and as a music server, and lastly my current machine, a 17" MacBook Pro.

(We've also had a few other Macs: a Mac mini we use with our TV, a MacBook I bought to take to WWDC before I got my MacBook Pro, then subsequently gave to my wife's mom, and my wife has had a couple of 15" MacBook Pros.)

All in all, it's been a great 25 years. I've enjoyed using and owning the various Macs over this time, and look forward to many more years. Happy birthday, Mac!

MacBook Pro NVIDIA flaws

As you may have seen via one or more of several Mac news sites, Apple and NVIDIA have announced that several recent models of MacBook Pro and MacBook may have faulty video chips.

This seemed rather familiar to me, as I was recently without my main machine, a MacBook Pro 17", for a total of about three weeks, due to exactly the symptoms they list, among others.

My machine initially showed fairly minor symptoms. It wouldn't wake from sleep after unplugging it from my external 23" display, or would unexpectedly shut down. This continued for a few weeks (frustratingly during the Olympics, when I was using the MBP while watching, instead of on my desk as usual). I also saw some interference on the internal and external screens occasionally. Then it got worse: it started having kernel panics at random intervals. That quickly got worse, to the point where it was having kernel panics on every startup:

I tried the obvious diagnostic steps (disabled third-party stuff, boot into safe mode, reset the PRAM, reinstalled the OS, etc). Nothing helped.

So I took it into one of my local Apple Stores on September 1. The helpful Geniuses confirmed the problem, and took it away to repair. I used an old Mac mini in the meantime. A few days later, on September 5, I picked it up, along with a receipt for the hardware repair: they replaced the motherboard, for a total cost of $1,385.00. Fortunately, the computer was still covered by AppleCare (a great investment for laptops; I highly recommend it!), so I didn't have to pay anything.

Problem solved. All was well.

Or was it? About a week later, I couldn't wake up my Mac in the morning. At least, that's what I thought, but further investigation showed that it was awake (I could hear sounds, e.g. the volume adjustment clicks), but not showing any video. Not even on the external display. Again, I tried various things, to no avail.

So back to the Apple Store it went, on September 15. This time the repair wasn't so quick. Two weeks went by; apparently they wanted to try replacing the screen, but a replacement didn't turn up. Which tells me that they weren't aware of the NVIDIA issue at that point — a little over a week ago.

Eventually, they decided to just replace the motherboard again, and that seemed to fix it. I got my Mac back again on October 1, two weeks after taking it in. Along with another receipt for $1,385.00, covered by AppleCare.

So the first replacement must have also had a faulty NVIDIA chip. Hopefully the second replacement motherboard has a fixed one; I don't want to have to go without my main Mac again! Most of September was bad enough. I must say, though, that — although being without my machine was a major pain — the Apple Geniuses were very polite and helpful. I'm very glad they were available, so I didn't have to resort to more drastic measures like mailing the machine to some distant repair depot or something.

But it is somewhat gratifying that Apple has identified and announced the cause, and it isn't something specific to my machine. Perhaps my machine helped diagnose it, as another case proving a pattern? I'm glad other people experiencing this problem will have a more speedy repair — and a free repair, even if not covered by AppleCare.

If you have a MacBook or MacBook Pro exhibiting this behavior, check out Apple's support document for more information.

Computer woes update

As previously mentioned, my main Mac is having issues. In the meantime, I've moved to another Mac, so I can answer emails again; I'm all caught up now ("Inbox Zero", as the productivity people say). But as always, I encourage you to use the Dejal Forums, so others can help and benefit from the answers.

By the way, watch out for a new Simon bug-fix release, due in a couple of days.

My main Mac is out of action

Just to let you know, I will be slow to respond to emails for the next day or so, as my main Mac (a 17" MacBook Pro) is having major kernel panic issues. I think it's a hardware problem, as I've seen interference when connecting a second screen, and even on the built-in screen.

I can continue to monitor the Dejal forums via the other machine on my desk, but email will have to wait till I get the machine operational again, or can switch to a temporary machine if I need to take the MBP in for repairs. So please use the forums for support queries. Purchase processing is all automatic, so won't be affected.

WWDC 08 Stevenote

I previously blogged with my predictions for the Stevenote at this year's WWDC. So how'd I do?

3G iPhone & SDK:

This was of course a no-brainer. There may have been riots in Moscone if this hadn't eventuated. The iPhone 3G meets most of the expectations that people had, with one or two perhaps overly optimistic exceptions: some people were hoping for a front-facing camera with video support, for video chats, which won't be included... yet. Maybe in next year's model?

I wondered when it would be available, predicting "no later than the end of June", but it turned out that July 11 is the magic date. A little off there, but I'm not surprised that it was delayed a little. It's perfect timing for me: my old cellphone contract expires on July 2, so I'll be raring to go on launch day.

One concern with the launch, though, is that it appears that iTunes-based activation will no longer be supported: iPhone customers will have to activate in-store. That will probably lead to really long delays on launch day (and subsequent days)... not something I'm looking forward to.

Although the iPhone 3G will be cheaper up-front, the total cost of ownership is going up. AT&T will be charging $10/month more than before for the data plan, resulting in a total cost over the two year contract of $440, $40 more than before. Even so, the iPhone 3G will be well worth that difference, with faster speeds, better battery life, GPS, and more.

Snow Leopard:

Another rumor I commented on was that Mac OS X 10.6 would be announced, with the code-name "Snow Leopard", as a no-new-features release with performance improvements. This was indeed announced, though somewhat in passing during the Stevenote. Developers attending WWDC apparently got a seed of this release. There was little information on what is included, but I predicted that the rumor that it'd drop PowerPC support was unfounded. I can't say for sure, but considering the intertubes haven't exploded with outrage, I think it's safe to assume this wasn't true.

.Mac Overhaul:

This rumor did come true, too. As widely expected, the new name is MobileMe. I'm still not a big fan of the name, but anything's better than "dot-Mac". From what was shown during the Stevenote (or Schillernote at that point), they do seem to have gotten it right at last. The web apps look very clean and usable, and push synchronization should be an improvement.

New Multi-Touch Device, Other Hardware:

I was very skeptical of the rumor of a new multi-touch device, and wasn't surprised to see it was false. Apple has a great new platform in the iPhone, just at the beginning of taking over the world, so they wouldn't want to distract from that at this stage. Maybe in a couple of years time, they might bring out a touch tablet or something.

As for new Mac models, I didn't expect any, and there certainly weren't any. As I said, WWDC is not the time for new hardware.

No Boom?

I did end jokingly with "The real surprise would be if Steve doesn't say "boom". :)" Maybe that is the biggest surprise of the show; he didn't say "boom" once, unless you count the sound effects in the slides when announcing the lower prices. I'm shocked! :)

Overall, a most satisfactory WWDC Stevenote. I look forward to getting my iPhone 3G, and seeing the plethora of iPhone apps that will start appearing in the App Store. It's going to an excellent platform.

WWDC 08 predictions

Unfortunately I'm not attending WWDC this year. I'm not currently working on or immediately planning an iPhone app, and don't expect anything much new for Mac OS X, so it wasn't worthwhile to go this year. Maybe next year?

I'm sure I will write some iPhone apps in the future, though; it's an exciting platform, and I'm really looking forward to getting a new iPhone once they're released.

But speaking of releases, time for some prognostication.

The leading expectation for WWDC 08, of course, is the 3G iPhone with version 2.0 software and the software development kit (SDK). I'm confident that this will eventuate. I'm not sure whether or not the new iPhone model will be immediately available, or just announced for pre-order and delivery later in the month (or even later). If I had to guess, I'd say it'd be released no later than the end of June... but I'm hoping for immediate availability.

There are also questions of whether or not the updated iPhone will be thinner or thicker than the current model, what memory size it'll have, if there will be multiple models (perhaps a cheaper 2.5G and more expensive 3G model), coloring, form-factor, etc. I would guess thinner, double the memory, and only a 3G model (with a preference to switch between 2.5G and 3G).

Another rumor that has been popular recently is an unusual update to Mac OS X to version 10.6, code-named "Snow Leopard". This would be unusual in that it is supposed to not include any major new features, but just concentrate on tidying up the code base, improving performance and stability... stuff that is normally the realm of bug-fix releases.

But it is supposed to also drop PowerPC support. This would make a certain amount of sense — it'd allow throwing away lots of code, and simplifying many things. But it might be a little too soon for such a drastic change; there are still plenty of perfectly good PowerPC machines out there (I have a few in active use).

There have been rumors that 10.6 would change Carbon support in some way. Some thought it would drop Carbon entirely, or Carbon UI, but I don't think that is realistic. There are still many Carbon apps out there, including big ones from Adobe, Microsoft, and others. What I could see happening, though, is (as Gruber says) adding Objective-C wrappers around framework calls that are only available via Carbon currently. That would certainly be very welcome; as a Cocoa programmer, it can be mildly distasteful to have to drop down to Carbon to implement some functionality, though it's certainly not the end of the world.

Another popular rumor is that .Mac will be overhauled and renamed, perhaps as "Mobile Me". This has been fueled by people noticing that me.com is owned by Apple, and seeing the text "Mobile Me" referenced in resources. This does seem pretty conclusive, though I can't say I particularly like the name. On the other hand, .Mac has always been a silly name, so Mobile Me isn't any worse. It does certainly make sense to rebrand it to avoid reference to Macs, now that Apple has a major non-Mac platform in the iPhone.

Finally, some people are predicting a new multi-touch device, perhaps some sort of tablet or Newton-like form factor. I'd certainly welcome that, but am rather skeptical that such a device would be introduced now. I'm sure Apple has a few such devices in development, even if only as experimental projects, but introducing one now would distract from the new iPhone, unless it were positioned as a "super-iPod touch" kind of device, running the mobile OS X. I would really like to see a multi-touch Mac tablet... but that seems even less likely at this stage.

I would be very surprised if any Mac hardware were announced. WWDC isn't traditionally the venue for hardware releases; last year Apple released updated MacBook Pros a week before WWDC, rather than waiting a week. At its core, WWDC is for developers, talking about the OS. That's the way it should be.

It'll certainly be very interesting to see what is announced. Maybe Steve will surprise us all. Let's all play WWDC bingo! The real surprise would be if Steve doesn't say "boom". :)

Simon review, sponsoring sites

I read a nice review of Dejal Simon today on the Pixo Bebo blog:

On the surface, Simon is a simple Mac utility which runs all the time, checks web pages, sends out notifications when things are not as they should be. Behind the scenes, Simon is a top-notch server monitoring system with bells and whistles, and each of them have bells and whistles.

and:

All this extra effort on Simon’s part sounds as if it should be ultra complicated, yet, step by step, I found I could fill in the blanks in the Edit Test window, and get Simon to do more. I especially appreciated the notifiers, email messages to tell me what was happening. Cool.

Read the review.

I also signed up to sponsor three sites today:

Check out the sites and support them!

ScreenFlow: the iTunes of Screencasting

Fraser Speirs just posted a great summary of ScreenFlow, a new Leopard-only screencast recording application:

“Tweak it afterwards” makes it sound lightweight. It’s not. In other screen recording software, such as Snapz Pro X, you define a region of the screen to be recorded and if a dialog pops up somewhere you didn’t expect, you start all over again. ScreenFlow does away with all that: you record the entire screen, and zoom in or crop the video later. That alone justifies the application for me. You can also add highlights such as cursor circles, click targets and sounds and keystroke overlays - all automatically and all after the fact.

I totally agree. I've been thinking about adding some screencasts to the Dejal site for a while, but it looked like a lot of work with the previous tools. When I saw ScreenFlow, I saw a product that would make it much easier.

It'll take me a while to get around to adding screencasts — I'll probably add them after major upgrades of the various apps. But I've just added my first one, a very simple recording of listening to the Welcome document that comes with Dejal Narrator. This movie doesn't show off much of ScreenFlow's features, though the icon zoom at the end was a trivial example of what can be done very easily in ScreenFlow:

Movie screenshot

Two interesting links, two great apps

Here are a couple interesting links I came across today:

The Oscars in 60 seconds, via Mahalo Daily.

The Ebb and Flow of Movies: Box Office Receipts 1986 - 2007, via Jason Kottke and Daring Fireball.

And a couple of third-party products I've recently bought and highly recommend:

A while ago I bought Flying Meat's Acorn, which has just seen a 1.1 update. It isn't perfect, but for many image editing tasks it is a better solution than the heavyweight Photoshop (which I also own). The 1.1 update has some welcome improvements, like percentage scaling.

Yesterday I bought a new screencasting tool, ScreenFlow. It's a Leopard-only app, and very impressive. I plan to use it to add screencasts for some of my products, over time.

Stevenote thoughts

Well, that was an interesting Stevenote. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to be there this year. I enjoyed Macworld last year, but couldn't make it again. So I had to settle for reading the live-blogging coverage via MacRumors.com. They did a good job, though.

As expected, it didn't top last year's... it'd be hard to top the iPhone introduction! The rumor sites pretty much nailed the announcements, too.

The biggie of course was the new MacBook Air, Apple's re-entry into the sub-notebook market. I say "re-entry" as I would count their previous PowerMac Duo models as their first attempt at this market. Those were popular machines in the day, but the new Air is certainly a vast improvement. I personally am happy with my 17" MacBook Pro, and need the Pro power and large screen, since I use it as my primary development machine. But I'm sure the Air will be a popular model with people who want a compact lightweight laptop.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of it for me is the multi-touch trackpad. Readers of my blog will know that multi-touch is an interest of mine, so I'm pleased to see it come to the MacBook line. I only hope that they make the new pinch, rotate, etc gestures available for other MacBooks in the next OS update.

Another new product is Time Capsule, an AirPort Extreme base station with a built-in hard drive for seamless network-attached storage. This promises to be a boon for people with laptops, to avoid the hassle of having to plug in and dismount an external drive to do Time Machine backups. Of course, a concern is what happens if the built-in drive dies, as hard drives are wont to do, but presumably it wouldn't be too hard to swap it out, and it does include a USB port that supports an external drive.

The Apple TV enhancements, including movie rentals, seem worthwhile improvements. I have a Mac mini hooked to my TV, so don't really have a need for an Apple TV, but it seems a good device for many others. I can see lots of potential with this little gadget. The rentals make a lot of sense. Most movies are only worth watching once, so it's silly to buy them. We subscribe to NetFlix, a convenient DVD-by-mail service, but instant download of HD movies would be much more convenient.

Lastly, the new iPhone update seems to include many welcome improvements. The new location feature goes a long way towards GPS functionality, while the ability to save web clips to the home screen, and rearrange the home screen, both seem excellent additions. Shockingly, I don't have an iPhone yet, as I'm stuck into an existing contract till June, but you can be sure that my wife and I will be getting them once we're free of that... hopefully once the 3G rev is out, too. :)

All in all, nothing too surprising this time, but not a disappointment, either.

Pan-Mass Challenge update

Two of the eBay auctions for Seth Dillingham's Pan-Mass Challenge fundraising have concluded, with fairly healthy final prices - still major discounts on the retail values, too.

A Household license for Dejal Caboodle is also available as part of the latest auction, a "kitchen sink" of 37 great utilities. Check it out!

Software bundle to support cancer research

Seth Dillingham has put in a lot of work collecting Mac apps to bundle together, and they're now available. Unlike typical software bundles, where hundreds of people might get a collection of apps at a discount, this one is a bit different: the bundles are being auctioned on eBay, and distributed (fully licensed) on CDs.

His bundles are fundraising for the Pan-Mass Challenge, which supports cancer research and treatment. A very worthy cause.

I am happy to participate in this effort. A Standard license for Dejal Simon is available in what he describes as the ultimate bundle for creative types, and a Household license for Dejal Caboodle is included in his bundle of games and useful utilities. Each of the bundles include lots of great apps, and in support of an excellent cause. Check out the auctions quickly; they end in a couple of days time.

More recent documents, please

When I moved to a new computer not long ago, I did it the hard way: rather than using the handy Migration Assistant, I copied over my files manually. I did that not to cause myself undue pain and suffering (though there certainly was some of that), but to help clean out several years worth of detritus that had accumulated in my preferences folder and elsewhere.

A result of that, though, was that I needed to reset all of my preferences. For the most complex ones I just copied the pref files over, but others I reset manually, again to clear out old prefs lingering in the files. That was fine, not too difficult.

One of the many preferences I reset was a tip I read on the Mac OS X Hints site. It controls the number of recent documents listed in the Open Recent sub-menu in many applications. I like this feature in document-based apps that use it, but I like to have more than the default 10 documents listed. I prefer 30, which fits on my screen nicely.

So, I fired up my trusty Terminal and entered:

defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSRecentDocumentsLimit 30

And that was that! This command changes the default number of recent documents for all applications to 30 - you can change the number to whatever you prefer. It will take effect when apps are next launched.

I hope this is helpful for others, too.

Multi-touch on the desktop

Craig Hockenberry wrote thought-provokingly about multi-touch interfaces on the desktop (via Gus Mueller).

This is a favorite topic of mine; as I've written before, I look forward to the day when multi-touch comes to desktop (or portable) computers.

One of his objections was the vertical orientation of traditional displays:

If you’re one of the people who think that a multi-touch monitor is a good idea, try this little experiment: touch the top and bottom of your display repeatedly for five minutes. Unless you’re able to beat the governor of California in an arm wrestling match, you’ll give up well before that time limit. Now can you imagine using an interface like this for an eight hour work day?

But he quickly counters that objection with what I feel is the obvious answer: a touch-based interface needs to be at a comfortable angle. I envision a desktop multi-touch surface at a 30-degree angle, or less, from the desktop: as he says, like a classic drafting table. Perhaps there won't be a distinction between desktop and notebook computers anymore, or perhaps the computer will be in two parts: a tablet-like mobile portion, which docks into and rests on a wedge-like stand on your desk, which adds additional functionality (kinda like the old PowerBook Duo and DuoDock).

The multi-touch screen would be the entire interface (other than perhaps some auxiliary buttons like brightness, volume, etc). It would obviously replace the mouse/trackpad, but would also replace the keyboard, using an onscreen keyboard instead. Yes, tactile feedback is an issue, but as many people have reported with their iPhones, it's possible to get used to typing without it; and there are ways to provide feedback, like the iPhone's magnified view of pressed keys, sounds, vibrations, and other ideas being worked on.

Hockenberry also raises a valid point regarding the precision of a mouse pointer vs a finger:

But even if there was a solution to the ergonomic issues, there would be problems mixing mouse-based applications (with small hit areas) with touch-based inputs (and large hit areas). Touch-based UI is not something you just bolt onto existing applications—it’s something that has to be designed in from the start.

Certainly an important consideration. However I would argue that most applications could be modified to support larger hit areas in sensible ways without too much difficulty - though in some cases major redesigns would be needed. Just have a look around the controls in your favorite apps, and think about how easy it would be to "click" on one with a finger, without activating a nearby control. In most cases, controls are spaced out enough for it to not be a problem, but some, like Photoshop, would require either optional support for a stylus (which Apple probably wouldn't be in favor of), or a finer on-screen control (perhaps like the iPhone's magnifying glass). I'm sure apps designed from the ground up with multi-touch in mind would be better... but migration is certainly possible. And yes, resolution independence should help. If you've got big fingers, you just scale everything up to a comfortable level.

I really believe that multi-touch is the way of the future, and will be coming for Macs in due course. But Apple being Apple, they will do it right, with as smooth a migration path for developers and users as possible.

Post WWDC wrapup

I'm back from WWDC now, and am in the process of moving into a shiny new 17" MacBook Pro with the high-res screen. A rather nice machine. I ordered it the day it was released, the Tuesday before WWDC, but unfortunately it didn't arrive till I was already at WWDC. Oh well... I'll have it for next time! :)

Anyway, it was a good week. I met many developers, including well-known people like Steven & Cabel of Panic (who I had met before, and who most deservedly won an Apple Design Award for Coda for Best Mac OS X User Experience); plus Daniel Jalkut of Red Sweater Software, Ken Case of The Omni Group, plus many other developers.

I've already talked about the Stevenote, and of course can't talk about the conference sessions, other than to say that I'm excited about Leopard, and am looking forward to leveraging its features in future versions of my apps.

WWDC has a number of interesting official and unofficial evening events. I enjoyed the sfMacIndie event on Sunday night, the official reception Monday night, the Apple Design Awards and Stump the Experts Tuesday night, the CocoaHeads gathering at the Apple store Wednesday night, and the WWDC Bash Thursday night.

Check out the photos of my trip to San Francisco and (non-NDA'ed) parts of WWDC.

At WWDC

So, I'm at WWDC currently. I've enjoyed meeting fellow developers (and several Dejal product users) around the conference center, at the sfMacIndie event, and the WWDC reception tonight.

I managed to get an okay seat for the Stevenote, a little back from the center of the room... but in a good position to see the repeater screens. I thought it was an interesting keynote, but with few surprises. I know some people are disappointed, but perhaps they had too high expectations?

So, how'd I do with my predictions? Let's see:

  • No hardware announcements: I was right with this one.
  • Possibly updated displays: nope... but not too surprising.
  • We might see a demo of iLife 07 and/or iWork 07: nope.
  • Steve will no doubt mention the iPhone, but there won't be a SDK: yep, called that one. I know this is disappointing for many people, but as I said, that may come later.
  • Steve will spend most of his time talking about Leopard: sure did.
  • The Finder might be rewritten: yes, though it seems more of a cosmetic overhaul than a full rewrite.
  • I've love to see more multi-touch features in the OS, but I don't think we're ready for that yet: yeah, no mention of that... oh well, it was a faint hope!
  • Maybe improved syncing features, to fit in with the iPhone: I seem to recall some mention of this?
  • The ZFS thing has been a popular rumor of late, but I have no idea whether that will eventuate: no mention of this, so perhaps it didn't... or perhaps Steve was annoyed by the "leak".
  • Probably some cosmetic changes in Leopard - using the newly fashionable dark metal styling for all windows, and other UI improvements: yes indeedy. I do like the dark metal, so a unified OS-provided look is a very good thing.
  • Probably no major new programmer APIs: so it would seem.

I seem to have done alright. Of course, my predictions were based on an aggregation of rumors, so hardly a reflection of my own prognostication abilities.

Anyway, on with the WWDC week... though of course I can't write about anything else discussed in the sessions.

Almost time for WWDC07!

Just another few days before WWDC07 kicks off!

I will be attending WWDC again this year, and am looking forward to the Stevenote, the various gatherings of Mac developers, and the conference sessions themselves.

There have been lots of rumors of what Steve Jobs will announce on Monday. For what it's worth, here are my guesses - not based on any inside information (I haven't run a Leopard seed since last year's WWDC), but based on rumors I've read, etc:

  • No hardware announcements: I don't see an updated iMac at WWDC, being a consumer machine. It is overdue, but will probably be updated at a later date.
  • Though updated displays could be possible, with iSight integration, since the standalone iSight is no longer available. I kinda hope not, since I just bought a 23" display!
  • We might see a demo of iLife 07 and/or iWork 07 (or will they call it 08, or something else?), but they won't be available till Leopard is out.
  • Steve will no doubt mention the iPhone, but there won't be a SDK. I wouldn't want them to release one yet; better to lock down the features and let people become familiar with the phone before allowing third-party development for it.
  • Steve will spend most of his time talking about Leopard.
  • The Finder might be rewritten. I personally use Path Finder, a great third-party replacement Finder, but Apple's Finder is definitely in need of improvement.
  • I've love to see more multi-touch features in the OS, but I don't think we're ready for that yet. I'd really like to see something like Microsoft Surface, done the Apple way.
  • Maybe improved syncing features, to fit in with the iPhone.
  • The ZFS thing has been a popular rumor of late, but I have no idea whether that will eventuate. Even if it is the default disk format, that won't necessarily affect existing disks, though, so it doesn't seem like too big a deal to me.
  • Probably some cosmetic changes in Leopard - using the newly fashionable dark metal styling for all windows, and other UI improvements.
  • Probably no major new programmer APIs; Apple would have had to tell us about them before now, to give developers time to get up to speed. But you never know.

Anyway, I could be totally wrong... but those are my guesses. We'll see in just a few days!

I will be wearing one of the several Dejal shirt designs, like the pictured one, so if you're there and see me, come up and say hi! Here's what I look like, too.

I will be at the sfMacIndie event on Sunday night, and hope to meet many fellow indie developers there. I might go to Buzz's party Monday night, or just hang out at the official WWDC reception. And I'll be around for the rest of the week, too.

Should be a great week!

Leopard delayed till October

I guess I spoke too soon. Apple shocked everyone today by announcing that Leopard is being pushed back from June to October.

Well, maybe "shocked" is too strong a word... I don't think any developers are too surprised, but some developers are more concerned than others... particularly ones with apps requiring Leopard waiting for release.

Personally, I'm not concerned. I applaud Apple for taking the extra time to get it right. And although I have plans for Leopard updates of Dejal apps, the next versions will still be Tiger-compatible. Time Out 2, which I'm working on now, will require Tiger, and Simon 2.3 will remain for Panther (10.3.9) and later, as will the other apps for now.

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