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Bullet Sunday 372

Posted on March 16th, 2014

Dave!Stop digging out that old bomb shelter... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Cold? "Russia is the only country in the world that is realistically capable of turning the United States into radioactive ash." — Kremlin-backed television presenter Dmitry Kiselyov, host of a weekly current affairs show in Russia. Behind him was a backdrop of a mushroom cloud following a nuclear blast. (from Reuters)

You wanna know what bothers me more than the thought of being turned into radioactive ash? I really, really, want to visit Russia. I always have. Ever since I first saw a photo of Saint Basil's Cathedral in Red Square. For most of my life, the idea of it has been an impossibility. But then the Soviet Union collapses, the cold war thaws, relations normalize, tourism becomes more and more common, and suddenly... but not really suddenly... the impossible becomes possible...

Saint Basil's Cathedral

And now I'm asking myself... Are current tensions going to blow over? Are current tensions going to escalate? What happens if they do escalate? Have I waited too long? Am I too late?

Last year I ultimately decided to visit Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. But also in the running? A river cruise through the Ukraine, including a couple stops in Crimea...

Ukraine Cruise

I guess that ship has sailed... for a while. Or forever. You just never know. How shitty is it that we can't all just get along?

   
• Flash! The first two comic books I ever bought were Green Lantern/Green Arrow #121 and The Flash #277. Not coincidentally, they became my favorite super-heroes for quite a while...

Flash and Green Lantern

At least until I discovered The Legion of Super-Heroes. And Batman, of course. But even so, I've always had a soft spot in my heart for those first heroes. Green Lantern finally made it to the big screen with a fucking horrendously shitty movie that I hated. Then Green Arrow got a very good television show I'm currently enjoying called Arrow. Next up? The Flash!

The Flash

It's a spin-off from Arrow, so my hopes are high. The costume is certainly a step in the right direction.

This isn't the first iteration of The Flash on TV. The first was a show starring John Wesley Shipp back in 1990. It was surprisingly good, but limited by the technology of the day. To say I'm anxious to see what we'll be getting in the year 2014 is an understatement. The pilot is filming now. I'm assuming we'll be seeing it this Fall. Assuming the show is picked up. That's a lot of assuming.

   
• Drop. Apple has a terrific bit of tech called "AirDrop" that allows you to share iPhone/iPad photos, contacts, files, and whatnot pretty much effortlessly. Open what you want to share, activate AirDrop, and you can beam stuff to other AirDrop users...

Air Dropi OS

Cool!

Apple has a terrific bit of tech called "AirDrop" that allows you to share Macintosh photos, contacts, files, and whatnot pretty much effortlessly. Locate the file you want to share in the Finder, activate AirDrop, and you can beam stuff to other AirDrop users...

AirDrop Mac

Cool!

BUT YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT'S NOT COOL?!? EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE BOTH CALLED "AIRDROP," THE iPHONE AND MAC TECHNOLOGIES ARE NOT FUCKING COMPATIBLE! This is outrageously stupid and, for the life of me, I just don't get it. I keep thinking "It's coming any day now, I'm sure!" But then it doesn't, and I get pissed off all over again. Why bother naming them both "AirDrop" if they are so different that they can't even talk to each other? How is it that Apple can be so smart in so many ways but so stupid in others?

   
• Stick! I promised myself that I wouldn't start in on the new video game, SOUTH PARK: THE STICK OF TRUTH, until I finished LEGO MARVEL SUPER-HEROES, but I just couldn't resist any longer. I'm a massively huge South Park fan, and the trailer looked amazing (warning, NOT safe for work)...

And you know what? It IS amazing! It looks exactly like you're "playing" an episode of the TV series. As if that weren't enough, it is frickin' hilarious. As in laugh-out-loud-funny. Not only because it's South Park, but because they've managed to create a fully-realized RPG game that's actually a parody of RPG games... with humor built into practically everything you see and do. I'll want to play it a bit more when I get back from vacation before I write a review... but, if you're a South Park and video game fan, it's pretty much a no-brainer. You simply must own this.

   
• Mars 2. The Veronica Mars movie (which I reviewed here) has only been out for three days, and already the sequel talk has started. Here's creator Rob Thomas Himself..

“With the first movie, because it was crowd-funded, it was a love letter to the fans,” he explains. “I put every character they loved back into the movie. There are a lot of inside jokes. With a second movie, I would build it from the case out. In the first movie, I feel like I did just the opposite. I put all the dessert, all the frosting on there, and then put a detective case in the middle. On the next one, I would want the detective case to be the driving force of the movie.”

It's as if he read my blog post and is answering my prayers!

Needless to say, I would be positively thrilled to get a sequel. Especially if we get a fantastic Veronica-Mars-style mystery on-par with what we saw in the first and second seasons of the show. NOW SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!

   
Annnnnd... the end.

   

Bullet Sunday 365

Posted on January 26th, 2014

Dave!Now there's a full year of Bullet Sundays ... because a Very Special THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY-FIFTH edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Mac! Happy 30th Birthday to the Macintosh. It's easy to overlook the importance of something when you use it every single day, but I love my Mac more now than I ever have...

Macintosh 30th Birthday

If you haven't seen Apple's look back at Mac innovations, it's well worth exploring If I were forced to pick that one year of Macintosh history that was the biggest for me, it would have to be the release of the Titanium PowerBook G4 in 2001. Not only was it sexy as hell, but it was also the first time I felt I could do everything on a portable that I could do on my desktop Mac.

Here's to 30 more years of kicking ass.

   
• Truth! The greatest concert I ever saw was Depeche Mode's Music for the Masses tour back in 1988. A close second would be P!nk's Truth About Love tour from last year. Absolutely spectacular. If you didn't get to see it... or just want to see it again... it's been released on video and is for sale at the iTunes Music Store for just $15 and it's worth every penny...

P!nk Truth About Love Tour Poster

Just an FYI... the tour is actually still ongoing, with three more dates remaining for Anaheim, Fresno, and Las Vegas. If you've got loads of money sitting around, it's worth tracking down tickets for this sold-out show.

   
• Bernice! Looks like I need to start watching South Beach Tow! Because, BERNICE! How awesome is she?!?

Holy shit! I hope her ObamaCare has kicked in by now... she's got a rough job!

   
• Unintelligent! I have been recording the new show Intelligence on my DVR, stacking them up in the hopes of discovering another Black List. No joy. This is easily one of the stupidest shows ever to air on television. It's yet another one of those shitty series where the writers are constantly pulling some kind of random techno-bullshit out of their asses not because it makes sense for the story... but because they're too fucking lazy to come up with something... intelligent... for lack of a better word. "HOW ARE WE GOING TO STOP HER? SHE HAS A COMPUTER CHIP IN HER HEAD?""I KNOW! LET'S PRESS A BUNCH OF RANDOM BUTTONS AND EXPLOIT SOME HERE-UNTO NON-EXISTENT FLAW IN THE CHIP SO WE CAN HACK HER HEAD AND SAVE THE DAY!"YEAH! WHO GIVES A SHIT IF WE ARE THE VERY DEFINITION OF DEUS EX MACHINA! IT BEATS HAVING TO USE LOGIC FOR A LIVING! Seriously, I don't understand how this crap-fest ever made it to air.

   
• LEGO! Just when I think that I couldn't possibly be more excited about the upcoming LEGO movie, this comes along...

"Epic" isn't an epic enough word to describe the epicness of just how epic this movie is gonna be.

   
And there it is... a year's worth of 365 Bullet Sundays in the can. And you said it wouldn't last. Shame on you!

   

saTURDay

Posted on November 9th, 2013

Dave!Well this was a crappy day.

Remember when Saturdays were fun days and you actually looked forward to the weekend? Neither do I, but somehow a rumor got started, and it's been propagated enough times that people actually believe it. Much like an "honest politician," the idea of a work-free weekend has receded into the myths of modern society. In the darkest recesses of your mind you think you remember it... but the truth is that it's a fantasy that dissipated somewhere in your childhood, never to be seen again.

And speaking of fantasies lost in time...

Today I accidentally overwrote a file that I needed. Usually, this would be a huge concern, but I'm on a Mac that's continuously backed up on a "Time Capsule" by an app called "Time Machine" so it's all good, right?

Well, no, as it turns out. When I "enter Time Machine" to go back to previous versions of my files, everything is blank and all my files are missing...

Time Machine Empty

The "space" metaphor that Apple has going on here is ironically apt, as my Time Capsule has become a black hole from which nothing can escape.

Or so I feared.

Fortunately, ignoring Time Machine and manually accessing my backup drive allowed me to retrieve the file. So it would appear that the Time Machine backup engine is working as intended... it's just the spacey interface that's borked.

I'm trying to stay positive and just be thankful that my file could be saved... but seriously? Oh well. Maybe some third-party software developer will take this opportunity to write an app that can restore from Time Machine backups without the douchey interface messing things up.

If they can also write an app that will restore my Saturdays from the drudgery of work, that would be nice too.

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Categories: Apple Stuff 2013Click To It: Permalink  3 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Mavericks

Posted on October 23rd, 2013

Dave!Okay then... it took me six hours to get my email restored after the new Apple Mail app in OS X Mavericks deleted every single piece of email on my Gmail account... but I'll talk about that drama a bit later. The short version? If you are using Google's Gmail, pack up your crap and get the hell out. They use NON-STANDARD implementations of email protocols, which means you too could end up having horrible problems like I did... regardless of whether you are on a Mac or not... regardless of whether you upgrade to OS X Mavericks or not. Gmail is a tool of the devil, and get thee behind me, Satan.

And now, a quick pass at the new Mac OS X 10.9 you knew was coming...

OS X Mavericks Logo

"Mavericks" has broken away from the "big cat" naming conventions of its OS X predecessors, but that's not the only shift that's happening here. Bucking a trend that's existed since the dawn of computer time, the update is FREE for any Mac that can run it (which is most anything sold in 2007 and later). This is not only a clear broadside attack against Microsoft Windows, but something that's long overdue. Paid OS updates for Apple products have always been kind of lame since Apple sells every piece of hardware that runs it. And that's where they should be making their money. Keep customers freely updated and happy, and that's bound to factor into their thinking when it's time to upgrade to a new computer.

From a user's perspective, Mavericks is an interesting mix. Yes, it features a new coat of paint on some of the visuals, but there's a lot interesting stuff happening under the hood as well. Add to that a few new features and bundled apps, and it's a compelling upgrade... especially given the price tag of zero dollars. But how will it stack up against my scathing review of its predecessor, "Mountain Lion?" Let's take a look, shall we?

BUT BEFORE WE START...
Please, please, please make a current backup of your computer before you upgrade to Mavericks! Sure, Apple's OS X upgrades are usually bullet-proof and only a teeny-tiny percentage of users will have any problems... but do you want that to be you? If I hadn't backed up my machine, I would have lost all my email. But I took the time in case I need to rewind, and so should you.

And now... on with the show. My thoughts on Mavericks are in an extended entry...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

Mavericky

Posted on October 22nd, 2013

Dave!And so I installed Mac OS X Mavericks on my work Mac.

This resulted in all my email being deleted in Apple Mail. "No big deal," I thought. "I'll just rebuild my mailboxes from Gmail." Except that's impossible when Apple Mail deleted all your mail off of Gmail.

And so now all my email... absolutely everything... is gone.

Fortunately I was smart enough to make a backup before I started, so I am hoping that I can restore everything... but this is a fucking horrendous situation. Thank you so much Apple for once again releasing a piece of shit OS that's fucked me over. Hard.

UPDATE: Apparently the problem cannot be laid entirely on Apple's doorstep. Gmail uses a highly non-standard form of IMAP, and doesn't really give a shit. They want you to access Gmail from their website or official Gmail client... and with any other method you're just taking your chances. But, again, Apple is not entirely blameless because Gmail is an incredibly popular service, and they shouldn't advertise as being compatible if they really aren't... whether it's their fault or not!

UPDATE UPDATE: In all seriousness, Gmail is the work of the devil. If you are using it with ANY email client not made by Google, including Apple Mail, you should archive your mail and walk away. Immediately. I've just gone back to using my host email for a while, as I know they are using standard IMAP protocols and aren't throttling bandwidth in any way like Google does.

   

Creative

Posted on June 22nd, 2013

Dave!Yesterday I took a look at Adobe's "Creative Cloud" app. Today I'm going to look at the "Big Three" apps within Creative Cloud... Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.

But before I go there, I have to come clean and admit that most of Adobe's updates have pretty much been "fluff" to me. Yeah, it's cool to get time-savers like the "Spot Healing Brush" and cool extras like "Perspective Drawing Tools"... but, overall, the basic stuff you need to do the job have been around for a long time and everything else they keep adding is nothing more than fluff.

My problem is that I like the fluff.

I get giddy every time Adobe drops some new nifty feature that makes my job easier... or more fun.

Unfortunately, I think we're getting to the point where the fluff is starting to affect app performance, and that's a problem. Kinda. So let me get the worst out of the way first...

   
InDesign CC
In a nutshell? Fucking horrendous. The program is practically unusable now.
Should you upgrade? Only if you enjoy excrutiating pain and endless frustration.

By the time Adobe bought out Aldus PageMaker in 1994, I had already moved on to QuarkXpress for page layout. The problem being that I hated Quark. So when Adobe came out with InDesign, I jumped... nay, I bolted to InDesign... and never looked back. Partly because I loathed Quark so badly... but mostly because I loved what Adobe had done with InDesign.

Fast forward to yesterday and I have to ask... what the fuck is Adobe doing with InDesign?

The previous CS6 update felt slower than CS5 and crashed quite a bit. But it's an absolute joy to use compared to InDesign CC, which is ungodly slow and clunky. The lag when typing text is agonizing. Moving objects is sheer torture because they... just... won't... move. Even hiding all the images and turning off every automated feature doesn't help speed things up much. I could go on, but it's pointless to do so because InDesign CC is pretty much unusable and worthless.

But before I go, a question... why the fuck hasn't Adobe gotten off their asses and hidden the temp files that have been shitting all over my hard drive since InDesign 1.0?

InDesign Temp

   
Illustrator CC
In a nutshell? Not a lot to see here, move along.
Should you upgrade? Sure. You get a few nice pieces of fluff and I haven't found a down-side.

Adobe Illustrator is my most favorite program ever. I love Illustrator. It's powerful. It's comfortable. It's friendly. And the pen tool I use constantly to draw stuff is sublime. It also doesn't hurt that I'm really, really good at it. Just so long as Adobe doesn't break something, I'm excited by any new feature they want to throw my way. This time I'm especially excited by the free-transform tool (which allows you to distort objects oh so easily, especially with a touch screen)... the "touch text" tool (which allows you to perform really slick adjustments to live text)... the smarter Smart Guides (which is much needed)... and the nifty stuff they've done with brushes (like automatically generating corners and allowing you to use images and brushes). Granted, that's not a lot. But Illustrator is so amazing it really doesn't have to be. Overall a minor, unobtrusive, and welcome upgrade.

   
Photoshop CC
In a nutshell? Pretty great fluff this time. No noticeable slowdown from the additional features.
Should you upgrade? Only if you have confirmed that any third-party plugins you need are compatible.

Photoshop is a stunning example of what people mean when they use words like "invaluable" and "essential." It is the irreplaceable tool I need to do my job. I use it most every single day and love it more than chocolate pudding. So how does Adobe make a great thing greater? Welllll... the show-stopper this time is "Shake Reduction" which is a really smart, mostly-automatic, all-new version of "Smart Sharpen." And the results are pretty impressive...

Hard Rock Shaken
Oops. In my defense, my camera didn't have image stabilization. And I was drunk.

Hard Rock Unshaken
Yes. This. With just a press of a button. Is it magic? It's Photoshop.

And, speaking of Smart Sharpen, that's been improved too.

Next up? Camera Raw now only works as a filter now for quickly working on non-RAW images, but they've added some new toys too... like auto spot removal. And a cool little feature called "Automated Upright" which will allow you to more quickly and easily straighten buildings and stuff...

Photoshop Auto Upright

When enlarging photos... especially ones with well-defined edges... I usually use a third-party enlargement plugin that has edge detection or fractals or some method to preserve details in the image. Now Photoshop has a new enlargement method called "Preserve Details." And it works pretty well...

Photoship Preserve Details
It's tough to tell at this small size, but the "Preserve Details" enlargement on the right is much better.

There are other new features, improvements, and a few tweaks... but the above three are the biggies. And I think they're worth the price of admission when taken in a lump sum. But there is a down-side. Some of my third-party plugins are not working. Most notably, Imagenomic Noiseware. Until you're sure that your essential plugins can work with Photoshop CC you might want to hold off upgrading.

   
And there you have it. A mixed bag. Mostly thanks to a jaw-droppingly shitty InDesign update.

But also because Adobe can't be bothered to make their apps work well with my Mac. Full-Screen support is broken. Still. And my Magic Mouse acts like a total spaz with accidental scrolls and crappy tracking even though it's been out for nearly four years... so I have to downgrade to my Mighty Mouse, which is much older, but does work for some reason. Yet Adobe did expand Mac Retina Display support, so what do I know?

Now that we're stuck in the Creative Cloud I'm already looking for sunnier weather. Because even though I love Adobe and their critical tools which allow me to to what I do... they simply cannot continue to unleash horrendous piles of shit like InDesign CC any more.

Ever.

When you're responsible for something "invaluable" and "essential," you have to do better than that.

   

CC

Posted on June 21st, 2013

Dave!Adobe Creative Cloud has arrived.

Adobe software upgrades are usually a reason to celebrate, but their controversial decision to make a monthly Creative Cloud membership the only way to use such popular apps as Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign has made a lot of people upset and angry. Sure you can still buy the old CS6 software, but any new stuff is members only. This kind of sucks, because if you aren't able to pay your monthly fee, any files saved in the newer CC format become useless. And, of course, to use the latest features you have to save in CC format. Catch-22.

Regardless, I thought I'd give a quick overview of the thing for anybody out there who's curious. And if you don't even know what Creative Cloud is? Hark! A promo video...

And now for this Creative Cloud business...

The bad news is that Adobe still doesn't beta test anything before release. Or, if they do, they do a really crappy job of it. Just as it's always been with their apps, I've found bugs and problems on my very first day. How the fuck Adobe can miss or overlook stuff that I run across after mere minutes of use is just beyond me. The only thing I can guess is that they know their users don't have any realistic alternative to their tools so they just don't give a shit.

Anyway...

Everything I cover will be on a Mac, because I honestly don't give a flying fuck about Windows anymore after Microsoft released the horrendous pile of shit known as "Windows 8." If you're using that hot mess of an OS, I apologize, but, damn.

Creative Cloud Logo

   
The boat-load of apps that come with a Creative Cloud membership are now managed by a menu bar extension. I thought this was a lot nicer than the previous method of hunting down Adobe's Application Manager app, but the thing is (of course) buggy and defective, so it's a mixed bag. Never mind that it doesn't update itself after an app is installed (you have to restart your Mac for that), there is a much bigger problem. In that most times when you switch between Apple's virtual desktops (called "Spaces") the damn thing activates. That's right, it just opens up for no reason at all. And this is exactly the kind of thing I'm talking about when I question whether Adobe bothers to test their shit. I ran across this problem immediately after installation. How in the hell did Adobe's beta testers not notice it? Do they ignore basic Mac OS X features? This is fucking insane. And the fact that Adobe isn't embarrassed by things like this speaks volumes for what you're getting into when you sign up for their products.

But I digress. The menu extension looks like this...

Creative Cloud Menu

It's nice that you're told if your app is up-to-date, even though it makes the menu window huge. Oddly enough, if an app is not up to date, Creative Cloud doesn't have the ability to update it. Instead it launches Adobe Updater, which is kind of crazy. Why have one tool that can handle multiple tasks when you can clutter up a hard drive with two? Or, more likely for Adobe, twenty?

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

If you are a professional, you'll want to install the new CC apps next to your old CS6 apps in case you run into some heinous bug that prevents you from getting work done. Thankfully, this is fully supported. But what if you're a rebel like me who only wants the new apps? Do you have the option of overwriting Photoshop CS6 with Photoshop CC? Of course you don't! That would be too fucking convenient, and Adobe has a reputation for shitty, inconvenient installers, so that's not going to happen.

Welcome to Adobe manual uninstallation! It's stupidly inconsistent, but that's the Adobe way!

Some apps like Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Acrobat have uninstaller apps in their folders. That's not so bad, right? Well, sure... if they worked. The uninstaller for InDesign hanged and had to be force-quit. The unistaller for Acrobat said that Acrobat was an invalid application to uninstall. You get the picture. Though at least they have uninstallers. Apps like Bridge don't. Regardless of how much work you put into uninstalling (Mac App Cleaner helped a lot), you still end up with traces of crap scattered over your hard drive. I did a search to root out all things "Adobe" so I could trash them, but I'm sure pieces are still around somewhere. Guess reformatting my hard drive is the only way to truly clean out old Adobe apps?

After installation... which was surprisingly smooth and easy... I thought I'd just quit Creative Cloud since I wouldn't be needing it the rest of the day. But, surprise!, Creative Cloud doesn't like that because Creative Cloud doesn't fucking know if it's working on an installation or not!

Creative Cloud Quit Warning!

I suppose it's possible that Creative Cloud hands off installation to yet another app but, if that were the case, why would quitting cancel the install app? Insanity.

In what I can only describe as some kind of bizarre tease, two of Creative Cloud's non-app functions... Cloud File Storage and Cloud Typekit Fonts... are "coming soon"...

Adobe Coming Soon!

   
The third non-app function is Adobe's acquisition of "Behance" which is an online portfolio you can share with people. I'm already using Deviant Art for my portfolio, but it's free so I went ahead and signed up. Eventually I might even put something there.

And that's pretty much it for Creative Cloud.

But what about the new CC apps? Are the new features in Photoshop any good? Does Illustrator have any cool new toys? Does InDesign finally have decent performance at long last? Tune in tomorrow and see!

UPDATE! And the hits just keep coming. Turns out that Creative Cloud saying an app is "up-to-date" is not always true...

Adobe Update Update!

Shocking.

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Categories: Photography 2013Click To It: Permalink  2 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

WWDC 2013

Posted on June 10th, 2013

Dave!Alrighty then. As a Certified Apple Whore, it's required by law that I post my thoughts on all the stuff Apple talked about in the keynote speech of the 2013 World Wide Developer's Conference (watch it for yourself right here!).

So for all you Apple-haters, I apologize. Come back tomorrow and I promise to draw a monkey or something.

iPhone with iOS7
At Apple, our new visual design direction is lickable like it's 1998!

   
Apple's new iCEO, Tim Cook, is no Steve Jobs... but I really like the guy. He gives a good presentation, represents Apple well, and inspires confidence in his company, which is all that matters. Seeing Phil Schiller is always fun. The guy has a genuine enthusiasm about Apple that's hard to beat. It's good to see more from Eddy Cue, Apple's internet services guru too. But the real standout this time around? Craig Federighi, vice president of software engineering. The guy is funny as hell, and has a conversational tone when he's presenting that sucks you in and compels you love Apple and the things they do. Seriously, the keynote is totally worth watching just to see this guy at the top of his game.

MAC OS X!
It looks like most of the stuff going on here is under-the-hood improvements, which is fine. But there are a chunk of notable usability enhancements as well, so I'm hopeful that I won't have as many problems with Mavericks as I had with Mountain Lion. Unfortunately, the one thing... THE ONE THING I WANTED TO SEE... was not shown. And that's the option to keep the menu bar showing at all times with full-screen apps. I am so sick and fucking tired of dealing with the bouncing menu bar intruding when I don't want it... and having to go hunt for it when I do want it... WHICH IS ALL THE TIME!!! The clock is there. My battery status is there. My sound volume indicator is there. Just give me a check-box option to keep the menu bar showing always and I'll be fine. Anyway... on with the show...

  • OS X Mavericks. So now that Apple has run out of big cats to name their OS X releases, they're going all mavericky and using surfing locations. I can't wait for OS X Shooting Gallery, OS X Kawaihae Breakwater, and OS X Padang Padang.
  • Finder Tabs. It's about fucking time. Third-party Finder replacements have had tabs for an eternity. I thought that Apple had seen the light when they put tabs in Safari eons ago, but better late than never.
  • Tags. Am I being insane, or is this just a re-do of the "labels" feature that we've had on the Mac for decades? Sure, "tags" look easier to manage, locate, and work with, but this is hardly revolutionary stuff.
  • Multi-Display. I love it when Apple gets riotous applause for something that they should have been doing all along. Granted, Apple's handling of multiple displays has always been miles above any other OS, but it's still been pretty broken. Now, at long last, they've decided to do something about their busted shit and they bring the house down? Really? I've gave up on multiple-displays when their "Spaces" virtual desktops became useable... but I admit to being thrilled with being able to use Apple TV as a second monitor that's independent of my MacBook's screen. Finally, I can send video to my television while I keep working!
  • CPU Nap & Memory Compression. Now here is where things start to get interesting, and where Apple is innovating with something that's more than just window dressing. OS X is getting very smart about using precious battery-sucking CPU cycles only when their needed, which should really help with battery life quite nicely. And using memory compression over hard disk virtual memory is truly behind-the-scenes magic that's going to have all kinds of yummy ramifications. Bravo.
  • Safari. Not a lot to see here that's new... but Apple looks to be doing a lot of cool stuff under the hood to keep Safari ahead of the game. Speed and efficiency are always welcome in a browser because it's always running (at least on my Macs), so the battery savings should really add up.
  • iCloud Keychain. What. The. Fuck. Took. So. Damn. Long? It seems like I've been bitching about this horrendous load of bullshit forever. In fact it's just been since Apple REMOVED keychain syncing when they killed off "Mobile Me" and replaced it with iCloud... but it feels like it's been forever. It kind of pisses me off that people were clapping over this one, because it feels like Apple is being rewarded for bringing back a feature they never should have fucking removed in the first place. Oh well. Looks like we're also getting a 1Password password/credit card management replacement, which is sad for the folks at AgileBits, but it's something that Apple should have done a long time ago.
  • Notifications. At first, I was thrilled that Apple came up with a system-wide notifications solution because I had always had some problems with the third-party solution called "Growl." The honeymoon didn't last, however, because notifications were just irritating distractions that you could never really do anything with except dismiss. You had to find the app alerting you, fire it up, do your business, then go back to what you were doing when you were so rudely interrupted. Well, not any more. Notifications are actually smart enough to let you act on them directly instead of just sitting there like a dumb shit. Long overdue.
  • Auto-Updating Apps. Some people will undoubtedly bitch about this, but I am over-the-moon happy. Apps SHOULD just update themselves when there's an update. Why bother me to do this menial shit manually? Sure, you run the risk of installing an update that has a huge bug, which is why so many people wait for a while before installing new updates, but I am not one of those people. I always update immediately, so... yay. I'm assuming this can be turned off for people who don't want it.
  • Calendar. Apple has always been way, way behind the curve with their calendar app. Compared to Microsoft Outlook on Windows, "Calendar" is pretty pathetic. Sure there are third party add-ons like FantastiCal that help, but the Mac needs a serious native calendar and scheduling app. Unfortunately, we're still taking baby-steps here, but I guess any improvement is a good thing. The new "Info Card" with travel times, forecasts, and contextual info is pretty slick (though it seems a bit pale compared to the way Google handles this on their Android handsets).
  • iBooks. So... Amazon has had a Kindle reader available on the Mac for like... forever. Which means Apple is playing catch-up again. STOP APPLAUDING FOR SOMETHING APPLE SHOULD HAVE DONE WHEN iBOOKS FIRST CAME OUT!!
  • Maps. Okay, being able to send directions directly to iPhone is cool. Flyover is amazing. A new SDK to allow developers to include maps in their apps is sweet. But I'm still not convinced that Apple's Maps is worth using over Google Maps. At least not yet. Apple Maps is horrible at locating businesses, and it's still giving me fucked-up directions from time to time. Until Apple can vastly improve the data driving the app, it's always going to be second-ran to Google.

MACBOOK AIR!
I love my MacBook Pro with Retina Display. It is unquestionably the best bit of tech I have ever owned, and the size, weight, features, and speed are amazing. That being said, there are times when I'm traveling where I would really appreciate having a much smaller machine to lug around. Basically, an iPad that's a fully-functional computer when I need it. The tiny 11-inch MacBook Air has always been so close to what I wanted. Now I think it's there. All I need is a thousand dollars and I'm golden.

MAC PRO!
"Can't innovate any more, my ass! — Phil Schiller, Vice President of World-Wide Marketing.
I honestly don't know where to go with this. I finally gave up on Apple ever releasing a new Mac Pro a year ago, and am now using an iMac that I'm quite happy with. That being said, I would much rather have a "pro" machine that can tear through the bigger projects I have to work on... especially when it comes to 3-D modeling and rendering... and video editing. And here it is. Except... it's not really a "pro" machine, is it? Sure it's got all kinds of killer pro features and looks fucking amazing... BUT EXTERNAL EXPANSION ONLY?!???? WHAT THE BLOODY FUCK?!?? One of the major differences between consumer machines and pro machines is that you can open the guts and configure the thing the way you need it for the kind of work you're going to be doing. But Apple has lived up to every criticism by choosing design over functionality, and it's a load of bullshit. Because it's BADLY DESIGNED! So you can rotate it to plug things in. That sounds cool, right? But what happens when you've got a ton of crap plugged into it? How does it rotate around when you've got a dozen cables anchoring it in place? I'm not debating whether innovations like the new "tri-core cooling technology" is cool... it's frickin' awesome... but this is not the machine pros are after, and it's a really shitty thing for Apple to do to those who have been waiting so damn long for a new Pro machine to come out. When I bought my iMac, I worried I was making a mistake, and a new Mac Pro would be released that would work so much better for my needs. Well all those worries are gone. If I had the choice even today between an iMac and a Mac "Pro"... I'd go with the iMac. This is the fucking Mac Cube all over again! Did NOBODY at Apple learn a damn thing from that fiasco?

iCLOUD!
Nobody is more convinced that the future of computing lies in The Cloud than I am. Having access to all your stuff wherever you are with whatever device you have is the future. The problem is that nobody is doing it very well... including Apple. But, to their credit, they do seem to be the most interested in figuring it all out. More and more cloud functionality is coming into place. Apple's cloud services are getting more reliable and robust every day. And things like iTunes Match are demonstrating the promise of what "cloud computing" is all about... have access to my entire music and movie/television library anywhere there's internet from my Mac, iPad, or iPhone? Yes please. It's all magic, right? Well... not really. Because Apple is constantly sabotaging themselves. Want to stream your purchased movies to your Mac or iDevice? Tough shit! Apple only allows streaming to AppleTV... anything else requires that you download the whole fucking file first. Never mind that Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, and the rest of the known fucking universe allows video streaming, Apple doesn't. Will this be fixed with iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks? Who the fuck knows? Will Apple fix the myriad of problems that prevent developers from integrating iCloud into their apps? Who the fuck knows? It goes on and on. The fact that Apple is working so hard on getting The Cloud done right is meaningless if they can't see the forest for the trees. YOU HAVE TO FUCKING COMPETE! Except Apple doesn't seem to care when the competition is trouncing all over them... they're Apple, so they don't have to! Except they really do. We finally get keychain syncing back, but it almost feels like too little too late when services like Dropbox and solutions like 1Password stepped up to the plate when Apple wouldn't for so damn long. And there's the crux of everything that's wrong at Apple... THEY decide what's important to their users rather than responding to what users find important and are actually doing. I love Apple and all, but I'm just so fucking sick of this.

iTUNES RADIO!
Well, it looks a little more polished than Spotify or Pandora... and it looks a lot smarter, even if the details are sketchy (how many skips do you get an hour?). I will probably use it. I will probably discover new music. I will probably end up buying a shitload more music than I am now. So, mission accomplished, I guess. The fact that iTunes Match subscribers don't have to deal with ads is kind of a nice bonus.

CLOUDY iWORK!
Oh... so Apple hasn't killed iWork on the Mac after all! It's just so hard to tell, what with them NOT UPDATING IT FOREVER. Just like with Aperture, buying iWork almost immediately makes you feel like you've purchased abandonware. Sure they'll fix a big or add a little fluff every once in a while (NEW! Documents in The Cloud!)... but it's hard to have faith with Apple as a serious app developer when they don't maintain a consistent release schedule. Years can go by with no major release or update, so you just never know. And here we are at long last... iWork is getting updated. Or is it? Because the focus seems to be on competing with Google Docs with a browser-based solution. Well, I have to tell you, this has me worried. Very worried. And it all comes down to this... will future releases of iWork (the app) be limited by iWork (the web app)? Is an Apple software engineer going to say "Here's a great idea for iWork Numbers... won't it be cool to give our users this functionality?" Only to be greeted with "Oh shit, we can't add that feature... we'd never be able to implement that in a web browser!" Well, I just don't know. But that would suck. And it wouldn't be surprising from Apple. All that being said? How frickin' amazing was that demo of iWork in the Cloud?

iOS 7!
Well, here it is... the moment the world has been waiting for... the next generation of Apple's iOS. The operating system which powers gazillions of iPhones, iPods, iPads, and whatever new iDevices Apple comes up with (iWatch?). I'll reserve comment on the new design visuals until I've actually seen them up-close-and-personal, but my initial reaction is mixed. I like the flatness of it all, which feels modern and forward-thinking. The typography and the stark, clean layouts are stellar. But the bright candy colors that I thought were banished with the old iMac aesthetic feel more "dated and tired" than "retro cool." Yet... Apple is nothing if not a trend-setter, so maybe it's a look that's making a comeback. I guess we'll find out this Fall. If I were to summarize, I'd say that I like most of what I'm seeing... but not everything. If nothing else, I think it's a consistent visual language that competitors lack will help keep Apple at the top of the heap.

  • Skeuomorphic. When the iPhone first debuted, there was really nothing else like it. The thing could become new devices just by running an app. To assist people with understanding this, Apple's designers used skeuomorphic design. This is what they call it when the calendar looks like an actual desktop calendar with leather binding and stitching... a voice recorder looks like a physical recording device with switches and knobs... and so on. At the time, I didn't mind it. But, as time wore on, it made Apple look incredibly dated. Fortunately, Jony Ive and his team have finally gotten rid of this crap so that iOS7 looks sleek and modern.
  • Control Center. I'm running out of ways to say "about fucking time." It was insane... in-sane that you had to navigate through an app and two menus just to adjust brightness, turn on Bluetooth, or whatever. Now everything is just a swipe up from the screen.
  • Notification Center. I was scared to death that Apple was going to copy Microsoft's "Live Tiles" which I fucking hate to bombard you with information that is ultimately no more helpful than the little red badges Apple is already using. Fortunately, Apple is smarter than that, and just tweaked Notification Center with a new look and some new toys. Thank. God.
  • Multitasking. And here is a situation where I can fully appreciate Apple taking their time to get it right rather than blasting out some battery-sucking "LET'S MULTI-TASK EVERYTHING!" bullshit that renders your phone useless half-way through the day. Nope, Apple's approach is to give us a "smart multi-tasker" that learns how you use your phone and assigns CPU threads appropriately. The interface is nothing new... looking a lot like the "cards" that came from the ill-fated Palm OS, and what's been available for eons with jail-breaking hacks... but it's very nice to have something so polished that's available to everybody.
  • Photos. The demo of the new "Photos" started out by showing how the average iPhone user has a mess of thousands of photos piled up that makes it tough to find anything. "We've all been there?" Yes. Yes we have. Now with "moments" the organization is automatic and oh so easy. I am forever digging through my photos, and this is welcome relief.
  • Camera. Oog. I'm not so sure about this. Swiping to switch between four cameras actually seems slighty more confusing than the little photo/video switch we have now. But I'm certainly willing to give Apple's designers the benefit of the doubt. Hopefully it will make it less likely to accidentally be in video mode when you're trying to shoot a photo. The filters are a nice addition if you like that kind of thing (and, obviously, a lot of people do), but I'll still be using a more feature-rich third-party app for photo manipulation.
  • Air Drop. Local file sharing... brilliantly realized. Though I have to admit that my favorite part of the demo was Craig Federighi's slam on Samsung's inelegant "tap-to-share" solution. The bad news is that you have to have an iPhone 5 to take advantage of the peer-to-peer WiFi networking that makes it possible but... still... wow. And, oh yeah, the other drop-sharing options are nice too. I just hope they work better than their current "share sheets" which don't post my photos to Facebook or Twitter half the time I use them.
  • Safari. Any improvements in speed are welcome... but the new tab-browsing, which is so much better than what we have now, is what makes this upgrade worth it.
  • Mail. Yeah, it's all visually beautiful and shit but, if the back-end is still totally fucking crap, what difference does it make? I am so sick and tired of disappearing emails... emails that are never delivered... mail that never deletes... the hideous amount of time it takes for the app to check for new mail... the list goes on and on. Something as critical as frickin' EMAIL deserves a bullet-proof user experience and rock-solid operation in addition to a pretty interface. If Apple can't deliver the whole package, they should just get the fuck out of the email business. Seriously.
  • Weather. So pretty. And adding the time zones to each location is long overdue.
  • Messages. Again, you can beautify everything as much as you'd like... but if messages isn't reliable, then it doesn't matter. I am still having issues with disappearing messages when syncing between iPhone/iPad/Mac, and it drives me insane. Blackberry Messenger is apparently coming to iPhone. Their rock-solid reliability could be an interesting option if Apple doesn't get their shit together.
  • Siri. I may be one of the few people who actually likes Siri, uses her often, and thinks it's an invaluable part of the iPhone experience. That being said, there is so much room for improvement. Siri can be stupid as a box of rocks with simple requests that she should be able to handle. Even stuff she's programmed to handle can go badly wrong if conditions aren't exactly as expected... such as a hiccup in your internet connection while driving through a parking garage. This is an area where Apple should literally spare no expense, because it could be the one area where iPhone completely trounces the competition. Pairing with Bing to get deeper search results and compete with Google was smart. But Apple needs to be going so much further than that. Give us all the Star Trek computer experience of our fantasies, and THEN you can take a minute to catch your breath. Until then, spend more money. Hire more people. Exceed our every expectation. If you don't, your competition will, and you can't catch up to perceptual magic.

PARALLAX!
Okay. There's one thing I saw in the keynote that has completely haunted me about the new design, and I love it more than sliced bread. The new iOS is multi-plane display capable...

IPhone Parallax Multi-Planar Display

This basically means that everything is set on three-dimensional layers, so as you move your phone around, the different planes move to communicate depth. Allowing you to "see around" stuff on upper layers as the camera is rotated. In video games and animation, this is called "parallax scrolling" (or something like that), and it's some visual trickery that really pays off. The idea of having such lush visuals on my frickin' PHONE is pretty spectacular. It's the little touches like this that makes Apple be Apple, and keeps Apple Whores such as myself in a constant state of geek heaven.

Annnnnnd... the end.

For now. As I get a better look at all this stuff, I'm sure I'll have more to say.

   

Mini

Posted on October 23rd, 2012

Dave!As expected, Apple unleashed their iPad Mini at today's event... along with some other surprises...

   
• iPad Mini! The entire point of this product is to compete with the legions of other 7-inch tablets out there... in every way except price. Apple doesn't play the price game, they play the quality & value game... they make their product worth that extra money. Even so, I thought for sure the Mini would start at $299 and was fairly shocked that they went with $329 on the low end. Regardless, Apple is going to sell a bazillion of these things over the holidays...

IPad Mini

But... not to me. My iPad 3 with Retina Display is absolutely perfect for the one thing I most use an iPad for... reading comics a full page at a time. The Mini's lower resolution would require that I read my comics panel by panel (again, like with iPad 2) instead of page by page.

But... I still want one. It's that sweet-spot size between an iPhone and iPad that would make it so perfect and handy for everything else I find myself reaching for the iPad to do... surf the web... read a book... check email... play games. And, unlike every other iPad I've owned, I would want it with a cellular connection so I could have internet everywhere instead of having to find a free WiFi hotspot.

I will resist the temptation, of course, because my iPad 3 is enough. But when Apple comes out with an iPad Mini with Retina Display... I just might break.

   
• iPad 4! The smartest thing Apple did at their press party was something nobody expected... a brand new iPad. This has a lot of people who just bought the iPad 3 six months ago in an uproar because the latest version is faster, has speedier WiFi, and better LTE connectivity. I don't care because I can't read comics twice as fast if the iPad is twice as fast, but there's a lot of people feeling burned.

Two things... 1) Apple simply had to get on a holiday release schedule with their new iPads because that's when most of them are sold... and 2) In the Android tablet world, there are a dozen manufacturers that are coming out with something newer and better every month. Apple is the only seller of iPads, so it feels worse than it actually is.

   
• 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display! While the small size is a killer feature for a traveler like me... I need a bigger screen to do the work I do. The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display I have is perfect... and will be even more perfect when Adobe's apps are fixed to take advantage of the additional pixels. Still, for a lot of people, the compact size of this new model will be plenty big with the denser display being able to show so much more information than the old models.

   
• Mac Mini! For somebody wanting a cheap Mac, the new Mini is about as good as it gets. Even the low-end $599 model will provide an excellent experience for running desktop apps. And it's so ridiculously tiny, taking up almost no space. You'll still need a display, keyboard, and mouse... but a lot of people have those sitting around from their previous computer, so the Mini is pretty much a dream come true for somebody wanting to switch to Mac in the most affordable way possible.

   
• iMac! And here it is. The new product from the event that I am most jealous of... the new impossibly thin iMac...

New iMac

I bought the last generation model of iMac for work, which now seems like a clumsy piece of crap compared to this stunningly beautiful machine.

People who have seen the display say it's one of the most amazing computer displays ever, even though it hasn't got Retina resolution. I still don't know how Apple is going to come up with the processing power to even run a 27-inch Retina display yet, so this may be as good as it gets for a while. What most interests me is that the glare has been drastically reduced, which is always the big problem with glass facings.

Apple also made it a lot more powerful... even though it's so damn THIN. But it's not the faster chips that make me covet the new iMac... it's the new "Fusion Drive."

I bought both a Solid State Drive and a "regular" Hard Drive so I could use the SSD for speed and the HD for storage. To make work go faster, I put the project I'm working with on the SSD, then move it back to HD when I'm done. A little bit of a hassle, but the speed increase makes it worth the trouble. Now Apple has come up with "Fusion" which combines the two drives and does all this automatically and seamlessly. New files go on the SSD half of the drive, which are automatically moved to the HD half when you stop working on them. Genius.

Of course I want one... I just can't afford one. Wah!

   
• Mac Pro? Still no Mac Pro. Apple obviously feels that the iMac line is powerful enough that professionals who use Macs will move to them. They added wicked-fast transfer technology like "Thunderbolt" to make sure of it. And they're right... I moved to iMac because there wasn't a new Pro model available, and I've been very happy with it. But... there is a gaping hole in their lineup that Apple has got to address sooner or later or else they are going to start losing customers (if they haven't already). Supposedly the new Mac Pros are coming next Spring. But it would have been really smart to surprise people with a release today to show that Apple is still serious about professionals that need the serious raw power and expandability that an iMac can't offer. Oh well. That ship has sailed for me, so I won't worry about it.

   
And... it looks like Apple is all set for the holidays. All their consumer products have been refreshed and made better than ever. Which means they are going to be raking in a fuckton of money over the next two months. Which is nice... I hear Apple could use the money.

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Categories: Apple Stuff 2012Click To It: Permalink  5 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Hartsfield-Jackson

Posted on July 10th, 2012

Dave!And so Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson has gone and messed up their airport.

Back in May, they opened up their new "Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal" which handles all foreign flights. In theory, it's great, because it means you no longer have to claim your bag, then re-check your bag, then re-claim your bag again if Atlanta is your final destination on an inbound flight. Instead you just grab your bag and waltz directly out of the building to your car and... voilà!... you're on your way.

Assuming you drove your own car to the International Terminal and paid their hideously expensive parking rates.

If you didn't, Atlanta International Airport has just screwed you and you don't even know it.

But you will.

Since I (obviously) didn't drive to the International Terminal (my car is back in Seattle), I had to get back to the main terminal so I could catch a hotel shuttle. But there is no train to take you back. Instead you have to wait 5 minutes for a bus... wait another 20 minutes for the bus to fill up... wait another 15 minutes to drive all the way back to the Main Terminal... then wait for your luggage to be unloaded... then wait for traffic... then walk to the hotel shuttle area where you needed to be all along SO YOU CAN WAIT EVEN MORE for your shuttle.

Which, needless to say, IS A HUGE FUCKING WASTE OF TIME!

So now I absolutely HATE flying into Atlanta on an International flight, and will avoid it at all costs. Or at least UNTIL THEY BUILD A TRAIN LOOP TO TAKE YOU BACK TO THE MAIN TERMINAL LIKE THEY SHOULD HAVE DONE IN THE FIRST PLACE! I mean, they can build a damn train FOR MILES out to the car rental center, but extending the EXISTING terminal train A MEASLY 500 FEET and adding a secure car to take exiting passengers back to the Main Terminal was too difficult? Apparently so. Or maybe they were too damn stupid to think of it.

But Seattle... frickin' SEATTLE... has figured out how to do this. It's EMBARRASSING that Atlanta... ONE OF THE BUSIEST AIRPORTS IN THE WORLD... has their head up their asses by thinking this absurd "bussing" idiocy is anything other than COMPLETE AND TOTAL BULLSHIT.

It's like the stupid-ass city I live in. The one thing we need where I work? More parking spaces. The one thing they made sure to eliminate when they re-designed the street? THAT'S RIGHT... THEY GOT RID OF PARKING SPACES!

Everywhere you look... from city planners to airport designers... the people in charge don't seem to know what in the hell they're doing. Nor do they give a crap. And why should they? They can just start screaming some bullshit about "saving money" or "having to make hard choices" (or whatever) to justify their short-sightedness. No more taking the time and money to do things right... it's all about making sure there's enough money in the project to pay their huge salaries, and everything else is negotiable. And the consequences? Well, for Atlanta-bound international travelers who just want to take the damn train into the city? FUCK 'EM! JUST FUCK'EM!! They can waste their time riding a stupid-ass BUS for a half hour to get to the MARTA train station! Who gives a shit about THEM?!?

And welcome to Atlanta!

   

Ever since getting my new MacBook, I've been increasingly fascinated with the pixel density of its beautiful "Retina Display." Everything looks so frickin' amazing on it that I have a really hard time looking at non-Retina-enhanced visuals now... especially when browsing the web. Most websites are built to deliver 72dpi graphics, which end up look pretty bad. And so I've been experimenting with photos here on my blog, trying to figure out how to delivery hi-res images without breaking things for readers who don't have Retina-type displays.

The easiest way is to just double-size all your images. I tried this in my last entry with the picture of the jitney door. It's actual size is 800x1200 pixels, but I define it as 400x600 in the HTML. So now Retina displays get a sharp image to look at, and non-Retina displays just toss out every-other pixel...

Retina Blogography Image
Detail of Non-Retina low-res on the Left... Retina double-res on the Right

The problem is this... visitors who don't have Retina displays are downloading much larger images with no benefit at all. Since their browser is just tossing 3/4 of the data, this seems wasteful of their time and bandwidth. And, unlike Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, I give a crap about the people who spend their time visiting me.

This has led me to experiment with Javascript and CSS to deliver regular graphics for everybody except those visiting with a Retina-type display... they'll get the super-res versions. Sure they'll take longer to download, but at least all the pixels sent will be looked at.

And so now I just have to figure out the best way to approach this. All the easy solutions have serious drawbacks in one way or another, so it'll probably take some time and research to get it sorted. But hopefully, if you're visiting with an iPhone 4, New iPad, MacBook Retina, HTC One X, HTC Rezound, etc. - it will be worth the effort.

   

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