Tag: Apple

Trying on a Mountain Lion

I just installed Apple's latest OS X release, 10.8 known as Mountain Lion on my iMac at my office as a first step in deciding whether to adopt it.

I read a lot of reviews and posts about it and it seemed pretty stable and works fine with all but one of my apps so far. (And the installation process warned be about that app but not until after the installation, which was a little strange.)

While I'm anxious to try out some of the cool features like tight integration with iCloud for synching devices (which seems however not to have bypassed the extremely annoying synch issues with iTunes) and dictation (really!?), I'm most excited at the moment that the new release of Safari bundled with Mountain Lion has adopted the Google-devised "omnibar" which allows me to type search terms or URLs into the same field. That may be enough to get me to switch from Chrome to Safari, particularly since Chrome continues to not play well with Google's own apps in some cases as I've mentioned before.

Watch this space over the next few days as I experiment with OSX 10.8.

Apple Opts Out of Green Program? Really? Come On, People!

Apple is making one of the dumbest moves of its foot-shooting history these days. And it's going to cost it not only sales but cred.

The company has decided to pull 39 computer products out of the highly regarded EPEAT program designed to encourage computer makers to build products that are more recyclable and environmentally sensitive.  It does not appear to have a sound strategic reason for this idiotic move. Rather, it appears that the company — in an oversight that the expert micro-managing Steve Jobs would never have missed or, probably, permitted — designed its new laptops badly. Then, rather than face a virtual censure of its product by the EPEAT forces, it decided simply to yank all of its support for the group.

The City of San Francisco reacted swiftly by encouraging all departments to top buying Macs. Companies and governmental agencies all over the country who are committed to following EPEAT guidelines in their purchasing will have to do the same.

Smooth move, Tim Cook. Let's see you handle this hot potato.

The Final Fall of Flash

Flash appears to be on final life support. New development is stopped. Support for the antiquated technology that was blitzed by the emergence of non-proprietary standards from the W3C will continue for some reasonable time. But those outfits who have steadfastly resisted giving up their addiction to a bloated proprietary technology will now be forced to play catch-up with competitors and developers who have long since seen the writing on the wall.

And that writing was in Steve Jobs' handwriting.

As this piece in TechCrunch clearly points out, it was the late Apple CEO's categorical refusal to let Adobe's platform bring Apple's gorgeous systems to their knees that led ultimately to the decision announced last week by Adobe to pull the plug.

There is a beautiful irony in this for those of us who have been around the industry long enough. In the very early days of the Macintosh, Apple had to do obeisance at the Altar of Adobe, paying outrageous licensing fees for Adobe's Postscript technologies and saddling buyers with printers that cost more than the computers that drove them. On top of that, Adobe thumbed its massive nose at the growing numbers of Mac users who found themselves tearing their hair out for hours and hours of debugging caused by Adobe's trenchant decision to provide its own proprietary installers for its proprietary fonts, installers which invariably broke Mac systems in the process.

So while I don't know if Steve every thought about the revenge angle when resisting the efforts by Adobe to declare themselves once again the dominant technology player on the scene, it's a sweet-tasting cup nonetheless.

If you're not already slurping up and mastering HTML5, your days as a Web guru are numbered, my friend.

But I Run Google on Apple!

The big pre-story rolling out of Apple's annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco this week centers on expected new hardware releases. The company reportedly plans to announce iPhones with bigger screens and some enhancements to its iOS (iPhone, iTouch, iPad) feature set designed to keep developers coding first for the Apple platforms.

This is being widely viewed as an attempt by Apple to stave off an increasingly aggressive Google, which it likely is. And this battle is so deeply reminiscent of the old Apple-Microsoft wars of the desktop era.

In one corner we have Apple, which excels at designing and making hardware consumers lap up as if it were a legal narcotic. It also happens to be quite good at developing core software and at attracting the developer community to target its platforms for apps they create. This becomes an increasingly self-feeding Momentum Machine.

In the other corner we have a software-only (at least for now) player in Google, which has been highly successful drawing users to its array of applications for all kinds of hardware stages. But it makes very little money on its software, which really plays the role of a loss leader to get other people to want to get messages to the billions of eyeballs using their stuff.

Back in the old days, you had software-only Microsoft vs. a basically hardware-only Apple. Oh, Apple made software then and a lot of it was really good. But it wasn't mainstream; Microsoft owned the corporate market and much of the consumer space as well when it came to the OS and to software. Today's Apple is much more suited to compete strongly against anyone who seeks to dethrone it in the marketplace for intelligent consumer hardware-software-firmware combinations.

I run many Google apps (which is why I call myself a Goodict) but I run them all on Apple hardware, where I also run two Microsoft apps (Word and Excel) only because I have clients who insist on it. If Google is serious about Android and Chrome unseating iOS and MacOS, they have a long, long way to go to convince Google loyalists like me to adopt other hardware or OS platforms. I don't see that as a winning strategy. Partnering with Apple would make much more sense.

HyperCard Turning 25, So I Have to Wax Nostalgic

HyperCard, perhaps the greatest technology Apple ever abandoned, will mark the 25th year of its birth soon. ArsTechnica published a nice reflection piece on it, which has led to hundreds of comments and spinoff columns.

I added my two cents' to the conversation a while ago and you can read it here

There was a lot about my involvement in, feelings about and love of HyperCard and HyperTalk that didn't make it into that piece. I'll share some of those in coming days and posts. You can subscribe to my tech blog's RSS feed to stay abreast of those posts.

Magid’s Wrong: Apple Should Shun 7-Inch iPad

I read a lot of what tech pundit Larry Magid has to say and most often I find myself nodding my head in agreement. Even when I think he's wrong, I usually have no trouble following his reasoning. But now that he's joined the ranks of experts who are clamoring for Apple to release a "tweener" 7-inch iPad, I've gotta take exception.

In a column on The Huffington Post today, Magid says, "It would be a smart move. Even though Apple is doing fine with its current form factor I suspect it could grow the market even further with a smaller, cheaper and lighter iPad." I think this product, which the late, great Steve Jobs ridiculed as a silly "tweener" idea, would cannibalize sales of the existing iPad line. People who want a tablet, don't want a wallet or a hand-sized flat-screen device. They want a tablet. Sure, a lot of the competition has entered the market at the smaller size but isn't it just possible that one reason they've been so largely unsuccessful is that their form factor sucks?

It's not like Apple can or needs to corner 100% of the tablet market. I think they're better off staying at the higher end just as they have with the iPhone and the Mac. Let the also-rans and the me-toos futz around in low-margin and marginally interesting products. Apple should stay the high ground.

Google’s Brin a Bit Hypocritical

Google co-founder Sergey Brin, in an exclusive news interview, expressed serious concerns about the near-term fate of the open Internet. He focused his concerns primarily on:

  • governments trying to censor content
  • entertainment industry stubbornness in adapting to the Net
  • Facebook
  • Apple
He attacked Facebook and Apple for their proprietary, closed platforms, which he says gives them a throttle on consumer freedom and access. Of course, those are his two primary rivals, which leaves the value of his observations clouded in the mists of FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt, for the uninitiated). 

Beyond that point, however, the fact is that Google is as much a proprietary platform as Apple or Facebook, they just go about it in a different way. Where the two competitors on Google's radar largely shun open source while Google fairly embraces it, Google is no less inclined to lock its users in, using a very clever and useful interlinkage of data among its apps and interoperability of all their software and platform pieces to make it nigh impossible for folks (like me) who are heavy users of their technology to consider moving to other platforms.

I don't see any of this as evil or nefarious. It's good business all around and all of these players are up-front about what users are buying into. I'm a heavy user of Apple and Google, less so of Facebook (though increasingly there as client demand calls for it). But I never had any illusions about platform openness and competitive price-amelioration as part of my picture. I've opted for convenience over the potential moral dilemma of using closed-source or locked-in technology.

Hey, Apple! Give Me Back My “Save As…”!

Sometimes I look at a user interface decision someone's made and scratch my head, wondering what in the world they were thinking. On rare occasions, that "they" is Apple.

My case in point today is Apple's TextEdit, the free generic text processor Apple includes with every Macintosh they sell. It's a far-above-average text editor and processor with some pretty nifty features packed into its small, free space.

But with one of the recent upgrades — I think it came with Lion but I'm not 100% sure — Apple removed the "Save As…" file option. It used to be that I could save a copy of an existing text document by selecting "Save As…" from the File menu and giving the file a new name and optionally a new location.

Not any more. In the latest revs of TextEdit, the old "Save As…" option has been foolishly replaced by a "Save a Version" choice. Selecting this option saves the current document with its current name in the folder where the original is stored. But despite its tantalizing promise of version control, this option simply overwrites the older version. In other words, it's identical to "Save". 

Meanwhile, if I really want to save a copy of the file under a different name, I can't use "Save As…" (not available) or "Save a Version" (overwrites the current copy). Rather I have to take the non-intuitive step of choosing "Duplicate" from the File menu. This creates an identical copy of the present document in a new window. At that point, TextEdit will allow you to "Save…" the new document but it's at the expense of extra mouse-clicks and/or keyboard presses. Not at all intuitive.

Apple? I want my "Save As…" back.

Second Lion Crash. Now I’m Concerned

I just had my second gray screen of death in less than a week after several years of never seeing one. Both of these crashes have been on my home machine, a Mac Mini. 

I've also been experiencing display weirdness. My HP w2338h monitor — which I love when it behaves — has been "fuzzing out", going to all-static display. If I turn it off and back on, it is fine. Sometimes I've waited to see if it would self-correct. Once it did after only about 15 seconds or so. I'm wondering if the two observations are related.

Because I make heavy use of my system all day, I have a hard time isolating a possible cause of these kinds of issues. What am I supposed to do, spend an entire day running only one app? But then I don't always see these problems even when I'm running all my favorite apps. That's one of the problems with complexity, I guess; the more of it you have, the more chaos you create.

If you have seen similar issues, I'd appreciate hearing from you. Maybe together we can dope this out. Meanwhile, I'm just glad Apple has improved the OS enough that I didn't lose any unsaved data in either hard crash.