Opinion: Tail Wags the Dog

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Date: Tuesday, June 12th, 2007, 13:55
Category: Opinion

At the WWDC keynote today, Steve showed off the new look of the Finder. I have seen the future, and that future is… iTunes.
That’s right: the Finder is becoming iTunes. Well, no, not literally the app, but it’s going to look and work just like it. The side bar is now a blue field just like on the left of iTunes, and in it, instead of big icons, is text and small icons just like, well, iTunes uses. The top is a Unified header with icon/list/column/coverflow buttons and a search bar; there’s a big content area in the center with 6″ icons on a black field with partial reflections below them. It’s iTunes for the Finder.
Seems to me like the tail wagging the dog. The OS is inheriting a look and feel from an app; isn’t that supposed to go the other way around? I’m not entirely convinced this is a bad design choice, but I’m far from convinced that it’s a good one. Personally, I still hide the frames on Finder windows to get rid of the clutter, and so long as I can do that and have windows without the left bar and with a title bar (but no header), I’ll be happy. But still, I’m left with an uneasy feeling as a designer that this isn’t the way you go about design progressions. I mean, I like iTunes as much as the next guy, but it’s not that good. It doesn’t feel good enough to me to extend over an entire OS. But it looks like it will.
Now, later in the keynote, Steve also announced Safari for Windows, leveraging the 500 million copies of iTunes for Windows that there are out there, and several things hit me. First, Safari 3 is not redesigned like iTunes, and if they’re doing this, Safari should look as much like iTunes as it can, but it still looks a little more like Safari 2.0 than iTunes. It does have a Unified header and the side frames are gone (both welcome changes), but I think they can go a little further.
But the second thing that hit me was this: if there are 500 million copies of iTunes for Windows out there (and if you’ve not seen it running on a Windows box, it’s totally Aqua), that means there are at least 500 million Windows users at least somewhat familiar with the iTunes UI… maybe substantially more, if people share a computer at home, say. And now Steve wants to go further and release Safari – also free – for Windows. Pretty soon those Windows users will be pretty accustomed to the iTunes UI, and Safari… and then, they’ll encounter a
Mac, which looks and works just like iTunes, and, as Steve is so fond of saying, boom.
So it’s not just the iTunes UI tail wagging the OS X UI dog, it’s the iPod division wagging the entire Macintosh division. They’re leveraging the wild popularity of the iPod to get iTunes in front of people to get them used to a good user experience and the iTunes UI, and then somehow get them in front of a Mac running Leopard, and the barrier to switch will be almost invisible. It’s brilliant.
Well, just so long as I can still hide it on mine.
Steve Abrahamson


Safari 3.0 Beta Removal Guide Posted

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Date: Tuesday, June 12th, 2007, 13:09
Category: News

For some, the Safari 3.0 beta is the coolest thing since sliced bread. Admittedly, it’s a bit faster, the ability to move tabs around is something I’ve wanted for a while and the improved search functions are worth writing home about.
A beta is still a beta, though, and you take the good with the bad.
If you’ve downloaded the new Safari beta and found it’s done more harm than good, the intrepid lads over at MacFixIt have thrown together a roundup guide as to how best to remove the browser if it’s affecting your programs.
The guide functions as an addendum to the uninstaller that arrives with the download and provides a better way to root through your system if you still want a better way to clean out your operating system in these cases.
As always, if you have any feedback about Safari 3.0, positive or negative, let us know.


VMware Announces Price Points for Fusion

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Date: Tuesday, June 12th, 2007, 09:06
Category: News

Among yesterday’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference hubbub, VMware, makers of the Fusion virtualization package, announced that it had arrived on price points for its upcoming software, which is currently available as a public beta.
The company stated that the software can be pre-ordered starting today for a price of US$40 or for US$80 when it’s officially released near the end of August. Competitor Parallels currently makes a similar virtualization package via Desktop for Macs 3.0 that allows the user to simultaneously run both Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows on their Intel-based Mac. VMware’s announcement is seen as offering their software at a similar price (Parallels Desktop for Macs 3.0 retails for US$79.99).
Full details and download links for the current beta of Fusion can be found here.


MCE Releases 250 Gigabyte MobileStor Drive

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Date: Tuesday, June 12th, 2007, 09:39
Category: News

On Monday, MCE Technologies announced that it had released its 250 gigabyte MobileStor hard drive for the MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops.
The 2.5″ SATA drive, which retails for US$279, can be installed as an internal drive and also ships with an eSATA/USB 2.0 external enclosure to use it as an external drive or make the initial data clone to the MobileStor drive before installation easier. MCE also ships a bundled copy of SuperDuper!, a backup and cloning application to help the user get up and running.
According to The Mac Observer, the 5,400 RPM drive can support a data rate of 66 megabytes per second with a burst rate of 150 megabytes per second. The S.M.A.R.T.-compatible drive can be verified and edited with Apple’s Disk Utility program as well as other third party drive utilities.
The drive ships with a 30 day money back guarantee and is available in 100 gigabyte, 120 gigabyte and 160 gigabyte capacities, which may be better suited if there’s a budget to consider.


O’Grady’s Perspective on the WWDC Keynote

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Date: Tuesday, June 12th, 2007, 08:34
Category: The Apple Core

PowerPage head honcho Jason O’Grady discusses this year’s lack of new hardware at the Worldwide Developers Conference among other points over at The Apple Core.
I don’t always agree with Jason on everything, but he has a point. In years past, Apple has also used the keynote speech to release new hardware or more groundbreaking news. This year’s seemed more focused on Leopard’s eye candy and ensuring its developer community that it’d be able to write programs for the iPhone.
Take a look and if you have an opinion about the keynote, we’d love to hear it.


Apple Releases Safari 3.0 Beta for Mac OS X, Windows XP and Vista

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Date: Tuesday, June 12th, 2007, 08:36
Category: News

One of the more significant announcements to come out of the Worldwide Developers Conference keynote held yesterday was news that Apple would be bringing the next version of its Safari web browser to Windows XP and Vista.
Safari 3.0, which has gone into public beta, is now available for download and can be used on Mac OS X 10.4.9 or later as well as current builds of the Windows XP and Windows Vista operating systems. The new version adds features such as increased speed, better search capabilities and the ability to drag tabs wherever they’re needed.
Macworld News actually has a pretty good first look at the new beta, what Apple is trying to do by offering it to other operating systems and what this means. Take a look and see what’s what.
For those of you who might be a bit nervous about moving Safari over to a public beta, Apple has also included an uninstaller program in the download. Running this program should strip the Safari 3.0 beta out of your system and allow you to either download a current version of Safari or use an alternative web browser.
If you’ve had either a positive or negative experience with the Safari 3.0 beta on either Mac OS X or Windows, let us know.


Opinion: Kudos to the New Apple Web Site

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Date: Monday, June 11th, 2007, 16:59
Category: Opinion

During Steve’s keynote for WWDC this morning, the Apple.com store went
offline with their now-familiar “We’ll be back soon” stickie. In the
past, this has been a guarantee of new toys – er, sorry – hardware from
Apple, as they take the store offline to revise the available lineup.
But Steve introduced no new hardware today. But when the store came back
online, the entire web site was redesigned; the header, which has used
the horizontal grey-on-white striping and large tabs that we had in OS X
10.0, has finally been replaced with a clean, stoic header brushed metal
header, and the Apple logo is chrome like might be found on an XServe.


It’s about time.
While Apple has been criticized for having several UI schemes running
through the OS for a while now, it’s nice to see that they’ve finally
retired the last bastion of the original – and by today’s standards,
clunky – OS X theme and replaced it with something entirely modern.
Kudos, Apple. Nicely done.
Steve Abrahamson


WWDC Keynote Summary Posted

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Date: Monday, June 11th, 2007, 14:13
Category: News

Ok, here’s the full summary of Steve Jobs’ keynote speech at this year’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference in San Francisco.
Among the high points were 10 of over 300 new features to be seen in Mac OS X 10.5 (“Leopard”), iPhone development information and brand new vows of support and development from gaming industry titans such as id Games and Electronic Arts.
Special thanks to MacRumors, iPhoneAlley and Ustream.tv for a killer outdoor photo and help with streaming the broadcast.
Click the jump for the full story…


Santa Rosa MacBook Pro Graphics Benchmarks Tested

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Date: Monday, June 11th, 2007, 11:42
Category: News

A recently released report on BareFeats.com compares the NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT graphics card found on Apple’s newly-released MacBook Pro laptops with Intel’s new Santa Rosa hardware architecture. The graphics cards offer both 128 and 256 megabytes of onboard SDRAM while the laptops themselves operate at 2.2 and 2.4 gigahertz clock speeds.
As expected, the 256 MB versions of the graphics cards outperform their 128 megabyte counterparts, but not by staggering margins.
For the full report, click here.
If you’ve gotten your hands on the new MacBook Pro and can offer feedback as to the graphics system, let us know.


Apple Releases AirPort Extreme 802.11n 7.1.1 Firmware Update

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Date: Monday, June 11th, 2007, 08:36
Category: Software

I’m going to grant that firmware updates aren’t quite as intimidating as being 10 years old and going to the dentist, but they’re almost there.
You know this is supposed to be helpful, but part of you still can’t help but worry. That and no one ever gave you a lollipop at the end for enduring a new firmware version on your computer.
On Friday, Apple released version 7.1.1 of its firmware for the 802.11n-based AirPort Extreme Base Station. The new version, a 4.6 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:
– Printers and Routers, VPN, PPPoE, WDS(ACL), WEP(TSN)
– Localized file naming, port mapping, IPv6, and NAS
– Improved stability with keychain passwords
– Improved support for third party applications saving files to a USB disk
– Improved support for AirPort USB disk stability and power saving, disk read/write performance, disk file sharing and passwords
– Addressed an issue where Base Station would not request a password when expected
For more information, click here.
The software is also available through Mac OS X’s Software Update feature. Users will need to have AirPort Utility 5.1 for Mac or Windows installed for it to run.
If you’ve tried the new firmware and have either positive or negative comments about it, let us know.