A lot of people have been asking why Apple didn’t announce a retinal Cinema Display. Well apparently Canon just announced a 30” 4096×2569 4K display. $40,000. Which is probably why there won’t be a retinal Cinema Display for a while.
While Apple works on restoring lost functionality to iWork many will want to continue to use the old ’09 versions. The problem is if you need to install them on a new machine. If you’ve already downloaded ’09 (or have the DVD) then there’s no problem. Even when ’13 was installed it kept the ’09 versions in a subfolder. Apparently if you have a pre-Mavericks machine and try to download Keynote, Pages or Numbers it’ll offer you the ’09 version. However if you are on Mavericks and never have had the ’09 versions I don’t know if there’s any easy way to get the ’09 versions.
As many expected, Apple announced improvements to iWork to stem off criticism. As with FCPX’s disastrous introduction a lot of the criticism could have been avoided had Apple merely announced this from the start. The lack of Applescript for Page is surprising although it was problematic in so many other ways that needed addressed first. So the lack of Applescript isn’t surprising there. What’s good about this is that I think Apple (and more importantly the main Apple VPs) heard how important scripting is to people. I think it had become out of sight, out of mind.
I’ve been very pleased with Mavericks overall. It’s had far fewer issues than any other update that I can recall. That’s not to deny some minor problems but I suspect most of those will be fixed with 10.9.1. One of the best new features of Mavericks is finally having an OSX iBooks. Last year when I did my big eBook roundup a lot of what I was doing was finding a good ePub reader to complement iBooks on iOS. Unfortunately none of the choices were terribly satisfying. Actually having a solid reader is a huge benefit. Further this is the first case of Apple actually breaking a function fully out of the iTunes monolith. You still have to sync your books, especially non-iBooks store books, via iTunes. But the managing of the books is now fully done in the iBooks app.
When you first run it, iBooks imports your books from iTunes. Unfortunately while iBooks is a great reader it’s a horrible organizer. When you look at your list of books you’ll quickly realize that iBooks has completely ignored all the metadata for your books, including replaced covers, and simply used what is in the ePub data structure. This is a problem for all books but most particularly for non-Apple ePubs. So if you’ve bought books from other sources or installed free ePubs1 you will frequently lose all your changes unless you did them with an ePub editor like Calibre.2 Not only do you lose your metadata but you have very little metadata available. You get Title, Author, Category3, Collection, Last Read, Date Added and Size. Of these the only one you can edit is Collection. However Collection can’t be edited the way you could edit fields in iTunes. Rather you have to select the book and use File → Add to Collection. While that’s very similar to what the Kindle App does for anyone used to iTunes this is a huge regression.
- It’s actually staggering how many free ePub books are out there. You expect the obvious free classics such as from Gutenberg but many publishing houses also have special give away programs where selected books will be free and DRM free. ↩
- I’m honestly not sure why it preserved data with some books and not others. The key appears to be a file in the ePub directory for the book called iTunesMetadata.plist. If that is right then the book imports right. However most of my books didn’t have this copy over correctly during import. ↩
- My experience with Categories is that they are just plain bad — even from the iBooks store. Occasionally you luck out but often iBooks doesn’t even use the same category for books within the same series. ↩
A few people have raised an interesting point relative to the MacPro seeming to target video and high end graphics pros rather than people who might benefit more from fast CPUs rather than fast GPUs. They note1 that tasks primarily CPU and memory oriented can benefit from EC2 perhaps more than expensive workstations. Interestingly Mathematica has let you for several years run your calculations on EC2. I looked for some benchmarks and pricing cost/benefit analysis but couldn’t find one. However given the high price premium of a MacPro over an iMac I suspect many users may prefer to use services like EC2 rather than doing it all locally. Mixed environments like Mathematica that make this easier are probably going to increase. You can also run ipython with numpy on EC2.
Given those changes perhaps Apple’s focus with the MacPro makes a lot of sense.
By now most of you have read Siracusa’s Mavericks review and probably a few others of the major ones. It’s interesting that while there really aren’t many “gee whiz” features this is by far my most favorite update since 10.4.1 Unlike many past updates, especially Snow Leopard or Lion, there were few application incompatibilities. It also feels much faster, although that’s something that Apple’s surprisingly managed in most of the recent OS updates.2 If you have a laptop the improvements are so great you should be rushing to update.
Rather than say much more than that I’ll probably pick just a few areas that have changed and discuss those over the next few days. I’ve been running Mavericks on my main machine since mid-August. While the betas before then were very rough, they’ve improved tremendously. I can honestly say that 10.9 is much more stable than iOS7 was when it was released.
- While it was 10.2 that first made OSX usable and 10.3 that first made it truly enjoyable I think it was 10.4 Tiger that really made OSX solidly better than all the competition. Most importantly it was with 10.4 that graphics performance became acceptable on mainstream equipment. Tiger introduced many features we take for granted such as Spotlight, smart mailboxes, Automator, a lot of improved unix features and more. Printing also became acceptable really in Tiger. This was when Core Image and Core Data were first introduced for developers as well. Best of all pinstripes and brushed metal were finally removed. ↩
- Which still honestly floors me. Speed is not something you usually see with OS updates. You rarely see it with iOS updates for instance. ↩
We got linked to by several major news sites and blogs including Daring Fireball and MacStories. I honestly was running cache software. The software I was running, Quick Cache, clearly wasn’t up for the load. I’m also wondering if the hosting service might have been part of the problem. I’ll hopefully be moving things next week to a new server. My apologies if you were trying to comment and couldn’t. And apologies if things go down again.
On the advice of Dr. Drang, who’s manage to stay up despite several links from Daring Fireball, I’m switching to Hyper Cache for my caching plugin.
So after waiting all day all the iWork Mavericks updates showed up in the MAS. With great trepidation I waited for them to download. Would all the problems users had been sending to Apple the past 4 years finally be fixed? The announcement today of a total rewrite might mean that Numbers finally had some speed and could take at least some of the workload we’d had to use Excel for. For many people being able to get rid of Excel would be welcome. Yet a rewrite might also mean a few fixes more oriented towards the iOS versions rather than how many pros and small businesses use iWork. I know I have a huge number of scripts — often with complicated hacks to get around the limits in Pages and Number’s incomplete Applescript Dictionaries.
Here’s the bad news. They won’t work now. Effectively Applescript support is gone. Numbers doesn’t even have a dictionary. And Pages has had nearly everything removed.
I was on vacation up in Canada in Waterton Lakes National Park for Thanksgiving with my family.1 (Where the picture on the home screen is from) I just got back so I’ll be getting caught up with posts over the next few days.
- Thanksgiving is in October in Canada on what they call Columbus Day in the US. ↩
A lot of people say iOS7 finally kills any incentive to jailbreak. At first I was sympathetic. When I finally upgraded my main phone with beta 4 I was surprised how little I missed my jailbreak. That’s because my #1 reason for jailbreaking was getting quick Bluetooth toggles. With iOS7 Control Center does that even at the Lockscreen. That’s huge. Control Center is actually far better, IMO, than either SMSettings or NCSettings from Cydia. I really love it, even with it’s layer miscues.
With using iOS7 for about a month on my primary phone before the GM, I have come to really miss some jailbreak apps. Further there are some annoyances in iOS7 that I can’t see Apple fixing before iOS8 and perhaps not even then. There will undoubtedly be jailbreak fixes for those whenever a jailbreak becomes available.1
- Going by iOS5 and iOS6 we didn’t get a jailbreak until January. I’d be shocked if we get one before then with iOS7 either. Maybe even longer as Apple keeps adding security features that make jailbreaking harder each year. I’m really hoping this isn’t the year jailbreaking isn’t possible. ↩
Amazon’s finally allowed streaming via AirPlay. I had been using a jailbreak hack to enable this. Honestly, I don’t know why Amazon had ever disabled this. It made their streaming service quite unattractive.
There’s an interesting story in today’s MacRumors. It talks about how Apple is hiring genre experts to help program their iTunes Match Stations. This is in contrast with how many other services work. I’m sure there’s still going to be a lot of algorithms at work, but I’m most interested in this as a pretty significant change of strategy for Apple. One of the big complaints many made of Apple’s initial approach to Maps was that they tried to use code to solve everything. Apple’s always been a very lean company. Contrast this with Google and their approach to mapping. It was often a brute force method involving thousands of people doing data entry and checking that data.
Now it’s too early to say this is a huge change of strategy by Apple. But it gives one hope. I’ll be even more hopeful if we start seeing significantly better data in Maps. There was a burst of activity last October and then I’ve seen few improvements since.
I got a few comments that said the WordPress login for comments wasn’t working for them. Over the weekend I turned comments back on and immediately got slammed by a whole lot of spam hitting the blog and spiking the CPU. It actually made the blog unusable for a while. It’s just not worth it to use the default WP comments. I’m looking at following Gabe’s suggestion and use Discus Comments. It’ll take a little while to set up. Until then comments are turned off again.
Gigaom on how iOS7 forced developers to redesign their apps for experienced smartphone users. I’m mixed on this. The beauty of the Mac was that novice users could use things fairly easily but so too could power users. Starting around 2007 Apple started focusing (again) on “the rest of us” with power users getting far less focus. iOS7 probably does presume more experience but I rather wish it hit that sweet spot of managing to deal with both types of users. I worry that the lack of “real world” visual clues along with a lot of buttons and text not really intuitively discoverable as buttons will cause problems.
I installed iOS7 on the rest of my devices when the GM arrived. No complaints yet about the iPad from my wife or kids. So hopefully that’s a sign Apple pushed things a little, but not that far. Of course my wife’s phone is still running iOS6. So we’ll see. I’m going to be very interested hearing feedback from regularly lay users over the next four weeks.
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