Changes in Apple Blogging

One thing I notice as I read my rss feed and twitter. Posts about computers have changed a lot in recent years. The types of posts I used to love — hacks or tweaks that make things work better — are much rarer now. I thought about why and it’s largely because things either work or they don’t. When they don’t often there’s not much you can do about it anymore.

Todays Apple News

I’ll skip the discussion of the watch because as I said yesterday, I’m just not that interested in it. If you are go for it. Just be aware that traditionally 1.0 hardware releases from Apple age quickly. The original iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air became obsolete rather quickly and were initially quite limited. For a $1000 watch or $10,000 watch that’s a big deal. Most people I know buying expensive watches like the mechanics of the watch. Despite being in the same price range this is something quite different. It was also telling that Apple didn’t announce any way to upgrade the watch. So if you put down $1000 you may have a watch that’s semi-obsolete in two years. While they’re targeting the rich with these high end watches, I suspect most people paying that amount of money expect the device to work as well in 10 years. That’s quite unlikely with the Apple watch.

What’s more interesting to me is that the rumors of the thunderboltless retinal Air were true. I discussed the issue of USB-C then. The biggest problem is that while USB-C can do video it’s fairly limited. Go up in resolution terribly far and you lose most of the USB features of the connector. 

The big debate back in January was whether this would indicate Apple’s dropping Thunderbolt. While I wasn’t expecting the new Air to be released today – primarily due to some rumor sites saying it wasn’t ready – it unfolded about as I expected. By keeping the existing Air and MBP lines as is I think we’re seeing a strong indication from Apple that Thunderbolt is here to stay. It just appears that Apple is positioning the new Air as an ultraportable laptop with associated tradeoffs.

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On Tomorrow’s Event

I’m not too excited about tomorrow’s event. I know it’ll primarily be about watches and I also know I’m not apt to buy a watch anytime soon. I just hate jewelry — watches especially. Back in school I’d wear one so I’d know the time and always take it off during class. I just hated the feel of it on my wrist. And of course after a few months I’d invariably forget it and loose it. By the time I went to college I just stopped wearing watches and have never regretted it since. 

For the Apple Watch to matter to me it’d have to do a lot. I like the idea of workout stats. But it’d have to do a lot more and most importantly do them well. Inaccurate sensors are worse than no sensor at all.

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New Office

As you may have heard there’s a new preview of MS Office out for OSX. If you’re curious Jason Snell did a nice overview today. Ars has a nice ongoing discussion about it as well with active feedback from one of the main developers. Overall I’m very excited about it. It looks vastly better than any version of Office has looked since the classic Mac days. I’ve mostly switched to Apple’s iWork for everything. I suspect I’ll still use it a lot. However Apple’s recent regression still hasn’t fully been fixed yet. There are several areas where I find iWork very frustrating.1

There are a few problems, such as some issues with font rendering (no sub pixel anti-aliasing) and some unusually high CPU activity at times. Overall though I’m very happy about it. I do wish they’d lose their toolbar in preference for a sidebar like iWork uses or even better the old floating windowoid Microsoft used to have. Screens tend to have excess space on the sides rather than the tops.

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  1. Primarily it still has very limited Applescript support and its ability to print labels is vastly inferior to MS Word’s.

Apple Making a Car?

I’m still very skeptical Apple is making a car. This reminds me of the whole “Apple’s solved TV” from a few years ago. Guess what. We have exactly the same TV device we did when those announcements were made. Just now with a whole bunch of new channels I can’t use unless I already have cable.

There’s probably something going on. However Apple plowed right into the problem of content managers not wanting a revolution with the TV which is why nothing changed. With cars, if anything, it’s worse. There are a lot of regulations. It’s probably the most over regulated industry in America. Just the Federal regulations are restrictive. Go to the state level it gets worse with the few people owning car dealerships having lots of ridiculous regulations to ensure no competition. These regulations make it extremely hard to innovate. 

Consider using cameras to replace the mirrors and achieve better wind resistance. Buzz. Illegal. Want those cool LEDs that European manufacturers use to avoid not blinding drivers? Illegal. Sell cars direct to the public? Illegal. I’m not against regulations. I do wish the government would actually review regulations intelligently more regularly. Because there are sure a lot of dumb ones.

Anyway if Apple thought the media holders kept innovation down just wait until they see what happens with cars.

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Ive

Still reading the New Yorker article. However the following comment by Nick Heer was, regardless of the details of the article, pretty perceptive.

Ive certainly has a lot of pressure on his shoulders. After Steve Jobs resigned his CEO post, and again after he died, Apple’s stock price was — perhaps surprisingly — unaffected. But if and when Jony Ive leaves Apple, I can’t imagine their share price and their perceived future viability would be unaffected to the same or greater extent. Jobs left a willing and public successor, Tim Cook, in his wake; Ive doesn’t have anyone like that. He is both irreplaceable, and yet he must eventually be replaced.

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Seeing Snow Leopard Through Rose Colored Glasses

Surprisingly the griping about Yosemite is still going on. As I’ve frequently said I think people are remembering Snow Leopard through very rose colored glasses. Indeed the stories about Yosemite if anything remind me of all the griping about Snow Leopard at the time. Consider for example this Gigaom story “Snow Leopard: This Cat Has Fleas” (Great title)

After nearly a year in release, Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard still seems be a work in progress.

I keep trying to upgrade to Snow Leopard, but always end up back with Leopard. I have both operating systems installed, using separate partitions of my MacBook’s hard drive, and keep thanking myself that I didn’t cut the umbilical cord to Leopard when I installed Snow Leopard late at OS 10.6.3.

This was hardly alone. A quick Google from the era found lots of stories about people downgrading to Leopard from Snow Leopard.

Even major news outlets like the Christian Science Monitor compared Snow Leopard to Microsoft’s Vista disaster.

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Mixing Notes with Pen and Computer

John Gordon linked to an interesting post about note taking using both pen/paper and computer. Their example was using Evernote Pro that lets you do OCR on handwriting. So you scan in you notebooks and then search for it. I’m sure that works if you have good penmanship. My penmanship was horrible in college and has gotten much worse the years I’ve largely been typing only. So this isn’t really a good option for me. Scanning in drawings can be useful though. (One of my constant whiteboard habits is to take a picture with my iPhone and import it into Evernote before erasing it – just in case) 

While I use Evernote a lot for quick notes – primarily because everything ends upon the cloud – for longer notes and actual note taking I always use Circus Ponies Notebook. Admittedly I’m a long time user, however I’ve tried a lot of other apps over the years and keep coming back to it for anything long form. I know a lot of people are fans of DevonThink but that seems still oriented around shorter notes or more of a full document management system. That is to my eyes it seemed more about storing stuff than long note taking. For that sort of thing honestly I just use the Finder, tags, and occasionally a tag oriented app like Yep & Leap1

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  1. The two apps are more or less paired and used to be sold together. Leap is more akin to the Finder while Yep is more visual and oriented around PDFs. Since 90% of my document management is PDFs I tend to use Leap most however if you want to access Finder folders more then it’s nice to switch over to Leap. As a tip, the versions on the app store are much more expensive than buying off the web site

Email Encryption

Six Colors mentions that the GPG encryption author is running out of money. Now, like Dan Moren, I don’t have a whole lot of sympathy. That tool is a royal pain to install. I also think that Apple’s limited encryption (to and fro iCloud servers) is insufficient. What we want built into OSX/iOS is per file and per message encryption. Apple could write something like that and write a plugin or app for other services like Android. I think that’d make Apple a lot more attractive for many people and also drastically improve the state of mail on the internet.

Let’s be honest, mail started out as a trusted naive service largely within academic environments and never was designed for what it became. Yet changing the overall protocols hasn’t been successful. (Microsoft’s come closest with Outlook and Outlook server) Building something more secure on top of them is the way to go. GPG was a great idea with a poor implementation — largely due to the difficulty of putting it on most services. Having it ubiquitous requires someone like Apple stepping in.

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Trying to figure it all out a post at a time