Archive for May, 2004

String.Format

May 25, 2004

For my future reference, here’s an excellent explanation of the String.Format possibilities in C#.

Misanthropy

May 23, 2004

As a recovering misanthrope, it’s very difficult to stay on the wagon when you see humanity’s inanity laid bare. Well, that and the terms I see people using to find my site via search engines.

Freaking Busy

May 23, 2004

I’ve been trying to post more lately, but they’ve been pretty brief posts because I’m knee deep in a project at work. “Knee deep” means 50-60 hours a week. I really, really want to write longer entries but they’ll have to wait until this project is over. It’ll be so nice to have weekends off again.

Bush Satire

May 22, 2004

It’s like The Onion meets Michael Moore.

GarageBand Updated

May 21, 2004

For my future reference (when I ever get a chance to use GarageBand), the new update has an undocumented feature that allows you to use instruments available on the net in an open format.

A Mac-Less Apple

May 21, 2004

Robert X. Cringely is at it again, banging the Mac-OS-X-on-Intel drum. The new twist on this is Apple’s announcement on May 19th that it was forming a separate division for the iPod.

Cringely interprets this reorganization as a vote of no confidence in the Macintosh divison. In his view, Steve Jobs is starving the Macintosh of the great margins and profit of the iPod—preparing it for complete shutdown. The computer maker plans to focus solely on the high margins of software, rather than the lower ones of hardware. He sees Apple as relying on the computers of others like Intel or IBM for its platform.

This suggestion is not a new one, though it is missing any speculation that Disney or Sony is going to buy the trimmed-down Apple. The death of the Macintosh is, to paraphrase Mark Twain, greatly exaggerated.

It’s tempting to believe these rumors because the move to commodity Intel hardware would lead to substantial price reductions and more widespread adoption while the move to IBM’s Cell workstation would lead to greater power. But Apple’s always been a bastion of the “not-invented-here” syndrome and it’s especially hard to imagine that the company, a computer manufacturer since its inception in 1976, would cease such activities in some grand ambition for marketshare.

Apple, and Steve Jobs in particular, have made all the right sounds to suggest that they’re okay with the 5% (or less) market share they hold. They also seem awed by the success of the iPod, but is it enough to make them abandon their flagship product? It doesn’t strike me as possible. I can, however, see Apple spread its reach into more consumer products, buoyed by the iPod’s success. That might detract from the Macintosh’s primacy within Apple, but I don’t think they’d shutter the whole thing.

Time will tell.

Mixed Feelings

May 14, 2004

There is something simultaneously infuriating, pathetic, and amusing about someone breaking something of yours, accusing you of breaking it, and then waiting impatiently for you to fix it because they need that thing.

Empty Exposé

May 14, 2004

Microsoft Windows has traditionally played catch-up with the Mac OS, favoring growth through partnerships rather than innovation. Generally the features swiped are shallow copies, duplicating the look instead of the functionality. For a long time, Apple had an incredible HCI group that insured usability and, more importantly, utility for the operating system. That group is long gone, but its legacy remains.

Mac OS X, befitting a complete rewriting and reconception of the Mac OS, was a revolution that leapfrogged the then-current version of Windows—2000—with stunning graphics and interesting new features on a UNIX-based foundation. Microsoft, true to form, hastily developed Windows XP. It copies the eye candy looks of Mac OS X, but went for a cartoonishness to evince its user-friendliness instead of OS X’s crisp, professionally designed aquafication.

Recent releases of Mac OS X have only increased the chasm between the two operating systems. Panther made interoperation easier than ever and introduced one of the most innovative functions since the window, Exposé. Microsoft chose to start its round through its frequent tactic of bluster and FUD with the announcement of Longhorn in 2002. It was a calculated move to forestall the growing buzz around Mac OS X and shift some focus back its way.

Short on details, Longhorn was trumpeted as the operating system of the future and it was coming in 2004. Schedules slid back to late 2004, early 2005, and now sometime in 2006. Glimpses were given and feature lists were dispersed. Then those feature lists were cropped and the system requirements were upgraded.

Now we’ve got some new screenshots at which to gawk. What do we see but shallow copies of Mac OS X features? The most egregious of which is indubitably the Exposé clone.

Looking at it, I can’t help but be disgusted. It’s an abomination. Exposé was amazing because it let you see small views of the open windows (or just the frontmost application’s windows) and easily cycle through them to find the one you wanted. Longhorn’s implementation looks like ass. It obscures the contents of all but the top window, takes over the otherwise useful ALT-TAB functionality, and won’t scale well at all. Can you imagine if you had thirty windows open, what kind of a stack would that look like? Why would the operating system expend the processing necessary to re-orient largely two-dimensional objects—windows—in a purely arbitrary position? Presumably, the window size is a reflection of the window’s 2D size; what would happen if all the windows were maximized? Even more content loss.

The current ALT-TAB functionality is perfectly adequate. In fact, it’s one of the things that Apple never got right until Panther. This replacement reeks of “because we can” development. Unfortunately, the processing power necessary to make them “can” puts this operating system out of the reach of most people.

The truly sad thing is that, by the time Longhorn debuts in 2006-7-8, Mac OS X will have had three to five more major iterations and Windows will have caught up to Mac OS X as it existed in 2003. But at least you Windows users will have an opportunity to get out of the Windows-related computer upgrade cycle; I strongly encourage you to consider the Macs that aren’t even in prototype stages at present.

Figures

May 10, 2004

It figures. The day after I switch over to MovableType because of Blogger’s poor features, they add many of the new features I wanted. I guess I’ve still got categories and richer templating. *sigh*

[UPDATE (5/14/04): On the other hand, I’m glad I got into MT while the getting’s good. I’m not against paying for software, but if it’s free then I’m going to enjoy it.]

WTF

May 9, 2004

You may have noticed some funkiness in these blogs today (and maybe last night, I can’t remember when I started). You may also have noticed that there’s no Blogger badge at the bottom. These two facts are related.

bblog is now a MovableType blog. Why? Well, Blosxom was super cool but it didn’t really meet my needs, WordPress was super cool but it doesn’t work on non-Apache servers, and there wasn’t really any other options for me out there.

I wouldn’t trust the permalinks just yet because I’m going to be breaking the hell out of them this week. I’m not a big fan of the sequential archives, but I don’t know—at this point—how to change to a better organization scheme. I’ll let you know when everything is non-funky again.

[UPDATE (5/10/04): Any comments that you left at the old bblog are history. MT doesn’t have any sort of comment import functionality: I just put in one comment manually and decided that I’ve got better things to do. If you’re fanatical that your comment be preserved for posterity, drop me a line, get a life, or manually re-add it. Your choice.]