Archive | Apple RSS for this section

Living in the cloud

This past monday, Apple gave quite a long keynote at The Moscone Center during WWDC ’11. Some desperately needed iOS features, lots of OS X lion and, last but not least, moving to the cloud. It looks like it are going to be exciting times to be an Apple user.


iOS as it should be

iOS 5 is going to be the most important update of Apple’s mobile platform to date. It might just be that my fanboyism isn’t what it used to be but some of the announced features are so blatantly obvious I don’t think they need a big applause during a keynote. Things like the new notifications with the “slide down from the top” feature. Granted, it looks great and will be super efficient, but can we all admit that it’s almost exactly the same as what Android has had since it launched? Taking a picture with the volume up button? I’m sorry, but my Sony Ericsson did that back in 2004. Don’t get me wrong, they’re all great features, but they don’t really induce a big “keynote” applause in my case.

Another long awaited feature is task management. If it works as good as it looks and integrates as seamlessly with iCal as they claim, it looks like I can say goodbye to the 25 euro I spent on Things for Mac and iPhone. I’m especially looking forward to the location aware notifications (eg: “Don’t forget the milk” pops up when you’re about to pass your local super market). I know, Android fanboys, hold your horses. I know this sounds an awful lot like Locale.

A rundown of some other goodies you can expect:

  • iMessage: what appears to be iOS-only WhatsApp like messaging integrated right into the OS.
  • PC free: autonomous iOS devices: no more need for a computer to set up your device.
  • Twitter integration: one time login in system preferences to rule them all + integration throughout the entire OS.
  • Safari: tabbed browsing, reader (Focus on the text, remove all clutter. Already a feature in Safari for Mac).
  • Wireless sync: more on that further down this article.

King of the OS world

The next version of your Mac’s OS has been talking to it’s iOS nephews. Lion will incorporate even more touch gestures for your built-in or external “magic” trackpad.Combine that with the new Mission Control that gives you a complete view of everything that’s happening on our and you’ve got yourself Exposé on steroids. More system apps (and I presume API will also provide it for third party apps) will have a full screen mode, keeping you focussed on the job at hand,. Be it writing a text in Pages, obtaining inbox zero in Mail or taking silly pictures of yourself in Photobooth.

A combination of a new feature called Launchpad and the Mac App Store you might already be using today is going to give your Mac even more of the iOS look’n’feel. Buying applications and browsing through them will feel just like you’re on the iPad. For me personally, it makes the OS feel a bit, well, childish I guess. I know the way forward is simplifying interfaces to be more efficient and accessible, but I’ll need to get used to it.

My favorite new features are Resume and Version. Whether you’re writing a text or editing a photo, Lion will allow apps to constantly save every move you make and provides the ability to browse through past versions of your document. Kinda like Time Machine but throughout the entire OS. After you’ve restarted the app takes you right back where you left off. Students are obviously going to have one less excuse to not get their papers done in time. Finally, I’d like to mention Airdrop, a nifty new feature that’s integrated into the Finder and allows you to transfer files to any Mac in your vicinity. You don’t even need to be on the same WiFi network. I’m interested to find out if they use WiFi or Bluetooth to airdrop (hence the name) an important business document securely into your collegae’s Download folder. Sharing files never was this exciting.

Some other stuff to look forward to:

  • Conversations in Mail (Did anyone say Wave?)
  • You’ll be able to receive FaceTime calls,  even if you’re not running the app (Don’t worry, you can turn it off if you want to.)
  • Full screen Screen Sharing

Goodbye MobileMe, hello iCloud

MobileMe has always been one of those service that, if you use it intensively, is immensely useful but, if you don’t, feels like a total waste of money. Soon, everyone will be able to enjoy Exchange for the rest of us without having to pay for it. Mail, calendars, contacts, documents, photo’s, you’ll be able to sync them between you Mac, iPad, iPhone and iPod Tocuh without having to connect one single cable. On top of that, you can see all your past Music, Book or App purchases on all of your devices and download them instantly. Those purchases don’t even use your 5 GB of free cloud space. You can even set things up to automatically download new songs or apps you bought on your Mac to your iOS device(s).

The thing that’s got me excited though, is iTunes Match. For $25/year you sync up to 25.000 songs (even the ones you ripped from CD’s or got through some other sneaky way). Wirelessly over all your devices. You’ll even get Apple’s 256 kbps version of the songs you own. When you get to a charger in a WiFi hotspot, just plug in your device and the Cloud will do the rest. My biggest concern is whether SABAM and the Belgian music labels are going to block this feature just like they did with movies and shows on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, … you get the picture. Only time will tell …

Mac server slowing down your network?

I had only been tinkering with MacOS X for a few days when I had my first annoyance yesterday. It might have been just my fault, but judging by the amount of Google result on this problem, I thought I’d just quickly write out my solution.

The symptoms:

– Server Admin takes 5 minutes to actually appear, before that it’s shown as “not responding” in Activity Monitor.
– Server has a working internet connection, but you can’t load updates or a web page in Safari.
– Overall, all computers in your network are taking forever to load web pages, almost looks like your ISP put you on limited bandwidth.

The cause (in my case):

– I had done a few consecutive installs of the OS to dial in the ideal settings. When you select some of the options under “What is this server going to be used for?”, the wizard starts up DNS service automatically. Apparently, this new DNS server is stored in your Airport Extreme base station.
– With every page you load, your computer goes knocking on your server’s door for DNS info which obviously isn’t there, resulting in a prolonged load time.

The solution (in my case):

– Open up Airport Utility > Manual Configuration > Internet and delete the local DNS server (10.0.1.x).

Your Airport base station will automatically reboot, relaying all updated DNS info to the computers in your network. Et voila … your at full speed and your server will respond normally once again.

I hope this post will help frustrated users restoring faith in their MacOS X server. If not, good luck looking for your particular solution.

Final Cut Pro X: closing the gap

Final Cut has always been a professional application, but it looks like the latest version of Apple’s video editing software is opening up it’s features and tools to a much broader audience.

The new version is called Final Cut X (as in ten) and was first announced and demoed last month  during a big meetup by the Final Cut User Group in Las Vegas. It has been rebuilt from the ground up to support 64bit and, at first glance, looks like a grown-up version of the latest iMovie. It will be shipping in june and pricing is set at $299 (problably €299 for us Europeans).

When it comes to “look and feel” the gap between iMovie and
Final Cut has become really narrow.

Losing the pro look, making the pro feel more accessible

So, is Apple trying to make professional video editing more accessible or is the new layout just a more efficient workspace? I think a lot of pro users will miss the classic, grey, pro look at first. Personally, I don’t give a damn how the software looks, as long as it lets me do my editing in an efficient and intuitive way. Final Cut Pro X comes with a bunch of new features: things like a magnetic time line, compounding sequences to declutter your time line, auditioning multiple sequence options inside your timeline, background rendering and some great new tagging options will, I think, give editors a more efficient workflow and cut down on editing time. On the other hand, non-pro users will get the hang of the software way more easily and, combined with the fair price, have a larger set of tools at their disposal.

What about the studio?

It isn’t quite clear yet whether Apple revamped the entire Studio suite. I’m pretty sure DVD Studio Pro isn’t going to make it to this new version (just like iDVD didn’t in the iLife suite). But what about Motion and Soundtrack Pro? Will all programs be sold separately via the Mac App Store? Will there still be a physical box in stores? All of these questions will probably be answered when Final Cut Pro X launches. One thing’s for sure: the new “easier” look and feel and increase in features have made Final Cut Express completely redundant. Another app bites the dust.

Check back in about a month for my first impressions.


Birth of a server

Thanks to a mac shuffle throughout the house (the misses got a new laptop), I found a new candidate in my never-ending search of a pet project. I decided to turn my old first generation white Macbook (FLASHBACK!) into a Mac OS server. I have very little experience with servers, none actually, so I’m curious to see how it’ll go along. The goal is to host my own portfolio/company website, as I’m (hopefully) going to graduate next month. To start it all off, I went ahead and registered http://www.gilplaquet.com (powered by Priorweb).

What I’ve done so for:

– Installed Snow Leopard server
– Installed Insomniax to keep the Macbook awake (for some reason that particular model doesn’t like waking up with the lid closed since Snow Leopard)
– Installed Sequel Pro for editing MySQL databases (I know, I know, real geeks do that stuff in Terminal)
– Exploring the server OS, probably ruining stuff all over the place

What I’m not sure about / would like to know:

– WordPress, Drupal or … ?
– Will Telenet start bitchin’ (I know they block port 80)?
– What are absolute essentials when running your own (Mac) server?

A solid, green multimedia machine

It’s been over a week now since Apple launched it’s latest additions to the macbook and macbook pro line. We got a shipment at the store soon after they were announced, so I’ve had a chance to take them for a quick test drive. 

The pro’s:

  • Unibody casing: the body of the machine feels very sturdy and looks gorgeous, it’s clear the design is based off of what Apple learned by doing the macbook air. 
  • Trackpad: Apple laptops, in the last few years, have had the best trackpads out there because of their comfort and ease of use. But this new one is even better and it feels great! Apple even researched the friction and it feels really smooth. The fact that the trackpad is now one big button makes it even easier to control your computer without the burden of carrying along an external mouse.
  • NVIDIA graphics chips: they finally got the message: integrated graphics are not the way to go. It’s great for standard computing, but for those who wanted to play games or run some more graphically intense apps … the macbook is finally up for the challenge. The macbook pro has the same chip plus a monster of a chip for when you want to do some serious intense graphical computing, this last one does however shorten you battery life by an hour when you’re on the go, so you might want to switch back to the standard chip when you don’t need it.
  • Backlit keyboard: useful, but most of all geeky ! Now the high-end macbook also ships with a backlit keyboard.
  • Green: I don’t care what Greenpeace says, Apple is doing a lot for the environment with it’s latest notebooks, so much that they got the EPEAT gold label for it.
In between (some will like it, some will hate it with a passion)
  • Glass display: it makes your colours pop, but the glare might spoil it for some of you.
The con’s:
  • Firewire: where the hell has the firewire 400 gone on the macbook? I can’t get over this. Apple is probably trying to set a new standard, but for years they have called it the most reliable connection and a whole lot of external HD’s and DV-camcorder work via firewire … not cool, Steve ! I’m under the impression that besides that monster of a video-chip, the firewire 800 port is one of the distinctions between macbook and macbook pro.
  • Price: the macbook had gotten really affordable and now that the price has gone up 300 dollars from 999 to 1299, I think the rate of switchers is going to go down. I know, the plastic white one is still available at 949, but I don’t think they’ll be producing them much longer.

Apple to berry … the 1 month round-up

My latest and greatest addiction

WTF ?

The iPhone, apple’s latest and greatest gadget, has drasticly changed how we percieve cellphones anno 2008. It might shock you but, despite being the hardcore apple fanboy that I am, I decided to switch over to a blackberry. Some call it blasphemy, others call it a downgrade … I for one, am sold.

I think the major trigger for my switch was 2.0 software, which made the iPhone waaaaay slower than 1.1.4. Combine that with the fact that I had totally had it with that broken screen of mine and you get me running over to the dark side.

So I started looking online and found a sweet deal: a second hand 8707v, like new (really, I don’t think it was ever used) for € 150. It’s an older model that doesn’t have the trackball like the new models, GPS, a camera or media capabilities, but for a blackberry-newbie like me, it’s perfect.

THE PRO’S

  • push e-mail: e-mail is VERY important for a geek like me, it’s the last thing I check before I go to sleep and the first thing I do when I get up. The blackberry internet services work seemlessly, the split second it arrives on your server it’s there with you on the go.
  • twitterberry: I’ll admit, I am a twitter addict and twitterberry just does it for me, unlike twinkle and other iPhone-based twitter apps that are on the slow side or just take up too much data.
  • facebook: same thing, no fancy shmancy stuff … just the stuff you really and it works without losing skipping a beat.
  • keyboard: let’s just say that I thought I was fast with my iPhone’s on-screen keyboard, that’s until I tried a blackberry keyboard, there’s just something about tack-tile buttons.
  • coverage: the 8707v was blackberry’s first 3G model and I’ve noticed that the 3G reception is better than the iPhone 3G.
  • battery: this is the first smartphone I use that can go for 3 days or more, despite the fact that I’m using it non-stop.
  • call quality: the blackberry sounds great when on calls and has a nifty little feature, it amplifies your own voice just a bit, which is very handy when making a call in noisy conditions.

THE CON’S

  • form factor: my model, the 8707v, is a bit on the chuncky side, however, newer models like the bold have way sleeker design.
  • OS: the 4.3 OS has it’s limits and quirks, I’m interested to see what the latest OS on a bold holds for me.
  • vibrate: the 8707 v has a very loud and sometimes annoying vibrate function.
  • desktop software: sadly enough no official blackberry desktop software for the mac. Good thing the Pocketmac people offer a great alternative.

Soocial, it’s got my vote !

 

Was suprised to find an invite for soocial.com in my inbox today. Soocial is an online service that delivers what it states on it’s website: “hassle”-free contacts.

What this all boils down too is that this (for now) free service syncs all yours gimo’s so that you have all your contacts wherever you go.

Here are the various way to sync:
– macs: a pref app that automatically syncs your adress book with soocial servers
– mobile: sync your cell phone (anxiously awaiting the blackberry app, which is in development)
– Gmail: sync your Gmail adress book
– soocial.com: acces your contacts from any computer
– highrise: a CRM I myself am not familiar with

Setting up is really and the best part is that it’s free.

Feel like checking it out yourself ? Head on over to soocial.com.