Category: "Mac stuff"

What's MISSING in the MacBook Air...

Once again, Steve Jobs gave one of his legendary keynote addresses and once again he announced a lot a nice to breathtaking products and enhancements.

But once again, he left out quite a few details...

And once again, I am going to point them out! Yes, just because I can! :p

Note: don't get me wrong, I love that stuff, I buy it all. I just wish the right stuff released in the right order..

Half baked iPhone enhancements

OK, nice software updates, but:

  • Still no copy & paste! Can you believe that? ... but we have wiggling icons now :-/
  • Still no video capture. The hardware is there... but apparently marketing has decided you cannot use it.
  • Still no podcast update "over the air"... but who cares, as long as the keynote is dubbed "Something in the air".
  • Still no games (not that I personally care... but still)

Basically, this looked more like a $20 software release for the iPod touch (which is good, even if you need to pay) than an iPhone event. My bet is they're holding back some more about the iPhone. As Steve says at the end of the keynote: this is what they announced in the first 2 weeks of 2007. There are still 50 weeks to go! (Hint: the iPhone SDK is to be released at the end of February...)

Movie rentals

That was long anticipated. It's nice to have it, but:

  • Movies start after 30 seconds and you can watch them almost live... right... if you have an exceptional broadband connection and you are downloading a standard def movie... no way is this going to happen for mere mortals ordering HD...
  • Now if an HD movie ends up taking 10 hours to download... and you only have 24 hours to watch it, after you initially realized you only had 3 seconds to watch after 30 seconds... there's gonna be a problem. Let alone if you watch one evening and you get interrupted, you may not be able to watch the end before the next evening... more than 24 hours later. Bummer.
  • Release dates are 1 month after DVD releases. So how long is this after you can get the DVD from NetFlix?
  • OK, so I get the DVD from NetFlix... how do I insert that DVD into my Apple TV? I don't right? I need a separate DVD player... how convenient... Oh wait, I could use a Mac Mini instead of an Apple TV. Cool? No, not cool: how do I get the Apple TV software to install on the Mac Mini? Front Row there has barely been updated in years... |-|

Btw, there's a lot more reasons to get a Mac Mini instead of an Apple TV: it gives you access to media that you can't get through Apple! Let's say Joost for starters...

Then Steve also said they asked users and they told him they didn't want music rentals... Why didn't he ask me? I still wish there was a monthly plan where you get unlimited music at 128 kbps (that you can only listen to as long as you're subscribed). That would still let Apple sell me the high quality 256 kbps versions of the songs I like the most.

MacBook Air

That one really kills the Sony TZ... but again:

  • No Ethernet port!! Hello?? Yes I get the 802.11n pink tinted glasses moment... but what if you're in an hotel room that only has wired internet? It's only 2/3rds of the hotels out there... :crazy:
  • Why does Steve sounds so bored (if not evasive) when mentioning the environmental issues addressed in the making of the MacBook Air? Are those few extra dollars in production cost really bugging him that much?

Anyway... despite all this... I'm pretty excited to get my hands on all this stuff. The Time Capsule + Time Machine is brilliant integration! :)

OK, back to playing with my upgraded iPod Touch... ;)

About Apple Design

"Apple's design is supposed to be the ultimate perfection in 21st century computing. We should all learn from them."

I get that a lot when discussing b2evolution's user interface (which, btw, I like to think has improved significantly in version 2.0...)

While I do like what Apple does; while I do think Jonathan Ive is one of the greatest designers of our time; I still need to rant a little before I dive into the present day :>

So here's the top 5 user interaction design "mistakes" I would never have made if I has the final word at Apple's:

  1. A mouse where you never really know when you're going to left or right click, unless you really pay attention;
  2. An iPod that requires up to ten keypresses to exit shuffle mode while listening to a playlist;
  3. A mouse that gives Windows switchers a hard time with no control over acceleration, not even in the most obscure hidden place of the control panel. (Not even from the command line actually);
  4. A wireless keyboard with no numpad (not even an option);
  5. A battery you cannot replace, not even by turning one single screw. (How comes they got that right on the iMacs?)

And I won't even start with the marketing decisions (leaving a lot of features out of the iPod touch, etc.)

Of course, I'd make a lot more other mistakes, but still... Besides what's the use of a personal blog if not for pointless rants... :P

How to improve the mouse speed on Mac OS X

Ok, I've been annoyed by this since the very first day I've been using my Mac Mini: the mouse feels weird, very weird. Broken actually!

Part of my problem was the Bluetooth operating range, which I could only fix by moving the mac nearer to where I usually use my mouse in my living room.

However, the core problem is still the acceleration curve. When you move the mouse on OSX, it first moves verrrry slowly, so you move it faster and when you reach a certain speed the mouse suddenly accelerates like crazy.

This is not controllable through the "tracking speed" slider in the control panel. The tracking speed is only the fastest the mouse will go. (And you can actually make it go even faster!) But my problem is not with how fast it would eventually get. My problem is with how freaking slow it initially starts (even at max traking speed).


Apple's been stubbornly unresponsive to this problem, as they always are, especially when the mouse is at stake (took them 10 years to aknowlege the need for a right button... good luck with acceleration!)

Fortunately, since the last time I checked (errr... 2005 :roll:), third party fixes now work well on intel Macs.

Check these out:

  • USB Overdrive (no bluetooth support, but you can try it as long as you need)
  • SteerMouse (15 days trial only but it can handle the bluetooth Mighty mouse)

Since I'm trying to do some desk work right now and have a wired mouse, I'm currently and happily using USB Overdrive with these settings:

  • Speed: 120 dpi (feels like Windows fast ;))
  • Acceleration: 50% (no longer feels like sticking to the mouse pad ;))

I'll try SteerMouse when I go back to "Media Player" configuration...

Mac OS vs Windows font rendering

I want to recommend this post by Joel Spolski about differences in font rendering philosophy between Mac OS & Windows.

I never really understood why Apple failed to render sharp fonts on screen. Now I understand the purpose. I'm still not sure which is best though... ;)

AC3 codec for Intel Mac (Universal)

WOW! All this time I've been running the wrong AC3 codec on my Mac Mini!

Last week, I found one that works soooo much better! To find it, I actually had to search for "a52 codec" and not "ac3 codec". Go figure!

It is GPL licenced and merely based on the "a52 library". But I really wonder were a52 comes from. Too late to investigate tonight though ;)

Update: a52 is now included in a codec pack called Perian and you can even get 5.1 surround sound out of it.

Update: the easiest solution now seems to just use the VLC media player and not worry about the codecs (VLC has everything it needs included).