Category Archives: Macintosh

Craig Hickman

The Macintosh computer is 30 years old today and Apple has some great images and stories up at their web site commemorating this birthday: Macintosh at 30.

My old friend and colleague Craig Hickman who’s a professor in the digital arts program at the University of Oregon (where I taught) and wrote the popular program Kid Pix, was featured today on the Apple web site as an important contributor to the Macintosh’s evolution.

Making art kid-friendly

Kid Pix was and remains incredible, but Craig wrote lots of software including an amazing virtual camera that ran on the 128K Mac. Here’s Craig’s online version of Virtual Camera.

For more on the evolution of Kid Pix check out: Kid Pix – The Early Years.

Congratulations Craig.

Apple announcements today

I watched various Apple folks present the keynote at the Apple World Wide Developers Conference today and I have to say, I got really excited and was cheering like many do watching sports games.

You can watch it here: WWDC. June 10, 2013.

I wasn’t really looking for new stuff, I was looking to see how Apple was going to refine and enhance the things they already have out there.

Mac OS X (Mavericks) looks fantastic with lots of integration with life outside of one’s computer (namely, one’s other Apple devices). But, little things like tabbed Finder windows and tags at the system level look extremely useful to me. Maps is now an app on the Mac with easy syncing to iPhone and/or iPad and something that I’m very much looking forward to is iCloud Keychain: passwords and logins are shared between all devices immediately and automatically. Oh, and iBook is now an app on the Mac. Yes!

iOS 7 looks great to me and while the new flatter look isn’t necessarily my cup of tea, the integration of the design throughout the OS and standard apps is apparent. A lot of thinking went into the small stuff and these kinds of things won’t be apparent until we get our hands on it. I noticed and particularly liked the new Photos app. Very nice update to an app that was in sore need of one.

I particularly liked the demo of iWork for iCloud: Open or create iWork documents (Pages, Numbers, Keynote) in a browser window on iCloud and share them easily with all your devices. Even work on the document on a machine running Windows 8 in IE. Very cool.

I’m a fan of Pandora so iTunes Radio looks great to me and it will integrate well with my existing iTunes library. I doubt I’ll leave Pandora over it but I see no reason they can’t coexist.

The new Mac Pro looks fantastic, especially its size (when compared with the existing Mac Pro). Note: It’s small. I have no use for it myself being a MacBook Pro kinda guy but I have friends who are drooling over this thing. And, one of its nice new “attributes” is that it’s assembled in the USA. I hope Apple sells a ton of them.

There’s an upgrade to the MacBook Air which looks great and a redesign and upgrade to Apple’s wireless router: AirPort Extreme and router/backup device, Time Capsule. The new AirPort Extreme appeals to me as it has a smaller footprint, is taller and has better (and faster) coverage. I’ll probably be getting one.

I have to say, I loved today’s announcements and while Wall Street seems to have been disappointed, I’m done thinking that there’s any coincidence between AAPL and Apple, Inc. I’m a user first, an investor second and as a user, I’m totally psyched.

AirPort wifi issue solved

For the past few months I’ve had sporadic drop-offs on our home network which is provided by a cable modem and an AirPort Extreme base station. I figured this was our cable provider although to be fair, we rarely have issue with cable unless there’s a severe storm.

Then I read Marco Arment’s piece Wi-Fi connections stalling on AirPort Extreme with 7.6.3 firmware and noted that I was running the latest (7.6.3) firmware. I didn’t do anything about it but saved the link to Marco’s piece.

Last week I was out in California visiting my mother and noticed that the AirPort Extreme router I have set up in her house was also running the latest firmware and in the past I’ve noticed that her network ground to a half at odd times.

So, I followed Marco’s directions and downgraded her AirPort Extreme to version 7.6.1 (extremely easy to do) and everything seemed to work fine. I don’t know if it did anything good but it certainly didn’t do anything bad. Next time I’m out there I’ll know better.

When I returned home I downgraded our AirPort Extreme and while I can’t say it solved the problems we were having they have not re-occurred since.

Marco seems to have been having problems with an iPhone dropping off and we may have had this too but I noticed it on my computer which I use much more at home.

I think this is worth trying if you’re running the latest firmware on an AirPort Extreme and have had any kind of noticeable drop-offs or slow downs.

Mountain Lion’s new document model explained

The Very Model of a Modern Mountain Lion Document

Matt Neuburg does an outstanding job of describing Apple’s new document model in Mountain Lion, how it improves upon Lion and how both of them are vastly different from document models in earlier versions of Mac OS.

I’ve been struggling with “Save,” Save As…” and auto save since the Lion upgrade and while I’m not completely comfortable with the new model in Mountain Lion, reading Matt’s piece enabled me to make the changes in my System Preferences General Pane that I need to to feel comfortable, for the time being.

All of this is OS X being influenced by iOS, for better, worse, or who knows?

These are the details that Mac and to a lesser extent iOS users sweat over and I’m glad of that. Apple sweats over them too and that’s what makes this stuff work so well.

Fascinating time to be using these tools.

How Mat Honan was hacked

How Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Led to My Epic Hacking

This is a both a fascinating and sad story and a wakeup call for those of us who have built up a complex life online. It’s also a wakeup call for those of us who do not back up our computers, iPhones, iPads, and other devices connected to a single or even multiple connected digital ecosystems.

This story scares the shit out of me. I’m paranoid enough right now so that I have serious mixed feelings about posting this (it might be looked at as a potential challenge to a hacker).

I urge anyone reading this post to read Mat’s story slowly and carefully and make note of every detail described and put yourself in Mat’s shoes. He may have made some mistakes that you haven’t made but no doubt we all have vulnerabilities, I know I do.

In short, the very four digits that Amazon considers unimportant enough to display in the clear on the web are precisely the same ones that Apple considers secure enough to perform identity verification. The disconnect exposes flaws in data management policies endemic to the entire technology industry, and points to a looming nightmare as we enter the era of cloud computing and connected devices.

It isn’t just having an Amazon account, an Apple ID and an iCloud account, or having “Find my Mac” turned on in iCloud that brought Mat’s digital life down, it’s also a seemingly insignificant fact that he had a short, desirable three character Twitter handle and enough followers to make that account useful to hackers who wanted a high profile account so they could send a message: “we got into this account via a complex ID hack.”

But, even if you’re nobody of import on the internet, reading this article is a useful wakeup call if for no other reason than to hear that a person like Mat who’s a relatively sophisticated tech journalist stupidly did not back up his home computer and so it was vulnerable when hackers took over his iCloud account and found “Find My Mac” turned on. They did a remote wipe on his Mac for no good reason given the reason he was hacked and he lost the complete early photographic history of his daughter because he had no backup.

Here’s how I map myself into this

I’m a much less desirable target but who knows what makes a person a desirable target?

I use an Apple AirPort Extreme router between my local network of computers and iOS devices and our cable modem and the internet. It has a built-in firewall. We do not use local file sharing although I trust the AirPort firewall to protect us. If you have a computer directly connected to a cable or DSL modem you are extremely vulnerable and you need to do something about that.

I back up my iPhone and iPad to my computer daily (sync – backup). If they are mistakenly or maliciously remote wiped I can get the data back easily.

I use iCoud’s Find My iPhone and Find My iPad features (like David Pogue) so I can find and if necessary, remote wipe my iPhone and iPad if they fall into the wrong hands. I do not use Find My Mac which means my Macintosh isn’t visible and vulnerable to a complete wipe from my iCloud account (I hope).

I back up my computer daily in two different ways (SuperDuper and Time Machine) which means I have a complete back up of my computer and my iOS devices in case of accidental or malicious remote wipe. I actually have multiple complete backups: I have two external drives that I swap daily one being kept in the basement in a fire proof box.

I’ve only lost everything once in my life, in the very early days of personal computing before there were easy ways to back things up. It felt bad enough so that I swore I’d never let that happen to me again and hopefully it won’t. But, all it takes is once and that ought to be enough of a wake up call to get your attention and get you doing something about it. Since the early ’80s (pre-Mac) I’ve had a backup scheme in place that I’ve used religiously. Some people who hear about this think I’m nuts but their time will come and when it does they’ll get it.

I may be vulnerable via the online methods that got Mat in trouble and rather than blaming Apple and/or Amazon I need a plan to do something about this. I’m working on it and for obvious reasons I’m not posting that plan here. Your ideas are always welcome in comments, email, chat, phone.

I’m quite sure that some reading this are even more vulnerable than I am and I urge you to read Mat’s story and make note of both his mistakes and how your digital life maps onto his. Even if you feel you’re not a target because you have no status online there may be other aspects of your life that make you a desirable target for a hack or an ID theft.

Hacking and ID theft like this should bring on the most severe legal punishment no matter what age the hacker (Mat’s hacker is 19). Life in prison sounds about right. Of course, the stiffer the penalty the greater the challenge for a motivated hacker.

[via Dale Allyn]

Mountain Lion first impressions

I upgraded my 15″ early 2011 MacBook Pro to Mountain Lion yesterday morning. Here’s what I’ve been using and loving so far:

Dictation. Works great, just like in iOS. Dictated chat messages in new iChat, some emails, and some notes as well as this sentence.

Notification Center: I love notification Center in iOS and I really like it in Mac OS now. Works better than badges in the dock and notifications interrupting things in the middle of the screen for me. I see incoming emails, texts, reminders and more, all in one place and I can snooze or close them. Great. Before Sparrow was bought by Google I switched back to using Apple’s native Mail program for email and it’s working fine for my two email accounts (gmail and .me). The small upgrades to this application in Mountain Lion are excellent: better threading of related emails and no doubt much more as I find it.

AirPlay: AirPlay is now on the system menubar. We have an AppleTV and with a simple menu command I can see my screen on our big 52″ HD TV. Sweet. So, I see a fun video I want to share with my wife, just send it to the TV and she can see it. Very cool. We’ve been using AirPlay in iOS on iPad and iPhone for a while now, great to have it on the Mac too. AirPlay is an incredible technology and the way it works with AppleTV is a great example of what makes Apple such a great technology company. Fantastic stuff.

Safari: I love the unified url and search fields and how Safari intelligently deals with text entered there. I also love the Sharing button for tweeting, sending pages in email and more. Excellent, saves many steps for me. The Sharing button is system-wide and I’m finding it in other places as well. Wow, very cool.

Messages: I was using the buggy beta of the new Messages app but switched back to the older iChatAV until because it was too rough around the edges. The finished version works extremely well and allows me to connect with contacts via AIM, Google, and Apple on any computer and iOS devices. I love that I can now send a message to a phone first over wifi and then over cell. Works seamlessly.

I’d be using the new Notes application with iCloud syncing to the Notes apps on the iPhone and iPad but I already use SimpleNote and JustNotes on the Mac to sync with it and at this point I’m going to stick with the third party system because it’s more full-featured and works faster.

Here’s Apple’s intro video on Mountain Lion in case you haven’t seen it.

Here’s a list of all of Mountain Lion’s new features.

I think Mountain Lion is a hit and well worth the $19.95 cost to upgrade. My friend Gary who’s visiting did the upgrade right after me, no problems and he’s loving it.

State of the art British synthetic speech

My friend David Niemeijer has been working on some new synthetic voices and they’re quite amazing: British Children’s Voices. Play the New Harry voice and the new Rosie voice, you’ll be impressed.

Text to speech or synthetic speech has really come a long way. These voices are as good or better than Siri which is state of the art for text to speech.

David is the developer behind AssistiveWare which makes assistive technology products for the Macintosh, iPad, and iPhone for people with a variety of special access needs. These new voices are built into various products.

Thoughts on Apple’s recent announcements

I was traveling the day of the Apple keynote presentation at their annual World Wide Developer’s Conference so I didn’t see the announcements live but the next day I watched the event as you can here:

Apple Special Event, June 11, 2012

If you’re an Apple user (Mac, iPhone, or iPad) and are interested in what’s coming in the year ahead you might enjoy the presentation.

Unlike others who seem to have been let down by the presentation, I loved it and it gave me a clear picture of Apple’s direction in the near and probably the mid term, maybe even the long term.

Mac OS X.8 (Mountain Lion) and iOS 6 both look like wonderful upgrades but the bottom line is this: Apple’s various devices are becoming simpler, more streamlined, and most importantly, better integrated with each other and with various social and informational services outside of Apple’s domain.

iCloud is better integrated into more Apple applications and it looks like there will be built in functionality that will compete with Simplenote, Dropbox, and Instapaper, to name a few.

Dictation, which was initially only on the iPhone is now on the iPad (3) and is coming to the Macintosh. No doubt Siri is coming to the iPad and at some point to the Macintosh as well. Think about this: it wasn’t long ago that speech to text and/or speech commands and text to speech were novelties and didn’t work all that well. Now they’re both reliable, understandable and work on small, handheld devices. This is revolutionary. Apple is betting heavy that speech will be a big part of using all of its devices going forward.

Apple’s computers are starting to move in a bigger way toward flash storage (SSDs): the new MacBook Pro model is a solid state device with no hard disk. While I’m not in the market for a new computer at the moment, I’d buy this machine in a heartbeat if I were. Solid state storage is the future of computing and no doubt more of Apple’s computers will move to it as it becomes more affordable.

Neither AppleTV nor Apple’s plans for a television were mentioned during the presentation. No doubt the next step is to tie AppleTV into this mix in a bigger way and my guess is that it will happen incrementally as it has been for a few years now. Here’s an idea for a next step: Add Game Center to AppleTV. I don’t play games on computers or iOS devices but if I did I’d be using Game Center and it seems to me it’s just a matter of time before Game Center is on AppleTV, another iOS device that will no doubt run at least some iOS apps in the future. When that happens AppleTV will essentially be an “iOS Mini” driving an HD TV and computing will have truly entered the living room.

While Wall Street and the pundits may be disappointed that this particular keynote didn’t announce much that wasn’t already known, I found it exciting to see the way the new operating system for the iPhone and iPad and the new operating system for the Macintosh work so well, individually and together.

Simpler is better and Apple is definitely moving in that direction.

Keyboards, touch typing, dictation

Shawn Blanc has done some research on keyboards for the Macintosh and written an exhaustive piece on using them as a professional writer: Clicky Keyboards. It’s not clear from the piece if Shawn is a touch typist but my guess is he is.

In 1985 I witnessed my friend Steve Splonskowski (still in college) typing at lightening speed on the awful Macintosh 128K keyboard. He was looking at the screen and typing away and it was a thing of beauty. I wanted to type like that so I bought a copy of the keyboarding instruction program “Typing Intrigue” and started playing the rain game (type a letter as it falls from the top of the screen) and quickly moved on to typing odd practice sentences.

At that time I was starting to contribute articles to early computer magazines and between that writing and early email with AppleLink, bitnet and a few other email networks I had enough of a writing load so that within a few weeks I was able to leave hunting and pecking behind. Once I’d made the transition to touch typing my speed and accuracy went down for a while but as I felt more confident and kept my eyes comfortably on the screen and my writing the feedback loop between fingers and brain got tighter and faster. The more writing, the better it got and as a person who had avoided writing for most of my life, a computer and touch typing was like opening a dam: writing spilled out of me on a daily basis.

The way to become a better writer is to write more. If improving your writing tool (a keyboard, a pen) helps then improve it.

Touch typing has changed my life by being one (important) part of the process of getting my ideas outside my head and encoded into writing. Before computers, keyboards, and touch typing my image of myself did not include “writer.” Here’s a now dated piece I did on the mechanics of this experience: How Computers Change the Writing Process for People with Learning Disabilities.

At some point, maybe after I’m compost, touch typing will probably go the way of cursive handwriting but until then it’s a useful skill to have and if you have it the layout and feel of your keyboard is an important part of your writing experience.

One of the things that will send keyboards and with them, touch typing to their grave is dictation: being able to talk to your computer, iPad, iPhone or whatever and have the device type out (encode) your voice. We used to call this “speech to text” or “speech recognition” but the single term “dictation” will no doubt supplant those awkward phrases.

I bought a new iPad (3) for one reason (not the screen): it has dictation capabilities. I’ve been using dictation quite a bit on my iPhone 4S and I’m finding it quite useful and it’s quite good on the new iPad as well. However, it’s a very different writing experience from touch typing and so, my brain is making a feeble attempt to adapt. I really like the tight feedback loop that happens with touch typing and dictation is a different kind of experience. We’ll see how touch typists like me adapt (or not).

No doubt we’re in transition: I’m touch typing this on my MacBook Pro’s keyboard which works quite well for me and for any longer piece of writing/editing I’ll probably be using this tool but for a lot of the other writing I do I’ll just as easily be using the iPad or iPhone with dictation (or with their awful but useable onscreen keyboards).

Apple, Inc.

If you take a look at Apple’s Executive Profiles* you’ll note that there is no “executive” responsible for Macintosh hardware or Mac OS X. No doubt the Macintosh and it’s OS fall under Bob Mansfield’s control but his title is “Hardware Engineering” which no doubt is all Apple hardware: Macintosh, iPhone, iPad, iPod, etc.

Apple has a senior executive responsible for iOS software: Scott Forstall, and Eddie Cue is in charge of all of Apple’s online software and services. But no one at this level is responsible for Mac OS X.

This is an indication of just how far Apple has moved from “Apple Computer, Inc.” to Apple, Inc. Apple probably moves more iPhones and iPads in a year than they have Macintosh computers in the entire history of the company (I’m making this up but you get the idea).

This is no doubt a piece of the reason Mac OS X Lion and the upcoming Mountain Lion are inheriting pieces of iOS. There are (many) more iOS users than Mac users.

*Note, the link is working now, apologies to anyone who tried it and got an error.

Apple’s Secret Plan For Its Cash Stash

Apple’s Secret Plan For Its Cash Stash

Connie Guglielmo at Forbes has written an excellent piece that looks like it’s a roadmap for Apple for the next few years: after adding more retail stores, server farms, a new campus in Cupertino, paying dividends, and buying a few companies to expand research and development, she thinks they’ll start buying pieces of their own supply chain. Tim Cook has done things like buy up huge quantities of Gorilla Glass from Corning, LCD screens from Samsung, and flash memory from a variety of vendors which gets him what he needs to build millions of devices a quarter but also gets him lower pricing and locks competitors out of both the pricing and the parts. Going a bit further into ownership of pieces of the supply chain with its huge pile of cash seems like a real possibility.

[via Asymco]

Introducing Macintosh Newsweek ad insert

Introducing Macintosh Newsweek ad insert

Amazingly, I have a number of good copies of this Newsweek ad insert as well as almost all of Apple’s advertising from the launch of the Macintosh. I also have many copies of Apple’s HyperCard introduction brochure, also done by Apple’s Creative Services department (Clement Mok I think). I’ve been holding onto all of this stuff hoping it might interest a collector at some point. I wonder if that point is getting closer?

Magic Mouse magic

I’ve been using an Apple Magic Mouse for a while and it works quite well for me, until, it doesn’t. Let me explain.

Bluetooth connection
The Magic Mouse connects to one’s Macintosh computer via Bluetooth, a short range wireless protocol. I routinely carry my MacBook Pro to other places in my house leaving my Magic Mouse behind and when I return the Magic Mouse does not automatically connect. Every once in a while it does but it’s rare. I can connect by going to the Bluetooth menu, choosing Richard’s Mouse, and choosing connect but there’s an easier way to connect the now disconnected but running Magic Mouse:

Click the mouse.

I can’t believe I never knew this. No doubt you did but in case you didn’t try it.

Battery corrosion
Recently my Magic Mouse started tracking badly, very much like an old Apple mouse with a dirty “ball” (yes, old mice had balls, well, one ball). So, I went up to the Bluetooth menu to see what the charge on the Magic Mouse’s batteries were. They showed 100%. Still, I decided to swap the batteries out for a new set and upon putting in the new set the mouse tracked perfectly. This seemed odd to me so I took out the new batteries and replaced the old and the mouse continued to track perfectly.

Uh oh.

This discussion at Ask Different led me to the answer: Magic Mouse disconnects randomly.

Specifically, the discussion of batteries in the first answer by Coyote.

It seems that the battery contacts in a Magic Mouse can become corroded over time and simply taking the batteries out, or, more simply, rotating them in place, can clean enough of the corrosion off to make a better contact.

When I put my original (seemingly bad) batteries back in, I had changed their position and made better contact.

This is amazingly simple and no doubt related to my post and thousands of comments on Canon DSLR error 99 problems being caused by corroded body/lens contacts.

Battery level
While you’re up in the Bluetooth menu you may notice that your mouse is showing a battery level of 100% but the alkaline batteries you have in it are a month old. How is this possible? Another excellent discussion at Ask Different explains: How is the battery level calculated in the magic mouse? and explains why my Magic Mouse was showing 100% charge on its Duracells even as they were a month old.

Bottom line: with alkaline batteries installed in the Magic Mouse, the mouse’s battery level indicator is like a car gas tank that reads full until you have a few miles left.

Ramblings on Twitter, Tweet Marker, RSS, and the cloud

Last month while reading an interview with Jason Kottke, a blogger I’ve been following for many years I noticed this question and answer:

What’s your online reading setup look like these days? RSS? Twitter? Multiple devices?

For discovery, Twitter and Stellar. No RSS…stopped doing that a few months ago and I feel like it dramatically improved my success rate in finding interesting things (although the addition of Stellar has helped with that too). For reading long stuff, Instapaper.

The fact that he dumped RSS and uses Twitter (and his web application Stellar) gave me pause and I started to think that maybe the way I’m using my aggregation tools needs to be reconsidered. Granted, his response seemed to be about mining the internet for things to post on his site, less about getting news, but many of us mix these two things together and my guess is he does too.

Part of me hates change, especially when I’ve got things working well, but part of me enjoys the evolution of these tools and seeing how things evolve is fascinating. Couple that last thought with the idea that people seem to be skimming rather than reading online these days and you have part of the recipe for the success of a service like Twitter, where posts can be no more than 140 characters long.

Keeping Twitter in sync
Twitter is a service that allows registered users to post (tweet) to their subscribers and subscribers to follow the feeds of people and/or services that interest them. It’s incredibly popular the world over and it runs on computers, tablets, smartphones, and almost every connected device out there.

If you only use Twitter via your web browser on a single computer or device keeping things in sync isn’t an issue for you but if you use Twitter with client software (not a web browser) on multiple devices, have you ever considered that there is no way to keep your feeds in sync? In other words, if you read (skim, browse, scroll) through a bunch of feeds on your computer and get to “now” (a tweet from 1 minute ago) then pick up your iPhone and run your Twitter client there, it has no clue that you’ve already read the feeds you have on your computer, you’re back hours before “now.”

I use Twitter via a client for the Macintosh called Twitterrific and a client for iPad and iPhone called TweetBot. These happen to be popular and excellent Twitter clients in the Macintosh and iOS worlds but I chose them for another reason, they make use of the Tweet Marker service. While Twitter is a cloud service it doesn’t seem to have a way to keep track of the position of your twitter crawl across multiple devices. This is what Tweet Marker is all about and it works quite well with Twitter clients that support it. You don’t need to make an account with Tweet Marker, you simply turn it on in the preferences of supported client applications.

With Tweet Marker enabled, if I update my Twitter feed on my Mac when I pick up my iPhone my Twitter feed automatically scrolls to the place I left off on my Mac, and visa versa. The bookmarking is still awkward on both Twitterrific and Tweetbot but it does work and it makes Twitter infinitely more useable to me.

Frankly, I have no idea how most Twitter users deal with looking at dozens, some with hundreds and some with thousands of feeds across multiple devices. I have no idea how people can deal with more than 100 feeds even on a single device coupled with their RSS and no doubt Facebook activity, but that’s another post. Twitter can be a useful tool and if you want keep things in sync between multiple devices you might want to try Tweet Marker.

I’ve used Twitter for a while but (Kottke aside) prefer my RSS feeds to my Twitter feed for the content I like to track and read. However, an individual can get a Twitter account without having a web site and tweet away while RSS requires a web site that puts out an RSS feed. They’re both useful technologies and there is overlap, it’s up to us to sort it all out as both publishers and readers.

Backstory on RSS
Simply, RSS is a technology that allows a web site like this one to put out a feed and for users like you to subscribe to it. If you subscribe to it and track it along with other feeds in a newsreader application (aggregator) it’s a simple way to see which web sites you visit regularly have updated their information. RSS is useful to a publisher (me) in that it lets me notify you that I’ve posted this piece of writing and it’s useful to a reader (you) because it allows you to see that I’ve posted this along with other feeds you track, all in one place and/or application. It remains my favorite networking technology although it is quickly being replaced by Twitter (Kottke seems to be supporting this) which I’m less than happy about.

The content management system that powers this site, WordPress has RSS capabilities built in so all I have to do is hit “post” on this post and the site will send the headline out to anyone who’s subscribed. In other words, everything I post here is also sent out to my RSS subscribers and if they want to read further they can click on the feed headline and come here to get more information. I could also send the post to my Twitter account automatically so that anyone subscribed to my Twitter feed (an overlapping group) would see notice there. I do this manually now as I update posts and permalinks and don’t want to be posting to Twitter until things are done on this end so that I don’t create dead links for subscribers.

Almost every web site I visit I visit through a headline I’ve clicked on in my RSS newsreader. I have only a few sites I visit daily that I visit by way of a browser bookmark. RSS has been the core of my web experience for many years and I can’t imagine it any other way.

For those reading here who have never used or learned about RSS, look at this old post What is RSS and/or this entry: RSS.

The need for cloud services
In the old days when NetNewsWire was the only game in town for managing multiple RSS feeds on the Macintosh and we didn’t have to deal with multiple devices, life was simple. As people started attempting to manage RSS feeds across multiple computers the need for cloud-based services became apparent and around this time Google started offering RSS feed aggregation with their Google Reader service (there were and are many others). One could use a web browser or a dedicated client application on a computer to read feeds on one computer and log into the same account on another computer and see where one left off. This is the beauty and importance of having this stuff in the cloud but also having the service keep track of activity. I can read some feeds on the train with my iPhone and when I open my computer when I get home I don’t see those feeds as unread, they’re read and gone.

The world of RSS aggregation and reading has remained like this through the transition to iPhone and iPad and at this point I have a Google Reader account that I read on my Mac, my iPad, and my iPhone with a great application called Reeder. There are Windows and Android equivalents of all of this stuff although Reeder is so good I’m not sure what’s quite that good in the Windows and Android worlds. No doubt there’s something. It doesn’t matter, what matters is that you find a client application you like and use it to manage the ever growing stream of information coming our way.

For those new to all of this let me be clear: Reeder is a client application that is not stand-alone, it requires that you have a Google Reader account to store your RSS feeds in the cloud. It taps into that account and displays the feeds and allows interaction with the account more elegantly than Google does in a web browser. Reeder is the killer RSS aggregation app for any Macintosh or iOS using, Google Reader using user.

In the same way I find it difficult to understand how people who use the web for news and information can get along without a newsreader subscribed to RSS feeds, I can’t understand how anyone could use Twitter and keep up without a service like Tweet Marker and I’m amazed that Twitter doesn’t have a service like this built into their API. Twitter the company should buy the Tweet Marker capability from its author and embed it in their Twitter back end.

Will Twitter kill RSS? I hope not. They’re different technologies with different capabilities and I find them both useful, now that there’s Tweet Marker.

Messages beta

Apple has finally started to unify their instant messaging universe. Many of us have been using iChatAV for years and have come to depend on it. Not everyone signed up and had an AIM account in the early days (AOL was and remains disdained by the power user types) although in time Apple allowed the use of a .mac address to use iChatAV and it worked and works well to this day.

In the iOS world Apple has had texting via cellular networks on the iPhone and with iOS 5 they’ve combined texting over cellular with an iChatAV-like application called Messages that unifies both cellular texting and IP-chatting. It works extremely well on both the iPhone and the iPad saving a considerable amount of money when one is on a wifi network by not using cellular minutes during that time.

There was no way to connect iChatAV on the Mac and Messages on iOS devices until now. Apple has finally released a beta of Messages for Mac OS X Lion that will ship for real with the next Lion update called “Mountain Lion.”

I’m using the beta now and it’s a wonderful improvement over the old iChatAV. I’m connected to my iPhone, my AIM buddy list, and all my cellular contacts. Very cool.

You can download it here: Messages beta.

[via Zapong]

Jerry Manock


Jerry Manock is the industrial designer who designed the Apple II, Apple III and first Macintosh. This is a wonderful piece that’s no doubt come out because of Walter Isaacson’s book: Steve Jobs.

Manock is a great guy, very humble yet he was in the middle of the push to ship the first Macintosh and had a lot of interaction with Jobs.

I have a box of print material saved from those days showing the original Macintosh team and Manock is in there along with Jobs, Atkinson, Herzfeld, Smith, and many others.

The third to last paragraph describing his trip to an Apple board meeting many years later made me cry.

Great stuff, a must read for anyone interested in Apple history.


Speculation on future AppleTV

Guy English: How I’d Build an Apple Television Set

The piece of Guy’s essay that appeals to me most is this:

So if you’re in an Apple based household the odds are good that your new Apple TV will be able to talk to one of your other devices and get the required network info from it. I’d bet heavily that this capability makes its way into AirPort devices and Macs. “Want to let this device on your network?”, is exactly the level of simplicity that Apple tends to aim for.

Setting up and using an AirPort network is much simpler than any of the other wifi routers I’ve played with over the years and my guess is that Apple is going to continue to make it simpler to add new devices to the network, including the AppleTV. It’s easy now and it will be even easier which is part of the puzzle of making a living room appliance that’s easy to use and integrate with other devices you already own.

I’m not entirely convinced that Apple will get into the flat panel TV business but I’m convinced that they’ll expand the capabilities of the current AppleTV, turning a Sony or Samsung flat panel TV set into a dumb HD screen, which is fine by me, I hate the menus on my Sony Bravia.

[via Steve Splonskowski]