Wednesday, June 13, 2007

WWDC keynote thoughts

Well I watched Engadget's blow by blow on the keynote, which focused mostly on Leopard. Jobs profiled 10 new features out of a total of 300 new features in Leopard. To be honest, I hope these are not the top 10.

New desktop - Not impressed. The dock looks a bit more 3d and the menu-bar has transparency. *yawn*.

Stacks - Allows you to quickly browse the contents of folders that you have on the dock. Not earth shattering, but mildly useful.

Consistent window appearance - This should have been taken care of long ago. But to their credit, I am very glad they cleaned this up.

Prominent active window - Again, this should have been dealt with LONG ago. But again, I am very glad that they have done this. It's nice to very quickly see which window has the focus.

Added a default download folder - Hmm - Jobs stated that the main reason that people's desktops are cluttered is because they download everything to it and this feature will eliminate that and make desktops clean the world over. Again, this is questionable at best.

New Finder - This one actually has a few items that might be of use...

Coverflow (a'la iTunes) added to the finder views - I will have to try this to really determine it's usefulness. I was not a fan of coverflow in iTunes, but who knows - maybe it's the file browsing nirvana that we have all needed but never understood how to implement... That's just my take - YMMV

Expanded search features - OK something that is VERY useful - Saved searches - Look at all files that were accessed today - yesterday etc. Very nice.

Spotlight searches across the network - VERY cool. Since we are migrating our Linux server shared storage over to a Mac Pro, this will be REALLY handy.

Back to my Mac - A feature that allows remote access to macs across your .mac account. Since I don't use .mac, this has no real impact for me.

Quicklook - If Jobs was using some supercharged OctoMac for his demo to get the performance that he was getting out of Quicklook, I won't care about this feature. If not, this looks VERY promising. VERY fast way to quickly preview files / documents / whatever. And it uses plug-ins to add support for new file types.

64 bit - Leopard is 64 bit - top to bottom. For me, this is THE biggest part of the announcement. I figured it was coming but it's nice to see it official. This should make a HUGE imprevement in performance on the 64 bit MacIntel machines out there - My quad Mac Pro included once apps start filtering out and getting updated to leverage this.

Core Animation - OK, this is slick stuff. The OS will handle some VERY nice animation on behalf of applications. And it's FAST. Full GPU leveraging. The demo used a wall of video clips. TONS of them all playing independently. When Motion gets updated - Hell when AE gets updated to leverage this we could see some really awesome stuff here.

Boot Camp - No more beta. Boot camp will be built in to Leopard. No impact for me as I do not use this. I prefer to use something like VMWare or Parallels Desktop so that I do not have to dual-boot.

Spaces - Basically virtual desktops. Set up multiple desktops with different applications and quickly switch between them. Gnome and KDE have had this for a long time as well as some add-ins for Windows. It's OK. Nothing major IMHO.

One new widget for Dashboard - A movie widget to look up movies and buy tickets. *yawn*. I don't use Dashboard anyway so I don't really care about this. Web Widgets - Allow users to select an area of a website to make as a widget. Jobs used Rotten Tomatoes and Yahoo to demo this. Again, see above for my take.

iChat improvements - I don't use iChat - I don't use a webcam. So this has zero impact on me. Mostly what I could see was a lot of gimicky stuff based on live keying. Check the apple website for details if this is up your alley.

Time Machine - Improved and built in back up. Simplified restore etc. Restore 1 file for 50 files from a week ago, blah blah blah. OK, it's a good thing to have a backup system. God knows I have been a victim of no back up a few times and yet here I am still not doing back ups. Part of that issue is convenience. Back in the day when storage was a lot smaller, it was not very expensive to get a backup tape system and use it. And I did. Colorado tape back up. Cheap and big enough to hold my entire hard drive on just a couple of tapes.

Today, you have cheap hard disks. And, seriously, there is no real reason not to be doing this. You can get a 750GB eSATA drive for $210. I should be backing up. Maybe Time Machine will induce me to do that.

So, there you have it - 10 improvements to Leopard. Nothing earth shattering. Just evolutionary or a gimmick. But, to be honest, I did not expect a revolution here. Just more evolution. And that's fine. xCode 3.0 should be interesting. I hope they improve the intelligence of the editing environment there.

Safari on Windows

Arthur C. Clarke once said "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic". Today with things like the WWDC, NAB, MacWorld etc. we should extend this sentiment to read "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo".

That being said, I always take Apple's (or any vendor's for that matter) demos with a grain of salt and the Safari one is no exception. I use Safari on the mac and it's "OK". I think Firefox is better but it has its issues as well. Clearly, the Safari that Apple released is an Alpha - Not a beta. I had continuous crashes with it on all kinds of sites (Apple's included) to the point that it is not really a viable browser alternative on Windows.

I would wait until they have a more stable release ready. IMO, this was a bad move for Apple. It will not engender Windows users to the Mac environment.

UPDATE: Aparently there were a number of security glitches in the Safari beta so Apple has updated it. You can re-download it here.

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