Skitch Invites (5 Of ‘Em)

There’s a nifty new app out for the Mac called Skitch — it’s a bit hard to describe, but the demo video on the Skitch site does a decent job of doing so. Basically, it’s a screen capture/markup tool with a distinct Flickr, et al. aspect to it.
I managed to snag a beta invite and 5 extra invites, so if you’re interested in grabbing an advance copy, just leave a comment in the comments section of this post. First come, first served!

A Bountiful Link-Filled Catch-Up

I am fully cognizant of my delinquent blogging — apologies all around. I’ve been in full recovery mode since taking the redeye from SFO to PHL on Friday night. Short observations on that flight? Sucked like a brand-new Dyson 07 with the full pet hair kit. Stupid US Airways.
In exchange for my previous silence, please accept this surplus of links.
This is my kind of math: 1 rainy/icy racetrack + multiple expensive race cars + a massive pileup = millions of USD/GBP in damage, 0 fatalities. Nice.
WordPress converts aplenty: Michelle Malkin moved from an On’B MT-powered site to a brand-spankin’ WordPress one. Jeff Goldstein dumped Emotion Engine for WordPress, while Fred Thompson’s official blog was built from the ground-up using WP.
iPhone-tailored apps (read: websites for the iPhone’s tiny Safari browser) have already started hitting the streets, thus an aggregation site was nigh-inevitable, of course.
The Payback Project — stickin’ it to sucka GOP Senatorz that be all “We’ll vote to let the illegals ignore our laws ’cause then they’ll totally vote for us. Or maybe their kids will.” “Teach the GOP to respect their base again — the hard way” — fo’ sheezy.
Speaking of “fo’ sheezy”: Geek bling keyboard rings. To paraphrase a certain incarcerated celebrity heiress: “That’s Ctrl-Alt-Del hot.”
Life as a videogame character? It has its plusses and minuses.
LOLCODE: taking both the lolcats meme and programming where both probably ne’er should have ventured. LOLBOTS, on the other hand, is the utlimate incarnation of the joke.
John Hodgman as Steve Jobs in the intro to WWDC last week:

Speaking of WWDC, I posted my crappy cameraphone pics from the conference over at my Zooomr page.
Can’t forget the transforming Transformers cosplayers:

Conference Observations

WWDC, baby.
There are around 5,000 people at WWDC this year. Excluding Apple and Moscone employees, I think I have seen 25-30 women, total. The ratio of males:females is quite literally 100-150:1.
It’s odd interacting with the Mac geekery, being the old Linux/UNIX head that I am. After attending the “Stump the Experts” session last night, I now know what my wife feels like whenever tech/geek talk comes up. These guys were even more full of in-jokes, bad puns and general geeky weirdness than any of the equivalent Linux/UNIX sessions I’ve ever taken part in. There is a cult of Mac and it became evident that I’m not worthy to even swim in the kiddie pool out back. I’m a Linux user pretending to like Macs.
Apple treats their guests right. There’s always a good supply of food, at breakfast, lunch or snacktime. The drink of choice (at least as Apple supplies) is various Odwala fruit concoctions. Along with the DVDs with the beta Leopard on them, all attendees get Apple t-shirts and WWDC ’07 laptop bags (very nice!). It would seem as though ADC members get a lot for their money.
The WWDC ’07 laptop bags are generally the most commonly seen on the floor, followed shortly by Timbuk2 bags. And here I thought I was going to have some cache, some clout, inspire some envy with my own Timbuk2 bag. Not a chance — Apple users are apparently willing to not only pay for quality, usability and durability in their choice of computing environments but also their choice of computing accouterments as well. They’re like some sort of touchstone, some physical manifestation of a lingua franca for geeks.
Skype rocks! I was able to see my family from 3,000 miles away. Ain’t technology grand?
Skyping the night away…
The 15″ MacBook Pros appear to be the most commonly used Macs here, followed shortly by the 17″ variety. Quite a few people also have the old 12″ Powerbook.
While the crowds and lines have been massive, I have never seen such a large group of people act in a uniformly polite and orderly fashion. Everyone is willing to strike up a conversation on a moment’s notice or keep watch on someone’s stuff during restroom breaks and there was nary a bit of shoving when the pizzas were brought out last evening. It’s rather striking.
The airport offers a most fascinating intersection between the ordinary and the extraordinary — for the airport workers, the departure and arrival of passengers is a part of the flow for a day’s work, while the travelers themselves often experience a sense of adventure, mystery and stress.
Speaking of the airport, SFO is a building in desperate need of some moving sidewalks. The terminals are insanely long. The views are pretty, though.

WWDC Blogging

WWDC, baby.
I’m sitting on the floor in Moscone West, waiting for the doors to open to the Presidio and hoping to get some seating for the Stevenote. Ho-leee cow, there are a lot of people here. The line to gain admission was around the block when I got here at 7:10 or so. The doors opened at 7.
Everyone is very polite and well-behaved, though, which is a change from most large crowd behavior I’ve ever observed. Had this been Black Friday at a Wal*Mart, we’d be numbering the trampling casualties in the hundreds, methinks.
I’ll update as to whether I actually get into the room or not — there are a lot of people ahead of me.
[UPDATE 9:58am]
Got into Stevenote. Seated in middle back.
[UPDATE 10am]
Keynote leads off with John Hodgman in a “Hi, I’m Steve Jobs” PC vs. Mac ad.
Jobs speaking now.
Steve leads off with numbers in attendance, Apple Developer Connection, number of Apple engineers in attendance.
Talking about Intel transition right now.
Intel CEO Paul Otellini on stage now.
Otellini on stage only to receive award from Jobs.
Bing Gordon from Electronic Arts speaking about games coming back to Mac OS in a “big way”.
Coming to Mac: Command & Conquer 3, Need For Speed Carbon, Harry Potter & Order of the Phoenix, Battlefield 2142.
EA employee demoing H.P.
H.P. looks okay, all ’08 sports releases are due to have simultaneous releases (well, Madden and Tiger Wods).
John Carmack from id coming out to demo.
“id Tech 5” looks impressive.
Jobs back on stage, 22 million OS X users, 2/3 of which are running Tiger.
“Move beyond Tiger”, “Leopard will set even higher bar.”
6th major release, since he’s counting Intel OS X as a “major release”.
10 features:
1. New desktop – 3d-looking dock. Menu bar “adapts” to your backdrop. “Stacks” to help clean up desktop. Consistent window look. Prominent active window. “Stacks” – simply folders in your Dock, automatic Downloads stack — definitely what clutters my desktop. [UPDATE] Jobs demoing new desktop. Stacks has “fan” and “grid” modes. Using Applications Stack as an app launcher.
2. New Finder. (And there was much applause.) New sidebar. Search other Macs and servers. Shared computers. “Back to My Mac” via .Mac. Cover Flow — for documents, files, etc. Search in sidebar, definable by users. Shared — looks like only Macs to browse and share. Browsable as if they were on your own computer. [UPDATE] Jobs deming new Finder now. Previews of documents now is nice. Coverflow looks keen, although I don’t know how many non-Mac filetypes it supports. Searches are CF-able. Windows machines ARE supported.
3. Quick View. Live file previews in Finder, no need to open applications. Excel, PDF, Keynote presentations, etc. Zoom feature, full screen view.
4. Leopard fully 64 bit, top-to-bottom. UNIX to Cocoa, soup to nuts. One version of Leopard runs 32 bit and 64 bit code side-by-side. Guaranteed that 64 bit apps will run on any copy of Leopard. Jobs runs a shoot-out between 32 and 64 bit versions of a photo-retouching test. 3x-4x improvement, at least in that test.
5. Core Animation. “Automatic animation.”
6. Bootcamp. Built-in. Runs XP and Vista. No more CD burns. Complement to Parallels and VMWare.
7. Spaces. Group apps by spaces, files by spaces, etc. Jobs demoing it now. Virtual desktops. Drag and drop reordering of spaces. Drag & drop apps in spaces.
8. Dashboard. Meh. Webclip, new Apple-supplied movies widget. Dashcode in every copy of Leopard.
9. iChat. Feedback about video conferencing. Better audio, tabbed chats, Photo Booth effects, backdrops, iChat theater. Jobs and Schiller demoing iChat, works with anything supported by Quick Look. Good for teleconferences. Photo Booth effects, etc. are cool. Schiller appears as George Washington, Steve Ballmer’s mouths (think: Conan O’Brien).
10. Time Machine. Search back in time, back up wirelessly, preview old files using Quick Look. Back all Macs to centralized NAS, etc.
Leopard to be $129 in October
“One more thing” is about Safari. Safari 3 for Windows. Wow. Apple wants to raise Safari usage stats.
Safari iBench tests for IE, FF, Safari on Windows — performance is incredible according to Jobs. JavaScript might not suck in Safari 3? “Most innovative browser”, “fastest browser on Windows — 2x faster than IE”, same tech as Safari on Leopard.
Distribution of Safari: Public beta on Windows and Tiger today.
“One last thing” — the iPhone. Developers? Want to allow for 3rd party apps while keeping platform safe and secure. New way to create apps for mobile use. Full Safari engine inside of iPhone. Route is using Web 2.0 + AJAX, integrate with iPhone services. Instant distribution. Easy to update. A sort of iPhone remote API. No SDK required. “Go live” on June 29.
A bit of a hedge/cop-out on Apple’s part, in my opinion. We’ll see how developers, etc. respond to this. Could be big, could be a flop.

Sequestered No More!

Just got out of a marathon sysadminning session where my team lead and I did quite a bit of architecting, planning, troubleshooting and strategerizing.
All I have to say is that Apple rocks for their dscl and dsconfigldap command line tools and “bind_policy = soft” is your friend for Linux hosts using LDAP.


I officially retract my previous iPhone fanboi status, as Apple officially announced today that their next-generation Macintosh operating system Leopard will be delayed until October and the iPhone is solely to blame. Apparently, Apple’s best and brightest engineers had to be shifted to the iPhone division in order to ensure that the $600/unit iPhone ships in time for the Apple WWDC in June. I can see the economic logic in this decision, but it means that I’ll need to wait an additional 4 whole months to get my grubby mitts on Leopard.
I know it’s geeky and it’s selfish, but I was looking forward to droppinghaving work drop $129 in order for me to upgrade my MBP and another $129 for my Mac Pro. I was also really looking forward to upgrading our Xserves to Leopard Server, what with it’s cool wiki, collaboration and calendaring servers. Would’ve made my job a heckuva lot easier in the very near term. Alas.
The Unofficial Apple Weblog has further thoughts on the implications of the delay.

Apple: A Question, If I May

osxserver_1.jpgIf, say, I were running Mac OS X Server version 10.4.8 on a Mac Pro workstation (a model that does not come with an 802.11 b/g card by default), why, pray tell, would I get prompted for an AirPort update when I run Software Update?
Can anyone explain the logic behind forcing this update, one that requires a reboot to affect, on a server running a server OS? No? And why not? Because it’s stupid, that’s why.

Burnination, The Follow-Up

With apologies to Trogdor: Shortly after I posted my review of Toast, I stumbled across a comparison review of a few of the top Mac burning software packages. Toast makes an appearance, as do Burn and two others, as well as a 5th one that was suggested in the reviews’ comments (LiquidCD) which got me to thinking about other media-related downloads worth your time.
First up, Windows users looking to convert their media over to handheld-appropriate formats ought to look into Videora which handles the conversion tasks for the Microsoft-addled. Next up is Democracy, an incredible video aggregator with support for RSS “channels” and BitTorrent downloads. It’s available for Mac, Linux and Windows, so platform concerns should be nil. Mac users looking to correctly tag their iPod-ready videos so that they show up correctly in iTunes should look into Lostify, your one-stop-shop for all your video tagging needs.
Last of all, those of you looking to get caught up on TV shows you missed should check out ShareTV, a site that looks to centralize torrents for a lot of the top-flight shows currently on TV in one easily-accessible website. Be sure to give it a look.

Toast 8 Titanium: A Review In Brief

Toast 8.
To put it bluntly: Roxio’s Toast 8 Titanium rocks.
My team lead put in for a couple of copies of Toast 8 shortly after it was announced at Mac World and we have been enjoying them ever since. While it is, at base, a program for burning CDs, DVDs and now Blu Ray discs, version 8 adds a lot of functionality that makes Toast Titanium an ideal hub for all of your multimedia tasks.
Toast 8While the TiVoToGo functionality is perhaps the most ballyhooed addition, I think the video transcoding capabilities are far more exciting. You can create traditional data discs, useful for backing up data otherwise stored on hard disk or audio discs suitable for play in any CD player. You can also burn video discs from very nearly any video media type – DVDs, VideoCDs, Super VideoCDs and even DivX Discs. The transcoding engine behind these burning capabilities also allows one to convert any supported video type to one suitable for use on your video iPod, PSP or any other hand-held video player.
I have been taking full advantage of this ability, as I am sadly over a full season behind on my Battlestar Galactica and thus have been converting the unwatched DivX AVIs I have laying about into iPod-ready .m4v’s. I am then able to transfer them to my iPod and catch up on BSG at a rate of roughly two episodes per day. I should be just about caught up within 20 days or so, barring unforeseen interruptions.
Is the package worth the $80 Roxio charges for it? I’m not quite sure about that. There are ways to accomplish each and every one of Toast’s capabilities with free alternatives (Burn and Mencoder come to mind immediately…) and I could see $80 as being a very steep price for a home user. When it comes right down to it, it’s a very attractive package for managing all of your media that’s worth the money as long as someone else is doing the buying. *grin*