Mac stuff

iPhone hack: reading strap

I use my iPhone quite heavily as an ebook reader. I read in various situations, but one of the most frequent is when I’m in bed. When you’re lying down, either on your back or on your side, it can be quite a strain on your hand muscles to grip the phone and also use your thumb to scroll the pages. So a while back, I came up with a super-cheap way to improve the situation by adding a strap that holds the phone to your hand (actually, it holds it to just your index finger).

Phasing out music progress bars?

The iPhone does not display any progress bar or countdown to let you know when the song you’re listening to will end. If you tap the screen, such a bar is temporarily displayed, but it isn’t there all the time. On the classic iPod, in iTunes, and in most other software-based music players, we’ve been getting used to having these indicators. I don’t like them because I think a song should set its own pace.

iPhone versus Clie

I’ve owned a Palm or Clie device (which used the Palm OS) for 8 years. I used them as my PIM and as an eBook reader. My very first blog post was about eBooks, back in 2001. But my needs for a calendar are slim (but not zero), and my need for contact information is confined to making phone calls, which my devices couldn’t do, or sending Christmas cards, when I’m at home.

The iPod becomes software

I bought an iPhone 3G this past weekend (and waited 4 1⁄2 hours for the privilege). One of its functions is to play your music/movies like an iPod. You access this feature through a button labeled “iPod”. It has a picture of an old, non-iPhone iPod on it. This struck me as funny (haha funny). I think of the iPhone as subsuming the iPod in a device with extra functionality. But to explain to the user what this button does, it has a picture of an old iPod on it.

Mac Moments: Software update

Makers of software demonstrate their values in their products. Each decision they made along the way is visible to the user in one way or another. Most Windows users I talk to don’t even grasp this idea. They claim that Mac users are nigglers, and are too detail-obsessed. But I believe these issues can have an effect on everyone’s daily life, in a much bigger way than we generally acknowledge. This post presents a great example of this, namely OS updates.

Mac Moments 2

My second Mac moment came when using the text editor TextWrangler to work on ShelfCentered.com. Yesterday I had put my Mac on mute for some reason, and of course I forgot about it and was working away this evening. I was searching a document for occurrences of a word, and there were none. Now, usually this would produce the usual audible beep. But the developers of TextWrangler included a feature that automatically detected my Mac was on mute, and instead popped a message up on the screen that said “Not Found.

Mac Moments

At my workplace, the Mac platform is often derided by what I consider typical “PC guys.” These are technically savvy folks who for whatever reason feel very strongly that the Mac platform is poor, or should go away, or that Windows has definitively proven its superiority. Sometimes these same people are also very skeptical of Microsoft, but usually not. It’s strange, though, that someone can feel so ambivalent about Microsoft yet so strongly negative about the Mac.

Update on Mac rant

I don’t think I’ll finish my rant against the Mac. I think that primarily I was angry about the state of affairs typically faced by a developer. However, despite the fact that I do think documentation of the Carbon toolkit is flawed, and I have some fundamental problems with the way these legacy facilities have been brought into OS X, for the most part I find I’m still very excited about the Mac, and I’ve had a very positive experience with the much more modern Cocoa environment.

Mac Diatribe: Lack of Games

I’m a serious gamer, just below the rank of what the press call “hardcore.” I own an XBox, a GameBoy, and a very fast PC. By way of Mac hardware, I own an aging 1999 Powerbook, and I have no plans to buy another Mac. In fact, any serious gamer must automatically reject the Mac. Games played on computers remain of a different character than those you find on consoles, and include genres that will never be appropriate on a console, especially real-time strategy games (Warcraft, Rise of Nations, etc.

Outline of Mac Diatribe

Please understand I’m of two minds about the Mac, and so my remarks should be taken like those of a concerned parent, rather than, say, a Palestinian suicide bomber. My main points are Lack of games Inadequate developer documentation, including horrifying backward steps Lack of affordable hardware Counterproductive “boutique” model Ignorance of the real competitive advantages over Linux, Windows Poorly managed transition to OS X