Solipsism Gradient

Rainer Brockerhoff’s blog

Browsing Posts published in December, 2006

Re: What, already?

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gracion wrote:

Happy New Year, Rainer! Very good summing up of the year, which I agree with, except I’m not sure I want to kill .Mac. Here’s why…

Same to you, Paul!

Anyway, it’s not that I want to kill .mac. I’d say that, despite all the good intentions and (I suppose) working APIs and facilities, the actual server infrastructure they use seems to be deficient, and the price is excessive when compared to the benefits. Google has much more resources to throw at that, of course… and for you people living near the actual servers it may even be working well; it never did for me when I tried it out. Mounting an iDisk here means endless waits or a hung Finder.

Regarding syncing and backup, I’d feel much better with that also supported by a local server. Apple should really publish this as a Mac OS X service.

Re: What, already?

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Posted by gracion:

Rainer Brockerhoff wrote:

– .mac is dead. It’s never worked well (or at all) outside the US, as far as I know. It’s an expensive embarrassment. Apple could close it outright, sell it to Google, or allow people to operate their own sync servers.

Happy New Year, Rainer! Very good summing up of the year, which I agree with, except I’m not sure I want to kill .Mac. Here’s why:

It has a lot to offer as a seamless extension of Mac OS X, especially for nontechnical users. (1) Backup works, is flexible but dead-simple to use. (Yes Time Machine will change all that, sort of). (2) iDisk, ditto. (3) Photo web publishing from iPhoto is again seamless. (3) OS-integrated syncing of a variety of things (room for improvement though) (4) an interesting, already-working API for iDisk access, store-and-forward, and syncing. (5) Amazon discount icon_smile.gif (6) Comcast, Charter, and other ISPs are starting to blacklist my small independent ISPs mail server willy nilly. .Mac email is my way around these.

One of my very nontechnical Mac user friends had all sorts of trouble doing things until I got them on .Mac. I suspect that is true for a lot of Mac users. Admittedly, I haven’t checked out alternatives. Is there a “GoogleDisk” item I can add to the Go menu in the Finder? icon_smile.gif

Anyway, I’m looking forward to fun at Macworld, iPhone or noPhone!


What, already?

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Heh. Seems the year’s over already and I almost didn’t notice.

Looking back, it’s been a busy and surprising year. I traveled more than I’d planned and wrote less. XRay II saw a lot of progress in fits and starts, but my plans to release a public beta this year didn’t work out – mostly because I had underestimated the back-end work necessary to actually save data.

On the Apple front, the year has been busy. No iPhone from Apple. Zune out, Vista out (sort of), AAPL options scandal, Leopard, Mac Pro, the Intel migration has been completed, lots of security flaps, new laptops… it’s a long list, so long I don’t feel like finding all those old links. Looking back, what surprises me most is that Apple doesn’t seem to be as interested in virtualization as I felt they should be.

And of course MacWorld is just a little over a week away. Rumors are already flying fast and furious, of course. Here are some things I believe to be more likely (not that I have any inside knowledge, I hasten to add):

  • New Apple displays, with built-in iSights and microphones.
  • New Mac Pro with 8 cores, probably with a new case design.
  • The transition is over, and people are now sure the Intel Macs are “really Macs”, so new case designs are overdue across the whole line, although in the case of the laptops I’d say that’ll be really hard. Thinner and better/larger screens of course, but there’s only so much you can do with minimalism.
  • Leopard? Perhaps we’ll finally see some UI changes. My tip for the release date is March/April.
  • iTV, no idea in which direction they’ll take that; I watch very little TV. Regarding the name(s), it would make sense to go away from the whole iThing.
  • whateverPhone: I don’t use a cellphone, so the basic idea leaves me cold. Unless Apple breaks the entire paradigm with some sort of VoIP breakthrough, it’s bound to be some sort of weak US-only experiment. Let’s hope they don’t do that. I also see no sense in having music capabilities built-in as a default. Opening it up to developers in a big way would be excellent, and the recent rumors of a stripped-down, embedded Mac OS X dovetail with that.
  • .mac is dead. It’s never worked well (or at all) outside the US, as far as I know. It’s an expensive embarrassment. Apple could close it outright, sell it to Google, or allow people to operate their own sync servers.


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This post intentionally left blank. Fnord.

Flipr out

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Searching for some cool eye candy to add to my applications, I thought of having the main window flip around to present the preferences window – an effect pioneered by Dashboard widgets. Not finding a ready-made solution I set out to do it myself, and learn how to use CoreImage from Cocoa.

So, here’s some new source code: a category on NSWindow to flip from some window to another window. Please read the “ReadMe” file for details and caveats. The code should work on any PowerPC Macs with AltiVec, and any Intel Macs.

That said, it’s not as fast as I thought it would be, and I don’t want to spend more time on it right now. I’ll be looking into Quartz Composer to do something similar, although the upcoming CoreAnimation (for Leopard) will probably make this completely obsolete very shortly.

Not catching up.

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A few years ago, when I was still getting the idea of this blogging thing, I made a serious effort to stay “in the know”. I read most of the Mac websites, I had 390+ feeds in my news reader, I posted links to interesting blogs, I tried to comment on the hot issues of the day. No idea how successful that was (depending on your definition of “successful”), but one side-effect became apparent after a year or so: no useful work on my applications got done. There are just so many nanoseconds in a day.

Perhaps the main cause of that was my overly-zealous polishing of each sentence – writing in what is, after all, my fourth language isn’t that easy – but if there’s any obsessive-compulsive polishing that must be done it would be better applied to my code than to my text. Right? On the other hand, there are people who tell me they like reading what I post here, if only to keep up-to-date with my trips. And the whole thing was, after all, just a sideshow to my support forums… no sense in closing it down.

So, I’ll probably not comment after the fact on most of the various issues du jour here… there have been an awful lot of them lately. I won’t even take the trouble to find links to them now. Let’s see, there was the AirPort security thing, the HIG-is-dead/Disco thing, the MacHeist controversy, the iPhone came-out-but-not-really flap, the options scandal is still going on, I still can’t comment on Leopard, yadda yadda.

My late father worked at a large company and he used to tell with some relish a story about how he used to sort the requests that crossed his desk into “not urgent”, “normal” and “extremely urgent” piles. His usual mode of operation was to ignore the “extremely urgent” stuff until someone asked after a particular item at least twice; it turned out that most of them were never followed up at all! The lesson has served me well. Many of those hot issues have a short half-life, emitting lots of sparks but decaying very soon into plain, dull lead. Nothing like letting a few weeks or months pass to get the proper perspective…

In the meantime, yes, suddenly I’ve been able to get lots of polishing done on XRay II. Keep tuned.

Re: Saltimbanco

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Back from seeing Saltimbanco. Tired, but it was worth it. The word “awesome” which I refuse to use for ordinary things definitely applies here.

I talked to a stagehand who said that this was not only the last Saltimbanco show in Brazil, but the last one ever, anywhere; seems Cirque is putting it to rest after 14 years – it was their oldest show still on the road. They may be back in March with a new show, though.


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Somewhat unexpectedly we got a couple of the last tickets to Cirque du Soleil‘s last show in Brazil – namely, Saltimbanco, a show which we’ve seen on DVD, but never before in person. As we’re big fans of the company – in fact, nearly all of the few DVDs we own are the Cirque’s – we didn’t hesitate in booking the package when we were told it was available.

We leave in a few minutes on a bus to Rio de Janeiro. The package includes an overnight stay in a hotel, a few meals and a post-show barbecue – then it’s back home during Sunday night. We’re really looking forward to this. Normal life resumes on Monday; I’ll probably be offline until then.

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