Solipsism Gradient

Rainer Brockerhoff’s blog

Browsing Posts published in June, 2007

Tomorrow WWDC begins and as usual there are many rumors and few certainties. I didn’t make it this year, unfortunately.

Of course possible ideas have been flying fast and furious, but as usual nobody else knows for sure what sort of new Steve Jobs will present at the Monday keynote. Still, here are my ideas about what might happen, or at least about what I wish might happen.

WWDC being a developer’s conference, it’s not usual for it to see new hardware released – the iSight, the Mac Pro and of course the Intel migration being notable exceptions. Still, I think that new iMacs and/or new displays aren’t completely unlikely to be a by-the-way item in the keynote, or perhaps might be announced a few weeks later. Certainly both lines have gone too long without an upgrade; personally I’d like to see new displays and iMacs sharing a front bezel; the iMac’s “chin” is certainly avoidable by now, and it would mean that the iMacs would be distinguished from the same-sized displays only by a deeper rear casing. Having iSight cameras in the displays would of course be a given.

Some people feel that we’ll see a new iPod and/or a new tablet/ultrathin MacBook line – there’ll certainly be no iPhone hardware announcements. I think this unlikely, except in the context of…

…OS X without a “Mac” in front of it. Yes, I do have hopes of seeing a generic “OS X” SDK; Leopard will either be OS X or we’ll have explanations of how Mac OS X and OS X relate. Currently we have a multi-layer OS with several distinct APIs that developers can code to, but they all ultimately are seen in a single GUI layer – the one formerly known as Aqua – and run on a unified hardware platform (the Mac). Possibly, from now on, we’ll also be able to code to several hardware platforms and several GUI surfaces; neither iPods nor iPhones will ever sprout mice and keyboards, and it will be years before desktops and laptops will be accessible from multitouch only. (Though it would be cool to have optional multitouch sensors on those hypothetical new iMacs and displays…) And, before I forget it, there’s also the simplified – in fact, iPod-like – interface on the TV, which would be yet another GUI surface to reckon with.

Of course to have a generic OS X SDK we’ll need development hardware to test stuff on. If it’s unsafe to let developers code directly for the iPhone, as Apple has repeatedly said, some sort of touch tablet might even be a viable development system. I suppose this mostly depends on larger screens/panels being available, and thinner screens and mainboards. Some of Apple’s recent patents point in that direction; the one about glueing together structural casings, for instance.

On the general software front, Apple is of course making an effort to put people into a position to code cool new stuff for when Leopard comes out in about 4 months. Hopefully this will extend to releasing the “final” beta of Leopard during or very soon after WWDC; keeping it overly secret would now be unproductive. So, all that stuff like resolution independence and core animation will hopefully be used by the new apps. Speaking of apps, some people are of course viewing Leopard mostly as a vehicle to see incremental improvements to Mail, Safari, iChat and so forth – a distinctly unexciting way of seeing in my opinion. I’m not really that interested in the apps that will come included in Leopard except as examples in using all the cool new APIs.

An exception is the Finder, the app that even for most developers is the “face” of the OS. Much wailing and gnashing of teeth has ensued when the past Leopard seeds showed a scarcely changed Finder; I do think (and hope) that we’ll see a reasonable facelift to it during the keynote, though perhaps a completely new Finder might be too much to hope for.

I’m reasonably sure that we’ll have ZFS as a formatting option for external hard drives, and it would certainly be neat if this option meshed somehow with Time Machine for more reliable/expandable backups, but I’m not informed enough about the technical aspects of that. I don’t think booting from ZFS is likely, especially after the recent leaking of that possibility by some folks at Sun – let’s just hope Steve Jobs doesn’t cancel it outright just to prove them wrong!

Virtualization, after being discarded months ago as an option, is suddenly rumored to be in the works again. The options seem to be: a Parallels workalike built into Leopard (unlikely), Apple buys Parallels outright (also unlikely), simply releases a final version of Boot Camp (a little more likely but utterly boring), or – the one I think possible, and have mentioned here before – Apple will build a virtual machine hypervisor into the firmware, running OS X and whatever Boot camp supports in multiple virtual screens.

The final item of interest is .mac. There’s an SDK for that and everybody, up to and including Steve Jobs, agrees that .mac is underpowered and behind the times. In the last few days it’s become more likely that the increasing collaboration between Apple and Google would extend to Google taking .mac under their wing. They certainly have more server power to do it; in my tests, .mac has always been so slow in Brazil as to be unusable.

So, that’s it for now. More after the keynote…

Muzical skillz

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Been some time since I linked to a test, so here we go. This time it’s for musical skills. It’s really three tests which you should take in this order: Tone Deaf, Adaptive Pitch and Rhythm Deaf. You’ll need a quiet room (or a good earphone) and about 15 minutes.

For what it’s worth, here are my scores:

– tone deaf: 83.3% (in the “very good” range, which goes from 80 to 89%)

– adaptive pitch: 2.7Hz (in the “normal” range, which goes from 6.0 to 1.6Hz)

– rhythm deaf: 64% (in the “normal” range, which goes from 60 to 69%).

I knew I had good musical memory, which is measured by the first test, and I also notice when some instrument is off-tune – in the second test, a halftone would be about 30Hz.

However I’m rather surprised at my normal score in the third test, as poor rhythm memory and perception have consistently foiled me when I tried to learn at least a dozen musical instruments – I can’t manage to learn to dance either, much to my wife’s distress. I suppose this confirms my theory that I suffer from an IQ gradient which goes from 100% at my head to almost 0% at my feet; I enjoy listening to complex pieces like Dave Brubeck‘s and Don Ellis‘ which feature unusual time signatures, although I can imitate only the simpler ones with my hands, and tapping my feet in time with them is hopeless. I also have a problem making sense of song lyrics (in any language) or of spoken poetry… though I suppose that’s not related to the other symptoms.

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