Tag Archives | Macintosh

Happy birthday to my MacBook Pro

Let’s all wish my trusty retina MacBook Pro a happy birthday. I purchased it on 22 December 2012 in the Belfast Apple Store with cash from redundancy pay after I left Northgate Managed Services. It’s still the best computer I’ve ever owned or used. Very fast, even today five years later, and I see no need to replace it for the next few years. Assuming nothing breaks to force me to get a new one. The battery is still in good condition. I usually use it with power plugged in, but get four hours plus on the battery when required. The i7 Quad core processor is still more than enough for all the tasks I throw at it; the 8GB RAM has never been a problem. They didn’t sell 16GB models in the Apple Stores in 2012, and I didn’t want to be without a Mac over the holidays by ordering online to get the extra RAM.

It’s no wonder that Mac laptop sales slowed for a few years around 2012 and later. I used to replace my Mac every two years, or sometimes sooner. But the mid-2012 retina MacBook Pro got to a level where it was so good people didn't need to change them so often. They might be the best laptops ever made. When I do have to replace it I might go for a desktop iMac Pro beast and use an iPad Pro for my mobile computing needs. We’ll see.

One final note: the cost for the MacBook Pro in 2012 was £1799. Not cheap. But as the adage goes “You get what you pay for!” Spread over the five years that works out at 99p a day. Bargain. Or as was pointed out to me on Twitter, when the resale value of the MacBook Pro is factored in (about £500) then the daily cost drops to about 71p a day.

Mac alternatives to the Adobe CS Apps

I recently installed Adobe Creative Suite 4 on my Macintosh. I wanted to use Photoshop for some graphical work, and InDesign for technical document creation. I unselected all the other components that I didn’t want to install. After the installer was finished I had a several, 8 or 9 if I recall correctly, new folders in my Application folder with various Adobe apps in them. I was only installing 2 apps. Why all the other folders? This should have been a sign that Adobe are now pedlars of bloatware. The running apps themselves were slow on my MacBook Pro (2.8Ghz C2D, 4GB Ram and 7200rpm disk machine).

I uninstalled the whole lot. Well I tried. The uninstall option left several bits of Adobe detritus in my Applications folder and in my Preferences Folder. I deleted that manually.

Bye-bye and good riddance Adobe CS. Maybe CS 5 will be different but I doubt it. Given their poor record with the Mac version of Flash I don’t have much hope for their other Adobe produced Macintosh software in the near future. BTW if you haven’t installed ClickToFlash on your Mac, to control Flash loading when browsing, I’d recommend you do so as soon as possible.

Below are some links for alternatives to the Creative Suite Apps. These might fit your needs better than the full Adobe CS offerings. These may not have all the same features of Creative Suite applications, but they are lightweight, easier to use and probably better for most non-professionals. However, some of those listed below are probably better for professionals. Final Cut and Soundtrack, for example.

Alternatives to Photoshop

  1. Pixelmatorhttp://www.pixelmator.com/
  2. Acornhttp://www.flyingmeat.com/acorn/
  3. GraphicConverterhttp://www.lemkesoft.com/content/188/graphicconverter.html
  4. GNU Image Manipulation Programhttp://gimp.lisanet.de/Website/News/News.html

Alternatives to inDesign

  1. Pageshttp://www.apple.com/uk/iwork/pages/what-is-pages.html
  2. Swift Publisherhttp://www.belightsoft.com/products/swiftpublisher/overview.php

Alternatives to Adobe Acrobat

  1. Skimhttp://skim-app.sourceforge.net/

Alternatives to Dreamweaver

  1. RapidWeaverhttp://www.realmacsoftware.com/rapidweaver/

Alternatives to Illustrator

  1. EasyDrawhttp://eazydraw.com/
  2. OmniGrafflehttp://www.omnigroup.com/products/omnigraffle/

Alternatives to Premier Pro

  1. iMoviehttp://www.apple.com/uk/ilife/imovie/
  2. Final Cut Prohttp://www.apple.com/uk/finalcutstudio/
  3. Final Cut Expresshttp://www.apple.com/uk/finalcutexpress/

Alternatives to Soundbooth

  1. Soundtrack Prohttp://www.apple.com/uk/finalcutstudio/soundtrackpro/
  2. Fissionhttp://rogueamoeba.com/fission/

Alternatives to After Effects

  1. Motionhttp://www.apple.com/uk/finalcutstudio/motion/

I’ll add to this list if any others come to my attention. I might add some options for Microsoft Windows based users as well. Feel free to give me your suggestions for either Macintosh or Windows apps that do any of the functions shown in the lists.

Snow Leopard escapes…

So Snow Leopard has escaped its NDA¹ cage and is running wild, eating Macintosh machines around the world. Happy days. I’ve been testing it for a while via the Apple developer releases. It was only when it got to the golden master build (10A432) that is was useable full time. Which is fair enough. That’s what testing is for!

There are still a few applications that don’t function correctly on Snow Leopard. Audio Hijack Pro and Blogo are two applications I use that had issues. Thankfully both are being worked on. In fact a new beta of Blogo is out now. I’m using it to type this post. So if you’re reading this it works 😉

Snow Leopard has a lot of changes under the hood. Most users upgrading from Leopard won’t see much difference. But as developers start to make use of the new technologies hiding in the bowels of Snow Leopard we’ll see some stunning applications.

[1] Non Disclosure Agreement

WWDC ’09 Schedule

The WWDC session times are up on the Attendee site. Here is my plan for the week. Click picture thumbnail for larger view. There are a few sessions still to be announced after the keynote. These will be sessions related to new stuff 🙂

WWDC is imminent – Essential sessions

In 3 weeks it’ll be day 2 of WWDC. Day 2 is the start of the topic specific sessions. The Monday is taken up with the Keynote in the morning and Several State of the Union sessions in the afternoon. The State of the Union sessions are on things like Mac OS X Server, Graphics & Media, etc.

The majority of the sessions I will be going to will be related to management of Macintosh computers and integration into ICT infrastructure based on Microsoft Windows. Listed below are the sessions from those published so far that I’ll be going to. There are usually additional sessions added after the Keynote, to cover any new features that are announced, and there are also some brilliant Brown Bag sessions at lunchtime with external guest speakers (like Pixar). There are also evening events such as the Apple Design Awards and the Thursday Night Party. The Bare Naked Ladies were the house band for the party last year. Here’s a good picture of 3 reprobates watching them from just above and behind the stage 🙂

Here are the ICT management sessions I plan to attend:

Mac OS X Server State of the Union
Mac OS X Server uniquely combines a wealth of powerful–yet easy to use and configure–services that elegantly simplify communication and collaboration in organizations of all sizes. Learn the latest on Mac OS X Server’s technologies for streamlined mobile access; enhancements to mail, calendar, contacts, and wiki services; advanced capabilities in Podcast Producer 2; and an update on Mac OS X Server’s performance and storage capabilities.

What’s New in Directory Services
Open Directory provides standards-based storage and organization of user and network resource information. Get the details on Open Directory enhancements in Snow Leopard Server including a new UI for binding, refinements to Active Directory integration, password synchronization, and performance improvements.

What’s New for Wiki Server 2
Wiki Server 2 in Snow Leopard Server allows any organization’s users to collaborate more easily and effectively. Learn about new features such as Quick Look previews of wiki attachments in the browser window; content searching across multiple wikis; and wiki and blog templates optimized for viewing on iPhone. Wiki Server 2 also introduces My Page, which gives each user one convenient web portal to view and create wikis and blogs, use web calendars, track wiki updates, and access webmail.

What’s New for Podcast Producer 2
Podcast Producer automates and streamlines the capture, encoding, and publishing of high-quality podcasts of your organization’s lectures, training, and other presentations. Snow Leopard Server introduces a host of new features including Dual Source Video capture, Podcast Composer, and Podcast Library. These features let you create picture-in-picture podcasts, provide an easy-to-use application for designing video-based Podcast Producer workflows, and define a new publishing model that uses Atom and RSS for providing long-term media file storage and organization.

Deploying Podcast Producer
Podcast Producer streamlines consistent creation, production, and distribution of rich media assets. Learn deployment best practices from experts with real-world installations. Discover how to use new features such as Podcast Library for seamless integration with iTunes U, adding content to in-house web portals, and publishing training materials.

Podcast Composer In-Depth
Podcast Composer provides a visual step-by-step approach to easily build powerful workflows for Podcast Producer. Get in-depth information from the experts as they show you how to get the most out of this new application. Find out best practices for integrating with Podcast Library and learn how you can incorporate your own content and customize workflows to meet the needs of your organization.

System Management with Apple Remote Desktop
Apple Remote Desktop is the best way to provide system management for the Macintosh computers on your network. Learn from the experts how to optimize Apple Remote Desktop for various networking topologies across NATs, LANs, and WANs. Discover how Task Server can help manage your mobile computers. Come for the latest tricks for easing your system management duties with the Send UNIX task.

System Image Creation and Deployment with Snow Leopard Server
System Image creation and deployment is the best way to ensure consistent configuration of Macs in your organization. Learn how to use the new features in System Image Utility 2 to create NetBoot, NetInstall, and NetRestore images to simplify the deployment of Mac OS X across your organization.

Managing Home Directories with Mac OS X Server
Mac OS X Server delivers flexible options for managing your organization’s user home directories including Network Home Directories, Mobile Home Directories, Portable Home Directories, and External Accounts. Learn which of these options is best suited for your environment, while getting field-tested best practices for home directory deployment and management. See how new features in Snow Leopard Server enhance your options for managed home directories.

Snow Leopard Server Setup: Under the Hood
Snow Leopard Server includes a powerful new Setup Assistant that streamlines the configuration of your server. Learn from the experts about the rich set of functionality that the new setup experience provides for several different network topologies. Get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how the Setup Assistant can automatically configure other network devices such as client computers, Airport Extreme, and Time Capsule to provide seamless network connectivity for local networks as well as the Internet.

Integrating iPhone into the Enterprise
iPhone has become a leading choice for mobile professionals. Find out about configuring and deploying iPhone in your organization, learn tools and techniques for configuration and deployment of native and web-based iPhone applications, and discover how server-side technologies integrate with iPhone, all from the IT professional’s perspective.

iPhone Configuration Creation and Deployment
iPhone configuration profiles make mass configuration of iPhones a snap. With configuration profiles, your organization can deploy account information, password policies, secure access settings, certificates and more, all within a single package. Get the latest details on the iPhone configuration profile file format, new additions to the managed services they support, Apple’s profile creation tools for Mac OS X and Windows, and new deployment options that make profile distribution even easier.

I also hope to be able to get to some of these Macintosh and iPhone development sessions:

iPhone User Interface Design Prototyping
Learn how to turn your personal vision into an elegant iPhone application design. Explore your ideas through rapid prototyping and experience the iterative design process that leads to a truly innovative user interface. With some cool tricks and a few lines of code, see how a working prototype provides insight far beyond a static mockup. Watch your design evolve from good to great.

iPhone Application Design Using Interface Builder
Interface Builder provides the easiest route to an elegant and well-designed iPhone application, letting you seamlessly implement many popular interface styles. Take your experience with Interface Builder to the next level and learn how to efficiently build and structure your iPhone interface. Find out how to create a multi-screen interface, work with view controllers, employ navigation controllers, and properly isolate data across master-detail interface pairs.

Effective iPhone App Architecture
Whether your iPhone app is in development or on the App Store, strong code architecture is an essential part of your daily process. Learn about good data modeling, communication between view controllers, and when to use delegates and notifications. Find out how to make important decisions about memory, speed, and a responsive UI. Developers of all skill levels can benefit from this thorough examination of iPhone SDK best practices.

State of the Art Cocoa: User Interface Design
Often, the difference between an amazing application and a merely adequate one lies in the level of polish applied to the user interface. Learn how to take a functional Interface Builder project and add the subtle details that make the user experience feel intuitive and look more attractive. Find out how to add custom drawing and controls to get the exact effect desired, and even how to add Core Animation to make your application shine.

What’s New in Core Data
Both Mac and iPhone developers now have the power of Core Data at their disposal. See what’s new in Core Data for both iPhone OS 3.0 and Snow Leopard. Learn the most efficient ways to employ Core Data in your next project while taking advantage of recommended design patterns. Walk through solutions to the most common problems facing experienced Core Data programmers.

I like BASIC!

I like programming in BASIC. There I said it. I can hear the purists poopooing, indeed some may be fainting. But it’s only a language. It has been said that modern versions of BASIC are not your fathers BASIC. What this means is that there are versions of BASIC available today that have most, or even all of the features found in other modern languages like Objective-C, C#, Ruby, Java, etc.

I’m a Macintosh guy. For a long while I used FutureBASIC but it has fallen by the wayside a bit. A good modern BASIC for the Macintosh is REALbasic. It’s actually cross platform and runs and compiles for Macintosh, Windows and Linux. I only have the Macintosh version. REALbasic has an object-orientated language with lots of modern features:

21st Century BASIC
Yes, it’s BASIC. But it’s not the interpreted, procedural, line numbered, spaghetti-code-producing BASIC from the old days. This is a robust, modern, fully object-oriented from the ground up BASIC that compiles to native X86 and PowerPC machine code. REALbasic supports inheritance, polymorphism, interfaces, delegates, introspection, the works. And if all of that made your eyes glaze over, don’t worry. The great thing about REALbasic / REAL Studio is you can do a lot without having to know any of this, but it will be there when you need it.

One downside is that it produces quite large binary files. REAL Software have made changes to the system to allow them to address this but at present it still links in everything and this gives big executables. I don’t think this is a problem these days. Another issue with the Macintosh version is that currently it uses the Carbon framework (mostly) for interface elements. Cocoa is what modern Macintosh apps should be using. The good news is that a beta that uses Cocoa is imminent. I’m looking forward to it. It should make it easier to produce Macintosh apps with REALbasic that have more Cocoa UI compliant interfaces using a language I know and I’m comfortable with.

Will still need to know Objective-C for iPhone apps though…

Back to programming basics

I bought myself a copy of the Pragmamatic Programmers Learn To Program book. I’ve decided to go back to basics and make sure I have a good foundation in the basics of programming before trying to build some applications I want for the Macintosh and iPhone.

Not because I have tried to build the applications and failed. I haven’t. No, I just want to build the foundations first before moving on to meaningful stuff. Sort of fill in some of the knowledge you’d get from doing a formal programming course at College or in first year University; but by self study. What is that term about a house built on sand…

In addition to the Learn To Program book, which uses the Ruby language for its examples and exercises, I’ve also got two entry level Objective-C books that I will be studying at the same time. These are Programming in Objective-C 2.0 by Kochan and Learn Objective-C on the Mac by Dalrymple & Knaster.

I’m going to use all three of the books at the same time by reading a chapter at a time from each. Is this sensible? Who knows? I’ll get back to you on that in a month 🙂

Apple Reports Second Quarter Results

Not to shabby 🙂

CUPERTINO, California—April 22, 2009—Apple® today announced financial results for its fiscal 2009 second quarter ended March 28, 2009. The Company posted revenue of $8.16 billion and a net quarterly profit of $1.21 billion, or $1.33 per diluted share. These results compare to revenue of $7.51 billion and net quarterly profit of $1.05 billion, or $1.16 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Gross margin was 36.4 percent, up from 32.9 percent in the year-ago quarter. International sales accounted for 46 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

From: Apple Reports Second Quarter Results

Been neglecting my geek muscle…

I’ve been neglecting my geek muscles way too much lately. It’s time to get back in the game and immerse myself in the new stuff that is hitting the market. Basically do stuff for The Plan minus the Open University stuff which I’ve dropped.

From a infrastructure technology point of view I plan to dive in deep and dirty with:

On the development front I will be reading the small mountain of books I have on:

On a personal front I will be finally studying some mathematics and reading through the huge pile of unread books I have bought over the last year.

Books to read Books to read. Click for larger view

This weeks events in Belfast (DevDays and BarCampBelfast) will be a good springboard to get back in the geek game…