Category Archives: Software

Beta Testers Needed!

WikipediaLogo.png

I am looking for a few people who are interested in participating in a private beta of an application I am going to be releasing an initial version of over the course of the next two or three weeks.

I am not going to give too many details here for now but if you are interested in Wikipedia and like listening to podcasts then you will probably be interested.

If you would like to participate please leave a comment below with your name and e-mail address (your e-mail will not be displayed on the site but I will be able to see it). Please also list the basic system specs of any machines you would be able to test the application on. I am especially interested in people able to test on PowerPC Mac’s as I have no PPC hardware to test on myself.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention, Leopard is needed! No support for Tiger or below unfortunately.

You never stop learning

Unlike Dave I’ve owned a Mac for nearly three years now and thought that I was fairly adept with OS X and knew most of its secrets. This evening though I found out that you never really stop learning.

There’s a shortcut in Safari and the Finder that allows you to navigate quickly up a directory or website hierarchy. Command+click on the folder name at the top of the Finder window or in the web page’s name at the top of a Safari window and you’re shown the path of the file / web page you’re at and can quickly navigate back upwards. If you’ve got a three button mouse plugged in then a middle click will have the same effect.

It makes me wonder what else I’ve still not found out about OS X.

By Eifion

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Anna Kournikova Naked.jpg

Don’t worry, I am not going to rake it all up again but I was getting spammed with these all night on IRC tonight.

Dodgy DCC Send

Viruses on the platform or not, there are some things you should NEVER click “Accept” to!

The point of this post though? I have become quite annoyed with Colloquy recently because of this bug which means I need to spend time every time I connect to IRC manually joining channels and the fact that I can not just turn DCC file transfers off altogether means I am on the look out for a new IRC client. I don’t want anything too fancy or overly techy, Colloquy was about the right tech level for me (meaning I want to talk on IRC rather than write scripts that slap people with assorted seafood :)

Any suggestions?

PS. For those who think the post title is a bit random, it is a reference to this and lets face it, when am I going to get an opportunity (however thinly veiled) to have a post title like that again!

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AWOL!

Sorry I have been AWOL, I have been quitting my job, leaving the country for amazing conferences trying to set up my own business which is taking way more time than I ever expected!

I will blog about the business at some point soon (as soon as I have a proper web site up, for example :) but as a result of the new company, I have started using Mail.app for my business e-mail and tonight I just came up against my first little ??? moment when this dialog appeared:

Windows Friendly?

Now I would expect that it just strips out the .DS_Store files and other Mac guff but I am really not sure what it is doing and while I will tick it for now, I would like to know for sure so I know what I am doing by ticking it!

I have a load of stuff I need to blog about and I hope to find the time this week to get back into it!

Sorry I abandoned you all (if there is anyone left now :)

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Jungle Disk

So, via TUAW I heard about Jungle Disk which is the first application I have seen to make use of the Amazon S3 file storage service and last night I downloaded it and had a play.

The good news is that there is massive potential here and even with the current beta release of the software I was able to upload 1,000 or so small files from my Mac and then download them onto my Windows PC without any major issues. So that is cross platform, encrypted, fully redundant file storage backed by a financially stable company for $0.15 per Gb per month. A cheap, cross platform iDisk? Good stuff.

There are plenty of rough edges in both stability and usability here (it crashed both on the Mac and on the PC) but it is beta software and so I am not going criticise that. No the main issue I have is that of the sign up process, and this could be as much Amazon’s fault as Jungle Disk’s. To use the application you have to have an account with the Amazon S3 service and it sends you over to this page on the Amazon site to register. Unfortunately the sign up pages are targeted completely at developers aiming to develop against the web service rather than consumers. After signing up, you get shown how to download the WSDL (and no consumer should ever need to see those letters next to each other) and the sign up e-mail starts with:

Greetings from Amazon Web Services,

Thank you for signing up for Amazon S3. You can now build innovative and entrepreneurial applications using this and other AWS web services.

(snip)

Who else can picture the confusion of someone attempting to replace iDisk with this? :)

This disconnect comes because I am fairly sure that Jungle Disk are not utilising S3 in the way that Amazon originally intended. Doing a little research in the S3 developer guide I am pretty sure that the boys and girls in Seattle intended Jungle Disk to own and operate one single S3 account as a file store for all of the files used by any of their users rather than have everyone sign up for an original account. That will work very well for some applications but isn’t what Jungle are trying to do just as valid? I like the idea of having my data protected by a different security key than my virtual neighbours. So, the solution? Either provide a consumer friendly sign up or provide an API to your account creation process so that I can still have my own account but it looks like a Jungle Disk account.

However this is going to be a cracking little utility that needs some work but shows a lot of promise. Am I going to use it now? No, but I will be keeping an eye on it.

One final thing, I don’t really understand how Jungle Disk are making any money on this. The software is free, the data storage and transfers are paid directly to Amazon with no cut taken by Jungle Disk. It looks like a referrer ID is getting passed to Amazon if you sign up with S3 from the Jungle Disk web site but that is a very sparse revenue generation model. I hope they have a plan :)

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Clarification on exactly what WebKit is?

I have been doing some experimenting (read farting about) with WebKit recently and I am now a bit confused by what WebKit actually is.

The Wikipedia article about WebKit states that it includes WebCore (HTML/CSS rendering engine) and JavaScriptCore (JavaScript engine) and that it is used in Safari amongst other apps. That sounds logical so I went to the WebKit Project page and downloaded a nightly of it (I did have a reason for doing this but it can wait for a future post :).

The confusion came when I launched WebKit in how similar it is to Safari! I expected a reference implementation of the basic browser but it is a full featured web browser that apart from the different colour surround to the compass in the icon is indistinguishable from Safari. It uses my Safari bookmarks, the menu items are identical, the annoying beach ball is there when loading large web pages, even the application name in the menu bar shows as “Safari”.

So, does this mean that other software that wants to use WebKit has to either include all of the additional Safari functionality or strip it out manually? This seems to me like a rather backwards way to do things, shouldn’t WebKit be an absolute bare bones implementation which applications can easily integrate and then Safari be a project based upon that (they could open source Safari itself if they want to give a more comprehensive example of WebKit being used).

Just seems a little strange to me, am I missing something?

Oh and I am going for “WebKit” rather than “Web Kit”, if it is good enough for their home page it is good enough for me.

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Windows Media Player 11 – The OTHER album art aware app!

So after making the post on CoverFlow yesterday I remembered that Windows Media Player 11 comes with a pretty nice implementation of album art visualisation for some of the default music selection/navigation views.

I don’t have a Vista installation handy at home right now for screen captures so we will have to make do with Paul Thurrott’s atrocious taste in music! (Sorry Paul, but you have to get called out for having Def Leppard, Phil Collins and Enrique Iglesias all showing on one screenshot).

Anyway, if you take a quick look at the screenshots you can see that WMP11 shows stacks of album art when browsing by genre, year and artist and a very nice album view showing album art and track listings side by side. Now, all of this is not as flashy as CoverFlow with its 3D loveliness but it is solving this problem in a slightly more real world way and it makes a very nice addition to Windows Media Player (which I do still prefer to iTunes, even iTunes on OS X).

My question for Microsoft though is this. Where is the 3D CoverFlow style album art browser integrated into WMP? You have built a fantastic new presentation layer which could implement something like that with no problems at all, why are you not exploiting it more in the apps you are intending to ship with Windows Vista?

Note: Apparently, Windows XP Media Center Edition also uses album art for navigation and has done since it’s first version but I don’t have an installation of that handy to test it either.

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