Beta Testers Needed!


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.


iPhone SDK US only for now?

As I am sure everyone is, I am struggling to get through to the iPhone ADC web site at the moment but this is a worrying notice on the page I have managed to get through to.

US Only.png

I hope this does not mean we can not download the SDK here in the UK/Europe because that would suck. I can understand if they want to bring people on board with the app store slowly but please don’t give people a head start on actually developing apps based solely on geography.

iPhone SDK announcements

So I have just been watching the live coverage of the iPhone SDK announcement over on Gizmodo and I have to say I could not be more impressed.

“Cocoa Touch”, full Xcode support, full Interface Builder support, full Instruments support (on and off the phone) and best of all a full iPhone simulator. The development process looks to be very tidy and complete and I am not sure even the most cynical of Mac developers could be disappointed with it.

Support for MacBook Pro and Air multi-touch track pads is very cool but from what I can see there is no way to simulate that on a desktop mac or older MacBooks. Sync’ing the app to the phone for testing looks to be trivial though so this is not a major issue.

Support was obviously strong from the gaming publishers, a smartphone with a touch screen, accelerometer, core animation and 600Mhz chip was always going to make the game publishers go a little weak at the knees and they did not disappoint here with EA & SEGA both on board demoing several apps including Super Monkey Ball (obvious, given the accelerometer) and Spore (braver! and more interesting). Is this the start of a real mobile gaming platform that is able to tackle more than puzzle games and side scrollers? I hope so. One question that comes to my mind though is that with such strong support from the major games publishers, will this stifle independent developers from entering the games market? I hope not.

The iTunes application store looks, amazing, simple as that.

It is everything we could have hoped for and more with on-phone wireless browsing and download, automatic updates, simple payment process with a (reasonably expensive, but) simple pricing structure for developers. I have installed apps on my “smart” phones in the past but I am a geek and normal people just didn’t do it, until now. I do not feel I am making a huge statement when I say this will revolutionise mobile application use.

The iFund is interesting and shows that people think that there is real money to be made here, I completely agree.

All in all, a very solid set of announcements which I have not covered in detail here and I would suggest going to one of the main apple blogs for something more in-depth.

What was surprising was some of the reactions about the SDK and devlopment process being Mac only.

“I agree. I don’t think developers should be limited to which machines they have access to. This is pretty much bullshit. Pretty much. Xcode nor the simulator run on a PC. So, what, they’re going to cut Windows users out of the application lineup? I, for one, don’t feel like paying $1000 for a MacBook just so I can fuck around with some code.”

Was there ever an expectation that this SDK would be anything other than Mac only? I should be shot for including that quote here though, if it had been Windows compatible then people would still not have been happy and would instead have been asking for .NET support and other such ridiculousness!

I did not notice any mention of SDK restrictions regarding access to the EDGE network or the phone capabilities. EDGE I can understand as there is only so much damage an app can cause with an unlimited data plan but I am surprised it has full access to the phone. Correct me if I am wrong on this!

Anyway, I think Apple just hit this one out of the park, the reaction in #macsb was overwhelmingly positive. This post may be a little rough and ready as it was written while the announcement was happening so please forgive any mistakes or omissions and hey, at least I am topical once again! :)

Oh and I loved this comment from #macsb about the hello world app. Made me laugh!


Flickr Interestingness Widget

One of the things I have done over the last couple of years which is relevant to this blog is to develop a small widget for dashboard.

The widget shows a selection of popular images from flickr on a daily basis, it is called Flickr Interestingness and it takes images from the interestingness feed on flickr.


So, given that there are apparently still a people willing to read this this blog I figure I might as well post a link to the widget. I wrote it initially as an experiment in writing dashboard widgets but as time goes on I do actually find myself using it almost every day as you generally get a good selection of quality photography appearing every day.

I must add a “Set as wallpaper” option to it as that is usually what I end up using it for. Anyway, please leave any feedback below if you have suggestions or thoughts on it.

Please excuse the rest of the web site, the products and information there are terribly out of date and no longer active however the site is getting ready for a much more mac focused relaunch over the next few weeks so watch this space.

The widget requires Mac OS X 10.4 but also works fine on 10.5, hopefully someone will find it useful.

Region Free DVD on Mac’s

So by far the most popular post on this blog over the last 2 years was my post on region free DVD on my MacBook Pro. In total it has been viewed 109,000 times and has 182 comments which is impressive considering that the blog as a whole has only had 314,000 hits!

What is ridiculous about the situation is that we are in the same position today as we were two years ago so I thought I would post a summary on where things are right now from the comments on that post and my experiences with my Mac’s.

MacBook Pro (Manufactured Feb 2006)
This is my original machine that the post was made about and so naturally it has the same old problems as before and nothing really works for off-region discs. The region is set to R2 and that is all it will play, R1 discs will not play in DVD player or VLC and Handbrake can not rip them.

Mac Mini (Manufactured Jan 2008)
This is pretty much a brand new machine and it has exactly the same problem as the MacBook Pro from 2 years ago. I set the firmware region to R2 when I bought it and that is all it will deal with. No exceptions.

Aluminium iMac (Manufactured Mid 2007)
This is where the story gets a little more positive! I have the firmware region set to R2 and so obviously it plays R2 discs through DVD player without any issues. R1 discs fail in DVD player but play just fine in VLC. I am also able to rip any region of DVD using the latest handbrake. I am going to put this down to the iMac using an “OPTIARC DVD RW AD-5630A” drive over the “MATSHITACD-RW CW-8124” in the Mac Mini and MacBook Pro.

There is talk in the comments of the previous post of a solution to this being to never set the region code of the drive, apparently this allows VLC to play off-region discs. Unfortunately as all of my drives have a region set in firmware I am unable to test this. However it is unclear from the comments if this actually applies to the Mac Mini and MacBook machines as the only confirmation of it working comes from an iMac which as we can see from my tests above is not plagued by these problems due to the Optiarc drive.

If anyone can confirm that this method works on the Matshita drives in the MacBook or Mac Mini, please let us know in the comments.