Archive for the 'Apple' Category

Experiences with a Sound Designer

Dec 13, 2008 in iPhone, Programming

Andy Finnell:

This is a description of my experiences with finding and hiring a sound designer to create royalty free, custom sound effects for my game. My experience with hiring and working with a sound designer was quite pleasant. The entire process was completed exactly one week after I first started contacting designers.

I’ve been spending a little time thinking about sounds in applications lately, so I enyoyed reading about Andy’s experiences with a sound designer.

ATPM 14.08

Aug 04, 2008 in Apple

I’m a litle late to the party, but the August 2008 edition of ATPM came back from the virtual printer a few day’s ago. Chris breaks down this month’s contents and touches on a delayed personal milestone — 10 years at ATPM as of the July issue.

I’ve been at ATPM for a while, but Chris inspired me to dig back into our review archives to see exactly how long. Going back, it turns out that my first review ran in issue 4.08, 10 years ago this month. I contributed that first article after some prodding from Evan Trent, who introduced me Michael Tsai, our Publisher and Editor for the entirety of my time at ATPM.

I’m certainly not writing as much as I used to (and I’m hoping that will change), but I’ve consistently enjoyed the experience. In addition to reviewing numerous compelling products over the years, I’ve gotten to know many interesting people through my involvement at ATPM, both virtually and in person. The world of online publishing has changed quite a bit in the last 10 years — one of the reasons Evan was able to prod me into writing was that I’d lost my previous outlet and was looking for something new. At that point, I think there were 3 or 4 other monthly Mac e-zines regularly published. As far as I know, ATPM is the only one left, as personal and professional weblogs have lowered the barriers to entry for electronic publication. I think it says something about the people involved in ATPM over the years that we’ve remained in publication through this shift in the landscape.

Firefox 3 vs. Safari 3

Apr 08, 2008 in Mac, Software

Daring Fireball:

And that’s just it. Firefox 3’s shortcomings as a Mac app are behavioral, too.

I’m giving Firefox for just reason that Gruber highlights later on in his piece — improved memory management. I’ve only got 1 GB of RAM on my PowerBook and my computer’s performance would noticeably drag when running Safari for extended periods. Conversely, I’ve noticed little-to-no slowdown with Firefox running.

That said, Gruber’s definitely right that Firefox isn’t a particularly good Mac app. In addition to his list of issues, there are two that I’m finding bothersome.

  • Doesn’t Respect RSS Reader Setting — Apps like Safari, NetNewsWire, and others are capable of registering as the default feed reader and Safari will happily pass feed URLs over to the selected reader. This makes it simple to subscribe to new feeds. Firefox, however, doesn’t honor this setting, instead displaying the feed contents in a new tab/window.

    Update: Turns out that while Firefox won’t respect the default system feed reader, you can configure Firefox to use NetNewsWire or your other feed reader of choice. The Applications panel in the preferences lets you (appropriately enough) configure external applications for different content types. I’d originally looked here for some sort of setting, but missed the Web Feed option among all the audio and video formats.

    Firefox Application Preferences

    Firefox doesn’t seem to auto-detect the feed readers installed on your system, but you can point it at NewNewsWire and it seems to work as expected. In addition to supporting external applications, Firefox goes one step further and allows you to specify web-based feed readers, like Google Reader or My Yahoo. So, as is often the case with Firefox, the desired functionality is present, but not necessarily Mac-like. (Thanks to John Gruber for pointing this out to me.)

  • Doesn’t Use System Keychain — Old news, I know, but I’ve been retyping a bunch of passwords lately and I’ve occasionally had trouble remembering which password is associated with which site. I have the choice between trying a number of passwords till I find the right one or firing up Keychain Access and looking for the appropriate record.

    On the plus side, the save password display in Firefox is quite nice. The display is similar to the new search bar in Safari and hangs around after the password-protected page has been loaded. If you’re not sure whether you’ve entered the right password, you can defer saving the password until after you’ve confirmed the validity of the password. Definitely an improvement of Safari’s ask, then process approach.

I’m not saying that Firefox isn’t a good web browser. However, it’s very likely that I’ll switch back to Safari once I get a computer with more resources.

Apple TV, HDCP, and Good Customer Service

Feb 20, 2008 in Apple, Business, Digital Rights

Jeff Carlson:

I could have simply sacrificed the $4 rental fee and chalked it up as the cost of research, but $4 is also the cost of a pair of double-espressos and is therefore real money. So I did what I imagine few people do: I wrote to Apple. It took a bit of navigating, but ultimately I ended up at a form where I could contact iTunes Store support. I explained my predicament and sent the message into what I expected would be yet another corporate email black hole.

If you read on in Jeff’s post, you’ll see that his message did not go to an “email black hole” and instead resulted in a refund for the rental price and the sales tax.

In the past, I’ve written about both of my iTunes customer service experiences. In both cases, I thought “pff, contact form — I’m never going to hear back about this.” In both cases, I did hear back and, in both cases, Apple resolved the issue to my satisfaction.

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t feel compelled to laud Apple for resolving their customer issues in a timely manner — the way Apple approaches customer service is the way all companies should approach customer service. Of course, we don’t live in a perfect world. There have been plenty of stories about companies screwing customers over with DRM issues and I’m sure most of us have had support emails go unanswered (I’m looking at you, Orangeware).

When Apple first introduced FairPlay, there seemed to be a feeling that Apple’s DRM implementation was an attempt to make the best of sub-optimal situation. It appears that Apple has extended that strategy from the technical arena to the customer support arena.

Whither Cocoalicious?

Feb 15, 2008 in Mac, Programming

Buzz Andersen:

One thing I’ve been meaning to do for a very long time is talk a little bit about the state of my other popular Mac app, Cocoalicious.

I’m glad to see Buzz getting Cocoalicious up and running once more, and I’m not just saying that because I contributed to the next release.

Vaguely Absurd

Dec 02, 2007 in Gadgets, iPod

BestSellers.pngI was popping around Amazon this afternoon and I decided to check out the best sellers list for MP3 players. At just after 4PM, the silver 4GB Nano was the top selling device. The black 8GB Nano came in at #2. In the top ten, iPods also filled slots 4-9.1

All told, 14 of the top 25 best selling MP3 players were iPods. There are only (only?, eh) 17 iPod variants and the Product (Red) versions are only available through Apple. Plainly, the silver 160 GB Classic is not carrying its own weight. Something must be done about this. Retribution will be swift and fierce.

As of 4PM on December 2nd, 14 of the 15 current generation iPods sold on Amazon were in their top 25 best selling MP3 players, at least. The Amazon best seller list may not be the most scientific of measures but, damn, that’s vaguely absurd.

  1. Yeah, these are all affiliate links. I didn’t conceive of this post to go affiliate farming; I was actually curious about the status of the best sellers list and amused by the iPod’s complete dominance. []

Last One to the Party

Oct 25, 2007 in Mac

Glenn Fleishman

…but they added back folder sharing, a feature never seen in Mac OS X, even though it was widely used in Mac OS X 9 [sic] and releases before that.

Combined with Data Detectors, it looks like we’ve got new leaders in the clubhouse for the coveted title of “Last Classic Mac OS Feature to Migrate.”

Anybody think of any remaining features which might make the jump in the future?

EagleFiler 1.2.6

Oct 24, 2007 in AppleScript, Mac

EagleFiler 1.2.6 has been released and it incorporates the work I’ve did on the MarsEdit capture script.1

Michael added support for setting the source URL to the post’s permalink. Among other things, this activates the Open Source URL command in the Record menu.

If you’ve got my capture script installed in EagleFiler’s Application Support folder, you won’t see this new functionality — EagleFilers gives precedence to user-installed scripts over its own bundled scripts. If you’re just using the capture script as I originally posted it, you can delete my script. You’ll gain the source URL functionality without losing anything.

If you’ve customize the capture script to better suit your workflow, you can apply Michael’s change to add support for setting the source URL. Just replace this line:

return {{|path|:tempPath, |title|:theTitle, tags:theTags, |deleteWhenDone|:true, |note|:theNote}}

with the following (sorry about the long lines):

if thePermalink is not "" then
    return {{|path|:tempPath, |title|:theTitle, tags:theTags, |deleteWhenDone|:true, |note|:theNote, |sourceURL|:thePermalink}}
    return {{|path|:tempPath, |title|:theTitle, tags:theTags, |deleteWhenDone|:true, |note|:theNote}}
end if

While checking out the change notes for the updated EagleFiler, I noticed the following line:

You can now modify capture scripts while EagleFiler is open without having to relaunch for it to notice the changes.

Thank you. Thank You! ThanksYouThankYouThankYouThankYou!

(Can you tell I hit this issue while writing the original capture script?)

Oh, did I say thank you?

I’ve been playing around with an updated capture script on my own system, but I’ve been hesitant to post it because it relies on components that are part of a stock Tiger installation. I want to check out whether the situation is any different when running Leopard. I’m not sure when I’ll get around to upgrading, though.

  1. The new all capture scripts, all the time. []

EagleFiler and MarsEdit 1.2

Oct 23, 2007 in AppleScript, Mac

If you’ve tried using using my EagleFiler Capture Script with MarsEdit 1.x, you’ve probably noticed that it doesn’t work — EagleFiler claims it doesn’t support capturing from MarsEdit.

The solution is to rename the capture script from to com.ranchero.MarsEdit.applescript. Once you do this, EagleFiler will recognize the older version of MarsEdit.

You’ll also need to comment out or delete the two lines in the script that begin with if theVersion ≥ 2. As the line implies, the functionality is only present in the newer version of MarsEdit. I had assumed that including the conditional statement would allow the script to run with older versions of MarsEdit, but it would appear that I was wrong.

Free My Phone

Oct 22, 2007 in Gadgets, iPhone

Walt Mossberg:

A shortsighted and often just plain stupid federal government has allowed itself to be bullied and fooled by a handful of big wireless phone operators for decades now. And the result has been a mobile phone system that is the direct opposite of the PC model. It severely limits consumer choice, stifles innovation, crushes entrepreneurship, and has made the U.S. the laughingstock of the mobile-technology world, just as the cellphone is morphing into a powerful hand-held computer.

Nice article by Walt Mossberg concerning the state of the U.S. mobile phone industry. A little over a week ago, I was having this same discussion with several of my friends. We were trying to decide just how far back the U.S. mobile market has been set by the cellular providers. I think the consensus was at least 5 years. Even if we hadn’t all considered the iPhone an innovative device, we agreed it was good to see a phone manufacturer dictate terms to one of the cellular providers.