My first trip on my 4th Safari

Arg! This seems to sum up my first run tests for Apple’s latest Chrome motivated kick at the browser can. Now, with IE8 out (and Gazelle on the way), Chrome 2 coming, FF3.1 almost there (depending on what day you catch the developers), Safari 4 beta rounds out the crowd of popular browsers that are in the “just out of the wrapper” phase of use. Speaking of the wrapper, it took a few tries to get Safari for me in the first place – hence the first part of the arg.

safari-failSo trying to get the download file through this works how? So after hammering reload a few times, clearing cache and trying all the browsers I have, nothing. So I turn to Twitter… a quick search there reveals a tinyurl link that works and shows me this:

safari-run

Ok, so now I can get things going. Not quite, after the cool startup sound, Safari proceeds to crash out of the gates. But a quick relaunce later and things are working. Plowing through the typical surf and turf sites that I visit, and checking banking and other logins (WebCT et al), Safari just bombed along – hit enter and the page just about explodes on the page. So ready to share my initial experiences with everyone else… and to log this experience into my online brain, I get into my WP Admin, hit new post and notice something is missing… I can’t upload any images! This post needs images! This won’t do!

dashboard-fail

I know this is beta, and for a first out of the box public release, I like it. If I need to put up images, I can grab FF and work from there, as I think it might start using Safari 4 most things and hopefully the media gallery bug can be worked out by Apple or WP as needed. One thing that I will miss from FF is the ability to save open tabs. The coverflow history makes up for some of this – ensuring that you don’t need to be opening tabs that you are not going to use in a session, but the option would certainly be nice. Now I just have to get Cooliris to work.

AppleTV sales boom

It seems that I caught the wave of a boom in AppleTV sales (which explains why they were hard to find as well). I agree with ATVHacks that it might have something to do with people staying home and Boxee/XBMC, but I think there is another factor. The easy of hackability and integration into a digital home. It makes jumping to a file based video entertainment system an absolute breeze.

A first look at iMovie ’09

Well, I never really liked the ’08 version – I missed the ability to “kinda” get into the nitty gritty of the video and audio and through the use of my two favorite tools – “Split Video at PlayHead” and the elastic band – I was able to do just about everything that I wanted to do with any given clip that I imported. Of course, if I wanted to do some more “heavy duty” editing, I would drop into Final Cut,  but for some projects that was certainly overkill. So when I was looking at the specs for the new iMovie and the ad copy suggesting that editors would have more control over the work, I thought… well, it can’t be worse than ’08 could it?

Well at first, it seemed that I was wrong – everything that I didn’t like in ’08 seemed to be back with a vengeance and to boot… there was no intuitive place to look for the various control points. This, after all was the shining light of the first few iMovie versions – you didn’t need to know very much about editing, and most everything that anyone needed could be done with the mouse alone. This might still be the case with the current version, but the “just about anyone” has now changed to “pure beginners with some help”. I say this with a caveat, which is, I’ve been editing for a while now with various apps and if someone who is familiar with the process in general has a learning curve… what hope do new eyes have – though they might have it a bit easier as they don’t carry baggage in with them.

But then after about an hour of fooling, it seems that Apple might have started moving in the right direction with this – the attempted cross between “iMovie and Final Cut” seems to have come out a bit better in this second iteration. So what did I find? Well first, the “time line” is now called “Precision Editor” that you pull up from the Window menu… not entirely straight forward, but I can live with it. I wish there was a way to get to it via a button or a ctrl/right click. This editor is “kinda sorta” like the timeline, in-so-far as it allows you some fine toothed control over where the individual clips and effects might overlap. As I use this mode, it seems to get more useful. So score one for change.

This score was almost erased when I found that I could not move the audio around the way that I wanted – and trim the audio in an intuitive manner… at least to me. For this, Apple has now brought in the “Clip Editor” that will allow you to trim audio in a separate window with the results being reflected visually in another. This seemed to work fine as I figured that the reason why I wasn’t able to slide my background audio around was because the clip was too long. Nope, that was not the case. It seems that audio is “pinned” by default to the ends of the video clip and it seems it is also “Snap[ed] to [the] beat”. These two settings seemed to have been the bane of my experience, but after I found them, I was able to edit with almost the same flexibility I had in the days of “lines and bands”.  So score another for change.

Lastly, when I was looking for my long lost “Split at Playhead”, I looked under the Edit menu and found nothing but greyed options, including a “Split Clip” option… if only I could get to it. Well it turns out that I can, through the mouse, when looking at a project. Right/ctrl clicking will pull up the “Split Clip” option when you are working on the video. If you want to split non attached audio, you have to now have two copies of the clip and then line them up. This is actually not as hard as it seems because Apple provides “bar markers” to help you “see” the details of the audio.

But why would you want to split audio in this manner? Well, so you can have the background fade in an out – the best use of “bands” that there ever was. To do this now, you have to go through a few extra hoops – first, you have to split the clips that you want to have the audio duck out and then through the inspector set your new levels and then finally adjust the background audio (if any) – so it is possible, and perhaps more exact than before… but certainly not as intuitive.

So on the whole, I think iMovie ’09 is much more usable than it’s previous iteration and hopefully, if you are reading this and wondering if you should take the jump – I would if only to gain the organization features. You’ll lose some of the flexibility that you had in ’06, but hopefully the vague workarounds/how-tos I suggest will get you through together with some quick googling and maybe Unlocking iMovie ’09 for however long it stays around.

Lame Laments from Lemmings

I got this passed on through a colleague in the office today. It seems that the author’s laments about moving to the Mac are based more about bemoaning learning a new system as they are about any true deficiencies in system. But before you lambast me about being a fanboy, I think this would be the same lament as would be leveled against any transition – XP to Vista, Windows to Linux, Toyota to Lexus (yes… I know they are the same company, hence the inclusion).

People are moving to the Mac faster now, largely in part because it is “the thing to do”. Apple is having great success with its campaign, as evidenced by the number of these stories we are getting. But as these mid stage adopters come onto the new platform… like the lemmings (and I’m referring to the characters in the game, not in real life) in the middle of the line, there are going to be bigger bumps for them than those at the front who might be able to dodge issues because they are leaders or those at the very tail end who are having everything already sorted for them.

In the end, this has as much to do with diffusion and change management as it does with Mac/PC.

Apple and Anti-Virus

This weekend, I got quite a kick out of the local radio annoucer doing her best to protect Edmonton listeners against the Koob worm that is moving through Facebook and is baiting users to install an update to their machines. While I think it was certainly an admirable thing for the announcer to do, I think it is telling as to how common Facebook and virus proctection has come in common parlance that this advice could be handed out over the radio and people would actually be able to understand it – or stand a chance to.

But where my part in this story comes in is that I tell all the Mac users that I’ve converted that you are safe (and attacks are dropping) from just about everything out there as long as you don’t install something that you are not sure about (unless you were paying attention the the hay that the press made last week about Apple’s KB update that was later pulled) – and this is exactly how Koob is moving, by getting people to install it, banking on the transfer of saftey from Facebook, creating a vector that might allow for Mac/Linux machines to be attacked.

Thankfully the Koob is probably dropping an exe file that won’t run, so we are safe for a while… So in addition to the “don’t install anything that you don’t understand”, I’ll add to my 1-2 saftey rant/appeal for common (computing?) sense – install updates only from the original vendor… if you are prompted to install something from Adobe, go to adobe.com and search for it – or google for the update that you are being prompted for to see if it is legit.

Throwing around Bricks… in the dark… are there any glass houses?

Ok, hang on ’cause this is going to be a dozy of a walk through my brain on mLearning, small chunk content and reading all churned up through what was the most annoying day of the year that came on me yesterday.

As I started the day, I was getting ready to update my Bold to the newest version of RIM’s official release for Rogers… not Roger’s official release of the BB 4.6 OS. Confused? So apparently was one of the CSRs who I called into for help after the first try at updating my device bricked my phone with a “507 No OS” error. Apparently this can be caused by having more than one handset version installed on the updating system. Lucky for me the solution was fairly simple as I knew where the temp files were all going to land so I was able to recover from the automatic backup that the process does after simply doing an “Add/Remove” from my desktop manager. So this got me thinking – if smartphones are going to take off anywhere, to say nothing of classrooms, would it not be nice if the hardware people and the network people agreed on what was “official”? But beyond that, there needs to be a way to ensure that updates can be done easily by lay people. Sure, enterprise has systems that will remotely update and otherwise maintain handhelds, but the average joe (six pack/wine box or otherwise) doesn’t have this available to them – or do they? This may be the one advantage that Google and Apple have as they seem to have as they are newcomers to the mobile market and don’t have any “legacy controls” imposed on them by the networks – something that I would have thought RIM would have been able to break free of by now. But moving on from there, I kept thinking about how, if a school got past the niceties of updates, how would they make use of mLearning for their students?

Well it would likely be expensive to set up their own CSC (common short code) and content server system, so they would likely defer to what was “publiclly” available. Making resources for Google or other SMS accessible services seems to be a much more managable task. But then, if they go this way, they land in the same puddle that sees online content move and shift (even for this post, I’ve linked to a Google Cache version of a page) or even evaporate, and they are again tied to the wireless providers (a theme?) who may all of the sudden decide to up the delivery rates for mobile terminated messages like Verizon has suggested (and if history is any teacher, suggests that other providers will also do).

Believing that there is indeed some good in the world (hard after being attacked – rammed from behind – by another driver last night), one would hope that for the suggestion makes it no further than a suggestion on the board room table, or if it does arrive it is only for the services that you have to pay to send to first. This way Google’s services could remain free (and you know Google can’t really afford to pay anyway ;)) and schools (and others) could continue to get to the information that they want and or need (or think that they want/need). This idea cut through the haze of yesterday to clarify itself somewhat as a thought that mLearning might best be characterized not by the device that facilitates it, but rather by the types and timing of questions and answers that can be expected by a competent student. Such a student would be able to quickly identify the type of question that they would need to ask and then be able to ask a service to deliver a response that fills in the knowledge gap in the fewest attempts. For example – you are on a field trip and a student falls and is injured, what without escalating to 911, what is the best way to deal with what happened? Call information (411) for a telehealth line and then talk to the nurse to get through how to treat the injury. This might be trivial, but this is the sort of thing that I think mLearning will be about – it will be on site learning that is very contextual, it may/should be based on the idea that there are other people who know the answers can deliver information better than static content delivered without context or a filter as is often the case with regular eLearning resources. These regular eLearning resources, delivered over broadband, are certainly effective as students can “carpet bomb” searches to find what they believe to be an answer. Eventually over 3/4G networks, handsets may allow the same manner of “carpet bombing searches”, but until that day the short and to-the-point question and answer will likely rule the roost on mobile, Google certainly hopes it will be.

But wait – when you drop your penny into the big G, it isn’t a person that replies, it is a machine – so what is with the idea that I started with about a person being able to answer? Well that leaves us to the now increasingly spotlighted microblogging services like Twitter. Knocked for not having a “grand narrative”, one can look at services like Twitter as providing a direct link to an expert, or within a few friends link to one directly. Or, if you just want to “listen” to the twittering of a mass of interested individuals, you can see a “grand narrative” emerge from the myriad of points ala pointillism. This seems to have certainly been happening with the Canadian and US elections. A question gets dropped into the twitterverse and if the tweeple out there decide it is worthy of an answer, it may be answered generally for the good of the ‘verse or directly. And it seems that Twitter and its kin are certainly optimised for the mLearning idea.

Ok, so we’ve got a shiny solution that can be projected from the barrel of a launch system right? Not quite… people are then going to complain that “googling” is in fact making people dumber (really? Also fits with the mLearning idea from before), or smarter (again) and that reading is/is not the same (or just different) when done online or offline. But I’m not going to go there… not now at least.

I’m a PC…

Well, it looks like MS wants to rumble in the ad space that Apple created with its “I’m a Mac/PC” ads. Even as a fanboy, I have to admit, these are well done – showing the diversity of PC users. But Apple could just spin the same ads, because they have the same users as well. Afterall, it’s a tool! It is DeWalt vs Makita, or Toyota/Honda or Nikon(ptui)/Canon. Both are mature tools that are capable of doing just about anything that one would want to do. The differences are in how each does the job, and that is where you’ll find the rub for using one over another.

Enjoy



I’m staying BB

This weekend, after playing around with the idea of moving to the iPhone some more; I realized that with the touch, I’ve got all the iPhone goodness that I need and the BB provides me with what I really need – a rock solid and capable communications device – not a phone that plays some games for an hour or so. If I do some digging, I’m sure there are the same number of other productivity apps out there for the BB as there are showing up for the iPhone. The BB does afterall have a more bunsiness oriented pedigree.

Some of the points that preceeded the tipping point:

  • IMs – BB Messenger, Windows Live, gTalk… all at the same time (granted could have gone either way)
  • Poor battery life playing games on the touch – and really how often am I going to be playing “tilty/touchy” games when usually I’ll be passing time with Ka-Glomm or Poker while I wait for this or that
  • Remote and games work on the touch just as well as they do on the iPhone
  • SLOW 2.0 software – and it looks like I’m not the only one (Ars)

And then something about the BRG review hit me:

The iPhone 3G is a consumer device that happens to play nice with a lot of corporations, and we honestly think you won’t find many people dropping their BlackBerrys for an iPhone. They’ll carry both as long as they can afford it.

I already have all the functionality of the iPhone that I want with none of the cost, but with the added flexibility of being able “choose my poison”. If I was in a situation that required me to only carry one device, then I might still be in a pinch, but right now that is not the case. I’m able to carry both devices when I need to and more often than not I need a communicator more than a remote/handheld game ‘net device.

Switching Fruit

To add more information to the whole idea of jumping from one fruit to another, I found this article that talks about what one would gain (or lose) through the switch. Many of the points raised are important for me as well, but in the end – to I want a palmtop computer or an ubercommunications device? If the answer is the former – iPhone it is, the latter – BB. But I can certainly see the iPhone quickly getting the requisite Google Apps (gTalk, calendar sync et al) and other messenger apps to catch up to the Blackberry. THIS ISN’T GETTING EASIER!

But I still see myself sticking with the BB if only for copy paste and OTA sync with Google Calendar..