November 26, 2014 7:05 AM PT
[Chip Sudderth works in public school district communications and produces two podcasts: Two-minute Time Lord for Doctor Who fans and The Audio Guide to Babylon 5 with Erika Ensign and Shannon Sudderth.]
Jason’s November 19 review of the iPad Air 2 points out that iPad software fails to take full advantage of the phenomenal hardware in order to make the iPad a true productivity tool:
Every time I try to use a professional tool with my iPad I end up getting frustrated at how much slower the touch interactions are than just using an old-fashioned keyboard and mouse on my Mac.
Perhaps, in some very specific circumstances, touch interactions aren’t the most efficient way to interact with software. Apple might be able to unlock huge iPad productivity gains for some users through a software update that would certainly be controversial, but it’s one that I would welcome as someone who gets serious work done on my iPad Air.
Apple could add support for external pointing devices on iOS.
November 25, 2014 4:12 PM PT
This morning I tried to save a file in BBEdit, only to discover that I couldn’t see half of the save sheet—it was so large, it went off the bottom of the screen.
It turns out—and thanks to Jon Gotow of St. Clair Software, maker of the excellent Default Folder X, for the answer to this—that there’s a bug in Yosemite that causes a sheet to grow taller by 22 pixels every time you use it.
Once that sheet’s off the bottom of the screen, you can no longer grab the bottom of the sheet to make it shorter… so you’re hosed. And so was I, until Gotow gave me these Terminal commands:
defaults delete -app BBEdit NSNavPanelExpandedSizeForOpenMode defaults delete -app BBEdit NSNavPanelExpandedSizeForSaveMode
…where you use the name of the affected app instead of “BBEdit” in the above example.
If you’re using Chrome, you need to target its bundle identifier:
defaults delete com.google.Chrome NSNavPanelExpandedSizeForOpenMode defaults delete com.google.Chrome NSNavPanelExpandedSizeForSaveMode
According to Gotow, what happened is that Apple changed the file dialogs so that the title bar is now considered to be part of the window—and changed the math everywhere except in save sheets.
Hopefully Apple will fix this in a future Yosemite update. In the meantime, if you use an app that saves files via the sheet style, you might want to remind yourself to shrink its height a bit every so often.
[Update: Daniel Ericsson points out that if you hold down the shift key and drag inward on the edge of the save sheet, the sheet will get shorter—even if there’s no room for the sheet to actually get narrower!]
November 25, 2014 10:28 AM PT
It’s tricky to discount the future, except when it comes to technology. In nearly every way, the march of computing power, memory, hard disk storage, screen quality and the like is toward ever more, ever cheaper. In general, the price of food, shelter, and energy increase over time in absolute terms, while the price of things that contain electronics decrease in real terms. (The big exception is bandwidth in America because of a severe market failure that preserves false scarcity.)
So I’m cagey about getting locked into a price for anything when I know it will, nearly invariably, cost less and be better if I wait. This is why I haven’t upgraded my aging-but-still-reasonably-functional mid-2011 MacBook Air, which has 4 GB of RAM and can’t be expanded to more, because I know a Retina version is coming if I only wait long enough, likely only costing slightly more than today’s Air.
But when I spotted an offer from Code 42, makers of CrashPlan, for a pre-Black Friday sale (now since expired), I leapt at it. This sale for existing subscribers took about half off the price of its unlimited storage family plan, which is usually $150 for one year or $290 for two. The reason I paid says a lot about the current dynamic in the world of computer storage.
November 24, 2014 9:20 AM PT
Today Moisés Chiullan announced that Brett Terpstra’s Systematic podcast and Christina Warren and Brett Terpstra’s podcast Overtired are moving from 5by5 to ESN.fm.
There’s been a lot of podcast movement lately, which isn’t really surprising given how young this medium (or whatever) is. Not everyone finds podcast networks valuable, but they can helpfully group shows of similar sensibilities together, provide exposure for new shows that might otherwise be missed, and offer a technical or financial infrastructure that can be convenient for people who have something to say but don’t want to build a podcasting business1.
And sometimes after a while, those hosts or shows are ready to spread their wings, creatively or technically. Plenty of talented hosts have left 5by5, but you know what? My pals Merlin Mann and Andy Ihnatko are still there, and the indefatigable Dan Benjamin’s producing new audio and video shows all the time.
Since we moved Clockwise from IDG (with the blessing of some nice folks in IDG management) to Stephen Hackett and Myke Hurley’s new Relay FM network, the audience of that show has more than doubled. Being on Relay helped expose the show to a great audience of tech-podcast listeners, and has also helped us grow Upgrade rapidly.
I should mention that as of the most recent episode of The Incomparable, I’m no longer posting episodes to the 5by5 network. We started the show in 2010 and quickly Dan started recruiting me. A little more than a year later, we joined 5by5, and it helped expose my odd little pop-culture show to a much wider audience2.
As time wore on, I decided I wanted to build something on my own, and launched spin-off shows on The Incomparable Network. That project also allowed me to add show metadata that 5by5 simply couldn’t or wouldn’t offer, like a page of all our Star Wars episodes or an index of show topics.
At that point the clock was ticking. I began posting the show to both networks. After a communication failure at 5by5 forced me to abandon a live episode just as it was starting, we set up our own live-stream system that we could control. And most recently, I gave Dan notice that we were changing ad-sales teams. The relationship was at an end. It was time to make it official.
I’m a believer in the medium—it’s one of the ways I expect to support myself and my family now that I’m on my own. But these are the early days. Things are changing rapidly. There are always new podcasts and new networks. (And yes, it’s worth reminding ourselves that this is not the only new-media opportunity out there.)
This reminds me of nothing more than the early days of the web. The younger people out there might not remember, but that period was like the wild west. Things changed every day. Podcasting’s going through something similar.
Anyway, thanks to everyone out there who has listened to some of my podcasts. And best of luck to Brett and Christina on their new adventures with Moisés at ESN.
John Gruber, Marco Arment, John Siracusa, and Merlin Mann were unlikely to have devoted the time to podcasting when they started—but Dan Benjamin offered technical expertise and an ad-sales infrastructure, as well as being an excellent conversational foil.↩
Nothing really changed with the production of the show when we moved—I’ve produced and edited almost every episode, and Dan never had any input into the content.↩
November 21, 2014 2:44 PM PT
It’s come to my attention that I may have a problem. And that problem is: not enough HDMI ports.
Right now, connected to my TV are an Apple TV, an Xbox 360, a Mac mini, and an Amazon Fire TV. If you’re wondering, the answer is yes: I do find myself saying a little prayer every time I plug something else into the power strip back there.
I also had a Chromecast up until I left it in a hotel room last month. My new TV, purchased in August, has all those handy smart TV features. And yet, for some inconceivable reason, I still ordered an Amazon Fire TV Stick when they were announced a few weeks back. (It didn’t hurt that it was on sale for $20 for Amazon Prime members like myself.)
Basically, I buy video-streaming devices with slightly less devotion than Scott McNulty buys Kindles.
November 21, 2014 7:12 AM PT
Back in September I mentioned that Adobe was going to get Photoshop running on Chromebooks. At the time, I was hopeful that this meant actual Photoshop code was running on those (generally) low-cost laptops.
This week I got a demo of Photoshop running inside Chrome, and while it was really interesting, some of my assumptions were faulty. It turns out that when Adobe says Photoshop is a “streaming app,” they mean it—it’s much more like screen sharing than native software. Photoshop runs remotely on a Windows-based server, and video of the app’s interface streams to the Chrome browser.
Adobe insists that performance is good, even on low-speed network connections. Files can be opened and saved to a Chrome user’s Google Drive, and it’s the full version of Photoshop that’s running. Though you might think of an app that’s really just streamed video as being laggy and slow, Adobe says that’s not true—and on some slow Chromebooks, the performance of Photoshop can actually be faster than it would running it locally, because the server’s got a lot more power than the chromebook.
Right now this is a pilot program targeting educational markets, both K-12 and higher education. According to the Adobe representatives I talked to, higher-ed adoption has been “tremendous,” and they’re now considering how this program might be used more broadly across the education market.
I’m not sure whether this sort of approach to software is the future of computing or just a very strange side street, but there are a lot of non-traditional aspects to this approach: Chromebooks rather than Macs or PCs, streaming video rather than onboard executable code, and even Adobe’s approaches to subscription-based software licensing factor in.
The server side stuff is technically impressive. This approach required the creation of a special version of Chrome Remote Desktop and an adapted version of the Google Drive desktop client on the server side, and a new Chrome App Remoting API on the client side. Presumably the work Adobe and Google have done here will allow this sort of approach to be replicated with other streaming apps in the future.
As for my hopes that this was a sign that Chromebooks might become more versatile in the future? I suppose that’s true—just not in the way I originally expected.
November 20, 2014 11:51 AM PT
iOS 8 and Yosemite’s Handoff feature is pretty cool: Start writing an email on your iPhone, for example, and you can seamlessly pick it up on your Mac. But of all the activities that support this feature, there’s one pretty glaring exception.
Music, as Apple is so fond of telling us, is part of the company’s DNA. But despite its development of iTunes Radio and recent acquisition of Beats Music, the basic ways in which we listen to music haven’t really changed since the earliest days of the iOS—or even the iPod.
Remember that very first iPod ad? Sure, it looks inexpert and dated compared to today’s carefully-crafted, almost formulaic Apple tone: the shaky camera, the cheesy dancing, the glimpses of the Aqua interface on OS X. But the “plot” of the commercial is still an everyday occurrence for many: you’re listening to a song on your Mac when you have to leave the house. And, if you’re anything like me, there are few things more annoying than stopping a song mid-play. Great, now I have a guaranteed earworm for the rest of the day.
Of course, you could queue up the same song on your iPhone, fast forward to the same place in the track, pause it on your Mac, then press play on your iOS device. Just the kind of delightfully smooth experience we’ve come to expect from Apple, right?
For a while it seemed like a third-party app called Seamless (not to be confused with the food-delivery service) had solved this problem, using a iOS app paired with a Mac helper app. But it seems to be gone from the App Store, so it’s back to the manually-adjusting-playback-position gig.
But why not Handoff? Like any of the other apps it supports, Handoff should just pop up a Music app icon in your iOS device’s lock screen or the iTunes icon in your Mac’s Dock; slide or click on that, and your audio should just keep playing where you left off. (The Podcasts app could take advantage of the same feature, though it’s at least supposed to sync playback position between devices automatically via iCloud.)
Granted, it wouldn’t work in every case—for those who sync only a portion of their music to their iOS devices, for example, or cases where you stream music but don’t have an Internet connection—but it seems like it could bring a nice, Apple-like touch to the music-listening experience for many users.
Maybe Apple’s got something up their sleeves in the music department; rumors, after all, have Beats Music becoming part of Apple’s default iOS apps. I’m hopeful that such a venture might also include supporting Handoff for Music and iTunes, so that we may all continue our jams uninterrupted, no matter where we go.
November 19, 2014 4:54 PM PT
Apple released a new iPad this fall. Maybe you’ve heard about it? It’s the iPad Air 2, and of course it’s the best iPad ever, because the new iPad is always the best iPad ever. But the iPad Air 2 is better in ways other than the usual thinner-and-lighter metrics: In some unexpected ways, the iPad Air points toward a future of iOS power and productivity that hasn’t existed up until now.