Tuesday: July 26, 2011
- The Humble Indie Bundle is back again, get yourself some indie games for cheap.
If you want to try out some new video games for an obscenely low amount of money (potentially free... if you're the evil type) then the Humble Indie Bundle is just the ticket. There is no DRM on any of these titles and they even throw in a Steam key for those so inclined who happen to shun all other gaming platforms. But the best part of this is that you also get to support some awesome charities with your purchase, with the option on how you want your purchase divided up between developers and said charities. Wow.
- Some photos of an amazing three-dimensional street mural for your dizzying pleasure.
The folks over at WebUrbanist have uncovered some awesome photos of a street illusion over in Stockholm. There are some videos over on their site in which the artist gives a behind the scenes look at how the overall effect was achieved. Last interesting note: traditionally sidewalk or street art is done in chalk but this installation was pulled off using massively printed sheets (to achieve the photo-realism element of the project).
- Over in China beach-goers are enjoying a healthy swim in algae-filled waters.
An algae bloom, or 'green tide,' has clogged nearly 7,700 square miles (20,000 square kilometers) of the Yellow Sea, Chinese authorities said Sunday, according to the state-run media outlet Xinhua. The algae blanketing the beaches belongs to a species of marine plankton known as Enteromorpha prolifera, found in waters all around the world. In the right conditions, the algae can explode into so-called macro-algal blooms, Steve Morton, a marine biologist at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), told National Geographic News in 2010.
- Old Spice commercial guys to do battle via Internet popularity contest.
Dear Old Spice, there is no need for a contest here. Isaiah Mustafa should be your permanent spokesman. If you want more information other than the previous two sentences know that Mustafa's opponent happens to be none other than Fabio. You can watch some of the back and forth videos between Mustafa and Fabio over on Mashable. It's all in the delivery. Night vision top hat!
Monday: July 25, 2011
- Netflix may get a small dose of animated movies via new streaming deal with DreamWorks Animation.
According to Bloomberg News, the deal would kick in after the pay TV agreement with HBO expires, but a source tells THR that HBO has offered to end DWA's output deal two years early because HBO recently signed a pact with Summit Entertainment that gives the pay cabler 10-12 live action films a year versus the two animated films a year that DWA offers. Plus, animated fare is more common now that HBO content partners Warner Bros., Fox and Universal are all producing those films.
- Guitar Hero franchise not quite dead yet, gets upgraded to mostly dead.
It turns out there is still money to be made from selling plastic guitars and other assorted musical peripherals for console gaming. Activision Blizzard has stated that the franchise will indeed be making a return and that the experience will be reinvented, rebooted, retooled, whatever you want to call it. Hey Activision, please make sure that whatever you release at least works with my existing dusty plastic peripherals. Thanks.
- A good primer on web operations for my fellow web developers out there.
Every little piece of it can break at any time, can stall at any time. The more pieces you have in your application puzzle, the more breaking points you have. And everything that can break, will break. Usually not all at once, but most certainly when it's the least expected, or just when you really need your application to be available.
- Have a peek at some screenshots of the upcoming Facebook app for iPad.
TechCrunch, as well as many others, found out that Facebook was hiding a secret app (not really secret, universal apps contain both sets of code for iPhone and iPad bundled together - although jailbreaking is required to figure that one out) in their latest iPhone app update. That 'secret' turned out to be the official Facebook app for iPhone. TechCrunch has a whole slew of screenshots that you can take a look at as to properly get yourself prepared the social media onslaught.
- Amazon decides to suspend sales of the Nintendo 3DS handheld.
A heads up to anyone thinking of purchasing a shiny new Nintendo 3DS from Amazon.com, you can't right now. You'll have to go to a local retailer (edit: or a non-Amazon marketplace seller) , at least for now, to get your hands on one. The official word from Amazon is that there may be something wrong with the method in which the handheld is shipped or the way in which shipping is described. Huh?
- Apple Store definitely coming to Grand Central Station at some point in the near future.
According to The Real Deal, Apple will be shelling out $800,000 per year in rent, which seems a little high given that the previous tenant was paying about half that. As for me, I am both happy and sad for this news all at once. Happy because I will be frequenting this location quite often and sad because of the overall effect it will have on my bank account. The crowding of my overall commute to NYC will most likely be more annoying but I'll learn to live with it.
Thursday: July 21, 2011
- Mac OS X Lion: First Impressions.
The latest version of Mac OS X is finally here. Being the diligent Mac fanboy that I am, I've have gone ahead and installed Mac OS X Lion twice now. Once on a brand new MacBook Air and once on my only slightly out of date MacBook Pro. The best part about this? I didn't have to drive out to the Apple Store or wait for a FedEx truck to show up. You buy Lion online from the Mac App store and that's the only way you can buy it. By far this has been the most gratifying delivery method of any OS X release I've seen so far. My download speeds were quick and in both installations I was able to get the install file from Apple's servers in under forty minutes. Another neat thing about Lion? The licensing. As you read before, I installed the new operating system on two machines already. If these were Windows machines, I would have had to fork over some dough to Microsoft to get two product keys. Apple takes a different approach. Buy it once, put it on whatever machine you like. I happen to love this approach.
Now that I've spent a good 24 hours with Lion I'd like to spout out some first impressions.
Installation: Total breeze on the MacBook Air. With only a few clicks and some setup time and I was up and running. Slightly different story on my MacBook Pro though, for some reason Lion rebooted the machine into the special setup options and required another reboot to truly kick off the installation process. Minor issue, really just kind of a strange thing since the Air installation was ridiculously fast and smooth.
Inverse scrolling: This was a maddening experience at first. Apple calls this new feature 'natural scrolling' but it feels anything but when you try it out. I understand that this is how we 'naturally' scroll when using iPads and iPhones, but on those devices you are actually interacting with the content you are touching directly. You can see how your touches affect what you see, it's a visual experience that your brain just gets when you do it. On a trackpad the same kind of interaction doesn't exist. You are looking at the screen while your fingers are off doing something else, there is no direct visual correlation. Long story short, it certainly doesn't feel natural - not at first anyway. I'm going to stick with this for a couple more days and see if I can get used to it. For those overly frustrated, you can relax - the option to turn off 'natural scrolling' is tucked away in System Preferences under the Trackpad pane.
Gestures: There are ton of them, some are intuitive and some are not. Apple has a rundown of the ones you should know about. For the most part though, love them.
Fullscreen Apps: Love, love, love.
Gestures + Fullscreen Apps: This is a joy to use. Swiping between apps feels good and let's each app shine in their own way when in fullscreen mode. It's a little disappointing to use third-party apps that aren't taking advantage of the fullscreen APIs yet. Granted of course that Lion hasn't even been out for a week yet so I'll give said developers a pass. But pretty please, update your apps soon and utilize this feature. I would love to see Evernote in fullscreen. Hint hint.
Launchpad: Not really digging Launchpad all that much as an application launcher, app folder replacement, iPad clone, etc. It just seems a little repetitive since there is already a dock, an apps folder, a spotlight search. The gesture to bring it up (three finger pinch) is quite useful and dare I say, fun to use. I've seen Launchpad exhibit some weird behavior in regards to moving and deleting apps. For example, drag an app from Launchpad into the trash. In my case, the app doesn't actually get deleted - I had to go into the Applications folder and drag it into the trash. Fire up Launchpad again, the app you just deleted may still be there. When you click it, you'll get a question mark as if the operating system just said 'WTF' out loud. After a reboot the deleted app was removed from Launchpad. Making folders is a little strange in this regards as well. Folders you create in Launchpad seem to only exist in Launchpad. Interesting, but a little confusing at the same time when used in conjunction with the Applications folder. The coolest part about Launchpad is it's integration with the Mac App store. Downloading an app will drop it into Launchpad and present itself in the same fashion as when you download an app on your iPhone or iPad.
Safari: There doesn't seem to be a gesture for switching between tabs. You can swipe left and right to shuffle around history of a given tab you're in, which is nice but my general workflow with Safari is each website gets its own tab. And maybe it's just me but I can't for the life of me figure out what purpose 'reading list' serves other than being an additional bookmarks folder. At first I thought Reading List would save an article offline for browsing later on but that is not the case. Turn off your Internet connection and you'll see that Reading List tried to grab the page you saved from the actual website. Perhaps I am not grasping what use this feature is in the scheme of things.
Mail: The new Mail app is a welcome change. It seems that it has some smarts built in when you setup accounts from other platforms. For example, try setting up a GMail account and you'll prompted by Lion to import your calendar info as well as your chat friends (Jabber). That was a neat little feature that I wasn't expecting. There seems to be an issue with the new 'conversations' feature, it seems to work a little bit too well for my taste. Here is an example, I sent myself a test message from GMail to verify that my Mail.app was setup correctly. The message was simple, subject line 'test', message body 'test'. Evidently, I've done this many times over the years. Mail decided to group my most recent test message along with any and all test messages I've sent to myself since the oh, the year 2007. That doesn't feel like a 'conversation' but rather more like an archive. Just thought it was interesting behavior, I don't think the GMail client functions this way in terms of grouping emails.
Conclusion: I am digging Lion so far. I think more gestures could have been worked in to make certain workflows easier. In iPhoto, I'd expect to be able to swipe left and right when in fullscreen mode to browse my pictures. At present time, you can't do it. That's not to say a software update couldn't add that feature later on.
Wednesday: July 20, 2011
- Harry Potter and Google make semi-unbreakable vow for Pottermore.com website.
Pottermore will be integrated with a number of Google products and APIs. When the series of Harry Potter ebooks and audio books launch on Pottermore.com later this year, you will be able to push them through to your Google eBooks account. Additionally, YouTube will be the default platform for all future video broadcasts, just as it was for JK Rowling’s Pottermore announcement back in June.
- Some casting news for next season of Game of Thrones for those interested.
After seeing the first season I've been hooked on this show and can't wait for season two (which will most likely surface next year). The books are also a fun read as well and I recommend them to anyone looking to pick up on their summer reading. If you are more of a summer television watcher then go watch the series, you won't be disappointed.
- Apple's latest operating system now available for download in the Mac App Store.
As of writing I have just started downloading the new operating system from the store. Download speed seems to be going very well, I'd say I'm about 40% into it right now (officially kicked off the download at 9:20). I'll try to post a review sometime this week after I've had time to play around with Lion a bit.
Monday: July 18, 2011
- A step by step tutorial regarding how to build your very own 8-bit centerpieces.
I have decided that I am going to make like twenty of these things and strategically place them all over my property. Recent studies have shown that Piranha Plants, in addition to making any backyard or home garden more attractive, also make for thicker grass. Recent studies have also shown an alarming increase in the number of fabricated studies.