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 Once on a brand new MacBook Air and once on my only slightly out of date MacBook Pro.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.
Friday: July 15, 2011
- App of the Week: Game Dev Story
Rarely does an iPhone game catch my attention let alone force me to become so addicted to it that I abandon posting to my newly launched website for an entire two days. That's exactly what happened when a friend suggested I try out Game Dev Story for iPhone. The concept is pretty simple, you are President of a game development studio. You make video games. You watch them sell (hopefully like hotcakes), make money, become famous. Along the way you'll also need to hire employees with various skill sets (everything ranging from writers to sound engineers) and even take your advertising dollar spend into account.
The game has some interesting play concepts. In order to make a video game you'll need to pair up given types of video games along with matching a genre to that type which may or may not be the best fit. For example, you can choose to make a racing game and have the genre be about robots. On the other hand, you can make a video game with conflicting styles like RPG and... trivia. You can also choose what platform you want to develop for your video game for. Each platform has it's audience and the game type you choose may play a part in that. In order to play with some of the bigger platforms you'll need to get a license (of which you'll need some serious cash in some instances). Based on how well the type, genre, and platform of your desired game match your staff will work on it and try to make a game to the best of their given abilities. Those abilities can also be leveled up through research data (think experience points) or you can also send them to training, which also will cost you your hard-earned money. If you're unhappy with the performance of a given employee can choose to fire them and hire some new ones. At some point, you'll even be able to design your own platform/console. As of writing, I have not gotten that far yet.
The visual design of the game looks like something you'd see right out of the classic Super Nintendo days of gaming. The graphics are cute and at times huggable, especially when you see your team do very well on a game. It's very much reminiscent of SimCity but obviously with a different setting and environment. But the game does take some direct cues from SimCity and will throw some curveballs at you every now and again. For example, when your team is working hard on your latest video game the electricity may go out. This causes the development to suffer and sets back your team. Some of your employees may ask if they can work to improve a game, when they fail your game's bug count goes up. However, if they succeed your game gets better. You can also purchase boosts and products for your employees to add polish to your games, but it'll cost you.
The strangest part about this for me is that for the life of me I could not seem to put this game down. I found myself playing it on the Subway, walking from the Subway, walking home, during dinner, etc etc. There was something very satisfying about creating a mock video game (they even let you name it) and then see how well your idea takes in terms of sales and overall popularity. I was never into the whole Tamogatchi Virtual Pets thing when they were popular back in the day, this seems to be the virtual pet that was custom-tailored for me and my video game aspirations.
Game Dev Story was created by the folks over at Kairo Park. The app is available for iPhone and Android devices and will set you back $1.99. Enjoy and best of luck in your video game creation endeavors.
Thursday: July 7, 2011
- App of the Week: Instantbird
Lately I've noticed that I've somehow found myself on a great deal of sites that have their own form of instant messaging clients. Facebook has one, Google has one, and then there's that ancient AIM account that I can never seem to let go of. The problem is that it can be more than a little annoying having to be logged into each respective utility to do something as simple as instant messaging. Enter Instantbird. I gave this a whirl last week and I've liked it thus far. Instantbird takes all of these IM clients and puts them into one easy to use app. You can finally see a list of your Facebook friends along with your AIM friends, it works almost a little too well. After adding my Facebook list I was overwhelmed by the number of items on my typically small AIM list.
According to the Instantbird website they currently support the following clients by default: AIM, Facebook Chat, Gadu-Gadu, Google Talk, Groupwise, ICQ, IRC, MSN, MySpaceIM, Netsoul, QQ, Simple, Twitter, XMPP, Yahoo and Yahoo JAPAN. That's a pretty big list of clients.
Under the hood is a lot of code from the Mozilla project. As such there are add-ons and familiar settings panes for those who are well-versed in the art of Firefox (you'll notice some similarities mainly in the control panel section). So far I've only tried the app on Windows but there is a Mac version as well. I like that the software is minimal and for the most part stays out of your way. For those of you can't live without tabs you can have tabbed chats. For those who are maniacal single window fans (for purposes of IM, I fall into this category) you can turn it off. Lastly, you can also theme your IM conversations with a couple different variations. Overall I reccomend giving this app a try if you like me, you grew tired of having to log in here and log into that. Consolidation of your instant messaging is a good thing.
You can download Instantbird from their website: http://instantbird.com/.
Wednesday: July 6, 2011
- And we're back... sort of.
Hey folks! It's been awhile hasn't it! Anyone still out there? Really? That's great! So how have you been this past year? That's great! Did you achieve all of the goals you had in mind from July 7th, 2010 until now July 6th, 2011? That's great! Did you get that promotion you were waiting for? That's great! Did you take that vacation you wanted to take that you really needed for sake of well being? That's great! Did you learn a new skill that you've always wanted to take up but never had time? That's great! You know what's also great? Parfaits. They are deliciously great.
All greatness aside, yes I know it's been a while. I decided to dust off my lonely website and give it another go. Speaking of dust, I'm sure you'll find tons of lingering issues, all of which will be corrected shortly. In the meantime, would you like to drop a comment and say hello? That's great!
And even if you don't want to post a comment... you guessed it, that's great!
Wednesday: July 7, 2010
- State of the GLM: Yes, I'm still here. No, I'm not dead.
You may have noticed that GLM has gone rather quiet for the past two-three months or so in terms of any and all content on the site. This post serves as a status update to alleviate any fears that GeekLikeMe is gone for good. Quite the contrary my dear friends. And yes, while I could run down the list of excuses as to why the site hasn't been updated, I'm sure they would just bore you to tears. To save us all some time I shall sum up in two words: work and parenthood.
For work I have been diving into the grand world of Objective-C programming for the past six months and I still haven't managed to come up for air. Hopefully when I'm actually able to take a deep breath I'll have an array of iPhone and iPad apps to show for it. Also on this note I'd like to state that I very well may have taken the most ass-backwards route in getting into a new programming language. Nevertheless, it's been a rewarding and infuriating process thus far but I'm learning a lot and I think it'll turn out well in the end.
I don't think I have to say much about parenthood other than sleep is a sought-after commodity and there are only so many hours in a day. This has turned out to be a major contributing factor to the current lack of posting. Shocker.
But now onto much better news: a new version of GeekLikeMe.net is in the works yet again and I've decided to make a design choice right off the bat. I recently took a trip down memory lane courtesy of archive.org's wayback machine. After feeling somewhat nostalgic about the old GLM design I decided that maybe it was time to return to the minimalist roots yet again. More details and information about the new site coming soon!
Thursday: November 19, 2009
- GLM gets some hardware upgrades, and there was much rejoicing.
It's certainly been a fun couple of days around here what with all of these recent server issues and 'SERVICE UNAVAILABLE' alerts. But my dear readers, I have some wonderful news. I am pleased to announce (to those of you who can actually who can see this post - DNS has not fully propagated, if you're reading this - congratulations!) that GLM has undergone some significant hardware boosts.
So, what are you looking at exactly? NOTHING. Nothing at all. Well, nothing that you can actually see on the surface that is. The backend code, structure, database and all of the fun magic (aka magical tiny lemmings) that go into making GLM work have been ported over to modern hardware and completely streamlined to make use of said modern hardware. The end result is a much faster and more responsive GeekLikeMe for you all to enjoy. Now if you'll excuse me - it's back to work on some new features and weekdaily link posting. Stay tuned!
Saturday: November 7, 2009
- Server Issues and GLM Updates.
Well, as you can see we've been having some server troubles as of late. I'm still trying to work out these issues as to avoid any further downtime. So in the meantime, if you happen to see a message that says 'SERVICE UNAVAILABLE' just know somewhere behind the scenes tiny lemmings are furiously trying to get the site back up and running.
I guess I can also take this post as an opportunity to give you all a GLM state of the union. The redesign from June turned out to be a mild success as GLM has enjoyed a small boost in general web traffic more so than we used to get before. The big news is that I'm hoping to have several new features incorporated into the site before the year is out. Some of them relate to user-generated content (you might be able to guess where thats going) while some of the updates pertain to brand new features (no, I'm not telling what they are).
So that's about it in a nutshell. Oh, I encourage everyone to use the 'Discuss' feature on every post - this place just seems to be too quiet. Help me liven it up with a little idle chatter. Cheers!
Monday: June 15, 2009
- GeekLikeMe 4.0
Welcome to the latest incarnation of GeekLikeMe.net. Things look a little bit different around here, eh? Poke around and have a look at some of the new features - some of which aren't really new in the sense that what was here previously was old. New things include: individual commenting capabilities on individual posts (you can comment on anything that is posted now - ie daily grind, photoblogs, comics etc), better rss feeds, tags, weekdaily link thumbnails, quick comment posting from the front pages, categories, archives, comment badges, and etc etc etc. That's a lot to start off with - and as always more stuff is in the works. I'll be fixing bugs for most of this week until things are sorted out. Leave a comment or two here to let me know if you a) love/hate the new site b) find a bug c) you have an opinion on both options a and b.
Update: for those who asked, regular posting resumes tomorrow.
Monday: April 21, 2008
- GeekLikeMe on your iPhone.
I've updated GeekLikeMe to display better on an iPhone for my fellow Mac nerdites out there. This version removes all content of the normal site and just shows the weekdaily links (this seems to be what everybody wants these days anyways).
Want to make an iPhone version of your own website? Here are some quick tips. First and most importantly, you need to check if your visitor/user happens to be on an iPhone to begin with. This requires that you check the user agent string accordingly. Being that I code in a Windows world I am going to show how to do this check in two lines of code via ASP:
httpagent = request.servervariables
if instr(httpagent,'iPhone') > 0 then iPhone= 'Yes'
See? Not hard at all. Then just modify your code accordingly to fit that condition. Yes, I'm sure there are much more efficient ways of checking the http user agent string but for a quick five minute update / verbose post - who really cares.
Special thanks to Tom of Optical Poptitude (which is an awesome blog that everyone should read daily) for giving me a heads up that this site was displaying not all that well on an iPhone.
Update: latest version of GLM breaks this post every way from Sunday. Will fix some point down the road.
Wednesday: April 16, 2008
- Annoying Corporate Email Issue of the Day.
So I get an email that goes like this:
I phoned you and left a voicemail regarding this issue. Please listen to it and email me back.
Thanks so much
Let's analyze this for a second; this is an email alerting me that a message has been left on an entirely different medium of communication. Doesn't this negate using the original mode of communication entirely? Why not bother to just take a second and type the issue in that very same email that that was used incorrectly to begin with?
For a list of other things about corporate email that bug me refer back to this now ancient verbose post:
The seven deadly sins of corporate email.