GeekLikeMe.net

GeekLikeMe

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Collected web clippings, ramblings, and scribblings from me to you.

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 Once on a brand new MacBook Air and once on my only slightly out of date MacBook Pro.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.

Posted to Verbose filed in Apple @ 1:17 PM | Tags (10) | apps | day | gestures | impressions | lion | mac | one | osx | scrolling | verbose |  | Discuss (1) |  | facebook | twitter | 4 Clicks | Posted by Vin


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.

Posted to Verbose filed in Video Games @ 10:24 AM | Tags (8) | addicting | app | appoftheweek | gamedev | gaming | iphone | verbose | videogames |  | Discuss (1) |  | facebook | twitter | 5 Clicks | Posted by Vin


Thursday: July 7, 2011

App of the Week: Instantbird

InstantbirdLately 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/.

Posted to Verbose filed in Apps @ 12:27 PM | Tags (13) | aim | appoftheweek | apps | facebook | instant | instantbird | mac | messaging | mozilla | review | twitter | verbose | windows |  | Discuss (0) |  | facebook | twitter | 4 Clicks | Posted by Vin


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!

Posted to Verbose filed in GeekLikeMe / Site Related @ 2:11 PM | Tags (12) | 2010 | 2011 | dead | design | dust | etc | geeklikeme | glm | goals | issues | redesign | verbose |  | Discuss (4) |  | facebook | twitter | 12 Clicks | Posted by Vin


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!

P.S. You can also follow me on Twitter even though I have yet to tweet anything. Oops, scratch that.

Posted to Verbose filed in GeekLikeMe / Site Related @ 10:20 AM | Tags (12) | archive | geeklikeme | glm | machine | minimal | minimalist | parenthood | redesign | state | verbose | wayback | work |  | Discuss (4) |  | facebook | twitter | 63 Clicks | Posted by Vin


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!

Posted to Verbose filed in GeekLikeMe / Site Related @ 2:48 PM | Tags (8) | geeklikeme | host | issues | provider | server | update | upgrades | verbose |  | Discuss (1) |  | facebook | twitter | 13 Clicks | Posted by Vin


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