Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category

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Apple updates the HIG

January 20, 2008

Apple have updated the Human Interface Guidelines for Leopard. When I say updated, I mean it’s more like an act of necromancy. The HIG was largely neglected during Tiger times, with a great job being done by the Indie HIG, though that hasn’t been updated in a while.

The idea of a unified interface still appeals and Apple have got closer with Leopard, but is there a need for uniformity? With the web everywhere and each site having it’s own style, it’s obvious that a lack of uniformity isn’t hampering usability. People aren’t stupid, they know what a button is.

A lot of what’s in the HIG could be just as well served in SDK documentation, the HIG itself could easily be summed up as a guide line that makes developers and UI designers simply ask ‘Is this simple and beautiful?’

Sadly Apple has a problem complying with the HIG itself…

Make sure you do not change the behavior of standard elements. When you need a new behavior, design a new element for it.

Which hardly explains the behaviour of hierarchal folders in the dock since Leopard. At least give us a preference we can change.

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Fake Steve on the Stevenote

January 16, 2008

I stayed in and followed the keynote live, had a feed from Ars going and Macworld but the best, a day later it must be said, came from the real ‘fake Steve‘. This part had me laughing out loud…

The reaction to the glowing reviews in today’s press have been astounding, beyond anything we could have imagined when we wrote those reviews several weeks ago.

If you’re not reading FSJ everyday you’re missing out. There’s also a brilliant cartoon on Joy of Tech. No, I won’t be buying a MacBook Air, purely because it’s the worst name for it I can imagine. Even if I had a need for one.

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Hilarious

January 10, 2008

It seems Microsoft does have a sense of humor. I wish this a real book. Money quote

Offices are why big people get grumpy and say bad words.

The original link doesn’t appear to be resolving correctly, but aboutblank, a site well worth a visit, has a compilation for you. Check it out, very funny.

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The Think Secret secret

December 21, 2007

Apple has forced ThinkSecret to close down after posting a story about forth coming apple products in 2005, without any details of the confidential agreement there’s some speculation around.

Was there a pay off? Was it sheer legal pressure? Was it that apple was going to loose the case?

Those that know aren’t saying. For a site that came into being to expose apple secrets to die with a apple secret seems fitting, if a little ironic.

UPDATEĀ 

Strange. For a site that’s supposedly shut down, it is a little odd to be posting news days after the announcement, http://notes.thinksecret.com/

There’s some speculation here

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GyazMail saves the day

November 12, 2007

When Nerg got a fabulous Black MacBook in March (a thing of great beauty) he pretty much cloned the contents of the previous T-Book straight over.

In so doing the hideous mess (I had created) that was Mail got transferred over as well. While the T-Book was still available, rebuilding the mail data base seemed like a good idea. So every message was deleted from the MacBook, the MacBook was taken off line and everything was imported from archive DVD’s. In it’s uncompressed state, it’s approaching 4 Gb, that’s a lot of mail.

It didn’t go well. Duplicate message hell.

Removing duplicate messages in Apples Mail is possibly the most tedious thing, and when completed the database was still a bag of shit. I’d click on the title of a message from the Favourite Person only to discover that it was some random instruction for a job I’d completed ages ago. Hmmm…

So the ‘Mail Hoover’ was the only answer. Basically Mail creates a file called “Envelope Index” at the root level your libraries ‘Mail’ directory. Regard this as your e-mail database. It’s the index of all the mail that’s ever gone through Mail. Quit Mail and throw away this file. The next time you re-launch Mail it will behave as if it’s launched for the first time and will offer to import all your messages. It imports nothing. Nothing is placed in a folder called ‘Import’ as it would be normally. What appears to be happening is that Mail 1.x (Jaguar/Panther) is being converted into Mail 2.x (Tiger). All that’s being done is the ‘Envelope Index’ is being rebuilt.

Bored with the tedium of all this (it takes ages to rebuild the file), using another client sprang to mind…

Several email clients were down loded beforeĀ  GyazMail was settled upon, a free demo for 30 days as per usual. Import went smoothly, and then a couple of real gems turned up in GyazMail. It supports labels, like the Finder, handy for sorting, and the killer feature…

Delete Duplicate Messages. Winner!

What had taken ages manually now took minuets. There’s also a great export function, mostly.

After all the cleaning up, deleting of duplicates out of Gyaz, exporting all mail boxes to be archived, the time came to import the newly created archive back into Gyaz… slowly, slowly then crash. Tried importing into Mail, instant crash.

Eudora was tried (yes really) and at least this gave an error message for corrupt attachments when importing and gracefully lets you skip that particular message, even notifying which it is, unlike Gyaz, which just bombs.

There’s still more to do with the freshly rebuilt mail database, wanna separate some stuff out and so on, but all in all Gyaz, is a goer, so much so I might actually buy it. If it doesn’t choke on it’s own export again. It works though and so far it’s done all that needs to be done.

Lets see how Mail copes with an import, it’s unlikely do too well, because Mail 2.x treats each message as a .emlx where as Gyaz sees things as a single file. To be continued…

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Ambition

October 28, 2007

Ambition is a funny thing. It’s good to have and in the majority of cases I would imagine that it’s a good thing to fulfill that ambition. Twenty years ago, my ambition was quite simple – get a job. In the depths of a recession in the UK and a time of upheaval (Miners Strike, Printers Strike, resulting legislation and huge social changes) that was ambition enough. In many respects I was lucky and started working on a local news paper as a paste up artist and camera operator, progressing through various companies to become a colour planner. It suited me, I liked the precision required and it also allowed some of my creativity out. Thus began my career in print.

Then Macs came along and I put myself through college to gain qualifications and experience that I could use to further my career. It perhaps wasn’t the greatest plan, but it worked, I’ve only been without work for three months in the last ten years.

As the recession continued to bite and printers shut down, it became clear I would have to move to London. I really wanted to be a Senior Operator for a Design Agency ‘up in town’. I read everything, (there wasn’t much of an internet in those days) I spent what spare time I had continuing to learn new stuff, always pushing myself.

It was a slog, it took me ages to do it, ten years in all, but I spent seven of those years in one location evolving. So yes there I am, Senior Op at an Agency up in town. Ambition fulfilled, and I’m quite pleased that my plan worked, but it’s a little disappointing. Some of the disappointment comes from the company itself and some from my changing priorities.

During the seven years I spent evolving, I was working a shift producing some of the finest packaging to ever appear on a shelf.

During the first five years there, I spent my time ‘off shift’ when I wasn’t trying to hone my skills, trying to improve my life in other ways. Enjoy London, find someone special and start a family etc. I have to confess, I haven’t done particularly well in that. But my career was going well.

I started at the bottom with three other people on the same day. While they languished and complained about a lack of opportunity in the company, I pushed myself harder.

Through steady improvements, I ended up being a team leader, building teams, hiring staff and being Senior Op for two shifts of thirty plus operators each, after being put on permanent days. I wrote documentation for all our procedures and set up a training course for our two production sites in London. I was lucky in that I was surrounded by people that kept me pushing myself and encouraged and rewarded me.

Eventually I was removed form the production environment completely for the last two years and seconded to the development team. This was great, I was taking what knowledge I had and applying it else where.

What lack of opportunity?I moved from site to site as the need arose. Sometimes sitting next to the guys writing the code that would go on to automate our production systems, testing their incremental changes as they wrote. An amazing experience. Sometimes sitting with some of the best Prepress professionals I have ever met, working out how we would implement these changes. Sometimes UI testing, sometimes beta testing (a tester of the month for Quark in Sept 2005.) and end to end testing. I loved it. I didn’t love the corporate BS so much, but it comes with the territory.

All things come to an end, and although I had no wish to leave (apart from the corporate BS) I was made redundant. I wasn’t surprised, I had done what was needed and there was no way that the company would put me back in production, I cost too much and I’m not much of a yes man. I would have gone back, I could have really used going back on shift…

In amongst all of that I was a member, contributor and moderator at Prepress Forums – thanks Cory, until the merger with print planet and now I do those things for B4Print. Thanks Joe, I’m very happy to do so.

Although I’m a Senior Op and I have fulfilled my ambition, career wise and professionally, it’s a step backwards. I made a lot of progress in a way I hadn’t imagined and now I’m kind of where I was ten years ago, like I say, kind of. I cannot go forward where I am, there isn’t a process for it within the company, it’s too small. It doesn’t help that the company I work for is possibly the most disorganised shambles I’ve encountered. Even the worst Prepress job ever had was more organised. I could sort it out, but I wouldn’t be progressing. At best I’m stagnating where I am.

So I want to test software. I believe I’m pretty good at it and I enjoy it. I’m not naive enough to believe it will be like anything that has gone before, it might be, but I might end up testing embedded systems or control systems or anything, that’s part of the attraction. Of course it would help if I had passed my exam, but there is more to it than that.

Instead of being in an environment that encourages and rewards, I am in one that won’t innovate, invest or encourage, where moral is rock bottom and the company is disorganised and reactive.

Instead of having a peer group that will encourage and compete or give me an aspirational target, I have a vacuum. I don’t know anyone who does what I want to do. The web is a great resource, but no substitute for the things a human needs. Interaction. Instead of my job encouraging me and motivating me, it is delaying me from fulfilling my next ambition. The part of the world where software testing and project/team management overlap.

An interim plan should be in place by the end of the year that eventually will allow me to devote more time to what I want to do, instead of wasting my time in a dead end. Of course the interim plan could open up all kinds of different avenues that I haven’t thought of or even knew existed. It’s impossible to see beyond the choices before you. Given an opportunity, I’ll take it.

I can’t wait, I haven’t time to to spare.

teneo vestri

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OS X Leopard 300 + features, but missing one

October 21, 2007

I can’t wait for 10.5, and it’s 300 plus features. Some of them I find very compelling. However, apple have still not included a very basic and fundamental requirement within an OS – a simple and reliable way to un-install an application.

It may be that the un-installer is a function of the installer and simply isn’t listed. There is no mention of the installer being updated in what I’ve read of X-Code. I don’t remember an installer being mentioned as a feature of previous releases of either the OS or X-Code.

Correct me if I’m wrong.

Admittedly most modern Cocoa apps are installed as a package that contains all the associated and needed components, and the process is fairly straight forward. But some, (Adobe amongst others), scatter files across multiple folders, such as application support and various libraries etc.

I find it hard to believe that with the most advanced operating system in the world such a feature doesn’t exist.

A friend of mine on the other side of the planet mailed me last week asking me how to un-install a particular application. I suggested a way of doing it through the Finder which isn’t reliable, and then I had to suggest a couple of third party alternatives. Instead of making the Finder ugly here, here (not a permalink) and here, why not give us something useful? Sort it out apple.