Java 6 on Mac OS X may Require Leopard

I was very happy to see that Sun released a final version of Java 6 yesterday. But what I find very disappointing was that Apple has not updated a Java 6 version for Mac OS X still remains only a developer preview which is based on JDK 1.6.0_b88. If you’ve been following Java 6, you know this a very old release.

I’m starting to believe these rumors that Apple will introduce a refreshed UI in Mac OS X (10.5) Leopard. Because of this, Apple has not put out another developer release of Java 6 that will run on Tiger (10.4). With a new UI, Apple may have had to make some major changes to its Swing implementation and may not be backwards compatible with 10.4.

This would be similar to what Apple did with Tiger; you could only get Java 5 if you upgraded to Tiger (even though there were reports that early releases of Java 5 could run just fine on 10.3). I’m betting that in order to get Java 6 on your Mac, you’re going to need to upgrade to Leopard. Now I don’t know for certain, but it would be a compelling reason for any Java developer using a Mac to upgrade to 10.5. For me, Java 5 support was enough to get me to upgrade to Tiger (10.4). Guess we’ll all know more in a month.

New Leopard Build Supports Office 2007 Formats – Office:mac coming 6-8 months later

The folks over at MacShrine are reporting that Apple has seeded a new build of Leopard (Mac OS 10.5) internally. What really caught my eye was the last statement:

“TextEdit also features support to export and open new Word 2007 documents”

What’s interesting here is that there is no mention of the OpenDocument format supported by the OpenOffice suite. Oh well. (UPDATE: it would appear that OpenDocument is supported as well according to this post at Uneasy Silence). However, if TextEdit can read and write OpenXML documents and Leopard ships within the first half of 2007, Apple will be supporting the new Office format before Microsoft. I still fully expect that the next version of iWork will support the Office OpenXML (now ECMA-376) and OpenDocument file formats in its next release, which probably will be announced at MacWorld 2007.

But what I find even more interesting are the recent claims put out by Microsoft’s Mac BU who say they will have Office 2007 converters ready by Spring and that Office:mac 2007 will ship 6 to 8 months after the Windows version. What I find difficult to understand is why it’ll take so long? For starters, they all work at the same company that also happens to make the Windows version of Office 2007. Second, this is the same company that drafted the Office OpenXML format, so you’d think there’d be few folks with expert knowledge on the subject. And finally, this new format is now an EMCA standard, of which anyone who can read a spec could implement the format. And even though the spec only became a standard on 12/7/2006, the spec had been published well in advance.

It blows my mind that a group of folks who work at the same company, can’t get it together with other internal teams to make compatibility with the new file format a top priority. After reading some of the Mac Mojo post, it sounds like they even wrote their own XML parser to read the format. Why? I guess this gives some insight was to why Vista was a few years late.

It’ll be interesting to see what Apple has in store for iWork in 2007. My gut is starting to say that this is the beginning of the end for Office:mac. This could be Microsoft giving Apple a head start into the office market on the Mac. Eventually, Office:mac will be cede to iWork much in the same was as Internet Explorer did to Safari, even while Safari was a beta. The good thing is that with the Office OpenXML format, we now have an established standard so file incompatibilities should not be as problematic as they have been in the past.

Update #2: It appears I’m not the only who thinks that Office:mac is on its way out; Rob Griffiths of MacOSXHints.com has a piece over at MacWorld.com which points out that Office:mac will not have VB support for things like macros and other goodies. Of interest, the folks over at OpenOffice.org are working on VBA support. It’ll be interesting to see if Apple is able to leverage any of that code base.

How to set up a Motorola E815 as Bluetooth Modem under Mac OS X 10.4

I have had a Motorola E815 for sometime now, but my older PowerBook didn’t have Bluetooth so I never got to enjoy its capabilities. Just recently, I acquired a brand spankin’ new 17″ MacBook Pro as part of my new job. I knew I could use the phone as a modem, but exactly how to do it was a bit of a mystery. I ran across this post which describes how to set up the Motorola V710 with Mac OS X 10.3. Unfortunately, these instructions don’t cover the subtle differences with the E815 and Mac OS X 10.4.

For the most part, the Mac OS X configuration is basically the same, but the E815 is slightly different. For some reason or another, Verizon Wireless disables dial up networking on this phone. You can enable it by dialing: ##DIALUP. It sounds odd, yes, but when you enter the number, the phone will present a message stating that dial up networking is enabled. If you don’t do this, your Mac won’t be able to use your phone as a Modem.

One the Mac side of things, you can still follow the same instructions on Steven Fettig’s site. While some of the UI is a bit different under Panther, you should have no issues figuring it out. So far, this works rather well. I get a decent connection that allow me to browse the web, check email, and use IM while riding the train into work now. Now those two hours commuting just became much more productive.

A Bigger Question: Why Doesn’t Apple Support OpenOffice Document Formats?

I ran across a post over at An Outlet which questions why Apple does not support OpenOffice. For me, the more important question is: Why doesn’t Apple support the OpenOffice document formats? I have written about this in a prior post about how the Mac platform currently has little or no support for the OpenDocument format. This format, which is the default format for OpenOffice, is also becoming the format of choice for many Government agencies. Effective January 1st, 2007, The State of Massachusetts will be switching over to open formats, such as OpenDocument, and will phase out proprietary formats such as the current MS Word format. Once this goes into effect, Mac users will be at a disadvantage.

Personally, I think OpenOffice has an awful long way to go before it becomes a viable alternative to MS Office:mac or iWork for that matter. And yes, I know about NeoOffice, but that too still has a long way to go as well. What I’d like to see is Apple support the OpenDocument format in their applications. To date, Apple has had a decent track record supporting open formats. For example:

I could go on, but I think you get the point. Many of Apple’s applications are simply really nice GUIs to an open standard. Support for the OpenDocument format in the next release of iWork would a logical step in following Apple’s pattern of supporting open standards. Whether or not Apple adds OpenDocument support to iWork remains a mystery, at least until MacWorld 2007.

Considering that Apple is a member of the ECMA Technical committee to standarize Microsoft’s Office Open XML format, I fully expect iWork ’07 to support the new MS Office formats come MacWorld 2007. Windows users will have access to an ODF converter available for Office 2007 users, but it will not be available for Mac OS X. What is interesting about the converter is that at its core, this is an XSLT transformation. So it might be trivial for Apple to add support for both OpenDocument and Microsoft’s Office Open XML formats.

While having OpenOffice getting polished up and properly integrated into Mac OS X would be nice, it’s just not going to happen any time soon. Apple’s iWork is here now and is actually pretty good. If iWork supported both OpenDocument and Microsoft’s Office Open XML formats (and adds a spread sheet application), iWork could become a much more viable application suite. And we’d have a single application suite which could author the two major office file formats.

My Fantasy Mac: The Mac mini Pro

We have had a Mac mini for over a year now and while it served us well, it is rather underpowered. Nah, underpowered is being too nice, the 1.4Ghz G4 model is slow as shit. The main culprit, in my opinion, is the 32MB ATI card that is in the PPC-based Mac mini. The slow performance is especially noticeable when hooked up to a 23-inch Cinema Display. I’d love to upgrade to a new Intel-based Mac mini, but it too is lacking in the video performance category, so I fear that I’d see similar issues. The Mac Pro’s are a bit too out of my price range and due to space issues, I don’t want to have another hulking tower in my home (my PC already fulfills that role). Since I already have a nice display (which is also being shared with my PC via the excellent Gefen 2×1 DVI KVM Switcher), the 24-inch iMac probably won’t be a good solution either.

In fantasy-land, what I’d love to see is something like a Mac mini Pro. A Mac mini Pro would have close to the same tech specs as the iMac (but with at least one FireWire 800 port) and sell for around $999 to $1,400. If the extra video and CPU power can’t be crammed into the current enclosure, the maybe it’s a double-height Mac mini, at which point you could then call it a Mac Cube Pro. With decent video & CPU performance and a minimum of 1GB RAM (expandable to at least 2GB, preferably 3GB+), I’d snatch one up in a second.This would be a great developer/photo-editing workstation for those of us who prefer the more space conscious design while being half the price of a Mac Pro and more flexible than the iMac. That’s what I want for Christmas, or at least for MacWorld 2007.