Some Mac Users STILL have nothing better to do!

I’m a fan of MacRumors.com, but every now and again there’s a new post that make me embarrassed to be a Mac user. Just last year, I had to call out the lameness of “MacBook unpacking photos.” Now, there’s this story of some goof bastard who used his video camera to show everyone the new Apple TV ad, which was recorded off his TV set. Not like we’ll be able to see it on Apple.com at some point anyway. The kicker for me is the number of posts in the forum talking about how “awesome” it was and how “cool” it was to share. My favorite post was from the original poster himself who could provide us with a “a 10mb mpg of the commercial.” Someone needs a better hobby, or a job. :)

Some Mac Users STILL have nothing better to do!

Camino 1.1: My Mac OS X Web Browser of Choice

Since I got my Mac Book Pro last November, I have been extremely disappointed with the stability of FireFox on Intel Macs. The PPC version is quite stable and gives Safari a run for the money. On Intel however, it feels like an alpha-quality product. I have been using Safari, which gets the job done, but I had really missed some of the great features that FireFox provided:

  • HTML Editing capabilities (the WordPress HTML editor works in FireFox, not Safari)
  • Built-in spell checker
  • Site-level pop-up blocking
  • Cool extensions like FireBug

For one reason or another, I decided to take another look at Camino. Camino was started by Mike Pinkerton and it is built on Mozilla’s Gecko, which is also what powers FireFox. The big difference between Camino and FireFox is that Camino was designed to be a Mac-only browser that uses the Cocoa framework for its UI rather than XUL. What you end up with a browser that has a lot of the niceties of Safari, with most of the capabilities of FireFox. Some things you don’t get is FireFox extensions & themes, but I can live with that. As far as stability goes, I’m using one of the nightly builds and haven’t had a crash yet.

Camino 1.1: My Mac OS X Web Browser of Choice

Why I won’t get the first MacPhone

I’m of the belief that if Apple does enter the mobile phone market, it will be releasing a mobile version of the Mac OS and the device will probably carry the MacPhone moniker. We know iPhone name is already taken, plus the whole “i” thing is getting tired. The device won’t be just a phone + iPod, but something a hell of a lot more interesting. While Windows Mobile isn’t the best mobile OS around, it’s pretty good but it certainly gets the job done. Should Apple come out with a mobile OS that was better than anything else out there and ship it on a unique, yet easy to use, mobile device, they are sure to have a winner on their hands. We’ll know next Tuesday for sure.

But even if Apple does release a MacPhone, I won’t be the first in line to get one. I’ll be holding on to my Q for a year or 2 before I jump to a MacPhone (assuming it will even exist). The MacPhone will probably be awesome and those who do get it will be very happy. Mainly because they’ll have one and you won’t. I have been a long time consumer of Apple products including some of their first generation of products. Many of these first generation products had some gotchas that became apparent withing the first year of ownership. Let’s have a look back at the history of some of Apple’s first generation products:

Mac OS X 10.0

I was psyched when Mac OS X was first released, but it was dog-ass slow and didn’t support the some of the features you had in Mac OS 9. Hell, CD burning wasn’t supported until 10.1, nor was Apple Share. It really took until 10.2 when OS X was a viable option for Mac users to dump Mac OS 9.

The Blue & White G3

These were kick-ass machines back in the day. By the time 10.2 came around with Quartz Extreme, we learned that you needed a machine with an AGP slot in order to take advantage of it. The G3’s used a PCI slot for graphics which was too slow.
Intel Core Duo MacBook Pro

Again psyched to see these sooner rather than later, but the hardware issues that plagued these laptops were a royal pain for owners. Luckily, I wasn’t one of them this time :)

1st Gen iPod

My wife has a 10GB model. It’s a brick in comparison to my Nano. It still plays music just fine, but it does not work with any of the iPod accessories.

There are probably more stories I could dig up, but these are the ones that have affected me so far. But if the MacPhone becomes a reality, it will be tow first generation products in one: a new hardware device and a new OS. It will also be a new market for Apple too. And unless a Mac OS Mobile supports Java ME out of the box (highly likely considering Apple’s support of Java in past Mac OS X releases), there also won’t be many cool apps for it out of the gate. These little apps are what help make Palm and Windows Mobile so handy.

So for now, I am interested in the MacPhone, just not the first generation. The second generations are likely to be smaller, faster, cooler, and have a longer battery life, and more importantly way cheaper or you’ll get more for your money. If you compare the Core Duo MacBook Pros to the Core 2 Duo MacBook Pros, the Core 2’s give you a hell of a lot more for the same money. Time will tell, but I’m going to sit back and watch this one. On a side note, I’m starting to think 2007 is going to be an interesting year for mobile devices.

Why I won’t get the first MacPhone

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.

Java 6 on Mac OS X may Require Leopard

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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