The MBTA Releases a Mobile Site that’s Actually Useful

After parking my car in the garage this morning, I walked down stairs to the train platform to see it full of people waiting for a train that wasn’t there. It was now 8:26 and the 8:25 was no where in sight. Annoyed as why the train wasn’t here, I pulled out my Q to see if Internet Exploder Mobile could render the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s web site so I could check the service alerts.

Much to my amazement and delight, the MBTA now offers a mobile version (at the same URL) which is very usable on a mobile device. In addition to that, they’ve organized the content in such a way that it’s more useful for a mobile user. For example, The first item on the home page is “service alerts.” Minor, yes, but extremely useful. The content is nicely organized and easy to navigate on a mobile device.

The only complaint I have so far is that I can’t personalize it like I can the main site. Having MyMBTA available on the mobile home page would be even more useful. At any rate, it nice to see increased fares actually doing something useful. Now if only they’d put WiFi on the commuter rails.

The MBTA Releases a Mobile Site that’s Actually Useful

Comcast High-Speed IS Really Fast

Lately I’ve started seeing some pretty impressive download speeds from Comcast. For example, it took me less than 4 minutes to download VMWare Fusion:

download.png

That’s 1.2MB/sec which is pretty damn speedy if you ask me. Ironically, at the office the best I can get is 300KB/sec. Going the other direction, I’ve found that upload speeds are topping out at 150KB/sec where about two or three months ago it was peaking at 34KB/sec. Dunno if I’m all too anxious for Verizon FiOS to come to town now. Now if only Comcast could improve their DNS response times, then we’d be all set :)

Comcast High-Speed IS Really Fast

Farewell MacOSRumors.com

Well, it seems that an old staple of Mac rumor sites has finally seen it’s last day. The site MacOSRumors.com was once one of the greatest Mac sites around. Over the past few years however, due to health issues with its founder, had gone down hill. Most readers had put the site on death watch, and deservedly so. Now when you visit the site, you are greeted with a Network Solutions renewal page. Farewell MacOSRumors.com, it was fun while it lasted!

Farewell MacOSRumors.com

Microsoft Silverlight: It’s Like Flash without an Installed Base

By now, you’ve probably read plenty about Microsoft’s new Silverlight platform and how it’s going be a major player in the coming year. While I don’t doubt that Silverlight will be significant, I have a very tough time seeing how MS can overcome the installed base that Adobe has with Flash. And I’m not just talking about the installed base of the Flash player on multiple platforms, but also the installed base of content creation applications from Adobe and the mindshare Adobe has amongst creative professionals.

Microsoft’s real challenge with Silverlight will be in content creation tools arena. Currently, the only content creation tool that is capable of authoring Silverlight content is Microsoft’s own Expression Studio, or a pre-release of Visual Studio.NET. By Comparison, you can author and publish Flash content using several of Adobe’s products as well as many third party applications. Adobe is very well entrenched among the creative crowd. Having worked with many different creative firms over the years, you’d be very hard pressed to to find a interactive shop that did not use an Adobe or Macromedia product. Not to mention, most of these companies were nearly all Mac-based.

So far, I haven’t seen many takers for Expression Studio. The fact that this is a Windows-only product should be seen as a detriment to the Silverlight platform. A hardcore creative professional who uses a Mac is never going to give their Mac up willingly. Second, if they did have to give their Mac’s up and forced to use Expression Studio, Microsoft needs to be able to answer the following questions:

  1. How do I open my Photoshop files in Expression Studio?
  2. Do my Photoshop files get imported with all of their layers if I can bring them into Expression?
  3. Which version of Expression authors video like After Effects?
  4. Can I import Silverlight files into After Effects as vectors with alpha channels preserved and batch render WMV files with embedded cue points?

MS has a lot more work to do that just releasing a player for both Windows and Mac OS X. They also need content creation tools on the Mac if they want to be a player in the rich media space. It’s very difficult to recommend a rich-media platform that prohibits you from creating content on your platform of choice.

Additionally, Microsoft hasn’t shown creative professionals that Sliverlight is any better than Flash or Flex. So far, Silverlight looks like nothing more than a Flash “me-too” product that can do some 3-D and HD Video. From a developer perspective, it is much more compelling that that. But on the surface, it’s just a Flash rip-off. Here’s a short list of other reasons why the Mac camp won’t adopt Silverlight:

  • Internet Explorer
  • ActiveX
  • Windows Media Player
  • Visio

Given Microsoft’s track record of killing decent products for Mac OS, choosing an MS-controlled technology usually means that they’ll kill it somewhere down the road and leave Mac users out in the cold. I think Flash is here to stay.

Microsoft Silverlight: It’s Like Flash without an Installed Base

Another Spring, Another 100-Year Flood

I hate this crap. After dealing with a major flood last May, I awoken yesterday to someone knocking at my door at 5am telling me to move my car because the parking lot was flooding. Here’s a view about 3 hours after the door knock:

It didn’t take too long for us to realize that they’d be evacuating us soon. So now we’re displaced again, along with a baby. Good times! :) If you care to take a look at 100-Year Flood #2, you can see them here.

Another Spring, Another 100-Year Flood

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

Two for Flinchin’ Boston, the terrorists win this one

So Jim Samples resigned from the Cartoon Network over the knee-jerk reaction made by the city of Boston over the ridiculous ad campaign launched by Interference Inc. The resignation is pretty sad actually since Jim most likely wasn’t directly responsible for the drama. This stunt took place in several other cities as well did not react like the city of Boston did. Hell, the NYPD didn’t get a single call about the devices (and here’s a city that can justifiably worry about such things). While I can almost understand why people reacted the way the did, one has to wonder why it took folks a few weeks to even notice the devices?

The really sad thing is that any terrorist doesn’t even have to harm anyone in this country anymore. The current administration has made this country so scared that “boogey-man” Bin Laden is gonna get them. All anyone has to do these nowadays is say “there’s a bomb” somewhere or place something with exposed batteries and wires and the bomb squad is sure to show up. According to this article on Wired, terrorism only accounted for 3,147 deaths in the U.S. between 1995 and 2006. Why are we so scared? Personally, I’m more concerned about the drunk driving in front of me on 93.

This is an excellent example of terrorism working. Living in fear is exactly what the terrorists want. They’re called terrorists. This country is now so afraid that a juvenile prank can shut down an entire city just in time for rush hour. Now the terrorists objective are met, and they didn’t have do lift a finger. Glad I was working from home that day.

Two for Flinchin’ Boston, the terrorists win this one