go ahead, mac my day

a Macintosh girl in a Microsoft world

November, 2005

  • go ahead, mac my day

    remembering John Vlissides

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    If you haven't seen it yet, John's WikiWikiWiki page has become a memorial, with posts from those who were fortunate enough to have worked with him.

    Being a computer science student, I knew of him, and I had seen him a few times at OOPSLA. He was conference chair of OOPSLA 2004, and I held a junior committee position that year. I was nervous about working with him; after all, if we can say that CS has rock stars, one of the members of the Gang of Four has to qualify. I was surprised when I found him to be immensely approachable. He gave me enough leeway to run my portion of the conference as I saw fit, and was very careful to ensure that I knew that I had his support in all of my efforts.

  • go ahead, mac my day

    John Vlissides

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    I just got the sad news that John Vlissides, one of the four authors of Design Patterns, passed away early Thursday morning.

    Edited to add on Monday, 28 November: John died at home, surrounded by his family. He had a brain tumor. He served as general chair of OOPSLA 2004 while undergoing chemotherapy. I know that I'm not alone in saying that he will be sorely missed.

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    TiVo will support transfers to the video iPod and PSP

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    According to the New York Times, TiVo is going to allow subscribers to transfer their recorded shows from their TiVo to their video iPod or PlayStation Personal. This is an extension of the existing TiVoToGo service, which can already sync video stored on the TiVo to devices from Creative and other companies.

    I think that this is an excellent move on TiVo's part. They have to be worried about Apple releasing a real media centre computer, especially with the latest iMac already heading in that direction with Frontrow. I wonder if they think that this gets them new subscribers, or just a new revenue stream from their existing subscribers. I wonder if they're working with Apple to release a special TiVo+iPod package when their software is ready to roll.

    If Apple were to really create a new media centre computer, would they try to partner with TiVo in some way? TiVo has a lot of experience with set-top boxes, a strong and vocal user base, and name recognition in the arena. TiVos are Linux boxes, so it seems like porting their software to the Mac would be relatively easy. Or would Apple prefer to strike out on their own, to ensure that everything is as Apple-like as possible?

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    MWSF rumour mill has begun

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    I love reading the various Apple rumour sites. I troll through their sites every few days to catch up on the latest chatter. They've got all of the honest-to-goodness Apple news, plus the rumours, guesses, and everything in between.

    The height of the rumour season is, of course, the lead-up to MacWorld San Francisco. And just as Christmas stuff starts appearing in the stores earlier and earlier every year, it seems like the Apple rumours start going up on these websites earlier and earlier every year.

    Currently, the rumours are swirling as to whether Apple will release the first of the MacTels at MWSF. ThinkSecret votes for new iBooks, and adds that they'll get a price drop. AppleInsider says that it'll be the iMac, with Powerbooks to follow, and then 13-inch widescreen iBooks in the spring. Their PB rumours are interesting -- they say that it'll be thinner, and that it will have a built-in iSight. MacRumors says that MWSF will bring us a MacTel mini.

    The consensus seems to be that it will be a more consumer-oriented machine. No-one (yet) has theorised about an updated PowerMac. For that matter, no-one has said that Apple won't release (or at least announce, with a ship date shortly thereafter) a MacTel.

    The iPod/iTunes rumours don't seem to have started in earnest yet. AppleInsider is first into the fray. They're guessing at a second generation of the iPod shuffle.

    I think that these rumours hit pretty much all of the obvious potential hardware updates. But I wonder if the hardware story will be the most interesting thing to come out of MWSF. What about the software? They've had so many new software releases -- the various iTunes updates, the release of Pages and iWork, this new Aperture thing. What new software could they release? Would Apple open up FrontRow and PhotoBooth to officially work on any Mac? What about a new version of the OS (and not just a dot- upgrade)?

    I have no idea, of course. I think that the only thing that we can really say pre-MWSF is that they'll do something interesting. Until then, I'll just read the rumours sites and be amused at the guesses that they make. I think that my favourite part of all of this is the post-mortem after MWSF: where were the rumour sites right? where were they wrong? how did Apple surprise everyone this time?

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    the obligatory advertisement

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    To think I haven't posted this yet!

    If you're interested in helping improve Microsoft's Macintosh offerings, why not sign up to participate in usability testing?

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    1 million new Mac users?

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    AppleInsider is reporting that there have been over one million converts to the Macintosh platform so far in 2005.

    I'm not entirely convinced that they're all converts. It's assuming that all of the growth is from Windows users switching, which I don't buy. At least some of the growth has to be from multi-computer households, either existing Mac households buying an additional Mac or a Windows household adding a Mac. I'm not going to go so far as to guess what percentage of that 1mil is that, but I think that it's a non-negligible number.

    How much of the growth is due to a previously computer-free household buying their very first computer? Although it's hard for me to imagine a computer-free lifestyle, only about 2/3s of US households have a computer, and just over half have Internet accesss [1]. I wonder if a household that is going to buy its first computer is more likely to buy a Mac or a Windows machine. On one hand, Windows is ubiquituous; on the other, Mac might appear more approachable, especially with the immense popularity of the iPod.

    The reasons behind a switch are two-fold: increased brand awareness due to the immense popularity of the iPod and the perceived safety of the Macintosh operating system. I'm not going to argue whether the perceived safety of the Mac is due to its small market share, and whether that will change when more people move to the Mac.

    I wonder how the upcoming MacTels will affect the switching rate, if at all. Will it be easier for application developers to port their apps to Mac? Will they have more incentive to do it, both with a potential larger market and a potential easier port?

    I also wonder how a large number of switchers affects the expectations that users have of the platform. Will they have an issue switching between the two UI paradigms? Will they be upset that the Mac is now two expansion packs behind for The Sims 2?


    [1] Computer and Internet Use in the United States: 2003 (PDF), US Census Bureau, published Oct 2005.

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    Appleworks and iWork shipping on new Macs?

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    Just in case you noticed, I was on holiday last week. But you didn't notice, I'm too new here. :)

    Just before I went on holiday, I made the plunge and ordered a new Mac mini. I have a Linux server at home (which serves as my media playback device), but it's been annoying me for awhile: the fan is loud, I'm sick of recompiling the kernel, it occasionally will stop recognising my DVD drive so I have to reboot*. I'd been following the reports that the the Mm got an unannounced update to a faster processor, faster hard drive, and better video card. I had been hoping that Apple would actually announce the update, but they didn't. I finally decided to roll the dice and ordered the machine.

    It arrived while I was gone. Everything on the box says that it's the old one (1.42-GHz processor, etc), but it is the faster beast. This isn't terribly surprising, given that the reports have been coming out for more than a month that people are receiving these.

    But I am surprised about the software that's pre-installed on the Mm. I knew that it came with iLife. But it also came with both iWork and Appleworks. My new Mm came with two separate Apple-made word-processing applications. How very odd. I wonder what this means for the future of Appleworks. Are other new Macs shipping with both of these packages?


    * I get really cranky about rebooting my Linux machine. The Linux community tells me that Linux is rock-solid, that they never have to reboot. I've had to reboot that bloody server more often than anything else I've ever owned, regardless of OS.

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