Archive for the 'Mac Software' Tag

Seasonality by Gaucho Software

Thursday, January 26th, 2006

Often on this blog or on my news pages I plug interesting and different podcasts whose feeds are created by Feeder, but since Feeder can create any RSS feed it’s nice to see it being used for the purpose that made me come up with the idea in the first place: to create a product news RSS feed on a web site (i.e. mine!).

Gaucho Software is now using Feeder to create news feeds and Seasonality, created by Mike Piatek-Jimenez, definitely counts as something interesting and different.

Seasonality Screenshot

Seasonality is a very impressive weather monitoring app that shows comprehensive summaries, forecasts, maps with satellite imagery and radar, graphs for temperature, wind speed and direction, atmospheric pressure, daylight hours and local time. The best part is that it wraps all this information in a slick interface that is easy on the eye and has lots of neat tricks to keep everything manageable. Kudos!

Macworld Thoughts

Wednesday, January 11th, 2006

Anyway, I’m glowing with RDF exposure, so about the rest of that Stevenote

iPhoto is probably my most-used iApp after iTunes, and while I have Photoshop I prefer to do without it for the sort of basic editing that I do. I really like the look of the new iPhoto editing features. Speed is always good. The full screen editing and side-by-side comparison features look excellent and the effects make tricky things one-click easy. As for the cards and calendars, I don’t think I’ll be using them, but they look great. The calendars have some really thoughtful features such as including birthdays from Address Book and national holidays for specific countries.

Photocasting looks really cool. You can publish your photos on .Mac and people can subscribe to an RSS feed for the album. Whenever you add photos to the album, they go online too and subscribers can see your updates in any RSS reader. At first I thought this was nothing new, because you can subscribe to photo feeds from Flickr and the like, but the twist is that you can subscribe to a photocast within iPhoto and when updates are made, you will receive the actual photos. This has excellent potential not only for sharing, but collaboration too. It’s a superb use of RSS.

iMovie, iDVD
I really don’t use iMovie or iDVD, but they are the sort of apps you want to use just because they’re so cool. Now it seems they’ve taken the idea of themes from iDVD and let you use them in iMovie itself. It’s pretty amazing what you can do with this stuff for next to no money. You just need a video camera and some decent footage. It almost seems to me that making a video of your vacation could be more fun than the vacation itself! (See, I can do gushing!)

I wrote a little about its ability to create enhanced podcasts and publish to .Mac straight from within Garageband but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The recording and production features look fantastic, such as the automatic ducking, background noise elimination and iChat interview recording (each participant gets their own audio track). GarageBand also provides royalty-free jingles, which can played live or added later. CastBlaster who?

iWeb really makes your .Mac Sites folder worthwhile again, although as I’ve mentioned before RapidWeaver already does this stuff and Sandvox, currently in public beta, seems much the same. What really sets iWeb apart is its integration from within the other iApps, which is something other developers just can’t do.

And I have to say it looks damn impressive in the demo, with its fancy templates, photo cropping, rotating and everything. Actually, it appears to work a lot like Pages. Often, I actually find these sorts of apps frustrating, just because I want to do so much more than they will let me. That said, I’m sure most people will be delighted with the stuff that that iWeb can produce.

The only downside seems to be that you can only publish to .Mac, although I understand you can export to a folder and upload manually via FTP if you want.

It seems they’re not making much of a fuss about this. No spreadsheet app but there are new 3D charts and tables with calculations, so it looks like they’re filling in the gaps slowly.

Microsoft Commitment
Poor old Microsoft Mac Business Unit boss, Roz Ho, never quite seems to hit the right note at these events, but she got a very good reaction to Microsoft’s new 5-year minimum commitment to Office on the Mac. I think Microsoft do a great job with the Mac version of Office and that’s just as well, as the Mac needs it. It’s a necessary evil.

Intel Macs
I want them. Both. Now.

That said, I think “MacBook Pro” is a clumsy, awkward name. I think this is a mistake, throwing away years of brand-building.

PowerBook rules, I hear PowerBook used these days on TV as though everyone knows what one is. PowerBook is cool. PowerBook came before the PowerPC chips, so never had any connection with them. Steve said they wanted “Mac” in the name. So, what will the new iBooks be called? And the new Power Mac? Mac Pro? Puh-lease!

iLife '06, Podcasting, Intel and Feeder

Wednesday, January 11th, 2006

So what of Macworld and its impact on yours truly?

The Intel Macs look good. Their release comes much sooner than originally expected and it’s going to take me a little while to build my apps as universal binaries so they’ll run natively on Intel. I never got the Developer Transition Kit because by the time I was ready to order the web was thick with rumours of these real Macs coming and I don’t have money to throw around on computers I have to give back. (Update: Apple is running the DTK Exchange program now – damn!)

So it’s going to take me as long as it takes to get an Intel Mac, build my apps and test them all out. Feeder also uses third-party frameworks for functionality such as FTP, so they could cause some problems, but I don’t really expect any. The point is that I’m committed to doing this ASAP.

Then there is iLife ’06, which has lots of new stuff to do with podcasting. Garageband has tons of neat features to make putting a show together easy and to help with audio production. It can also create enhanced podcasts (i.e. in AAC format with chapters) and post them to .Mac with iWeb. iMovie does much the same with video podcasts. All this will be great for beginners, but as I see it, there are plenty of limitations.

I’m just going on what’s on the web but it seems that while Garageband can record and encode AACs, for MP3s you’ll still need to encode your recording with iTunes (or something like LAME) and add the tags, artwork, etc. Most podcasts are in MP3 format, because AACs only really play in iTunes and on iPods. Fine if you’re sure your listeners have these, but MP3 is truly ubiquitous.

Secondly, iWeb’s blog is lacking in interactivity. This is a major part of podcasting (and indeed, blogging), where listeners feed back through comments, etc. Not everyone uses Garageband either, preferring more professional apps such as SoundTrack Pro, Peak, etc, although maybe these features will change that.

So, I think iLife ’06 provides an excellent way to get started in podcasting, but for those who want a proper blog, already have their own web site and / or existing podcast then they will still need tools to help them with their podcasts and that’s where apps like Feeder and Podcast Maker come in. Same goes for RapidWeaver and Sandvox with respect to iWeb – RealMac Software and Karelia can go places Apple won’t go, because Apple relies on integrating its own products with .Mac to make things as simple as possible.

Now, which Intel Mac should I buy?

Macworld SF 2006

Monday, January 9th, 2006

We can only wonder what Steve Jobs can announce at Macworld tomorrow, but it will be interesting to find out.

For starters, rumours of Mactels making an appearance over the last few months seem too strong to ignore. Once it seemed these wouldn’t show up any time appear before Spring, but it’s perfectly possible for them to be previewed now and made available later. New iBooks and a new Mac Mini perhaps?

A preview of Leopard? I would say probably not. Leopard isn’t expected to be released until the end of the year or the beginning of next year, with Apple keeping plenty under its hat until Windows Vista makes it out into the world. If it ever does. It would make more sense to save Leopard until WWDC in the summer, particularly as you have to wonder how much of it would be ready to be shown.

We know there will be iLife ’06 – every year this suite gets an upgrade and a mention of this appeared accidentally on the iLife support pages last week, along with mention of iWeb, which sounds like a new desktop application that will work with .Mac. Certainly .Mac appears to be woefully lacking lately. It just doesn’t do the things people want to do on the web these days.

If Karelia‘s hunch is right and iWeb is a desktop web authoring application like their own Sandvox (which they released as a public beta today in response to the rumours), it would also have implications for RealMac Software’s excellent RapidWeaver. I downloaded the public beta for Sandvox today, I’m not sure what the differences are between these two apps yet.

Anything for podcasters? Well, iWeb could incorporate podcast-savvy blogging and it would be surprising if GarageBand didn’t gain something in that department.

There is also speculation about an upgrade to iWork, which wouldn’t be suprising. iWork is nice, but hardly set the world on fire thanks to the lack of a spreadsheet application. Saying that, spreadsheet applications hardly set the world on fire anyway, so I don’t see this as being a major thing.

Then there are these rumours, which may be premature, about Front Row 2.0 becoming available for every Mac and having the ability to stream, with some nifty caching, full movies and the like from your iDisk. As .Mac is due to go down for scheduled maintenance from 7:00am to 12:00pm PST tomorrow, it certainly seems like something big will happen there – but maybe that’s just to support iWeb.

Considering the impact of iPods on Apple’s bottom line it would seem like some announcement there would be mandatory. The iPod Shuffle has been around a while now and seems the most likely candidate for an upgrade, considering the nano and everything. Or maybe they’ll do away with the Shuffle and just do cheaper, smaller nanos.

One more thing? Who knows! Often there is that surprise element, the one that made it under the radar, something nobody even considered. Certainly with all the other rumours on the web, there has been enough smoke and fog to conceal a surprise.

Have I left anything out?

Whatever happens, we can look forward to a great show from Apple. Macworld is an excellent way to kick of another new year as a Mac user!

NewsFire & Feeder

Sunday, October 16th, 2005

To update a previous post, NewsFire 1.2 (v44) is now available and includes Feeder in the list of weblog editor applications, so anyone out there who wants to send news items to Feeder from NewsFire can now do so.

NewsFire author David Watanabe was also very helpful when he found problems with Feeder’s support for the weblog editor interface, and I rectified those in Feeder 1.2.3 earlier this week. Thanks, David!