iPhone 6 Day is Upon Us! Thoughts from Yesterday

Yesterday, Apple announced the iPhone 6…

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My diary thoughts from yesterday at :

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“As I sit here, I’m watching the countdown at Apple’s Live Event page. There’s about an hour and a half left until the start of the event. Today, is supposed to be a very big day.

My wife asked me what all the hub-bub was about and how did I know that “something magical” was going to happen today. I told her because “all of this was fabulous.”

She didn’t buy it.

I then told her that today was the biggest Apple announcement day since 2007 (the announcement of the original iPhone) because the event is purported to launch not only two different iPhone 6 models, but the iWatch as well.

Also on tap are update to iPad, though these aren’t supposed to be as big a deal as the iPhone and iWatch announcements.

Of all the days in history, Apple Day is the biggest day, ever…well at least according to @zackwhittaker

I’ll have more on this in the days that follow the announcement.”

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Quickly and permanently uninstall apps from your Mac with AppCleaner

AppCleanerEvery computer user has the exact same problem. You install apps that you want to try, decide you don’t like for one reason or another, and then uninstall them. Unfortunately, regardless of what desktop OS you use, not all the files that the app installed or created while using it are always deleted. If you’re on a Mac, you can solve this kind of problem with App Cleaner. It’s an uninstall utility, and its small, and very easy to use.

AppCleaner allows you to thoroughly uninstall unwanted apps. AppCleaner finds not only the app file itself, but all of the extra support and configuration files that may normally be left behind with an app’s uninstall routine.

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You can uninstall apps in one of two ways – via drag and drop or you can have the app search your Mac for installed apps and uninstall those with 2 clicks. If you know the app you want to remove, you can open the app folder in a Finder window, locate the app, and then drag and drop its icon on to the AppCleaner window. From there, AppCleaner will search for all related files, display them for you, and total up the amount of space that would be freed up after the app is deleted.

AppCleaner is an awesome app. It finds all of the related preference and associated files with any app you want to install, and then removes them. The app is small, quick and easy to use and removes Widgets and other files (like plug-ins and app extensions) as well. The app is donationware and free to use on any and all Macs you have in the house. This is a must have for everyone.

download AppCleaner

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Quickly and easily create and modify text and HTML/XML files with TextWrangler

Quickly and easily create and modify text and HTML/XML files with this industry leading text editor for Mac.

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Today, many people write their own apps. Finding the right editor or tool to write the code in, can be a challenge. Some times you just want to code and not bring up the how IDE or you have an idea and just want to quickly jot it down without running a huge program. Its for this reason I really like TextWrangler. It’s a professional, but budget featured, HTML and text editor for Mac.

TextWrangler is a general-purpose text editor for light-duty composition, text file editing and manipulation of other text-oriented data. TextWrangler supports working with both plain-text and Unicode files. However, TextWrangler does not support files written using right-to-left writing systems, such as Hebrew or Arabic.

TextWrangler has some pretty cool features. It can do single and multi-file search and replace functions, with file filtering options. It has flexible grep-style pattern-based searching capabilities, based on PCRE (Perl-Compatible Regular Expression). You can also use the app to do a DIFF between two files and then merge the differences into a single file.

If you’re coding, then you need to take a look at TextWrangler. Aside from being free, the app has a number of programming functions that coders of all experience levels will appreciate. It has support for unlimited undo/redo as well as multiple clipboards so you can copy and paste a number of different code snippets from one or more files into others that you may be working on. The app also supports splittable editing windows so that you can view two different locations in a file at the same time. Again, this is an awesome app and one that I will likely be using as I learn to code.

 

Download

 

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The Pomp and Circumstance of Windows 9

It won’t be as big a deal as you might think, if all goes as planned.

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Microsoft is truly experiencing some monumental growing pains. Over the past seven years, its produced three version OS revisions – Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8. Two of the three releases – or 66% of their Windows related releases – were train wrecks. Thankfully, Office, though struggling to remain relevant with so many different and available free alternatives on the internet, hasn’t been as big of a problem.

Windows on the other hand… yeah. Microsoft will be happy to be past once of their more recent and much bigger OS mistakes. With their next release of Windows, currently known as Threshold, Microsoft is going to take a much different approach. Hopefully, they’ll be able to wash the stigma of Windows 8 away when Threshold makes its initial, public debut at the end of September – beginning of October 2014 with its Developer or Public Preview (whatever they decide to call the release).

According to Larry Dignan, Windows Threshold has a few key, critical points it needs to accomplish

– Microsoft needs to allow Windows 8 to die. The Vista analogies are really starting to be problematic
– Windows needs to find a way to be more touch centric
– Windows needs to find a better way to incorporate its ecosystem into its core functionality
– Windows needs to find a better way to incorporate faster releases into is development methodology
– Windows need to find a better way to be cloud focused

Obviously, Microsoft is hoping to find a better way to do all of these things with Threshold than with Windows 8; but as I said its not just Windows 8 that they need to live down, its much of what has happened with Windows since the release of Windows Vista in 2007, nearly 8 years from the initial introduction of Threshold. In this way, they can (hopefully and) finally leave Windows 8 behind.

While Windows has been touch capable since the original introduction of the TabletPC in 2000, the operating system hasn’t been really touch-centric at all. With the introduction of the iPad in 2010, Apple changed the way people interacted with their computers. Keyboards and mice are no longer required. Your finger is now your mouse, and an on-screen keyboard is great for short typing tasks. However, Windows really needs to change the way users interact with their computers. Right now, while you CAN use your finger to point and click, Windows isn’t optimized for touch, and its main method of interaction is not touch based (and that’s the biggest reason why Windows 8 is an Enterprise non-starter…). Until Windows is finger friendly, its going to have a problem in the consumer market where touch is becoming more mainstream.

One of the biggest problems Windows currently has is that its ecosystem is full of holes. Microsoft tried to lock it down with the implementation of Windows RT and the Windows Store; but as RT is a huge non-starter, I don’t see how Microsoft plans to fill them if the solution has anything to do with RT, but that’s another story.

Microsoft still has to figure out what to do with media – music, movies, TV – related content and how to bring that into both their mobile app and desktop app stores. Until they crack this nut, there’s going to be a huge problem with content sales in the Microsoft ecosystem. Currently, its very disjointed and very problematic. Whatever they do, they need to make sure that the store is unified and has content for both Windows Phone and Desktop Windows.

Microsoft’s development methodology and release schedule is also a concern at this time. They need to figure out how to provide more rapid releases; but they need to do it in a way where speed isn’t the only thing that people should see coming out of a new release schedule. Microsoft has to provide meaningful updates, features and patches quickly, in the same manner as Apple and many of the Linux distributions do.

There are rumors about Microsoft doing away with Patch Tuesday. While this may be a good thing – Microsoft needs to change the way the public views Windows and Windows Update – its got to be implemented the right way. Quicker is not necessarily better. Microsoft needs to figure out a way to eliminate security holes and other high ranking bugs internally, before they get out to the public.

To this end, they’re remaking the way they do testing. As this is an area of expertise for me, I’m interested in what they do and how they do it. Whatever their solution is, it needs to inspire a renewed sense of confidence in not only Windows and the rest of Microsoft’s products, but with the way Microsoft does business; and ultimately, in Microsoft itself.

Finally, Windows, and ultimately Microsoft, needs to find a way to be more cloud focused. Having a cloud based storage tool – Microsoft OneDrive – isn’t enough. Windows is local storage based and has been since 1990 blah, blah, blah. They need to figure out a way to be more cloud focused with their apps as well as with the data. Simply putting the data in a Dropbox-like cloud-based drive isn’t enough to make either Windows, Office, or any other Microsoft app, cloud focused. Cloud focused does not mean remote vs. local storage.

Microsoft has to provide a way to create and provide cloud based services that either don’t exist on the traditional Windows side of the world, or they need to provide new ones that replace their traditional products and services. Office 365 is a start, but its not the end of the story.

In the end, the results that Microsoft hopes to see and get from all of this is a de-emphasis of Windows – and every other Microsoft product, including Office – and a reemphasis on Microsoft as a company, service producer and cloud-based solution provider. To that end, you’ll notice that the next version of Windows as a product will be surrounded by less pomp and circumstance than previous versions; and that will be a very good thing. If there’s one thing that Satya Nadella knows, it’s the cloud. He’s been living in it for quite a few years at Microsoft. Hopefully, this new strategy will help Microsoft turn a corner and get its groove back.

What do you think? How should Microsoft handle the release of the next version of Windows? Should it be as cloud focused as I’m saying it should be? Is the status quo for Microsoft good enough? Why don’t you join me in the Discussion area, below and give me your thoughts on all of this? I’d love to hear from you.

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Read your favorite eBooks on your Mac or on your PC with Kindle

Read your favorite eBooks on your Mac or on your PC with some of the best software available on the internet.

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I’ve been an eBook advocate since 2002 when I began reading books with Microsoft Reader. It was one of the best main streamed options at the time, AND it worked well with PocketPC’s, which, in my opinion were the best kind of PDA on the market at the time. (Truth be told, I was never fond of PalmOS or Blackberries, the other two major mobile choices at the time).

Amazon is the king of eBooks, and has been since the modern smartphone came into being after the introduction of the original iPhone back in 2007. Their Kindle hardware was revolutionary Their Kindle software available for any number of smartphones as well as your Windows PC or Mac allows you to read your eBooks where and when you want; and the software, is a total must have.

Kindle is a free application that lets you read Kindle eBooks on your Windows PC or on you Mac. Kindle offers most of the features you would find on a Kindle, Kindle DX, or other Kindle applications for computers and mobile devices. The best thing about it is that it allows you to automatically save and sync your last read page and all of your annotations across all your Kindle devices and hardware. You can also browse Amazon’s huge eBook library and purchase as well as download and read thousands of books from the Kindle Store.

The software interface is customizable. You can change font sizes and adjust the number of words that appear on each line. You can also change the number of columns that appear on a single page. If you’re reading a book for school or some other academic project, you’ll be pleased to know that you can add and view notes and highlights in your books. You’ll also be able to sync your annotations to all your Kindle apps and devices. You can even view Kindle Print Replica books, which are exact replicas of physical textbooks.

Amazon’s Kindle app is, in my opinion, the best eBook reading app available today. It is powered by the Kindle Store, which has the biggest library of eBooks on the internet. The software is device agnostic, meaning you can put the software on just about any computing device you have – PC, Mac, iDevice, Android, Windows Phone, etc. – and it will sync your progress across all devices. The only issue I have with the app is that its not easy to put non-Kindle eBooks in the app. It will work with ePub, but you might have to convert older eBooks to ePub (or other compatible format), and that isn’t always the easiest thing to do.

Download 

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Quickly swap between your PC and your smartphone with Omnipaste

One of the biggest features of OSX 10.10 Yosemite is Continuity.  With it, your Mac and your iPhone are connected via BT-LE and you can stop and start working with documents and data on one of your devices and then the other. The big problem with this, however, is that that feature only works between a Mac running Yosemite and an iPhone running iOS 8.  While most Apple users may have this combination, Windows users using Android smartphones will be left out in the cold – until now.  Thanks to Omnipaste, Android Phone users will have the same type of opportunity with their devices on Windows machines.

Omnipaste allows you to share copied text between your Windows PC and your Android phone.  The app works in nearly the same way as the connection between a Mac and an iPhone.  Information is automatically and immediately passed between your Windows PC and your Android phone as soon as you copy the information to one of the device’s clipboards.

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With Omnipaste’s Smart Clippings, you can search for information on your PC and then copy the data to your clipboard.  When it syncs to your Android phone, you can call (if you copied a phone number) or navigate to a destination (if you copied a street address).  Smart Clippings makes integrating your total computing experience more complete.

One of the coolest things about Omnipaste is its ability to pass notifications from your Android device to your Windows PC. If your devices are connected, you’ll know when your phone rings or when you get a text message.  Both will display on your PC.

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There’s a great deal of potential here. This is a totally awesome app.  While there are some opportunities for improvement here, if you’re an Android user, then you really need to check this out.  I think this is going to be one of the biggest apps of the year.

While the app doesn’t support Windows Phone as yet, it is on the company’s development road map.  Other planned features include the ability to use your Windows PC as a speaker phone instead of just a caller ID station.  The only feature that didn’t work for me was navigation integration when copying over a street address. I’m not sure if that’s because Google Maps put line feed/ carriage returns in the address I copied, or if it was something else.  However, if you have a Windows PC and an Android Phone, this is a must, MUST have.

download Omnipaste

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OS X Yosemite Developer Preview 6: Mac and iOS Integration

Here is the status of the other issues I’ve been speaking to over the past few beta releases.

Installation and Startup

Yosemite DP6 was delivered as an UPDATE to DP5. There isn’t a full download, and I don’t know why. When I went to redeem the install code that I got with my Developer Program Membership, the App Store told me it was already redeemed.

The update appeared in the App Store and installed without issue.  Restart was quicker than with DP5. Performance since then has been better than with previous versions of Yosemite.

Mac and iOS Integration

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Yosemite and iOS 8 when paired together truly provide a remarkable Apple experience.  The only problem I’ve encountered so far is that the reality isn’t measuring up to the vision.  I’m hopeful that future releases of the OS fulfill the vision before its ready for the public release of the new desktop OS.

Phone Calls
This is perhaps the coolest thing I’ve seen in Yosemite so far. Continuity might be cool, but iOS integration is the bomb. I love the fact that I can use my Mac as a speaker phone. However, this is the part of the vision that isn’t really quite there yet. Perhaps is the fan issue that I mentioned earlier (partially, I think), perhaps is the Bluetooth audio quality between my Mac and my iPhone 5 (more likely).  Whatever the issue and cause might be, there’s still a lot of work that needs to get done in order to have this feature working correctly.

If there’s one feature that Apple can really work on more than any other, this is what I would prefer they spend their time working on.  More than any other Yosemite feature I think this is the one that I will personally get the most use out of. I can actually see me using this one a lot.  I’m all over my iPhone and there’s no reason why my Mac and iPhone 5 shouldn’t be able to handle the full load required to make this feature truly rock.

Messages
In previous versions of OS X Yosemite and iOS 8, messages didn’t quite live up to the vision that Craig Federighi outlined at the WWDC Keynote.  Messages has always handled iOS messaging well. (Honestly, it should…it was designed to do just that.)  Where it fell short was non-iOS messaging – sending and receiving messages between a Mac or iOS device and a non-Mac or non-iOS device.

In Yosemite DP6, this appears to be working as designed.  Not only are non-iOS messages received correctly (as they were in previous betas), but you can now send messages to that non-iOS or non-Apple device without any issues.  I really have to hand it to Apple. They make communicating with non-Apple-centric devices on your Mac, very easy now.  This is the way that Messages should have worked from the beginning.

FaceTime
I think this is the area where most of the Mac and iOS integration issues are stemming from, but I could be wrong.  It seems that Apple is wanting FaceTime to be the PC based hub for all non-written communications integration between your Mac and your iPhone.  All of your call history from your iPhone is synchronized with FaceTime when the phone is physically connected to your Mac.  This includes not only your cellular calls, but FaceTime audio and video calls as well.

When you want to make a cellular call from your Mac, you can use either FaceTime or you can use Contacts to find the number. I’ve noticed that regardless of what desktop app you use, searching for a number is delayed as the app tries to search through your contacts for the search string you’re actively typing.  The more contacts you have, the longer the delay.  While this was more pronounced in earlier beta’s, this is still an issue here in DP6.

The audio quality here is still very, VERY bad.  For personal or casual calls, its not that big of a deal.  For business calls, I would not use this feature yet.  You’re just going to have to hang up and call them from your iPhone or a land line.

One of the biggest problems that I have with this particular feature is that the integration at times seems a bit too tight.  Its still very difficult to get my Mac to actually answer the call.  It takes a bit to get the call to really connect/answer.  If you try to answer a call from your iPhone, the call has issues reverting back to the handset… and your Mac continues to ring, even after you’ve gotten the call to answer on the  iPhone.   There needs to be a better hand off between the iPhone and the Mac in this situation.  Apple needs to lock in the hook a bit better and then allow for easy – or better yet – easier unhooking as well.  Right now, the integration between the two needs some strengthening and needs a better, more reliable way of – uh-hem, consciously uncoupling – when you need it to.

Personally, I think there’s a problem relying on FaceTime on the desktop to drive desktop communications and integration between your Mac and your iPhone.  Don’t get me wrong. It makes sense.  However, Apple is totally rewriting FaceTime and its exposing and creating a lot of holes.

The biggest issue right now is that all of the changes are effecting the FaceTime service.  This may be part of what is causing the spike in my fan RPM’s.  There’s likely some kind of FaceTime Stub that runs when your Mac starts, but for some reason isn’t properly activating when needed.

For example, FaceTime video calls don’t always ring on my Mac, even when FaceTime is running on my Mac. I can’t tell you have aggravating that is. When I’m home, I’d much rather take ALL communications – FaceTime Audio/Video as well as cellular calls – through my Mac than on my iPhone.  It should just be a connected, unused accessory when recognized by your Mac, especially if its physically cabled to your Mac.  This is yet another weak integration link that needs to be tightened up quickly.  We’re running out of time in the DP/ Beta time period.

Conclusion

In true Apple fashion, OS X Yosemite 10.10 Developer Preview 6/ Public Beta 2 is an evolutionary update to Developer Preview 5/ Public Beta 1.  Its clear that progress is being made, but at this point, Apple’s standard incremental BS has got to stop. They need to step on the gas and really tighten up their code between their two-week sprints.  Otherwise, I’m not entirely convinced that they’re going to realize the vision that Craig Federighi outlined for us about three or so months ago.  I would hate for the realization of this vision to not be fulfilled until 10.10.2 or 10.10.3.  That would be a bit too late, don’t you think?

When its all said and done, Yosemite should be a really cool OS release. This is some of the coolest stuff I’ve seen on a PC since the introduction of the original iPAQ 3600 back in the day.  The integration is unprecedented, and some of the most innovative work that has been completed since the introduction of the mouse back in 1984.  I’d like to see Microsoft introduce cutting edge features like this that enhance the feature set in Windows (rather than completely remaking the face of it, as MetroUI did).

And speaking of YOUR opinion, I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this. I’ve really tried not to rah-rah too much in Apple’s direction. I don’t want to come off as a fan boy too much.  Yes, there’s a lot to like here; but I hope I’m being critical enough to provide as well rounded an opinion as possible.

So, what do you think?  Are you using any of the Apple Beta’s?  Are you a registered developer and have DP6 installed?  Were you able to download a full release of DP6, or did you get it as an update as I did? Do you have a Thunderbolt Display?  Are you having fan issues on your Mac when the Display is connected?  I know I’m using it as a docking station (I’ve got all of the ports filled on the back of the Display); but I didn’t think that would be an issue that would cause the Mac’s fan RPM’s to spike and remain high as they have.

Why don’t you meet me in the discussion area below and let me know what you think of these new developments.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this, as I’d like to be able to focus some of my comments and attention on your issues as the DP and Beta periods come to a close.

back to OS X Yosemite Developer Preview 6: Introduction

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OS X Yosemite Developer Preview 6: Introduction

I’ve been working with Yosemite DP6.  Let’s see where we are…

Introduction

yosemiteAbout a week ago, Apple released a few new bits and bobbles to not only its development network, but to its public beta team as well.  I’ve been working with

  • Yosemite DP 6/ Yosemite Public Beta 2
  • iTunes 12 Beta 2

And I’ve got an update for everyone.  Please note that iOS 8 Beta 6 was only released to Apple’s Carrier Partners, and not to its regular developer network.  I’m not certain if that means that they feel that Beta 6 is in a good spot, or if they simply want AT&T, Verizon and the Gang to check on specific compatibility issues.  We should know somewhere after 2014-09-02, as the next release in Apple’s beta cycle should be on or about that day.

So, without further delay, here’s the update on the issues and features that I’ve been reporting on over the past few of months.  I’m going to give  a general update on the two bullets, above.

iTunes 12 Beta 2
Oy.

I’m very concerned here.  Again, Apple seems to have a habit of rewriting everything from the ground up when it makes full revisions as opposed to updates during point revisions.  Generally speaking, Beta 2 is a bit of an improvement over Beta 1, but the app messed the bed when it comes to updating an iDevice.

I tried to restore my iPhone 5 to a clean version of Beta 5.  After choosing the appropriate update file, iTunes unpacked the file and put my iPhone 5 in update mode…and then promptly force quit. Restarting iTunes immediately caused the app to force quit.  Pulling the iPhone off the cable allowed iTunes to run normally. Connecting my iPhone in update mode caused iTunes to immediately force quit; and created a vicious circle of issues when trying to update my iPhone. Every time the device was connected to my Mac while in update mode, it caused iTunes to force quit. It could not, would not update my phone.

I’ve reported the bug to Apple, but I don’t know when it will be addressed.  Officially, its been tagged as a duplicate, even though it was filed BEFORE the issue that is being worked.  I don’t know why; and I find it very interesting and very frustrating. My bug should be the unique bug.

OS X Yosemite DP 6
The OS shows signs of maturing, and generally, I’m pleased with the way things are going However, my one unique bug of the fans ramping up with a Thunderbolt Display and staying ramped up for hours.  I’ve had my MBP connected for more than 24 hours at a time, and shortly after it boots,  the fans ramp up to 5000-6000 RPM’s and stay there…the entire time the notebook is on and connected.

This bug has also been filed with Apple and I’ve not seen any response to it at this point. I find this very frustrating, as I prefer to use my Mac with the 27″ display as opposed to the notebook screen.  When I’m remote, the notebook screen is fine, of course, but if I have a chance to work with it with desktop components, I’d prefer to do that.  Having a desktop experience when I’m stationary is preferable for my type of work.

go to OS X Yosemite Developer Preview 6: Mac and iOS Integration

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