Dear Tim…

I like the way Apple work. I like their vertically integrated approach and dedication to pushing the boundaries of technology. Life inside Steve’s walled garden is pretty epic, but that doesn’t mean to say there aren’t things I would change. After the release of Lion, the standing down of Uncle Steve and with iOS 5 imminent, now seems like a good time to list my annoyances and suggestions.

First off, let me say that customised notification sounds for texts/emails/etc on iOS is a super massive win, the same for unified notifications. If these weren’t features in iOS 5 then they would be near the very top of my list.

1. When you are sending a text message, right after you have hit send, the name of the recipient is replaced with “Sending…”. This lasts for all of two seconds, but feels like an eternity when you think you may have sent that text to the wrong person. The level of terror is heightened by the fact that there is no option to cancel the text.

2. Sure, I now have the option to merge folders, but Finder still feels awkward to use as none of the views feel quite right. I don’t like the way that files moves around the mouse pointer when you are dragging them either.

3. When I connect my iPhone to my MBP, it irks me that I have to launch iTunes in order to sync my contacts, calendar, photos, etc. Bring back iSync!

4. I would like to be able to combine my FaceTime account on my phone with the one on my Mac, so that both “ring” and I can answer either.

5. I know that you can get other browsers for iOS, but what’s the point if the first time I click on a link it immediately opens Safari? Allow me to choose the default browser the same way I would on my Mac.

6. An air like MBP. Lose the optical drive, add support for the external SuperDrive (maybe a new ThunderBolt version?). Replace the HDD with a phat SSD.

7. A pony. I’d quite like a pony.

The List (I’m back bitch)

That’s right, the blog that shudders at the thought of conformity is back and ready to take aim on, well, everything. My enforced absence from the blogosphere lasted only about a month, but lots of stuff sparked my interest in this time and so I ended up working on several posts simultaneously and so without further ado, I bring you “The List”. “What’s the list?” I hear you ask, well I’ll just starting counting things off of it and I’ll let you figure it out.

  1. You know those adverts for HD content on Sky, one has Wayne Rooney in, well if you don’t have a Sky HD box then you haven’t seen it in HD. And yes fuckwit, even if you’ve got an HD tele, that means you.
  2. Between the Lord’s selling their votes to the highest bidder, through the complete ineptitude of the Speaker and on to the MPs greedily playing the expenses system for everything they can get. You all suck and you all have to go. And before anyone suggests that a General Election should be postponed until after the investigation into expenses has been concluded, I’d like to add that even if an election is called tomorrow an investigation should still be performed and anyone found to have stolen money from the tax payer should be prosecuted, regardless of whether they have paid the money back. Floating duck island my arse. None of you are sorry for what you did, you’re just sorry you got caught.
  3. I know she’s covered by the previous item, but she needs a special mention. Did anyone really need any additional reasons to dislike Hazel Blears? Can everyone say tax fraud?
  4. I’ve been on a bit of a binge recently, I’ve been consuming books about software development, and in particular C++ software development, at quite a rate and Scott Meyers’ books were recommended by quite a collection of people (a hashmap?). A lot of what I’ve read so far makes perfect sense; I’ve come across lots of items that have made me cringe when thinking about my own code and plan to do some serious refactoring because of this, but two things (so far) have struck me as really wrong: variables with names like ‘a’ (sure you can get away with ‘i’ or ‘it’ in a loop, but how does naming a variable ‘a’ help anybody) and splitting the contents of header files into two separate header files, one for declarations and one for definitions (just no). Expect further posts on this subject.
  5. Did you see last weeks edition of Click, it was a Windows 7 special? First came the Super Bar, then came the new improved Live Search and finally multitouch, or the Dock, Spotlight and erm, multitouch as they are known to OS X users. So not that ground breaking then, especially as the only laptop that the BBC could find that supported multitouch was a Mac. You just know that these features won’t work as well in Windows 7 as they do in OS X and for that reason Windows 7 is on/in the list, well that and the stupid Window shaking thing – see what happens when Micro$oft try to think like Apple.
  6. I tried to find out how my attempts to repay my student loan were going this week, but unfortunately they only have records for up to March 2008. Fine, Focus RS it is then.
  7. E Stan Kroenke, the owner of the Denver Nuggets, decided that his team wasn’t going to do it in the playoffs and so booked the WWE to perform in his arena this past Monday night. Unfortunately for Enos, the Nuggets did make it to the playoffs. Uh oh, double booking. No biggie, just turf the WWE out, to hell with the fans. Douchebag (great word).

Like I said, I’m back.

I want to be a minority!

A new product called U-Tag was brought to my attention recently, the premise is that it is a USB key that is worn as a dog tag and contains all of your emergency contact/medical information. It was designed for use by motorcyclists, or donors as they’re known in A&E (thanks Neil), but I thought that it would be a good alternative to my own stainless steel MedicAlert dog tag (worn to inform people of my serious allergy to certain medicines). I also thought that it would be a good idea for my Dad, who has had a heart attack and a stroke, and has a list of pills as long as the Nile (which would be very important for anyone treating him to have).

I visited the website and all looked good, until I discovered that they only support Windows users. [Insert joke about Windows users being most likely to crash here]. I emailed them to enquire about this completely uneccessary limitation:

I saw your product and thought it was a great idea. I currently wear a stainless steel dog tag which lists my allergies and other information, but currently would require someone to use the telephone number on it to contact Medic Alert to find out details of my medications etc. I also think it would be a good idea for my Dad, who has suffered a heart attack and stroke and has a long list of medication.

Why then do you only offer support for Windows users? I own a Mac, as do all of my friends. I also have access to a Linux machine, but no Windows boxes. I am a software engineer, and cannot see why you cannot display the data in html format, so that anyone can view it. You could easily have three different applications (one for each OS) for editing the data. Maybe I am missing something?

Their response:

Thank you for your question. The software is in Windows format because this is the most common operating system. It is extensively used throughout the emergency services and medical professions.

Yes, we could have gone straight to a HTML editor and produced a HTML file for all to read. After investigation, the security was not at a high enough level cross platform. Hence only going to windows. The software runs in windows directly from the USB device with no installation. We are currently recommending MAC users enter there details on a PC either a friends, a local library or internet cafe. The process is quick and intuitive.

I hope that answers your question, we are most defiantly not anti MAC far from it. All out design work was created using them. It was shear weight of numbers.

I decided that this was unacceptable, so I emailed them again:

Thank you for your response, it does explain things somewhat. However, I find it hard to believe that you can site security as the reason for not using HTML and then recommened entering personal medical information at an internet cafe or library. This is in addition to the fact that Windows (pick any version) is far from a secure operating system itself.

Anyway, thank you again for your response, maybe you can let me know when you become Mac friendly.

Regards,

Jo

P.S. Mac and not MAC, that mistake is guaranteed to upset any Apple fanboy, like me!

So I guess that makes me a discriminated against minority! Cool!

Update: One of the lead developers for this product took the time to email me personally, from a cramped bus in the Middle East, to inform me that they are in fact working on a Mac version of this product!

Keychain Madness

My Mac has recently been exhibiting a problem, whereby my keychain would need unlocking after I had logged in to my account, normally when I started Mail (which is the first thing I do when I start my Mac).

Long story short, your keychain password needs to be the same as your account password, if you want it to auto unlock, otherwise you will have to unlock it separately. You can change your keychain password by using Keychain Access, which you can find under Utilities in your Applications folder. Right click “login” from the keychains list and select “Change Password for keychain…”, I think you can manage from there.

iStatSlow

Just a quickie, but for a while now I have been experiencing really slow boot and shutdown times in Leopard. I looked on all the forums and lots of people seemed to be having the same problem. I consulted the system logs and found lots of scary looking errors, but after searching the forums again, I decided that the stuff in the logs was, in fact, normal.

The official Apple advice for this issue is to do an “Archive and Install”, something which I had not wanted to try, but last night I did it. No difference at all, except my Apache web server configuration went hinky and had to be restored. Then about ten minutes ago, I found an entry on a forum which suggested that iStatPro was causing the slowdown in some cases. I ditched the widget and things are *much* faster. iStatPro, more like iStatSlow!

OS X Cougar

That’s right Steve, I just high-jacked your blog subject! How do you like me now! No seriously, Steve’s post got me to thinking about what features I would like to see from the next iteration of OS X and quite a list ensued.

  • Ability to set Google search widget in Safari, to use .co.uk instead of .com.
  • Extension of the ability of TextEdit to read/write MS Word 2007 format files (this feature is possibly another argument for ditching MS Office altogether).
  • Config tool for the built in Apache web server. This would enable noobies to set up a webserver without having to learn Vi – we don’t want to scare them off.
  • Screen with a camera built in to the centre. This would mean that you could actually look at the person you are talking to, instead of appearing to be completely uninterested in the conversation.
  • Built in FTP application, something akin to CyberDuck.
  • GUI standardisation. Have you noticed how some of the apps have square buttons and some have “pill” shaped buttons? Sort it out Apple.
  • A replacement/rebrand/breakup of iTunes. iTunes is no longer just for ‘choons’, it is effectively a feature rich, media focused, version of Finder (which curiously has inherited some features of iTunes itself). Oh, and it has some built in iSync support. I would prefer to see iTunes and Finder munged together and rebranded.

What do you think?