Tuesday, November 30, 2004

breathing new life into...

(originally posted at pixeljuice.livejournal.com)

into nothing, really. i'm just testing out ecto with various web-based publishing platforms. i remembered i had this old livejournal account and wouldn't you know, it seems to still work.

go fig.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Nintendo's New Portable

(originally posted at bigbadgeek.com)

The Register has an interesting story about what could be some leaked specs on the new Nintendo portable system - possibly dubbed the Nintendo Nitro.

It had been confirmed early on that this would be a double-screened device, which led me to question where the buttons would reside if it were a clamshell design.  The possibility of a tri-fold device dawned on me, but just didn't seem too likely.  The leaked document claims the device will have at least one touch screen.  This makes a whole lot of sense, but I'm not sold on whether it's a good idea.  Let's explore...

Nintendo's GameCube controller has one main "A" button and on diminutive "B" button which are the basis for most menu-driven game controls.  The "A" button (cleverly colored green) accepts a selected menu item and the "B" button (just as cleverly colored red) cancels selections or backs out of the menu.  During normal gameplay, these buttons (along with X/Y support buttons) take on a "virtual" quality - where their use is context-sensitive.  Their current context is usually displayed on the screen in the form of "A will now attack!" and the like.

Couple this with Nintendo's use of the GBA as an input device and support screen for some GameCube games.  In Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, the GBA is used as an extra menu system, but also shows maps and meta-data that you wouldn't normally have access to in the game.

So ask yourself, what lessons might Nintendo have learned from these experiences?

It sounds to me, that with the use of a touch-screen, Nintendo is looking to take input to a completely new level by making it completely virtual - an experience to be programmed by the game designers, not limited to the hardware.  You'd have a clamshell device with a main screen on one side and a support/input screen on the other.  This would allow developers to create input zones of arbitrary size and number, and at the same time use the input screen to display gameplay meta-data.  Sound neat, sound innovative?  You bet.

Here's the problem: people like the tactile sensation of mashing buttons with their fingers.  No, I don't have any evidence to back that up other than common sense and a myriad of gameplay hours since I was young.  What's more, with the GameCube's controller and virtual button setup, you could instantly pick up any GC game and almost instantly know which buttons do what.  If developers are allowed to go wild on interface design, that level of cohesion is lost.

Also in the specs are shockers like 802.11 and hardware-accelerated 3d graphics.  But those are side issues for me.  What's up with the touch screen, Nintendo?

Monday, March 08, 2004

iChat Wishlist

(originally posted at bigbadgeek.com)

About a week and a half ago, Apple responded to my iChat feature requests.

First and foremost I asked them to support XMPP-Core now that it's an IETF proposed standard.  This would effectively make iChat a multi-protocol instant messaging application.  During development of the first rev of iChat, the developers used the Jabber protocols as a model while the biz-heads worked things out with AOL.  Here's a post iChat's history.

Secondly, I asked them to fix their implementation of buddy groups.  Currently they use a drawer with checkboxes for the displaying of buddy groups.  Most other clients on the market use a tree-view, folder-list metaphor.  With their innovative implementation, Apple "fixed" something that wasn't really broken to begin with.

They responded by calling both items "known issues."  Obviously the lack of XMPP support is "known" - as it was simply a design choice.  But calling the current state of the buddy group implementation a "known issue" really surprised me.  Either they didn't really read what I wrote, or they're admitting that they made a mistake.  Either way, I hope I don't have to wait until 10.4 for the next rev of iChat.

Friday, February 27, 2004

OS X Application Roundup

(originally posted at bigbadgeek.com)

I've just finished updating my newly-serviced 15" Powerbook G4, and now I have the fun task of downloading the newest versions of my favorite applications.  Here's what makes my OS X experience so much fun:
  • BBEdit (text editor for programming projects)
  • Firefox (mozilla browser)
  • iChat AV (latest beta does AIM vidchat)
  • iPulse (graphical system monitor)
  • iRoster (rendezvous browsing)
  • iTerm (tabbed console/terminal)
  • iWork (time-tracking and invoicing)
  • MacStumbler (wifi detection)
  • mplayer (does divx better than quicktime)
  • NetNewsWire (rss/atom newsreader)
  • OmniOutliner (mind-mapping, outlining)
  • OmniWeb (innovative web browser)
  • OSXPlanet (xplanet front-end)
  • Psi (jabber client)
  • SubEthaEdit (rendezvous-enabled text editor)
  • Teleport (software kvm)
  • Vim (for quick and dirty text edits)
  • VideoLAN Client (yet another movie player)
  • WeatherPop (menuling with local weather info)
  • X-Chat Aqua (irc client)
I'm not linking to them right now because I plan on adding each of them as nodes to the wiki when it's up, that way I can document my usage.  If you want to find them, head on over to google and slap an "osx" after the application name.  Quite a list, eh?  Who says there's not enough software for the Mac platform?

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

iTunes Error

(originally posted at bigbadgeek.com)

I ran out of RAM, the iMac crashed hard, and my iTunes Music Library file became corrupted and unusable.  I'm not a big stickler for application-specific metadata, but tune ratings are an important part of my iTunes/iPod experience.  A quick trip to google yielded this tip page, which is a bit dated but still valid.

What it boils down to is: if you have a valid .xml file but not an iTunes Music Library file, import the .xml file and you'll be fine.  If you've got a particularly large .xml file (mine's 16 megs!) it'll take quite a while to re-import.

On the one hand, it's a pain.  On the other, Apple could've easily kept the file format totally closed.  By choosing XML, they saved me quite a lot of time and effort.

Thursday, February 19, 2004


(originally posted at bigbadgeek.com)

Zengobi announces a sketchboard app Curio, which looks nice in theory but not something I could find much use for... at least not until Apple releases a tablet...

MacXWare announces LogoCreator - which I could've used just a week or two ago.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004


(originally posted at bigbadgeek.com)

This Teleport software is amazingly useful.  It allows you to control two Macs with one keyboard and mouse entirely through software.  It even has Rendezvous discovery for quick and painless configuration.

First come across a month or so ago over at the tao of mac, I found a review over at macosxhints and decided to give it a whirl.

Installation was easy, just drag the supplied .prefPane file to a PreferencePanes folder either in /Library or ~/Library (depending on if you want all users on the computer to have access to it).  It took two minutes to configure and to my surprise and delight even required authentication when connecting the two machines for the first time.

This is fantastic for me, because it allows me to clear up the clutter of a keyboard/mouse on my work table.  I've got a large table with a Powerbook dead-center, an iMac just left-of-center, a television to the right and peripherals to the left.  This doesn't leave much room for open books or half-full diet coke cans.

Now my table has some free space and I can control my iMac simply by "throwing" my cursor off the left-edge of my Powerbook.  Once I'm better-equipped, I may need to switch to osx2x which has similar functionality, but also lets you control machines with VNC and/or X server running on them.  Hot stuff.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Firefox 0.8

(originally posted at bigbadgeek.com)

By now you've heard that Firebird has been renamed Firefox and a 0.8 release has been, well, released.  Here are a few first impressions for the OS X user:
  • Startup time is not noticeably faster than Firebird 0.7, but it is noticeably slower than Safari 1.2.
  • Yes, you still get that tiny phantom window when you use Apple's Expose feature.
  • Woohoo! They've included DOM Inspector, I now have no reason to have the full version of Mozilla installed.
  • Yes, the new Pinstripe theme is that cool.
  • OS X hotkeys like cmd-m to minimize and shift-cmd-left/right to switch tabs still do not work.  Bummer.
  • about:plugins shows they're still working with Java 1.3.1, so still no Newsmonster support.  Argh.
Enough to get me to switch?  I dunno.  It's tempting to want to use a cross-platform browser, but I'm really only using one platform on the desktop these days anyway.