Mathematica is one of my favorite tools. I first learned about it (version 2–it is now version 8) as an undergraduate at Georgia Tech. I learned how to use it in the computer labs, but I wanted to use it in my dorm room. Unfortunately, I was reminded about the necessity of a floating-point unit to using complex calculating software at a speed faster than a sliderule; my Apple Powerbook 145B was woefully underpowered, lacking the necessary FPU that would have made Mathematica fly. As it was, I plotted one curve and it took 45 minutes to complete the operation. It was shortly after that that I upgraded to a Power Macintosh 8500, which significantly sped things along.
Mathematica was originally built by an exquisitely smart fellow named Steven Wolfram. I had the pleasure of meeting him at Georgia Tech when he come for a visit and lecture–I believe talking about his work thus far on what become his book A New Kind of Science and the upcoming release of Mathematica 3. Even though I probably didn’t say anything of substance or intelligence when I met him, he was still very polite and cordial to me.
Apparently, Mathematica’s development paralleled Steve Job’s work on the NeXT computer and then his return to Apple. Wolfram has some nice things to say about Jobs and his influence on Mathematica in the Guardian here.
Reading about robots lately has got me thinking about building some automation into my MacBook.
I have been playing around with Automator, the workflow automation software for Mac OS X. Apple has a good place to begin with learning how to use it here. Also, MacStories compiled a list of Automator actions and resources here.
Once I have something working, I will share the results here.
My Late-2008, Aluminum MacBook is back up and running with Lion, Aperture, and Office. After installation, everything is updated and running nicely. It’s too bad that Apple dropped support for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. I had considered getting back to basics for this particular Mac model, but had I done so, I would not be able to receive any security update or run the most up-to-date Safari web browser.
While restoring files, I have taken some time to trim the fat so that I have a leaner, meaner installation.
Not much else to report besides dissertation writing.
Oh, I do have some new workshops designed for the spring semester digital composition workshops. I will post those soon here so that you can have a sneak peak.
Thanks to my home built Lion install flash drive (I purchased Mac OS X through the App Store and created a bootable install drive), I am performing a nuke-and-pave on my late-2008 MacBook. As you might have read before here, I haven’t qualms about performing a reinstall. While the install is progressing, I am reading David Levy’s Love+Sex with Robots. I believe that this is the missing component to my Asimov chapter. Ah, a reboot . . .
One thing that has bothered me for a long time is the glare on the standard LCD displays on Apple’s products. When I was in Taiwan a year ago, Yufang and I invested in Moshi anti-glare screens for our iPads. They work fantastic–installation is easy, cleaning is painless, and glare is stopped.
It hadn’t occurred to me to search for a similar product for my MacBook’s glossy display. Lucky for my eyes, I was sufficiently fed up with the reflection on my MacBook’s display a few days ago that I passed the cognitive threshold to search for an anti-glare on Amazon.
The highest ratings were for Moshi’s iVisor Pro. I received it yesterday, and I have been very pleased with the results so far. It installed as easily as the one for my iPad, and it makes the screen look like a matte-finish display on older LCD displays. It is easy on my eyes, and I do not see glare from lights or my own reflection on the screen.
If you need an anti-glare solution for your Apple product, I highly recommend Moshi’s Film Protectors. Find out more about the products that they offer here.
According to a report on the International Business Times by Alistair Charlton:
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange claims that there is a “flaw” in Apples iTunes that is used by surveillance companies to take over users computers.
In a private interview with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism before giving a talk in London on Thursday, Assange claimed that governments are actively using surveillance techniques to spy on every single civilian in entire cities, storing everything about them.
If this proves true, this could be far more damning than the recent Carrier IQ debacle. However, Assange has yet to support his assertions with evidence or techniques. Could this be the next big Wikileaks break?
Taiwanese Home Guy Lucifer posted photos from around China and Taiwan of “altars” for Steve Jobs built out of his official biography by Walter Isaacson. They aren’t really altars, but they have a striking similarity to the kinds of altars a family would build for a deceased relative. A traditional altar for a deceased relative would include photos of the deceased, incense, flowers, and white candles. Go here to see all of the photos that Lucifer posted–I have included only one to the left.
I am downloading iOS 5.0.1, which I hope will alleviate the low battery life issues that I have experienced since getting the iPhone 4S. I will report back after the update.
UPDATE: Install went flawlessly after downloading 800+ MB update. Let’s see if I can go more than a day and a half to two days before needing to charge.
UPDATE 2: Downloading the iPad iOS 5.0.1 update over iTunes. However, AppleInsider reports here that Apple is also pushing updates via its i-devices wirelessly. I wish that I had thought to check Settings > General > Software Update on my iPhone 4S before plugging into iTunes earlier!
UPDATE 3: It is interesting that the iTunes update is so large, when the AppleInsider images in the link above show the over-the-air update to be only 55 MB. I assume that iTunes grabs the full iOS system install while the over-the-air update contains only the files/changes needed for the update.
It would seem that Apple is moving towards further convergence of iOS and Mac OS X in terms of their control of what gets installed and how those installed programs operate and interoperate within the OS.
One of the security innovations of iOS is sandboxing. To sandbox a program means to run a program within a secure space that limits its access to files on the systems, to other processes running, and to hardware. Essentially, the program is walled off from everything else in the running OS. This is good for security, because a single compromised app cannot bring down the rest of the OS or delete/damage files in the sandboxes of other programs or subvert the OS by direct access to the system hardware.
There are two reasons why sandboxing programs on Mac OS X bothers me:
1) Apple is enforcing these changes through its Mac App Store. Developers need Apple’s App Store more than Apple needs the developers. Apple realizes that a centralized marketplace with its ease of use will encourage users to buy and install programs from the App Store more readily than through traditional boxed software or shareware. It is only another step after making developers build their software to be sandboxed to enforce an install new programs only through the Mac App Store.
2) If all programs eventually must be sandboxed to run on Mac OS X, then the ability to multitask in several programs drawing on a shared set of files will be a pain. Perhaps through iCloud or other cloud services, it will be possible to access files across apps, but I like to have my files stored locally in one place that I can easily locate and backup on my own. This kind of new app behavior will disrupt my workflow to the point that I would have to reinvent the workflow wheel.
We do not yet know if Apple will enforce sandboxing for any application installed on Mac OS X including those not obtained through the Mac App Store, but we do know that Mac App Store developers have until March 1, 2012 to implement sandboxing and submit their apps for approval for additional privileges [read more here on TUAW]. There are already over 500 comments on Slashdot regarding this news here.
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