MacOS and iOS Converge: Screenshot and Feature Tour of Mac OS 10.7 Lion

Lifehacker.com has a nice set of screenshots and feature listings from MacOS 10.7 Lion available here. Mission Control, which combines Dashboard and Spaces functionality, sounds like the feature that I would most look forward to using. There also seems to be many converging features between MacOS X and iOS including new touch gestures that mirror iPod Touch/iPhone/iPad gestures. This may take getting used to, because we have learned to do things on MacOS X that mirror the older mechanical features of mice scroll wheels, for example. However, learning new interfaces is good for the brain. Also, I wonder how much longer until Macs have touch interfaces. I believe that it is only a matter of time.

Notes from Taiwan, Overwhelmed by My Photos, Helped by the Apple App Store

I took over 1,900 pictures while Y and I were in Brunswick, Georgia and Taiwan over the holidays. I am beginning to go through them now using Apple’s Aperture software, which I purchased and downloaded through Apple’s new App Store for MacOS X, and I hope to post the best of the lot to Flickr soon.

The App Store (pictured above) for the desktop computing environment was the next logical step for Apple’s consolidation of digital delivery of programs and consumable media. The App Store delivers free and paid applications to a user’s desktop through its iTunes Store-like interface. Additionally, it automatically updates your purchased and installed programs. You can also install purchased apps on other computers that you own in your household by logging into the App Store app and re-downloading them for no additional charge.

As cool as I think the App Store is, it is distinguished by the absence of many apps by Microsoft and other big name publishers. I realize that they have only now launched the service, but I don’t know how many developers will want to sign on.

Furthermore, I don’t want to see the Apple desktop computing environment get locked into the App Store as their mobile computing environments on the iPhone and iPad have. Apple has used their muscle and capital-infused-morals to relegate who sells and what gets sold in their mobile App Store.

The App Store may hurt existing updating apps such as MacUpdate’s MacUpdate Desktop program.

If you don’t have the App Store, you can get automatically after you upgrade to MacOS X 10.6.6. You can see the App Store icon in the Dock on the lower left corner of this image of my Desktop:

Happy downloading!

Apple’s “Back to the Mac” Event on October 20, 2010

According to TUAW and many others, Apple is holding a special “Back to the Mac” event next Wednesday, October 20. As you can see in the image above that I captured from TUAW, the image of a lion is mapped to the inner surface of the 3D Apple logo, so this could mean that the next iteration of Mac OS X will be code named Lion. Also, I am wondering about the beveled corners on the image. I browsed the same image on several non-referring announcements online for the event and they all have the bevel. Could Apple be reintroducing beveled corners to the Mac OS X menu bar? Square corners has always felt too PC to me.

Refreshing Reinstall and Another PKD Novel

I hadn’t done a full OS reinstall on my MacBook since I originally got it, so I decided last night to remedy the situation with a clean nuke-and-pave of MacOS X 10.6.2 Snow Leopard. As you can see from the screenshot above, I am back up and running with 10.6.2. NeoOffice and CS4 along with a handful of other software goodies are reinstalled, and my files are restored to their rightful places on my hard drive. One thing that I decided to do differently, that I had never tried before, was to encrypt my home folder with FileFault. I know that this can cause a real problem when something goes wrong, but I backup my files often enough that I hope it won’t turn into a nightmare if the FileFault system develops a problem. So far, I haven’t noticed any performance hit or problem by using FileFault, despite copying back many files to my internal SSD.

While everything was being done, I finished Philip K. Dick’s Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said. I will read A Scanner Darkly next and then switch back to some postmodern theory.

MacOS X 10.6.2 Okay, and Desktop

Screen shot 2009-11-11 at 11.28.27 AM

I installed Apple’s latest update for Snow Leopard, 10.6.2, with their 476MB Combo Updater available here. The upgrade successfully installed, and I have not had any problems with my usual apps: CS4 and NeoOffice. Luckily, I haven’t experienced the invisible menu bar status icons issue reported by some folks. I do, however, need to run PhotoBooth and find out if the update addresses the MacBook fan revving issue while video chatting that began with MacOS X 10.6.

Above is a screen shot of my desktop, and the desktop picture was one that I recently made when I was walking around downtown Atlanta on Peachtree Street.

Apple Favors the MacBook Pro With 64bit Kernel

Screen shot 2009-09-07 at 1.18.14 AM

As you can see in the screenshot above of Markus Winter’s 32 or 64 bit Kernel Startup Mode Selector running on my aluminum unibody MacBook, Apple will not let me run the MacOS X 10.6 kernel in 64bit mode. My hardware, which is identical to the rebranded 13″ MacBook Pro, is locked out for the only reason that my laptop carries the “MacBook” instead of the “MacBook Pro” moniker. As you can read in my previous post on Snow Leopard, I thought that my MacBook would support the 64bit kernel since I have the right hardware to support it. Unfortunately, I was wrong as Mr. Winter explains in this post on his website. This makes me particularly mad, because I purchased Snow Leopard knowing that it had a 64bit kernel which would make use of the 4GB of RAM installed on my computer and allow for 64bit drivers. I realize that individual applications can run in 64bit despite the kernel running in 32bit mode, but I believe that Apple’s decision in this matter is intended to reward particular customers for purchasing higher end hardware. Except in this case, my hardware is no different than the rebranded 13″ MacBook Pro–the difference internally and externally is name alone!

Work and Relaxation, or Introduction to Wood Shop

I haven’t taken much of a break since Spring semester ended in May.   I took a pedagogical course with Brian Huot, and wrote and presented a paper at the 39th annual SFRA conference in Lawrence, Kansas.  I picked up a new hat from SFRA and became its Publicity Director.  As such, I wrote a press release on the Lawrence meeting, which I’ll send out to the great SF magazines and journals once I finalize photo permissions.  Now, I’m doing two book reviews–one for The German Quarterly and another for Foundation.  I have a few weeks left before Fall semester begins and I still have to develop a syllabus for my writing class.  I know that I’ll get it all done, but I need some extra relief from all this academic work!

One fun project this past week was building a new stand for Yufang’s electric piano.  Her “professional” stand was too high for her to comfortably tickle the ivory, so I suggested that I build her a lower stand at a fraction of the cost of a store-bought stand.  After a lot of planning, measuring, and figuring, I picked up some lumber from Lowes and put together a new stand to accommodate her Yamaha.  Unfortunately, I didn’t consider the placement of the piano’s speakers, which are underneath its body.  So, I added a Ryobi jigsaw to my toolbox and opened up the table top with spacious sound holes.  Again, something wasn’t quite right–the keyboard wasn’t level.  For some reason, the back of the Yahama is 3/4” lower than the front, which makes the keys skew upwards at about 10 degrees.  Back in the garage, I added 3/4” stands behind the sound holes to elevate the rear of the piano so that it was properly level.  Now, she has a badass stand that assists her showing off her mad skillz.

Logically, the next thing I wanted to do after handling power tools is kill monsters in an immersive virtual environment–World of Warcraft.  I hadn’t played my two accounts in a long time (one of these gratis Matt Jasper), so I wanted to get back into the fray on Ner’zhul and kick some PvP ass.  Since I last played, I had installed Apple’s Mac OS X 10.5.4 software update.  When I launched WoW I learned that this update nerfs WoW and my OS in a big way.  As a result, I reinstalled Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard twice (Why?  Because that’s how I roll) troubleshooting the problem.  Now, I’m running 10.5.2 and WoW without any problems. I expect to enforce Horde values later this evening–beware.

In two weeks, Yufang and I are traveling to Washington, DC for a few days to check out an SR-71 Blackbird and a Space Shuttle at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum annex next to the Washington-Dulles International Airport.  We’ll also do some other sightseeing while we’re there, and maybe we’ll have a chance to hang out with my cousin Angie.  More on this when we get back!