Sunday, December 21, 2008

I is going to see Fall Out Boy in concert!

Just ordered the tickets to go see fall out boy in concert when they come here to Perth! I'm so stoked, I cant friggen wait. 'Take this to your grave' was an excellent album, 'From under the cork tree' wasn't so hot but 'Infinity on high' was a masterpiece. The new 'Folie a deux' is absoluetly amazing with stunning instruments and brilliant lyrics, go out and get it. Or jump on iTunes and at least grab '20 Dollar nose bleed', the horns on it are amazing.

I cant wait till february!

Friday, December 19, 2008

AMD, powered by Panic!

Tonight I completed the purchase of my new web development tools, both from Panic Inc. Apart from the Adobe CS4 tools Coda is my main web development app, as I have found nothing better! It has a brilliant text editor, awesome CSS interface (better than CSSEdit) and fantastic web preview, coupled with the built-in transmit engine making remote file changes easy. I have been using Coda since it came out around a year ago and it just keeps getting better and better!

My FTP app was originally the free Cyberduck but when it's not crashing its transfers were painfully slow so I tried Flow from Extendmac and Transmit from Panic. Flow has a real nice leopard interface but only once in 50 tries was it able to connect to my server. Trasmit is quick, simple and feature packed, plus it actually works with my server! It's rock solid, never crashes and transfer havent failed yet and they are soo fast.

So both of my web development tools come from an independant mac developer, Panic Inc, hopefully more people will stop using the crap that has been coming from companies like Adobe and support the smaller two man teams. The software is better, support is more personal and you put food on the table, what could be better? The guys at Panic are really cool and they make amazing software!

Coda costs $99 here and Transmit costs $29.95 here.

Official Alex Mills Design Wallpaper!

The music for my 18th party soon will come from my Mac so I thought I would do some advertising by first make the biggest AMD Logo ever and turn it into a wallpaper :) 1440 x 900 to be precise. Check it out, its pretty simple but I think it's pretty sweet :)

Check out my Desktop!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Camino 2.0 Alpha 1

Camino, the fastest web browser on the planet (yeah you heard me Safari), an open sourced project based on the Mozilla Gecko Rendering engine. Version 2.0 has been in development for a while and the first alpha has been available since the 21st October. New Features include:

Tab Overview: When you have more than one tab open, the tab overview option spreads them out onto a light table with a screenshot and the page title, allowing you to review and select which one you want. Expose for tabs :)

Recently Closed: Just like Firefox, when you close a tab it appears in the 'recently closed' menu under History though clicking an item opens it in the currently active tab instead of a new one. This should be an option.

Keyboard Support: The keyboard support has been rewritten to squash any previous bugs and provide keyboard access to the find bar, tab bar and pop-up blocker.

Gecko 1.9: Camino 2.0 is based on the Gecko 1.9 Rendering Engine which uses a new graphics architecture based on Quartz which results in better performance, compatibility and flash support. I didn't think it was possible but 2.0 is actually quicker than 1.x, a trend which is reversed in Firefox.

As with any Alpha it has it's problems and it's almost guaranteed to crashed. Camino is a unique browser with some nifty features (Page ad-blocking), please test and submit any bugs that you find. If you have any feature request be sure to contact them. If you feel you can help out with with development head here.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

iTunes does it again!

Two days before the official release and Folie a deux is available on iTunes! If only it was available as a hard copy this early, I still have to wait till tuesday to get it :( But the previews sound awesome!

Uploaded using LittleSnapper from RealMac Software

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

MobileMe Status update: It still sucks!

"A product they would be proud of by christmas" they said, well its that month of the year and yet the MobileMe web interface still sucks majorly. Browsing the inbox, reading a message, composing a message, changing settings, editing the address book or adding photos to a gallery is a scary job because at any point the browser will just refresh, taking you back to the main mail screen. Not saving your settings or even the message you were working on, its just gone for you to start all over agin. I paid money for this service from one of the most creditable companies in the world and yet they deliver a product that makes Hotmail or Live Mail look impressive. Apart from messages not showing up in sent items (or not being sent at all) I have not been able to add photos to my web galleries from iPhoto, forcing me to use the web interface.

I have the setup the Apple developers dream of, an high spec mac portable, latest OS and version of Safari. MobileMe should work like a dream, like every other product they have released to date. From day one this service has not got any better.

Monday, December 1, 2008

8 years of outback living are coming to an end!

Eight years, 2 stations and thousands of memories, my life in the outback is about to come to an end. In one week, me and the folks will be jumping in the car on the way to Perth to move me into our new house were I will be living for at least 4 years. Why 4 years? Thats the length of my Diploma in Electrotechnology course that I will be taking at TAFE. I will also be working part-time as an Apple Service Technician for Digilife, whom I have been working with since 2006. I always knew that I would be moving down south but now that all my stuff is in the truck as we speak and I sit here typing this on MacBook Pro with only one week to go it all has become scary real. Questions race through my head like: Will I be able to live alone? Will I be able to handle TAFE? Will I be able to feed myself? But luckily I will be living with my uncle and my twin brother so we should be okay. I have also been looking back on the eight years of station life and some of the things I got to do and see. Things like flying helicopters, aeroplanes, driving trucks, loaders, motorbikes, being a mechanic, watching calves being born, building things and having just outrageous amounts of fun. I thought I would share some photos with you of some of these things.
Me servicing our helicopter with the mechanic.
The dusty cattle yards near the end of the season, its around 45 degrees celsius by now.
Dad in our old helicopter. Unfortunately around 70% of my photos are on the external hard drive that accompanies the rest of my gear in truck making its way down to Perth, but I have grabbed a couple more and posted it to a MobileMe Photo gallery, here.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

AMD Mockups

As you know I have been learning HTML and CSS etc so to put what I have learnt to good use I have made a new mini site, Alex Mills Design Mockups. Completely hand crafted using Coda as XHTML and uploaded using Transmit, both apps from Panic! Inc. No iWeb or Dreamweaver, straight hand written code which I'm stoked about. I have tested it on the mac with Safari, Camino and Firefox, so windows users if something doesn't work or look right, please drop a comment. It should look like the image above. I have just realized that the table used does not render well on the iPhone so I will check out how to fix it. I will add more mockup designs soon.

It's simple, yes, but we all have to start somewhere. :)

Microsoft Quality

I have a Microsoft Wireless Laser Mouse 6000, its a great comfy design with custom buttons which I use with expose. For a software company, the drivers that accompany their hardware leave a lot to be desired especially on the mac. The mouse driver crashes a lot which sends the curser off in crazy directions but is easily fixed by opening and closing system preferences. I have got used to that but its that image above that annoys the crap out of me. Its saying that I have low batteries in the mouse , giving the option to remind me in a desired amount of days which is great concept... if it worked. No matter what day you pick, the dialog keeps popping up, to the point that you have 30 or so scattered around your screen. I did expect more, especially from the Mac BU devision of Microsoft.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

iTunes proves me wrong: 808s & Heartbreak

So I'm browsing the US itunes store because they get new music around a year before the Australian store and I notice Kanye's new "out of nowhere" album, 808's & Heartbreak is available for pre-order. So I race back to the Aussie store to find that not only is it on the store but its available for purchase! 2 days before the official release! This is an iTunes first, a product is purchasable before the US store, a round of applause people. So I'm thinking that Kanye made a mistake when uploading to the store or Apple has stuffed up, either way someone may be getting in trouble for this. I like to purchase hard copies of special albums like this so I just purchased the song "RoboCop" (I already have Love Lockdown and Heartless) and it's amazing! Probably one the best songs on the album, right next to Coldest Winter. Get this album, it does not disappoint!

P.S. Kanye holds the world iTunes record for the highest release day sales of any artist with his current album, Graduation, lets see if he can break it again!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Coda helps me learn...

At the moment I'm learning how to write websites by hand using XHTML, CSS, and Javascript in a sweet app called Coda from Panic. Coda has a feature called Clips, which allow for code snippets to be saved for later so they can be accessed via double clicking or assigning a text link to it. As in the screenshot below, when I learn how to do something new I add it to the clips manager, some just as reusable code snippets while others contain documentation on that code.

The image below is a reusable code snippet with a selection placeholder, when the code is inserted the curser is placed at this location.

The image below is one that contains several code snippets with documentation that explains types and attributes that can be modified in that snippet.

While it may not be what it was intended for, I find this to be an excellent way to organize what I learn, as they are always a shortcut away inside of my favourite coding app. I have an "xdoc" snippet that includes the namespace, declaration, head & body attributes for an XHTML Transitional document. Saves time and is always there for when I need it. So far so good. Coda is one excellent app!

PS. Hover over the XHTML and CSS :). Those and the links were coded by hand instead of using bloggers editor, so proud of myself.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

It's Official

Today is the day that Alex Mills Design becomes an official Australian Information Media and Publishing business. Soon I will be providing services such as website design, logo and graphics services as well as my software projects. A redesigned website will be coming soon! I was going to hold of on this till next year but a perspective client and family friend expressed interest in me performing a service for him, in return would invest in acquiring me the equipment that I required. Stay tuned as I will be releasing this project :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Windows 7 32 Bit accepts more RAM!

One of the most astonishing things about Vista, the modern operating system the Microsoft claims it to be, still can only use up to 3GB of your installed RAM in the 32Bit versions of the OS. So at the moment Vista can only use 3 of the 4GB of ram installed in my new MacBook Pro which sucks, at the moment Mac OS X can handle around 32GB with snow leopard introducing support for 16 terabytes of RAM!!!. The screenshot below was taken from Paul Thurrott's Win Super site preview of Windows 7 M3, notice how the windows rating section indicates 4GB of ram just above the 32 Bit Operating System notification.

Its late and I haven't even started reading about the technical advancements in Windows 7 so if there is any information about these types of specs revealed, please let me know :). This is a nice advancement though, even if its well and truly late. My biggest request for Win 7 is drop the different versions, at least to 2 version, one consumer and one corporate.

Update: This post has gained some decent attention (one of the top windows 7 search results) but for the wrong reasons. I want to clarify and apologize for the way I wrote this post. It was only intended to announce that the 32Bit Windows 7 can see/address 4GB of ram as Vista/XP could only address 3GB. Mac OS X 10.4 was designed to handle more ram due to the 16GB Powermac G5. *All* versions of Mac OS X Leopard are full 64Bit, able to handle up to 32GB of Ram though most current macs have a limit of 4GB due to the Intel hardware limitations. I compared Leopard against Win 7 not for their Ram limits but for the fact that Microsoft's big next gen OS is sold as 32 Bit, though 64bit is an option. Mac OS X mastered the 32Bit/64bit combination before vista was even released. Microsoft needs to step up and release a decent os that they just didn't copy from every one else, transparent windows to desktop? My ass, thats just a poor attempt at the basic functionality of Expose introduced in Tiger.

Monday, October 20, 2008

It shipped!

Ordered Sunday arvo, shipped Monday morning! My new Unibody MacBook Pro has shipped, a whole 5 days early than expected. Not that I'm complaining but it will be here by the weekend! It's so close to the alloy and glass goodness!


Sunday, October 19, 2008

MacBook Pro Unibody ordered!

The hard work and saving has finally paid off, I just dropped some coin on a brand new unibody MacBook Pro or more commonly referred to as the most stunning laptop on the planet (take that Voodoo Envy). These are the specs:

15inch LED Backlight LCD
2.4Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo
4GB DDR3 Ram
Superdrive (DVD-DL Burner)
Mini DisplayPort to DVI adaptor

It will be between a week and two weeks before it arrives and I can't wait, like I want it NOW! How bout that DDR3 1066Mhz Ram, thats lightening fast. The things Im most looking forward to are the multi-touch trackpad, iMac like screen, backlit keyboard and super bright screen. My screens are always set to the brightest settings and the new LED does not fail, neither does it take 15 minutes to get to full brightness like standard screens. The first thing I will do when I get it is set it to use the 9600M GT with 256MB for maximum performance :) The next step (and a big next step) is to get the new LED Cinema Display with DisplayPort and MagSafe Adaptor built in but that will be a long time off yet. The weird thing is, the 15 inch screen has the same resolution as my external 19 inch Dell so its like carrying my dell screen with me.

This is so cool, more updates as they happen.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Finished High School!

Today is unofficially the last day of school (until graduation) so as of this point, my high school days are finished which is pretty grand statement that I have been waiting 13 years to say :) The first thing I did in my post school life was take the rubbish out :( Today is also the day that I return to blogger as my only blog instead of rapid weaver so as you can see we have a new theme and header image, both of which will be tweaked over time, what do you think?

The new Alex Mills Design logo you see in the header image is for my new software division that will be going live within the next couple weeks with Water being my first release, Water 1.0 Beta 1 for Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard). Let us know what you think of the new logo? My website will be updated accordingly with some new features, but really it's just finishing of the bits that didn't make it through the initial release.

Now on to bigger and better things.

Friday, October 17, 2008

MobileMe, refreshes for your pleasure

Recently my desktop mail app has started crashing upon launch and with me being lockdown with assignments for the rest of the week haven't had a chance to fix it so I have been forced to use the MobileMe web interface. At first I thought it was cool when you woke ya mac from sleep it would refresh but when it does it while you are trying to do something, that is annoying. Like composing a message and it just randomly refreshes which takes me back to the inbox without even saving my message to drafts! Most of the time messages will arrive in my inbox without refreshing (AJAX) so why the hell is it refreshing all the time?? Yeah I can understand some hiccups after launch but not several months after, this is a damn Apple product, yeah but unfortunately that world class quality is present here. I have already been given around 3 months free on my subscription but I would gladly trade that for a service that works as advertised. Take a look at the image above and then at Apple's advertising below, I don't get no shiny red unread count so I'm surprised the calendar icon actually works! I'm using a mac with safari, you couldn't get a more perfect setup for an Apple service.

I don't use most of the sync services with my Mac and iPhone until I go somewhere which isn't very often living in the outback but the IMAP works great with the on my desktop so I better get that fixed soon.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Numbers 08: Interesting Bits

One of the greatest movies on the planet, The Hitch hikers Guide to the Galaxy, contains a massive supercomputer called Deep Thought. This computer when ask 'the question' returns an answer of 42, much to the dismay of it's designers and supporters but what does this have to do with Numbers, the great spreadsheet app from a certain fruit company. Well it appears that the certain fruit company also likes this film, check out the screenshot for the 'Cells' option on the inspector, its says 42!!! That is so cool :)
Another little interesting tidbit I came accross today that I have not seen in either Pages or Keynote is that when a table and it's legend are grouped together, the sheet cannot be deleted as displayed in the following screenshot.

Performing the exact same chart creation and grouping within Pages and Keynote doesn't prevent the page or slide from being deleted. This is highly unlike Apple, they have presented the user with instructions on how to fix it instead of offering to do it itself and it's not even like the charts related table is on a different sheet. This one is actually quite weird.

Seen any other little bugs/feature requests for iWork, drop a comment.

I provide feedback on Apple products all the time but my most highly recommended new feature is an update to the alignment system by providing measurements between other shapes and objects on the canvas. (Much like Interface Builder). Another is the ability to add gradients to text instead of just solid colours, that would be really sweet.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

iTunes store rant

Now that apple has changed the rules on the app store that only if you have purchased the app can you submit a review, what they need to do is apply that to the music store. Things like 'this song sounds awesome' and 'I might purchase it' annoy the crap out of me. Make some room for people who have actually purchased the song please. My main rant is also about the user reviews, 'click yes if you agree', WTF!, do you see a 'yes' button anywhere? (have a look, I'll wait... and no the 'Was this review helpful' question doesn't count. How hard is it for them to type 'yeah you should purchase this song', it ain't no friggin election.

On a side note, big shout out to Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup for winning todays bathurst enduro and returning to the top of the championship, bring it home for Ford guys!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

As the title suggests I have started a new blog at the above address, built using a gorgeous piece of software called RapidWeaver from Realmac. So it's based on it's own blogging engine and comments are handled using the Haloscan service. It's all in beta at this point as I get all the services running properly but the main point of the new blog (part from moving to my new server) is to test out RapidWeaver to decide if it's right for the full website. Check it out and drop a comment letting me know what you think! Plus anyone who has some RapidWeaver experience that wants to give some tips, use the contact form to email me :)

Check it out

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Neyo & Kanye West - keeping it fresh!

I'm a major fan of both Neyo and Kanye West, whom are about to release new music for the world. Neyo is about to release his third studio album, Year of the Gentleman which much like is his first two is amazing. I had the chance to listen to a preview of the full album and the songs 'Mad' and 'Why does she stay?' are amazing, taking his professionalism and emotion to the next level, people look up to this guy! September 16th his new album drops so go and get it!

One of the slickest album covers I have seen for a while, released during the VMA's, Kanye's new single is special. At no point does he rap, not even sing quick enough to be a little rap, using the Auto-Tune system made popular by T-Pain, Kanye sings the entire song which is a first for him. Love Lockdown, performed as the last song of the VMA's, had passion and power that is released through all of his songs but unfortunately the studio version does not share that power. In particular the chorus, where it feels he is too scared to really sing and push his voice but hopefully the non-web version sounds better!

Neyo Sept 16th!!!!
Kanye - Love Lockdown

Saturday, September 13, 2008

iPhone 3G 2.1 Update

iPhone update 2.1 downloaded and installed on my iPhone 3G, my thoughts:

Performance! Since day one my iPhone has not been able to match the smooth animations, app loading and accelerometer sensitivity of my iPod touch, not to mention the almost unusable contacts app. Animations (unlocking, opening & closing apps, zooming in Safari) are now smoother than ever, this includes scrolling through thousands of songs. Applications load quicker, 'settings' in particular are opened and ready for use. Safari moves and zooms around pages with ease, no more locking and crashing! Now the contacts app was slow the navigate, search and took ages to open a contact well now it's as fast as my iPod touch and thats fast! THANKYOU!!! Syncing is now quicker, backup takes around quarter of the time (my guess it uses the same method as Time Machine, ie backup what's changed). I have noticed a couple interface differences, two actually, the first could have been in any release since this is my first update since 2.0 and the second is new. When using the 'Remote' application, songs in a playlist are accompanied by small grey text displaying the album and artist. It's an excellent idea and became #1 on my iPhone wanted list, well now I can mark it off, this is a screenshot from my phone in my recently added playlist:

With the introduction of the iTunes genius, it has made it's way onto my iPhone in the form of it's own playlist and a new option on the heads-up-display in the now playing screen as demonstrated below;

This update finally reminds me why I bought it, it's bringing back Apple quality. Quality that always works and doesn't crash but only time will tell. The iPhone is now more of a dream to use, instead of a chore that didn't demo well. Thankyou Apple, good job! Now for some features please, my wish list:

#1: Video Recording
#2: MMS Messaging
#3: Copy-Paste :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

iTunes 8 first impressions

One word, 'Nice'.

I doubt the new features would amount to a full version release, but hey they were quickly running out of numbers with iTunes 7. The most important thing I have found so far is that now my iPhone truly 'works'! and this is a big deal since the first day I have not been able to update the carrier settings, transfer apps bought on my mac to the phone or from the phone to my mac. Installed iTunes 8, clicked update carrier settings and boom it works, hmm, all my purchased apps are in the library, I can finally install Apple Remote which is very cool (good demo app too) and this is great. Things I like include the new grid view, which is very similar to the Aperture/iPhoto events view, visualizers and way better performance. Things I'm not sure about include the Genius Sidebar (more in a later post) and the lack of new interface, in particular the all in one design. For example when you clicked 'Get Info' (or command + I) it would change the current view (the area surrounded by the grey bars and source list) would change to show details, instead of opening a separate window which in my opinion is ugly.

The new grid view has custom icons for a set number of Genres which is pretty slick and album art in list views dont have reflections, yes!, for a much cleaner look.
Looking at the screenshots I was worried about the number of clicks I would have to do to play a song inside of an album, so I was pleasantly surprised to see a 'Play Album' button that pops up when you mouse over it.
As with iPhoto, moving the mouse from one side of a grid object to the other, will change to the album to the next inline, but it doesn't stop there, double clicking the object will take you to the currently visible album. For example my Fall Out Boy object has by default the 'Infinity On High' cover as default, double clicking will make that album at the top of the list, returning to the grid view and moving my mouse accross it again until I see the 'Take this to your grave' cover, double clicking will set the said album to the top of the list view, nice.
The zoom setting adjusts the size of the objects in the grid view, but what's interesting is that it will remember the zoom settings for each sort option (Albums, Artists, Genres, Composers) which is another nice little touch. My current iTunes window size and zoom settings for Albums (grid View) means there is 3 objects vertically, scrolling with my mouse wheel will jump 3 levels to show a fresh set of 18 objects, while clicking the scroll arrow will jump one level and manually moving the bar is very accurate. I would prefer that the mouse wheel didn't jump at all but rather just slide the page like moving the scroll bar does, Guess I will just have to get used to it. Another thing I don't like once you have a list view open, it's one giant list with 1 pixel lines separating the albums, there should be at least some gap in between them as this design feels cramped. The default size of the album art in list view means that there is always 13 lines minimum for each line, so albums shorter than 13 tracks do get some space but the list view always continue, gimme some white space, please.

If I see anymore cool things I will let you guys know, but this is my first impressions of the new iTunes 8 running on Mac OS X 10.5.4, if any windows users spot any difference drop a comment.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Joke of the day!

While browsing the new silverlight powered Microsoft downloads page, an interesting header caught my eye. Advertising access to Microsoft Updates, the laptop used in the graphic is an old ass Apple Titanium Powerbook, check out the image to the right. It can't even run the new Mac OS X 10.5 let alone Windows (Unless in a virtual machine but that doesn't count). Just thought it was pretty funny that an old Powerbook was used alongside a slick new downloads service, it's friday, it's a joke...not funny? Ok move on...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Google Chrome

Ok so i have been using Google Chrome all day and it's only now as I write this do I realize that the inactive tabs become transparent, that is if you have aero enabled and the window isn't maximised, another nice touch. Something pretty sweet is the downloads, which when started a bar appears at the bottom with the currently downloading files with options to perform actions on each. Hit the 'X' to hide the bar or Ctrl + J to show the downloads page which shows a common design with the history page and by page I mean they open in their own tabs, no more floating windows! :) All in one design is king though it does take skill to nail and nailed it they have. You can search and remove history/download items and another nice little touch is the download meter, demonstrated below:

Typing about: in the address bar reveals detailed browser details, about:memory opens the detailed task manager (which can view memory used by other browsers) and about:plugins details all of the installed plug ins. Found anymore 'about:' options let me know. Because the browser is powered by Apple's WebKit, most multi-line text fields are resizable which can make filling out some forms easier. My schools online arena is all javascript powered on oh-my-god I thought my connection turned into a super high speed version as everything loaded and responded quickly. Firefox 3 made this experience nicer but the new Javascript engine is off the hook :), maybe the new javascript engine coming in 3.1 just might be the open source V8 which powers Chrome.  There are a couple little issues with Channel 8 but they were also current when using safari so it may be becuase of webKit. If you attempt to access a secure site with unverified certificates or if google thinks it may be hacked, you will receive a bright red page with a warning message with details about the site and the 'https://' of the address gets a red strike through it. You can then 'Proceed Anyway' or 'Back to safety', much like Firefox 3. 

It's refreshing to see a product (especially on windows) that has paid so much attention to the interface and user experience, taking care of all of the little things which all work together to provide a brilliant browsing experience. I take my hat off to the chrome team, keep up the great work and can't wait to see what version 1.0 brings! Chrome has taken place as my default browser in Vista as it will also be in OS X when it's released. I'll keep you posted on my experience with this new browser including a comparison between it and the mac version.

Google Chrome first impressions (basic)

So I just downloaded Google Chrome for vista, the 500+kb file from google is just the installer so just like Visual Studio it runs and then downloads the rest of the files, I hate this as I normally download files on my other computer. If your network performance is not top notch (which mine isn't all the time) these little apps tend to fail more often then say a browser like Firefox. With that out of the way once the setup is finished it imports your bookmarks and recents from other browsers installed on your system which worked perfectly. First impression of the interface, "very clean", you just have your tabs accross the top (the coolest idea I have seen for a long time), back & forward buttons, refresh button, add to bookmarks button, address/search field (in one), the go/stop button and then the options. The bookmarks bar can be attached to the bottom of the controls or it appears when you open a new tab which is a nice touch. By the way I'm writing this post from Chrome :). When you hit go the default favicon turns into a light blue 3-quarter circle that spins slowly why 'waiting' for the server to respond, once it's connected and starts loading circle turns bright blue and spins faster, a nice little touch. The information bar (below) only appears when the browser is doing something or you hover the curser over a link on a page, it will show where that link goes. 

If it's getting in the way of you reading something, move the curser towards it and once close enough it will 'push' it down out of the way, genious. I have to get back to school but I will be using Chrome all day and I will post more detailed impressions. So far its real nice :). I can't wait till they release the Mac version, the win version I'm using right now is build 1583.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Google Chrome, this is exciting!

Google has just announced, alongside a very cool comic, a new open source browser for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X based on WebKit. The whole browser is designed to run like a mini OS, each tab has it's own system process so when it crashes, only the affected tab locks up. This unique design (For a browser, people) enables higher performing memory management that can reset tabs when going to a new un-related tab and when a tab is closed, every piece of memory is reclaimed by the OS. Built into the browser is a resource viewer, giving detailed information about what each tab (each process) is doing such a network, javascript, memory and status etc. They do admit that it will require a slightly larger memory footprint when first opened but the benefits are realized immediately once more than one tab is opened. While I'm not the biggest fan of Google interfaces, I'm extremely excited about the true next generation browser and when the Windows version is released tomorrow I'll post my thoughts on it. I'm disappointed with Firefox 3's final performance and page load times so if Apple's webKit based browser, Safari is anything to go by Chrome is going to be awesome. I just really hope the interface in Mac OS X is a full fledged Cocoa, that would be really nice.

Monday, September 1, 2008

My ride is having a break

My project bike, a 2002 Yamaha WRF250 moto/enduro bike has served me well both the time working on it and riding, the best times being the riding with mates and scaring the shit out of ourselves. My daily ride after school is fairly simple, just go out for a run down to the creek and back, about 8kms as it's not safe to go any further by yourself. I got this bike second hand and it has not lived the nicest life before and time is catching up with it, specifically a weird "bearing about to break" noise within the bottom end of the engine. Well today it finally broke, shutting the engine down and pouring white smoke out of the breathers and exhaust, basically not good. Thankfully dad was driving past when it happened so came and got me, loaded my bike onto the ute and headed home. So now my pride and joy is sitting in the shed until I save enough money to get a rebuild kit for it, around $600AUD and unfortunately this is not a good time with me leaving school, moving down south, starting a life of my own and all that, money is a bit short. The top photo is of it when I finished rebuilding it, which involved new fenders, lights, grips, levers, sprockets, chain and super lightweight performance exhaust. The image below is of me at the cost near the sand dunes having a great time, ah the good times.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Tonight I finally finished my very first website, check it out here or at the address in the title (which ever floats your boat). Right now I have most of my portfolio on it, software is coming very soon once I get preview versions out but my photo library was pulled at the last minute because the gallery did not me my expectations. Check it out and let me know what you think? I used iWeb for this release but I want to use something with more power like Dreamweaver but I prefer the price of Expression Web, what would you recommend?

It has been an interesting journey and one of the most important things I have learned is that each browser on each different platform will render a website differently. Any image that required a shadow had to be created using an image editor, shapes or images that have shadows added to them iWeb do not show up in Firefox or Camino but work fine in Safari and Internet Explorer 7 & 8. The website has been online most of the day (but still hidden) for testing using the following browsers:

Firefox 3
Camino 1.6
Safari 4 (Developer Preview)

Firefox 3
Safari 3
Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1

Here are some of the things I have found out during testing: Internet Explorer isn't that hot on alignment, Firefox is just plain slow and Safari surprisingly is the best web experience on windows mainly due to it's own font rendering system. Fonts in Windows Vista are not anti-aliased 90% of the time which means they look sharp and horrible so Safari is a welcome change. In my testing and general use the fastest browser for each platform is Safari on Windows and Camino on Mac which is the fastest browser on the planet. You may have different results but these are very general :)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New host, new domain, content soon :)

I decided to launch my website about a month ago and I was going to use my 20Gb of MobileMe space but the lack of multiple emails, decent performance etc I decided to pay for a dedicated host and domain name. My man Lloyd refereed me to his host, whom is just starting up, the ball got rolling and now is now live. Well the preview is up for now but hopefully the full site will be live by the end of the weekend, you will be able to see my portfolio of design and photography works as well as freely download the software I have developed so stay tuned!

Hit up the preview and let me know what you think :)

P.S. Alex Mills Design is 1 year old this month!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Stunning Interface concept for Mozilla

While browsing the mozillaLabs website, I like to check up on the concept series to see what's new and today I was in for a nice surprise. Azra Raskin has posted a video demonstrating what could happen when you open a new tab in Firefox, exploring some 'zero-cost' concepts but upon visiting his Vimeo profile I came accross the video called 'Bookmarking and History Concept' by Wei Zhou. This concept (and video production) is amazing and makes you sit back an just go 'that is cool!' because you are lost for words. Running this concept for real would require a fair amount of system resources but by the time Firefox 4 comes out we should be ready. My biggest requirement for Ff4 is speed improvements for the Mac, FF2 is twice as fast as FF3 but Camino is quicker than any other browser (on any platform) on the planet! Just quietly Safari 4 is really fast too....Check the video out:

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I got accepted into Tafe!

Ok so you Aussies will know this is almost nothing due to the fact that almost anyone can get into Tafe, which is cool because that is what it's for. But I thought I would let you guys know that I have been accepted into my Diploma of Electrotechnology course at the eCentral East Perth Campus, which I will be studying while working part time at DigiLife as an Apple Technician. Next year is going to be huge and busy, it's pretty damn scary to think about it but should lead to some bigger opportunities. My main goal is to study programming further after I complete this course, which covers everything from hardware to software to renewable systems. The hardware aspect opens up a whole new window for me and makes my big future project more 'do-able' (think old car and lots and lots of technology). While this blog has been my journey as a developer, it will take on a new role as I leave home (approx 1600km from home) and start a life of my own in the big city which I will document here.

But hey this most important thing is that I got into my course and the new Gym Class Heroes EP, Patches from the Quilt, is insanely awesome! F#*k you this is for my people lol

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

MobileMe update

Today I received an email from Apple telling me that I would receive a 60 day extension of my MobileMe subscription at no extra charge. They noted in the email that the MobileMe launch wasn't their finest hour and yes while the email issues I have had were a pain, all it took was to tell my clients and teachers that my email provider is having issues and no love was lost. This is an ambitious service, which has been noted before, but it's not everyday that Apple makes a mistake or is not proud of something they have done. It takes honor for a company to announce that to it's customers and just imagine the size of the email Microsoft would send to it's Windows customers. I will keep you updated on this topic but I would recommend leaning off the web interface as I have had a much smoother experience using desktop apps like and iPhoto for using the MobileMe services.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The difference between Apple & Microsoft

On the Discovery Science channel (Foxtel Digital/HD) they finally have some new more modern content, in particular a show called Download. The episode I watched followed the invention of the web to the development of the Mosaic/Netscape browser and the competition from Microsoft which led me to thinking. Microsoft used it's money and power to destroy (word used by Internet Explorer engineers when talking about Netscape) the competition, not software from which the company was built from. We all know how crappy Internet Explorer is, the only reason it's still going is because of business as any self respecting developer would have scrapped it already. Microsoft got to the top by using illegal and brutal Business tactics while Apple is rising to the top by making great software and matching it with great hardware. Name one Microsoft application (concept or release) that hasn't already been done before? Microsoft engineers admitted they did not want to know how their salesmen made the multi-million dollar deals, relating them to members of the mafia. Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for Bill Gates and his talented developers but Microsoft as a company is exactly where this industry must not go.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Lloyd is the man!

Fellow developer and designer Lloyd Humphreys from the UK has just won a Microsoft funded competition with his screencast on how to develop a simple music player using Expression Blend in C#. He won $11,000 worth of Prizes from Microsoft. Lloyd runs his own company (at 14!!) and has a number of clients for his software and website development skills so if you need some design work, give him a go. Head to his website for more information. This dude is a professional and a great asset to any project.

Congratulations man!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Introducing my new website...kinda. Hitting this link will take you to the preview page for my new website that will be designed to offer my software, design works and services all focused around a clean and professional design. The launch of the site will also be the launch of the new Orion Project but I will tell you more about that later. The website will offer blogs or 'status updates' for all the software I have available, allowing you to track progress on new versions and when updates are ready, there may also be a company blog but I will keep this google blog as my own personal one. You will be able to download the latest versions of Fern and Waterpoint Manager for PC, possibly preview versions of the Orion apps will be available as well.

It will also offer my design portfolio and in the future may offer some design services. Stay tuned as it will be launched sometime this month (more details closer to release). This release is being made completely with Apple's iWeb application so it will be interesting so see how long it works before I need more. The website is hosted on my new MobileMe service and by default has the standard domain name '' but hopefully for the release I will have a custom domain.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

MobileMe, the experience so far.

Most of you should know what MobileMe is, the slick update to .Mac (if you don't hit the link for the site). I have never used a paid-for web service for my email so Apple have done a good job at luring me in :) As well as a new email (the first since 2004), I have 20GB of storage that will host my under construction website for my published applications as well as photos. Another reason is that my contacts, email and calendars are synced with my Mac, iPhone and webmail. This is my experience so far!

Since the start I have been using the web interface for email instead of because it just looks so darn nice! Unfortunately the looks don't always match the usage which since the start has been rocky. Everything syncs between the devices without trouble but up until recently I could not access my contacts from the new message view which was annoying but this feature was worth the wait as it's very slick. I dont have the fastest internet and I have a feeling MobileMe is resetting before the operation is taking so long to complete, resulting in lost image uploads and emails. On a good day everything appears to be running smoothly but each day it's getting that much faster which is good!

Among the standard sync options is dock, dashboard and notes. I havent had a chance to try these out (only have one mac) but I'm hoping that the iPhone 2.1 update brings the functionality to sync notes from the my iPhone to the MobileMe cloud. This is quite short but over the coming months I will reveal more of my thoughts as at this point it's unfair to gauge something that is not working properly but the future is very bright!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Hello Optus and welcome to iPhone 3G

Today could have been seen as an eventful one, a little not so well known phone from a small fruit company was released today with little fanfare. Some stood outside for a number of hours in the cold and most of them got what they were after, but some of us actually have jobs to go to so all I could do was phone the carriers to see who would give me my iPhone.

I tried telstra first but because they were late join the game, they don't get their quota of iPhones till the 22nd. I was then informed that almost every single one has been taken by orders. I didn't even try Vodafone because of the well known fact that they stuffed up the launch something shocking and their plans are a joke. Next stop was optus who were more than grateful to sell me a black 16gb iPhone over the phone on one of their cap plans, but with a catch. My order is secured but unfortunately I don't take delivery until the 25th which sucks. So I have an iPhone but I don't actually have one in my hand. I work for an Apple store so the demo phone that Vodafone could supply was available for a play all day and here are my thoughts:

The design is very sophisticated and elegant.
The website photos do not do it justice.
It feels very solid and well built.
It's not as big as you think
The new metal buttons and silent toggle switch are high quality and feel very solid to use.
The vibrate mode feels very nice.
The black back smudges very easily!
Photo geotagging is cool.

I only got a little chance to play with the phone so I will provide a better overview when I get mine in a couple of days. One good thing about not being distracted by the gorgeous little phone is that I can continue to code my new iPhone applications with the SDK. So keep an eye on what's coming soon :)

Its cool to have an iPhone, it really sucks that I can't actually use it...

Saturday, July 5, 2008

New Icons for Fern & Waterpoint

At the moment I'm working down in Perth for an Apple service centre called Digilife, I get to work on just about every mac available (except for models referred to as vintage) which is pretty cool. I will also be in the thick of it when the iPhone 3G finally launches here in Australia on July 11th, I'm counting down the days till I get my Black 16GB model with either Vodafone or Telstra. Now that the update is out of the way, I have been distracted from coding but have been working on a couple of graphics projects, including some icons and my new website.

One icon I have been working is the new one for Fern, 0.2 users will have noted that it uses the default operating system icon for an application. Fern 0.2.5 will rock a new text edit inspired icon that features materials and colours that related to the brand new interface. The icon is based on the two sheets of paper used by text edit but the similarities end there with a piece of wood as the backing sheet and a nice glossy front with stylish colours.

True Apple enthusiasts will notice the colour scheme is quite common for the company with the Apple TV 2, Mac OS X Leopard and the new Coldplay iTunes + iPod TV ad. The application is designed to be a consumer product so if they feel comfortable with the themes and stylings used by Apple, they will automatically feel comfortable with applications that use similar stylings. Unfortunately it's very possible that I will change the icon a little with each release until I think it's the best it can be :).

I have also been working on the Mac version of my first Windows application, Waterpoint, which is set to be finished within a few short weeks. A quick refresh of Waterpoint; is a Core Data powered application for rural users that enables them to quickly manage properties, paddocks and watering points. Tracking status and service updates of each individual item. The icon for this little app is finished and ready for the prime time. As the Windows users will notice it's the same design as the win version but with a different colour scheme, in fact it was one of the draft designs that ultimatly became the blue orb with the silver droplet. I redid this design (it was only 128x128) for Mac OS X 10.5 512x512 goodness, following the new colored gradient design featured in the Fern icon. I think it came out ok and has a rather impressive presence when sitting in the dock, the black stands out of the coloured crowd. The non consumer design is supposed to show a sense of power and profession ability without taking way the ease of use and design common with all top level mac applications.

Waterpoint uses a new interface that is similar to Coda and system preferences, as a test for use in some other higher priority projects. Stay tuned for more updates on Waterpoint 1.0, which will be a full release containing everything a 1.0 application should have. The next couple of weeks will be busy and tiring but thats justs part of the game :)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Wil Shipley's WWDC 2005 Student Talk

Omni Group and Delicious Monster Software founder Wil Shipley is a friggen genius, I idolize the man for almost everything he does, because he does it well. While scouring the net for help on coding some new uber-cool feature for Fern I found this (quite old) post providing the slide show for a talk he did for Apple Students at WWDC 2005. I downloaded the slide show (as pdf) and even though there was no sound, it was inspiring, intelligent and funny in a way only Wil could pull off. I highly recommend heading to the post and downloading the slide show, I'm about to download the podcast that goes with it, mainly to hear Wil tell the jokes :).

Whenever I get annoyed or down about coding, I slowly sift my way through the archives on his blog, just building from the little pieces of genius that he provides to build my confidence up and inspire me to keep moving. I know the post is old but the content of that presentation still relates today. I'm off to bed now...

Link (In case you missed the first one :))

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

More problems with the GData API

As you know I have never been able to access this blog with the GData API from Google used by Fern and a number of other applications. 3 days ago while testing the new labels feature in Fern, my test blog suddenly disappeared off the radar, thinking maybe it was the new code I fired up Fern 0.2 with no luck, I launched the BloggerSample app included with the GData API and it was also unable to access my blogs. I have been trying to get this recognized on the Google Developer Discussions but it seems to keep getting ignored, it appears that more people are having trouble as well. One example is an organisation that has 2500 users accessing blogger are reporting that they cant fetch their blogs, the exact same problem I'm having.

If you are also having problems the GData API not fetching blogs, please add a reply to this discussion so that we can build some momentum on this issue, then maybe Google will step up with a fix or a least a reason as to why it's stopped working.

Fern 0.2.5 was set to be released June 20th but that may get pushed back while I fix this issue as I cannot test a new feature without being able to post to my test blog. If there are any Fern 0.2 users out there, please drop a comment saying if you can or cant post to your blogs.

Monday, June 9, 2008

WWDC 08 Predictions :)

Its already June 9 for us Aussies but when this magic date rolls around in San Francisco the world be graced by the work of the worlds greatest computer company, Apple. The World Wide Developer conference is about to begin in a couple of hours so I thought I would share my predictions on what will be announced. I have made it known on my blog that I have a thing for the iPhone, especially since we now have official information stating the 3G enabled phone will be offered for sale in Australia by Vodafone, Telstra and Optus, I will hopefully be getting mine as soon as possible. I think there will also be this:

Wireless Time Machine backup for iPhone
Mac OS X 10.6 Preview
New Mac Pro
A mid ranged desktop mac to sit between mini and Pro (Been on my wish list for a while)
Updated MacBook (Alloy case) with Multi-Touch

This is what I would like to see from Apple, I guess I will just have to see what happens when I wake tomorrow morning to order my iPhone :) Hopefully...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Progress Update

My blog posts seem to be only about what's going on with Fern, but I would also like to discuss what else I have been up to. Yes I have been working on Fern 0.3 which will introduce support for Picasa web albums and image uploading but I have halted development to spend time on Fern 0.2.5 which is completely rewritten to take advantage of Core Data for storing of posts. This version will have everything that 0.2 has as well as a new accounts feature for keeping track of logging details. Core Data simplifies storing account information as well as posts and it supports rich text which is a major bonus, just gotta get that rich textness (it's a word now) to join blogger on the internets. Version 0.2.5 will become 0.3, all the work done on the current 0.3 will be transferred to the new Core Data Revision.

Among Fern development I have also been working on another project, Waterpoint Manager, the Mac version of my first Windows application. I'm building it to learn about Core Data and to demonstrate to my teacher my ability to build a multi-platform tool.

All the learnings of cocoa development and imminent public release of Water Manager for mac as led me to thinking about an unofficial company name, by unofficial I mean not real, just a name to release my free and donationware software under. Some of you might know my design work under Alex Mills Design so I have been floating around the idea of AMD Software, what do you think? Drop a comment if you have an better ideas :) As soon as I decide on a name I will launch a new Google Site (or possibly a hosted site) that will give you people better access to software, pre-release versions, help and documentation to complete the experience.

As always school and work override my cocoa and web development so give it time and hopefully it should all fall into place, I literally can't wait to release Fern 1.0 to the public, except it will probably have a more network/technology/connected consumer/googlelike name that I have yet to find. Any ideas, drop a comment :) I'm here making free software for the most advanced platform in the world, we might as well do it together. Soon mac users won't have to pay to post to their blogspot blogs from their leopard desktop, I think I will add more services after the release of version 1.0.

I'm also waiting for Apple to drop the delicious iPhone in Australia so I can get one :)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Over the previous weeks Fern has been working hard backstage to add features and further refine his interface and now he is ready to take on the public. I'd like to introduce Fern 0.2 for Developers and Testers. This is what has been added and fixed in version 0.2:

Title System Working
New Progress Indicators
New Delete System
Update System Working
'New Post' feature added
Refined Application Messages
New NSTextView Editor (Not Finished)
Other minor fixes and changes.

What can you do with this version? You can login, select your blogs, view the posted entries, update or delete those entries or post a new one. The text support is still limited as you need to know some HTML to add links and change font styles but page breaking is done automatically.

What's coming in Version 0.3? A editor that doesn't require minor html knowledge to do things like bold and italic text and a better system for adding links. If you know any great resources of WYSIWYG editors for Cocoa, please drop a comment :) As well as other things, over the next few updates you will hopefully see a new login interface, saving drafts to disk, post statistics, comment viewing and support for images. It all takes time.

Why am I releasing a work-in-progress product to the public so early? I have been having some conversations with some people that wanted to use version 0.1 now so I decided to push 0.2 out a little early with mainly interface refinements. That way they can use and test each update of Fern as I go along. Please note that this is an Alpha release and not intended for professional or general use but recommended for beta testers and developers. If you do download Fern please drop a comment, it's quick and easy and I then I know who has downloaded it and what you think. Saying that, if you find an issue or have a feature request that was not mentioned above, please drop a comment to this post. Fern 0.2 requires Mac OS X 10.5.2. Enjoy!


Alex Mills

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Fern 0.1 Completed

It's not a very momentous occasion but for those of you who follow the Fern development process I thought I would take this opportunity to announce that I have finished the first working version. (Fern is my native cocoa app for editing blogger blogs). Fern Version 0.1 is still very basic and is basically a rebuild of the google data API example but with a much nicer interface (my opinion anyway). The only other feature I have added for this release is that new posts can have titles, something that was not available in the example app. I have tested HTML with this version and as you can tell from the test blog that it works without fault, even images that were pre-coded from the web interface. The API is very intelligent and makes my job heaps easier. Check out the screenshot here and please note that the interface is no where near the final design, it was built to make sure I can get the basics working, but please let me know of any comments, tips or feature requests. I'm not making it just for me :)

Unfortunately I'm not posting this with Fern as I still haven't sorted out the google accounts issue as described in the post below. Check out the Blogger Help Group for my message if you know how to help or just leave a comment to either of my blog posts. Stay tuned here and on the test blog to keep track of development.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Google works in mysterious ways?

Don't get me wrong, I love Google, I use just about everyone of their services including blogger but something keeps bothering me. Ok a quick update and what the hell I'm talking about, I'm working on a little cocoa app for blogger codenamed Fern, at the moment it's still almost non-existent as I only get to work on it in between school, work, personal events and making widgets. I'm still learning the basics of cocoa and programming as well as the GData API (and API's in general) so if you know of any good sources of information, let me know :).

At first while testing an early build of Fern I thought it wasnt working becuase when I put the login details for this blog into it, nothing would happen, the same with the example google app that comes with the source for GData. I have a secondary gmail address for random things so I set up a new blog on that account and now the applications work as they should, perfectly. It's like google hasn't registered this blog with my account but yet I can do everything from the web interface. I have searched the options for blogger, gmail, google accounts but cant seem to find anything. I have to do some more research into this but I just thought you guys might like to know this little bit of weirdness in case you come across a similar issue. Stay tuned as I will provide another post once I have fixed the issue. Why make a blogging app if I cant use it to blog??

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

WWDC 2008 Countdown Widget

Last years WWDC widget is stunning but the 2008 version making the rounds is awful, the guy has basically set the date and added some text to the default countdown widget design. I have made widgets before the Dashcode days so I thought this would be a good chance to try something new. Its basically just a fully customized countdown widget for the 2008 World Wide Developers Conference with extra code that opens websites in your default browser when their buttons are clicked. Check it out and let me know what you think! Oh and its free, everyone loves free stuff! It's also the first mac project I have announced on this blog, it is a good day! :)


Update: The widget is now on the Apple Dashboard Downloads page here. Unfortunately the images wont show up on the page which basically defeats the point of submitting it for the site in the first place. But hey if I get a few more downloads means a few more people will see my blog :)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Times, My first look...

Previously I had used a combination of the Firefox feed bar and iGoogle to keep track of my news feeds, which is quick and easy but to actually read the posts I have to go to the actual site. I know there are some decent news readers out there for the mac but I had never taken them seriously enough to buy one, until now. Times from Acrylic Apps is a brand new, absolutely stunning Leopard news reader that takes advantage of core animation to build a brilliant user experience. No longer are you forced to use readers that look like mail apps, Times makes your reading experience much like reading a news paper, with different 'Pages' for different genres of news and the option to create your own custom pages.

Times costs US$30 is definitely worth it, you can view all the text, images and videos related to the posts. With this application you will no longer have to use a web browser to view blogs and news sites as you can comment posts as well as email and add to various sources such as facebook. Its really hard to explain the kind of experience Times provides, along with the stunning interface and well built features make you wonder why someone hasn't done this before. You really have to try it to fully experience it. Times is available as a free trial for 14 days, but I can almost guarantee you will buy it, unless your a full hardcore netnewswire user or something. Quite frankly, Times is brilliant and I highly recommend it. When you get it, don't forget to add my blog to your feeds :).

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

What has been going on?

It has been a while since I have posted here or updated my status, there are a number of reasons for it. School has been taking an incredible amount of time and now I find out that my family and I are moving to a new station this week so I have had to make some changes to my priorities. I wanted to wait to I had discussed with my fellow crew members before announcing that I'm putting my Windows development to the side for a while to focus on the premier platform, Mac OS X. I will be learning to code, design and deploy mac applications that are focused on design and usability, something which all too often gets pushed away. My major project on at the moment is code-named 'Fern' and will be a Leopard desktop blog editor, so keep stay tuned here to keep track of it.

I'm trying my best to keep projects going alongside school and my work with Computer Sciences Corporation, this recent move to a new station also throws a spanner in the works. I have copped a lot of flack for leaving windows but with Mac being my main platform, and being a much more enjoyable experience, it was all too obvious what I have to do as I just don't have the time. Some recent advice from a friend "You only get one chance at life, you should live it the way you truly want to", which got me thinking about my current situation, and is the main reason for my changes. But frankly I don't have to answer to anyone yet, I might as well make the most of it by doing what I want and enjoying it. I will definitely be returning to windows development at the end of the year when I start my courses at TAFE.

Stay tuned as I start my journey of mac development and the life lessons along the way. Thank you.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

No support for Australia in DL2


Delicious Library is one of the most unique applications on the Mac for cataloging you physical media such as Books, Games, CDs and Movies. Delicious Library 2 will be out very soon and 1 request I had for this major update is support for Australian barcodes in the iSight scanner but unfortunately that wont be. DL connects to Amazon for searching and adding items to the library, Amazon doesn't have an Australian store so I'm out of luck. The very helpful support lady assured me that I will still be able search via 'Name' which isn't quite as quick and easy as barcode scanning but it all results. Check out the website  for more details on Delicious Library.

The main developer on this project, Wil Shipley is my idol when it comes to developing, check out his personal blog for tips and insights into his genius.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Newest member of Continental-8!

I'm happy to announce I have joined Donald, Lloyd and Josh on the Continental 8 team. Formed at the challenge to build a WPF Program to get accepted as Microsoft Student Partners, we will be building an innovative blogging tool. I will be working alongside Lloyd as the head of the UI Department of the project so I have a big task ahead of me but Im looking forward to it. Details are minimal at the moment so stay tuned here and on the official development blog to keep track of project progress. I'm super stoked at this chance and I plan to make the most of it.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Resolution Independence in WPF

This is the first of a series of posts that explains the aspects of WPF and C#. One of the first technologies explained in Pro WPF in C# 2008 is the support for resolution independence in WPF applications. In standard windows forms applications, scaling is not supported and this becomes more of an issue as manufacturers cram more pixels into LCD displays which results in a higher DPI (Dots per inch) rating. A traditional display has a pixel density of 96 DPI but newer displays can have pixel densities of 120DPI and up, this results in windows and controls decreasing in size rather than increasing quality and clarity. How is this overcome? Resolution Independence. When you make a button with dimensions of 96 x 96 on your 96 DPI system, it displays a 1 inch button. When a user runs your application on 120DPI system, windows assumes each individual pixel is equal to 1.25 pixels, this means that the button will be 1 inch in length when displayed on a standard or a high pixel density monitor. Instead of changing the size, the button has increased quality as more pixels are used to display it. This is all done without any input from the user, most people will not even notice it :)

I'm not going to go over the mathematics involved in reaching this independence but I just wanted to go over the basics. If you have any issues or tips with this post, please drop a comment :) I'm still learning so give me a chance :)

Two books for learning C# and WPF

As readers of my previous blog will know, I'm learning WPF/XAML along with C# to develop next generation windows applications. When I first began my journey, WPF was a daunting prospect and C# looked impossible to master (Still does :)). Tutorials may be a good thing for learning Photoshop but it doesn't work all that well when learning a system graphics environment or a coding language. Donald recommended that I read these two books, Illustrated C# 2008 and Pro WPF in C# 2008, both published by Aspress. In my early developments I can honestly say that I did skip over some of the 'basics' related to programming, which I believe added to my fear of learning a new code language. Illustrated C# is a great book, it first presents a small amount of history on C# and then gets down to the basics of this new language. Already I have become more comfortable and confident that I can master this programming language. I can also say I did the same thing with WPF, jumped right in and started building applications which resulted in getting pretty confident with my tools but not with the technology and language itself. Pro WPF in C#, much like Illustrated C# explains a little history and then gets down to building a foundation for further learning and having a quick flick through I know this will be a very valuable source.

I know I said that I would provide information and help on learning these technologies as I learnt, unfortunately I haven't been keeping that promise lately but that will change :). Along with recommending these books, I will provide posts on aspects of WPF and C# as I learn them. This helps me to get a better grip on it as well as helping you guys to learn as well. I hope this all helps.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Brushes for Expression Design

My good friend and fellow student developer, Donald, has released the first set of Bittbox brushes for use in Expression Design. Originally for Adobe's Illustrator and Photoshop applications, these ported brushes are fully functional and totally free! Thats right, you can have professionally designed brushes for Expression Design. A full how-to is included with the brushes to get you on the way. Donald has put a tonne of time and effort into porting these brushes, so when you download them, drop a comment on his blog or on his Channel 8 post!

You can download the brushes here

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Beta Software I'm testing

I love testing software, to the point that almost every program I use is pre-release which is some cases might not be such a great thing :). Looking back, my first ever beta program was for Windows Media Player 10, we all know how awesome that was. Since then I have tested/ing:

Firefox 2
Firefox 3 (Current)
Internet Explorer 7
Internet Explorer 8 (Current)
WMP 10
WMP 11
Windows Live Messenger
Skitch (Private) (Current)
Comic Life (Private)
Comic Life Magiq (Private) (Current)
Bento (Current)
Expression Blend 2.5 (Current)
Yahoo! Messenger for Vista (Current)
Flow (Current)

Thats all I can think off the top of my head. Being able to test this software and even be chosen for private testing is an honour for me as I get to use the software and provide my thoughts and bugs with it. I have tried to provide all the links so you can check out the betas for yourself. Two of importance are Yahoo Messenger which uses a stunning WPF rich interface and Flow which is built by a student :)

The Holidays are here!

As of yet I still haven't posted here about anything related to technology but I'm working on it. Especially since tomorrow is the last day of the West Australian school term 1 for High School students. I was planning on spending most of the holidays at BHP working for Computer Sciences Corp but I can't even go for the safety course until the 30th of April which rules out that idea. The one positive that has come from that is that it allows me to dedicate more time to my personal projects and learning. Being a designer means I can draw things pretty good, but I still have to learn how to use Blend and WPF properly. Content Presenter is an excellent video resource for people just getting into Expression Blend, I have already learnt a lot so I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Welcome new readers and loyal followers from my live space blog. This is my new home, "but why did I leave live space?" well there are two main reasons: 1) Live Space is incredibly slow and doesn't really resemble a 'proper' blog and 2) The customisation's of blogger is unmatched by Live Spaces. I was originally drawn to blogger from my fellow Rural Management Team developer, Donald and his awesome blog. Now that is out of the way, what can you expect from my new blog? Dedication, my experiences in learning to be a software developer and designer, the journey of bringing Rural Management and other projects to reality as well as other ramblings :) Which also means the post are just going to be about me or things related to me. As I hit milestones with my life and projects, you will know about it. When I learn something new or cool, you will know about it. At the moment I'm learning XAML/WPF with Expression Blend and when I get the time I'm learning the basics of C#. Stay tuned!