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.