Posts categorized “software”.

Apple still offering Aperture with new Macs

August 1st, 2014

Interesting find: I’m spec’ing out a new iMac and find that Apple is still offering Aperture as a pro software upgrade.

But wait, didn’t they officially say they’re discontinuing Aperture? And that support will be kaput by the end of the year? Why would they continue to offer a pro-level application if it’s not long for this world?

My only thought is that, since they don’t have the Photos app ready to replace Aperture, they have to have something in that video/audio/photo lineup.

Aperture is also still listed under their “Pro Apps” section of the Mac page on Apple’s website. And nothing on the Aperture page about being discontinued. App buyers can still plunk down their $79.99 and purchase it with no warning.

Newton Poetry First-Ever Software Giveaway™: OneThingToday

December 7th, 2011

OneThingToday screenshot

Last fall I heard about a to-do app, OneThingToday, with a simple premise: get just one thing accomplished each day. Simple, straightforward — and something I thought any worthwhile text file junkie could do on his or her own.

OneThingToday’s developer, Mike Sykes, looked through his referral logs and found my post from last year. He dropped me a note to say he appreciated the mention, even if I showed how to do the whole thing yourself.

“You are absolutely correct when you say it’s nothing that can’t be done via many other methods, but I like to think there’s a little less friction with a dedicated app,” Sykes said. “Also for me iCal is for reminders, not tasks – that’s just how my mind works.”

He’s absolutely right, of course, especially if you work under David Allen’s GTD system. The calendar, so it goes, is sacred — and reserved for time-sensitive appointments or obligations. Sykes system takes your to-dos off the calendar and into a seamless system where the goal is modest (but appropriate): just do something today.

Sykes was nice enough to offer a few promo codes for people to try out OneThingToday, both for OS X and iOS, for free.

To get one of these promo codes, simply drop me an e-mail at newtonpoetry [at] gmail.com with the subject line, “OneThingToday Giveaway,” and tell me if you want the OS X or iOS version of OneThingToday. And while you’re at it, tell me a bit about yourself: how long you’ve been reading, if you still use your Newton, what else you’re interested in, etc. I’ll give a few promo codes out to the first couple of e-mails.

Thanks again to Mike Sykes for the chance to try out his software. He has a few other titles you can try out, too, at his Line Thirteen site.

Random thoughts on the Mac App Store

January 10th, 2011

Browsing through Apple’s new Mac App Store, a thought hit me:

If you’re a non-techie person (define that however you like), systems like app stores allow you to try out software that, without the store, you might not have known about. In other words, the applications that aren’t allowed on the Mac App Store don’t appeal to people who only find apps on the App Store. If you don’t know about Onyx, or have any idea what it does, would it appeal to you even if it was in the App Store?

That’s why I think some of the pro-style apps, and their developers, will be fine making a living in a world where the Mac App Store exists. Those developers’ products cater to a different audience. So maybe those apps that rely on root access in OS X, like backup applications, cater to those of us who know how important it is to backup and make sure to do it on a regular occasion. For everyone else, there’s Time Machine.

And as long as Apple allows Mac users to use applications outside of the App Store, the platform will still appeal to UNIX geeks and users like me, who use and appreciate more of the pro-level apps.

Also, what do you do about software developers who still sell their applications in boxes in a retail environment? These titles, on physical media like CDs and DVDs, are obviously outside the reach of the App Store. So the App Store can’t be the only place to try and use Mac software. Otherwise, you’re excluding all these retail titles.

Personally, I like have my applications in some sort of physical form. It made me feel better, for instance, to purchase Bento at the Apple Store, bring home the DVD, pop it into my iMac, and install it. I could have purchased the application online and downloaded it that way, but there’s something reassuring about having a backup copy – you know, just in case.

Which is why I’m conflicted about an application like Apple’s pro photo editor, Aperture. Purchase it at an Apple retail store and you pay almost $200, but you get a nice box and DVD. Purchase it on the Mac App Store and get it for better than half the price ($80), but it’s a download-only install. It’s hard to argue with the dramatically discounted price on the App Store, unless you’re like me and you value holding the app in hand.

The benefits of having it as part of the App Store, however, are obvious: automatic updates, lower price, no physical media to lose or damage. And the good news is that Apple still allows free 30-day trials of Aperture 3 – something the Mac App Store doesn’t allow for its titles.

app store aperture

For Apple, having a title like Aperture available on the Mac App Store helps it become more discoverable. As I write this, Aperture is in several of the “top” lists on the App Store, which means Macs users can find it on the App Store homepage, which means more users are more likely to buy it. This approach might be working, because Aperture ranks as the top-grossing App Store title. That could be because of its relative high price tag compared with the rest of the Mac App Store titles.

Searchability, discoverability – if only the App Store had try-ability, it would be perfect.

I wonder where we, in the Newton community, would be if it weren’t for sites like UNNA, where all the available Newton software that ever existed is in one convenient spot. Imagine if we had to hunt all around to find that one app that we want to try. It used to be that way, with some Newton apps sold retail style, in boxes on store shelves, while other titles were available only as online downloads.

Today, however, Newton sites are disappearing. Thank goodness for one, centralized hub like UNNA.

What would’ve happened if the Newton, back in the day, had it’s own app store? If we could have accessed Toolkit and DataRescue from one central location, and have the ability to try out apps for fun (something, admittedly, Apple’s own App Store doesn’t even allow)? It’s a fun thought experiment.

There are repositories like this for classic Mac software as well. I browse the Macintosh Garden on a regular basis for fun, pre-OS X apps. We should hope that someone is doing this for OS X apps as well.

I think the whole idea of a well-run, successful app store will be one of Apple’s great legacies. You could extend that to stores in general, based on how well the company runs its retail and iTunes stores. Making things easy to buy, and easy to try (like iMacs at the mall, or song previews on iTunes) is a win-win for the customer and for Apple.

On iPhoto face recognition

November 29th, 2010

As I add more photos to iPhoto, it seems to get better at recognizing real-life people. It helps that most of the portraits I take are of a small group of friends, or of myself, like above.

Even on photos with multiple people, iPhoto does a decent job. Where it really shines is in pure face recognition – flagging faces of people I don’t even know.

It’s kind of magical, the way iPhoto operates.

But oh man, when it gets faces wrong? Hilarious.

Thanks for the entertainment, iPhoto.

Newton development marches on

November 24th, 2010

Newton wizard Eckhart Köppen on developing for the Newton OS post-OS X 10.5 Leopard:

I’ve been trying to put together simple compiler based on NEWT/0 and the DCL to allow at least some sort of text based development.

So far my experiments are actually quite successful, and it seems that developing Newton applications with just a text editor is not that impractical. It is in fact easier when it comes down to version control management. Some things are still missing for developing larger apps, like the ability to split the code into multiple source files, and a way to embed resources into the final package, but for simple applications (and even auto parts), we might have a way forward.

He’s wrapping up a compiler project, with scraps up on SourceForge right now. Pretty sweet.

NEWT/0 is an open source NewtonScript compiler for Windows, Linux, or OS X 10.3 and above. So Köppen’s version will be a compiler for newer versions of OS X. Can’t wait to see it.

[Via Newtontalk.]

Simplenote on Mac OS 8.6

November 11th, 2010

Riccardo Mori at System Folder wondered if using a handy tool like Simplenote was possible on a classic Mac:

Things start getting trickier if you’re on a Mac with older versions of the Mac OS. I couldn’t do tests with Mac OS 8.5/8.6, though I suspect that if you have a capable Mac and a suitable version of iCab or Opera (or maybe even Internet Explorer 5), you could still be able to access the Simplenote Web interface.

Having set up my dream dual Mac OS 8.6/9.2 system, it was possible to test Mori’s suspicion.

Using my PowerMac G3 running OS 8.6 and the latest build of Classilla, with JavaScript turned on, I could access Simplenote’s interface. The trick, I thought, would be if it was a useful interface. So I typed in an easily-checked addition to my grocery list:

simplenote screenshot os 8.6

The note, “Try out SImplenote on OS 8.6,” did, indeed, appear on my OS X 10.6 version of Safari – synced and ready for action:

simplenote screenshot safari

The other browsers? Internet Explorer 5.1 on the PowerMac threw up a Typekit certificate error and wouldn’t let me past the login screen. iCab 3.0.5 loaded the login screen fine, and even showed the basic outline of the notes page (posting the Fusion ad, for instance – something Classilla wouldn’t do until I turned on JavaScript), but failed to load any actual notes. When I tried creating a new note in the text entry field, it didn’t send the note back to the server.

opera 6 screenshot

Both Opera 5 and 6 treated Simplenote much like iCab did (above), loading an empty text field for a new note, but nothing else. And the formatting looked awful.

Classilla, it seems, is the Simplenote trophy winner on Mac OS 8.6 – a good thing to keep in mind for the lowend Mac users out there who want to sync notes between their Mac and iPhone or iPad.

Updates, uploads coming to UNNA

August 27th, 2010

UNNA updates

The United Network of Newton Archives, or UNNA, is looking at clearing the cobwebs and hosting new Newton-related software after long last.

Morgan Aldridge, UNNA wrangler since 2007, gave the above hint on Twitter – a sneak peek at the Recent Additions page. It shows the latest 25 uploads to UNNA through a moderated database, says Morgan.

“Any new files uploaded and existing files that have new descriptions added get added to a moderation queue,” he said in an e-mail. “If it’s just a description, it’s just a matter of tweaking and approving the description. If it’s also a new upload, the moderation tools support publishing the file to the final destination as well.”

The previous UNNA moderator, Victor Rehorst, stopped taking new UNNA submissions in 2004, and then handed off UNNA’s hosting to Morgan. Finally, he says, he’s getting around to adding new stuff to the archive.

“In the past few years a number of Newton-related sites have disappeared for good and I and others have become increasingly worried about preserving all of this data,” Morgan said. “The least I could do is get UNNA opened back up. So, a couple months ago I started moving forward.”

Between some detective work, trying to figure out how Victor managed all the data, and some version control issues, Morgan plunked away at the project a few hours at a time. Now the Recent Additions page is his way of testing out the uploading and moderating tools. UNNA has preserved Newton sites along the way.

The idea is to keep the Newton software and sites in a downloadable vault to keep it from vanishing. As I’ve found, more and more Newton sites are disappearing. The same can be said for software: companies go out of business, people move (or die), computers crash.

Morgan says he doesn’t get a whole lot of submissions these days, but new entries trickle in every few months. Mostly, he says, Newton users have expressed “discomfort with the state of UNNA.” So he’s going to start fixing that. One of the first new entries: Brian Parker of Sealie Computing is submitting full versions of his NewtChat, NewtGlider, and MathFaster packages, and mirrors of the web pages.

“He’s still looking to see if he has the NewtGlider source code and such, but I’m already happy to have this work preserved,” Morgan said.

UNNA is an indispensable resource for any Newton user. I find packages in the archives that I try out just for fun, and Newton Poetry has only been possible through a lot of that old software. It’s great to hear we’ll be getting some new stuff up and available for download.

[Via UNNA on Twitter. Follow Morgan's own Twitter stream, while you're at it.]

Growling at the iMac G4

July 9th, 2010

Thank you, Growl, for the nod to the iMac G4 in today’s update.

Syncing Claris Organizer with Newtons – denied!

July 7th, 2010

Through my dragged out Seven Days of System 7 experiment, a few obstacles have blocked a full immersion in mid-90s Mac’ing. First, there was my lost Entrega USB adapter disc. Now I find that Claris Organizer and Newton Connection Utilities (or perhaps my eMate) can only hold hands. They never get past first base.

Dad's contact info

Throwing PIM data into Organizer is a snap. The whole thing is setup just like an Outlook/Entourage/Address Book + iCal system. Even the search works like a charm, and it’s a wonder why Apple didn’t keep Claris Organizer, instead of selling it to Palm, and making a unified PIM system. Maybe it’s the Outlook pro in me, but I prefer it that way.

I built a test account in Organizer, adding a few dates and contacts just to see if it would sync with my Newton. Organizer is a little different in that, once you get your information logged in, you have to save the whole thing as a profile file (in this case, the “davelawrence8″). Everything – contacts, calendars, to-dos – lives in that file. And at first, everything seemed easy and promising.

Organizer / NCU sync settings

Through Newton Connection Utilities, you set the Newton’s sync file to whatever Organizer file you saved as your main profile. To sync, you manually connect each Newton data pool to the appropriate file. In this case, I want everything – my to-dos, my contacts, etc. – to sync with the Newton.

Sync prefs

And for this first time, I set NCU to let the Mac’s information override anything already on my Newton. After the initial sync, I would let it go the other way around, where anything changed on the Newton would be dominant.

No sync for you!

Clicking “Synchronize,” NCU looks like it’s going to sync everything with the Organizer data. And then bonk. There’s a connection error.

Import names

Since I tried to fit the whole PIM bundle the first time, I wondered if it was too much. Instead, I tried syncing the PIM info bucket by bucket. For the first test, I tried just syncing the contacts in Organizer.

Everything goes fine. NCU takes a few seconds to pull down Organizer’s data and push it through the serial connection with my eMate. No problems.

Next, I try the calendar data. And here again, NCU looks likes it’s going to work, and then bam. Another connection error.

Sync repeating appointments

“Maybe it’s my repeating meeting appointment,” I think to myself. So I set my recycling meeting to occur only once instead of a repeating appointment.

PHFFFT. Nothing.

That’s where things stand now. I’ve been defeated. The only thing left to try is to-dos, and maybe do a reverse sync – to see if an appointment added to the eMate manually gets synced with Organizer.

All this is part of the fun of setting up a system for the Seven Days experiment. I haven’t even got a good start on the thing when, POW, some roadblock stands in my way of full integration.

A side benefit: I did come up with a simple Automator Services script (above) that takes PICT files from OS 8/9 and adds the .pct extension to the files in batches. Since I do this quite a bit, making the mundane task a Service was pretty handy.

No Preview for you!

However, as you can see, Preview gives me sass on how to open up these files for viewing. So I said to hell with it and used Photoshop for any editing. But the “add .pct” Service is still a hit.

Disappeared: Apple’s Mac Download page

May 10th, 2010

Chris Foresman at Ars Technica:

A link to the Downloads page was also featured as one of the top navigation links on Apple’s website until a section for the iPad replaced it several weeks ago. Of course, the Downloads page has gone without updates for several days in a row in the past. The most recent month-long update drought, however, has many developers wondering if Apple plans to discontinue the Downloads page altogether.

I like the idea of a Mac “App Store Lite” – because that’s exactly how I thought of Apple’s Download page when I bought my first Macintosh in 2005. As a new subscriber to the Apple way of life, the Downloads page was an easily-browsable headquarters.

In fact, I still go there from time to time and browse through the apps. Most offer a free trial period, unlike the iTunes-based App Store, so there is little barrier to entry. Try an app. Don’t like it? Try another.

The Downloads page disappearing from the Apple title makes sense, given that the iPad is the new focus, and actually gives clarity to Apple’s lineup:

Apple link bar

Here’s an older version of the nav bar, with the Downloads link:

Apple's Download link

Before that, we had iCards and QuickTime and all kinds of nonsense. To me, the Downloads page makes more sense under the Mac heading – since it’s all software for the Macintosh.

(And speaking of organization: I know that FileMaker is its own pseudo company thingy, with its own headquarters and software for both Mac and Windows, but really? Why not lump Bento in with iWork and have FileMaker serve as a pro app, like Aperture?)

The thing is, the Downloads page isn’t found in the Mac section. After digging, I found it on the Support Downloads page in a inconspicuous location:

Apple Downloads link

Even worse: it’s nowhere to be found on the Site Map page. As Foresman points out in the Ars Technica article, the only easy way to get to the Downloads page is via the Apple menu in OS X:

Mac OS X Software

The downloads page languishing and hidden in the remote corners of apple.com is not a good sign. It reminds me of what Apple’s doing to AppleTV.

What could it mean?

  • That, just as Ars postulates, Apple could be moving to an App Store for the Mac
  • That Apple has turned their attention away from the Mac, spelling doom and ruin
  • Apple has been so busy with other things that…well…it just hasn’t gotten around to playing with the Downloads page

I’m not a fan of any of those options.