What do I think of MacWorld SF ’06?

 What do I think of MacWorld SF ’06?  Geek Culture, General, Technical  Comments Off on What do I think of MacWorld SF ’06?
Jan 112006
 

So Apple announced a lot of new stuff on Tuesday at MacWorld San Francisco; am I impressed?  Let’s see:

Steve Jobs started off with the usual crap about Apple sales and revenue; that doesn’t really mean anything to me.  I guess it’s nice that Apple is making money, but it’s not all so exciting to someone who isn’t a stockholder.

And then the new product announcements (AKA the stuff I actually wanted to hear about):
iPhoto 6:  OK, so it’s iPhoto, but they added “photo casting”.  Way to take a meme and expand it, Apple.  So this is really just a way to subscribe to an iPhoto collection that’s been shared.  It’s nice that it’s not permanently linked to .mac, but I’m not sure how useful it’ll be, until 3rd-party applications (like, for example, the popular “Gallery” PHP photo-gallery) reverse-engineer the protocol to add support, so that you can view these “photo casts” online before you subscribe to ’em.  And apparently there’s new photo-editing features, like a full-screen mode and “instant edits” (or whatever terminology Apple uses).  Nifty.  But I’ve got Photoshop.  And Adobe’s new Lightroom (the free public beta is only for the Mac right now) seems to be a replacement for both iPhoto and Aperture, so iPhoto may take a back seat once Adobe pushes Lightroom out of beta.  Pass.
GarageBand 3: Hm.  Let’s see:  all that really changed in GarageBand this time was the addition of the podcast creator.  Granted, it’s way easier to use than Mega Seg or CastBlaster.  But I don’t make podcasts (yet); what’s the point for me?  Pass, until I decide to start writing music or recording a podcast.
iWeb:  This is apparently the “new thing” from Apple’s software division.  OK, it’s a nice web page editor.  The templates are kinda neat, but I’m limited to only using the templates; there’s not an easy way (that I’ve seen so far) of creating my own templates (or, for that matter, starting with a blank page).  Yeah, I can take X random template and modify it to fit my needs, but that’s not really the same thing, ya know?  Maybe Apple will sell “iWeb Theme Packs” just like they sell “Jam Packs” for GarageBand.  Ooh, they could call them “Memory Packs” or something saccharine like that.  The integration with the rest of the iLife suite is nice, but I’m not a big fan of the giant .mac advertisement every time I open iWeb.  And where’s SFTP (or even FTP) publishing to an arbitrary server?  If I have to publish to a folder every time I make a change, and re-upload the entire thing to my hosting provider, it’s probably not something I’m gonna plan on using all the time, you know?  Especially if I create a media-rich site like Apple wants me to, full of pictures and movies.  And if my “podcast” page gets to be more than one or two episodes long, it’d take hours to re-upload the site.  Pass (for now).
iMovie HD 6:  Hm.  I haven’t used iMovie that much, since most of the movies I acquire are already perfectly edited.  But I guess it’s nice that I can now open multiple projects at the same time; the lack of an MDI in previous versions of iMovie was something about which I read a lot of unfavorable reviews on teh Intarwebs. Pass, until I start editing the raw files from my ReplayTV on my laptop.
iDVD 6:  Yeah.  I’ve got DVD Studio Pro.  I didn’t even bother installing iDVD.  Pass.
iTunes 6.0.2: Hm.  I was irritated by the “mini store” when I launched the newest version of iTunes yesterday, especially given the measly 768 vertical pixels on my laptop’s display.  But it was easy enough for me to click the “hide” button and go on with life.  And to all of the privacy nuts out there who are freaking out because Apple is being sent information about what tracks they’ve got selected in iTunes:  I’m concerned about privacy myself, but come on; it’s easy enough to turn off and ignore.  Go after someone who actually means to do evil with your data for a change.  Or stop using the product altogether; sometimes the self-proclaimed “protectors of privacy” on the internet are worse than Jesus’ fan club.  No, I don’t want to be “saved” on this particular issue.  Yes, I’m OK with that.

And that’s iLife ’06. Now, for…
iWork ’06:  Hm.  Let’s see.  I’ve already got Microsoft Office, I don’t produce a newsletter (which is pretty much all Pages seems to do), and I don’t make presentations (which really is all Keynote does).  Pass.

Pro Application “Crossgrades”:  Sweet.  Apple gets an extra $49 from their customers, so that they can run (what appears to be) the exact same software on the new Intel-based Macs.  Hm.  I think that if I were a “Pro”, I’d wait for the next version of these big titles, just so I’d get more for my money than a version of the software title that didn’t require the emulation layer to run.  Pass.

And, the new systems:

iMac:  Hm.  Who would’a guessed that the imac would be the first intel mac?  Let’s see:  lower-end system (although not as low-end as the mini), great for people who don’t care about expansion (and, conveniently, perfect hardware control for Apple).  I like that the systems are supposed to be twice as fast (although of course, having two processor cores probably helps that a bit).  Of course, they used a benchmark program that was optimized for the Intel processor (you know, the opposite of what they did when they spec’d the G5 against Intel chips a few years ago?).  Keeping the price points the same was a nice touch, though.

MacBook:  No, it’s not a piece of bookkeeping software, no matter what the product name might indicate.  It’s a shame the first new Intel-based Mac laptops are “pro” edition laptops rather than iBook reworks; I think I’d have much rather preferred that a lower-cost version was coming out first, like the mini or iBook instead of this new “macbook” product.  It’s nice to see that Apple didn’t strip out the Firewire ports like had been rumored, although I’m a bit saddened to see that they went to a Firewire 400 port instead of the Firewire 800 port that was previously on the PowerBook G4; I guess those pros don’t really need the high-speed Firewire to pull data off of their HD cameras, eh?  Well, OK.  2005 was the year of HD; since it’s 2006 now, I guess we can stop worrying about actually using those nifty new HD products that we bought last year.  The new power cord is a nifty idea, I’ll admit.  I know I’ve come close to knocking my system off of a table (or bed, or desk, or chair, etc) when the cord got tangled on my shoe.  I’ll also mirror the thoughts of a few other Internet people in saying “um, why do I need a remote control for my portable computer?” and “how many professionals need a built-in webcam on their laptop?”

The new Apple/Intel ad was a nice finish.  Shame Intel’s backpedaling now, saying that PCs aren’t boring.

Update:
OK, I really don’t like iPhoto at all, any more; this miraculous new “photocasting” that Apple loves so much is only available for the suckers who shell out for a .mac account.  I guess the $79 I paid for iLife ’06 was a complete waste.  They should mention that on the box: “iLife ’06 is $79, but in order to actually use the niftiest features, it’s actually $178.”

Thunderbird and iCal integration?

 Thunderbird and iCal integration?  General, Technical  Comments Off on Thunderbird and iCal integration?
Jan 012006
 

Update 2009-05-09: I gave up on this long ago, and switched to using Mail.app.  If you haven’t upgraded to the Thunderbird 3.0 beta, give the Lightning plugin a try.

Warning: This is a very tech-heavy post. So look out.

I get calendar events from my co-workers from time to time, and since they all use Outlook (and I refuse to use Entourage), it’s really more of an irritation than anything else; if I want to put those events into my iCal, I have to save the text of the message to a file, then drag it into iCal. And easy as that is, it’s more effort than I want to go to.

So I thought, “this might be a great thing to use Automator for”. Especially since I hadn’t found anything useful for Automator to do up to that point. Trouble is, there’s no actions to add iCal events (that’s .ics files ya know) from arbitrary files into iCal. Luckily, so long as iCal is your default handler for .ics files, simply opening them (the ics files) will create new events in iCal.

So: Continue reading »