Colin Devroe

Photographer. Podcaster. Blogger. Reverse Engineer.

Recorded an audio bit with Danny this morning all about switching to Windows 10 and Surface Book. To be published tomorrow.

Continuum is great

In Gruber’s link to The Verge’s review of the Lumia 950XL and the Continuum feature (the feature that allows mobile apps to run like desktop apps when the phone is connected to an external display):

I’ve seen Continuum demoed, and technically it is impressive. I’m not sure though that it’s something anyone wants or needs. […] Why bother plugging it in to a desktop display and keyboard when the phone’s own display and on-screen keyboard are good enough? I could be wrong, because Continuum is so new, but my hunch is that Microsoft has built something technically impressive that very few people have any desire to use.

I do not agree. I would love to have a mobile phone that had enough power to be the only device I would ever need. I could walk into work, plug my phone into my display, and it be “business as usual”. If that mobile device had all of the power and storage of our current notebook computers (which doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility) how could you not want this? Why have two devices if you only needed one? Windows 10 and Continuum is much closer to that reality than anything I’ve seen from Apple. In fact, Apple has publicly stated that they think Microsoft is wrong in their approach — that one OS can be used for all devices. I disagree with Apple.

His other point, though, is spot on:

The rest of Warren’s review is pretty scathing. The dearth of native apps is suffocating the platform.

This has been the biggest issue for Microsoft for years. Here is what I wrote in the summer of 2013:

Most of the applications on Windows Phone are absolutely abysmal if they aren’t the official apps. The Instagram apps end up getting their photos deleted from Instagram because they use Private APIs. Not to mention that when compared to Instagram they’re terrible. The Dropbox apps, which aren’t official, are simply unusable. All of the official apps, however, such as Twitter, Spotify, and others are superior to their iOS counterparts in a number of ways.

I hope that Microsoft can get a lot of great applications onto Windows 10 in 2016.

I say all of this as being someone that uses an iPhone, iPad, and Mac daily. I’m all in on Apple’s ecosystem and have been for over 13 years. I do own a Windows 10 PC but it is only for testing at work. I’m watching both the Surface and Lumia line ups very closely and if Microsoft can find a way to get better apps in their offerings I’d consider switching.

Firefox for iOS

Firefox for iOS just hit the App Store and will work on iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Why would you use Firefox for iOS? Benjamin Mayo of 9to5Mac:

You might want to use Firefox for iPhone and iPad if you use Firefox on the Mac, due to UI similarities for the browser chrome or just for syncing convenience. The Firefox app will sync bookmarks, open tabs across all your devices by logging into your Firefox account. These are the main differences between Firefox and the native Safari app.

I would argue the reasons for using Firefox on iOS are similar, if not exactly the same, to the reasons you’d use Chrome on iOS. The rendering should be identical (I think?). But if you use Chrome or Firefox on the desktop there are a lot of conveniences to using them on iOS.

Due to a service we use at Plain I’ve had to switch to using Chrome on the Mac recently and I sincerely miss the conveniences of using Safari across all platforms. It worked perfectly. Switching to Chrome on iOS would help but it wouldn’t solve the issue since iOS does not allow me to pick Chrome as my default browser.

I’m not the sharpest tool in the barn but why was Microsoft investigated by the Justice Department for the stranglehold that Internet Explorer had on the Windows community and Apple isn’t being forced to allow this same choice on iOS? This is an honest question because I’ve looked into it a little and, while there are some differences (E.g. IE was used to power Windows Explorer on Windows as well. That’d be like Safari powering Finder), I still view this as Apple making a poor choice for the end user.

Gruber’s iPad Pro review

You can see why I believe Apple is going to regret not making OS X available on iPads by reading some of the points in John Gruber’s iPad Pro review:

First, when the iPad Pro is open with the keyboard attached, holding your arm up to touch the screen for anything longer than a moment or two is ergonomically uncomfortable. Apple has stated for years that this is why they don’t make the displays on MacBooks or iMacs touchscreens (that, combined with the relatively tiny click targets of Mac OS X, which are designed for very precise mice and trackpads, not imprecise finger tips). Scrolling through a long document using the iPad Pro touch screen is uncomfortable when it’s in laptop position. Going through a slew of new emails, likewise. In laptop mode, I want to use the keyboard for these things — and in most cases, because of bugs and/or software limitations, I can’t.

I don’t know if John has ever used a Surface or even a Windows 10 device so I do not know what he would think of them. However, the fact that Windows 10 can switch between Tablet mode and Windows mode is exactly what makes it work better in these in-between situations and on these in-between devices. Devices that are both touch capable and can have keyboards and mice, I mean. Windows 10 handles this exact situation far better than iOS or OS X do today. And as someone that uses an iPad daily I long for the ability to switch between iOS and OS X on a single device.

Don’t take my quoted bit out of context. Read his entire review.

Evernote or Notes?

Brett Kelly ponders the switch from Evernote to Notes and the differences between the two services. While listing the main differences he remarks:

Evernote works on platforms beside OS X; if you’re all hot to trot with and you have a Windows computer at work, Notes becomes a whole lot less usable.

This isn’t entirely accurate — Notes is available on (if you use an email account for iCloud) as well and will work in any modern day browser. A more accurate way to describe Notes’ cross-platform compatibility is that it only has native apps on OS X and iOS.

Evernote still beats Notes in nearly every comparable column; however, the new version of Notes is a huge update for those that use it regularly.

Why I wouldn’t bet against Microsoft

If you follow me on Twitter you can probably tell that for the past 48 hours my brain is swirling around Microsoft’s Build conference and keynote.

In a lot of ways my brain is swirling in the same way that it did in 2002 when I saw Steve Jobs debut the 17” iMac. This was the moment I knew I was going to switch from using a PC and Windows — as I had for the majority of my computing for 8 years prior — to using a Macintosh which I have for every single day for the last 13 years.

And now my head is swirling with questions yet again. Is Microsoft poised to make a huge jump forward? Will they change from being a company that was afraid of innovating because Windows and Office was such a cash cow to one that innovates to save those cash cows? Will they change from a company that simply announces things to a company that launches things? I wouldn’t bet against them now that I’ve seen what they are up to.

In 2002 Apple was on their way towards figuring themselves out. They were starving for many, many years prior and if they didn’t innovate their way towards success we wouldn’t be talking about them at all today; let alone describing them as the most valuable company on the planet.

So why can’t Microsoft do the same? They certainly have the resources. If their attitude towards innovation does a 180 — where they go from innovating behind closed doors and simply allowing great ideas to die on the vine — to a company that finishes and polishes those ideas for the mass market… I’d say Apple, Google, Samsung, and even Microsoft’s own OEMs had better be concerned.

Notice this nugget from a piece in the New York Times by Nick Wingfield:

Founded in 1991 by Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft’s chief technology officer at the time, as an early warning system for disruptive new technologies, Microsoft Research occupies a building that has a spacious, multistory atrium, filled with a swirl of employees in T-shirts, jeans and other timeless fashions of tech.

It is the biggest operation of its kind in the technology industry, with more than 1,000 scientists and engineers working in labs as far away as China and Israel. The company’s research-and-development spending last year was $11.4 billion.

Microsoft has had one of the largest R&D departments of any company for 25 years. I can remember conversations with many employees at Microsoft R&D over the years, one of them being none other than Ze Frank who was Microsoft R&D’s first Designer in Residence, about some of the fascinating things that MSFT R&D was toying with. Those conversations reminded me of Xerox, Kodak, and Bell Labs — the greatest R&D departments of the 20th Century.

So, why in the world did they end up with Windows Phone only having 1-5% marketshare? Why did we end up with the Zune? Why did they ever ship Microsoft Vista? I described Vista in 2007 this way:

I‘ve only got limited experience with Vista but from that limited experience I have drawn the opinion that if I were forced to use the operating system full time I‘d likely jump off of a bridge.

But yesterday Microsoft’s demonstration of their cloud computing services, Windows 10, HoloLens, and their jump towards a far more inclusive software development platform — has got me downright excited. I want Microsoft to do great things. I want Windows Phone to be as amazing as it is but with thousands more applications. I want HoloLens to exist. I want to see whether Microsoft’s unified Windows Platform will be a better idea than Apple’s bifurcated one.

It is going to be an exciting 5 years.

Now, which PC am I going to buy?

Slate window manager

Slate is a free, open source window manager for Mac OS X. In short, it binds key combinations to make it a bit easier to manage your application’s windows.

An example is: ALT Left Arrow will move the current focused window left 10% (by default). This is the default configuration file and you’ll more than likely want to begin editing it right away. You can simply place this file in ~/.slate and begin editing it with your preferences. The very first thing I had to change was CMD Arrow because I, like everyone else on planet earth, use that to move my cursor to the beginning or end of a line. Slate hijacks that and has you switching windows. I do not know why that is in there by default as it is a bit jarring but the application’s author must prefer that.

I don’t know if Slate will stick with me but I tried it because he said so.

Uninstalling applications on Lion is arguably more difficult

When I switched to the Mac I was surprised how easy it was to install and uninstall applications in OS X compared to the horrible installer workflow and the Add/Remove Programs Control Panel of Windows.

For those that are unaware, prior to Lion installing an application on the Mac went something like this; download a .DMG file which would mount to your Mac much like putting a CD in the disk drive and dragging the application icon into your Applications folder. That’s it. Drag, drop, installed. To uninstall an application you just delete the application from your Applications folder. Done.

The caveats to this process were the need to unmount the DMG after you’ve installed the application and then trashing the leftover DMG files in people’s Downloads folder.

However, with Lion came the promise of simplifying this process even more. Why? Because, although the above process seems simple it wasn’t nearly as simple as Apple had managed to make installing and uninstalling applications from iOS. On iOS you open the App Store, click Install, the application’s icon shows up on your device’s Home Screen. If you’d like to uninstall the application you tap and hold the icon, an “x” shows up, click it and confirm that you want to uninstall the app. Very simple.

Lion wanted to bring this very same workflow to the Mac. The workflow goes very much the same; Install applications directly from the Mac App Store, the application’s icon shows up on Launchpad, click and hold to uninstall the app from your Mac.

However, on Lion not all applications are created equal. Some applications were installed prior to, or without the use of, the Mac App Store. Perhaps you downloaded the application from the web or you simply have it installed from long before Lion. Either way, these applications still show up on Launchpad – they just can’t be uninstalled from Launchpad.

Which is why I think uninstalling applications on Lion is arguably more difficult for some people because the workflow for one application is different than the workflow for another application. If Apple could have allowed for applications that were not installed via the Mac App Store to be uninstalled using the same workflow they would have. There must be some very good reasons why they can not – however, I thought that they should have at least showed a dialog to instruct the user on how they can uninstall the application anyway.

For instance, if I’ve got Launchpad open I can drag the application’s icon to Trash on the Dock. Shouldn’t this uninstall it? If I was in my Applications folder and did the very same thing it would. So why not from Launchpad directly to Trash? Why even allow me to drag it over the Trash? Why not show a message when I do this: “Sorry, but you’ll have to open Finder, navigate to your Applications folder, and remove the application from there manually.”

I’m not sure why Apple didn’t find some way to either make this easier or to inform the user how to accomplish this simple task. But a few years from now, when 90% of all installed Mac applications have been installed directly from the Mac App Store, Apple will no longer need or care to worry about this issue. And perhaps that alone is reason enough for them not to care about it now.

What I did yesterday to focus.

Yesterday’s post Slow Down. Focus. was a pretty big hit. At least that is what my analytics tell me today. So, I thought I’d share what I did to help me focus yesterday and that I have a plan to go even further with it today.

Single task app management was the key to my success yesterday. For years my computer’s desktop has been riddled with windows from every application that I have open. While I’m writing this blog post, as an example, I’d normally have my iTunes window on my right-hand screen while having my browser window, my iChat and Skype windows, and perhaps even more windows open on my left-hand screen. I’d gotten used to focusing my eyes on the window in which I’m working but every so often a new IM would come in or the album art would change in iTunes or Echofon’s icon would bounce in the Dock. Inevitably those types of things would pull me away from whatever I was doing to address them. Knocking my focus.

But not yesterday. For the most part I was able to keep only one application in view at a time while I was using it. Mac OS X’s “Hide Others” command came in very, very handy. I’d like to think this tactic worked pretty well too as I managed to get more done yesterday than I’m used to. Or, at least it felt like I did because I was able to finish things.

Today I’m going to take it one step further in an effort to finish more things instead of simply starting them. Today I’m going to continue this app-centric focus while adding to it a topical focus. I’m sure that makes no sense whatsoever. What I mean is that instead of switching from one topic to the next I’m going to strive to stay on one single topic until I’ve either completed it or I simply need to move on.

This blog post is a good example of what I’m going to do today. Normally it would take me three or four visits to my WordPress Dashboard to write this post. I’d scribble down some thoughts, go do something else, flesh out those thoughts, reply to an IM, plop in the needed links, work on some code for work, edit the post for grammar or spelling, see what is happening on Twitter, and then ultimately return to publish the post. Seem familiar to the way you’re doing things?

Well, today I’m going to simply stick to something until I am finished with it or have to move on until I have more information. As an example I have a coding project due for work that I seemingly always get pulled away from. I’m going to simply get it done without responding to any emails, IMs, Twitters, etc. Then, when that is done, I have a blog post that I need to finish for the Viddler blog. I’ve started it three times and have never published it. Today I will.

I don’t know how this will work out and I’m sure people that are trying to get in contact with me via IM or TXT might end up asking where I am – but hopefully I’ll return their message within a reasonable time frame and, in fact, be able to focus on whatever they need from me better than I would have otherwise.

I’ll let you know how it goes. Oh, and I finished this blog post without being distracted once. 🙂

You Microsoft Internet Explorer user you!

So you use Windows. I’m ok with that I guess. Oh, you also browse the Internet with Internet Explorer? Version 6? Well, I just can’t live with that. In fact, I doubt you and I would get along at parties.

But, such as it is you are here, reading something on my site, and so I should – at the very least – show you a site that you can read. I didn’t say that I’d cater to you. No no, none of that here. But I will try my best to have my site display just well enough that you can read this – and perhaps switch to another browser.

While at Podcamp Hawai’i I pulled my site up on a screen in front of an entire theatre full of people. There was only one computer available to me that was already hooked up to the projector. I thought “How bad could it be?”. Well, it was pretty bad. My site looked like this. Yeah, that bad.

So today I pulled out a ton of negative margins, a few class specifications that, for reasons I will probably never know, Internet Explorer does not support – and now you can see that the site looks relatively normal in IE.

I could probably do better with my site’s document code and styling to set myself up for multi-browser success. I know this. But, seriously. You could do much better if you’re using Internet Explorer as your browser-of-choice. So there.

How I’m using Spaces on Mac OS X

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When Apple released the latest update for Mac OS X Leopard, with the version number of 10.5.3, they updated the way that Spaces worked.  As John Gruber pointed out, Spaces now can better focus on “task separation” rather than “application separation”.

Here is a quick overview and history for you.  Spaces is a virtual desktop application that, for the lack of a better way of putting it, allows you to create as many desktops as you’d like.  Right now your computer probably has one desktop or one “viewable area to put windows”.  With Spaces, you can create more than one, and then use each of them for different purposes.

Prior to Mac OS X 10.5.3 Spaces was used more for separating applications onto different Spaces rather than setting up Spaces for tasks.  An example would be keeping your email on one Space, while having your browser in another, to keep the two applications separate for use. For people that are more productive based on focus, this made it nice to focus on your email Inbox instead of having many windows open.

However, I called this version of Spaces a glorified “Hide Others”.  In Mac OS X you can hide any application, or, hide every other application except the one you are currently viewing.  The first iteration of Spaces was like a different way to use this feature.

In the latest version of the operating system you can separate your Spaces into tasks rather than only by application.  An application, like Safari, can have windows present in every single space if you’d like.  This way you can have a Space set aside for writing, one for email, and another for working on a logo.  Sound confusing?  Consider how I’m currently using Spaces – and it might help clear things up for you.

Space 1: Writing / Reading: I use my first Space to read just about everything I need to read.  Google Reader in a Safari window, tabs open for other articles and links people give to me, etc – are all on this space.  Since my reading and my writing usually go together, I use this Space for writing as well.  This means that while I’m writing this entry, I’m on Space 1 with tabs and windows open that are related to this entry.  Nothing else is distracting me from this task of writing this entry.  All of the information I need to complete this task is on this Space and nothing else.

Space 2: iTunes and other long-duration tasks: Have you ever needed to encode something in iMovie or, perhaps you’re downloading something that will take a long time, or transferring files from one location to another, backing up your computer, etc.  I use this second space for those tasks.  iTunes is always open in Space 2, though I can control it through my Apple Keyboard, so I don’t need to switch to that Space to play, pause, skip to the next song, etc.

The reason I separate the long-duration tasks over onto their own space is because I feel they can be a distraction.  I find myself checking applications that are “doing something” every now and then.  Now I don’t check them usually until they are completely finished with their task.  I find it is far less distracting.

Space 3: Email, IM, and Twhirl: I also call this my “communication station”.  The entire Viddler team keeps tabs via a Skype chat.  I also use iChat on a daily basis.  My email Inbox is in a constant state of flux.  And Twhirl, the application I use to keep up-to-date with Twitter and FriendFeed, is also getting updated every 15 minutes or so.  In order to keep my distractions down on all other Spaces I keep these tasks dedicated to this one Space.  I’m free to check up on them when I want.

Space 4: Projects: Typically, on a given day or at a specific time, I’m working on one project.  This space is where I do that project.  For instance, if I’m programming something I’ll have Coda, Transmit, any browser windows with documentation and reference material, and perhaps a browser window with a preview of what I’m working on – in this Space.  This space is completely project centric, with nothing else to distract me from that project.  It is very seldom that I need to work on 2 projects at once ((That don’t fit into the other Spaces I already have set up.)) so I’m able to focus on the project until it is done.

I’ve found Spaces to be very enjoyable since the 10.5.3 upgrade to Mac OS X and while I think my usage of it will mature over time, the last few weeks have been liberating in many ways.  Just the other day, while at a meeting at ViddlerHQ, I used my project Space to keep notes for the meeting.  There was no other distraction available for me during that meeting so I was able to both take notes with my laptop open and be a constructive part of the meeting.

How are you using Spaces?  Have you given it a try since the update?

Update: Switching Spaces and preference oddities

After rereading this entry, and being asked questions via Skype by Kyle Slattery, I might have omitted a few details that I should probably include in this entry.

First, is that I recommend deselecting the “When switching to an application, switch to a space with the open windows for the application” box.  This will allow you to switch applications without switching Spaces.

Second, is that in order for Spaces preferences to take effect – you have to restart your Dock sometimes.  I am not sure why, but this doesn’t happen to everyone.  Here is the way John Gruber explained it in his aforelinked entry:

“Lastly, I should mention that I had problems getting this new feature to work at all. After upgrading to 10.5.3 and seeing the Spaces-related changes in the release notes, I tried it out. Toggling the new checkbox made no difference for me, however — I got the same old “jump to another space when switching apps” behavior either way. I solved the problem by trashing my preferences file (which, since Spaces is controlled by the Dock, is where most Spaces-related prefs seem to be stored). After logging out and logging back in, the new checkbox worked perfectly.”

And last, that I use the Cntrl arrow keys to navigate around to different Spaces the majority of the time.  But, when I’m at home on my desk using my Might Mouse, I’ve set up the third-button ((Which is the equivalent of pushing down the scroll wheel.)) to also show my Spaces.  This makes it really easy to switch whether my hand is on the keyboard or the mouse at the time I need to switch. 

Thoughts on the iPhone

Before I begin gushing about the iPhone I have to mention, especially for those of you that do not have one yet, that you can win one of two free 8Gb iPhones that we’re giving away over at Viddler just for doing simple MeToday videos. Each video you do (one per day per person) is an entry into the contest. No, you don’t have to do one every single day. But since each video is an entry one would think that the more MeTodays that you do, the better chance you have at winning! We’ll give someone an iPhone on the 15th and 30th of July. So don’t read the rest of this post! Go get a Viddler account!

MeToday: June 29, 2007

My precious!

Ok. So what do I think of the iPhone? As you might have already guessed, I love it. For the entire weekend I rarely got onto my Macbook to do anything except sync my latest settings of my iPhone to the computer. The iPhone is a great mini-computer for getting most of your core Internet activities done like checking/responding to email, surfing the web for information, or other simple daily tasks like this.

I won’t get into the speed of the EDGE network or how the virtual keyboard is. To me these are non-issues thus far and I don’t have much to compare these two things to since I have never had a cell phone that used the Internet, nor a full sized hard keyboard. I can type pretty fast on the keyboard and the Internet is nearly as fast as being home on Wifi. So again, both are non-issues.

Again, it is the little things

One of my fellow line-waiters John Gruber did a fantastic job giving his general overview of each feature of the iPhone the other day. My impressions are on par with John’s except that I’ve found myself typing just fine. Be sure to read his thoughts if you’d like to catch some of the nice things about each “feature” of the iPhone.

However, I’d like to extend his list a little bit to remark on some of the little things I’ve noticed while using the iPhone that I think make the experience all the more enjoyable.

The weight of the iPhone came as a surprise to some. Yes, it feels heavier than it looks. To me this make the iPhone feel tough and rugged when compared to the way it looks. I think the fact that we’re seeing people surprised at how tough the iPhone actually is, is because it doesn’t look very rugged. It looks elegant, which doesn’t usually mean tough. However the weight of the iPhone makes it feel very rugged to me.

The speed of the interface is something that I was very skeptical about. The commercials led me to believe that the interface was just as fast, if not faster, than switching windows on my computer. In my relatively little experience with mobile phones – the interfaces on these things have never been described by me as “snappy” or “fast”. However the iPhone’s interface, in general, is incredibly fast. When speaking with John Gruber in line, he remarked how the iPhone’s “one app at a time” focus really lent itself to being able to be very fast. The iPhone doesn’t need to show windows inside of windows or multiple layers or even windows on top of windows. The application that you are currently looking at is obviously getting the priority in the Operating System which makes the iPhone blaze.

The sleep, volume, silent, and home buttons are the perfect combination of buttons that were decided to be “hard buttons”. Although one can easily adjust the volume in most applications within the iPhone’s interface, you can also use the hard volume control on the side of the iPhone. The same goes for the silent and sleep buttons – I never have to “turn on” the iPhone to use these options. And the home button is definitely far better than keeping the “doc” visible and having a “desktop” button or something. I’m really glad the iPhone has a home button.

Within each application on the iPhone there are small, hidden gems that you will only find through experimentation or someone telling you that they are there. Like the ability to turn on the caps lock key, or tapping the top bar to auto-scroll to the top of the page in Safari (both tips came from John Gruber’s site), etc. None of these small interface features are handed over, but once you find them you love them.

Of course, I want more

Keeping in mine that, technically, this is iPhone 1.0 which includes all the hardware and software that came in those beautiful black bags on Friday, I have a few things that I’d like to see improved. I’m sure that, internally, this is build 10,000 of the iPhone’s OS and its applications, but from my perspective it is still 1.0. Being such, I fully expected to have the wish list that follows.

  • Better integration with Gmail. Right now Gmail marks things as “being downloaded” when I look at them either via on my Macbook or on my iPhone. This causes some frustration since I’d like all of my email to be “everywhere”. To fix this, I think either Google or Apple will have to update it so that it marks it as being read on the iPhone or not. Either way, the email “works” – but it could work a little bit better. (Side note: On the first day of release, the Gmail integration was wrought with problems ranging from getting duplicate messages to simply not working with Google App’s hosted domain email. These issues have been fixed, presumably by Google, over the weekend. So to them.)
  • Though I haven’t used the “Notes” feature yet, I could see a huge amount of improvement being done here, which might make me want to use Notes on the iPhone. Simply saving the notes saved as RTF files that are synced to your computer into ~/Documents/iPhone Notes/ would suffice for me. Why create notes that you can’t really use? A work around is taking a notes contents and creating an email out of it, which can be done fairly easily.
  • iCal integration seems to work “ok” but I have the same complaints as others. If I have separate calendars within iCal they should also be separate within iPhone’s calendar application. And, when syncing with my Macbook, I shouldn’t have to choose only one calendar that the iPhone can write to. I am not sure why there is this limitation. Something else I noticed is that if I setup an iCal alert on the iPhone it works perfectly but it doesn’t work within iCal. It shows up in the application but iCal never shows me the the alert when I asked it to. Not sure why, perhaps this is a bug.
  • The camera feature should allow a photo to be taken by tapping anywhere on the screen. I think some people would hate this because it would cause a lot of accidental photos to be taken, but taking photos of yourself and someone else with the iPhone is very hard with only a small button to push. Perhaps this could be a setting? Can has Photobooth for the camera? I don’t care about the crazy bulging eyes and stretching chins stuff, but it’d be nice to have the ability to take black and white photos or something simple. Obviously this is a minor, minor update that I’d enjoy seeing to the Camera feature.
  • Small browser cache? From what I’ve been able to tell Safari on the iPhone only caches the current page you are looking at. Reloading a page is fairly quick but the second you navigate away from a URL the cached version is lost. I have an 8Gb iPhone, I wouldn’t mind dedicating even a few hundred megabytes to Safari’s caching if it would mean that hitting the back button wouldn’t reload the page.
  • N
    ormal headphone jacks “don’t work” with the iPhone because the iPhone’s input jack is sunken so low into the casing of the iPhone. Jason Kottke resolved this by actually cutting his headphones a little bit to allow the jack to sink in deeper. There are several add-ons being offered to make this easier, but I am unsure why this was done in the first place?
  • The iPod allows you to update your set of icons on the button of its menu. I think this should be an option in all applications on the iPhone including the home screen. There are a few web applications that are being released for the iPhone that I’d love to create a shortcut to from my home screen. The first button I’d get rid of from the home screen? YouTube followed by Stocks. I simply won’t use those things on my iPhone too often.
  • Google Maps on the iPhone is amazing! But I feel this application will probably receive the greatest number of updates over time. It is perhaps one of the most “complex” applications on the iPhone and using it is a delight most of the time. However, there are a few usability problems when you switch from searching for a location to getting directions to that same location. (I’ve found that it is easier to save locations in your Google Maps bookmarks.) I’m sure these little things will be improved soon and that integration with the rest of the phone’s applications will happen in the future. One of the first things that comes to mind is to tell the camera application where you are using the Maps feature, which would in turn write the Latitude and Longitude to the photos.

I’m going to cut this list short because, as I said, this is a 1.0 release and one that I’m overwhelmingly happy with. I’ve found the iPhone becoming an extension of my laptop in ways I hadn’t considered before. I knew that I’d find the iPhone useful, I didn’t expect to want to use it more than my laptop.

What are your thoughts on the iPhone? Any wishes that I didn’t cover?

Live from Viddler HQ, again

I’m live again from the Viddler HQ in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. I like keeping track of the things we accomplish when we get together not only for myself to review, but also so that you can follow along.

9:30am – Woke up around 6, left at around 7:30, arrived at Viddler HQ – hit up Starbucks for Rob to get his “fix”, and now we’re at the office.

The first order of business? Update the featured videos on the explore page for the week. These videos are hand picked by internal staff so if you see a video highlighted there, you know we all really like the video and the use of Viddler.

10:00amDonna just got here and now it is time to go through some community strategy.

10:09am – Before we head off to the conference room, maybe any of you could leave some suggestions.

Go to and find a video you like and leave a suggestion.

12:37pm – Great strategy meeting. Hopefully some of the ideas we generated during it will be put into play pretty soon. Exciting things not only for Viddler but anyone that wishes to promote their video online.

Rob, Donna, and I

Rob, Donna, and I at the Viddler HQ

1:09pm – Rob just ordered some lunch (I’m starving). I’m getting a “huge salad”.

Donna is sitting next to me on a brand new HP laptop running Vista. Donna is no slouch when it comes to computers and she’s spent about 30-minutes trying to get a printer running. I think Vista is showing its true colors for sure right now.

Maybe I can get the Viddler team, since Andrew and I are already running Mac OS X, to switch? Oh wait, Rob needs the nipple (more on this later).

Be sure to check out the new featured header I created for this post.

2:26pm – Lunch was good! I’m actually really full. Now back to writing today’s blog post!

4:09pm – Finished today’s featured videos blog entry (look for it on the blog after it is reviewed). I can’t wait to be able to create those types of posts much quicker with some of the tools I envision…. more on this later.

For now, enjoy a photo we got right before lunch. It is the serious version of the one you see in the new header promoting this post.

5:06pmThe featured video post for this week has been published. It is nice to have all of the featured videos in one location to quickly flip between them.

5:36pm – I’m on my way home. Good day.

[tags]viddler, bethlehem, pennsylvania, live, video, photos, windows vista, donna demarco, colin devroe, rob sandie[/tags]


The conversion rate is growing

The numbers make it obvious, but the experience makes it real.

Recently I’ve had a lot of family members, friends, and even people I’ve never met before tell me that they were “thinking of switching” to the Macintosh platform or, in their words “gettin’ a Mac”. Obviously we’re seeing switcher stories pop up all over the place, even some guys at Microsoft said they wanted to jump ship.

I really think that the main reason that more people have not switched to the Mac faster was due to misinformation. A lot of people didn’t even know that Apple made computers let alone how much better the experience was on one when compared to a computer running Windows. Most of the people I’ve spoken to, that are going to make the switch very soon, are doing so because they’ve owned an iPod and have enjoyed that experience. Or, they’ve seen my computers and really desire to be able to do some of the same things I am able to do without giving it a second thought.

I think that some of the consumers are starting to finally see the truth in the entire Mac vs. PC war that has raged on for far too long. It isn’t a question of being better or worse, it is a question of actually working and being easy to do.

The war is over.

[tags]apple, Microsoft, macintosh, windows, ipod, mac, conversion, thoughts[/tags]