Posts From June 2011

Recorded early for 4th-of-July weekend, Ben and I talk about Google+ and the HP TouchPad reviews. Also, I happened to be wearing aviators during the recording.

Brought to you by Wren and Seamless.

What’s worse is that it’s still there.

[Update: The typo has been fixed.]

Likability

Computers are personal, but tablets are deeply personal.

Because of this, competing with the iPad is not as simple as going head to head with all the tangibles: hardware vs. hardware; OS vs. OS; 3rd-party apps vs. 3rd-party apps; and so on.

The iPad is more than the sum of its parts. The iPad has an intangible: Likability.

To date, nobody has been able to compete with Apple when it comes to the combination of hardware, operating system, and 3rd-party apps. If competitors have yet to even compete with the tangibles of the iPad, how then do they expect to compete with the intangibles?

From what I have seen and read about the TouchPad and webOS so far, this may be the first likable tablet since the iPad. It’s buggy and has a poor app store like the rest of the other tablets. But what the TouchPad has that the others do not is likability. And that gives me hope that it could be great.

Matthew Panzarino:

I can give you one reason that I’ve found to be evident across all of the tablets that I’ve tested personally and that seems to be present in the ones that I haven’t yet, going by the reviews: The fluidity and immediacy of touch response in the user interface.

Put another way, features do not a user experience make.

Something you found in most of the TouchPad reviews I read this morning, but that I thought came across best in Joshua’s, is just how likable webOS is. Josh touches on the feel of the TouchPad more than just the feature list.

Summed up:

I’ve been testing the TouchPad for about a week and, in my view, despite its attractive and different user interface, this first version is simply no match for the iPad.

The embargo lifted last night and the reviews for the HP TouchPad are being published. And, for the most part, those with review units share the same sentiments about the TouchPad: it seems that HP did a lot of things right with webOS 3.0 and the future of the TouchPad has a lot of potential, but it’s still buggy and full of dark corners.

Jason Snell writes, in his review for Macworld:

Is there any reason for a prospective iPad user to buy a TouchPad today? I can’t see it. In a head-to-head comparison with the original iPad on launch day, the TouchPad might win out due to its dual-core processor and multitasking support. But today’s iPad 2 has both, along with tens of thousands of tablet-optimized apps and almost none of the quirks that the TouchPad currently exhibits.

Setting up Typekit fonts is a piece of cake. And there is not just one way to do it — Typekit has a few different options. If you want to learn a different option, or if you’re still weak in the knees about rolling custom fonts, then this tutorial on the Typekit blog can help you. (I’m doing “Option 2″ on shawnblanc.net.)

Marshall Kirkpatrick also likes it:

Big picture take-away: Google has built an attractive, intuitive, intelligent service that’s fun to use and speaks to a deep human need for contextual integrity of communication. There is not just public/private, life is more complex than that. This need, unmet by almost any other social network today, is where Google is aiming to win the hearts of users. The app the company built towards that aim is smooth and pleasing to use.

MG Siegler’s first look at the iPhone app for Google+:

If you simply point your iOS Safari browser to plus.google.com, you’ll find a solid web app written in HTML5. You can’t do quite everything you’ll be able to with the native app, such as Huddle (group chat). But it the main parts of the Google+ functionality are there. Stream, Photos, Circles, Profile, and Notifications appear in the main menu.

And there are actually some other unique features, such as the ability to check-in to a venue and see Google+ message from users nearby to your current location.

After spending several hours with Google+, MG Siegler really likes it so far:

Google has done a very good job with the early execution. Can they maintain that? Once the novelty is gone, will there be a reason to use it? And will the idea scale — meaning both in absolute size and in terms of moving beyond an early adopter market?

His mostly glowing review touches on all the major elements, as well as giving some insight into where things might be going with Google+ in the future. I’m not on Facebook or Google+, but after reading Siegler’s review, Google’s new social network actually sounds far more interesting to me than Facebook’s. Of course, the issue isn’t the features, it’s the users — will my friends and family be compelled to join Google+?

Horace Dediu:

Android and Chrome are, if successful, sustaining technologies for Google. That’s not going to be enough.

He used it to tweet the launch of news.va yesterday. (Via Lessien.)

Mike McQuade is cataloging all U.S. area codes by making hand pulled serigraph posters and smart phone socks. The posters look gorgeous; I’m waiting for 303.

Kyle Neath’s behind-the-scenes look at designing the new GitHub Mac app:

All in all I created 45 comps for 1.0 — each with about 5-10 unique states (with layer groups).

Richard Frisch gives a much better answer than the ones on this Quora question.

For the record, I bought AppleCare once. It was for my first Mac; a 12-inch PowerBook. I never needed AppleCare for that Mac, nor have I needed AppleCare for any other Apple computer or device I’ve owned since then.

Mustafa Al-Qinneh over at Teehan+Lax has also drafted up a concept for iMessage, along with some ideas for how regular text messages and incoming calls could also be incorporated with OS X. Mustafa’s concepts show some cool and interesting ideas for how things from your phone could appear and sync with your desktop. I like the idea of being able to read and respond to text messages from my computer, but I don’t like the idea of iMessage conversations appearing in the Mail app, side by side with emails. That would drive me bonkers; the last thing I want is a hook to keep my email app open for longer than it needs to be.

iMessage is awesome. Having the conversations available and synced between iOS devices is great. Having them also be available and synced on your desktop or laptop would be fantastic. I very much like this video concept that Jan-Michael Cart has put together — it is, more or less, a suped-up version of iChat that incorporates iMessage conversations.

(Via MacStories.)

John Banana produced and directed an animated short based on The Rocketeer to honor the 20th anniversary of the film.

(I just realized I haven’t seen this movie since it was in theaters; my parents took some friends and I for my 10th birthday party. Guess I need to add it to the Netflix queue.)

The OmniGroup posted a whole slew of short videos (videolets?) to their site which cover a wide range of topics and skill levels with OmniFocus. Definitely worth checking out.

(There’s a good 2-minute video on Perspectives that you may want to check out if you’re not too savvy with custom perspectives yet. They are, in my opinion, one the best and most-powerful features of OmniFocus on the Mac.)

OopsieFocus Script

This happens to me on a semi-regular basis: I hit the hotkey to bring up the OmniFocus Quick Entry Pane but nothing happens.

After waiting a few seconds wondering where it is, I’ll look over at my Dock to see that OmniFocus isn’t even running. I then launch the app, let it load, and hit the quick entry hotkey once again.

I’d rather my computer do the thinking for me in those moments. And so I hacked together this AppleScript.

OopsieFocus

When launched, the OopsieFocus script will check to see if OmniFocus is running. If OmniFocus is running then the script does nothing and OmniFocus brings up the Quick Entry Pane for you just as it should. If OmniFocus is not running then the script will automatically launch the app and bring up the Quick Entry Pane.

How To Use

Using your global AppleScript invoker of choice (FastScripts and Keyboard Maestro are both fine choices) this script should be set to the same hotkey you use to activate the Quick Entry Pane for you.

Download as:

But only for stock SSDs apparently:

The new native TRIM support does appear to limited to stock Apple drives, as users who have installed third-party SSDs into their machines have reported that TRIM is not enabled by the update.

Moreover, the developer preview of Lion, which has always had TRIM support, does not support user-installed, 3rd-party SSDS either. Well, at least not on this machine.

With iTunes 10.3 and iOS 4.3.3 you can enable certain iCloud features from tomorrow, today.

On your devices using iOS 4.3.3, open the Settings app and select Store to turn on automatic downloads for music, books, and apps as you desire. On your computers using iTunes 10.3 or later, use the Store tab in Preferences and check what you want in the Automatic Downloads section.

Too bad there is still not an option that keeps iPhone apps from automatically downloading to your iPad.

(Via the amiable Rick Stawarz.)

New Pixar film due out next summer.

Yun Xie interviews Vikram Savkar for Ars Technica. Savkar is the Senior Vice President and Publishing Director at Nature Publishing Group.

According to Savkar, it seems there is a huge interest in digital textbooks:

Ars: How will you introduce digital textbooks to university professors and instructors? They’re the ones who will ultimately choose textbooks for classes.

Savkar: California State University is the first to adopt the interactive textbook, so they’ve helped spread the news. We only announced our plan for the textbook about a month ago, and 800 faculty members from colleges signed up the first day to get a demo.

I’m not surprised. The opportunity for digital text books has got to be wide open. Textbooks are a multi-billion dollar market and cost the average student $700 per semester. For the cost of one semester’s worth of textbooks a student could instead buy a tablet computer and then purchase cost-efficient, backpack-friendly textbooks at a lower rate for the next 7 semesters.

However, after reading this answer from Savkar during the interview, the future of digital textbooks suddenly seems a little less bright:

Ars: Would a student be able to read these interactive textbooks on laptops, iPads, Android phones, and other devices?

Savkar: Our textbooks are born digital, which means we created it for what digital can do. As I said before, we didn’t write a regular textbook, make PDFs, and put it online. Our textbooks will be available for iPad, smartphones, Androids, and other devices. These textbooks are born accessible.

What does it even mean these are “born digital” and “born accessible”? I fear it means they will be awkward, buggy, and frustrating.

If 1,500 blog posts are published every 60 seconds I wonder how many refreshes to Google Reader there are by subscribers.

Elegance is not stopping every two seconds to spell out your email to people that want to connect with you as you are trying to get out the door. Elegance is handing out a minimal, unique card.

A calling card from Hoban Cards is all about elegance.

Each calling card is hand printed on a 1902 Chandler and Price letterpress. For $75 you get 100 personalized cards with your name and the option of either your email or phone number printed on 100% 110lb cotton paper.