Monday, June 29, 2009

Added Twitter Widget because of Windows 7

I just added a slightly customized Twitter widget to the blog. The title might be a little misleading, as of course Windows 7 does not have anything to do with this directly. Actually I am waiting for the release candidate to finish downloading, so in the meantime I am browsing the web for some stuff - partly in research for the book, but partly for fun as well.

This is when I came across the blogger widget and found the default one a little to ... well ... default.

The Windows download did not work in Safari 4.0.1 - I had to switch to Firefox as there is no IE available on the Mac. Somehow Safari would not go past the Live login and show a green progress indicator. Firefox 3.5 is now happily downloading the image using a download manager Java applet. Somewhat strange considering it's from Microsoft.

Once the download is complete I will try and set up a virtual machine with Windows 7 (is this going to be the final product name? I certainly like it more than "Vista"). Hopefully the reports are true and it is faster than its immediate predecessor.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Twittering @dschneller

For quite some time I have successfully ignored Twitter and regarded it as just another form of celebrities promoting themselves (probably through the same PR companies also writing their blogs for them) and random people yelling the state of their digestion into the world.

However when I heard the good folks of the BitsUndSo podcast talk about it all the time, I decided to get an account (@dschneller) and have a closer look - and I have to say, I was wrong!

Of course, there are the types I mentioned above, but I quickly learned there are lots of interesting bits of information flying around. I just started by following the JavaPosse, the BitsUndSo members, Scott Hanselman and a few others and very soon got interesting (and of course irrelevant as well) tweets to read.

Since then I tried out several Twitter clients, but so far I stuck with TweetDeck, because I like the display very much - this and the fact that there is an iPhone version as well. Yes, sometimes that latter one still crashes, but overall I find it quite usable, especially with the recently added "sync-my-searches" option that helps keep iPod, private Mac and work Windows PC up to date configuration-wise.

Feel free to follow me, I try to keep the signal to noise ratio attractive.

iPod with OS 3.0

Being a good Apple customer I of course updated my 1st generation iPod Touch to the latest version of the OS (3.0) made available a few days ago. So far I like the changes very much and will not go into detail about what changed - there are lots of other sites covering things like that.

Nevertheless I wanted to comment on two things in particular, both part of the music player component.

The first one is the multi-speed scrubber. The iPod was my first Apple product and I was eager to find out if the often praised UI designers were really as good as people claimed. I almost immediately got very disappointed with the support for long contents like audiobooks or even some podcasts, because the scrubber control to skip ahead or go back to a specific point in time in the program was unusable for anything longer then maybe 5 minutes. In an audiobook the precision would sometimes only be enough to jump in 30 minute hops - unusable.

When I got a feedback form some time later I complained about that in great detail, even suggesting a virtual click-wheel for more precision. Now, finally, they solved the problem in a different, but cool way. Where in earlier versions you could just move the scrubber left to right with constant speed, they now introduced sort of a "gear shift" (they call it precision scrubbing and highspeed scrubbing). When you move your finger up and down you modify the "seconds per pixel" ratio of the horizontal direction. I personally absolutely love this stuff.

The second thing which caught me a little off guard and which I even suspected to be a bug was that I suddenly had no volume slider anymore. As I had docked and undocked the iPod several times before in a very short period of time I thought it might have somehow gotten confused and now did not render correctly. However when the problem persisted even after a full switch off and back on cycle I was a little worried.

Only then I "found out" I had just not put the headphone jack back in after undocking the iPod. As soon as I plugged it back in, the volume slider would appear - and vanish when pulling it out. A nice idea in general, but definitely the kind of thing that might confuse you, as it definitely wasn't like that in 2.2.

-- posted with Ecto (which is definitely not as eye-pleasing as Windows Live Writer)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Trying a new Blog Editor - Ecto

I am fairly busy at the moment, apart from my day job I have taken on writing a book in February; this is why it's gotten somewhat silent here lately.

Nevertheless I just stumbled across "Ecto", a blog editor for Mac OS X that people claim has the potential of replacing Windows Live Writer which have up to now used with VMware Fusion as the tool of choice.

Booting up the virtual Vista however is something I'd like to avoid, so from time to time I have a look around what's new. MarsEdit did not work for me and the Blogger web-based editor is for emergencies only.

I just downloaded the Ecto 21 day trial and will attempt to blog some things in this time to make up my mind. I have not even looked at the price yet to keep this from influencing my decision.

Friday, June 19, 2009

User Interface (Fun)

Just found this. This is absolutely hilarious (and so true...):

Even without knowing a single word of Japanese you can tell the annoyance :)