Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

WWDC ’08: Before The Storm

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Let’s see what it looks like tomorrow.


Written by Kumaran Vijayan

June 9, 2008 at 4:12 am

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iPhone Rates

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There’s been a lot of buzz in Canada over the recent announcement by Rogers that they finally have a deal worked out with Apple to officially bring the iPhone up here.

A fear that many have, including myself, is that Rogers’ data plans are going to continue to be terrible, or at best, not quite as bad as they used to be, but still pretty shitty.

But there is a glimmer of hope.

On May 27, the Government of Canada will be holding a wireless spectrum auction, where they will be selling off 105MHz of the 2GHz spectrum. Sixty percent of the wireless spectrum will be for all bidders, but the remaining 40% will be available only to new bidders, excluding the major wireless carriers Bell, Telus and Rogers. With that much of the spectrum available to this new carrier, they will effectively become the 4th national carrier.

The reason why Rogers’ data plans are so outrageously priced today is because they have no one else to worry about in the GSM network1 world in Canada2. A new wireless carrier that’s very likely to use GSM is going to actually give Rogers some competition.

Maybe, just maybe, that’s caused Rogers to jump the gun and make a good deal with Apple.


1: The type of cellular technology that Apple uses in the iPhone. [Wikipedia link

2: If anybody says that they’re a GSM carrier in Canada, they’re just buying minutes off of Rogers.  

Written by Kumaran Vijayan

May 16, 2008 at 3:30 am

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iOnMac Ep. 8

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I’m only posting this because it’s been so long since our last episode that wasn’t silent.

Direct Link
iTunes Link

Written by Kumaran Vijayan

May 12, 2008 at 5:13 pm

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Safari 3.1 and Apple Software Update

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For those who have a copy of iTunes installed on their Windows computers, you’ve probably come across the Apple Software Update application that, by default, automatically checks for updates to your Apple software. With the release of Safari 3.1 for Windows (the first non-beta release of the browser), Apple started dishing out the application to users through Apple Software Update for Windows, regardless of whether the users had an older version of Safari already installed or not.1

What really got people riled up though was that Apple checked Safari off for installation by default, as seen in the above screenshot.

John Lily, CEO of Mozilla, made the following statement about why what Apple was doing was wrong:

It’s wrong because it undermines the trust that we’re all trying to build with users. Because it means that an update isn’t just an update, but is maybe something more. Because it ultimately undermines the safety of users on the web by eroding that relationship. It’s a bad practice and should stop.

Fundamentally, I agree with John Lily’s concerns, but I honestly think that he and the rest of the community have made this a much larger issue than it actually is.

But that’s beside the point. In response to the complaints, Apple released a new version of Apple Software Update for Windows:

As seen in the pic above, the new Safari install is clearly differentiated from other updates by being listed in a different box. The biggest complaint though has still not been addressed: The automatic default ‘on’ value for the checkbox.

Ultimately, I think it doesn’t matter.

In order to explain my position, I need to clearly state the two issues in regards to the old behaviour of Apple Software Update.

A: New installations of software were not clearly differentiated from the actual updates, thereby implying that the users had previous installations of software that they, in fact, may not have had.

B: All items listed in Apple Software Update are checked off to be installed by default, regardless of whether the items are updates to already installed software or entirely new installations of software.

Fixing Issue A requires a UI change that clearly differentiates new software installations from updates. This differentiation could come in the form of a separate pane for new software (as seen in the retooled Apple Software Update for Windows above), or a difference in the way the new software item looks in the list of items to be updated (a badge or coloured highlight), or even a different tab for new software.

Fixing Issue B involves changing one thing: Uncheck a checkbox.

And so here’s my argument: Apple has already solved Issue A, a problem that no user is capable of fixing. No end user can fundamentally change the UI of an app in such a way, and even if they could, it would not be particularly easy or straightforward for end users.

On the other hand, Issue B is in the exact opposite position. Any end user of software can uncheck a checkbox.

In other words, Apple has fixed the issue that only they could fix and has hit the ball back into the user’s court. Fixing the remaining issue is entirely trivial for end users, and it’s completely within their power and ability to do so.


1: This behaviour actually predates Safari. In my own experience, on Windows computers which only had QuickTime Player installed, Apple Software Update would push iTunes in the exact same manner that it’s pushing Safari now. A lot of iTunes users probably never saw this type of behaviour because iTunes requires QuickTime Player in order to work and up until Safari 3 iTunes and QuickTime Player were the only Windows applications Apple made.  

Written by Kumaran Vijayan

April 23, 2008 at 7:39 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

I Think I’m Cheating

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Goldfrapp’s new album, Seventh Tree, isn’t set to come out until tomorrow, the 26th.

Step 1: Go to Apple’s Goldfrapp page and the standard album page for Seventh Tree (iTunes links). Note that the album is available for pre-order and will be downloadable when it is released tomorrow. Here’s a screenshot.

Step 2: Do a Power Search for Clowns, the first track of Goldfrapp’s album (remember to fill in the artist name). Here’s another screenshot1, this one of the results.

Step 3: Click on one of the album links presented in the results and you’re in business. Sure, you don’t get the fancy schmancy iTunes Page for the album, but you can buy an album that’s supposed to come out tomorrow, right now.

1: The $9.99 album comes with a PDF booklet whereas the $9.90 album doesn’t.

Written by Kumaran Vijayan

February 25, 2008 at 9:49 pm

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Quick Look Plugins I Use

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BetterZip Quick Look Generator
Handy little plugin that lets you have a look at the contents of pretty much any archive. Can be handy if you’re unsure about the Zip file you just downloaded.

This is one is pretty much pointless, but I (and maybe you) might find it handy some day. All it does is let you look in folders without having to open them in the Finder. Woohoo.

Gives support for textClippings and pictClippings.

Let’s you view code with syntax highlghting.

Let’s you view AppleScripts. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to work with QLColorCode, so the code just looks like a bunch of black text. 😦

Written by Kumaran Vijayan

January 30, 2008 at 4:23 pm

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Leopard Bits: Quick Look and the Finder

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Quick Look
Quick Look is easily the simplest of the most touted changes in Leopard and is definitely the handiest. The basic concept behind Quick Look is to provide a quick and easy way for users to view content. No editing, no manipulation, nothing but the content in its entirety. Just click on an item and hit the spacebar.

Leopard Quick Look One Item

If you invoke Quick Look on multiple items:

Leopard Quick Look Multiple Items

Tile the images and even check it out in full screen. Do the same with video files, audio files, Word documents, PDFs, contact cards, Keynote or PowerPoint presentations, Automator Workflows, etc… If Quick Look runs into something it doesn’t support (like an Application), it will just show its icon and some information about the item. But Quick Look is also based off of a plugin architecture, so if you find a plugin for a filetype that you work with, then just drag it into the plugins, restart the Finder and off you go1.

Mac OS X 10.5 “Leopard” Finder Icon

The Finder has seen some nice improvements. For one there’s the new Coverflow view. This isn’t exactly the most useful addition (I have rarely used it myself) but I find that it comes in handy when I need to quickly look through a bunch of images.

Another handy addition is the new iTunes-like sidebar. It’s divided into 4 sections: Devices, which links to hard-drives, other partitions, iPods, external drives, etc.; Shared, which lists all the other computers on the network; Places, which are simply just places in your filesystem; and Search For, which can hold smart folders (folders whose contents depend on the criteria you set). Save for Shared, you can drag items in or out of the sections.

Probably the best new feature of the Finder has to do with Shared. Like I said, the Shared section lists all of the computers on the network, both Windows PCs and Macs. Click on any computer and it will list all the different connection methods.

OS X 10.5 “Leopard” Finder Network Computer

Click any of those guest connections and you can see their public folder(s).

OS X 10.5 “Leopard” Finder Network Computer Guest Connected

However, if I were to press the ‘Connect As…’ button, then I would get a login screen followed by an updated view of the network connection. Now that I’ve logged in as a registered user I can see and access that user’s account just as if I were on his computer. And, if I turn on screen sharing on the computer that I want to connect to, I can just as easily start using that computer as if I was sitting in front of it.

None of the changes made to the Finder are, in my opinion, extremely important but they’re solid nonetheless. It makes life on in Mac OS X a bit more convenient and, as Apple usually shows, the small things do add up.

1: I’ll have a list of Quick Look plugins that I use in a later post.

Written by Kumaran Vijayan

January 25, 2008 at 8:58 am

Posted in Uncategorized