Friday, March 18, 2011

Apple: Bigotry - fine; most basic free functionality - not so much

I'm not even making this up but I happen to have just had two bad experiences with the commercial mastodon called "Apple".

First I get the Demand that Apple remove "ex-gay" iPhone app petition on my radar. Say what? Apple banned a Danish newspaper for very mild erotic pictures, they banned Wikileaks... but "curing" gay people? Fine according to the Book of Jobs!

Petition signed.

I then - using the Macbook only - had to urgently put up a note on a website I just bought. Meaning at the least I had to edit a simple index.html file and upload it. Searching for "FTP" in the App Store only gave me rather pricey solutions. Hello world... file transfer... why should that be expensive and complicated!?

After a few moments of considering alternatives I went for SeaMonkey. Good old rock solid Mozilla Suite reincarnation so brutally pushed to the background by new and flashy Firefox was quick to my rescue. No hassle installation and setup of FTP-settings; my website note up in a second.

SeaMonkey rules.

(Later, however, I'll probably need to work with MySQL and bulk upload of files for CMS installation. If you know and love some Mac-compatible software usable for that you are more than welcome to let me know. Chances are, though, that I'll do it in a basic file manager in Linux anyway!)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Dear openSUSE: Your 11.4 release is great. Thanks a lot!

Dear openSUSE,
Your 11.4 release is great. Thanks a lot!

I must admit I still feel a mixture of guilt and annoyance after the 11.3 release. Falling into a category of users you hadn't thought of, on one hand I need dual screen settings and on the other hand I decided not to invest the time in fixing it myself. In stead I created this blog to rant about such issues.

Consequently, I have felt guilt for seven months. For exposing your tiny little flaw to a wider audience than the users. For not really helping out by trying to work around my issue myself and then sharing my experience. This time I chose an option I so often have scorned when chosen by others: whining.

Anyway, you may have even bettered automatic graphics handling now, more drivers hopefully went opensource in the mean time, installing proprietary drivers may be easier by now et cetera. But I just inserted the 11.4 DVD and clicked “update”. And lo and behold: you now have a “Save as Default” button in your resolution settings menu, not just an “apply” button like in 11.3. Allow me to forget about ATI driver downloads, fglrx and init 3 for a while.

"Size & Orientation" window in "Display and Monitor" system settings. Now with one vital button more!

Now, while logging on, the resolution of my screens change to my desired settings by themselves. Life quality, right there. And don't get me wrong: I'm not leaving you or opensource behind at all. I still regularly have to wonder how Microsoft Windows got so bogged down at work, what salvation Apple fans feel from their overpriced gadgets and generally why people continue to be so ignorant.

The handling of double screen setups in openSUSE is now – hands down – better than in Windows (doing it occationally elsewhere). The desktop graphics and functionality can easily compete or outdo Windows and Mac. And I didn't do any reading or consulting of websites at all to make this work.

To top it off, you shipped 11.4 with Firefox 4.0 beta 12. I was surprised to see beta software in a standard setup – but thanks for that too. I'm not the guy who have been ranting about browser speeds because in my experience browsers are slow when their users are idiots. But I must say Firefox 4 is significantly faster than both the previous version and the Chrome I'm running on the Mac. Has a couple of other improvements too. It didn't crash or cause any sort of problem for me yet. Even if it did I'll be fine (band-aid in the back pack kind of guy) and first of all I appreciate you took me to the bleeding edge again.

[Technical notes: Most users will probably be happier with their openSUSE after a visit to the openSUSE Community Wiki page on restricted formats. Also, once again sound disappeared for me on the first boot but a visit to YaST's hardware section and an experiment or two with the audio settings fixed that too. Note that some or all of my issues may actually be KDE issues, not actually caused by openSUSE.]

Final note: someone else did a video review of openSUSE 11.4 RC2:

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Apple = Evil

The link to a "comment" at The Guardian, Forget Google – it's Apple that is turning into the evil empire by John Naughton, is trending at Slashdot (/.) under the headline Is Apple Turning Into the Next "Evil Empire"?. Time to kick back with the Macbook on the lap for some entertaining geek commentary!

Begins with an anecdote I never heard before...
"Very nice, Steve, I guess you'll sell it in 'boutiques'."
 - Jack Tramiel, the boss of Commodore, when Steve Jobs first showed him the Macintosh computer.
Funny because where is Commodore now? Dead and gone. But Mac freaks, some of whom I believe like to boast Apples had windows before Microsoft Windows, should get reminded that Commodore Amiga had windows before Apple existed. But in a way Jack was right - Apple sells in the App(le) Store. Hardly in average "stores".

John Naughton's opinion article ends with a great Umberto Eco observation:
The Apple Mac [is] a Catholic device, while the IBM PC [is] a Protestant one. [...] like the Roman church, Apple offer[s] a guaranteed route to salvation – the Apple Way – provided one stuck to it. PC users [have] to take personal responsibility for working out their own routes to heaven.
Eco hadn't heard of Linux, I assume. Anyway, the comment lists how Apple is now financially bigger by both Microsoft and Google, frequent competitors for the "evil" scapegoat status, and lay their hands on more and more sources of revenue much to the disgruntlement of many other businesses.

Most of the reader's comments at The Guardian are - predictably - either pro-Apple, pro-Microsoft or silly. At least two comments hint at conspiracies mentioning there is an apple in the bible too and at least one is lashing out at everyone else arguing any discussion about computers is irrelevant because gender equality and poverty is more important. But not all comments are stupid:
[Apple's censorship of 3rd party applications] constitutes abuse of market position using a dominant proprietary system and far worse than Microsoft's 'bundling' of software with its OS which at least did not block its competitors products, but was enough to provoke game-changing anti-trust suits against it.
 - ColonelCallan
Record companies failed time and time again to grasp the importance of satisfying the increasingly connected market and Apple saved them at the last minute.  The record company attitude always was (and still is), "How do we stop customers doing what they want?". They failed time and time again to ask the question, "How do we make money giving people what they want?" iTunes [...] answered it well enough to satisfy a lot of people. [...] Now we may be seeing something similar happening with magazine and possibly aspects of newspaper publishing.
 - RichardGE
/.'ers begin with stating the obvious:
Present continuous tense is unnecessary. It is not an ongoing process. You should use past perfect tense.
 - unity100
A sentiment that is repeated by many but also opposed by a handful. Personally, I'm a bit in between. They are not nearly as "evil" as Microsoft were trying to be about a decade ago. Anyway, let's finish with Hognoxious' joke:
Q: What's the difference between the Pope and Steve Jobs?
A: One of them has a load of sexually deviant followers who obey his every word without question. The other wears a funny hat and lives in Rome.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Mac win... in Africa

OK... don't really know if it's a "win" as much as an obvious advantage of the mobility of a laptop and the funny convenience of fool proof iWhatever apps. Long story short: I traveled through Kenya visiting development projects, documenting the trip in text notes, photographs and video alike. The combo of a Flip camera and a Macbook proved... pretty nice.
Me, my 11 inch Macbook and my Flip Mino HD camera (with cheap tripod) in the middle of nowhere, Kenya.
The Flip cameras are affordable, very small and shoots good video. But they don't have a lot of storage on them so you need to empty them via USB quite often. That's where your laptop or notebook enters the picture.

As ranted about the other day I just upgraded to iMovie '11. One of the new features is an "instant trailer" function. Not sure it'll be truly useful - but it is funny. Here is a documentary style trailer of the videos from the trip I put on Vimeo done in close to no time using iMovie '11:

Still wouldn't live without the desktop Linux box, however. It's got affordable terrabytes of storage, ultra compatibility of video formats and just so many advantages as previously blogged about. For example, I'm writing these words from it and would feel heavily disadvantaged doing even such a simple blog post from the Mac. Sorry, Macbook freaks.