Free SubEthaEdit Licenses?

Well, maybe – in any case, they’re cheaper than the normal $30. BLOGZOT 2.0 on MacZOT.com has SubEthaEdit from CodingMonkeys up as their subject for today. The price basically keeps dropping by a nickel each time someone blogs about it (like this!) or until 3000 copies are sold. If it gets to be free, so much the better! All the bloggers get theirs at no cost. Boo-ya. This amounts to MacZot and the Coding Monkeys giving away $105,000 in free software.

If you’re not familiar with SubEthaEdit you’re really missing out. It’s got the best collaborative writing system in existence, as well as being just a plain nice editor. If you’ve never taken conference notes with five other people doing the same in the same document, you haven’t lived.

Check it out and get yours for cheap.

New MacBook Pro

I’ve now fully converted to running everything on my new MacBook Pro. A few points:

1. Rosetta RULES: I can’t believe how seamless and fast it is. I can run Quake 3 (ok, not the most recent thing, but still!) full screen with all options turned on, and I can’t tell the difference from my 1.67 G4 PB. I want to run some FPS benchmarks to see what kind of penalty I’m getting.

2. World of Warcraft: 80 FPS with most graphics options turned on. Enough said.

3. You need 2GB of RAM. Period. Don’t even think of running without it.

More in the coming days.

Textpander Rules

Ever use TypeIt4Me? This utility has been around for ages. Basically it allows you type abbreviations which are then expanded into full words, phrases, etc. So instead of typing your full email signature, you might just type fsig. You could even have the cursor repositioned in the middle of the expanded text with a little work. Nice time saver. Unfortunately, TypeIt4Me never really caught on with me – it was too slow, and I found myself pausing while it expanded stuff and moved the cursor around. If you typed while it was doing this, either the characters would be ignored or they would get stuck in the wrong places. Very annoying for me.

But along comes Textpander. This thing does what TypeIt4Me does and a whole hell of a lot more. It’s blazing fast. Text is expanded and the cursor positioned instantly. No delay, no stray characters. Once you start using it, it just fits right in with your normal typing. And get this – you can include images as well. Want a nice signature on your documents? Just drop in an image along with your text and you’re good to go.

And did I mention it’s free? Well, the developer asks for donations via Paypal. I’m going to kick him a few bucks for this thing. It fixes all the problems of TypeIt4Me and does it with style.

Link to Textpander.

Why QuickSilver Sucks

I’ve always loved keyboard shortcuts. Using the mouse for me is a last resort in most cases. To that end, I’ve used two “small” utilities that help me navigate the huge number of files and applications that I use on a daily basis. I started by using LaunchBar v3, a commercial application that you can call up with a HotKey (usually Command-Space) and enter an abbreviated name, hit Enter and launch or switch to an app, open a document, Finder folder, etc. Cost me $20, but it worked great.

Along comes the new kid on the block: Quicksilver. It has a lot going for it, including some great graphical stylings, a very nice plugin architecture, and best of all: it is free. It works pretty much like LaunchBar, except it includes some new tricks. Use an abbreviation to find a document, right arrow and select mail and it dumps it in as an attachment to your favorite mailer. Nice. It has tons of stuff like this built in. So I switched. And I used it for months. Slowly, however, I discovered it’s dark side: Slow and a memory pig.

I was getting irritated: My machine was running slower, I was swapping: I wanted to launch Activity Monitor to see what craptastic app was killing me. I hit Command-Space, and after a slight pause, up popped QuickSilver, and I started typing actm, my custom shortcut for the aforementioned Activity Monitor. Unfortunately, QS was responding so freaking slowly searching for what I wanted, the pause between the t and m resulted in yet another search for something starting with an “m”, which gave me some random Word document and a whole instance of MS Word running. This is the first of the two failings with QS: searching, even under ideal conditions (on a 1.67GHz PowerBook) is ridiculously slow. I found that I was adapting my typing speed to accommodate the poor performance of QS.

When I finally did get Activity Monitor running, I discovered the second of QS’s failings: It was using more memory than ANYTHING ELSE IN THE SYSTEM, INCLUDING PHOTOSHOP. It had over 160MB of resident RAM tied up. Not shared – this is specific to this app. That was 16% of my system RAM dedicated to slowly searching for documents. This pissed me off even more.

I went and downloaded the newest version of LaunchBar, 4.01. Installed it, and indexed everything. It searches instantly. When you type, it reacts. No lag, even under severe conditions. Yes, it doesn’t do everything that QS does – but who the fuck cares? After running for a whole day, memory usage was a reasonable resident 40MB. It still finds what I need right when I type, and I don’t have to screw around waiting for a “utility” to respond to my keystrokes. Yes – I paid the $9.95 upgrade fee.

The author of QS would do well to spend a little time optimizing the search functions of his app. Something is slowing it to a crawl (I even removed all the plugins to see if it helped) and get rid of the massive memory leaks. Spend time doing this instead of adding new incremental near-useless features. If I have to baby-sit a utility, it isn’t a utility.

Nice AMS Demo

Rotating PowerBook I just recently bought a new PowerBook. One of the new features Apple stuck in these new beasts is what they are calling AMS – the Apple Motion Sensor. Basically it appears to be some sort of accelerometer that can measure sudden changes in movement and automagically park the hard drive heads before something bad happens (like hitting the floor.)

However, it appears that it can also measure the attitude of your machine. That is, it can tell how “tilted” a machine is in all three axes. It uses this to unpark the heads when the machine returns to being level. It also can be used to do some really cool stuff, as this web site demonstrates. On this page, Amit Singh gives us some programs that retrieve the sensor values and do some cool things.

One is a small window with an OpenGL-rendered PB that rotates in conjunction with you’re rotating the physical machine. Very, very cool stuff. Another is a bicycle wheel in a window. When the PB tilts, the window itself rotates to keep it level relative to your (physical) desktop. If you have one of these new PowerBooks, download the samples – there is some cool stuff there to show your friends.

New PowerBook

So I finally gave in to the marketing hype and went and got myself a brand new 15″ PowerBook to replace my aging 1 Ghz. TiBook from a couple of years ago. It was still working well, but with no 802.11g and other niceties, it was time to move. I settled on the fully loaded 15″ w/superdrive, maxed memory (2 GB) and large hard drive. I skipped on the 128MB of VRAM and dual link DVI. Despite being a factory-only option, I really can’t see myself needing the ability to hook up to a 30″ flatscreen in the near future.

So I went over the nearest Apple store that had stock (in Denver) and plopped down some cash and walked out with an expensive black box. When I got home, I had the best computer upgrade experience ever. That migration tool that Apple now includes during setup completely rocks. It got all my apps and data – everything, moved over and completely running with only two exceptions – Stuffit needed reinstalling (and it even warned me that I had to do that step) and I had to reinstall the dev kit. Completely painless – I was up and fully running with all my stuff in under three hours – including the transfer of 69GB of data over firewire. Brilliant.

New PowerBooks. Finally.

Well, Apple has finally put the rumors to rest: no G5 PowerBooks. As expected. But they have delivered some updated G4 series machines that look pretty nice. On tap are slightly faster processors, 8x DVD RW+/-, drop protection (auto hard drive parking), the ability to drive a 30″ Apple display (woo hoo!), and Bluetooth 2.0. They’ve also dropped the prices by, it appears, $100 across the board.

I’m still waiting for my G5. But my battery is slowly becoming useless and those extra 670Mhz are looking mighty fine right about now. Can I hold out? I don’t know – it isn’t looking good.

More PowerBook G5 Rumors

MacRumors.com has posted an update to the G5 PowerBook rumor. I’d previously dismissed this as completely unfounded – that it was just a simple typo on a web bug. But according to this update, the French page for the Apple 17″ Studio Display shows the PowerBook G5 with DVI connector as a requirement for use.

Could be another typo. Could be the real deal. Previous rumors have placed G4 PowerBook updates sometime next week. Could we be really surprised? I still am not holding my breath. But still…

A G5 PowerBook?

Oh, please let this be true. I’ve been waiting for new revisions before replacing my aging (but still going strong!) G4…

Link to some Slashdot commenting.

Update: As someone on Slashdot has pointed out, this was probably just a typo – the fact that there was a web bug with the name g5_powerbook on the view-tracking site doesn’t mean much: any URL will do, it always just returns a 1×1 GIF for tracking purposes. So someone, when updating the Apple site probably just fat-fingered the name. Oh well – I’m still hoping for some sort of update – even if it’s just a faster G4.

Motley Fool Take on the Mac Mini

Check out this article by Seth Jayson at The Fool. In the intro to the article he claims that Steve Jobs and Apple have officially jumped the shark with the introduction of the iPod Shuffle and the Mac Mini. Now, coming from a straight stock analysis viewpoint, it’s hard to argue: Apple is ridiculously overpriced both before and after MacWorld 2005. Anyone considering a purchase would do well to smack their head against the wall repeatedly.

However, after some cogent monetary analysis, he veers off into hazardous territory for even tech stock analysts: Real technical evaluation of a product. Here, he comes up way short:

The Mac Mini — I’m pretty sure Minimac is something you get from Kraft — is a cute little device. Yes, it cribs mercilessly from PC-based mini-ITX designs that have been around for over a year now, but it does put low-end Mac guts into a smaller, stylish little Mac package.

Well, let’s forget for the moment that not only is it ridiculously smaller than nearly all mini-ITX machines out there, it’s also for the most part cheaper – especially once you consider the thing has a 40GB drive and a slick slot loading DVD player/CD-RW built in. He goes on to say:

Mac fans who’ve been sipping Steve’s Kool-Aid have often claimed that price — in addition to various Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) conspiracies — is the only thing keeping the masses from switching to their favorite brand, but take heed. Even if that were true, a quick online check shows you can get a comparable, full Dell (Nasdaq: DELL) system for $450.

Comparable? While puffing on the crack pipe, Seth seems to have forgotten that his $450 Dell is:

  • In a full tower case
  • Doesn’t come with photo and video editing software (iPhoto and iMovie)
  • Doesn’t have a complete office suite (Appleworks)
  • Doesn’t have a functional browser (Safari – no, IE doesn’t count)
  • Missing email with full SPAM filtering.
  • Comes with XP home

This last point, the OS, is probably the best thing that sells the Mac Mini the most besides the price. Sure, if this were a PC for $500 running XP, it wouldn’t be worth a damn. But when you have an OS that actually doesn’t require some poor sod to spend hours fixing his parents computer every few weeks, that’s worth something, and apparently is totally lost on Seth. He completely misses the boat on who this thing is targeted towards: those that were thinking of switching, but price was a factor; for those who already have machines, that this could be a viable drop-in replacement. He dismisses this with one quick brain-dead sentence: “I think it’s ludicrous to expect that someone buying a Mac — and looking for Apple style, after all — is going to want to plug in a pizza-stained, three-year-old keyboard and a mouse chock full of desk scum.”

It’s not about simply style, you moron – as a programmer and R&D manager, I switched two years ago because I can do things with my machines instead of spending countless hours keeping the machines themselves functional. It’s about getting things done, period. If there’s some style there, big bonus.

Well, we’ll have to see how the Mac Mini fairs- by all accounts, Apple is selling a zillion of the things and they’re already backordered for weeks. Seth, stick to stock analysis. Without some sort of lame-ass insight-less product “review”, you can convince people to not buy Apple stock. I mean Seth – don’t buy Apple stock because they came out with some new long-awaited products. Buy the products instead. You’ll be much happier.