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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Is the Apple core starting to rot?

In Software, Technology on March 17, 2012 at 7:18 pm

After restarting my MacBook Pro for the third time today because the screen didn’t turn on when I opened the cover after shutting it for a while, I’m beginning to wonder whether Apple has jumped the shark, so to speak. This isn’t the only “wart” that has begun to show up since I installed OS X Lion last week during term break. There was the time that I shut the cover and the processor didn’t go to sleep. By the time I got home and took the fan was humming and the processor temperature was up around 180°F.

Installing Lion was simple. Download it from the App Store and in about an hour the system was up and running. Now, Apple has always been the epitome of systems that are intuitive and just do what you expect of them. But somethings just don’t feel quite right or work as well as one would expect. None of these are big things, but the little things that start to go wrong can often be harbingers of bigger things to come.

First, when I got to school I had to re-approve the use of the wireless certificate. That’s the only certificate that I have had this happen with. I’m not sure why.

Next, I had to set up my desktop background photo selection and the rate of change several times before it “took.” When I say that it “took” I mean that some of the desktops that I use would suddenly show a background from the Apple set of images rather than the APerture album that I had selected. And, no matter what I did short of deleting the desktop, I couldn’t get it to change back until I rebooted the system.

One of my colleagues at work has a MacBook that he’s starting to use to do some development. He has Lion installed on it. We had to install Xcode on it so he could get the C compiler needed to install Ruby. This used to be pretty simple. Now, installing Xcode doesn’t seem to be sufficient. You have to also go through a few gyrations to actually install the command line tools. No big deal, but once again annoying.

The system just doesn’t feel quite right. There are just these small things that make me wonder whether the care about details has lessened since Steve Jobs isn’t there to browbeat the company into submission over the details. One final example is the look of the Finder sidebar. There used to be a little bit of color applied to the special folders, like Applications and Downloads. Now, the sidebar is color-free. Searching the Web located several articles on ow to restore this using the SIMBL plugin. One problem is that you have to kill the Finder and restart it every time you want to have the color icons in the sidebar.

There may be over 200 new features in Lion, but they took a step backwards on some, in my opinion. When I worked for Digital Equipment Corporation for a couple of reasonably unhappy years of my career, I remember Ken Olsen, the CEO telling us that we’d tell the customers what they wanted. He was wrong. DEC told them, but it wasn’t what they wanted, nor needed. DEC had been wildly successful, but started to believe their own press and ended up not giving customers what they wanted or needed and the world overtook them.

Now, I’m not saying that this is what’s happening with Apple. Certainly Steve Jobs told the customers what they wanted. Usually, he was right. He definitely understood the customers they were going after. Developers, like me, are not the main customer base for Apple. But, they have done a good job of giving us developers a good set of tools; especially now that they have a Linux-based OS. Jobs had a vision and he carried it out. The music world, mobile platforms, and many other things changed because he said that it was what people would want—and he was right. I hope Apple can keep doing this.

But, with the Lion experience that I’m having, I just have this nagging feeling that there a little bit of rot creeping into the apple. I hope they can stop it from expanding.

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Dragon Dictate

In Technology on February 7, 2011 at 7:12 pm

I’m writing this post using Dragon Dictate which I ordered last week. I have to admit that I’m really impressed by how easy it is to install and get started using. When I got home today it took me about 15 min. from the time I got the box opened  until I was ready to start  training it to recognize my voice. After about 5 min. it was ready to go.

This post is the first document that I’m actually writing with my voice. The accuracy is, to me, uncanny. There’ve been very few errors in (except for the word errors that I just had to try several times to get right). But this is just with the basic training of my voice. I can go back later a innd train it in a more advanced way so that even “errors” will be no problem.

I’m hoping that this will give me the ability to write better by not editing as I write. When I type documents, especially for books and articles, I tend to edit as I write. Almost every book or article on writing says that editing as you write is a bad practice. If I can break myself of that habit I should be able to express my thoughts better and then go back and edit the document for correctness and clarity.

My hope is that this will help me get back to writing my software engineering book and maybe even finish it this summer. It’s only been 2+ years that I’ve been working on the book and I’m still only a chapter 5. Part of the problem is that I simply take too long to get something on paper and then have to go back and review the things I’ve written every time I try and start again. Perhaps this will get me into  a regular routine to keep current on my writing.

Whatever, there is no doubt in my mind that the technology used in Dragon  Dictate is quite advanced. Right now, after a short trial, I would heartily recommend anyone use, or at least try, Dragon Dictate or the Windows version of the Dragon product.

I’ll keep you posted.