Monday, August 31, 2009

Snow Leopard "Review"

I installed Snow Leopard last night on my MBP and there are already a few little things that I really like:
1. Cisco IPSec VPN support. I can now connect to my work's VPN without using Cisco's really crappy client. Not too surprised about this since Cisco VPN support has been on the iPhone for a while now and that runs on a 10.4 code base.
2. New Airport menu item gives you signal strength, encryption status, and automatically refreshes without having to close and reopen. That pretty much eliminates the need for iStumblem in most cases which is good since that program is apparently not 10.6 compatible. Also, I seem to be able to connect to see and connect to networks that were previously too weak. Especially nice since my current router is showing signs of aging and occasionally dies.
3. Automatic time zone detection. Haven't had the opportunity to use this yet (by switching TZs), but I turned it on and it successfully located me. It should be useful.
4. Much better handling of disconnected shared volumes. 10.5 already improved this dramatically (i.e. instead of spinning beach ball for 20 minutes, you get it for 30 seconds), but SL is even better. Almost instantaneously you get a dialog saying the connection to the server(s) has been lost and gives you the option to ignore it (I imaging it'll try reconnecting again later), or eject the volume (or all the volumes at once). No more beach ball at all.

Things that have changed that haven't affected me:
1. The Finder recode. This is something that really should have happened by 10.2. Now I actually rarely find myself in Finder so this doesn't affect me much since much more of my work is in the cloud I don't have directories full of hundreds of files. Except for my pictures and music in which cases I use iTunes, Aperture, and/or iPhoto to manage them. So the speed difference doesn't really affect me since I didn't find it slow before. Maybe I'll notice a difference later. Don't get me wrong, this is still a good thing... but a little late in my opinion.
2. OpenCL. This is the framework that will allow developers to leverage the power of the GPU in things other than graphics (i.e. using the GPU as an extra CPU). This hasn't affected me yet but only because there are basically no apps that use it yet, but I am quite excited about it. The GPU is super fast/efficient at certain types of calculations so we could see some serious speed ups soon.
3. Faster shutdown. Most useless feature to me since I pretty much never shutdown any of my machines. When I do, a savings of 30 seconds doesn't really matter.
4. Dock in Expose. I never got into Expose much at all. Its cool looking, but it never worked into my flow. And I pretty much never use the Dock anymore except maybe to force quit an app. I just hide it, forget it and enjoy the extra free space. I use Quicksilver for everything that it does and more in a much faster way.
5. Exchange support. I'm glad they have this so that people in Windows-centric corporate environments (I hear there are a few here and there) have a more realistic option in using a mac. But I'm not in an environment like that so this doesn't affect me at all. And I hope it never will.

SL Annoyances:
1. Broken apps. Due to this upgrade being much more of a "under the hood" update, many apps have been broken:
- iStat Menus. There's an update coming soon. They were on track on releasing it in time with SL, but then Apple went and released ahead of time catching them off guard. I miss this app, so I'm looking forward to its return. The iStat widget is nice too, but I hate the Dashboard, so its a poor substitute for me.
- Quicksilver. Even though development has officially stopped on this wonderful app, there was a beta version available that works in SL so I don't yet have to abandon it. Sadly most plugins aren't being updated anymore and general interest in is slowing so its days are numbered.
- iStumbler. It can no longer scan for networks. Since the Airport menu is so nice now (see above), this doesn't matter too much. But for scanning for hidden networks, I'll have to find an alternative. iStumbler is old anyway. No real loss.
- Macfusion. This app allows you to define mount points for sshfs in MacFUSE. Useful for mounting work stuff when working at home. There's an update coming, but there's also a workaround in the meantime:

Overall, a nice update I think that should get even better as apps are updated to a) work and b) take advantage of SL features (i.e. OpenCL). I haven't really noticed a speed increase, but things were pretty fast on my brand new MBP anyway.

In other news, I'll finally be setting up Time Machine to back up my machine even though that feature came out with 10.5. At least I know they've ironed out the bugs.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

CNN's "holograms"

I saw this when it happened. It was so painful to watch I actually changed the channel. Do they think we're retarded? You may have an awesome name Wolf, but you're a moron.

CNN's story on the subject is equally absurd/funny. They begin to describe the technology but never actually come out and admit that in the end its still just a special effect that only the viewer can see. Wolf Blitzer was just looking at empty space.

(my inner nerd can't help but add: please, if you're going to use a star trek metaphor, at least use one that's related to holography not teleportation!)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

facebook scrabble

Man, does this app suck. Constantly erroring on me, I have to completely reload the application every other turn. Its even played something incorrectly for me once.

Its one thing to protect your IP and tell scrabulous to get out. But to replace it with this POS? Ridiculous. They should have just bought scrabulous. Or maybe EA could hire a QA guy. You can't just stick "beta" on it and expect it to be ok to have all these bugs.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

24 Season 5+2

Meh. The trailer looks decent. They're bringing back Tony but as a bad guy (or is he?) which could be cool. Unfortunately trailers don't make up for the suckage that was season 6. I actually don't even remember if I finished watching that season, that's how forgettable it was.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Desktop Paradigm

I've realized that I work very different on my work linux machine and my home mac even though they are quite similar. Both offer a frontend file manager (i.e. the Finder in OS X) and both offer a command line interface (i.e. the Terminal in OS X). On linux I spend 95% of my file interaction time in the command line to do even simple things like moving files, creating directories, deleting stuff, etc. All of these things I intuitevly do in OS X's Finder; I only use the Terminal for esoteric things like changing permissions (I know you can do this in the finder, but its faster for me to do in the Terminal).

I'm not entirely sure of the reason(s) behind this. Part of it, I'm sure, is that linux's GUI is just not as polished and as integrated as Apple's. Odd as the two OS's are surprisingly similar.* Another part is habits. I've always kept my Unix and Mac computing pretty separate at least in terms of what I do on them (my mac is for my everyday personal computing. Unix/Linux is for work, or specific hobbies like getting a home theater pc running).

One specific is that anytime I use the actual graphical file browser in linux to trash a file I can help but see that for what it really is: a program moving a file to a special, hidden folder until such time that I "empty" the trash. This is EXACTLY how it works on the mac, yet when I do the same thing there I don't think of it that way (unless I actually think about it). The Mac has just done what I wanted it to: thrown a document in the trash. The illusion on the Mac works for me, but it doesn't in Linux.

* The basic framework is the same. OS X is built on BSD a UNIX implementation much like Linux. Apple made some custom changes to BSD and called the result Darwin which is open source and you can actually download this and install it on pretty much any PC. But what puts the "Mac" in "Mac OS X" is what we all recognize as being the Mac: the graphical user interface. This interface is just a program running in Darwin much like X Windows and a window manager in Linux. There are differences of course, but those are relatively trivial. The idea is the same.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Acquerello Review

Yin and I went to Acquerello. The food was quite good. I'd even say excellent. But no one thing really blew me away.
  • grilled sardines with trio of eggplant (the pickled eggplant was amazing)
  • lobster ravioli (very rich. good, but not spectacular)
  • pork chop with nectarines and polenta (the pork chop was cooked perfectly, as in not overcooked, and the nectarines and polenta were a great compliment to it)
  • caramel semifreddo (this was probably our favorite part; subtle and fantastic)
  • glass of 2006 pinot nero. Excellent. Light and dry.
  • figs wrapped with duck prosciutto accompanied with a different type of prosciutto and a rather large piece of foie gras (excellent all around)
  • penne with a foie gras, black truffle and butter sauce (this was, unfortunately, way too buttery for Yin though she did eat some of it and said it was quite good. I hate black truffles but I had a taste and even for me I'd say the butter content was almost excessive)
  • fresh pasta with a veal ragu sauce (excellent, the ragu wasn't rich at all but was excellent, so it was perfect for Yin after the previous dish)
  • my dessert (dammit!)
4 solid stars for food. Almost 4.5. Amazing wine list, especially for the Italian wines. Though we only had one glass.

The service was good, but not spectacular. They brought Yin's veal ragu out with cheese grated on top when we had made it clear to not do that. They didn't blink however and quickly substituted with a fresh one with apologies. Everyone was nice, and they did the regular "fancy restaurant service" stuff like serving both our respective dishes at the same time witha 1 waiter per dish and laying our napkins on our laps for us (actually, I did that myself, I find that silly). They even offered Yin the choice of a black napkin to match her skirt. Also, like at Gary Danko, at the end of the meal they gave Yin a sack of chocolates "for the lady." Kind of sexist... where the fuck are my chocolates?

But after the service at Gary Danko's, really this seemed only like 3.5 star service. No valet parking which is kind of surprising. Street parking was doable but not great and there is a parking lot across the street. But being in the Tenderloin they really should have valet.

Decor was nice, if reserved. The room was quiet, though it was pretty empty being a Wednesday night. No view or anything... no windows in fact. 4 stars.

Overall, I'd give it a solid 4 stars. It was a very nice experience and I'm glad we went there for our 2 year anniversary. But, for the price I think I'd go to Gary Danko next time... though there are other places I want to try!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

2 Year Anniversary

Yin and I have been together for 2 YEARS TODAY! Woot! I save "woot" for very special occasions only.

Tonight we dine at Acquerello (shh... don't tell her, its a secret... oh wait, no one reads this...).