Tag Archive for: Apple

Hangout on Air: Following up on the Nexus 4 Switch

10 Jan

German journalist Gunnar Sohn asked me for an interview via Google Hangout On Air for his popular German blog Ich sag mal. Here it is as a follow up on my now widespread post about switching from the iPhone 5 to Nexus 4 (in German only).

Read more →

Run Wireshark on Mac OS X Mountain Lion

19 Jul

Apple has removed X11 from the Mountain Lion distribution.

If you were running Wireshark on Lion and upgraded to Mountain Lion, or installed Wireshark on a fresh copy of Mountain Lion, it will no longer run.

You can bring it back by following these steps:

  1. Uninstall Wireshark by trashing the Wireshark.app bundle from your ~/Applications folder.
  2. Download the XQuartz installer from http://xquartz.macosforge.org/landing/ and run it.
  3. Restart.
  4. Download the latest Wireshark version and install it. Some posts on Stack Overflow suggest only older versions would run under Mountain Lion, but I cannot confirm this.
  5. On first install, Wireshark might pop up a dialog asking “Where is X11?”. Browse to ~/Applications/Utilities and select the XQuartz.app bundle.

That’s it. You’re done. If this has helped you, I’d appreciate winning you as a new follower @ralf on Twitter.

Is the Mac OS X Lion release actually older than the July 11 developer GM seed?

20 Jul

Today, Apple released the eagerly awaited major Mac OS X update, Mac OS X Lion.

Members of the Mac Developer Program got access to a so called GM seed on July 11th. While Gold Master (GM) seeds are supposed  to be exactly like their soon-to-follow market releases, this has not always been the case in the past. Apple did take the chance previously, to rush in some late-night patches between Gold Master and Release-to-Market (RTM) builds.

That is, why this year I resisted my natural temptation to immediately go for the GM seed.

The only way of finding out whether GM seed and RTM version are the same is to take a look at their respective build numbers, found in About this Mac > More Info > Software.

Oddly enough, it seems as if this year the RTM version is actually older than the GM seed. Mac OS X Lion GM Seed is Build 11A511 and today’s RTM 11A494.

What’s going on here? Did Apple in fact roll out a previous build and those who ran for the GM seed are one step ahead already? Or does Apple just not count as we humans do?

Even the App Store seems to recognize a newer version. If you try to download the release from a machine that runs the GM seed, you’ll get this:

Maybe Software Update will kick in after install and upgrade to 11A511. What do you think?

+++ Update +++

Turns out that if your Mac is connected to the Internet during setup, the installer will actually download an update and upgrade your build to 11A511.

iPad 2, speedy and just beautiful in white!

26 Mar

In June 2009, over at TheNextWeb, I talked about how different the iPhone 3GS felt compared to its predecessor. The post was titled “It’s all about Speed: My first weekend with the new iPhone 3GS”.

Yesterday, the second iteration of Apple’s magic tablet launched in Germany and 24 additional countries.

And boy has it been a success for Apple!

A Google search for “iPad 2 sold out” yields 1.2 million results. I (successfully) queued in front of the Apple Store in Oberhausen where the staff had to send away more than 1.000 customers as they completely sold out within an hour and a half. Here is a short YouTube video showing the moments before the re-opening.

As many of my readers know, I’m one of the founders of Germany’s largest iOS development companies. I sort of have to always get the latest Apple gadgets. Not that I regret – of course.

Beautifully white

When I departed for the Apple Store, I planned to grab two black 64 GB WiFi + 3G models. Those sold out within the first 30 minutes. I was left with two white ones.

Prior to having the white model in my own hands, I was pretty biased that I wouldn’t like it. Many have stated the black bezel around the screen would make it feel larger to the human eye, so a white model would feel too small.

None of this is true.

I have to say that after spending a few hours with it, I even start to like the white model over the black one. As we expect from Cupertino, the white is a very elegant, glassy and stylish white. It’s not a cheap-crappy-plastic-white as we see it way too often in consumer electronics these days.

Now, I’m mostly using the device for media consumption.

Tons of US TV Series, kindle books and discovering stuff on the Web. As a consequence, I naturally use the iPad in many different living situations, places and even in bed. That’s where another advantage comes into play:

The white model simply blends in better.

It’s difficult to describe. It’s one of these subconscious subtle little differences that just feels better. But you have to experience it yourself.

All I can say is, if you’ve made your decision for a black model, make sure you play a while with the white one in an Apple Store nearby. As it happened to me, you might fall in love with white.

So speedy

I have to admit, I don’t care about the two cameras added to the iPad. FaceTiming with my family members is fun on the iPad 2 but I hardly ever FaceTime, anyway. You might wonder, if it’s not for the cameras, why go for an iPad 2 at all?

Well, almost two years after the iPhone 3GS I experienced a deja-vu:

Clearly, the performance boost is the key feature for me and the more I’ve used various apps on the iPad 2, the deeper the overall impact on my happiness. (I’ve written this exact last sentence two years ago, too, and today it is more true than ever.)

I am aware of folks who couldn’t wait to hooke the iPad 2 up to benchmark suites just to find out it’s not that much better in terms of pure technical specs. But I don’t care. There’s likely not a single consumer running benchmark apps anyway.

It’s the experience that counts. And the experience is dramatically better on the iPad 2.

Along with the new multitasking gestures introduces with iOS 4.3, the iPad 2 now switches between apps blisteringly fast. There’s hardly any recognizable moment anymore when you foreground your apps.

So lightweight

Another interesting area: Though the iPad 2 has only up to 100 grams less in weight (depending on the model), it feels significantly more lightweight. And I have to reiterate: It’s the experience that counts. Not tech specs. Consumers touch and feel – and decide.

I never had an issue with the weight of the original iPad, not even after hours of reading ebooks. But the much improved iPad 2 form factor is a very welcome addition.

Do I recommend an upgrade? Absolutely yes!

If you do use your iPad regularly, upgrade as soon as possible. You won’t regret it.

If you bought into the initial hype but found yourself not really being an ebook person, you don’t watch great movies and tv series while you’re traveling or love the many great social media apps available for the platform, you might stay with your original iPad.

There’s one more thing I generally like about Apple products:

Hardly any other consumer electronics product in the market, has such stable second market prices even after a successor has been announced. I was able to sell my used original iPad for 500 Euros, effectively bringing down the cost for the new one to 299 Euros.

My lady keeps her original iPad for a while until it moves to our own little Apple Museum and I will be forced to get a second white iPad 2.

JSON Framework 2.2 for iPhone (and Cocoa) released

05 Jun

Stig Brautaset has released version 2.2 of the very popular JSON.framework for Cocoa and the iPhone. You can grab the .dmg or visit the project home over at Google Code.

Here is the list of significant changes compared to version 2.1, copied 1:1 for your reading convenience courtesy of Stig’s blog post:

New, fresh API—particularly for errors

Extracted the SBJsonWriter and SBJsonParser classes from the SBJSON class. These present a fresh, simple API. If a method returns nil, you can now simply call a method to get an array of NSError objects containing the error trace.

The SBJSON class is now a facade, implementing its old interface by forwarding messages to instances of the new classes. Additionally, the facade also implements the new simplified interface of the SBJsonWriter and SBJsonParser classes.

Read more →

Does the speech enabled iPod shuffle hint at a voice enabled next iPhone?

11 Mar

Apple has released a new iPod shuffle. Besides its design a remarkable feature is called VoiceOver. I don’t own one, yet, but I assume it’s a built-in text-to-speech engine that reads out artists names, song titles and the name of your playlists. Controlling the iPod shuffle is still up to pressing tiny buttons, so it’s a one-way speech interface merely providing feedback to the user.

I wonder whether this move indicates that we might see a “fully” voice enabled next iPhone release this summer.

In any case, I’d like to get your opinion on the strategic role of speech as a first class UI technology for smartphones.

BlackBerry tries to shoot Apple

27 Feb

It’s funny to see how RIM, the BlackBerry manufacturer, tries to shoot Apple in the new commercials they’ve started to publish:

It’s good to see how Apple inspires the entire industry to think different.

Guest blogging at iphone-notes.de

03 Feb

I feel honored to announce that starting as of today I’m going to co-author posts on iPhone-notes.de. The site is 100% dedicated to the German speaking market so I thought it would be a perfect idea to further separate my various activities in this field and contribute to one of the most popular German speaking independent iPhone sites.

Those running jailbroken iPhones (I myself don’t as for the professional iPhone apps development business it’s important to have a model which is compliant with the ones shipped by Apple) definitely know iPhone-notes.de and it’s linked Installer/Cydia repository – sendowski.de – as it still is one of the most favorite sources for iPhone tooling and software.

I’m looking very much forward to working with Andre on expanding iPhone-notes.de reach and keeping you up-to-date with the latest and greatest in Apple Smartphone Land.

More announcements to come. Stay tuned!

I am migrating

20 Sep

I am migrating.

From a Microsoft and Windows dominated world to an Apple and Mac dominated universe. For almost two decades I’ve been a pure PC and Windows user. Much of my professional career has dealt with Personal Computers and the ICT industry at large. I’m an absolute professional when it comes to most of the (Enterprise) Microsoft technologies and developing large scale solutions in C, C++, C# and using Visual Studio etc. I’ve been using Word, Excel and PowerPoint since their DOS incarnation.

Mostly due to time constraints I’ve not spent too much time with Apple products besides the iPod which I’ve purchased once it hit the market and since then “upgrade” to almost every model which Apple released. Well, I am a technology addict – kind of.

It’s actually my investment into an iPhone Development start up which kind of forced me to put an Apple desktop PC, sorry, an iMac right onto my desktop. As I assume for most of the people out there who transition from Windows/PC to a Mac OS X/Mac environment my first steps where – at best – scary. After years with MS DOS and through all iterations of Windows I know almost everything about the MS Operating System. I know every hack and I can fix things without even looking at the screen.

On my iMac I literally had to google for keyboard shortcuts. (And many, many of the Mac OS X features are accessible only via non-intuitive shortcuts…) I kind of started from scratch. I had to leave Visual Studio – without any doubt one of the best integrated development environments available today – and replace it by a tool called Xcode on the Mac. I had to leave my beloved Windows task bar behind and started to work with a single central menu bar and a beast called “The Dock”.

To make a long story short: Last week something extremely significant happened in my life: I made the iMac my main computer. :-)

Initially the iMac has just been planned for iPhone related development. While in the past weeks the PC has still been the central computer (and screen) on my desk and the iMac stood right beside it I noticed that I slowly and kind of subconsciously had started to not only do iPhone development with the iMac but also slowly started to use it for some of the other tasks. I surfed the Web with Safari instead of Internet Explorer, instant messaged with Adium instead of Trillian and used Entourage and Mail for my electronic communication.

The interesting thing is that in retrospective this had happened for no obvious single reason. In fact most of the programs (Safari, Entourage, Adium) are not so different from their PC equivalents but it had to do with the sum of these almost ideal user experiences. I cannot point out a bulleted list of facts but it just is more fun to do stuff on an iMac than on a PC. And Mac OS X simply rocks. It’s fast, reliable and visually appealing. Its consistent user interface and its many hidden features which just become accessible when you need them by far outperform Windows. (Maybe I’ll do a separate post and provide some examples.) Everything has just gotten easy, intuitive and fast.

Once I’ve made the decision to use the iMac as my new main workstation and keep the Windows machine as a backup what I’ve found difficult was to find replacements for many of the tools that I’ve become so used to on a PC. Over the years some of the available software for Windows has become kind of mandatory for me and significantly boosted my personal productivity – however, most of these tools are Windows only. Unfortunately as many of the Apple programs have more fancy names – opposed to the somewhat technical marketing in the Windows world – I was unable to resolve the situation by simply googling for replacements.

This search for “give me back my tools” is what actually inspired me to start this post. I believe there might be others who like me changed to a Mac OS X environment and are looking for the right tools for their day-to-day work. Well, here is my current list. It is in no way complete nor do I know whether there are better, cheaper or newer alternatives available. If there are, I’d be happy if you’d leave a comment.

  • I used to use Windows Live Writer as my blog publishing tool. I loved Windows Live Writer. In my opinion it still is one of the best blog publishing tools available for the Windows platform. As blogging is a very important part of my professional and private life I kind of missed WLW the most during the first few weeks on the Mac. In fact I regularly switched back to my Vista machine purely for blogging. I tried many of the programs for Mac OS X but none really worked well for me. (In fact the blog engine I’m using is Microsoft ASP.NET based Subtext which works perfectly fine with WLW…). What finally changed the game was Infinite Sushi’s Ecto. Infinite Sushi is the company name. You’ve got to get used to somewhat strange company names when you deal with a computer manufactured by a company named Apple! :-) Ecto delivers 100% of what Windows Live Writer does. I could reuse all of the tagging and categorization infrastructure of my blog and setting up Technorati tags worked like a charm. All of the September blog entries have been produced using Ecto.
  • For my professional work and for blogging I heavily rely on screen captures. A leading solution for the PC is TechSmith’s SnagIt. It’s been one of the rare tools that I’ve actually had in my Vista Autostart folder. Unfortunately there is no Mac version available and I don’t know whether TechSmith is actually planning to release one. Mac OS X’ built-in screen capture capabilities are, sorry, a shame. For a computer which is largely used for imaging and design I’ve expected something with the quality of SnagIt right built into the OS. Well, it’s not. There are many screen capture utilities for the Mac available as freeware and commercial solutions. I tried more than ten different ones and finally purchased FlySketch. FlySketch has a great intuitive and simplistic user interface combined with just the annotation features I need.
  • While FlySketch is good for taking the actual screen captures and creating some simple annotations it does not make up for the editor which ships with TechSmith SnagIt and Camtasia. I therefore had to look for an additional solution for quick image editing. I stumbled across Pixelmator. In short Pixelmator is an Adobe Photoshop clone. While it does not offer every single feature found in Photoshop CS 3 it is extremely close and ships with an absolute astonishing feature set at a price point below 100 US$. In fact I do own Adobe’s Creative Master Suite for the Mac but find myself using Pixelmator more and more because of its great user interface and low footprint. If you’re not a Photoshop Pro chances are you’ll find everything you need in Pixelmator.
  • Need a multi protocol instant messenger for your Mac? Go for Adium! I’ve been using Trillian and Windows Live Messenger in concert on my PC. On the Mac Adium simply rocks. You can customize every single aspect and it integrates so well into the Menu Bar and The Dock that you’ll never look for another instant messenger.
  • Are you in need of an SFTP, SCP and SSH client and used to work with Putty on your PC? Well, get Fugu for your Mac OS X computer. It’s free and works brilliantly.
  • As an advantage of Trillian over Adium you can get an IRC plug-in for the first one. I could not find one for Adium. Therefore if you’re following IRC discussions (as I do) I recommend Snak a pretty straight forward IRC client supporting the latest features of the IRC protocol.
  • As I’m a native German I quite frequently used Babylon to translate text snippets on the fly. Luckily Babylon just started to support the Mac platform and I had to learn nothing new!
  • When it comes to the (Microsoft) Office programs I simply had to keep a version of Microsoft Office 2008 for the Mac. Word, Excel and PowerPoint are still predominant file formats in the business world and while many other solutions come with import and export capabilities I almost always ran into trouble when I used some of the more advanced features of Microsoft Office and tried to import/export. So I do use Microsoft Office 2008 on my Mac. I kind of hate Entourage. It’s slow. It’s totally different from what Microsoft Outlook and it hangs more than every other application I’ve been using in the past 12 months. (I also don’t understand why Entourage – the Mac version of MS Outlook – does support multiple Exchange accounts on the Mac while it does not on its native Windows platform…)
  • While I keep using the Microsoft Office suite for the above reasons whenever possible I use Pages, Numbers and Keynote (the Apple equivalents for Word, Excel and PowerPoint). Pages outperforms Word in its simplicity and clean user interface. It has everything I ever needed for word processing. Keynote clearly leverage the graphical power of the Mac. It ships with beautiful and meaningful animations that help your presentations look great even if you’re not an artist.

Well that’s it for my little rundown through my Applications folder. I might occasionally come back to my list and amend or add stuff but so far I’m almost at the same level of confidence with power using my iMac as I’ve been on my various Vista machines.

In case you can recommend additional utilities, tools, helper applications are have better alternatives than the one I’ve outlined above, please do submit a comment and let me know.

© Copyright 2017 by Ralf Rottmann.