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johnhattan

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Taking a few minutes' break from my google checkout integration. Should have it working well enough to show off to other people today. If you're interested in helping me test in a production (read: real money) environment, lemme know.

Last time the way I did that was to secretly put up a 90% off coupon code so that I wouldn't drain your wallet.

So if you have a google account and you want my games for 99 cents, lemme know and I'll get you the code when the integration is ready to show off. Needless to say, I'll only need one or two people to help me with that.


Here's my take on a couple of new pieces of software, having tried 'em both.

Windows Vista Beta - not ready for prime-time. I installed it on a non-mission-critical machine, and it was just about six kinds of clunky. A lot of the little bits of eye-candy they added (like the disappearing expand-contract-the-tree triangles in Explorer) only served to make the product more difficult to use. Whenever I wanted to do damn near anything, I had to go through lots of confirmation boxes. I know that I'll get used to it (especially when the book comes out that shows you all the registry hacks necessary to shut off the annoying bits), but I just had a tough time with it.

The Vista window-frames are pretty, but I'm not sold just because of that. I can get about 75% of the Vista UI niceness via Crystal XP, the Trillian Vista Skin (as it's the only app where I can't say "make yourself look like everything else on the screen"), and Desktop Sidebar. I could get all the Vista niceness and more (specifically windows that wriggle and twist and such) with Object Desktop, but I really don't need that much shininess and animation. First thing I did when I set up my Mac Mini was make the danged icon-dock stop annoyingly zooming itself whenever I was near it :)


New Office Beta - a very nice surprise. There's nothing earth-shattering, but the new toolbar-stuff is much better organized than it used to be. I was surprised at how fast I got used to the new ways of doing things. They managed to make things work a little better without making me feel like I couldn't get anything done (see above for an example of the opposite). The only question-mark I have over my head is why they chose to go with the new tab-bar on some apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) and not on others (Outlook, Project, Access). Although Outlook does have the new tab-bar on the "compose email" window, which really beats the pants off the old Outlook "compose email" window.

Only annoyance was that I had to fart around with the Outlook settings before I could get my old email database to work.

Speaking of Office Beta, I'd heard that FrontPage was getting killed. . .sorta. It was getting re-deployed and would become part of other products or something like that. Actually it just got rebranded as "SharePoint Designer", whatever that means. It's pretty-much the same app except that it's borrowed stuff from Dreamweaver, specifically DW's little tabbed panels and DW's heavy enforcement of styles. It still has two chief advantages over DW, specifically that it's much snappier and it has in-line spell-checking (i.e. it puts a little red squiggle under words it can't find, which I like). I'm sure that folks will still look down their noses at it as an attempt to continue to shoehorn FrontPage into the market, but it is pretty good. I'd consider using it for my web-stuff, but I don't wanna re-learn their way of doing the complicated DW stuff, like templates.

Also, PHP is a second-class citizen with FrontPage for obvious reasons. DW didn't care. The only real difference it made was that DW had a built-in PHP reference, and I don't imagine anything MS is gonna be getting that anytime soon.


On a final note, Watching that whole Steve Jobs "Vista 2.0" thing this year was rather sad. Apart from the little live-backup thing, there's really nothing in the new OSX that's even mildly interesting. To watch him go on and on about how they're superior to Windows because they bundle in. . .brace yourself. . .an email client with HTML-based document templates and. . .brace yourself harder. . .support for virtual screens that you can switch between just felt forced and lame.

What's next?

"We're now Vista 3.0 because we're including a sound-recording app and a game where you have to find hidden mines. . .that really explode in a cool and shiny way!"


Apart from the file backup thingy, there really wasn't anything that couldn't have been dropped into a service-pack update. Ain't worth $129.




Speaking of Apple, I won an iPod Shuffle at my local Tom Thumb grocery last weekend for their "Grand Reopening". To be honest, though, it's got the same capacity and isn't as nice as my little Samsung MP3 player (which has a color screen with cute icons), so it's probably gonna get ebayed.
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Funny you should mention Vista, I was just playing with it today and bumped into the Games section, and I must say they look VERY well done :).

Theres even something similar to Shi-Shen there, which is just as fun :).

As for FrontPage, Microsoft has an editor (Expression) in beta, which is pretty cool IMO. It's part of a 3 product series they seem to be working on. Might be worth having a look if you're into that stuff.

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Well, I was not expecting too much as it was a developer's conference. To give credit where credit is due I do believe that the things Jobs showed while announcing Leopard will ship in Jan/Spring. I wish what Microsoft announced at their developer's conference announcing Longhorn was what was going to be shipped in Jan/Spring ;-)

I'm looking forward to networked Spotlight and the other Spotlight improvements. I love that thing. I'm looking forward to the similar search in Vista.

The thing I wish Microsoft would do with Vista is recognise that many houses have more than one machine and have multi-seat license for home use. With MacOS a single license is $130 but you can get a 5 seat home license for $200. I feel that making their stuff affordable is the better way combat casual piracy that product activation.



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In defense of the beating Apple's been taking in the press:

I don't care much for the userland; apparently some idiot's leaked the 10.5 beta by now and the Digg squad are busy going LOL IT'S SO PRETTAY LOL. What's really going to pull 10.5 for me is Xcode and Xray, and maybe the new Core animation toolkit if I get a chance to play with it. The new Cocoa tools are excellent, and it looks like there's going to be a wad of new classes and controls to play with.

With the time machine doofer, Xcode actually has integrated software versioning (shades of VMS). Not like it matters too much (I use SVN commits like a religion). Xray, however, is the really cool part. It's a big complex multithreaded debugger that can rewind, fast forward and play normally, and has all the nice features of GDB and dtrace. ElCrazon apparently has a beta to play with, so I'll be trying to finagle a copy out of him with pliers.

The new dev tools are the real story, and most of the Apple press glosses over that because, well, most of the Apple users are beret-wearing movie-making simpletons. The media, well, the media has never been really close to the developer community.

There's naturally going to be some speed increases (every point release of OSX seems to make it faster on the same hardware, up to the 'obsolescence valley').

Keep in mind this was a developer conference; a lot of people seem to have confused it with a consumer conference. That's Macworld San Francisco, which is in January, and will apparently debut some more new hardware and a finalized Leopard demo.

I don't really like Apple's latest advertising bent, "LOLS OUR COMPETITION HAS UGLY-ASS BOXES RUNNING A CLONE OPERATING SYSTEM ROL I'M A MAC". It just looks petty.

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