Archive for September 20, 2005

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Microsoft Entourage 2004 SP2

John C. Welch:

Does this make Entourage a 1:1 match for Outlook? No, not at all. There are a lot of functions in Outlook that require Windows, or a level of integration with Exchange that Entourage doesn’t yet have. Does that make SP2 any less of an improvement? No, not at all. The Exchange and other fixes in this release of Entourage take care of a rather large amount of complaints about earlier versions of Entourage, and show that the MacBU hasn’t been sitting around twiddling their thumbs.

Sweetwater Sound

Matt Linderman:

A few days later, I received my order. Inside I found my gear along with some candy (apparently each order comes with a handful of “Sweetwater candy”). I unpacked my loot and realized that I’d been sent an extra Midi cable. I didn’t think I had ordered two but on the invoice it did say two cables. I sent Mac an email about returning the extra cable. He replied, “I threw in another cable for you. If you look at the price, nothing changed from your initial order. It never hurts to have an extra laying around! Thanks again for your business.”

Sweetwater delivered a solid customer experience from top to bottom. No wonder customers sing the company’s praises to others and come back for more.

Sweetwater’s made a loyal customer out of me, too. The service is great, and having a knowledgeable personal sales rep makes sense. However, I think that phone follow-ups, just to make sure that I received the order and everything is working properly, is going a bit too far. Interrupting me for no good reason makes me slightly less happy.

Backup 3.0

Joe Kissell:

The main reason for these revisions is that Apple has done something truly unexpected: they’ve actually made Backup a useful backup application. I can’t overemphasize the significance of this move. I’ve made no secret of my disdain for earlier versions of Backup, which lacked basic features I consider crucial. Although I’ve only spent about an hour so far testing Backup 3.0, I have to say that so far I actually like it. I might even use it. In fact, I might even go so far as to recommend it—for certain kinds of users in certain situations—in lieu of my old favorite, Retrospect.

Media Browser API

Dan Wood:

A lot of Apple’s “iApps” have a standard mechanism for browsing media (photos, music, movies).…It would be great if this was a public framework that we could access.…Apparently, Comic Life just wrote their own by parsing Apple’s XML files. OK, so you can do that. But it’s a hassle. It would be nice for Apple to provide a standard way to access media, so that developers don’t have to keep inventing the wheel.

JPEG 2000

Wil Shipley:

And, conveniently, Mac OS X 10.4 (“Tiger”) has a new framework for reading and writing images, and it understands JPEG2000 natively (based on the commercial, C++ Kakadu library). And, in this new Apple framework, there’s a function CGImageSourceCreateThumbnailAtIndex() where you can create a thumbnail of an image you haven’t read in yet, by specifying a maximum side length (kCGImageSourceThumbnailMaxPixelSize). This would be EXACTLY the kind of call in which one would implement the partial-reading of JPEG2000s in order to quickly read in a low-rez versions of high-rez files.

AdWords and Trademarks

Today Google informed me that I’m not allowed to use the word “Mac” in ad copy.