Archive for December 11, 2012

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

iTunes 11’s Mysterious Cloud Icon

Matthew Panzarino (via John Gruber):

So, the cloud icon is simply an indicator that at least one of the items in your library is available in Apple’s cloud infrastructure somewhere. Whether by purchase or by ‘match’, it’s not just on your physical hard disk.

Diff for Excel

ExcelCompare is a command-line tool (which requires Java) that can compare two Excel spreadsheets and output a list of differences in plain text (via Clark Goble). It seems crazy to me Excel, or for that matter Numbers, doesn’t have a diff feature built-in. Word, at least, has Tools ‣ Track Changes ‣ Compare Documents….

Media Release or Bug Report?

Adrian Sutton:

Users complaining publicly instead of being constructive and reporting the problem to the manufacturer certainly isn’t new, but in the age of web services its more self-defeating than ever. Apple can fix the problem in one place and its fixed for every user, surely the Victorian police have a better way of getting in touch with Apple than through the media?

As a developer, I sympathize with the desire to have bugs reported via the proper channels. But people will only do that if it seems like someone is really listening. Apple says, “If you run to the press and trash us, it never helps,” and yet in the realms of app review and security issues it seems like it’s the only thing that does. I reported Maps bugs the proper way months ago, which still aren’t fixed, and yet the Mildura bug (which, granted, is more important) already is.

Dual Apple ID Passwords

Martijn Pannevis (via Hacker News):

I think it’s quite insane that my whole Apple account only has one password. I need the same password for a whole range of actions. I need to type it to ‘buy’ a free app, which has almost no consequences; I can always remove it. But with the same password I can also remotely erase my iPhone, iPad an Mac. So I have no choice but making it a long, complex, strong password. Which stops me from getting free apps, as it’s a hassle to type on my iPhone.

I tend to note the app’s name in OmniFocus and buy it from the Mac.

iTunes 11 and Colors

Wade Cosgrove:

iTunes 11 is a radical departure from previous versions, nothing illustrates this more than the new album display mode. The headlining feature of this display is the new view style that visually matches the track listing to the album’s cover art. The result is an attractive display of textual information that seamlessly integrates with the album’s artwork.

After using iTunes for a day I wondered just how hard it would be to mimic this functionality — use a source image to create a themed image/text display.

I like this feature in iTunes 11, but I have it turned off because too often it chooses colors without enough contrast, making the text difficult to read.

Oliver Reichenstein on Design

Sam Byford interviews iA Writer developer Oliver Reichenstein (via David Heinemeier Hansson):

We noticed right away that our font didn’t look right on Retina displays, and adjusted it until it looked and felt the same as on lower resolutions. However, grading alone is not enough—the iPhone, Mac and iPad have different canvas sizes and reading distances, which require a lot of alterations from spacing to line height to gutter sizes. I am currently discussing this in a series of articles I’m writing on the new challenges of typography in the age of responsive design.

Here’s his Bringing Responsiveness to Apps.

NSURL Path Handling

Mike Abdullah:

So the end result here is that if you need to remove the last path component of a URL and stand a chance of being passed in one ending in two or more slashes you’re kinda stuck.

I’ve always thought it a good idea to standardize paths and URLs, to get rid of any . or .. components. Otherwise, trying to get the filename or the container URL may give an unexpected result. But this example shows that sometimes even that isn’t enough. NSURLs are better than NSStrings, but in my view Cocoa still doesn’t handle file stuff properly.

Fortune and the Braeburn Group

The December 24 issue of Fortune reports on my friend Robert Paul Leitao and his Braeburn Group of independent Apple analysts:

A single parent at the time, Leitao began squirreling away money to buy shares of a company that, to many outsiders, including his own stockbroker, seemed to be circling the drain. “Right before Apple bought Next and announced that Steve Jobs was coming back, I got a call from my broker,” Leitao says. “He was trying to sell me on some other stocks, and I told him I wanted to stick with Apple. He got indignant and told me I needed to face the music and accept that the Apple story was over.”