<Glazblog/>

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Yosemite maximize/fullscreen button

The always remarkable Wladimir Palant has found a fix for the most annoying OS X "feature" ever, the change of behaviour of the window maximize button. In Yosemite, it now defaults to fullscreen and you have to press the Alt key to get the "classic" behaviour of window maximization. This is so painful all the people I know are currently asking how to reverse that. Given the very negative feedback, I'm pretty sure Apple will at some point in the future introduce a defaults allowing to reverse that from the command line, but for the time being we're all cursing in front of our Mac when we toggle an app fullscreen instead of maximizing it. Apple, read it well: One Does Not Change a 25 Years Old Behaviour; remember the Windows Start button. Oh, and the fullscreen standalone button on the right hand side of the titlebar was better than the current Yosemite blurby hack.

Soooo... Wladimir found that free piece of software called BetterTouchTool (BTT). Follow the steps below:

  1. Download BTT and install it.
  2. During installation, your mac may ask you to allow Preferences to control accessibility, that's normal
  3. In the main BTT window, click on the Other button in the main toolbar

    (image 1)

  4. Create a new trigger and select the "Leftclick Green Window Button"

    (image 2)

  5. Click on the Predefined Action dropdown button and type "zoom" in the search field

    (image 3)

    select "Zoom window below cursor"
  6. Create a new trigger again and select again "Leftclick Green Window Button" (see step 4 for the image)
  7. Check the "Opt" button

    (image 4)

  8. Click on the Predefined Action dropdown button and type "full" in the search field

    (image 5)

    select "Enter fullscreen"
  9. You can now close the window ; make sure BTT is running at all times.

Thanks Wladimir and thanks BTT! Not perfect but better than regular Yosemite's behaviour!

Wednesday 2 April 2014

Mac and rtl

After years of wait, Apple Keynote was just updated to v6.2 and includes a far better support for rtl scripts. For the first time, the cursor and the caret movements are reliable and it becomes possible to edit a rtl slideshow. Pages is still in v5.2 though.

On the Microsoft Word front though, still no rtl at all...

Tuesday 23 April 2013

Amazon vs. Apple Book Store

Dear Apple,

I wanted to read Nolan Bushnell last book "Finding the Next Steve Jobs" and I wanted to read it on my iPad, and in English. So I visited your Book Store. I can't buy that book, even if it is available in the US Book Store, because my account is a "french" one.

So I installed the Amazon Kindle app. Visited amazon.com. Bought the book there in 5 seconds.

I think I will buy more and more from there in the future.

Well done Apple.

Thursday 14 June 2012

Grrrrr un format iBooks

Wednesday 25 April 2012

Lame Apple

Excerpt from the WWDC 2012 FAQ:

Taking photographs, recording video and engaging in any form of live blogging during WWDC sessions is expressly prohibited.

Apple, sometimes you suck. Deeply.

Friday 20 January 2012

iBooks Author, a nice tool but..

Long, very long ago, in another galaxy further north on the US west coast, the Death Star Microsoft was not playing the standardization game and was submitting proposals to W3C the day it was shipping to the masses a browser implementing that proposal. Or ship without any proposal.

These days are over, and Microsoft finally embraced Web Standards and all rejoiced.

Yesterday, further south on the US west coast, the "All Your Documents Are Belong To Us" Mothership Apple started showing incompatible authoring environments and rendering engines based on proprietary extensions to html and CSS that will hit the wild. Yesterday, Apple released iBooks Author and I am not afraid to say that despite of being a great authoring tool, the solution it offers is a step backwards and it's not good news for users/customers.

I have downloaded iBooks Author (IBA) and played with it. I have in particular looked at the two formats it outputs, the iba format and the ibooks format.

But before that, since I do it with all software I load and launch on my Mac, I took a look at the About window... And from that About window, you can read the License. Dan Wineman has an excellent article about it, and article you must read before thinking IBA is the Holy Grail of publishing. I won't repeat here what he said but he missed something funny and potentially important: the french EULA, that is the only one valid in France if the customer is an individual since english is not an official language here and nobody can force a french citizen in France to have to read english, reads:

"tout livre ou tout autre travail réalisé à l’aide de ce logiciel (« travail »), ne peut être vendu ou distribué uniquement via Apple (par exemple sur l’iBookstore) et une telle distribution est sujette à un accord séparé conclu avec Apple"

The first part of that sentence is a bogus translation from english that means "any book or other work made with this software cannot be sold only via Apple"... The french prose misses one "que" to match the english one. Too bad, Apple... Too bad and too late. I am carefully keeping a copy of that document, of course. I suggest you do too, if you're based in France :-)

Let's go back to the formats now. The first IBA format, the iba format, is, as always with Apple, a zip archive pretending to be a single file. The iba file I created from my little demo was contained in a single XML file. Totally unreadable, based on proprietary Apple xml namespaces (sl, sf and sfa, all in http://developer.apple.com/namespaces/ space).

IBA format

It's not readable in a regular browser because browsers have no knowledge of those namespaces. It's completely closed, useless outside of the Apple world. Nothing more to say here.

The ibooks format is more interesting, but even more disappointing...

ibooks format

It looks like an EPUB3 format. It smells like an EPUB3 format. But it's not at all an EPUB3 format and here's why...

First the mimetype file. It's correctly placed in first position in the package, but the EPUB3 format states that its content must be application/epub+zip. And it's not. It's application/x-ibooks+zip and that is enough to make conformant EPUB3 readers choke on a *.ibooks package. Let's take a look now at the other files here, starting with content1.xhtml:

  • it uses a proprietary extension of CSS Media Queries, adding the keywords paginated and nonpaginated. Unprefixed. Not even -ibooks-paginated... Since this is not part of the official CSS Media Queries specification, this is not conformant EPUB3. As far as I know, this extension to the list of CSS media was only recently mentioned once during a chat but never seriously discussed or even proposed as a written proposal.
  • it uses the proprietary xml namespace xmlns:ibooks="http://www.apple.com/2011/iBooks" and nobody knows what that is or represents
  • it applies stylesheets to the html5 (xml serialization) documents through xml-stylesheet processing instructions. That's perfectly fine since it's an xml serialization but that's not the common way of linking stylesheets in the html world. A minor issue but still.
  • it contains a weird <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/xml+svg" href="assets/svg/content1.svg" /> where the target is really a SVG document. The behaviour of this link element is undefined from a standards' point of view. Conceptually, this is plain wrong. A SVG document instance is not a stylesheet. It could be used by a stylesheet to define exclusion paths for instance but it cannot be called a stylesheet.

Let's look now at the stylesheets, for instance content1.css:

  • again, a definition for a proprietary namespace @namespace ibooks "http://www.apple.com/2011/iBooks". The format clearly extends HTML5 and we have just no idea how.
  • proprietary prefixed properties. Examples:
    • -ibooks-layout-hint: anchor page shape;
    • -ibooks-list-text-indent: 0.0000pt;
    • -ibooks-strikethru-type: none;
    • -ibooks-strikethru-width: 1.0000px;
    • -ibooks-underline-type: none;
    • -ibooks-underline-width: 1.0000px;
    • -ibooks-slot: textShape-2;
    • -ibooks-stroke: none;
    • -ibooks-gutter-margin-left: 50.0pt;
    • -ibooks-positioned-slots: media-24, textShape-123, ... ;
    • -ibooks-box-wrap-exterior-path: directional contour both 12.0pt 0.500000 false;
    • @page ::nth-instance
      {
              height: 748.0pt;
              width: 1024.0pt;
              ::slot(media-24)
              {
                      height: 748.000pt;
                      left: 0.000pt;
                      top: 0.000pt;
                      width: 1024.000pt;
                      z-index: 1;
              }
      }
    • -ibooks-column-width:  20% 30% 20%;
    • -ibooks-column-gap:  25px 30px;

The iba format clearly extends CSS (and therefore EPUB3) to offer the following features:

  1. Template-based layout including special areas (gutter)
  2. Extended underlining
  3. Ability to control the size of each column and column gap in a multi-column layout
  4. something equivalent to Adobe's Regions and Exclusions.

Template-based layouts based on slots were originally proposed by Jakob Refstrup 10-mar-2011 on behalf of Apple. Before that, Jakob worked for HP (how surprising he knows EPUB, pagination, printing and rendering engines; probably Gecko and/or WebKit well too) and regularly contributed to the CSS WG mailing-list on their behalf. His last contribution on behalf of HP was in february 2010 and his first contribution on behalf of Apple was the one mentioned above. He almost did not contribute again on this topic afterwards. His proposal is clearly based on Bert Bos's and Cesar Acebal's CSS Template Layout Module but is only based on it. According to Jacob's profile on LinkedIn, he joined Apple in june 2010. Then I suppose he started working in stealth mode on the iBooks rendering engine. Please note there are discussions in the Community about dropping the Template Layout module...

Extended underlining is based on an old draft of CSS 3 Text and some of these proposed properties were dropped by the CSS WG after discussion in www-style.

The ability to control the size of each column and column gap was recently discussed in the CSS WG. The Group decided that allowing setting of individual column width and column gap width is not a feature considered for the first REC of this document. So Apple is here extending the CSS Multi-Column Layout Module and never told us about it.

iBooks offers a mechanism for regions and exclusions. It's even one of their screenshots on the Mac App Store:

Mac App Store page for iBooks Author

It is a system vaguely similar to - but still different from - what Adobe proposed with CSS 3 Exclusions and Adobe's proposal is the document the whole CSS WG is working on.

Because of these extensions, editing or browsing the html documents with a regular wysiwyg editor (BlueGriffon or DreamWeaver for instance) or a browser (Firefox, Chrome or even Safari) shows a total mess on screen. It's not readable, it's not usable, it's not editable. Just forget it, Apple (re-)invented the Web totally incompatible with the Web.

All in all, Apple has worked entirely behind the curtains here. If someone tells you that iBooks format is EPUB3, don't believe it. It's not EPUB3, it's only based on EPUB3, and it raises a lot of issues that both publishers and customers should carefully look at:

  1. first, the english EULA of iBooks Author is just unacceptable. When I buy a computer, what I do with it is mine. When I buy a workbench, wood and a drill, what I do with them is mine. And when I buy or get a software license, what I do with it is mine and if I want to sell it through rabbits carrying CDs, that's my freedom. So if you're a publisher or a book author willing to use IBA, make sure your Legal Department carefully studies the IBA EULA.
  2. second, IBA is not EPUB3. A wysiwyg EPUB3 editor will not be able to edit correctly an IBA document because of the different mimetype and the proprietary CSS extensions. iBooks Author is not able to reopen a iBook it exported in their pseudo-EPUB3 format because there is no Import mechanism! That means that on one hand EPUB3 readers cannot reuse a document created by iBooks Author because of its HTML/CSS/Namespaces extensions, and on the other iBooks Author cannot create an iBook from an existing EPUB3 document because it cannot import it. But wait, can we open an EPUB3 or a regular HTML document into another app and copy/paste the content inside IBA? I tried from an HTML instance in Safari and from an EPUB reader based on Safari. It does not work, all markup is lost, it pastes text. Ugly result. Oh, and changing file extensions from ibooks to epub or vice-versa does not help either.

For the time being, iBooks on my iPad is anemic. Two days ago, I wanted to find a book by Asimov. Unavailable in french on the iBooks Store. Not a single Asimov... Wow. So I started browsing the Store to find things I could read on the iPad during my next trip. I discovered the iBooks Store is so tiny it just does not stand a single second the comparison with Amazon or even EPUB3-based bookstores. Reading a book on my iPad is cool. I just can't find in Apple's bookstore the books I want - and I am not looking for rare or hyper-intellectual stuff - so paper-based books are still my best choice.

With iBooks Author, Apple is trying even more to lock their formats and the market. But this is a bad strategy because publishers are fed up with formats. For one book, they have too many formats to export to. For each format, they have to use tools to convert (usually from MS Word) that are incomplete and all require manual reformatting or validation. Adding an extra format that is almost EPUB3 but is definitely not EPUB3 output by a software that is an isolated island and does not offer any extra help to reduce the publishing burden is representing a huge extra investment and is then, in my opinion, a mistake.

Apple has played here the game Microsoft was playing back in 1996/1997. Implementing behind the curtains up to that point, extending standards but not disclosing the extensions, using unstabilized Working Drafts into shipped products, making the shipped solution incompatible with the rest of the market and even incompatible with the other rendering engines of Apple, is a strategic error. It can only lead to a mess reaching the magnitude of the Outlook mess when it switched rendering engines and created a gigantic chaos for corporations sending newsletters that the recipients could not read any more.

iBooks Author is, as always with Apple, a very nice piece of software. Friendly user interface, simple to understand and manipulate even without Users' Manual. But from a Market point of view, my gut feeling is that it's one incompatibility too far. Apple is missing a huge opportunity here because it wants to lock the market, trying to offer the best editing environment to kill the other online bookstores. I don't think it will work that well:

  • MS Word remains the main format requested by Publishers all around the world, and it's not going to change any time soon,
  • not all authors have a Mac and iBooks Author is too close to a Page editor and less to a Document editor to be really usable to write a book from scratch,
  • Publishers will be reluctant to use yet another solution for publishing,
  • format incompatiblity is extremely expensive here, meaning it's impossible to use IBA as the pivot editor for creation. It's also impossible to use another tool to create an EPUB3 and only import it into IBA to enrich it since IBA has no Import feature. It's even impossible to browse a HTML document with Safari and copy/paste content into the HTML document handled by IBA!!! Pure crazyness.

When a piece of software is so well designed from a UI point of view and could become such an attractor in terms of usage, I feel this is a totally wrong strategy. Opening up everything and using only carefully chosen standards and matching the version of WebKit used by Safari would have given an immense and almost unbeatable competitive advantage to Apple, would have attracted even more people to the Mac platform and would have turned the iBooks Store into the primary online choice of publication for all new books. Starting with full conformance with EPUB3 and pushing for a fast update of EPUB3 or release of EPUB4 including all new CSS cool kids was a much better, and much more secure way of doing things.

That's like having a new hyper-cool appliance with a US power socket and traveling to Europe without adapter, and no possibility to buy such an adapter there. It's still a hyper-cool appliance but it will remain in the bag.

Monday 10 October 2011

Two words

I could tell you that I would not be where I am today without my first Apple ][ and all the software and hardware hacks I did in it, the Macs of my university or the other Apple products. I could talk about design, quality and innovation. I could also discuss the dark sides of the individual. But I don't really care about all of that. For me, only one thing really matters : "Think different".

Thursday 6 October 2011

Pomme pomme pomme...

Tout a été dit dans le format R.I.P. mais là c'est le format "je crache" qui m'intéresse. Évidemment, les commentaires de slashdot et cette immense fosse à purin qu'est les commentaires et les journaux de linuxfr ont fait ce qu'ils savent faire le mieux, c'est-à-dire écrire des ordures.

Ma surprise est venue d'Authueil, que j'ai connu mieux informé et moins insultant, surtout en politique française. Après tout, Coluche avait raison, on est les meilleurs du monde en politique française. Par contre, sur Apple et Jobs, ça ne frise pas le nervous breakdown altermondialiste voire carrément coco, c'est carrément dedans...

"On célèbre le chef d'entreprise, le patron qui a fait de sa boite une machine à produire du fric comme on en a rarement vu" Ouais, le fric, c'est mal... On célèbre aussi le type qui a transformé ça en ça. Le type qui a mis la typographie dans nos machines. Le gars qui a fait lâcher le commentaire suivant à mon père à 82 ans qui avait touché son premier ordinateur Windows 3 ans avant et venait de passer à Mac "je comprends maintenant pourquoi ça plait tellement ; c'est simple, intuitif et beau". Tout est dit.

"Steve Jobs n'était pas réputé pour être un patron compréhensif, humain et paternaliste" Warf... Cette tirade ne mérite même pas commentaire.

"une hypercentralisation de la décision et un culte du secret digne de la Corée du Nord" La Corée du Nord, rien que ça... Marrant que "pour vivre heureux vivons cachés" soit accepté pour l'individu et pas pour une entreprise dont la moindre miette de stratégie est guettée et copiée par le monde entier.

"il a tellement lessivé le cerveau de ses salariés qu'ils en redemandent" C'est très clair, Authueil ne connait aucun ingénieur chez Apple à Cupertino. Moi oui. Plein. Et j'affirme donc que son propos est juste ridicule. C'est à cause de cette seule phrase que j'écris le présent article. Quelle insulte lamentable et totalement déplacée à leur endroit...

"fait croire à des couillons mal dans leur peau qu'en achetant ses produits, ils font partie d'une élite" Mais oui, c'est le cas. Avant je travaillais sur des machines dont la finition était nettement inférieure aux attentes malgré leur prix équivalent à ceux d'Apple (je ne fais pas de la bureautique, j'achète du haut de gamme), un OS lent et merdouillant, des polices de caractères hideuses, des virus/rootkits/adware pénibles. Des machines qui ralentissaient mon efficacité d'ingénieur. Ce n'est plus le cas aujourd'hui. Quant au "mal dans leur peau", je ne sais pas ce que Authueil a mangé ce matin, mais son propos aurait tendance à me faire croire que celui qui dit celui qui est...

"j'ai beaucoup de mal à encenser les escrocs" Décédé, il va avoir du mal à porter plainte pour diffamation... Parce que c'est exactement de la diffamation.

"Mais de là à dire qu'il a tout fait, il ne faut pas pousser non plus." Mais personne ne dit qu'il a inventé l'ordinateur personnel, le lecteur MP3, la souris, l'interface graphique, la poubelle de l'OS, PostScript, l'écran tactile ou le dessin animé par ordinateur. Il a juste su identifier ces technologies avant la plupart des autres et les utiliser ou faire utiliser au mieux pour faire avancer la technologie et les usages. Il avait une vraie vision de ce qu'il voulait obtenir et c'est ça la rareté de la chose. Des Jobs ou des Gerstner sont des gens rares ; les autres sont des minus habens à côté.

"Je ne suis pas certain que son apport personnel ait été si impressionnant que cela" C'est bien ce que je disais, vous ne connaissez rien à l'histoire de la technologie. On peut être blogueur sans être geek, merci d'en apporter la preuve si brillamment.

"Une fois avec un produit Apple, il faut acheter chez Apple, faire réparer chez Apple" Non, clairement. Mes accessoires ne sont pas Apple. Mes écrans non plus. Mes cables non plus. Mon routeur non plus. Je fais réparer chez Apple parce que Apple Care c'est bien, et à un prix raisonnable pour la qualité, l'efficacité et l'étendue de la couverture. Ceci dit, je connais des tas d'ateliers capables de réparer un iPhone ou un iPod - voire un Mac - dans le monde, et les pièces détachées sont disponibles sur eBay pour les geeks.

"Je considère même que le modèle économique d'Apple relève de la prédation des concurrents et du pressurage des consommateurs" C'est tellement plus nuancé que cela que votre propos est un détournement de la vérité. L'AppStore a permis à des milliers de développeurs de passer de l'incapacité à faire connaître leur produit à la possibilité de vivre de leur art. Certes, Apple se sucre au passage et se sucre bien mais après tout c'est de bonne guerre. Certes, cela a tendance à faire baisser le prix du logiciel un peu trop ; mais notre modèle est peut-être aussi intenable à terme que celui des majors du disque. Quand à iTunes, il a mis une grande danse dans le modèle figé et passéiste des majors du disque et du cinéma, ce qui est clairement un bien vu leurs méthodes. Personnellement, acheter LE morceau qui me plait à 0.99€ au lieu d'un CD contenant ce morceau et 11 morceaux de merde comblant les 650 megas restant du disque à 20€, ça me va très bien. Basiquement. Oublier cela, c'est oublier beaucoup, beaucoup trop de choses pour présenter un tableau honnête de la situation.

"Célébrer ce modèle comme une grande réussite est très révélateur des valeurs que l'on célèbre" Personnellement je célèbre des matériels efficaces, bien, innovants, solides, beaux et poussant toujours aux limites de l'état de l'art. Je célèbre l'intuitif, l'accessible (je parle d'accessibilité pour les handicapés), le design des logiciels et des matériels. Je célèbre le seul produit technologique que j'ai jamais acheté en quarante ans et qui n'avait absolument pas besoin d'un manuel d'utilisation, il n'en avait d'ailleurs pas.

"Il n'y a juste que les gogos qui vont déposer des fleurs devant des magasins" C'est le seul point sur lequel je suis d'accord. Mais rien de nouveau sous le soleil. Des andouilles se sont suicidées sur la tombe d'Elvis. Cela n'autorise pas à déclarer que tous les acheteurs de produits Apple sont des couillons faibles mal dans leur peau et victimes d'un grand méchant loup. Les acheteurs d'Apple gogotent parce qu'ils aiment les produits que Steve Jobs a lancé. Ils ne sont pas sûrs qu'Apple sans lui soit capable de rester aussi innovante et visionnaire.

Voilà. Vous pouvez reprendre une activité normale et laissez Authueil se reposer, s'il-vous-plait.

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Une appli de l'AppStore d'Apple qui fait führer...

Quand je pense que l'AppStore d'Apple a censuré dans le passé un dictionnaire parce qu'il contenait "Kama-Sutra" et laisse aujourd'hui passer cette saloperie, j'en reste pantois. Mais que se passe-t-il chez Apple ?!?

Mise à jour:

@Maitre_Eolas Hey, Apple, tu risques 3 ans de prison ( http://bit.ly/rrHTbS ) pour avoir validé cette appli. Bisous. http://t.co/kaPOciI

Monday 1 August 2011

Mac OS X Lion Special Characters menu

Nevermind... s/aleph/alef !!! Pfff.

Tuesday 29 March 2011

Ewoo eFizz

By far the best sound ever for an iPod/iPhone dock... Cabasse loudspeakers, nice remote control with LCD and full access to music/list/artists/... Perfect for both classical music and more modern things. Used to be 499$, bought it new in Paris for 190€. The eFizz Travel is less interesting but also has good sound.

Tuesday 2 November 2010

Dual-screen painful behaviour of OS X

I currently have two screens: the primary 1440x900 LCD screen of my MacBookPro and I am projecting in 800x600 for the CSS Working Group meeting. Because the projector's resolution is lower than my screens, if I put the mouse pointer at the bottom-left of my LCD screen and move it leftwards, I hit a wall unless the vertical position is lower than 600... That's really bad and I wish the mouse pointer would move to the bottom-right corner of the projection if the y position at the bottom-left corner of my LCD is >= 600..

Thursday 21 October 2010

The Mac App Store

I just read the leaked Mac App Store guidelines. Scary. Really scary. Let me comment a bit on the prose, that really looks like a fake but just in case it isn't...

Apps that crash will be rejected
The number 1 crashing app for me is... the OS X Dock! Let's reject the Apple Dock.
Apps that exhibit bugs will be rejected
Ok, the Mac App Store will be empty then...
Apps that include undocumented or hidden features inconsistent with the description of the app will be rejected
Goodbye easter eggs
Apps that are "beta", "demo", "trial", or "test" versions will be rejected
Goodbye 0.x and demos currently available on http://www.apple.com/downloads/ (that was last updated 15 days ago...)
Apps that duplicate apps already in the App Store may be rejected, particularly if there are many of them
Run, run ! First in, others out !!! This is totally crazy, a denial of how works this industry.
Apps that are not very useful or do not provide any lasting entertainment value may be rejected
Very useful ?!? That's so subjective I can't believe it's here.
Apps must be packaged and submitted using Apple's packaging technologies included in Xcode - no third party installers allowed
Ah, here we go again. Just lame and counter-productive
Apps that download or install additional code or resources to add functionality or change their primary purpose will be rejected
Goodbye network-based installers
Apps that require license keys or implement their own copy protection will be rejected
That's a joke I presume ?!? So Apple's going to control the whole thing ? Seriously ?
Apps may not use update mechanisms outside of the App Store
I think the Mac App Store will never have my own apps
Apps must contain all language support in a single app bundle (single binary multiple language)
This is hilarious ! Hey guys, you work in one language only but instead of downloading a 1meg bundle, you'll need a 7megs bundle juste because Apple has decided so...
Apps with metadata that mentions the name of any other computer platform will be rejected
UUUUH ??? Are they nuts or what ?
Apps with app icons and screenshots that do not adhere to the 4+ age rating will be rejected
Ok, live proof, they are nuts

At this point, I don't even want to read more of the document. If this long list of stupid rules is not a fake, Apple is evil and a danger for the software industry. Most of the software I use on my Mac would be rejected. They have a licence screen, use a theme similar to iTunes, are localizable only with an extra download, are updatable through their own web site, mention they are cross-platform, are packaged using ten different mechanisms, all have bugs, all crash from time to time including Apple software, etc. Just pure crazyness. Period.

Friday 10 September 2010

VLC on iPad

So VLC is coming to the iPad. We'll see how Apple deals with that submission... Given the fact VLC can read far more video formats that the builtin video reader, and given the fact a video reader is already present in the iPad, it will very interesting to see if Apple plays the evil empire blocking that app or if the open source VLC makes it to the App Store.

Apple's too strong constraints on the App Store are attacked on all fronts. VLC on the iPad made me say a loud "wow". But if Apple blocks it because it's a doublon with the builtin reader, or because software video decoding is "a burden" on the processor or battery, it will be a VERY bad signal. Very interesting to follow, indeed.

Tuesday 13 April 2010

Opera on iPhone

It's finally available ; I'm currently testing it. I'll post more about it later in the day. Mucho congrats to all our friends at Opera !

Update:

So it's finally over. Another browser, not based on WebKit, is available for the iPhone. Yes, I am perfectly aware of the fact it's not a "browser" but a only a rendering engine for a server-side browser. But from a user's perspective, it makes strictly no difference : it's another browser.

Still, what Opera just achieved is an important milestone for the iPhone because, as I just said above, it's a browser from a user's point of view. Let's suppose you have no idea on how a browser works, the fact browsing can be done server-side is totally out of your understanding, then Opera Mini for the iPhone is a browser. Just like Safari. If you consider that fact, refusing in the App Store another browser based on a real client-side rendering engine should be now harder for Apple. But Apple is Apple, id est a company that rather strictly controls your telephone. Granted, Google is even more evil with what you do on a Nexus One since everything is done using your google id, but there's almost no restriction on what you can do with or can put on the phone you own.

As a browser, Opera Mini for the iPhone is an excellent experience I must say. Really really fast. Much faster than Safari. Loading a page from Le Monde's web site is now faster on my iPhone than on my MacBookPro using same internet connectivity !!! Scrolling and zoom are fast too, but a little bit different from Safari's. Zooming and unzooming can behave strangely if you're using your left hand to do it instead of the right one (minor issue, really, I'm sure it will be fixed). Opera is localized in french on my phone. Sites implementing CSS Media Queries work like a charm (yay !). Only the UI can be a bit disruptive: the Settings panel for instance does not follow the iPhone UI rules.

Overall, wow. I think Opera Mini for the iPhone is the live proof that Apple constraints on what can live inside your own iPhone are counter-productive. The ban on browsers and third-party programming languages is pure non-sense at too many levels.

Congrats Opera !!! Well done !

Thursday 8 April 2010

Et voila

Et voila, les applications iPhone/iPad construites en utilisant un autre langage que ObjectC, c'est fini. Apple met une dizaine de compagnies fournissant de tels frameworks en faillite immédiate et bloque une nouvelle fois, de façon majeure, l'innovation. Autant pour la bidouillabilité chère à Tristan Nitot... Décidément, Apple prend sur l'iPhone et l'iPad des chemins qui me déplaisent de plus en plus.

Sunday 28 February 2010

Apple, you are (sometimes) painful...

I hate Apple's overprotection. iTunes just told me I could get updates for 6 of my iPhone apps. Fine, let's update. The six apps are the following ones:

So the official eBay client, two twitter clients, a Google app, the well-known Shazam to recognize songs and ViaMichelin, a maps app. And still iTunes decided to show me a ridiculous dialog of the kind "You must be over 17 years old to get some of these apps, please click on OK to confirm you are". Unless eBay is a sex-oriented app or ViaMichelin is known to map all the brothels in your area and nobody ever told me, I don't see why such a dialog pops up. And even then, it's so easy to click on OK the dialog is totally useless.

Come on Apple, I don't need a mother, I only need a smartphone. Please give me back my total freedom of choice because I really have the feeling these days you are swallowing it at fast pace...

Wednesday 3 February 2010

Editing Yiddish documents on a Mac, final act

Let me summarize in a few words only : forget it outside of a Windows or Linux VM.

My dad is a yiddish teacher, senior level. That implies he has to edit yiddish texts full of hebrew words, and a few latin1 prose. He needs excellent bidi support, columns, full support of all hebraic diacritics, nice looking fonts (like David on Windows), superior printing. He also needs a keyboard layout specially made for typing yiddish on a Mac AZERTY (french) keyboard. I made on using Ukelele. It uses unicode chars in ranges 0590-05F2, FB1F-FB1F, FB2A-FB4F plus a few needed ASCII stuff.

  • iWork 09's Pages just sucks. Totally. It's amazing how lame at I18N it is and how Apple has been unresponsive to the hundreds of user feedback in the last 5 years. Impossible to declare a rtl document and here's what Pages shows when I type my name in yiddish, so " דאַניעל גלאַזמאַנ "(BTW, Firefox on Mac sucks on that, the two words are inverted despite a bidi override ! Safari is OK, all browsers in Windows are OK).

    Daniel Glazman in Yiddish, iWork'09

  • Microsoft Office for Mac is not better... It can do vertical text but not rtl ! Its handling of hebraic diacritics is lame and whitespace is always considered ltr even if the keyboard is in a rtl language. In the screenshot below, and if you except the fact the diacritics are badly placed, it read glazman daniel instead of daniel glazman.

    Daniel Glazman in Yiddish, Word for Mac

  • As I said in the past, OpenOffice for OS X is the best option here: it can do rtl, columns, and is globally superior to competitors, no question on that. But it's far from perfect because it can mess up documents with columns in DOC format and worse it can lose some character styles (bold or italic for instance) :-( I tried font substitution but it did not help because no font on OS X is perfect to the point you can safely forget about bugs.
  • I even bought Mellel. With Mellel, I discovered that even a font provided by Apple is not reliable. See below a pasekh-aleph (FB2E) on the left hand side and an aleph with pasekh (05D0+05B7) on the right hand side... Mellel is not guilty here, it's Mac OS X, its fonts and its font support. Mellel is definitely the best solution (with OOo) for editing new rtl text on a Mac. But if you want to edit existing DOC or RTF documents that use italic and/or columns, you may end up with very strange results or worse, uneditable results. All in all, the cost of tweaking again inside Mellel a document created in WinWord can be prohibitive...

    two pasekh alephs, OOo

  • Using a Windows font on Mac like the David one can be, well, surprising. It works usually much better on Windows ! Forget it. As I said above, even fonts provided by OS X itself suck. See below the pasekh aleph (too high !) being here FB2E and not 05D0+05B7...

    Daniel Glazman in Yiddish, OOo

    A vav with dagesh is even more surprising:

    vav with dagesh, OOo

    It's a pity but the hebrew fonts on Mac are not usable in a serious environment, period.

In the end, I gave up. My dad now runs a Windows VM on his MacBookPro and uses MS Office. The speed is absolutely acceptable, thanks to the last MBPs and the most recent VM packages. The David fonts are superb for his work and there is no visual difference between "chars with a diacritic in two glyphs" and "chars with a diacritic in one glyph". The diacritics are perfectly handled. Printing is as usual superb. Compatibility is of course not an issue any more. So I downloaded the MS Keyboard Layout Creator and made a yiddish layout for french MBP keyboard...

It's sad. I am really disappointed to discover how bad Apple is at handling hebrew and arabic in an editor. Microsoft spent tons of time improving its internationalized text support in all its tools, and only improves the stylistic thingies now. I perfectly understand why. If you can't even edit or render correctly a given script, what's the point being able to draw a border-image around it anyway?

Monday 1 February 2010

Flash wooohooo

Steve Jobs on Flash:

"Whenever a Mac crashes more often than not it’s because of Flash. No one will be using Flash..."

Well. These days, when my browser crashes, it's not because of Flash, sorry to say. It's always because of QuickTimeX.

Wednesday 27 January 2010

iPad

I'm disappointed. This is not exactly what I expected.

  • iPhone OS and not Mac OS X ; sorry I don't want something that should be used in my daily life as a computer to be locked to the Apple App Store. I was expecting a flavor of Mac OS X able to run iPhone apps.
  • no camera mentioned and no front camera mentioned ; monumental fail IMHO
  • no mention of voice over 3G or SMS; given that carriers here in Europe always exclude VoIP from their dataplans, ooops.
  • no multitasking at all; will be a problem for Instant Messenging and other networking apps; this lack is just ridiculous.
  • iWork has a very bad I18N track record ; it just sucks on complex character sets and rtl
  • I love too much books to use an ebook reader; I'm not interested in iBooks at all. The books I really loved are carefully stored in my library and wait for my sons to be old enough to read them. Electronic books I buy today will be unreadable in 20 years from now. For me, that's pure gadget even if it's a real market.
  • newspaper in A4 format; ah. I read newspaper at my preferred bar or in the subway and I don't want to be a target for thiefs. The Canard Enchaîné is not online anyway.
  • of course, since it's iPhone OS and apps come from the AppStore, it's Safari only. Sorry but I don't buy that. On a large screen, I want to use the browser of my choice and I want an extensible browser.
  • I rarely play computer games.
  • no AdobeFlash. Even if it's unfortunate to have the web partly rely on that, missing Flash in a web browser is a major fail.
  • no SD slot; you need an adapter to read a SD card !!! #epicfail, just to make sure it's hard to extend your iPad's memory with a cheap SD. What a shame...
  • the keyboard dock is neat, but take a closer look at it, the keyboard is too close to the screen... Apparently the iPad must be docked in portrait mode, and not landscape... Another fail IMHO. Fortunately Bluetooth may help here.
  • no digital tv tuner; oh come on... So many phones in Japan, even the cheap ones, have one...
  • The keyboard does not impress me that much
  • My jeans don't have 10" wide pockets...

Overall I'm not in ecstasy in front of that iPad. It's not well enough connected or open to the world (3G Voice, SMS, SD/SDHC), it's again a closed locked software world. Basically, it's an iPod Touch on steroids with (optional) 3G data. For the price of a powerful laptop. Bleh.

Update: VoIP apps now permitted on iPhone and iPad !

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