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 !


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


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 !


@glazou hmmm and if the iSlate was running regular OS X *with* the ability to load/run
App Store's apps...

Wednesday 16 December 2009

View trash in OS X finder's sidebar

I noticed you can't reach the contents of the trash from the Finder unless you open directly the Trash clicking on its icon. But there's a rather simple way to see it in all Finder windows: first, use a tool like OnYx to show hidden files and directories (Parameters > Finder > Show hidden files and directories), then open the Finder, go to your home directory and drag the .Trash directory onto your sidebar. Click on the Trash icon in your dock. Click on the trash icon in the toolbar of the window and copy it with Cmd-C. Right-click on your .Trash entry in the sidebar and select the menu to show the details of the file. Click on the icon at the top of the information window (just below the titlebar) and paste the Trash icon using Cmd-V. Don't rename the folder... Use OnYx again to go back to the former state of the Finder with hidden files and dirs really hidden (if that's what you prefer). Done.

There's a minor nit: you don't see the "Empty trash" button.

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Orange a l'air d'anticiper l'arrivée d'un nouvel iPhone

Exactement comme avant l'arrivée du 3GS, Orange est en train de contacter tous ses clients disposant d'une vieille version de l'iPhone pour leur proposer une offre spéciale de migration vers le 3GS. Des points en plus, des tarifs préférentiels, comme d'habitude. Bref, Orange qui a réussi à se défaire de son stock de 3GS 16Go a par contre peur de se retrouver avec des invendus de 3GS 32Go qui partent nettement moins bien à cause de leur prix. La braderie Orange les amène au prix du 16Go, évidemment en échange d'un engagement de 12 ou 24 mois. Mais clairement, ça sent encore une fois le "passons en flux tendus sur la version qui sera obsolète dans quelques mois quand les rumeurs de l'iPhone 3.1 vont grossir et toucher tout le monde". Un indice de plus s'il en fallait encore un.

Friday 13 November 2009

iTunes Preview

Apple just launched iTunes Preview. They opened the pandora's box. Because of that, iTunes will be forced to offer "full preview" of all songs in a "near" future, a prediction I made a while ago. All Spotify has to do is a light enhancement allowing arguments on the command line to include a title, an author, an album. Deezer could do that too with its URIs. Who'll be the first one to write a Firefox add-on detecting iTunes link, parsing the remote HTML document and triggering direct and full audio of the song through Spotify/Deezer/whatever ?

Thursday 12 November 2009

Hewitt and the AppStore

No, it's not the title of the last Christmas movie with Jim Carrey. It's unfortunately a more concrete and painful topic. I won't blame Joe here. I've said many times that the way Apple manages its AppStore is ridiculous. But it's also scary. The forthcoming Apple Tablet (whatever its real name, a friend of mine saw 3 different prototypes) is said to run iPhoneOS and not the regular Mac OS X. Then very high probability of an AppStore... For the first time in modern history of computers, an appliance that will live more in the computer world than in the handheld world will not be able to install software bought/installed _directly_ from third-parties. Apple will control all apps installed on your "computer". I call that a too drastic reduction of user's freedom of choice, I call that a move similar to a democracy going back to autocracy. This is something that _must not_ happen on my computer.

I find it bitterly amusing that Apple is following the path Microsoft took roughly 12 years ago : control, lock, patent, fight. It's a strong disappointment to see Apple forgot its Apple ][ was successful because things were hackable and copyable. Hackability and copyability are keys to success too.

Monday 9 November 2009

Writing hebrew and/or yiddish documents on a Mac

  • Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac : fails miserably on some rtl unicode hebrew chars outside of 0x05D0-0x05EA range ; total #fail...
  • Apple Pages '09 : handles beautifully all unicode hebraic chars and diacritics but fails justifying the last line of paragraphs... It always justifies it as if it were ltr and not rtl ! It's amazing to discover it can do vertical text and not correct rtl !
  • OpenOffice : no problem so far, everything woks beautifully, including the most complex diacritics, justification, bullets, the whole thing.

Conclusion: OOo is not only your friend to write rtl documents on a mac, it's almost your only friend (almost because I did not test other less known editors that handle rtl beautifully).

Wednesday 21 October 2009

iPod touch is "dangerous" for game publishers #2

Gizmodo seems to agree with me on the price of software taken to dangerous lows by the AppStore.

Monday 19 October 2009

iPod touch is "dangerous" for game publishers

That's not my own title but the title of an article published by TUAW earlier today. I could not agree more. Let me tell you a short story. That story involves a geek (me) and his two sons (10.5 and 8 years old) just a week ago:

  • step 1, the geek buys his first game (Cocoto Kart Racer) on his iPhone 2G, just to check how cool and powerful the platform is; it's the first one because the geek is not interested in gaming any more
  • step 2, the kids come back home and find their dad playing on his iPhone
  • step 3, the kids let go a sonic "wow, this is better than Mario Kart because you don't need the buttons"
  • step 4, the kids ask how much the game costs, the geek replies 0.79€, the kids compare to the price of their console games, remain speachless and finally decide "I want an Iphone or an Ipod Touch"

The Apple AppStore is going to partly destroy or at least drastically reshape this industry. 30-50€ for a console game is often far too expensive. But 0.79€ is clearly too cheap. You'll need dozens of thousands of sales to survive. That's scary. And it does not touch games only...

Wednesday 23 September 2009

Appli Météo sur iPhone

C'est la dèche chez Apple France on dirait... L'appli météo sur mon iPhone est désormais incapable de me trouver la météo plein de lieux, en France et à l'étranger, et quand je recherche les lieux en question ils n'apparaissent même plus dans la liste des choix !

  • Saint-Germain en Laye, France (c'est con, j'y habite...)
  • Piteå, Suède
  • Montréal, Canada !
Que se passe-t-il chez Apple ?!?

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