Leopard is a milestone, not just for Apple, but for me too. Leopard is my first operating system I’ve ever purchased. I’ve played with a few beta’s, both fresh installs and upgrade and it was something I was excited to see. When it was delayed, I let out a collective “sigh” as it was one of the things I’ve been looking forward to this year. Well the time has come and Leopard is my new operating system.
The biggest decision with any new operating system is to update your current setup or do a fresh install. While the beta’s updated without an issues, I decided to go a fresh install. I always welcome fresh starts and it would give me a chance to streamline my application needs. The couple days before Leopard was released I spend time cleaning up my hard drive so it would fit onto a 120GB external drive. After making the room, I used SuperDuper! to clone my Tiger install. When installing Leopard I did a Erase and Install and planned on using the Migration Assistant to copy my information back.
After Leopard installed, I decided I wasn’t going use the Migration Assistant because I didn’t want all my old settings back. I still needed some data thought and I just copied stuff like my iTunes and iPhoto libraries back. My goal is to try and streamline my computing needs so I’m only installing programs as I need them. I hope to move to online services like Google Documents for some of my needs instead of keeping 2 or 3 different word processors on my hard drive like before.
After getting some essentials installed, it was time to play around with the new features. To be honest, there wasn’t too much right off the bat for me. I haven’t tried Time Machine yet as my external HDD still is housing a image of my Tiger install. I moved back to iChat but I don’t do any video chats and I still prefer Firefox over Safari. Obviously some of these might be useful in time but for now, I just don;t use them. That being said, the things I do use have made this upgrade well worth it in gold. First off is Spotlight. I used spot light as an application launcher and Apple has tweaked it so it now shows Applications before searching. This makes it on par with Quicksilver in application launching and with no software to install. But my favorite thing is the new Finder. I love this thing. Quicklook is by far the best feature in Leopard. The new iTunes like source list in Finder is much better than its predecessor. The fact you can see network shares in the source list is epic, very 1990′s, but still epic to see in Finder finally. I’m loving the new iCal thought RememberTheMilk’s feed does not seem to be updating now.
I’ve not been without my problems. Mostly minor like applications such as Popcorn not running. One thing that got me worried was last night. I shut my laptop lid and my laptop went into sleep. About 10 minutes later I keep hearing the sound the DVD drive makes when it checks for a disc. After about the 4th time I got up and looked. After a few minutes, the DVD drive would check for a DVD like it was waking up and I’d see the Apple light up. For some reason, the laptop was trying to wake up then go right back to sleep every few minutes. I opened the lip and shutdown the computer and left it. I’ll see what happens tonight.
Overall I’m very impressed with the update. Stuff like Time Machine I know I’ll love when I start using it and as more applications are released to support it, the application compatibility issue should go away. As soon as Google enabled IMAP on my account, I’m going to start using Mail and kick the tires on that for awhile. There is some stuff that still doesn’t make since to me like iChat not being about to handle AIM and Jabber lists in one window and Safari not being about to open links in tabs. Stuff like that was fixed with 3rd party apps in Tiger and I’m sure those apps will be updated for Leopard soon.
Since Blackberries do not support HTML email, I’ve been using Empower Mail Viewer as a plugin to help format and view HTML links in my emails. Recently I was shown BBSmart Email Viewer which is another plugin to help format and view HTML email. After installing BBSmart, it was very similar to the look and feel of Empower. At first, it was hard to tell a difference between the products. So I uninstalled Empower and used BBSmart exclusively to get a real feel for the product.
After receiving a few emails, it become very clear that BBSmart loaded HTML emails much quicker than Empower. While its loading, BBSmart gives you a progress bar showing how much has been loaded, which is a nice touch. Just like Empower, BBSmart also gives you the option of changing the background color, text color and fonts used when displaying emails. Empower seemed to have a little better font selection but I quickly found a font and size that worked for me. HTML formating was very clean and smart. All html links are marked accordingly, which is a nice addition. Any link will show up with the type after it in parentheses. As an example, web links show up as (link) and PDFs will show up as (pdf). This helps to know what your clicking on when your stuck on a EDGE connection. The one feature that had me hooked and sets itself apart was the ability to convert emails as either to-do’s or calendar entries. Being able to quickly turn any email into a to-do or calendar entry while on the move makes me much more productive. I live off my to-do list and this keeps me out of my Inbox and spending valuable time completing tasks.
The downfall for these features is the price, $24.99 where as Empower is $9.99. If your into GTD or highly productive, the ability to make emails into to-do’s and calendar entries is epic on a Blackberry. The price is easily justified and willmostly likely pay for itself. If your only after HTML support, while BBSmart does a better job of loading and formating HTML, the lower priced Empower will probably be enough. For me, I’m sticking with BBSmart Email Viewer.
In part 2 of “My Tech”, I will go over some of the software in use on a normal basis. I run Mac OS X but I have an install of Vista Ultimate installed on a Boot Camp partition. My need for Windows declines each day. I’ve gotten to the point where I no longer have Parallels installed.
What’s in my Dock:
What’s in my Menubar:
Missing Sync for Blackberry
Remember the Milk
My Pull List
My Mile Marker
Beta 2 of Opera Mini 2 was released yesterday with a nice list of enhancements:
- Added encryption
- Added multi search, with shortcut #+9
- Added create search from form field
- Added landscape mode, shortcut #+*
- Added support for small anti-aliased bitmap fonts
- Added content folding
- Simplified setup process
- Improved image quality
- Improved fit to width mode rendering
- Simplified settings page
- Added native BlackBerry menu
- Allow BlackBerry to accept the EULA via the menu.
- Fixed decoding of images that were skipped when partially above the window
- Added clock adjustment setting
- Changing the font size via settings now clears the document cache
- Now saves full screen mode between sessions
- Dialogs are now displayed with round corners and alpha channel overlay windows
- Delayed randomess gathering for secure connections until first real page request
What caught my eye the most was the improvements made to its Blackberry support. I had tried beta 1 and was pretty unimpressed. It was clumsy, slow and hard to use so I deleted. With specific support for Blackberry devices, I decided to load up beta 2 on my BB Pearl and give it another chance.
Right off the bat I was loving the changes. It now behaves like any Blackberry app should. The Menu button actually brings up the menu!! Previously you had to use the QW and OP buttons to access the menus. It was frustrating at best. They did a great job of making use of the Menu, Back and Trackball in the new version.
As I segway from the changes for Blackberry devices, the 2nd change I was most excited about was the landscape mode. As soon as I loaded up the8thsign.com in Opera, I was hitting #+* every way I could. Nothing I did would get landscape mode to work. I must have spend 15mins using every possible key combination and still nothing. Looked under settings and no Landscape mode listed there either. So it looks like it its not enabled on Blackberry’s for some reason. Disappointing.
Some of the nicer new features include using the 2-3-6-8 buttons to navigate around the webpage. This may have been in beta 1 but I don’t remember it being this easy or fun to navigate. When moving side to side, its even smart enough to stop at edges of text and pictures even if its only a few pixels away. Another feature I’ve noticed is that text will be reformatted to fit your screen, even when viewing the full page and zoomed in.
Most transitions are now made with a iPhone like slide effect. In most places its very smooth but gets choppy when zooming out of a page.
Also new to this version is a OS X like hud for shortcuts and info. To see what I’m talking about, hold down the * or # buttons for a few seconds. They also use this new interface for displaying link information.
Beta 2 is a HUGE improvement for Opera Mini 4, especially on Blackberry Devices. Why they didn’t include landscape mode on Blackberries puzzles me but hopefully it will show up in beta 3. Getting around webpages is fast and fun. I just wish there was some way you could set it as your default browser but RIM doesn’t allow that. Hopefully in BB OS 4.3. My only complaint is the full screen view looks very distorted. It maybe due to the small screen size but the iPhones full screen mode looks amazing. If you have a Blackberry, download the beta and check it out. You can get it for free by going to http://mini.opera.com/beta from your phone.
I finally picked up iLife ’08 and iWork ’08 this weekend after Apple’s announcement last week. I’ve been waiting for iLife ’08 since Macworld as I use iPhoto on a daily basis and Garageband when I record my podcast. iDVD and iWeb are pretty useless to me but iMovie was something I always wanted to get into but never did. Mostly due to not having a video camera. iWork on the other hand i rarely use and really have no idea why I picked it up but I did anyways.
First thing I did was try out iPhoto for obvious reasons. Now mind you, I never really “got” iPhoto but in the past 8 months I’ve gotten use to it. The first thing you notice is that Events now replace rolls. I think this will actually work out for me in the long run. My favorite upgrade so far is the keyword, no more drag and dropping. It has a more traditional tagging interface now which i love. I’ve only really played with the new iPhoto for a little bit so far and its mostly due to the fact it now runs like shit on my Macbook. As I write this I am rebuilding all the thumbnails, database and permissions hoping it will help. When scrolling and editing pictures, the CPU jumps to 100% and everything crawls. Anyone else having the same issues?
The other iLife apps I haven’t played with too much yet. iWork I’ll probably almost never use due to Google Apps but I have it if i need it.
Lack of HTML formated email on your Blackberry got you down? You’re not alone. Due to security concerns, Blackberry’s do not offer HTML support in emails at all. Even in its consumer phones, the Pearl and Curve, HTML email isn’t even an option. Unfortunately, a lot of email sent these days have some sort of HTML in them and the lack of support makes those emails hard to read when using a Blackberry.
Enter the Empower HTML Mail Viewer. This piece of software installs as a plugin to the Blackberry mail client and displays HTML formated email the way it was meant. The product is in beta and its shows.There have been some obvious problems with previous builds. Fortunately the latest beta has fixed most of the bugs that caused me to disable the plugin while I was testing it. The only issue I have left is pictures do not display at all. You just get an outline of a box. The program is yet to be perfected but even in the beta form, its usefulness easily outweighs some minor issues. If you want to enter the world of HTML email, just point your Blackberry to http://www.getempower.com/emv.php and install OTA. I would be sure to bookmark the page and check back for any updates as there has been 2 in the last week that have fixed numerous bugs.
Comic Collector Live, the Windows only database program for comic books has finally launched their Live Market. Live Market sets out to be eBay for comics. This is the one feature I have been waiting for as I have a lot of comics I would like to sell. As soon as I got the email, I booted up Vista via Boot Camp and installed the new version of Comic Collector Live. From there it took no more than 10mins to setup a sellers account. Right now they have two different packages – a $14.95 all you can eat plan and a $0.25 pay per listing plan. If you’re going to sell any more than a handful of comics, the $14.95 seems the better deal as it is only $0.01 to sell and the listing doesn’t expire. Otherwise, its a standard 7 day listing. Selling comics is easy if you have already entered the comic into the program, just click sell and then rate your comics condition. You can rate individual comics or as a group. Also, you can sell individually or as a lot.
Right now I only have up the first 15 issues of Venom as I was playing around but in the next week or so I plan on going through my books and selling anything I don’t wait. From the stats on the homepage, it doesn’t look promising. As of this writing there are 1095 items for sales and only 33 sold. The site did just launch so hopefully over the next few days, the user base will increase. I’m going to give the service a month to see how I make out. Its too bad this is a Windows only, it would be made a great Web app.