Apple Mail And Folder Management

I use Thunderbird on Windows, but from time to time like to fire up Apple Mail when on my Mac.

Why is it Apple Mail on Leopard doesn’t seem to allow me to view a few mailboxes nested under the inbox on an IMAP account? I haven’t tried under POP3, though I’d venture it’s the same limitation.

You would think they would at least show it linear if it couldn’t display it under inbox. Instead what it does is just not show it. Perhaps it’s important for me to be able to presort my inbox to make it manageable.

Calculator Phoning Home? Not Really

Wasn’t sure what this is all about, but according to Little Snitch 2.0 (which is awesome by the way) the Calculator in Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) apparently phones home. Based on the url http://wu-calculator.apple.com one would assume that’s checking for updates (wu typically stands for web update). Though I find this somewhat odd considering Mac OS X has an update system that’s all encompassing. I decided to take a closer look. Earlier it was said that 10.5 was phoning home, though that turned out to not be the case.

Calculator Phoning Home

So I did a little sniffing around (literally packet sniffing), and here’s what I found. On load it sends the following (seemingly blank) request to apple for currency conversion info. The response is the exchange rate. I’ve got a copy for reference below for anyone who wants to see. Calculator seems to use CFNetwork to communicate (not surprising). What’s interesting is that this info doesn’t seem to be cached, every time you load calculator it’s requested.

So yes, it does technically ping the mothership, but no it doesn’t seem to send back any data worth being concerned about. The only thing noteworthy is the cookie. The cookie itself is characteristic of Omniture, an analytics company (who provides analytics services to Apple among many of the largest sites on the web). This seems like a side effect of the implementation (likely sharing stuff from webkit). I don’t think Omniture is pinged during this transaction, so unless Apple were recording that cookie and matching it against web analytics data. I’d consider that extremely unlike even if I put a tin foil hat on my head. I guess Apple could further neutralize any privacy concerns by modifying the implementation to not send a cookie. At that point they would only have your IP to go by (which could be behind a proxy and therefore isn’t very reliable). I don’t think think this is a privacy risk, but also don’t think it would be so bad for Apple to modify and drop the cookie to make it more anonymous. Or at least give the option to not request data every time.

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Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard

I got my copy of Mac OS X 10.5 earlier this week. Bought it from J&R (via Amazon) since it was $99 + shipping, less than Amazon itself was selling it for. For some reason both of them are able to undercut Apple (even with a corporate discount) which seemed odd. Here’s my rundown of the new OS during the first 24 hours.

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Virtualization For Mac OS X?

Virtualization is a great way to improve reliability, take advantage of hardware and scale. For example Mozilla’s build team uses it to manage all the build instances that used to be on individual machines. These servers essentially compile code all day long. One problem with virtualization and cross platform building is that Mac OS X doesn’t run in any virtualization environment (because of Apple’s interest in selling hardware). This means while you can run Windows and Linux on the same boxes, you still need to have and maintain separate Xserve’s for the purpose of compiling for Mac OS X. Looks like Mac OS X Server 10.5 (and only server edition) now has a license that permits running virtual. While great, this makes it pretty expensive to do things like a build farm. You can’t just buy a Mac OS X client, even though that’s all you really need. You need to buy server.

Currently, there’s nothing other than PearPC that can run it (and PearPC is worthlessly slow). Hopefully VMWare will update at some point to support it. At that point, things can get interesting.

New iProducts

Apple iMac

Apple iMac Aug 2007

So todays announcement was the new iMac. Wasn’t much of a surprise as it was due, and the rumor sites were pretty consistent. The new design wasn’t much of a surprise either. I love the metal, and think it’s great on the G5/Mac Pro. I never really cared for the glossy display, but I don’t think that’s a deal breaker. Lenovo did a poll on screen preference and found the overwhelming majority (86%) preferred anti-glare. It’s definitely my preference. I do however think it matters more on laptops than on desktops since laptops will on occasion be subject to lighting that produces glare, while a desktop is typically setup in a position that wouldn’t facilitate the problem.

Apple Keyboard

Apple Keyboard Aug 2007

Also new is the revised Apple Keyboard. This was leaked a little early. Gizmodo did a good breakdown on the changes to the key layout. I think the most surprising move was eliminating the Apple logo in favor of the word “command”. My guess would be the feel of the new keyboard is very similar to modern Apple laptops (Gizmodo says it does), but not as cramped. If that’s really the case, given the construction of this keyboard it could be a very comfortable keyboard.

Surprisingly Apple lists the keyboard’s requirements as:

  • Mac OS X v10.4.10 or later
  • Keyboard software update

For a keyboard? This sounds a little strange. I’m virtually positive if you plugged it into any computer it would work fine, but some of the special keys may not be mapped correctly. I’m almost positive it will work fine in Windows XP/Vista as well, since Apple has Boot Camp. I suspect Apple will at some point ship Windows software for the keyboard for users who want to use Windows in Boot Camp, as well as those who just want the Apple Keyboard. My guess is that it’s either just not ready yet, or they want to gauge interest.

iLife ’08

iLife ’08 looked pretty good, but I’m not a heavy user, so it didn’t impress me as much as I guess it should have. Organizing photos by events is extremely handy and seems very well done. iMovie also has quite a few enhancements that should make movie editing much easier.

iWork ’08

iWork ’08 impressed me a little more. So much like Office, yet so much more polished and eloquent. What’s impressive is that the final results look so good, and the process to get those results seems intuitive. Numbers in particular looks really great. Will this eat into Microsoft Office’s market share? No. Will it make life easier for many Mac professionals who want to make some nice looking documents? Absolutely.

Overall

One thing I thought was noteworthy is Steve apparently mentioned that the keyboard photos were leaked online. Considering Apple’s tight lipped history, that was somewhat interesting. Still no sign of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. He didn’t spend any real time on it, barely a mention. Considering it’s August, and the last big event before October, this was a little surprising. I’m wondering if this could mean a further delay.

My predictions from yesterday weren’t to bad, though they were mostly obvious. The only thing I was a little surprised about was the missing update on Leopard. I still think the Mac Mini will see a speed bump by the end of the year.

Mac Rumors notes that according to the Apple press release for the iMac, Airport Extreme now has Gigabit Ethernet (something that was sadly missing). No mention elsewhere on the site. I wonder if this is official, or just something that slipped out. It’s looking better and better.

Edit: According to CNet, the Mac Mini did get an speed bump! That means another prediction was right.

Product images courtesy of Apple.

WWDC 2007

Here’s my take on WWDC happenings for this year. These must be fun to be at. Especially in recent years with all the buzz about Apple. Yes this is a long post, but this is one of the big events of the year for developers and Mac users. Being a web developer with some software orientation, and a Mac user, it’s highly relevant. So here we go…

General

  • Webcast – Once upon a time Apple used to webcast the big events, why has this gone away? In the age of video, why has Apple exited? They used to claim records for it. Thankfully many websites post live updates of what’s going on (even with images) to keep those not fortunate enough to attend informed.
  • Apple Redesign – To accompany the announcements they redesigned the site a bit, redoing the tabs on the top that have been there forever with a more modern look, it’s also only top level sections now. Looks like the site is powered by prototype.

Mac OS X Leopard

Leopard

  • Stacks – Awesome. This has a slight resemblance to the old “Launcher” Control Panel, but much better.
  • Finder Cover FlowThe new finder looks sweet, likely useful for images, but little else. For some reason I don’t think sorting through spreadsheets and word documents (or source code) is going to be that great. I could be wrong. PDF support is a nice touch though. I wonder if it will read iTunes data for mp3’s and use the right cover art, or just show an generic mp3 graphic.
  • Search other Mac’s over Spotlight – Cool, but having cross platform support would be even better. And much more attractive for “switchers” and those who use dual platforms on a daily basis.
  • Leopard 64bit – Hopefully this won’t result in compatibility problems (they claim it won’t). Other than that… sweet. Oh wait, I have a G4 Mac Mini at home. Blasted!
  • Quick Look – Another sweet enhancement. Hopefully the delay in slower computers won’t be to the point where the word “Quick” is like a cruel joke.
  • Core AnimationCore Animation is awesome. I do wonder what this does to battery life on laptops. I wonder if this will be like Aero is to Windows Vista, and known as a battery sucking waste. I hope it’s at least able to be disabled, or ideally automatically scaled back when on battery.
  • New Bootcamp – Nothing really groundbreaking here. Just hope it can be done so Parallels or VMWare can share the same install as Bootcamp.
  • Spaces – I’ve loved this on Linux for a long time. I’m glad to see Apple adopting it. I think Mac users who haven’t used it before will really appreciate it.
  • Dashboard Widgets – I’m a moderate widget user. I’ll be spending more time with them in the near future as both a developer and a user. I think we can have some fun together.
  • iChat – Do people still use that? I guess some do for the video part, though I wonder how many know others with such a setup, and the bandwidth/willingness to use it. I would have thought Adium would have destroyed it’s market share a long time ago. That said I WANT the R2D2 Leia projection.
  • Time Machine – This is a great utility. Really nice. I wonder if Apple will start making dual hard drive computers standard and push for using 1 dedicated for backup. Considering the price of disks, I wouldn’t be too surprised. Notable exception being laptops.
  • Pricing – $129 for 1 license, $199 for family pack (5 licenses). That’s a great deal. A 5 pack for less than Vista. Actually a little less, since I can get a corporate discount as many can through their employer, or if your in school through them. So when are pre-orders taken?

Safari

Safari 3.0

  • “Most innovative browser” – Really? Yea, your tabs are really innovative. Never seen that before. Ooh extensions? No that’s a Firefox thing. Tabs aren’t innovative for several years now, they are in every application/website on the net. They were innovative in 2000. Safari has a minimal UI. Sell simplicity not innovation.
  • On Windows – My testing showed it to be fairly stable on windows, and pretty fast. Looks like it uses NPAPI so it uses any plugin Firefox or Opera uses. Overall very easy for most web developers to support. Only bad thing will be developers who assumed Safari was Mac OS X only when sniffing the User Agent. I don’t think there are too many cases like this, but those could cause problems.
  • Widget Theming – This is what I was most curious about. Safari does use Mac widgets for buttons and other form inputs. I presume this was done to keep things as consistent as possible across browsers. Looks a little strange on Windows, but not bad. Then again, I’m a Mac guy.
  • Security – I have a feeling this will make it much more of a target to hackers. So far Safari has faired pretty well. I guess we’ll see.
  • Anti-Aliasing – Very well done!

iPhone

  • App Development – Didn’t get a clear picture if apps all run online or are run offline. If they are offline, that makes for 3 current offline support specs. IMHO that’s a disaster in the making. I’d like to learn more about this though. This could be a lot of fun. Perhaps by 2nd Gen or 3rd Gen I’ll get an iPhone and play.
  • Google Development – Mention of Google developing apps this way. I guess it is possible/likely to see YouTube featured on the iPhone. I’m pretty certain GMail and Google Reader will be supported.

Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard Delayed

According to Apple Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard is delayed until October. This was posted on Apple Hot News (though no permalink unfortunately meaning it will likely disappear:

iPhone has already passed several of its required certification tests and is on schedule to ship in late June as planned. We can’t wait until customers get their hands (and fingers) on it and experience what a revolutionary and magical product it is. However, iPhone contains the most sophisticated software ever shipped on a mobile device, and finishing it on time has not come without a price — we had to borrow some key software engineering and QA resources from our Mac OS X team, and as a result we will not be able to release Leopard at our Worldwide Developers Conference in early June as planned. While Leopard’s features will be complete by then, we cannot deliver the quality release that we and our customers expect from us. We now plan to show our developers a near final version of Leopard at the conference, give them a beta copy to take home so they can do their final testing, and ship Leopard in October. We think it will be well worth the wait. Life often presents tradeoffs, and in this case we’re sure we’ve made the right ones. [Apr 12, 2007]

On the plus side I guess a few months of being feature complete would provide for a very stable release. I wonder if pre-orders will be taken prior to October? June seems slightly early to start. My guess would be Sept 1, with an announcement of when to expect pre-ordering in June.

MacWorld SF

It’s MacWorld tomorrow. I’ll be watching the net closely to see what the almighty Steve announces. I’ve got the following predictions:

  • Mac OS X 10.5 Announced (99% Chance) – That means I get to be a geek and preorder from the Apple store.
  • More Video/Movies On iTunes (95% Chance) – This will be a big focus since Apple really wants this market.
  • .Mac Overhaul (80% Chance) – Don’t really care about this one personally since I don’t use the service.
  • iTV (72% Chance) – I doubt it’s ready. Either an announcement to expect summer delivery, and/or a more detailed preview. I could be wrong, but I don’t think they are ready.
  • Incremental Bumps For Various Computers (70% Chance) – Rather lame and generic for a prediction, but I think at least 1 computer line (most likely iMac, and Mac Pro) will see a speed bump. For the Mac Pro it would make most sense, since Intel just announced Quad Core Xeons.
  • Airport Extreme 802.11n Edition (68% Chance) – The rumors exist, and I think there is a decent shot. They likely need it for iTV.
  • Phone (60% Chance) – If it is, it will be the fabled ‘iPhone’, though likely under another name. Only reason I give it 60% odds is because of all the press. Otherwise I’d put it down to 25%. I don’t think it’s extremely likely, but there is to much press to ignore. Then again, I’m still waiting for my Apple PDA (ended up being the iPod).
  • New iPod (51% Chance) – I’m going out on a limb here. Despite pretty much no press, I think it’s time for the full screen iPod, with a true chipset designed for the purpose of video. I mentioned this before.
  • Software Upgrade(50% Chance) – Very likely some software, either an iWorks upgrade, or iTunes version.

So there are my predictions. I do believe it will be a very busy MacWorld with more announcements than usual. I expect volume to be one of the more notable things. A lot of things on all fronts. Not so much of a war on Microsoft, but a big grab at the “digital lifestyle”.

Lets see how I pan out this year.