Mac App Store thoughts

Posted on Nov 7, 2010 in Mac, Opinions

The long-rumoured Mac App Store has finally been announced and developers have started to post their reactions and opinions. So far, everyone seems cautiously optimistic and despite some concerns and understandable misgivings about handing over 30% of application revenue to Apple, there have only been a few developers who have categorically rejected the Mac App Store.

So how will the Mac App Store really impact developers? The answer depends on what type of developer you’re talking to and what kind of products they sell. These three groups come to mind:

The lone Mac Developer

These guys are going to love the App Store. Until now, they’ve had to take care of their own marketing, sales, licensing, online store, support, etc, all in addition to writing their apps. Being on the App Store won’t magically make these additional jobs go away, but it remove some of pressure to do all of these simultaneously.

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Multi-touch vs. multi-touch: the new iPod nano

Posted on Sep 7, 2010 in iPhone, Opinions, UI Design

Apple recently introduced their 6th generation iPod nano, the first non-clickwheel nano. Instead, the new nano uses a multi-touch interface that’s similar to the interface found on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

But just how similar is the nano’s multi-touch interface when compared with the real deal? Let’s look at some of the typical actions you might want to do:

As you can see, some of the most important actions use different multi-touch gestures on the iPod nano then they do on real iOS devices. If Apple sees the nano as the device that will introduce people to multi-touch, it seems like a curious decision to not unify the gestures across all multi-touch platforms.

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Managing your Online Reading

Posted on Aug 22, 2010 in Opinions, The web

Twitter, Facebook, RSS feeds, Mail – we all get more links to articles and webpages nowadays than ever before. I would often find myself coming across an interesting article, but would lose track of it in a mess of tabs, unless I read it right away.

Bookmaking is the most obvious option, but you risk cluttering your useful bookmarks with lots of items you’ll only look at once.  So how can you organise your reading? Here’s the system I use…

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Search Chordie iTunes script

Posted on Jun 7, 2010 in Featured, Mac, Opinions

If you play guitar, you’ve probably tried the various tab and chord sites out there. I recently discovered Chordie.com and it has quickly become my favourite.

One thing I often do is look up chords for songs I’m listening to in iTunes. I do it so often that I decided to put together a little script to make it a bit easier to do.

Head on over to my Projects page to download Search Chordie and to find out how to use it.

Download Search Chordie

Search Chordie is based on Search Wikipedia by the fantastic Doug Adams – check out his other iTunes scripts at DougScripts.com.

Thanks also to Chordie.com – if you play the guitar, you’re going to love this fantastic resource.

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The Micro DSLR Phenomenon

Posted on Jun 2, 2010 in Opinions, Photography

Ever since I reviewed the Olympus E-P1 last summer, I’ve been fairly convinced that this is a market segment waiting to explode. So many people I have spoken to have expressed an interest and interestingly enough, this niche seems to attract multiple user groups:

  • Consumers that don’t own a DSLR see these new cameras as an attractive compromise offering DSLR quality with a consumer-friendly interface and lower cost
  • Prosumers that already own a DSLR see them as a great alternative to their bulky DSLRs that they can take out and about

Which models are on the market?

Until now, Olympus and Panasonic have been the only two companies offering cameras in this space, so they have generally been referred to as “Micro Four-Thirds” cameras – after the joint standard those two companies established together.

However, Sony have recently announced their “Alpha Nex” series, which uses a larger APS-C sized sensor, that should give the Micro four-thirds competitors a run for their money.

Is it a DSLR? Is it a Micro Four-Thirds? No, it’s…

With Sony entering the fray, a new term is needed to describe the cameras within this category. In the interest of keeping things simple, I’m just going to refer to them as “Micro DSLRs“.

Latest Developments

So what has happened since the release of the original Olympus E-P1 that kicked everything off?

If you’re in the market, it’s probably worth waiting until the new Sony models are released in July, but it’s definitely turning into an interesting year for Micro DSLR fans.

I should have a chance to take a look at a few of these new models in the upcoming months, so stay tuned.

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Transmit 4 Review

Posted on Apr 27, 2010 in Mac, Opinions, Reviews, UI Design

For years, one of the most popular OS X FTP applications has been Transmit. Panic’s FTP workhorse is so well regarded and robust, it’s engine was even chosen by Apple to power the FTP upload feature built-in to iWeb.

But OS X has gone through a lot of changes since Transmit 3 was first introduced and the app is starting to show its age. Enter Transmit 4!

This latest update adds a completely new user interface, innovative new features like Transmit Disk as well as a slew of customisation options. I was fortunate enough to be a beta tester for version 4, so I’ve had a few weeks to play with the new version – here are some of my thoughts.

New UI

Panic is know for their sleek user interface design and attention to detail and Transmit 4 is no exception. First off, the biggest change of them all: A NEW TRUCK!

But the logo isn’t all that has been refreshed: The entire app feels brand new. Most UI elements have been given a 2010 update and the interface feels a lot tidier.

You start off with a list of your configured servers that uses a sleek black look that was made popular by apps such as PixelmatorCoverScout 3 and SongGenie (disclaimer – I work for equinux).

You can choose an icon for your servers, or use the server favicon

Selecting a server puts you into a familiar file browsing mode – more on that below:

Buttons and features are usually exactly where you would expect to find them and unobtrusive animations and pretty icons round out the package and give the app a nice touch of Panic personality. Here are a few bits of eye candy I noticed during testing:

Progress indicator

Breadcrumb navigation

Nice use of icons in the replace dialog makes it clear which file you need to replace

File Browsing, Places & Quick Look

An FTP client fundamentally has two jobs: show me my remote files and allow me to move files between my local and remote storage. To accomplish that, an FTP application has to replicate a lot of the functionality of a regular file browser, so users can browser their local files as well as their remote files.

Transmit 4 offers single and dual file-browser layouts, (rearrangable!) tabs and the icon, llist, column and cover flow viewing styles you are familiar with from the Finder. But it also has a few additional tricks up its sleeve, that you won’t find in the Finder.

Here are some of the more interesting file browsing options:

  • Folders above Files changes the sort order, so that folders are always displayed before your files in a view
  • Quick Look makes it easy to see a file’s content and even works with remote files stored on your FTP server
  • Places can store shortcuts to your most frequently used folders, so they are just a click away. You can also drag files to a Place shortcut.

Places give you quick access to commonly used folders.

Places is really useful, but the way you add locations by dragging them to the breadcrumb area is a bit unconventional. Once you’ve figured it out though, it quickly became one of my favourite Transmit 4 features.

Transmit 4 offers enough view options to suit almost anyone’s preferred file browsing style. Whether you perfer to work with multiple windows, tabs, split layouts, column view etc – Transmit 4 has got you covered. While it’s debatable whether most users need so many options, file browsing habits are usually so ingrained that it was probably a good idea for Panic to include as many options as they could.

DockSend, Droplets, TransmitDisk and more…

Most of the time, I find myself uploading files to the same place over and over again. Transmit has a number of ways that give you an easy way to send a file to your FTP server straight from the finder:

  • Drag it to a custom droplet you can create in Transmit 4
  • Enable Docksend and you can drag it directly to the Transmit 4 icon in your Dock
  • Turn on TransmitDisk…

TransmitDisk is a nifty new feature, that uses MacFUSE to allow you to mount your FTP server as a volume that the Finder can see. Once mounted, you can interact with your FTP folders like you would with a drive on your local network.

In my experience this worked fairly well, but occasionally felt a little bit more sluggish than using Transmit’s own file browser – but your mileage may vary.


Overall this is a great upgrade to an already very useful application. The new features are well thought out and make working with your FTP server a lot easier and faster. While this isn’t a revolutionary upgrade, it is solid enough to make it worth your while.

You can buy or upgrade to Transmit 4 in the Panic Online Store.

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