Fairly Quiet on the Blog Front
Have you ever wondered, upon entering an empty classroom, whether you overslept and didn’t get the e-mail about no class that day? I have, and it is not fun. Take it from a current college student.
January felt that way to me. Maybe I’m wrong, but this month isn’t even going to be especially focused on about the Mac blogosphere. A better description for this month’s column might be, “It is the 20th anniversary, you know.” By the way: happy twentieth anniversary, Macintosh! If only your weblogger devotees were shouting from the hilltops, but we’ve grown complacent in the years since the Revolution.
All right, enough with the odd references. This column will be, because of what I’ve mentioned above, different from last month’s. This means we can play the schadenfreude game, in which you enjoy the fruits of Wes’ frustration. However, there is, slipped in below, a Reader Challenge for the month. Here we go, for January.
Leading up to Macworld San Francisco, there was a good deal of rumor-mongering, about which I’m not going to write because most of it was dead wrong. I imagine you’ve all seen the various rumors discredited. Unless Steve Jobs releases iWrite, the video iPod, a G5 Cube, or your other favorite rumor before February 1—in which case I’ll have to eat crow—I am going to declare that dead. This rather lowers our signal-to-noise ratio for the month.
As far as useful knowledge, discussion and articles from the Mac blogosphere, I came up with five topics which you may find interesting:
- Apple has discovered RSS, and now both the iTunes Music Store and the Knowledge Base have RSS feeds. This means that now you can see a feed of selected tracks from the music store, as well as the list of top songs, and also a set of feeds of current and new Knowledge Base articles on a variety of Apple products. (For those of you unfamiliar with the term, RSS is a reasonably sophisticated way of syndicating headlines in a series of different formats and on different devices.)
- The above item raises an interesting Reader Challenge idea: would anyone besides me be interested in a kind of directory of feeds of selected music? I’d publish a feed with my Most Played smart playlist in iTunes, or just music I feel like listening to that week, kind of like the Critic’s Picks selection at a video store. E-mail me, and you can get a mention next month as well as eternal gratitude, as I would love critic-reviewed playlists for my iPod.
- Have you ever spent four months without your Mac, in an environment remarkably hostile to the platform? Noah Kravitz has, teaching in a PC-only school in New York City, and he thinks that although OS X and Macs have a substantial leg up on Windows XP and PCs, there are still some kinks that Apple needs to work out, like proprietary video connectors. In his second column, he reinforces his argument, saying that although the one-button mouse may be Grandma-safe it’s certainly not any good for teaching. Also, he explains why it is that I’d never used a laptop until I was in eighth grade, which is that little kids and portable, flexible computing are incompatible.
- OSViews ran a nice piece by Benjamin Horst after MWSF failed to usher in iWrite, explaining why Apple should use OpenOffice.org as AppleWorks’s core. The idea is sound: “[F]ollow the example Apple created with its Safari Web browser…based on the KHTML rendering engine. Apple could use the OpenOffice.org code and build its own custom Mac OS X GUI on top of it.” Just like KHTML, OpenOffice.org’s code is licensed under the GNU Lesser General Public License; and just like KHTML prior to Apple’s development of Safari, using OpenOffice on Mac OS X can be a very un-Mac-like experience. Could be a good marriage.
- Bruce Tognazzini is rather famously a critic of OS X’s GUI. He weighed in again on OS X in January (unfortunately replacing his old column; this is weirdly Orwellian, by the way). This time, it was on why the Dock still sucks and what Apple can do to fix OS X. I’m not sure I agree with him, but I know Kirk McElhearn sure didn’t.
- I saved the biggest news for last. Hewlett-Packard announced January 8 that they had agreed to license the iPod, to be rebranded with an HP logo on the back and sold only in rigor-mortis-corpse blue. Gadgetopia was hardly alone in observing that Apple has a poor track record regarding clone licenses. John Gruber, my favorite analyst and curmudgeon, calls this “the H-Bomb,” and he’s right. HP is huge, and this is a big deal.
I hope you enjoyed this whirl around the Mac blogosphere, even if it wasn’t strictly the Mac blogosphere per se. By now you know how to get the latest updates to the iTunes Music Store and Apple’s Knowledge Base; know what it’s like to spend four months with no water, err, working with a PC-only lab; can wonder if Apple should use OpenOffice.org code as the basis for AppleWorks 7 or iWrite; can see what may be wrong with the Dock, from the perspective of Apple Employee No. 66; and have my permission to talk your next-door neighbor’s ears off about the HP iPod.
Hat tip from last month: an anonymous reader showed me Jeremiah Cohick’s blog. I’ve never been to Boston or to Emerson College, so I have no frame of reference for his writing, but it’s nice to know that Switchers are real people too.
Also, Phil Ulrich is still welcoming beta testers for Userspace. I bring this up because a reader commented last week that he couldn’t find a download link. Please e-mail Phil if you want to use Userspace.
Did I miss anything? Let me know.