Showing posts with label gui. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gui. Show all posts

Saturday, 26 January 2008


For my birthday, last Wednesday, I received a Panasonic DMR-EZ47:

*2-in1 DVD & VHS Combi
*Full HD 1080p Up-Conversion
*DVB-T Tuner and 7 Day EPG
*HDMI with VIERA Link
*Super Multi Format - Record and Play ALL DVD Formats
*Super Easy GUI
*Dual Layer Compatible
*16X - R Compatible
*MP3, JPEG from -R
*500 Line LP Mode
*1 Sec Quick Start and Record
*VHS to DVD Refresh Dubbing

Ultimately, I decided that a built-in HDD was overkill! As it was my birthday, the sales person made the recorder multi-region and included a HDMI cable/DVD-R pack gratis! That puts shop@Panasonic on a par with the Sony Centre for customer service.

My various College and University video productions will be transfered from VHS to iTunes via this paradigm:

VHS > DVD > HandBrake > iMovie > iTunes!

Next month Apple will start shipping Time Capsule 1TB and my pre-order is in! Review to follow.

Have a great weekend... I'll be clearing out clutter from the garage! It's surprising how much junk gets accumulated!

Monday, 23 July 2007

Windows Live Writer

Switched back to Windows Vista! Why? I'm keen to give Windows Live Writer Beta 2 a test drive and there's currently no Mac OS X client (get your skates on Mac Business Unit (Mac BU)).

Microsoft has built a powerful desktop application blogging tool, which largely precludes the need to directly login to your blog account. Windows Live Writer can publish to Windows Live Spaces, Sharepoint, WordPress, Blogger, LiveJournal, TypePad, Moveable Type, Community Server, and many other weblog services.

Windows Live Writer is by no means unique. There's an abundance of third party applications and widgets available for both Windows and Mac platforms. Yet, Windows Live Writer goes someway to consolidate rich publishing in one easy-to-use application. Setup is a breeze. However, I'd like to see more formatting options - such as justify - made available from the GUI. Of course you can switch to HTML and, manually, insert code yourself.

You can post directly from within Windows Live Writer or save drafts locally and/or online. A very useful trick it has up its sleeve; updated drafts, saved locally, will overwrite the online draft if you saved at both locations. Therefore you don't need to worry about reconciling different versions or accidentally double posting (a bane of bloggers everywhere)!

Friday, 1 June 2007

The Ultimate View

I've been testing Windows Vista Ultimate OEM/OEI DSP edition, installed on an Intel-based Mac! Installation was a breeze, thanks to Boot Camp 1.2 and built-in Apple Software Update (available directly from the Start menu).

Overall I'm quite impressed with Windows Vista Ultimate's performance, which is, ironically, more responsive than Mac OS X 10.4, despite a lack of compatible drivers. Microsoft should be lauded for making improvements, especially with Windows Media Center, despite their controversial and confusing product (and pricing) strategy.

Windows Aero (Authentic, Energetic, Reflective and Open) GUI applies an extra layer of lip gloss and renders certain text better than Aqua (Mac OS X) and vice versa. For the first time since the release of Windows 95 (although it's not a paradigm shift from Windows XP), Microsoft has completely revised its user interface guidelines, covering aesthetics, common controls such as buttons and radio buttons, task dialogs, wizards, common dialogs, control panels, icons, fonts, user notifications, and the "tone" of text used.

Avid video gamers, starved of Mac ports, are truly spoilt for choice. Roll on Halo 2.

One caveat I should mention, install Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit (x86) and not 64-bit (x64)! Support for the former is more robust in the short-to-mid term.

Thursday, 14 September 2006

7 Up

iTunes 7 sports a blemished GUI, diminished by an absence of Aqua scroll bars, and Apple breaks another of its own HCI guidelines! However, I'm delighted to note the quiet inclusion of CD-Text (see Preferences/Advanced/Burning). This small feat only took 5 years to add!

Monday, 9 January 2006

California Dreamin'

This post is brought to you, dear reader, later than anticipated! Lets just say that offline life supersedes online. However, MWSF 2006 delivered on Intel-based desktop and laptop Macs. The MacBook (new nomenclature for PowerBook line) may take a lot of getting used to, but the machine looks devine. The iMac was a surprise, although I'd prefer to have seen an Intel Mac mini.

Whilst the hardware transition met or exceeded expectations. The software, for me, was far more interesting. Google Earth made its official public debut, Microsoft started offering Flip4Mac (for Windows Media playback in QuickTime) for free and Apple inevitably shipped iLife '06; a quintet of robust authoring tools. Get your order in today!

iPhoto received a major code rewrite and all-new gleaming GUI. Will its new sibling, iWeb, resurrect the simplicity of Adobe's PageMill 3.0 coupled with the clean code of BBEdit? If not, Karelia Software may have the answer with Sandvox!

Industrial Light & Magic

Timing is everything. And Adobe, breaking with its recent Windows-first agenda, today released Lightroom Beta 1 for Mac. "With its modular, task-based and streamlined environment, Lightroom's goal is to deliver a complete photography workflow," notes the company. At face value this is a welcome software salvo in response to Apple Computer's Aperture. However, Lightroom's inception dates from 2002!

Lightroom currently sports an attractive GUI that shares more than a passing resemblance to Apple's pro applications. I'll be importing photos (available from my Flickr photostream) and posting the results. The target price point is unknown, but expect to pay somewhere between Photoshop Elements and CS! I'm sold. Lightroom requires Mac OS X 10.4.3 or later.

Monday, 12 December 2005

Let There Be Peace On Earth

There has been much hullabaloo since an early beta of Google Earth for Mac OS X appeared on the web! Google Earth puts a planet's worth of imagery and other geographic information right on your desktop. View exotic locales like Maui and Paris as well as points of interest such as local restaurants, hospitals, schools, and more.

In its present form Google Earth's GUI is a mélange of Mac OS X 10.1 Aqua and Windows XP (Preferences includes an OpenGL and DirectX Graphics Mode option. DirectX is a Windows only graphics layer). The application will intergrate with Gmail, but the feature is grayed out. It runs surprisingly smoothly on my aging G4, but requires Core Image and therefore will be restricted to 10.4 Tiger users.

Whilst perusing FeedBurner I stumbled across DropSend, a file-transfer service, and signed-up for a free account. They've included a free desktop uploader tool (10.1 or higher).

Running maintenance scripts can be a chore and most of us don't bother. I tend to run these in Terminal, which is a minefield of dangers for inexperienced users. So, fret not as now this elegant Automator script takes care of everything.

Sunday, 9 October 2005

Geometric Gaming

The GameCube has clocked up a few miles in its first week. An interesting fact for anyone who maybe mulling over a purchase and requires Digital A/V support. The following is an extract taken from Nintendo's support pages:

The Digital A/V Output port was removed from systems produced after May, 2004 (these systems will have a model number of DOL-101). If you have a Nintendo GameCube without this port, and you wish to play your games in progressive scan, you may be able to obtain a system that was made prior to the removal of the Digital A/V Output port. Please call our Consumer Service department at 1-800-255-3700 to discuss available options.

Additional Information:

Why have you removed the component video feature from the Nintendo GameCube?
On newer models of the Nintendo GameCube, we opted to remove the Digital A/V out port from the system because we found that less than one percent of all Nintendo GameCube players used this feature.

Will future Nintendo GameCube games continue to have the progressive scan feature?
About one-third of licensee-published titles and over 90% of Nintendo-published titles currently have the progressive scan feature. We expect that most Nintendo-published titles will continue to support progressive scan. Each licensee will continue to make the decision of whether or not to include this feature in their future games.

In order to reduce costs and increase profit margins it is not unusual for consumer electronics companies to simplify production. Sony made changes to the PlayStation and my model lacked S-Video connectivity. The good news is that I can confirm that the Limited Edition Resident Evil GameCube has a model number of DOL-001 and not DOL-101. Incidentally, DOL refers to the console's codename. Dolphin.

My fiendish friends at The Iconfactory, are unleashing seasonal GUI ghoulishness in time for the season of the witch. Grab those disgustingly delicious icons, dim the lights and play the Castlevania and Resident Evil franchises.

The ultimate browser-based feed reader is to be found in Google Labs. A Gmail account adds further razzle dazzle.

A glutton for punishment. I'm already preparing a DVD review of Battlestar Galactica (2004) Season 1! "It's the things I do for you..."

"One more thing..." There is much speculation regarding next weeks Apple event. I'm going to go out on a limb (as is my duty) and suggest that there maybe a new product line introduced. A PVR based on Intel?

Monday, 5 September 2005

Double Jeopardy

Well, I've done it now! What heinous crime has been committed, you cry? Amazon UK permitting, an Xbox 360 Premium Pack will be opened before the holidays! The combined price of a Core Pack and the accessories included (remote control subject to availability) in the Premium Pack could cost upwards of £320 (depending on supplier).

Of the two Xbox 360 SKUs (Stock Keeping Units), gamers should be encouraged to purchase the Premium Pack - the 20GB portable HDD is required for backwards compatibility. My HDTV's component input will be put to good use and Xbox 360 offers Plug and Play with iPod and PSP.

Sega's next generation arcade board (codenamed Lindbergh) DNA parallels Xbox 360 architecture. This translates to an envious arcade-to-home porting model akin to Sega's NAOMI and Dreamcast. The key attraction, here, is future arcade smashes House Of The Dead 4, Psy Phi and Virtua Fighter 5 in the home sans compromise.

To reiterate. Xbox 360 SDK was (originally) Mac-based. Jonathan Hayes (manager of platform experience design) owes a debt to Jonathan Ives (vice president of Apple Computer's Industrial Design Group) IMHO. The upshot of this philosophy is a console whose contours are organic and appealing. Certainly this product is a more cohesive 'brand' experience (from the hardware to the software GUI) and lessons have been learned from the first iteration of Xbox. Go Microsoft.

European PSP users are already reporting that some machines are afflicted with the pixel problem that blighted the Japanese and US launches. As I understood it, Sony sourced Samsung LCDs to reduce this reliability issue (officially users should expect up to 9 dead pixels)! Anyone contemplating a PSP purchase, and are concerned about the possibility of buying a product that doesn't meet their expectations, should wait. Lets face it, the new Ceramic White model is much more desirable for the eye candy cognoscenti.

Now that the nights are drawing in you maybe in need of extra PDF reading material. The Bomb (1994), an original audio drama, was written as a 5-minute play and recorded during the second year of undergraduate study.

Tuesday, 24 May 2005

AIM & Objective

Since taming the Tiger, I've been beta testing AIM® Mail and AOL® Journals. First a history lesson.

It's summer 1997 and an @AOL address was considered a premium. I leapt onto the brand wagon with (apologies to anyone who may have inherited this). Switching gears from a 14.4 bps to an asphalt melting 28.8 bps, I thrived on accessing all the US Channel content and making new buddies along the way.

In 2000 after leaving Dow Jones Reuters (downsizing and outsourcing), I abandoned AOL UK due (in part) to tenuous Mac OS 9.x software support and a prohibitively expensive subscription (no discount for Mac Users). However, the impetus (shove) to leave was during an interview with an AOL Channel Director. In the wake of the AOL Time Warner merger, a HR zombie decided to forward my application from Entertainment to Financial. D'oh! And during a stilted dialogue, with the Director, I learnt of their ambition to usurp Microsoft and that Apple Computer should roll over and die! I suggested that AOL would be wise to form a strategic alliance with Apple. 5 years on and look who's laughing now? Not AOL Time Warner shareholders. BTW I never signed an NDA and am at liberty to disclose this.

On Monday night, and in Tom Hanks mode, I savored my first You've Got Mail moment for five years! If I were to rate AIM Mail and Gmail on GUI splendor alone, then AIM gets my vote! The forum moderator is actively soliciting Mac User feedback. My Dashboard Widget suggestion was described as excellent and forwarded to the developers for immediate consideration. Widgets are de rigeur.

Blogcritics is a thriving community and I've been known to drop in the occasional post now and again.

Here's my second ever iMix!

Monday, 16 May 2005

Welcome Chang3

Sony's official launch of PS3 may witness a more far reaching alliance between the embattled electronics company and Apple Computer! The PS3 is alleged to include an iPod interface port and iTunes in the GUI. The PlayStation and iPod brands command lucrative market and mind share. Combined they would be an unstoppable force. Sony is also proposing exciting news regarding the PSP too.

My imported The OC S1 set has arrived from Australia. The R4 release cost £19.99 compared to £59.99 for R2. The next few nights are going to be an Orange Fest!

Wednesday, 20 April 2005

Online Operatic Society

Press coverage of the Abode/Macromedia merger appears to have overlooked Opera! Opera's rendering engine is licensed by both companies and version 8 was released this week. Coincidence? The Mac version is in beta. Page rendering is faster than Safari 1.3 (still stalls on my machine) and the RSS interface is impressive, although the cross-platform GUI is creative potpourri. In an ideal world it would be preferable to use only one browser (fits all), yet you could do worse than the triumvirate of Safari, Firefox (blogging) and Opera in your applications folder. Incidentally, I've given up on OmniWeb (for site development and testing). The developers find themselves in a cul-de-sac!

Always with an eye for bargains and price reductions, last evening I noticed that Amazon UK had dropped the pre-order price of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger from £89.00 to £74.99. To avoid being over charged (as with iLife '05) I cancelled and ordered at the new lower price. With the advent of Tiger, Apple is making greater emphasis on gaming. Could Microsoft's G5 Xenon Development Kit environment (for Xbox 360) be the catalyst?

Nowadays everyone and their pet has a Yahoo! Group. Here's mine.

Thursday, 14 April 2005


Comparing screen shots of Panther and Tiger it is very noticeable that Tiger's GUI is brighter and evokes Windows XP! In a couple of weeks I'll be better placed to make an informed judgment.

My Revenge of the Sith CD has been on repeat play (almost) since Monday. Churlish critics will cite that Williams too blatantly quotes himself. Here, in descending order, are my favorite Star Wars soundtracks:

1). The Empire Strikes Back
2). Revenge of the Sith
3). A New Hope
4). The Phantom Menace
5). Return of the Jedi
6). Attack of the Clones

AOTC ranked lowest because unaltered orchestrations from TPM were inserted late in digital post production; George Lucas can make changes almost up to the minute of theatrical release, John Williams is ostensibly scoring an 'unlocked' print, which may explain the thicker textures to the prequel scores!

Hasbro's ROTS Darth Vader arrived today and is the best sculpture yet!

Wednesday, 16 February 2005


iWork '05 arrived yesterday and refreshingly includes printed documents for both Keynote 2 and Pages. Although I've had little time to fully explore Pages, Apple's newest software (from the Keynote team) skews more towards lavish publishing and less towards word processing. In its current 1.0 iteration Pages is no replacement for AppleWorks 6.2. However, users of Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac can rejoice as Pages replaces the absent Adobe PageMaker (now an InDesign CS plug-in) and rivals Publisher. Well worth buying.

The release of Pages is cause to reflect on how far publishing applications have developed. In 1998 my first web site was built using Claris Homepage 3.0 (a free license from Macworld UK magazine). Then I migrated to PageMill 3.0 and, latterly, GoLive when Adobe ceased PageMill support and offered an inexpensive upgrade path. GoLive CS now sports Photoshop's signature GUI and seamless integration too.

Time to produce a competitor for Detour magazine.

Wednesday, 26 January 2005

Connect Four

The European release of Sony PSP will be supported by a new download service. The PlayStation-branded download platform will initially be used as a marketing tool to offer PSP users free additional game levels and upgrades. Music and movies will follow. I'm wondering if the service will be a retooled Connect? Connect has yet to emerge from the shadow of iTMS and iPod. The latter has displaced the Walkman and forced Sony to repackage existing hardware and software (VAIO Pocket Music Player) to very limited success.

Universal Media Disc (UMD) leads the HDD and Memory Stick Duo technological triumvirate. Whether or not consumers have an appetite for yet another optical format remains to be seen.

Sony has already confirmed that a browser, email client, word processor and spreadsheet update is in development for PSP. These applications were withheld from last month's Japanese release and may debut with the US and European launch. The XMB GUI looks intuitive and owes a stylistic debt to Mac OS X Aqua.

Whilst Apple and Sony are commercial competitors an alliance has been forged concerning high-definition DVD. Following the enigmatic appearance of Sony President Kunitake Ando, at Macworld, industry observers speculate that there maybe more going on than meets the eye!

After an exhaustive search on various forums, I've decided to order Sony's small wonder (it can serve as an external USB HDD/portable media centre and automounts on Mac OS X). And, as a fan of Capcom, I'm eager for a slice of Darkstalkers Chronicle: The Chaos Tower (incorporating characters from Darkstalkers and Vampire Savior arcade franchises).

Wednesday, 5 January 2005

The Third Space

Last November I speculated about the possible implications of PS3, XBOX 2 and Apple's shared G5 hardware DNA. Since Sony purchased and, predictably, ceased development (and support) of Connectix Virtual Gamestation (following a protracted legal battle in the 90's), Mac OS X gamers have been denied a means to play legally purchased PlayStation CD-ROMs sans Virtual PC. Now with the advent of PCSX (Public Beta) Mac Users can play their PSOne games 'Cocoa style'. I've not used the application, so cannot comment on GUI, performance or the level of compatibility, which is sure to improve as it undergoes further testing. I'll keep tabs on the development of PCSX and dutifully report here.

With the renewed speculation that Apple is about to release a Media Centre, and abundance of high quality emulators available for OS X, it is tempting to posit that the Mac is fast becoming the gaming platform of choice for the digerati! In the words of Homer Simpson "Mmm, MacMAME machine..."

Alias S4 starts tonight and you'd be a fool to miss it. Another Jennifer worthy of a mention is JLo! Get Right has the distinction of being my first downloaded song from iTMS in 2005! Her fourth studio album, Rebirth, is scheduled for a March release.

Tuesday, 5 October 2004


With Halloween only a few weeks away, my pixel-pushing friends over at The Iconfactory have unleashed their ghoulish GUI goodness in the dark n' dank form of Web Attic!

Really looking forward to a late night screening of Michael Jackson's Ghosts and Thriller on the 31st.

In the meantime and in keeping with the Halloween theme. Whilst I'm still suffering post console sale withdrawal, here's the in-game logo taken from Super Castlevania IV (released on the Super NES, 1991).

Holiday season 1992 I hooked the newly unwrapped PAL Super NES to my home AV system (pre multi-channel) and was startled by the quality of the Castlevania IV soundtrack! Sonic detail was in abundance (a maximum of 8-channels were available to sound designers) with excellent 2-channel separation. A peerless platformer (it featured dancing specters Paula Abghoul and Fred Ascare), which still endures to this day. If you're so inclined, I'd recommend hunting down the original 'uncensored' Japanese Super Famicom cartridge entitled Akumajou Dracula (Demon Castle Dracula) - blood and nudity - all the trappings of the vampire genre.

Konami's Castlevania series, one of my favourite video game franchises, rarely disappoints and I've followed the Belmont family cross-platform (no pun intended) from MSX to Arcade and Genesis to GBA.

Tuesday, 1 June 2004

The icing on the GUI

Confession time! To my chagrin Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac is an excellent product. This upgrade goes far beyond new box art! The Mac Business Unit (Mac BU) have finessed the groundwork in v.X and augmented Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Entourage with "added value".

Most compelling is Project Centre - manage your projects more efficiently by accessing all of your project-related e-mail messages, files, notes, contacts and schedules in one convenient place. It's clearly a work in progress. However, future patches will address this. Encarta® as a reference tool is also worthy of note!

Clearly serious R&D dollars have been spent on the retooling of Office 2004 suite and I'd urge power users to consider it. Yes, there are alternatives including AppleWorks and OpenOffice. But each has its own caveats! Compared to Windows and earlier Mac editions this is the most stable yet - no sign of text rendering/refresh issues that were the bane of its predecessors!