Future Version of Mac Office Will Have VBA

According to the Mac BU, future version of Microsoft Office for Mac will have VBA support added back in:

The Mac BU also announced it is bringing VBA-language support back to the next version of Office for Mac.

[...]

The team recognizes that VBA-language support is important to a select group of customers who rely on sharing macros across platforms.

New 16GB iPhone and 32GB iPod Touch

The proposition of a 16GB iPhone is very tempting indeed, but unfortunately it carries a price premium over the already expensive 8GB iPhone model of $100.

O2 Slashes Cost of iPhone Tariffs

To stay inline with the rest of their price-plans, O2 is increasing the allowance of the cheapest £35 per-month tariff to 600 minutes and 500 text messages (up from 200 of each), and cutting the cost of the £55 down to £45 per-month.

They seem very good value now, especially as you get unlimited internet access and free WiFi at The Cloud hotspots. Might even be enough to tempt me away from T-Mobile.

T-Mobile Selling Unlocked iPhones in Germany

Caveat: they cost €999, or £719 at the current exchange rate. This is T-Mobile’s way of saying “fuck-you” to Vodafone for taking them to court.

Leopard Initial Impressions

These are my initial impressions of Leopard final build running on my MacBook Core Duo 2GHz with 2GB of RAM.

  • The new WLAN menu is a big improvement. It now scans for networks asynchronously, so you don’t have the agonising three second hang when you click on it.

  • Apple Mail loads up instantly. I like how it separates IMAP folders from local ones and the new Reminders list.

  • The Installer took a few minutes to find my current Panther partition.

  • iCal now shows location of events in the calendar view. Hoorar!

  • Spaces is very slick, and works well with my dual monitor arrangement.

  • Drop-down-menus seem more responsive, I don’t know if this is because they’re actually more responsive, or Apple have just reduced the default lag.

  • Safari 3.0.4 still slows down a lot, lots of spinning beach balls. Not had it crash yet though.

  • The Network preference pane now displays all the main options in one window instead of multiple tabs and dialogs.

  • Dark icons look terrible on dock if its docked at the side of the screens (example). I’m please that they’ve replaced the appearance of the side dock, it looked quite silly before.

  • Finder

    • Cover Flow can do quick and dirty previews of my NEFs, but doesn’t seem to even want to try with my D80 JPEGs.

    • Quick View of NEFs, PSD and TIFFs from Lightroom and Photoshop work really well. Trying it with a D80 JPEG just crashes Finder.

    • Its now much quicker at opening network drives and computers, and there is no more hanging.

    • Overall the Finder has had a big upgrade, however the lack of tabs means I’ll still be going back to Path Finder.

    • Exposé is now an app that resides in you Applications folder, as is System Preferences.

    • Contrary to other reports, I don’t notice any speed improvements in the iWork or iLife apps.

Compatibility with Third Party Applications

  • Photoshop CS3 seems to work fine, as does Lightroom 1.2.

  • Whoever said VMWare Fusion doesn’t work on Leopard obviously hasn’t tried it.

  • Skype works fine, thank god.

  • EyeTV still works.

  • Path Finder has some issues, Show Desktop now hides the Path Finder dock and reviles an empty Finder dock.

  • Quicksilver is now always resides on the dock whether you tell it to or not.

  • 1Passwd doesn’t work — its icon has disappeared from Safari and Camino. Update: But the newest 2.5 beta version called 1Password does work.

  • Last.fm app acts up a bit, seems to open itself with every new track played on iTunes.

  • Adium’s tabs now don’t match the window colour, but everything else works fine.

Jobs: Third Party SDK for iPhone By February

Steve Jobs has posted another one of his open letters, this time announcing a third party SDK for the iPhone come February.

Let me just say it: We want native third party applications on the iPhone, and we plan to have an SDK in developers’ hands in February.

[...]

It will take until February to release an SDK because we’re trying to do two diametrically opposed things at once—provide an advanced and open platform to developers while at the same time protect iPhone users from viruses, malware, privacy attacks, etc. This is no easy task.

He cites security concerns as the reason for the delay, and hints to the use of digital certificates as a way to prevent malware:

Nokia, for example, is not allowing any applications to be loaded onto some of their newest phones unless they have a digital signature that can be traced back to a known developer. While this makes such a phone less than “totally open,” we believe it is a step in the right direction.

iTunes Plus Price Drop

Apple has reduced their iTunes Plus DRM-free track prices from $1.29 to $0.99, and expanded iTunes Plus to include more indie labels.

The UK iTunes Store is still selling iTunes Plus tracks at 99p compared to 79p for regular tracks. And no word about when the big labels are joining though.

UK iPhone Debuts November 9

At a special event called “Mum is no longer the word” in their Regent Street store, Apple announced the UK version of the iPhone. It costs £269, exclusive to the O2 network and requires an 18 month contract:

  • £35 a month — 200 minutes and 200 text messages.
  • £45 a month — 600 minutes and 500 text messages.
  • £55 a month — 1200 minutes and 500 text messages.

Otherwise, its exactly the same as the US iPhone, which means still no 3G support.

To All iPhone Customers

Steve Jobs:

We have decided to offer every iPhone customer who purchased an iPhone from either Apple or AT&T, and who is not receiving a rebate or any other consideration, a $100 store credit towards the purchase of any product at an Apple Retail Store or the Apple Online Store.

This is incredibly generous of Apple, I can’t remember any other company ever doing this on such a scale. If its true that Apple are close to selling one million iPhones, then the total cost is potentially $100,000,000.

Safari vs Mozilla

Safari with Gmail is just one frustration after another, so I moved to Camino and I never thought I’d look back. But now I use Mailplane to access my Gmail e-mail, and there’s no compelling reason for me to stay on Camino anymore, so I thought I’d give Safari another try as my main browser.

Speed

Camino is fast, much faster than Firefox, but Safari is still the fastest. In my unscientific and perceived tests, Safari seems to render pages just a fraction of a second faster than Camino, but its the frequency of the lock-ups I get from Camino — especially when I try to open multiple tabs — is my biggest annoyance with it.

Rendering

Text rendering in Safari has historically been superior to Gecko, but the new 3.0.3 seems to have taken a turn for the worse. Originally, when faced with a typeface that didn’t have a natural italic, it substituted with an appropriate alternative, which is much superior to Firefox and Caminos method of faking the italics by slanting the roman text.

With the new 3.0.3 Safari, they have reversed this decision and are now faking the italic font. In my opinion this doesn’t look anywhere near as nice as replacing the font, but more importantly the slanted roman Lucida Sans is not as legible as using Lucida Grande Italic:

Safari 2.0: Safari 2.0 Italic Text Rendering

Safari 3.0.3: Safari 3.0.3 Italic Text Rendering

The next version of Camino is supposed to use the cairo graphics library, which in turn can use the newer Core Image instead of the current Quickdraw. This gives all Gecko based browsers — including the next version of Camino — a much better “italic font faker”. In general cairo renders text very well indeed, and a more in-depth look is needed once more stable browsers are released — the latest trunk build of Camino renders all italic text as roman, so currently I’m unable to test it.

Tabs

After using Firefox with Tab Mix Plus and Safari 3.0.3, Camino tabs feel old and tired. You can’t rearrange them, a huge downer for me as I like to organise my tabs into my own little groups, and there’s no way to configure it to open new tabs to the right of the currently open tab, instead of at the far right.

This isn’t to say Safari tabs are perfect, infact without the add-ons mentioned below it would be almost impossible to use Safari. But with the add-ons I much prefer Safari tabs to Camino or Firefox1 especially with the new feature in 3.0.3 where its possible to drag a tab off into a new window.

Add-Ons

Unfortunately for Safari it has a lot of quirks that can’t be solved without third-party software. Fortunately though, there are a lot of add-ons for Safari that makes it — in my eye — bringing Safari to a useable state for my browsing method.

I prefer to have everything in one window, sometimes if you click a link in Gmail, it opens in a new window, even if you Command-click the link. With Saft, you can force Safari to open new links and windows in the browser. For me, this makes it worth its $12 price alone.

Safari has no built-in ad-blocking capability, beside using a custom stylesheet. However PithHelmet makes it a much easier process to add your own blocking rules, and the set of included rules block 95% of the adverts I come across. Its a bargain at $10.

SafariStand is the exception in this list of Safari add-ons, being the only free one. But for me it offers little for me except for syntax colouring in the view source window. However this doesn’t work in Safari 3.0.3 even with the beta version of SafariStand thats compatible with it.

Safari As Your Main Browser

For web designing, you can’t beat Firefox with Firebug, this combination of free software has saved me countless hours, although Safari has something similar, they’ve yet to implement live CSS and HTML editing, which is invaluable when you’re working with complex layouts.

But Safari is an incredibly refined browser compared to the oafish Firefox and, certain circumstances, ungainly Camino, and that is why I use it as my main browser.


  1. They look ugly and the close button is on the right side of the tab, also known as the wrong side.

iPhone Safari Is The New Internet Explorer 4

He’s got a point:

Facebook, Netvibes and Meebo all launched new iPhone-optimized versions of their sites this week, and all three of them are very nice. But wasn’t one of the promises of the iPhone that it offered “a real web browser?” If that’s so, why all the iPhone-optimized sites? And why are these sites being optimized for the iPhone specifically and not just “mobile optimized?”

Apple iWork ’08

Now has a spreadsheet app along with improved word processor and presentation maker. Still the same old $79 price, seems like a very attractive buy.

New Apple iMacs

Apple announced at their media event today a stunning new metal and glass iMac. I wanted a desktop right now and didn’t care much for games, this would be my choice.

The iPhone Effect

iPhone, iPhone, iPhone. If you were born yesterday you’d be forgiven for thinking that the iPhone is the first smartphone ever released and in a way you’d be right. From my experience of Palm OS, Windows Mobile and Symbian based smartphones, none of them were that smart. They all had some big gotchas that seriously limited their usability, mainly when I had to get out the stylus for something that shouldn’t have needed it in a how-the-hell-did-this-get-past-testing moment.

The iPhone may be the first smartphone that is actually smart. Like every Apple product, it does what it’s supposed to do very well indeed. I’ve yet to use an iPhone so I wouldn’t like to comment, but the overwhelming number of positive reviews must outweigh the so-called Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Effect, although the most interesting reviews will be the ones after a month of use.

With a new product, especially something completely different like the iPhone, there will always be a honeymoon period, when the novelty is still there. The length of the honeymoon period depends on the initial wow-factor you get from the device, and people are getting pretty big wows from the iPhone, as they should. It’s a big revolutionary step towards a better smartphone and its good to see Apple bringing out something new in the market rather than the same old shit with a different model number.

The iPhone is drawing comparisons with the revolution that was the Internet, which is saying something. Nothing much in the last ten years has had as big an impact as the Internet on our lives, and if the iPhone gets updates to fill the gaps of the current version, it may well be the computer of the future.

iPhone Disassembly

It’s only been out a few hours but someone’s already take theirs apart.

Apple OS X 10.4.10 Update

Includes fixes for mounting external USB devices, bluetooth and compatibility issues with third party software. Also includes more RAW camera support.

Leopard is UNIX compliant

Something a lot of people seemed to have missed from yesterdays WWDC keynote, Leopard will be the first OS X to be fully UNIX compliant:

Leopard is now an Open Brand UNIX 03 Registered Product, conforming to the SUSv3 and POSIX 1003.1 specifications for the C API, Shell Utilities, and Threads. Since Leopard can compile and run all your existing UNIX 03-compliant code, you can deploy it in environments that demand full conformance — complete with hooks to maintain compatibility with existing software.

Surely important to someone?

New Apple.com design

A long overdue new design for Apple.com, with new navigation bar at the top replacing the old aqua style tabs. Highlights include the new Ajax search and standards compliance.

Thoughts on Safari

I’ve been using the new Safari for Windows Beta for a few hours now, and here are my collective thoughts:

  • The font smoothing is very nice, once you turn it down to light. The default medium is too strong, and looks stronger than OS X’s medium setting.
  • It crashes quite a lot, this really is beta software.
  • Aqua form widgets on Windows! Better than the ugly Firefox ones at least
  • No option to force all links to open in tabs instead of new windows, even when I middle-click. This mainly happens in GMail. Incredibly annoying.
  • No inline spell checker, bah.
  • Damn, it really is fast.
  • Why doesn’t the back button on my mouse work? Seriously, how hard can that be to implement?
  • The inline search is amazingly powerful, I know Firefox has had it for a while but the implementation in Safari is much better.
  • Resizable text boxes making blogging much easier through the WordPress web interface.
  • Strange how many OS X conventions they used for a Windows application, the lack of OK and Cancel buttons in the Preferences window especially. Find if you’re used to them though.
  • Drop down lists render like Aqua widgets sometimes, but other times in some strange style I’ve never seen before.
  • The Windows version is also desperatly crying out for SafariStand of Saft so we can get some more customisation out of it!

Overall a very nice beta that does have it’s fair share of problems. If Apple (or a third party developer) can fix these at the final launch in October, I can see myself switching to Safari on Windows.

Safari for Windows Beta

Supposedly now Safari is the fastest browser for Windows, effectively killing the Swift project.

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