hardware Mac personal


Right now everone’s publishing thier WWDC predictions. I’m not going to do that this time because a) I again have absolutely zero real information and b) it’s gotten boring. Instead I’m going to go totally pie in the sky and publish my wish list. There are no predictions here, and I seriously doubt that this stuff will happen; this is all fun and games.

Now, I am assuming that the iPhone late 2009 version will be announced tomorrow, and Snow Leopard will get talked up. That’s as safe a prediction as saying that I need to see an optomotrist tomorrow. Which I do. So here we go!

Background processes

I think that iPhone v.3 will be powerful and robust enough to allow full background processes. The current 3.0 OS hasn’t seen an update for over a month and is stable on my original iPhone. For all intents and purposes, it seems to be done (minus miscellaneous bug fixes for the final release). So what has Apple been doing all month?

Background support! Yay! Assuming wishes come true, this will only work on the new hardware with it’s increased CPU, RAM and battery life. Teardowns on the Pre indicate that modern chipsets allow for significant reductions in logic board footprints. Smaller, more efficient circuits could allow Apple to both increase battery life and physical battery size. Serious optimization combined with a 1300, 1500 or (O-face here) 1800mAH battery would make background apps a real possibility here.

Also, Apple is clearly not afraid of adding features which will not work on older hardware. MMS, terhering and full A2DP Bluetooth are not available for the original iPhone. This would be a great point of differentiation for the iPhone v.3. If Apple could pull this off AND have a battery life increase would rocket the iPhone ahead of the competition.

Apple TV

I have no idea what the hell Apple is trying to do with the Apple TV. Right now it’s just a dongle to stream iTunes content to an HDTV. I have lots of iTunes content and an HDTV, but I just don’t have any desire to buy one.

Why? Well, quite simply, because my old Rev A Macbook Pro from 2005 is so much better. With the addition of less than $20 of cables and adaptors from and my Harmony 880 remote, the laptop makes a far better solution. I can play DVD, but mote importantly, I can play EVERYTHING ELSE. I can get Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Skype, Internet, everything. I can fire up the NES emulator and play MegaMan 2. I can do all sorts of things with a Mac that I can’t with an Apple TV.

Well, updated hardware and an awesome sdk could fix that. People have suggested and rejected such an sdk recently, but it was always about Apple turning the thing into a game console. I agree that the console route is the height of stupid, but there is so much more. An sdk would allow Netflix and Boxee to be first-class citizens. I would imagine that games would happen, with an iPhone / iPod touch as the favored controller.

As for hardware, Apple needs to replace that Pentium M. Maybe they could scoop up a few of those mobile Core 2 Duos that Intel is so desparate to dump on someone. Also that awful integrated graphics chipset might be good enough to drive a set-top box, or Nvidia might give Apple a deal on 9400M chips.

I have no idea how feasable any of this is, or how hard it would be to release an Apple TV sdk, but it sure would be nice. On the other hand, I’m not going freak out and call lame if none of if comes true. Unlike some people, I can tell the difference between things that are likely to appear and the shit I just made up.


Monsoon Orthos

Another quickie. I have my Monsoon orthos, screen grabbed from Lightwave. I also included a beauty shot of my first try and of Lars Joreteg’s final model. I don’t remember exactly where I got Lars’ mesh, but that last one is his. What a difference textures make!

I suppose that’s the difference between profession and amateur work! That and actually taking the time to finish. 🙂

Actually, the big difference is in all of those small details. The actual geometry between Lars’ mesh and my own isn’t actually all that different. He just put lots of finishing touched on his mesh that I never got around to like beveling out the gun barrel, adding support structures and a bunch of other stuff. That’s what really makes a model pop and look great. Perhaps I should actually follow through…


Dark Clouds

Over the past year or so, there has been way too much ink, electrons and air spent on cloud computing. The only constant through all of this hype is that no one really knows exactly what the hell it all means other than it has something to do with the web. I’ve heard stories about how The Cloud will render all PCs to little more than thin client shells running everything out of a futuristic browser or less insane stories about how just our data and bandwidth-light applications will live in the cloud. I personally don’t buy the hype and think that the future of teh cloudz will be far different that what the hype machine is making it out to be.

For people who have paused long enough to catch their breath, cloud computing is nothing more than server-side computing available over the open internet (rather than a LAN). The thing that makes this round of server dominance is the rise of wireless internet, particularly cellular data networks, which allows you to get the internet anywhere. The idea is that given the availability of data everywhere, the ever-increasing speed and robustness of wireless networks and the power of distributed computing, you’ll be able to do all of your computing through the browser.

The thing is, most of the people who are so into cloud computing already live in their browsers. When all you do is troll around on the web for news, live in Gmail and do some light text entry, then yes, doing everything in the browser seems quite doable. If you combine your Google Docs with Pandora and use an Android phone (or a Pre in a week or so), upload all of your pictures to Flickr, then guess what? You’re already living in the cloud! Congratulations! You know what else? You have ceded control over all of your data to someone else, usually a large corporation.

That’s my biggest problem with the cloud. I am fully aware of the irony of complaining about this on a blog hosted by someone else, but bear with me. Sites like Flickr and Facebook are notorious for deleting content and banning users, often by deleting entire accounts, which can have far-reaching consequences. Or, they might decide that they own your data and content in perpetuity. Or, the company that’s holding all of your super-encrypted backups or your RAW files just goes out of business, giving you a day to get your stuff back. You and everyone else who has files on that server, that is. 24 hours doesn’t seem quite like enough time for any given server to upload how many terabytes, especially over American intertubes.

And then there are the ISPs. American internet connections are slow and expensive and cellular data is even worse. The future does not promise to get any better, as the large cable companies are still pushing towards tiered connections with ridiculously low data caps, all at a higher price. How many videos do you plan on editing online when you have to count your bits after a YouTube binge?

There are too many roadblocks and bridge trolls in the way for cloud computing to really ever take the place of local computers. The question that I never hear asked is why? Why do I need online storage when 1TB HDDs cost less than $90? When my two year old iPhone has more storage, RAM and processor than the Mac I had in college? When my old-ass Quicksilver G4 (or a Mac Mini) makes a perfectly adequate server? When Amazon suggests that you buy your own drive, fill it up and mail it to them because networks are that much slower and unreliable than FedEx?

Not good enough? How about because anything you put on a remote server can be looked at with a court order because your data doesn’t deserve Fourth Amendment protection when its on someone else’s box? Your TCP/IP requests aren’t protected and neither is your email. I use Gmail like all the other cool kids, but I’m fully aware that the stuff I send and receive is there for everyone to see. That’s why I use because Google doesn’t give you this:


Cloud computing is seriously over-hyped and under-thought. Yes, there are things that live on the web that should live there. Yes, the browser is becoming increasingly powerful. But the fact is that client-server computing is not going to be better than native apps on increasingly powerful and cheaper hardware running operating systems that are super-optimised to take advantage of that hardware. I think that this is all a fad, but one that will be quite persistent.

I think that people will be utilizing web-based apps in greater numbers as web standards become more powerful and are adopted by browsers. I also think that native apps will always have their place and will always be better, first-class citizens. There will always be serious compromises when using remote apps over native, not the least because web apps will always be somewhat lowest common denominator unable to take advantage of local hardware to any significant extent nor interact with the native OS in a first-class way.

Finally, there’s the security issue. If you want to be in control of your own shit, then you leave it on a box that you physically control. End of story. That’s not to say that persistent data access is a bad thing. Next time!