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Tue, 08 Aug 2006
WWDC comments

Here are some thoughts on what we've seen at WWDC so far...

Ordinarily I wouldn't pay much attention to the tower announcement because, I've been reasonably happy with Apple's laptops since I've been back on OS X. However, RAM and fast disks are really a necessity for big photo work, so all of a sudden I kind of care about the towers, since it still seems that MacBook Pros that can hold 4G of RAM are some ways off. The MacPros seem very reasonably priced for what you get. I like the new drive trays, and Macintouch claims that you can use stock disks in the trays, so upgrading without paying through the nose is an option. I'm surprised that there is no eSATA support, but you can get cards for that -- eSATA bandwidth is much better than Firewire, even 800. Apparently the Xeons are not soldered in either, so that would allow for do it yourself upgrading. The machines look pretty attractive, at least until you consider the prospect of quad core CPUs later this year.

I"m not that impressed by the 10 Leopard features that made the cut for the keynote. They are all solid, but none was particularly earthshatter to me personally. Time Machine looks very interesting, but there have been hints of this idea in Windows world, and as Miguel points out, Linux has had dirvish for some time now. Neither of them has the cool UI of Time Machine, so I think Apple gets a little credit. I have to say that I'm a bit concerned about the performance impact of Time Machine, especially given the poor performance of Spotlight in Tiger.

Spotlight is getting some improvements, but there was no talk about improving it's performance -- it would be bad form to highlight Spotlight's poor performance in a keynote, but Spotlight is pretty unusable unless it gets quite a bit faster. Fortunately, MacFixit claims Spotlight (and Intel Mac) performance is dramatically improved in the Leopard developer preview. That would be very welcome.

It's nice that Apple is going to do some work on iChat -- it could use a lot. Screensharing would be a great feature to have assuming you can share any app, not just iPhoto and Keynote as shown. Unfortunately, Apple innovating in iChat doesn't help when you need to communicate with the rest of the world that is running Windows and Linux. I've still never gotten the iChat to AIM (on Windows) video conferencing to work. I am hoping that the Skype people can make this work in the near future.

I have to say that I am disappointed in the features shown for Mail. None of them look like they go any way towards helping people who are dealing with large volumes of e-mail. No tagging, no improvements in threading or display. Nothing. The todo management stuff is interestiing, especially because it's a special case of the stamping feature in Chandler. It's nice to see that other people are thinking along the same lines that we are. Still, that's not quite enough to make up for the lack of e-mail overload assist. MailTags 2.0 here I come...

People at OSAF abuse me because I have my machine set to talk to me a fair amount. I"m willing to take the abuse because I need the voice interrupt to make sure that I pay attention when necessary. I was definitely happy to see that there will be improved text to speech in Leopard.

As far as stuff aimed specifically at developers, there seems to be plenty of interesting stuff - short takes:

It looks like Apple has been doing a lot of work on XCode. I'm very interested to see what the garbage collection support for Objective-C looks like. Better late than never, I suppose. The biggest news in XCode is the incorporation of DTrace into the XRay performance tools. DTrace is one of the killer features of OpenSolaris -- and the one that is most appealing to me as a developer. Bryan Cantrill's post has a bunch more detail and useful links. I've seen Bryan demoing and working with developers at open source conferences, and there's been a great interchange between the DTrace team and other parts of the open source community. Congrats to Bryan and the DTrace team for a great design win! Just don't be mad that I won't be looking at trying OpenSolaris now -- I know there's a bunch of other cool stuff in there (ZFS and Zones), but I'm don't want to be running servers.

Of course, it figures that a few months after I shell out money for Parallels, VMWare announces their product, which won't be available till the end of the year. That move scared Parallels into releasing a new beta. Parallels was doing good at revving its product before it went 1.0 and then things slowed down. Hopefully competition will keep them on their toes. Too bad Microsoft decided to sit out on the virtualization wars. If the VMWare product turns out to be solid and Mac-like, then I will probably switch over, because of virtual image compatibility with other platforms.

It was notable to me that no third party developers were showcased on the stage at the keynote. I'm not sure if that's a sign of anything, but it felt to me like somebody should have been up there. Even more interesting (for those who like to speculate), was the absence of "One last thing". Couple that with the "Top Secret" features and the relatively lackluster keynote content, and you have a recipe for rumor churning from now till Macworld in January. But of course, we would have had that anyway...

[21:17] | [computers/operating_systems/macosx] | # | TB | F | G | 4 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
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