Lion: Present and Future Tense

Lion has been available to the masses for over 2 months now, and the reception has been generally pretty favorable. Distribution of a commercial OS via a downloadable only option has never been tried before, and I think by all accounts, it has been very successful. Still, with any new release, there are those that don’t find the grass greener in the new pasture. Lion brings a lot to the table to be pleased with, but it also brings a fair amount of change to the table as well.

Depending upon your level of interaction, that change might be as minor as Apple’s decision to switch the default scrolling direction. Or, if you are a developer, it might be as complex as requiring you to have your application sandboxed by November 1st if you wish to continue selling it through the Mac App Store.

Apple has always been a company that isn’t afraid to cut ties to the past in order to forge a path to where they believe the future is. In sports parlance, this is ‘skating to where the puck is going to be’. In many cases, Apple is the entity driving the puck itself. From time to time, this has caused some consternation in the Mac community. Yet Apple forges ahead.

Most of the Mac OS X releases to date have been evolutionary. With Lion, Apple has taken the biggest leap yet. With the Mac App Store, LaunchPad, and Sandboxing, I think it is pretty clear where Apple is headed. I don’t subscribe to the theory that Apple will ‘merge’ iOS and Mac OS X. That seems silly to me, as if Apple had felt on OS was sufficient for all devices, it wouldn’t have created iOS from the underlying OS X technology in the first place.

I do, however, believe that Apple is moving to remake the Mac in the likeness of iOS. With Sandboxing, Launchpad, and the memory management changes that have appeared in Lion, they have already taken some great steps in that direction. I wouldn’t be surprised to see future releases of Mac OS X (nee, now just OS X, which in of itself is perhaps quite telling) become more locked down like iOS.


Category: Apple

MobileMe to iCloud transition

Apple has posted a FAQ on the MobileMe to iCloud transition. While this details much of what we already know, there are a few bits of surprising information.

The section that perked my ears up:

What happens to the other sync services I use for my Mac?
Syncing of Mac Dashboard widgets, keychains, Dock items, and System Preferences will not be part of iCloud, but will continue to be available for you to use until you move to iCloud. After you move to iCloud or after June 30, 2012, whichever comes first, those sync services will no longer be available. Other MobileMe services that are not transitioning to iCloud (iWeb publishing, Gallery, and iDisk) will continue to be available through June 30, 2012, even after you move to iCloud.

.Mac/MobileMe sync was the main reason I paid for MobileMe, and .Mac before it. In my opinion, it was about the only part of MobileMe that Apple got right, and now it is killing it? Apple shouldn’t be killing this – it should be extending this Sync strategy to it’s other devices.

If you’ve used Sync, you already know it’s a life saver. If you own multiple Macs and buy new ones on a regular basis, MobileMe Sync allowed you to get that Mac setup to your liking in just a few minutes. MobileMe Sync allowed me to keep the settings for Coda & Transmit on all my Macs in sync. It allowed me to keep all of my Docks setup just the way I like. It made sure all my Macs had the same Widgets. It was one of Apple’s best services. It is definitely the service that kept me ponying up for .Mac/MobileMe all those years.

And now Apple is killing it.


Category: Apple,iCloud

Coda theme for TextMate

Use TextMate, but love the default color theme for Coda? If so, this theme is for you. Enjoy.

Screen Shot 2011 06 16 at 11.15.51 AM 300x198 Coda theme for TextMate

Download Coda theme for TextMate


Category: News

Mac OS X Lion Server: $50 (+$30 for Lion)

Apple has revealed that Lion Server will cost $50, and like it’s client sibling, be offered via the Mac App Store exclusively. The $50 price for Lion Server is in addition to the $30 price of Lion clent.

This is an amazing price reduction. Snow Leopard Server was priced at $499. Now, for $80, you can get Lion Server.

Bravo Apple, Bravo.


Category: Apple,Mac App Store

OS X 10.7 Lion: $29 download in July

Apple has announced that OS X 10.7, aka “Lion” will be an exclusive to the Mac App Store, available in July for a price of $29.99.

The question then becomes, if you are on Mac OS X 10.5 (and an Intel machine, because Lion won’t support PPC), how do you get Lion?

Well, unless Apple makes DVDs available for these users, your options are:

1. Buy a new Mac with Lion preloaded.
2. Upgrade to Snow Leopard, upgrade to 10.6.6, and install Lion via the Mac App Store.

#2 presents a lot of problems for people managing large OS X installations. However, given that Apple is now letting you tie a seemingly unlimited number of OS X installs to your Mac App Store account, all for $29, the trade off may be worth it financially.


Category: WWDC

The $64,000 WWDC 2011 Question

This year, Apple has telegraphed the main topics for discussion at the WWDC keynote. iOS 5, Lion, and iCloud get top billing in today’s keynote. Of course, the devil is in the details, and here’s my list of questions for each of these technologies.

iOS 5: Notifications are most surely getting a revamp. I expect that a good bit of the main Springboard UI will be revamped as well, hopefully giving us something better than the icon view we’ve had now since 2007. Many are expecting iOS 5 to get over the air updates, which I think is a pretty good bet since iCloud is getting released at the same time.

The $64,000 question: Will 2011 be the year that iOS finally untethers from iTunes?

Lion: There’s not much left that is secret about Lion, except for the release date and price. We know that distribution via the App Store is a given. I expect Apple will have to make DVDs available for users of Mac OS X 10.5 or earlier who wish to upgrade.

The $64,000 question: When will it be released and what will it cost? My guess – June 14th and $49 from the Mac App Store, $99 on DVD.

iCloud: What we know is that Apple has signed all the major labels to allow their content to be distributed via iCloud. So iCloud will definitely be one part music locker, another part streaming service for tracks that you own. What we don’t know is whether iCloud will replace MobileMe. I expect that since MobileMe has been a complete and utter failure, that Apple will want to sweep away any mention of it and begin anew. So I expect all MobileMe services to become iCloud services, with the me.com domain serving as the main page of entry, along with iCloud.com.

The $64,000 question: Will iCloud be free? Will it come with all the perks that MobileMe features (email, syncing between Macs, storage space, document collaboration for iWork)?


Category: Apple,WWDC

Updating WordPress on Mac OS X Server

About the only thing I miss about hosting my sites on a Linux webhost running Cpanel is the ability to auto update WordPress sites with one click. Granted, my experience with WordPress auto update is a mixed bag. When it works, it is all kinds of awesome. When it doesn’t, it leaves your site inaccessible while you figure out exactly what went wrong and how to fix it.

Since I’ve moved my webhosting to my own colocated Mac mini, I’ve missed the ease of auto updating my WordPress sistes. Downloading the latest WordPress update is such a pain, especially when you have to update several sites each time an update is released. Thankfully, with a little command line code, you can perform this action quite quickly and easily.

First start by SSHing in to your Mac OS X Server. Once in, you will use the ‘curl’ command to download the latest version of WordPress. Thankfully, WordPress keeps it’s latest version at the same URL regardless of version number, so once you make note of this URL, it shouldn’t change.

curl -O http://wordpress.org.latest.zip

Once the download is complete, unzip the archive.

unzip latest.zip

Then change your directory to the wordpress folder.

cd wordpress

Now, the final piece is to copy the files in the WordPress folder to the location of your WordPress install. When you do this, make sure you use the ‘-pr’ modifier for the copy command so the copy maintains permissions (-p) and is recursive (-r).

cp -pr * /Library/Webserver/Sites/your-website-name/.

That’s it. You’re done. One of the nice things about the *NIX copy command is that it won’t obliterate directories on the destination if they aren’t present in the source directory. So when you copy the wp-content to the new location, your themes and plugins are all left intact.

In our next tip, we’ll show you how to combine all of these steps in to one script and further automate it.


Category: PHP,Tutorial,UNIX,Wordpress

Apple Q&A on Location Data

Apple has posted a detailed list of questions and answers on the location data controversy that has been in the news of late.

For those who fully understood what was being collected and the details of it, there isn’t much new to see. Of note:

7. When I turn off Location Services, why does my iPhone sometimes continue updating its Wi-Fi and cell tower data from Apple’s crowd-sourced database?
It shouldn’t. This is a bug, which we plan to fix shortly (see Software Update section below).

and…

8. What other location data is Apple collecting from the iPhone besides crowd-sourced Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data?
Apple is now collecting anonymous traffic data to build a crowd-sourced traffic database with the goal of providing iPhone users an improved traffic service in the next couple of years.

So, Apple is gathering traffic data to build a database, which will ultimately power a service of some sort to provide traffic data. Couple this with Apple’s purchases in the map and geolocation services, and you have data that suggests Apple going to replace Google as the maps provider for iOS with their own maps data. Additionally, the traffic data suggests that Apple could be building it’s own turn by turn navigation system.

There’s a healthy amount of turn by turn navigaiton apps on the App Store, so I’m not certain that Apple offering this is a good idea. Still, many Android buyers cite the free turn by turn, high quality navigation system that Android builds in for free as a reason for their purchase. Apple might see this as a defensive addition to block Android’s appeal.


Category: Opinion

Apple’s Cash Reserves: $66 Billion Dollars

The WSJ has a story on Apple’s cash reserves, which are now nearly $66 billion dollars, and puts forth the question:

what are your ideas for what Apple should do with its cash?

Apple has stated publicly that it is hoarding it’s cash so that when the opportunity arises, it can afford to make a big purchase. There aren’t many companies Apple couldn’t buy right now with that cash pile, so let’s look at a few possibilities.

Adobe

An Adobe purchase would be a coup for Apple. Many of Adobe’s products align with Apple’s priorities. Adobe has some very smart people working for them, but lately it seems these smart people have been out muscled by the suits. An Apple purchase and injection of Apple culture could do a lot to restore Adobe to it’s hey day of being a company that people actually champion, instead of actively lambast.

Disney

Steve Jobs sits on their board. They bought his other company, PIxar, a few years ago. They are a content juggernaut. They encompass ABC, ESPN, DisneyTV, and a couple of movie studios. They epitomize many of the same ideals that Apple does in customer experience. Could Apple be hoarding its money to purchase the house that Mickey built?

A Disney purchase would give Apple preferred access to a large amount of content from radio, TV, and movies. It would give Apple access to advertise in all 11 of Disney’s theme parks and in front of the 120 million people who visit them each year.

That said, Disney is an entertainment company, and Apple is a technology company. The last time an entertainment company (Time Warner) merged with a technology company (AOL), the results weren’t pretty.

Sprint

Perenial 3rd place US cellphone carrier Sprint hasn’t been having that great of a time lately. Purchasing Spring would enable Apple to really own the whole cellphone widget in the US. Of course, it would also create problems with the other US carriers, so I doubt this would ever happen.

Samsung

Purchasing Samsung would give Apple ownership of the company that produces many of it’s parts – LCDs, SSDs, CPUs and more. Samsung is also a competitor in the mobile phone market. So this acquisition would give Apple better access to it’s component supplier, and kill a competitor in the mobile space.

Microsoft

So this acquisition doesn’t net Apple much in the way of technology it can use. But it does vanquish a competitor in the desktop, mobile and online space. Plus, it gives Steve Jobs the ability to finally declare victory over his longtime rival. Of course, there’s no chance that Apple would buy Microsoft, but that doesn’t mean we can’t fantasize about what would happen if they did.

Apple is a big company, but many of it’s divisions are run like startups. I’m sure part of the hesitation in making a mammoth purchase is that it would fundamentally transform the way Apple would operate, and I’m betting Steve Jobs and the upper management team are reluctant to mess with their formula for success right now.


Category: News

My iPhone likes to party

So everyone is up in arms over the revelation that the iPhone (and 3G iPad) collects and stores information on every place it has been. More accurately, it stores information and location on every cellphone tower it has connected to. The longitude/latitude data that is being stored is obtained by cellphone triangulation, which iOS uses to determine location when no GPS hardware or signal are available.

The iPhone stores this information without your consent on both your iPhone and on your computer, if you are syncing your iOS 3G capable device to your computer and letting it create a backup of your devices data.

Pete Warden and Alasdaid Allan have crafted an app that scans this information, and places the coordinates on a map, along with a date scrubber to see where your device has been.

Looking over my data, it showed what I already knew – that apart from trips over the last year to Minnesota (business), Florida (family) and North Carolina, I lead a pretty boring life.

However, there is one anomaly that was odd.

I bought my iPhone 4 new last year on the day it launched, June 24th. However, the location data on my iPhone shows that it traveled down US95, right outside Las Vegas on June 23rd. I’m assuming this where the iPhone entered the country on it’s trip from China, and then was routed to a plane that took it to the Apple Store in Buford, GA.

iphone4 location1 My iPhone likes to party

The odd thing is the phone wasn’t activated until the next day. I had assumed that for the phone to log the location data, it needed an activated SIM card. Apparently, that isn’t the case.

So apparently your 3G iOS device will log it’s connection to each and every cell tower it connects with, even if it hasn’t been activated yet.

Either that, or my iPhone spent the night before it’s launch having a grand old time in sunny Las Vegas.


Category: Apple,iPhone

About the author

A user of Macs since they had silly names like Performa and Centris, Theodore Lee is a techie who prides himself on his vast knowledge of all things Apple. OS X Factor was started in 2001 (originally as macosxcentric), and continues to churn out tips, tutorials, reviews and commentary on the tech sector.