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Entries in Macintosh (40)


iPhone Rockin' the World

iphone.jpgI'm right now spending my lunch break watching the live Macworld Keynote blogging at Engadget, chatting with my good pal Michael Ashby about the iPhone. We are both in shock (in a good way).

The iPhone is a smartphone running some version of Mac OS X, complete with a full web browser (Safari) what look like Widgets, and apps on the device far beyond any mobile phone apps out there.

Watching the Steve Jobs keynote unfold, we both agree that this announcement of the iPhone is big — really big. So big that it could impact nearly every aspect the tech world — mobile phones, smartphones, phone service carriers, PDAs, MP3 players, computers, Mac software developers, and web-based software developers... and probably others I haven't thought of.

From the Engadget live blog:

We've been pushing the state of the art in every facet of this design. We've got the multi-touch screen, miniaturization, OS X in a mobile device, precision enclosures, three advanced sensors, desktop class applications, and the widescreen video iPod. We filed for over 200 patents for all the inventions in iPhone and we intend to protect them."

This is the kind of device I would be compelled to carry, and I've more or less stepped off the PDA bandwagon last year. It's looking that cool and useful.

This is going to be very, very big.

Amazing! Conan O'Brien gives us a sneak peek of everything the iPhone can do! :-)

Related Links:
The Ultimate iPhone FAQ (David Pogue, NYT)
Cingular's iPhone Signup Page
Apple Unveils iPhone (Macworld)
iPhone a 'wake-up call' for the industry (Macworld)
Does the iPhone hit the spot? (CNET)
Investors dump RIM as Apple launches iPhone (Washington Post)
First iPhone Pics (engadget)
Raw commentary on the iPhone announcement (Michael Mace)
Apple's iPhone: That isn't a phone, it's a PDA done right (Michael Mace)
Impact of the Apple iPhone (Michael Mace)
Apple aims to shake up cell phone industry (San Jose Mercury News)
Top 5 Worst Things About The iPhone (Wired Gadget Lab)
iPhone: The Newton's Revenge (Wired Cult of Mac)
The Apple iPhone (
Apple's New Calling: The iPhone (Time)
iPhone: The Most Revolutionary Device Since 1984 (
iPhone Not Touchy Feely (37signals)
iPhone and the End of PC Era (Om Malik)
The iWipe
You could call iPhone perfect (Andy Ihnatko, Chicago Sun-Times)

Image via Apple.


Mac OS X Horizontal Scroll Trick

logitechv270.jpgJust stumbled across a cool little Mac OS X trick today:

1. Open an application where you must scroll horizontally to see information — like an image file in Fireworks, Photoshop or Illustrator that's been zoomed large.

2. Hold the shift key and use your mouse scroll wheel — the screen will now scroll horizontally!

This appears to be an OS X system level feature, so it should work in any app where you can scroll horizontally, though I have not tested it deeply just yet.

I don't know how well known this trick is among Mac users (it was certainly a surprise to me), but I'm already finding it indispensable in detailed graphics work.

Enjoy! :-)


I Love Witnessing the Joy of New Mac Users

mashby_mac_desktop_small.jpgIn 2006, I've had the privileged of seeing 4 good friends move from a Windows PC to a Macintosh, and what strikes me the most is their excitement over the little things, like installing applications or putting a MacBook to sleep by simply closing the lid.

I should start out by mentioning that the most recent switcher is my blogpal and good friend Michael Ashby, who just this weekend bought a MacBook and began his migration to a Mac, from a Windows PC. I think Mike has spent at least 15 years as a hardcore Windows guy, not only managing his life on one, but supporting many clients with their PC systems. So, when I learned Mike was buying a MacBook as a primary machine, I was surprised... pleasantly so!

I've been intrigued as I've followed Michael's progression from Windows to the Mac, since I know he has such a deep history with Windows. I've shared his excitement of the purchase, of learning how fun the Mac is to setup and work with, and have shared advice on applications and a few tricks I've learned.

Michael has been posting like a wild man since Friday, with new posts each day. You can check out his many postings below:

Making The Leap
First Impressions
Taking Her Out On the Town
One Of The Gang
OK, So Nothing is Perfect
Choosing Apps: E-mail
Choosing Apps: Web Browser
Choosing Apps: Office Suite
Surprise! I’m A Keyboard Guy. Who Knew?
Having A Hard Head Can Sometimes Pay Off (GarageBand & Axiom 25)
Flickr Photoset: Making The Switch

The funniest experience has been Michael's unbridled excitement over putting the MacBook to sleep by simply closing the lid.

Having been a Powerbook user for many years, I couldn't understand his thrill in this — isn't that how laptops are supposed to work?

Well, according to Michael, it ain't so:

One of the features I have been most eager to try is almost not even a feature to most Mac users. It’s the fact that you can simply shut the lid and put the laptop to sleep. If you’re a Mac user, this may seem old hat, but for Windows users, this is a very big deal.

Why? Because in the Windows world, if you don’t shut down the computer, you’re just opening yourself up to a world of hurt. Although the “feature” is present on all Windows laptops, it simply doesn’t work worth a damn. I’ve been using laptops for the past 11 years, many of which with the laptop being my primary machine, and the sleep has never worked properly.

On a Mac, when you close the lid, the computer quietly goes to “sleep”. When you open the lid, the computer comes back to life exactly where you were. I’ve been completely green with envy as I watched friends and colleagues at conferences just close their laptops and go. They then have to wait as I shut down my laptop. Why didn’t I just close the lid like they do? Because the results were so unpredictable. Some times it would come back, but more often than not the computer would lock up, or simply crash. It’s just safer to shut down.

When I mentioned how much I was looking forward to using the sleep feature on the MacBook to Mike Rohde, he asked me what I was talking about. When I explained how it worked in the Windows world, he said “Is that why my Dad freaks out when I just shut the lid to his laptop?” I let out a huge belly laugh and told him “Yeah. That’s why.”

Another common "wow" moment is when Windows users install new applications. Most Mac apps are simple to install: double-click a disk image file (.dmg) which creates a virtual hard drive on your desktop, then drag the application on the virtual drive to your Applications folder (or anywhere else on the drive). That's it. No registry hacking, wizards or other gyrations to go through.

Tonight it was great fun. Michael and I watched the WWDC Steve Jobs keynote video together — it was fun to see Michael get so excited about the new hardware and software Apple released. It was very enjoyable seeing Michael, this hard-core Windows and Palm veteran, so pumped up about his new Machine and platform, seeing features he could only dream of on his Windows machines. It was like seeing a kid in a candy store.

I'm going to enjoy observing Michael settle into his new MacBook. I think this is the most excitement I've seen from him on a gadget since getting his Tapwave Zodiac. I'm sure there will be frustrations here and there (it's a computer after all) but in general, Michael will love his new MacBook, and become one hardcore Mac fan.

Welcome to the Cult of Mac Michael! :-)

Related Links:
The truth about switching - what it's really like switching to a Mac by Bill Westerman


Designing the HoudahSpot Icon

Back in February, I came in contact with Pierre Bernard, a Mac OS X developer in need of an icon design for his search tool, HoudahSpot. Pierre's search tool is really an alternate front-end to the Spotlight engine, offering features such as live queries, manipulations of files within search results and an easy to use interface for searching with complex criteria.

Pierre had ideas in mind for the his icon — his signature elephant, a set of binoculars, and sheets of paper. I was selected to offer alternate ideas, refinements and provide design guidance in bringing this icon to life. houdah-sketch-v1.jpgAfter some initial questioning about the application and Pierre's idea, I began as I always do, with pencil sketches in my Miquelrius notebook.

Sketches, Round 1
I felt there needed to be something tying the loose papers, binoculars and the elephant icon together, when I realized that if you were on safari, you would carry papers in a binder.

So, with this idea in mind, I sketched out a a heavy duty leather binder with the Houdah elephant icon embossed on the cover, and binoculars laying on top of the binder. Pages would be coming out at odd angles to suggest chaos often present on a user's machine. I also included a small compass to complete the image.

Sketches, Round 2
houdah-sketch-v2.jpgPierre and I both quite liked the binder concept from the first round, and wanted to refine the idea a little bit more. I sketched out a second round of pencils, exploring variations on sketch 5 and a runner up, to make sure we were going along the right track.

On this set, I moved the binoculars down and right on the binder cover to reveal more of the Houdah elephant character, removed the compass, which felt unnecessary. I then rounded the leather binder's corners and refined the paper positioning to be a little less chaotic. This second round sketch looked quite nice, with pretty good balance and proportions.

Sketches, Round 3
houdah-sketch-v3.jpgPierre had one more experiment to try before settling on the concept — sliding the binoculars off of the right edge of the leather binder, to reveal the entire Houdah elephant character. I created an abbreviated 3rd sketch exploring this idea, though immediately Pierre and I felt it threw the balance of the icon off. The binoculars on an angle, laying on top of the binder were better.

Color Comps v1-3
houdahspot-123.jpgNext up, , move ahead to the Mac, and start building the icon in Fireworks. First, I began in icon 1 with the binder, as I felt this element would hold the icon together. Using a photograph of leather, I modified it in Photoshop and Fireworks as the base texture, adding shade, reflections and seams. You can see I also began exploring documents inside of the binder. In icon 2, the binoculars were built using reference from Leica binoculars. In icon 3, I move to defining the documents in the binder in more detail, widened the binder and corrected the angle and skew of the binoculars.

Final Icons
HoudahSpot-Icons-Final.jpgNext, I brought the final icons from Fireworks into Photoshop, for final tweaks and export to .icns files which Pierre could bundle into HoudahSpot. Pierre wanted to remove the highlight on the left edge of the binder, and other small tweaks I found were made to the icon before final export.

I used the binoculars art from the master application icon file to create a complimentary document icon, using the leather binder texture on the top edge of the document to carry over the look and feel of the main icon to the document icon.

Pierre and I are both very pleased with the final application and document icons. They're warm and inviting, capturing the idea of HoudahSpot well. Yoram Blumberg, a German designer liked the icon quite a bit:

When I stumbled upon HoudahSpot at my first thought was: «I really love that catchy icon, I don’t care what the app is for — I wanna add that icon to my dock!»

Thanks Yoram! :-)

Special thanks go to Pierre Bernard for choosing to work with me and MakaluMedia on this icon. His help and collaboration through the entire project made the HoudahSpot icon a pleasure to create.

I hope my description of my icon design process is interesting and helpful, especially for developers who are curious what goes into the development of an application and document icon. If you need an icon designed, drop me a line.

If you're interested in exploring an alternative approach to search on your Mac with the power of Spotlight under the hood, give HoudaSpot a try.

Related Links
Designing the endo icon
Kula 1001 Icon
MailDrop 2.0 Icon Story


Funny New Apple Ads

Last night my wife and I were watching a little TV and saw Apple's latest TV ads with two characters: one kind of nerdy, middle aged guy playing the role of a PC, and a hip cool young guy playing a Mac. I liked the humor, which is of course at the expense of the PC.

Here's one of my favorites of the ad series, called Viruses:


Check out all 6 new ads on the Apple site or several now on YouTube. I suspect all of the ads will be there shortly. Enjoy!