Mac Tip: MobileMe, passwords, iPhoto

After changing my Apple ID password (which is used by MobileMe, iTunes, developer connection, etc.) I found that I could no longer publish pictures to MobileMe from iPhoto. Even though I was logged into MobileMe — sync was working; iDisk was available — iPhoto would tell me that “an error occurred with the publication of an album” because my “MobileMe account information is not correct”.

If you’re hitting this, the fix is:

  1. exit iPhoto
  2. open Keychain Access
  3. find the key publish.me.com
  4. delete it

Next time you restart iPhoto, all should be well.

iOS and the iPhone 4

As I’m sure everyone knows by now, Apple finally announced the new iPhone yesterday. There are much better sources than here for all the details so, just for grins, I’ll point you at Gizmodo’s summary.

Some of the more interesting points:

  • The processor has been bumped up to be the same as the one in the iPad. That’s good, because it will help with sluggish web page loading, but also because the display has been increased in resolution to the point where it needs the horsepower just to paint it.
  • Speaking of the display, the resolution is now 960×640 which gives it >300 dpi resolution. To keep that in perspective, that’s better than a cheap laser printer. I’m not sure how they have pulled off changing the dpi without effecting the way applications look, but the claim is they’ve got it to work. Let’s hope it’s not the “2x” mode from the iPad. ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • Really for me, the best new feature is an improved camera. I actually use the camera on my 3GS, but it’s absolutely terrible in low light conditions. The new one is supposed to be better resolution, better low light behavior, and it has an LED flash. I guess we’ll see. Any of the example pictures I’ve seen so far still seem to have a fair amount of noise in them.
  • They’ve also added another camera on the front of the display, for doing video conferencing. There’s an app called “Facetime” (ugh.) to support iPhone-to-iPhone calling, but for the life of me I can’t figure out why they didn’t just put iChat on it. If I could video conference with Deb on her Mac, I could actually imagine using it. Also, currently at least, it only supports calling over wifi. boo.

The device will, of course, be running the new version of the iPhone OS, which has been renamed “iOS”. I suspect this was in keeping with the rumours of the new Apple TV box, which is purported to be running this OS. They probably have dreams of running it on other devices that don’t look anything like phones.

The good news about iOS 4 is that will be a free upgrade for any iPhone/iPod that can run it, and should be available June 21. The bad news is that won’t be available for the iPad until “this fall”.

We’re an all mac family!

For those who aren’t following Deb’s twitter feed, the latest round of random, gratuitous Windows glitches/crashes that have afflicted her old Dell laptop has led to some great news:

New laptop – PC to Mac. Good thing I’m sleeping with the IT guy!

Yes, our last hold out has switched. We’re now all rocking MacBook Pros:

  • Dennis has the 2.5Ghz Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro that I was using until I got a new one a few weeks ago
  • I have the new i7, 15″ model
  • Deb got the i5, 15″ one (because, you know, mine needed to be the fastest. ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

Overall, this should make the home network IT tasks a lot simpler.

We’ve got her contacts, calendar and favourites all moved over, as well as her email account set up so new mail goes there. I haven’t looked at moving her old mail over, but getting it out of Outlook 2003 is probably going to be no fun. Oh well, that’s tonight’s task[*].

Unfortunately, it seems like there are still a small number of Windows apps that she will have to run, at least until we can find Mac replacements. The good news is those replacements appear to exist, but our budget has already taken quite a beating, so we’ll have to buy those incrementally. In the mean time, a copy of Parallels should keep her going.


* Btw, if anyone has any words of wisdom about how to get mail from Outlook to Apple Mail, let me know.

SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone (Updated)

So, as you may already know, I have a Slingbox Solo. I continue to be quite happy with it, and use it regularly to watch TV on one computer while playing WAR on the other.

One of the things that made this device particularly compelling to me, however, was the claim that they were going to come out with SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone. When SlingMedia first announced this, they said it would be available sometime in the first quarter… Well, apparently that didn’t work. However, it was submitted to the AppStore early in April.

So what’s going on?

Some people in the industry are reporting that carriers have pushed back on this app, since they didn’t want to support the increased demand on their networks. Others are saying that because of the nature of the app, Apple is just being extremely careful about it. Personally, I find that somewhat unlikely; any company that could (briefly) publish a shaken baby app can’t be all that careful.

In any case, it’s been a full month now that Apple has been sitting on the app, and it’s time to let it go. Either that or, hey SlingMedia, just release it on your website. I’ll jailbreak the phone to use it, so help me Apple, I will.

Update: SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone is out. Apple and Sling Media bowed to the carriers, and removed the ability to stream over 3G, even though beta versions of the app supported it. That, together with the $30 (!) price tag, was almost enough for me to bail on it. I did decide to buy it eventually, and the capsule review is “works well over wifi”.

MacWorld

So another MacWorld keynote has come and gone. There was plenty of coverage in the Mac community, so I’m not going to go into a lot of detail, but here’s a capsule summary of the announcements:

  • New versions of iLife and iWork, both of which have enough features that I’ll have to buy the upgrades. From my p.o.v., the most interesting enhancements are:
    • facial recognition and geotagging support in iPhoto
    • (what looks to be) a much improved version of iMovie
    • in GarageBand the ability to learn to play songs by particular artists as taught by the actual artist using video, on screen keyboard/fretboards and control over playback speed, etc.
    • Support for remote control of Keynote presentations via iPhone/iPod Touch
    • MathType and EndNote built into Pages — Dennis will love that
    • Online support for viewing and commenting on iWork documents via a new “iWork.com” site, which is currently free in beta, but eventually will be a pay service. (I’m actually not sure how interesting this is in practice — Now, if you could edit them online…)
  • A new 17″ MacBook Pro, with a non-removable, 8 hour battery life. (Of course, they used to claim 5 hours, but I never got more than 3.5, so this effectively means a real-world battery life of 5 hours — definitely not too shabby.)
  • A new pricing model for iTunes: songs can be $0.69, $0.99, or $1.29. That’s in the U.S., of course, so it remains to be seen what happens in Canada.
  • All iTunes music moving (by the end of Q1) to be DRM free. This is great for people buying new music, but it should be noted that they did not wave the fee for upgrading your existing tunes to the new format. When I checked today, they already wanted >$60 to upgrade my existing purchases, and that can only climb as more tunes get converted. Oh well.

Some cool stuff there, but I was disappointed that there was still no word on new Mac Minis. My G5 PowerMac is getting pretty long in the tooth now, and since I basically just use it as a server (for this site, among other things) I’d love to replace it with a new Mini with a current C2D and a Gig of storage. Particularly since it now looks like Apple is phasing out support for the G5 processor.

MacBook Air

So the Macworld keynote has come and gone, and I must say, there wasn’t really anything that thrilled me. A new NAS? I guess. But they’re awfully late to the table, and it’s not cheap. Movie rentals? Not in Canada. An upgrade to get mail on the Touch? Great! But wait, you want to charge for it, even though it’s going to be free on all new ones sold? Come on!

And then there’s the MacBook Air. Am I the only person who thinks this is way too expensive? It’s got only an 80Gig HD, no optical drive, no wired ethernet, only one USB port, no Firewire and a significantly slower processor than the other Apple laptops. I guess it’s nice that it comes with 2Gig of memory, but you’ll notice that they had to put 2Gig in at the factory, since there’s no way to upgrade it.

Compare it to a black MacBook… Same size screen and the same graphics chip. The MB is cheaper, but it has less memory, so let’s say we upgrade the memory to 2Gig and throw in the 250Gig HD — we still only come up to the price of the MBA. And the MB does have an optical drive, a firewire port, a second USB port and a 2.0GHz processor (vs. 1.6GHz on the MBA).

I’m sorry, but making it thin around the edges and backlighting the keyboard is not enough compensation for those limitations. Essentially, no one should buy the MacBook Air.

Update: OMFG, it doesn’t even have a user replaceable battery! WTF?

10.5.1 broke my FW audio.

Not sure whether the consensus in the community is that 10.5.1 is better than 10.5, but several of the problems that hit me personally were not fixed, and I developed a new one: Now, my firewire audio interface disappears at random intervals using the built-in drivers, and attempts to run the official Yamaha ones were unsuccessful. bah! (and again I say, bah!).

Bah, 10.5 just blows.

Ok, I’m clearly not the only person who is having problems with Leopard. But I have to say this is the worst Mac OS upgrade I’ve been through. Everything from random messages filling up the system logs (in at least two variations), to incompatibilities, to things that are just plain busted (e.g. neither BtmM nor Time Machine work for me).

I just spent another two hours fighting to get my (Apple) iSight camera to work again — this even though it had already been working since I upgraded.

I really can’t keep wasting this much time on something that isn’t adding significant value. If things don’t stabilize soon, I’m going to have to downgrade to 10.4 again. And if you want to talk about something that would dissipate the Reality Distortion Field, boy, that would be it.

Aside: On my MBP I did a straight upgrade, but I did a complete HD wipe and re-install on the server. Neither one is working well.

The iPod Touch is not an iPod.

I keep reading posts where I’m told that it’s ok for the iPod Touch to be missing many of the applications from the iPhone, because it really is just a digital music player.

To my mind, the thing that clearly puts the lie to that theory is the inclusion of the Safari web browser. As a music player, they could have included (with the built-in wifi) just the dedicated iTunes Store client, which would have brought them up to par with the Zune. Once they stepped over the line and included a full desktop grade web browsing client, they have clearly made something else. In fact, The iPod Touch is the first, true portable computer of the next generation. *

I’m not exaggerating here.

Apple has done what they almost always do: Looked at a hard problem, and found a thoughtful, elegant, effective solution. In this case, it was turning the wild west that is current web design into something that works on a small, keyboardless, information appliance. For the first time ever, I’m not tempted to look for my laptop to follow a link I heard on the radio — the iPod works just as well, and I’ve got it in my pocket.

In truth, I almost never plug headphones into my iPod. I’ll admit to watching dl.tv on it while waiting to pick up a pizza, but in general I just use it as a conduit to the web.

So, it’s in that context, that I find it so painful that they didn’t include many of the absolutely obvious apps from the iPhone:

  • e-mail client
  • note taker **
  • google maps

And don’t get me started on the disabling of the ability to enter new calendar events.

Let’s be perfectly clear about this: This was not an attempt to keep the Touch true to its primary function; it was a transparent play to differentiate it from the iPhone and thereby maintain the iPhone’s value proposition.

Personally, I’m disappointed.


* Yes, the iPhone fits that category too.
** I’m reduced to using the notes field of a contact named “A A”. (ugh!)