Bits & bites

Welcome to the first in a long series of posts which sum up several unrelated thoughts. Today we have comments on the latest announcements of Apple regarding Snow Leopard, the failure and success of Bing, and the greatness of WordPress 2.8 and Twitter (sometimes). Come on, the food is ready and the table is set!

On Apple's announcements about upcoming Snow Leopard

Proud Apple person decides to say a few triumphant words about the success of their strategy vs Microsoft's one... in public. Something along the lines of we're so great and you're in such a big trouble, man!. Makes me laugh: for all that I know, since the first day I installed Leopard I have had nothing but trouble. If that's a good operating system, I'm happy of not having any Vista-running computer.

Then, about the upcoming version of Mac OS X, is there anything interesting to speak about? Is there any type of breakthrough concept that will really revolutionize the way we think about computers, so to speak in hyperblasting marketing terms? No, there isn't anything that could be labeled that way:

  • a new version of Safari - which essentially incorporates the same eyecandy idea they developed for iTunes covers and then a few functions that aren't surprising, rather something to be expected at some point in every browser: Top Sites and History search. They also remark pompously about the speed of their javascript engine -- except everybody serious about browsers is optimising their js engines too. This obviously doesn't include Microsoft, of course.
  • a new version of QuickTime - oooh! including things that were only available for QuickTime Pro users. They probably noticed too many people running VLC which allows fullscreen without having to enter a serial number, and thought that was abominating. Hence they freed several functions from the Pro version, to avoid people using non-Apple software.
  • basically the same Finder, Expose and Stacks ancient, unfinished and unpolished technology
  • and compatibility with Microsoft Exchange, which will only ring a bell if you use such thing

They should rather be dispatched in a Software Update, but that would prove they have been playing with all games in the iPhone store and not doing their homework meanwhile. Funnily, what could really be interesting (64 bit support, Grand Central Dispatch and OpenCL) is hardly heard of. Even though, 64 bit support is not a new idea, GCD will only work if applications are recompiled to make use of it (as far as I understand) and OpenCL is pretty much the same.

I'm happy to read, though, that Snow Leopard won't support PowerPC computers. That will force me to finally switch to Linux on my laptop when Mozilla stops providing updates for Firefox, for example. If that was an strategy for making people buy new computers for running their new operating system, it didn't work here, sorry.

Bing? Bong!

The 'new' Microsoft search engine was unveiled not so long ago, and it already looks dated. I just tried it once, and performed an egosearch. Dissatisfied with the results, I decided it wasn't worth to use it. And what's about that image thing? Doesn't make much sense, does it? Oh wait, there was an study comparing the effectiveness of bing vs google for ads; because it has that image, it helps balancing things in the page, I deduct. Very clever, except I don't see ads (using Adblock) and hence that's probably why it looked odd to me.

Conclusion: another maneuver for getting traffic and clicks. They don't care at all about search engines or search quality.

WordPress 2.8

Now let's have some nice stuff to compensate for the fair amount of ridiculousness above. WordPress 2.8 it's out and working -- I have actually updated the site some minutes ago. So far it seems to be working fine.

The update process was smoother than ever: the one click update process is something every other piece of software on earth should have. More relevant though is the fact that they have improved the Widgets area and specially, the API. I haven't finished yet (for my tastes) the custom widgets I did for this site, and the new way of handling Widgets (by extending the WP_Widget class, instead of defining tons of functions) looks like it will help a lot for having cleaner and easier to follow code.

I don't generally use other people's themes but the ability of installing them right from the admin interface looks very slick. I also heard they were about to merge vanilla WordPress with WordPress MU in a future version; that's going to be interesting too.

I finally found a use for twitter!

I went to the British Museum on Tuesday and found out that an sculpture that was there in the entrance past October when I last visited was missing. So I wondered where it was, but I needed to find out the name of it. Unfortunately there was no way I could find it searching the museum's online catalog; even Google image search or Flickr didn't help at all. In a desperate move, I decided to express my frustration in a tweet. And surprisingly, some minutes after, I got the answer, via another tweet by a member of the Portable Antiquities department at the Museum. I imagine he keeps an eye on tweets containing certain words (such as surprise, surprise... British Museum!), so it's not like this is psychic science. It's more like being in a giant chat room where some people keep an eye on certain words only. The Portable Antiquities guys also have a blog, just in case you want to have a look.