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WTF ?! - OS X Lion Deprecating Front Row

Wednesday 29 February 2012 at 08:23 am So much spleen, so little time.

Looking to upgrade my old 2008 Mac Mini to OS X 10.7 (aka Lion) with a particular view towards Front Row improvements. To my horror I noticed some notes indicating this was to be the last iteration of Front Row and that it was being dropped.


The reason I hadn't discovered this earlier was that my Mini didn't have enough RAM to upgrade. Having bought some more memory I was keen to get back to the upgrade.

I guess there are two things going on here -

  1. Pulling Front Row will allow Apple to focus on Apple TV

  2. Apple have an awesome new Front Row replacement (squeee!)

I'd say its 90% about #1 and 10% about #2 - I'm happy to be proven wrong about this though.

My Mac Mini setup is great - apart from the age and inability to deal with 1080p it works really well. It starts up, logs in, auto-starts Elgatos EyeTV and drives my 32" LCD TV. A click of my Logitech Harmony and I can bring up Front Row, play my media (still ropey mkv support - whats with that?), play music and view photos all through a single easy to control interface.

Friends have bought the AppleTV and do rave about it but it just seems like another gizmo locked into another bit of the Apple eco-system. I'd rather get a Western Digital TV which is much more 'open' and I can playback content from my Mini as required. Even then, a WD TV can't do live TV thereby limiting its usefulyness.

What is the point of bundling a remote control if all it controls is iTunes ? How do you use a remote to switch froom iTunes to iPhoto or anything else that'll play media ?


Now if AppleTV built in a tuner, provided some pvr capability and enabled a plug-in architecture for media playback that might be a different story.

As for Plex and XMBC - they're fine efforts but compared to Front Row they lack elegence and simplicity. About all they have going for them is the ability to handle whatever media is thrown at them (and theres still no EyeTV integration). Oddly Plex is meant to be more 'Mac' like but XMBC is actually more polished. I know there are skins available to 'Front Row-ify' both of these tools but the process to download and install them isn't even remotely friendly - these tools both appear to have been written with tinkerers in mind; I don't mind tinkering but the reality is I have better things to do with my time - which is why I have a Mac and not a nerd-tastic Linux media centre.

And don't get me started on the Apple remote Menu button not doing anything post upgrade.


iPad Interface Consistancy

Saturday 25 February 2012 at 5:46 pm Its been a long while since I've made a post venting spleen.

The iPad has effectively driven me to it though.

Why can't iOS apps follow some decades old interface standards for the sake of consistency ?

Heres my most aggravating example - Flipboard. I actually really enjoy the application - its free and it just works the way I'd expect it to. It does have some annoying interface quirks though. Top of my list - why are urls not clickable ? In the 21st century having to 'visit the original' article which spawns a crippled browser that still doesn't give you a clickable url is surely punishable by something very nasty indeed ?

If the 'app-ification' of computing means roll-your-own interfaces I'll give it a miss.

Whats worse is that if this trend moves over to OS X I'll just give up upgrading. If I wanted 'At Ease' as a user-interface I'd have stuck with a Mac LCII in a teaching lab circa 1993.

Postscript - since first venting, Flipboard urls seem to be much better handled now and the book metaphor seems to be improving.

Network Security (2061-2561 AD) + More

Sunday 12 February 2012 at 11:58 am Its been awhile since I posted some links -

Charles Stross (Sci-Fi Author, his Singularity Sky is awesome) discusses Network Security in the Medium Term, 2061-2561 AD.

Pretty fascinating - Networking Needs a VMWare. Some of this stuff is on its way . . .

The future looks bright - Building a new filesystem - ReFS for Windows 8.

This reminds me so much of William Gibsons 'Bigend Books' (Pattern Recognition, Spook Country, Zero History) I had to double check it wasn't fiction - Made Better in Japan. Theres also a touch of Umberto Ecos 'Travels in Hyperreality'. Remember, people - it has to be better than the real thing !

I caught this over on Boing Boing - pretty fascinating - Bringing a 50,000-ton forging press back to Life. Makes you wonder what other wholly unique mega-gizmos exist in the world ?


Yet another blog about stuff.

The image in the header is mine.

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