Mac OS X: 2D Dock in 10.5

I don’t mind the 3D look of the OS X 10.5 dock, but I often prefer the 2D look of the old dock. Plus, I prefer the more-obvious running app indicators from the 2D dock; I find these hard to see in the 3D version. Also, sometimes I just prefer the same look for my dock whether it’s right- or bottom-oriented. Also, hidden apps (⌘H will hide, not minimize, an app’s windows) can be configured to show as transparent icons.

From a terminal:

Credit should be given to macosxhints.com for this.

It’s Chrimmistime!

This week has been a devastating one for AAPL stock, but undaunted by financial realities I am now awaiting the arrival of a new Mac Pro workstation. Seems like forever ago I began my wait for this hardware refresh so I could replace my aging PowerBook 17. Minorly awesome were upgrade prices for Photoshop and Logic that were less than devastating. Unfortunately playtime is postponed until next month, delays resulting from inclusion of the sweet Nvidia 8800GT graphics. The new apartment heater will be installed as late as the end of February.

New iMacs, iPods nice in person

While at the mall tonight shopping for glasses, I slipped into the Apple store for another of my three-minute visits to check out the new hardware.

  • The new iMac is a gorgeous kitchen computer, even with the horrendous glare of its glossy screen¹. Unfortunately I’ll never buy an all-in-one.
  • As I expected, the new iPod Nano is very nice in person. It looks fat in pictures, but it’s a slick little wafer in the hand. If the market is still there for music players, I suspect this one will charm anyone who touches it.
  • The new aluminum face on all the iPods, including the “Classics”, is a nice smoothly beveled surface. Nicer on the Nano than the heavier Classic 160GB, but a nice departure from the plastic lacquer look.
  • The user interface on the Classic is much slicker than the old UI, with plenty of smooth motion and fades. I’m not very fond of the split-screen strategy, and it’s a bit slow moving back in its menus, but they’re doing a lot of cool with not much processor.
  • I typed about twenty seconds on the new thin Mac keyboards, and I wasn’t disgusted. It’s no M, but the feel is tolerable, and the look is undeniably slick.

¹Was I the only person who hated the glare of CRT screens in 1998, even on a gorgeous 19″ Wega? Overly saturated colors are not worth the glare, people!

Slingbox Pro is superb, but crippled

I got my Slingbox Pro this week, and the easiest way to summarize the experience is that it just works. It comes with all the cables you could possibly need. Plug it into the DVR, plug it into the TV, plug it into the network, install the software on my PowerBook, run the config wizard. I’m only using it on my LAN, so there was no network configuration step. I selected my DVR model and entered some passwords; that was it.

The client software for the Mac is still in beta, and it’s not perfect. Plus, my 1GHz PowerBook 17 can’t render the video at full quality, but it still looks excellent for my purposes. On my more powerful Windows laptop the video quality is stunning, even over wireless.

Bummers? Sling Media apparently is not interested in pissing off any media content companies, so there is no recording. This would suck if I really wanted to use this to watch video over the internets, which a basic selling point for most people. Also, there is only one connection allowed to the device at a time, which makes it less interesting for families perhaps wanting to broadcast living room content throughout their home.

Mac Mini or MacBook?

Sometime early this year, I will give my mother my PowerBook 17 and replace it with either a Mac Mini or a MacBook. Either way, I plan to at least wait until this month’s product announcements. I may wait until OS X 10.5 is released.

I’m thinking Mini, since I keep the machine hooked up to my television at all times, and it’s around $500 cheaper. A MacBook would be equally (if not slightly more) powerful, and would have the benefit of being portable, and thus more desirable as an hand-me-down machine (you know, for example, if my mom discovers she absolutely *must* test Intel-compiled binaries on her laptop).

Any thoughts?

Slimmer 40GB iPod?

New iPods rumored for release this week. I just want a slimmer 40GB unit. If a little more thought had been put into the Nanos being used as flash drives (built-in USB plug first comes to mind), I’d likely already have one. Contrary to my original predictions, I use the hell out of a 1GB flash key at work these days.

Apple finally does a mouse right?

When Apple first came out with their first buttonless mouse design and phased out the tortureous hockey puck, I assumed it was really a mouse without pressable buttons (think 3G iPod buttons). Then, when I finally got to touch one, I found that they simply pivoted the whole mouse surface, turning the entire mouse into a single button. This was actually worse, as I much prefer to click a mouse with my fingers than with my entire wrist. I was crushed, to say the least.

Well, years later, they might have finally fixed it.

Konfabulator is now free

Yahoo! has acquired Konfabulator, as well as famous Mac and Eazel designer Arlo Rose. Konfabulator is a cross-platform (Windows and Mac, anyway) widget framework. What you really care about is that it’s a sexy little eye-candy app that shows little weather notification widgets, convenient to-do lists, and even a little ladybug that runs all around your desktop. I currently really only use the weather widget, though I hope to find others that will actually enhance the cramped Windows user experience.

What would I like to see?

  • I use the Windows quicklinks bar almost exclusively for application launching and folder navigation. Konfabulator comes with a big honking Trash widget, but I’d like a very generic shortcut widget that allows me to have a big honking shortcut to my workspace directory, to VS.NET, to Firefox. All of this would allow me to free up the task bar for active tasks and still have quick access to all of the links I want with a quick press of F8.
  • A nice note-taking widget. Of course, I won’t be happy with anything any less useful than Tomboy, so I’m not holding out much hope here.
  • A to-do list that displays a list from a persistent to-do store. A nice, generic RSS feed widget would probably work for this, assuming you can get the list published to begin with. The ability to add/manage the list from the widget would be a big, big plus.
  • A FogBugz widget. RSS is an obvious solution here.
  • A GAIM front-end, at least for the buddy list.

I guess, looking back at this first list of wants, that it’s the ability to F8 to common tasks at any time that is what I’m thinking will make Konfabulator most useful. I guess I can’t hide my affection for Apple’s Exposé. Sure, the F8 “Konspose” functionality is a rip-off of Exposé, but Apple did their own “rip-off” of Konfabulator, so whatever.