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Archive for the ‘Computers’ Category

Apple news

Yesterday, the WWDC opened its doors with a keynote speech of Steve Jobs introducing the new Mac OS X version called Leopard and the anticipated Mac Pro systems. Additionally, the company also introduced new versions of is Xserv server systems and Leopard for the servers.

The innovations in Leopard are not very spectacular in my opinion, or at least I was not waiting for them. The most important innovations according to Apple are Time Machine and Spaces. Time Machines enables user to take a snapshot of the system (stored on an external harddisk or a Xserve) and revert to these snapshots whenever one wants. Unfortunately for Apple, they’re not the first one shipping such a tool, as Miguel points out. Dirvish provides identical features.

Another ‘innovation’ according to Apple is ‘spaces’, which enables the user to keep sets of applications for a given task instantly available. Wow, this sounds very similar to virtual desktops – what an innovation. Ok, I have to admit that I did not see this feature working yet, so probably it is a little more polished than most virtual desktop implementations, but it is not very unlikely that the possibilities are similar. According to the article at AppleInsider, Spaces includes the possibility to preview the various desktops in tumbnial format – probably similar to the working of Exposé. Well, at least is is more useful than the new features (uh, which features?) in Microsoft Vista, whith the difference that Vista contains a lot more changes ‘under the hood’ (at least, I think it does). Ok, so far not a high-priority upgrade.
Obviously Leopard does have more improvements. For example, there are PhotoBooth effects available for Mail (nice, but not something I was waiting for) and provides facilities to store notes and todo lists and aggregate RSS feeds. That could be useful, but there are already tons of e-mail applications which provides these features, and Mac OS X already contained applictions like iCal and sticky notes which fullfill these tasks.
Another thing to mention is the new application Xray, which enables developers to debug applications and do some profiling. According to Calum Bensom, Xray is based on DTrace, which is created by Sun and open sourced under the OpenSolaris project. The implementation of Apple will probably be very nice and the use case they provide in their promotional material confirms this assumption. But while I still didn’t do any development for Mac OS X, I think I will not use it. There are more improvements, but the other improvements in Leopard are mainly bug fixes and small features which in fact doesn’t require a complete new operating system. Currently, I don’t think I will spend money on Leopard, because it doesn’t provide features I will need very much.

Ok, so far on Leopard. Apple also announced a new Mac Pro system. As expected, this system contains two dual-core Xeon processors based on the Woodcrest core (which is in fact a similar core to the Core 2 Duo cores Intel recently introduced). This is a very powerfull system for (considering the features) a resonable price of 2500 dollars. Apart from new processors and the obvious upgrades (new videocard, more memory, faster and bigger harddisks), the system is similar to its PowerPC predecessor. If I had the money, I think I would like to have such a system, because it has so much power that the coming years, upgrades are not very necessary. It is like buying a Ferrari – much faster isn’t available.

Still alive

Yes, I’m still alive. I didn’t write much lately, mainly because I had some troubles with my life and the very hot weather. I hope I will be able to write some interesting stuff the coming weeks.
My girlfriend decided this week that she wanted to get some time for herself in order to determine if she still likes our relationship (at the moment she thinks she doesn’t). The reason for this, is that I was having some mental problems (maybe I was a little depressed the last few weeks?), but didn’t talk about it with her. Additionally, I didn’t work very hard on my final project for my Msc. grade, which caused some friction in our relationship as well.
Currently I’m staying at my parents house in order to get things sorted out. Life ain’t easy. I really hope we will be able to get our relation working again, because she definately is the girl of my dreams and I really don’t want to lose her. Time will tell.

On other news, I started programming on the OntoAIMS project, in order to finish my graduation project. I also started learning Perl, which is a very nice language for easy tasks. Especailly the regular expressions, which are also implemented in other languages, are very nice. While I already had some knowledge on Perl compatible regular expressions, I definately learned some new things and it is also nice to know how to use these things in the language for which they were originally developed.


Red Hat has introduced a new social community site called ‘Mugshot’. It’s not entirely clear to me what the goal of this project is, but I have got the feeling that it could be useful. Currently, it contains a thing called ‘Music radar’, which enables people to publish information about songs on their weblog or website.. I’m not sure what is new about this. Another feature is called Link Swarn, which enables people to discuss about weblinks. This is quite interesting I think. During my exploration of Mugshot, I came across this. I hope that this will not be the process a user has to go through in the final version, because it will be a nightmare for helpdesks and system administrators, because not any non-technical user will understand this behaviour. On the other hand, if it will be the case, there is a clear oportunity for other OS’ses like Mac OS X and Linux because the usability will be so much better, that even stupid users will see it (I hope).

Home automation

Some students at MIT have created an automated room. Very nice, especially the party mode is cool. When reading about it, you almost feel like to turn your own room into a fully automated environment.

Three OS’es on MacBook

The Dutch site has a videon online which shows a MacBook (the black edition, so it is a 2,0GHz version) which is running both Mac OS X, Windows (Vista?) and Ubuntu Dapper Drake (beta) on the same time. In order to achieve this, the virtualisation software from Parallels is used. In the video also a virtual desktop application is used, in this case Virtue, so it is possible to run every os full screen on its own desktop. It looks pretty fast on the video and certainly faster than using VMware or something on a Pentium M (which I have in my laptop). Probably this is caused by the Virtualisation Technology from Intel which is build into the Core Duo processor in the MacBook. I think it would be very nice to run Mac OS X and Linux at the same time at almost native speed… The Gimp for example is on Linux a lot faster than on Mac OS X, in my experience.

Helping people is a crime?

Today I read about this article on Slashdot. It is written by a teacher who helped a student reporting a vulnerability on a public (commercial?) website. Because shortly after their report the website was hacked and the police investigated the case, they were almost treated like criminals. I think this is ridiculous. It is almost the same that you will get arrested when you report a suspicious bag on a railway station or warn a house owner when you see that he left his front door open. Fortunately, here in the Netherlands there is no law which enables the police to arrest people for reporting a vulnerability as far as I know (and according to a teacher at our university). Hopefully the EU will not take the US law as an example for this kind of stuff, because the people over there who created this law are obviously not aware of the daily practice regarding the discovery of flaws in software. A typical example of the ignorance of some politician.
The teacher in the article concludes that you should destroy all the evidence that you are aware of an existing vulnerability and certainly not tell the developer/site owner about the bug. While it may be the best thing to do, it is really crazy that you should do this. How the hell do politician want the get a ‘safer and better world’ when it is not allowed to report defects? On the other side, it explains the growing number of spam, the increase in identity theft, the new problems with phising and so on… if they are not going to change this laws and rules, I think we are only seeing the beginning of these things.

Funny stuff

  • People who still are not convinced to use Firefox, this page gives some good reasons.
  • Microsoft introduces a Pay-as-you-go computer, which means that you can only use your (own?) computer when you have bought enough credits in advance…
  • According to a US Attorney, it is not allowed for journalist to publish about leaks.
  • The US State Department is affraid that Lenovo uses their computers to spy the US governement. Since Lenovo bought the computer department of IBM, there is a discussion in the US about this fear. They think that Lenovo, because it is partly owned by a deparment of the Chines government, will install espionage devices in their computers. Ironically, the Lenovo systems which are sold to the US government are manufactured in the VS, while most other US computer manufacturers such as Apple, Dell and HP manufacture their systems in Taiwan or China…

Apple introduces MacBook

Apple today finally introduced the successor to the iBook G4: The MacBook. Not very surprising, because there were rumours about this system for weeks, and the new MacBook is exactly as it was announced by the various Apple rumour sites: a 13″ widescreen display, build-in iSight camera, Intel Core Duo processor, MagSafe powerconnector and the unit is available in both black and white – which is new, because the iBook was only available in white. The cheapest MacBook costs 1099 euro (1099 dollar also) and ships with a 60GB harddisk, 1,83GHz Core Duo processor, build in wireless network and 512MB memory. The display resolution is 1280×800 pixels and has a glossy coating which makes pictures and movies clearer according to Apple, but makes the screen also more sensitive to reflections I suppose. The most expensive MacBook contains a 80GB harddisk and a 2,0GHz Core Duo processor. This system also contains a superdrive and build-in Bluetooth, things which are missing from the cheaper models. I think it is a very nice system for its price – nice design, exelent operation system (Mac OS X) and it is even thinner than the iBook (only 1,08″). The addition of a black version makes it also intersting for people who do not like the white systems, but I think the white version is nicer than the black one. When I had to buy a new laptop now, I would take this system seriously into consideration. However, I think I would wait a few months, because then Intel will introduce the successor to the current Core Duo, the Core 2 Duo. This new processor adds 64-bit support and will probably be faster while the energy consumption will be reduced. The Core 2 Duo is based on the ‘Merom’ core for the laptop version and the ‘Conroe’ core for the desktop variant – yes, Core 2 Duo is both a laptop as a desktop processor.

New MacBook (black)

Impressive Xgl demo

On the weblog Pubcrawler is an impressive video of the new Xgl Xserver. The video shows a presentation of Dave Reveman, showing the various features of Xgl, such as transparent windows, switching virtual deskops using a 3D-cube, OpenGL accelerated video’s and OpenGL applications which seems to intergrate very well in de user interface. I wonder what videocard one should use in order to achieve these results. At least I think there have to be good OpenGL drivers available for your videocard… I doubt that there are videocards with open source drivers which will work good with Xgl.

Novell Linux Desktop 10

Novell has provided the world with some previews of the upcoming version of its Linux-distribution for the desktop. Especially the visible interface of this operating system has undergone some major improvements. First, the new product incoropates the OpenGL-based Xserver Xgl, developed by Dave Reveman. Xgl makes it possible to let the gpu on the videocard do most of the visual rendering. Apart from a performance improvement it enables also slick 3D-effects known from Mac OS X. C|Net has an article about it and Novell’s Miguel deIcaza has some video’s on his weblog demonstrating the capabilities of Xgl. Jakub Steiner created a logo for Xgl and some wallpapers.

For most visual effects enabled by Xgl the operating system depends on a plugin-based windowmanager called Compiz. The source code for this project isn’t available yet, but should be released during the X Conference this month. Compiz can be extended using plugins. The idea behind this is that people with new ideas for the advanced graphical possibilities can add these easily to the desktop. According to Novell this is an advantage to Mac OS X 3D-features and the upcoming Windows Vista with DirectX-accelerated graphics. Novell Linux Desktop 10 also uses Cairo for the rendering of widgets, which is also accelerated by Xgl. Some components of the desktop are radically changed. In the video’s on Miguel’s weblog it is visible that there is a new way of launching applications. This new component, which is very similar to the Start-menu used in Microsoft Windows, seems to be inspired by mockups which appeared on Flickr. Also the new layout of the libnotify seems to be inspired by these mockups. Because the Novell developers didn’t discuss their new Gnome components on their mailinglist, there was some negative remarks from other developers. They think that Novell should have discussed the new plans for the Gnome desktop. They also asked if Novell is planning to add the changes to the desktop upstream. Novell developer Dan Winship replied to this saying that discussing the planned changes didn’t made it any better. Novell was already planning to incorporate the new desktop components to their distribution. The post is arguing that design by community doesn’t automatically leads to a better design. I think he’s right, because everyone has a different opinion about this, so a consensus is very difficult to achieve. We experience this very often on the forum of, where every change which is discussed in the fora leads to endless discussions without a good result. However, Novell should not automatically expect that their changes will becoma a part of the default Gnome package. But I think they do not worry about this. According to Dan the way the changes are now introduced in Novell Linux Desktop 10 gives the Gnome community a chance to test the changes without the risk of losing dissappointed users which was the case with the spatialness of the filemanager Nautilus. has also an article about Xgl.

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