Writing and Travel

The wonderful lady and I have returned from our excursions to the country. Part of me was sad in the fact of the trip coming to an end but another part relished the idea of waking in ones' own bed.

The pressure I've been exerting on myself the past couple of months to write everyday faded in the time I spent on the trip. The new sceneries, the new friends, and the shared experiences of someone you loves past. I barely wrote a word and it was great.

It is completely true, you want to travel, to remove yourself from your familiar surroundings and take in what everything the outside has to offer.

There are a couple things I have learned about myself when it comes to this writing foray.

  • Don't start anything new until you've finished you're current work.

  • Don't rewrite a word until you've finished you're current work.

  • If stuck on a part, move on, notate it. Come back during rewrites.

  • Everything must be a story, it differentiate writing a complete story vs. writing an incident.

  • Don't let anyone read your work until its been through at least two rewrites.

  • Outlines are not concrete.

  • Stick to a point of view, overall I find I do this well but there are insistence where i revert to basic pronouns and confuses the reader sometimes, I'm working on this.

  • Every beginning you'll write: first chapter, first scene, first sentence, you're going to ultimately end up scraping or rewriting the whole part.

  • The first and last sentence of every scene can almost always be cut.

Windows 8: Bah

To default to a behavior where a casual slip of the mice produces the charms bar, or the app switcher, or the new start menu to load will constantly serve to bug the user of Microsofts Windows 8.

I don't like it, do away with metro for desktops, its a touch interface and a beautiful one at that. But, keyboard and mouse or even trackpad, it falls short. Full screen apps looks beautiful, I love the chrome-less look.

Example:

Desktop Windows 8 Explorer Skype Mockup ![!IE 10[(http://cdn.redmondpie.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/mediacenter1.jpg)

What I want from this blog

Well, its been about a month since I've launched this blog and I'm pleased by the number of visitors I get daily: 11k page views and some couple hundred unique visitors. I'm pleased and surprised by all this and to continue producing quality opinionated pieces.

When I get around to it, I will rework the theme ---I currently use the default octopress theme and though it is nice and minimalistic, its used by to many other bloggers.

Thank you for reading.

Android all looks the same

Watching all the news coming from the Mobile World Congress, one could deduce that their is still lack of real innovation in the Android hardware space. Great, you've made your screen bigger. Nice, your iteration of your next model is just brushed aluminon now instead of plastic. Excellent, you've added a brand new skin that you claim makes it easier to use your phone. They may all do one feature nice but they all essentially make the same phones then they're handed off to the carrier to receive a really shitty monosyllable name. Its sad and the worse part is, the public could probably care less. Nokia is the one exception, they're actually developing useful apps for the user and producing phones that clearly are for their market and have subtle yet significant changes.

twitter iChat

Twitter is Apples preferred social network. the integration baked into Mountain Lion is not surprising to assume that iChat might eventually get built in support for Twitter DM's.

I mean why not? Twitter is already increasingly getting exposure on the social network. It'd be nothing technically to include a plugin for it. The Direct Messages would be the ideal feature to incorporate into iChat/Messages.

It would be one step closer to a complete communications package that I dream of and predict will eventually happen. Its ok for these corporations to wish us to reside completely in their walled garden ecosystems but communications such as real-time chat with audio or video capabilities screams to be open and cross-platform; its in its nature.

Mountain Lion

I have been playing with the dev build of 10.8 for almost a week now and I wanted to address the concerns of Apple's newest iteration of their desktop operating system in regards to it no longer supporting older Mac's.

I'm one of those concerned. My personal machine is a late 2006 iMac, Core 2 Duo with 3 gigs RAM and an ATI x1600. I love this machine. Its as fast as the day I got it. Of course, I'd love to upgrade my computer every two years but financially I just never found justification for it. It came with Tiger on it and it handled Leopard fine, Snow Leopard was beautiful on it. Every upgrade brought new life and capabilities into my home computing existence. Lion really was the first upgrade that showed signs of an aging system and that only really was the slowdown in full screen apps.

But first, lets be clear, Apple will no longer support these older systems due to the mere fact that those CPU's will not load a 64 bit kernel. Thats it. Supporting a 32/64 bit requires loading 32 and/or 64 bit kernel drivers. Apple seemingly has made the decision to only support 64 bit. Which from a technological standpoint is ... well, fine.

I really feel for those with newer systems than mine as in the 2009 macbooks and mini's and all of the 2007, 2008 mobile models.

I'm pretty happy with Lion; I don't game anymore, all my developement really is in a text editor nowadays, I do all my writing in scrivener (which if ever decides to require ML, I'll lose my shit), and with the AppleTV and iPad I no longer really do any processor intensive conversions. Photoshop is always going to be slow and a memory hog so I try never to load it up. And browsing with Safari is still a plasure; I'm loving the 5.2 beta.

So, will I upgrade this summer? Probably not, my work machine might get it but my home Mac will not. I'll probably drool at the upcoming Airs orthe refreshed Mac Pro's and offer Apple a limb for the ivy bridge iMac's. Maybe I should start saving but money's tight.

But then again, this is just a developer preview. Apple may decide to keep the 32 bit kernel extensions around, graphics can be tuned and expensive animations can be turned off. But one thing that does make no sense to me is the supposed Lion only tidbits of Messages and some of their other apps. They're just apps with a iCloud backend. They should be available to other systems, mainly Lion.

Beware of Mountain Lions

Developer preview 10.8 Mountain Lion

Apple released a developer preview this morning of their next iteration of Mac OS X. As soon as I heard the news and lo' and behold, there it was in my developer account email. A couple link clicks later, I was downloading Mountain Lion. Cute name, I like the predictable patterns.

Being safe, I installed the OS on a seperate clean partition and fired it up. It only asked me for my iCloud account and bam, many of my settings magically appear. Launchpad shows all my App Store apps available. Hell, my dock remained the same ---sans non-App Store apps. Nice.

  • iCloud documents is probably my favorite addition, I'll no longer have a need to use dropbox to sync all my writing material. It will be built in. Thats one less service I'd use, thats one less username/password combination I'll have to remember. This is good and a step toward my overall minimalist computer footprint.
  • Reminders and Notes: they have been ported over and it is glorious. Eventually I will migrate away from Wunderlist (an amazing task management). Thats another app down.
  • iMessages is a rebranded iChat with cloud backed conversation saving across all iOS devices. Would be nice to have Facebook chat integration but I doubt that will ever happen.
  • iCal and Address book have been renamed to their iOS equivalents. :shrug:
  • Airplay Mirroring: all those apps that converted video to a native iOS video format are no longer necassary (at least in the home envirment). I see all the popular video players adapting this technology. This can only make my Apple TV2 better. Imagine a Airplay plugin for your browser, hackers will make it happen.

I will continue looking more in depth at changes. These are my favorite to look for and I'm fascinated by any under the hood changes Apple may have done. I will update the post further in the future to reflect any changes.

Safari is fast

Lifehacker every now and than comes out with a browser test article, discussing which browser on the market is the fastest. They usually give windows centric focus, though to be fair at times--- at least I remember there are test cases on the Mac side.

Chrome, for the first time in a long time, leaped into first place, no doubt due to its new prerendering feature and always-awesome JavaScript tests

Browser Speed Tests: Chrome 17, Firefox 10, Internet Explorer 9, and Opera 11.61 -Whitson Gordan

I'm not trying to discredit any of Mr. Gordon’s point, just throwing alternative scenarios out there.

I wanted to write this brief article showing that Safari on the Mac is clearly the best browser on the market for the Mac.

My process is to use the same test-suite Lifehacker uses on Windows and make the closest approximations on my own system. All browsers are up to date and have been completely reset. Websites used in tab-loading test were the top 9 Alexa sites.

Cold Boot

!Cold Boot

I wanted to use Instruments to accurately measure the finish of loading an app on my Mac but Lifehacker stuck to a stopwatch method so, I shall too. Firefox wins here and I'm not surprised, they are doing some good word in their aurora builds. Do the typical person the other results were nearly instantaneous. Opera did not fair to well, I had a noticeable ball bounce in the dock. Interesting note: the ball-bouncing in the dock will soon be a thing of the past as app load times becomes instant.

Tab-Loading

Tab Loading

Now I rarely launch a browser with 9 tabs but there are those that do. This result surprised me. I expected Chrome to come out on top with its highly multiprocess architecture. But, Opera came out on top. All the others were noticeable same.

JavaScript

Javascript

Test are run multiple times in the Dromaeo suite and an average given, so point in running the test multiple times.

Opera trailed the pack while Safari and Firefox came in a close 2nd. But Chrome ran away with its performance.

DOM/CSS-Performance

DOM CSS

These are more intensive tests, in the JavaScript library tests of the suite each browser ran off with memory. I didn't like this; anything that causes Safari to run off with 1.96 GB of RAM in its Web process will slow down a system and I feel this influenced the results. All the browsers experienced this behavior so I concluded to leave this particular test out of my results. DOM and CSS scores are important because they effect a visual element that is clearly seen by the user.

Opera dominates in the CSS score but is far behind the park in DOM score. I found this confusing.

Memory Usage (with Nine Tabs Open)

Memory

Typically I'm a memory fanatic; I like my system having a good amount of free resources at any time. I run 4-5 apps simultaneous in my workflow and having a browser open is one of them. I loaded the same sites that Lifehackers used via an applescript and waited for all the progress indicators to finish in the tabs. Just like the tab-loading test. I left the browser running for 15 minutes than recorded the memory usage via Activity Monitor. Opera and Firefox have always been good at memory (for me at least) that I was not surprised they led the pack.

I wanted to point out one note, with Chrome and Safari, you never really should quit the app, Command + W has always been my way to "quit" the app. This leaves the parent process running in the background with a minimal footprint. Additional browsing sessions are near instantaneousness in this behavior. This process architecture is an Apple defined behavior so if I were to subtract the parent process from the actually window and logic process for Safari or Chrome I would get much lower scores.

Conclusion

After a week of use on each browser, I've come to the conclusion that each browser does one thing really well and average on other tests. There is no one browser wins all. Safari tends to launch faster but not noticeably different from Chrome. Chrome handles multiple tabs really well and its memory footprint is not so bad unless you keep it running (especially with extensions) Firefox is average in all areas but this being my 2nd browser-testing article, they are improving significantly. Opera is an odd app. It loads slowly but tabs are loading quickly, I suspect it’s their unique caching strategy. But actually speed performance, its last in JavaScript and this might effect is DOM and CSS scores. Which leads me to those, completely lopsided results I intend to investigate are they doing some test hacking? Or is just a standards issue.

Overall I will be sticking with Safari and here are my reasons. * On the Mac, it is the one browser that runs the smoothest. * It’s not fancy, its minimal appearance. I don't need favicons in my tabs; I like the extra screen real estate on the top. * It is the most memory efficient with extensions. Yes, they are the most restricted but I only use two or three at a time. It’s a quality over quantity matter. * ICloud syncing. I like my bookmarks synced across my devices without any additional programs. And I do use the Reading list feature extensively.

So, every now and than I will go over to Chrome and do some testing, see if anything changes and I'll find this enjoyable. But I always end up coming back to Safari.