We’ve all been there: bored out of our minds in a meeting because someone has put together a PowerPoint presentation with about ten million words written on each slide and their speech comprises of them just (struggling) to read the slides. But as easy as it is to criticise people for doing this, the truth is, it can actually be really hard to make a great PowerPoint or Keynote presentation. Deckset, a new app on the Mac App Store, aims to make it just a little bit easier to create something great when it is your turn to present. (more…)

Tweetbot for Mac, Tapbots’ desktop version of its popular Twitter client, was updated last night with support for a new large thumbnail option in the timeline, a refreshed design of inline image previews, and a fix for three-finger gestures.

Following Tweetbot 3.3 for iPhone, Tweetbot 1.5 for Mac adds large thumbnails as an option in the app’s Preferences. Large thumbnails retain the capability of being right-clicked to access a contextual menu, and they bring a slightly redesigned preview in the tweet detail view as well. In my tests, loading large thumbnails with proper resolution required deleting Tweetbot’s account cache under Preferences > Account.

For users who enabled three-finger navigation gestures on their Macs, Tweetbot will now respect that setting and allow to swipe with three fingers to navigate back and forth between tweets, timelines, and other views of the app.

Tweetbot for Mac is available at $19.99 on the Mac App Store. You can read our original review here.

One of the least talked about music services is Google’s Play Music service, a combination music store and digital locker that can match up to 20,000 songs from your local library and stream them to your devices over the web for free. With All Access, you can stream Google’s entire catalog of music for $9.99 a month.

I’ve dabbled with the service before, using it with my previous storage limited MacBook and giving it an honest shot when away from home. The service has some nice touches, such as a miniature spectrum visualizer that designates the currently playing track and album in a variety of views, thumbs-up and thumbs-down ratings in contrast to stars, and instant mixes that create Genius-like playlists from your music library on the fly. I’ve always thought the player itself was good, and it’s certainly a usable alternative to iTunes for those listening on their work machine or Chromebook. The separate manager for matching songs is a little clumsy, but it’s not a deal breaker.

While the service offers a proper mobile experience on iOS and Android, the desktop experience is limited to the browser. At least that was until Google Music for Mac, an open source application that wraps the experience in a native player and binds the app to your Mac’s media keys.

The app lets you play your music Library through its native experience or, like Fluid, simply present the web app in a window. The experience largely reminds of Pocket for Mac, with the Google Play logo, search, and popover menus comprising the native wrapper.

I like the player. While I don’t see the purpose of including a button for other Google apps, the player rightfully does Google’s service justice on the desktop. You’ll have to log into the app using your username and password, and for those who are security conscious, the app does display your email address in the top right. Regardless, the app itself does a swell job of presenting your music (and Free from Google tunes) in a presentable interface. Small touches reformat the sidebar into something more appealing for OS X. All the little details from the web service have been carried over as-is, such as how album artwork fades into view, how soft shadows bring artists and albums forward, and Google’s distinct orange highlights. Shortcuts are peppered throughout the app, letting you create playlists or jump to an artist view without having to go through library links or categories. Highlighting the scrubber brings up the play timer, and takes to you whatever point in the song you click.

The app’s free to download from Google Music for Mac’s project page, letting you skip Github if you’re not interested in the repository.

Download it here.

[Hat tip @smileykeith]

To further commemorate the 30th anniversary of the introduction of the original Macintosh on January 24, 1984, Apple has published a new ad shot entirely with iPhones on a single day in 15 different locations around the world. The creative production of the ad was overseen by Jake Scott, son of Ridley Scott, who directed the iconic 1984 commercial. On January 24, 2014, iPhone-equipped crews sent by Apple to 15 separate locations started uploading raw footage to a server in the United States, where Angus Wall and a team of 21 editors could edit using Macs.

Apple’s new commercial doesn’t only focus on Macs — while they’re prominently displayed, Apple highlights how the impact of the Mac has changed the computer industry, leading to the creation of the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. All Apple products are shown in the ad: there’s a father making breakfast for his son using an app to control his prosthetic hands; a conductor analyzing musicians’ performance with a Mac; kids using iPads at school, and more.

From sunrise in Melbourne to nightfall in Los Angeles, they documented people doing amazing things with Apple products. They shot over 70 hours of footage — all with the iPhone 5s. Then it was edited and scored with an original soundtrack. Thanks to the power of the Mac and the innovations it has inspired, an effort that normally takes months was accomplished in a matter of days.

In one day, Apple received footage for 45 stories from 15 locations spanning multiple timezones, which required 36 hours of productions in Los Angeles; Apple used 100 iPhones to shoot over 70 hours of footage. As Apple notes, “initially, the team of cinematographers thought they would need lots of professional equipment and software”, but in the end only iPhones with “additional equipment” were used.

Even more impressively, Apple notes that Jake Scott and his team transformed a sound stage in Los Angeles to oversee production remotely using Macs, iPads, and external displays. Scott could direct cinematographers remotely with FaceTime (as shown by Apple, a second iPhone followed each shooting session for real-time feedback) and have an instant overview of footage coming from around the world.

In order to direct 15 separate locations filming in a single day, Jake Scott transformed a sound stage in Los Angeles into a command center. He equipped it with an arsenal of Apple products including iMac, Mac Pro, and iPad, along with large projection displays positioned around the room. From there he was able to watch every scene as it was shot, and direct all the action remotely via FaceTime. Many involved in the production believe this innovative approach to a multilocation shoot will be adopted by other filmmakers.

Today’s commercial is the culmination of Apple’s efforts to communicate the importance of the Mac and the stories of people who use Apple devices. Today’s message, unlike the dedicated Mac webpage, isn’t about the Macintosh per se, but the ecosystem of Apple products that it helped creating.

You can watch the commercial below. (more…)

My problem: I haven’t installed Flash on my Mac and I sometimes need to watch YouTube videos that require Flash Player in Google Chrome. Google’s browser is my Flash shelter: Safari is my main browser and I only keep Chrome around for Flash videos. I was getting annoyed by the process of copying a URL -> launching Chrome -> pasting the URL, so I made a simple Keyboard Maestro macro to automate everything with a hotkey. I don’t know what took me so long.

The macro checks if Safari is the front window, and, if not, it displays a notification with an error message. I do this to prevent accidental hotkey presses for URLs that I don’t want to open in Google Chrome. If Safari is the front window, however, what required a bunch of steps in AppleScript to open the current Safari URL in Chrome is a single action in Keyboard Maestro: Set Google Chrome URL, using %SafariURL% as a variable.

The two additional steps —  Open Chrome and Wait For Chrome To Finish Loading — were necessary because I discovered that, when launched with a Set URL action, Chrome wouldn’t intercept the URL sent by Keyboard Maestro and would simply display a blank tab. In this way, Chrome is launched, paused for a second as it reloads open tabs or the start tab, and then the Safari URL is opened in the current tab. If you want to open the URL in a new tab, change the Set Chrome URL action to New Google Chrome Tab.

You can download the macro here.

On January 24, 2005, Majo posted the video on his site for the Mac's 21st birthday. The traffic was overwhelming. To watch, you had to download the 20MB file, and majo's site soon crashed. We were SlashDotted, kottke.orged, and etc. He begged for mirror sites, and a bunch of other people helped out. I wrote a blog post about the video. I watched the comments come in from around the world as people woke up and discovered the “lost” video (that I didn't realize had been lost). The comments show how excited people were to discover the video, and how eager they were to help by mirroring it. It was a pretty cool day.

Like many other “lost videos”, there's a good story behind Jobs' Macintosh intro (via Daring Fireball).

See also: how the original Macintosh demo was actually put together, by Andy Hertzfeld.

Nice surprise in Apple's 30 Years of Mac website: a font including all the icons for every Mac model from the original Macintosh up to the latest modern Macs. For those interested, the Unicode code points used by Apple. These are beautiful line drawings and a good easter egg.

Jan
24
2014

This Is My #Mac30

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Thirty years ago, Apple introduced the Macintosh with the promise to put the creative power of technology in everyone’s hands. It launched a generation of innovators who continue to change the world. This 30‑year timeline celebrates some of those pioneers and the profound impact they’ve made.  - Apple.com

Here’s my story. In 1994 I was a college-bound high school senior that loved art, especially drawing. I knew I wanted to use my creativity as a career but didn’t know exactly what to do. I remember the day when one of the art supply closets was reconfigured into a small, 3 computer lab. The computers were all Power Macintosh 6100/60s with a System 7 OS — and nothing like I had ever seen before. I cannot recall what art program was on them but they kept drawing my attention every time I went to art class. We got them late in the school year, so I was only able to play around with them as no formal classes were started until the fall — and I was about to graduate. We couldn’t afford anything like that growing up so I thought I was lucky to just have a few weeks to take in that new user experience.

After moving into the dorm for my freshman year in college, we had an Apple computer lab in the building and the Internet was still new and we didn’t know what to do with it besides looking up things we weren’t supposed to – come on, we were all 18 year old boys!. Anyway, we wrote papers on Macs and used search engines such as Webcrawler, Lycos, Go.com, and Infoseek. I didn’t see those machines as the creative machines that I played with in high school; rather, as machines that we were required to use to do homework. But I hadn’t forgotten about what awesome powers they possessed for being creative.

Jump to sophomore year in the fall of 1995. One of my roommates shows up after summer break with a 1993 Apple Color Classic and I realize what a fantastic little machine it was. Not only could I write papers and play simple games, but I could create little pixel drawings and use type! That feeling I had during my senior year art class was back. I finally realized what I wanted to do for a living and I had found my digital, Apple-carved canvas.

In the second semester of my sophomore year, I enrolled in an intro course to Graphic Design and loved/excelled in it. Being able to express my creativity on that new medium felt breathtaking. While taking design classes, I would do some evening computer lab work in the art building up on the third floor where they had a more focused lab used for computer graphics and “digital photography” — it was a new term at the time and people were excited. Along with my graphic design classes, I started a digital photography class and that was where I was first introduced to the Apple QuickTake Camera and Adobe design software. While graphic design taught me history, practice, typography, and what is good layout, digital photography taught me scanning, Photoshop/Illustrator, and basic HTML coding. It was the best of both worlds, really. I was getting my minor in art history as well so it felt like a very balanced approach towards getting my BA in Studio Art with focus on Graphic Design.

After graduating college in August of 1998, I knew I had to go into debt and buy the original Bondi Blue iMac. I loved the machine: an entire PC, wrapped in a space age color casing that wasn’t beige? Who wouldn’t want one? I used it for some small freelance work, Internet, and gaming. Soon after, I started my job as a graphic designer for a daily newspaper and worked on Macs every day. We had Quadras, PowerPCs that evolved into G3/G5/G5 towers and iMacs in the nine years I worked there. Not only did I have the design background but I now had the technical knowledge of how those machines worked as our IT admin only knew Windows so I was not only the Graphic Design Supervisor, I was also the Mac admin. In 2002 I added a Titanium Powerbook G4 – one of my favorite Macs of all time — then bought a Power Mac G5 Dual Processor in 2004.

In 2007, I completed the full circle and purchased another 24″ aluminum iMac, but this time a much larger and faster version. After almost 7 long years, the longest I’ve ever had a computer, the hard drive died just weeks ago. Rather than sell this (still) awesome piece of computing history, I’m going to give it a new hard drive and a second chance on life, much like Steve Jobs gave Apple one when he returned in 1997.

Apple has been such a big influence in my professional life and personal life. With devices like iPods, iPhones, and iPads, Apple has truly changed how their users have evolved and who they are today. It’s amazing how at one time a computer took up an entire room and now it easily fits in our pocket. The old saying is right,“the Apple (user) doesn’t fall far from the tree”. This is my #Mac30.

iFixit:

Join us as we live the time-traveler's dream—the deep, lucid, Orwellian vision of hope, fear, and nostalgia that is 1984. Just in time for its 30th anniversary, we laid hands on an '84 original: the Macintosh 128K. And, you guessed it—we're tearing it down like it's the Berlin Wall.

They give it a repairability score of 7/10. Don't miss the face-to-face photo of Old vs New in Step 7.

Also worth checking out: Macworld's unboxing of the Macintosh (via John Siracusa).