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Posts tagged with "msinterviews"

Interview: The Omni Group’s Ken Case

I had the pleasure of enjoying a casual talk with The Omni Group CEO Ken Case and took the opportunity to ask him some questions on their upcoming release, OmniPlan for iPad. We also had some time to talk about potential updates to other Omni products, as well as projects Ken would like to work on, given more time and resources.

Don: First off, what where some of the challenges you had porting the OmniPlan for Mac experience to the iPad?

Ken: One of the challenges we have had with all of our apps is that the Mac has more screen real-estate available, or at least the design we have used for our apps use a lot more screen real-estate than we have available on the iPad. We had already started noticing that some of our apps were starting to feel a bit squished on laptops – we have typically designed them to work with large desktop displays. When we watched people try to struggle through using some of our apps on the nice new MacBook Airs like the ones we’re starting to use here we found it just felt too cramped. So starting with OmniGraffle we had to re-picture what is the focus of the activity and how can we get rid of the physical controls without burying them so deep that they are no longer accessible. We faced this challenge even more so in OmniPlan for iPad because OmniPlan typically uses more screen real-estate due to its task outline on the left and the large visual GANTT chart timeline on the right. So we decided that the most relevant part of using OmniPlan is not the outline which may be of interest for structuring your plan data, but what people are most interested in is the GANTT chart timeline; so, for Omniplan for the iPad we just focused on that being the entire contents of the screen and working with that and trying to create the content in the visual timeline in ways we would normally rely on the outline for doing. If you wanted to have a task and break it down into subtasks, on the Mac we’d have you go over to the outline and create new rows and indent them underneaths as they were subtasks. If we’re only using the GANTT chart, we want to be adding subtasks – be able to show containment of subtasks under the parent task right there in that live timeline. I’m not saying we’re going to be giving up the outline, we’re not done yet, that’s the struggle we’re trying to work with and maybe the real ultimate answer is to flip back and forth between the two but there’s definitely not room to have both at the same time. Screen real-estate is a real challenge.

Don: Now when you guys released OmniFocus for the iPad, there were some things that a lot people thought the iPad did better than the Mac version. Is there anything in OmniPlan you guys feel is better suited for the iPad?

Ken: There is, but not quite as strongly as there was with OmniFocus. The biggest benefit of OmniPlan on the iPad is that it’s mobile, so you can bring it around with you and have it everywhere. But there isn’t – there aren’t any big features like the forecast and review modes we added to OmniFocus on the iPad where we could say “Oh no, now you can use the app in a whole other way that you couldn’t use it before”

Don: I read on your blog around the release of OmniOutliner for iPad that you wanted to offer 90% of the functionality that people wanted with about 10% of the effort. Do you think that also applies to OmniPlan, were you able to fit as much in without sacrificing the usability?

Ken: I think we were able to get a lot of the info in we wanted – it was a little bit harder, this was a specific challenge to OmniPlan – with OmniGraffle or OmniFocus it was easier to find parts of the application you could live without on the iPad on Day 1 or maybe forever, and just leave that out altogether and maybe bring back in later or maybe not, but you have a useable, cohesive, coherent application you can sit down and work with. With OmniPlan, you’re talking about an audience of project managers who really need to have all the same project details they’re used to typically. If we left out some piece, like, say, cost accounting, then people who are trying to do cost accounting will be stuck, and they can’t do it at all anymore. They can’t partially use it and then go up to their desktop later. If you have that then you probably want to bring all those details to a meeting that you are bringing your mobile device to. That was another challenge with OmniPlan – it was harder to find things we could cut out. We couldn’t cut out any of the data model, which we had done with all the other apps. With OmniFocus we left out time estimates altogether on the iPad – most people didn’t use it and it was more cluttered to try and fit in there. With OmniPlan we have all those fields, all those details, and the change tracking, mechanisms and so on. We did find some areas we could cut out and leave out, like printing. Our hope is, part of the reason you’re bringing this around with you on a mobile device is so you don’t have to bring paper around with you. Showing people the plan right there, live and making changes – you couldn’t do that with a printed document.

Don: So it sounds like it could be a great addition to the current OmniPlan for Mac product.

Ken: Yes, we really wanted it to be as complete as the Mac version and try to leave as little out as possible, but we did have to in some situations. For example, in version 1.0 we are not providing printing because we are not trying to make it do everything the Mac version can do. We do want it to be a standalone tool so if all you’re using is OmniPlan on the iPad, you’re still able to do the complete project management and planning you would’ve done on the Mac including collaborative editing. Plus, change-tracking is there, so you can review other people’s changes, accept and reject them and so on.

Don: Is there anything you can tell me about the tentative release or pricing for OmniPlan iPad app?

Ken: We haven’t announced pricing yet because we like to finish what we’re building, and then decide how much it costs, but if you look at our pricing to date it has been remarkably consistent. The iPad app – every single one – is half the price of the corresponding Mac app. Read more


VLC 2.0 Released: What’s New, And An Interview With VideoLAN Developers

Back in February 2010, I wrote a post for MacStories about Lunettes, a codename of a new interface for VideoLAN’s popular media player VLC. Back then, I used to spend a good portion of my days fiddling with media players and skins for VLC, which I used to access a well-organized media library on my MacBook Pro and various external hard drives. Lunettes was promising, and it proved that VLC could have an interface design more suitable for the needs of the Mac community. I didn’t know, however, that work on the next major version of VLC, VLC 2.0, had already begun in 2008 with the first concepts and technical drafts, with Lunettes being the complete rewrite of the application that stemmed  from that original vision that eventually led to VLC version 2.0, released today.

Available for Mac, Windows, and Linux machines, VLC 2.0 is a major update that brings several new optimizations on the technical side, new features, and a brand-new Mac interface that we’ve already covered here on MacStories. It can be downloaded for free from VideoLAN’s website.

Often regarded as “the media player that can open almost anything”, VLC has indeed become many’s de-facto choice over the years when it comes to dealing with a variety of video file formats, or audio files that other media players such as iTunes won’t open. If you weren’t aware of all its functionalities and secrets, you’d say VLC’s best feat is the fact that it can launch almost any kind of file you throw at it. From the strong foundation of VLC 1.x, VLC 2.0 introduces support for new formats – as well as enhancements and fixes for the currently supported ones – with better handling of H.264, MPEG-4/Xvid and WebM thanks to multi-threaded decoding, support for 10bits codes and WMV image, completely rewritten support for images, changes in RealVideo and Real Format integration, correct support for FLAC, RV and Hi10p in MKV, and a plethora of other minor adjustments and refinements that contribute to making VLC one of the most (if not the most) versatile and customizable media players around. For instance, professional users will find support for ProRes 422 and 4444, AVC/Intra, Jpeg-2000 and DNxHD/VC-3 in 10bits and a new, faster Dirac/VC-2 encoder, whilst anime fans will be pleased to know VLC 2.0 features a “vastly improved” MKV demuxer. If you simply care about formats and the stuff VLC can open or has been optimized for, this release shouldn’t disappoint you.

With over 7000 commits to the open source project and 160 contributing volunteers in the past couple of years, however, VLC 2.0 isn’t only focused on making its media player capabilities play nicer with audio and video formats. As we detailed in our previous coverage, one of VLC’s new visible changes is the application’s design on the Mac, a radical change aimed at unifying VLC’s file management and playback functionalities in a single window that, among other things, also happens to support Lion’s native full-screen mode. Available in two color schemes – Lion gray and QTX black – VLC’s new single window interface integrates playback and browsing in a way that, for example, allows you to start playing a movie, hit a button, and go back to the browsing UI with the movie still playing in the background. In my tests, transitioning from a movie (streamed off the MacBook Pro mentioned above, now used as a media server in my house as I upgraded to a MacBook Air) to VLC’s new Library was immediate, and the footprint on system memory minimal, or not visible at all. Because the new VLC for Mac integrates media, sources, and playback in the same window, you’ll be able to open a file, invoke the Playlist shortcut from the Window menu (CMD + Shift + P), look for another file (either manually or from the integrated search view), and adjust its position in the media queue right away.

Thankfully, those who don’t like the change to a unified window will be able to revert back to VLC’s standard multi-window system with an option in the app’s Preferences. The Preferences menu has also been overhauled with a new design and more settings, including one to disable Apple’s full-screen mode for OS X Lion and enable Growl notifications on playlist item change. As usual, there’s a lot to explore within VLC’s settings if you really want to adjust the app to your tastes (and media configuration).

What I’ve always liked about VLC since I started using it in 2003 is that it can be extremely simple and accessible, or extremely complex and “advanced” thanks to the amount of options and settings it brings at your fingertips. If you really want to get geeky with video formats, inputs, codecs and streaming sessions, VLC 2.0 will most definitely have you covered with its variety of new features and tweaks to the underlying engine. If you, however, simply prefer a lightweight, elegant and powerful alternative to iTunes and QuickTime for browsing and playing your music and movies, VLC is an equally great alternative as it’s easy to use, fast, and stable. And whilst the new Mac interface will be heavily criticized (especially in its black version) by those that dislike change on principle, I think change is good, as it confirms that VideoLAN and its community strive for innovation in order to bring VLC to an even broader audience. The single window interface is useful, simple to understand, and helps you save time; performances in version 2.0 have been dramatically improved, and there’s lots more to come. Go download VLC 2.0 here.

For the release of the new VLC, I was able to chat with VideoLAN’s President Jean-Baptiste Kempf and lead Mac developer Felix Paul Kühne about the 2.0 milestone, the process that went into developing this new major release, and what’s in store for the future. Check out the interview, as well as a visualization of VLC’s development activity in 2011, after the break. Read more


Interview: Tapbots’ Paul Haddad Talks Tweetbot for iPad Launch

Following yesterday’s release of Tweetbot 2.0 for iPhone and Tweetbot for iPad (our reviews here and here, more coverage here), I was able to chat with Tapbots’ co-founder Paul Haddad (@tapbot_paul) about the launch of their first “real” iPad app, the reception of Tweetbot 2.0 for iPhone, and the iPad App Store.

Check out the interview below.

MCSTR: Hi Paul, congratulations again on the launch of Tweetbot 2.0 and Tweetbot for iPad. So how did yesterday go in terms of sales? Was the launch as successful as you hoped?

PH: Yeah I was surprised we hit #1 in the iPad App Store so fast, I was hoping we’d hit it at some point but wasn’t expecting it to happen in 8 hours. It was pretty fast – the Top Paid is a moving average over what I think is 3 days, so to do it in less than one is pretty amazing.

MCSTR: I mean, it’s not easy for a social networking app priced at $2.99 to get the first spot over games and utilities (most of them sold at $0.99), right?

PH: At least in the US I think the iPad market is certainly different than iPhone, not as heavily skewed towards the $.99 games/apps.

MCSTR: Do you think with the current number of downloads you can stay on #1 for many days?

PH: I hope so, but don’t really have any idea. The iPad App Store is virgin territory for us so we don’t have many set expectations both in the short and long term.

I will say that yesterday was our second biggest day ever in terms of revenue.

MCSTR: Nice. I guess your biggest day ever was Tweetbot for iPhone launch? Or perhaps that Tweetbot sale you had last year?

PH: Tweetbot for iPhone launch was the biggest day, but that was also a full day Vs more or less a half day, so who knows what will happen today.

MCSTR: Yeah, it seems you guys are still #1 in the US Store, so that’s promising. Besides the rave reviews, how has general reception been?

PH: Surprisingly good. It’s really hard to gauge these things pre-launch and we’re too close to the app to really get a feel for what other people will think of it. There certainly was a concern that people would dislike the idea of it being a separate app. But there have been very few complaints about that.

Since it was our first large iPad app, I was also worried that people would feel our style wouldn’t translate well on the device. But again – overwhelmingly positive responses.

MCSTR: How about Tweetbot 2.0? Obviously the iPad launch was bigger because it was a completely new app, but Tweetbot 2.0 is pretty sweet too.

PH: It was really cool to be able to do both at the same time. I think Tweetbot 2.0 answers a lot of the criticisms folks have had with the app, while still making it feel like Tweetbot. I’m really happy that we were able to make it look and perform better at the same time.

MCSTR: The obvious question is – now that we have two Tweetbots, will we get to see some sort of iCloud integration between them?

PH: We don’t generally talk about future features because we don’t really know how long things will take, or even if things are possible. I will say it’s one of the things we are looking at.

MCSTR: Sounds good. Last question: Is there anything you would have done differently in Tweetbot 1.0 for iPad?

PH: I’m really happy with the way Tweetbot 1.0 came out. We actually have a very strong set of features planned out for the near future that will make it even cooler. But 1.0 is exactly what we wanted it to be, the best Twitter app for iPad and a solid base to grow from.


MacStories Interviews: Dave Caolo, Author of “Using Your iPad as a Business Productivity Tool”

If you live in a corporate environment these days, chances are your employer has given you an iPad to try out. It is no secret that hundreds of companies are piloting or deploying iPads and iPhones, but when it comes to a machine that’s less than a year old and has created a new category of portable computing, trying to make it fit in your daily workflow can become a problem. What apps do I need to install? What about email settings? What’s the best way to manage my calendar? And Exchange?

Author Dave Caolo provides answers to these questions in his first book “Using Your iPad as a Business Productivity Tool”. The book is available now in the iBookstore for iPad at $5.99, but you can also pre-order it for your Kindle on Amazon. We had the chance to chat with Dave about the background of this book, and why he decided to focus on the iPad, a relatively young device for a business audience.

So head after the break for the full interview, and go download the book for your iPad here. Read more


MacStories Interviews: Mike Rundle

[MacStories Interviews is a new series of email interviews and conversations with with well-known developers, designers, bloggers, journalists, geeks.]

Please welcome Mike Rundle, designer and web, iOS and Mac developer. You can follow him on Twitter as @flyosity. The interview was conducted from October 12th to December 10th.

- Tell me a little about yourself: who are you, what do you do, etc…?

Hey there! I’m Mike Rundle and I do a number of different things. First, I’m a designer. I’ve been designing websites, applications, blogs and icons for many years. Second, I’m a web developer and have been writing HTML, CSS, JavaScript and PHP for a long, long time as well. Third, I’m a Mac, iPhone and iPad developer and have been learning and using Objective-C and the Cocoa APIs since around 2008. I’m the author of Beak, a Mac Twitter app that’s no longer in development, and am also the author of Digital Post, an iPad newspaper app. Recently I’ve been doing a lot of writing and am the author of a chapter on mobile interface design that’s part of the next book from Smashing Magazine. I’ve also been busy reviewing and editing iPhone and iPad books for some of the larger tech publishers.

At the moment I’m working on a project I’ve been looking forward to for awhile: a series of highly-detailed guides that will teach designers how to actually code the interfaces for iPhone and iPad apps. So many designers out there have such great visual design talent but can’t actually put an app together due to a lack of programming knowledge. I’m fortunate to have both design and programming skills so I really want to reach out to my fellow pixel pushers out there and get them in Xcode building cool apps. These guides will also be useful for developers because I go through every step of the design process as well so I hope they’ll also pick up a thing or two. Oh, and after these guides are done I’ll start in on the myriad iPhone and iPad app ideas I have, starting with a really unique puzzle game that’s been in my head for 2 years. Never a dull moment! Read more


MacStories Interviews: MG Siegler

[MacStories Interviews is a new series of email interviews and conversations with with well-known developers, bloggers, journalists, geeks. You can check out more MacStories interviews here.]

Please welcome MG Siegler, writer at TechCrunch. You can follow him on Twitter as @parislemon.

- Tell me a little about yourself: who are you, what do you do, etc…?

I’m MG Siegler, a technology writer for TechCrunch. Before that, I was at VentureBeat. Before that, I worked in web development. And before that, believe it or not, I worked in Hollywood.

I love my job as it allows me to merge the two things I’m most passionate about: technology and writing.

- What’s your current setup?

I currently have 6 Macs — a little extreme, I know. But my urge to have the latest and greatest forces me to upgrade when something new comes along, and other machines become backups or media centers. Currently, I mainly use my i7 iMac (late 2009) and a new 13-inch MacBook Air. I absolutely love the latter. I’m even thinking about getting an 11-inch as well. It has replaced my (early 2010) i7 MacBook Pro,

When I’m on the go, I always have the iPhone 4 with me. And I often bring the iPad as well. I also have a ridiculous number of iPods, which mainly don’t get used anymore, as the iPhone is my source of all music. Read more


Command Guru Is Back: Details On New Apps and Interview

Command Guru is a well-known iOS and Mac development studio based in Italy. You may have heard of them thanks to the iPhone Reality Show, an event that took place last year and was aimed at gathering iPhone designers and developers from all around the globe to create an iPhone app in just one week. All recorded and broadcasted live by the Command Guru team in their office. It was a huge event that attracted thousands of viewers and developers alike.

Now, Command Guru went under some sort of “forced silence” for the past few months, as they were focused on an internal re-organization (they acquired Doseido, makers of Sally Park and Headline for Mac) and planning of new apps for iPhone, iPad and Mac. Lots of things have been going around at Command Guru’s headquarters, and we had the chance to chat with their CEO to get to know more about the details of the new software. I’m testing their new iPhone app at the moment and I have to admit it’s really good.

To stay up to date with the new apps coming from Command Guru, make sure to follow @commandguru on Twitter or check out their Facebook page. A teaser website of the upcoming iPhone app is available here.

Now jump after the break, and read what Command Guru CEO Alessio Zito Rossi told us about the current state of iOS and Mac development, their upcoming apps and…an Apple II. Read more


MacStories Interviews: Alex Payne

[MacStories Interviews is a new series of email interviews and conversations with with well-known developers, bloggers, journalists, geeks.]

Please welcome Alex Payne, cofounder and CTO of BankSimple. You can follow him on Twitter as @al3x. The interview was conducted from October 11th to November 15th.

- Tell me a little about yourself: who are you, what do you do, etc…?

My name is Alex Payne. I’m 27, and I’m the CTO and cofounder of BankSimple, a startup combining modern technology with extraordinary customer service to enable a seamless, worry-free banking experience. Before joining BankSimple in May of this year, I was one of the first engineers at Twitter, where I worked for 3.5 years. Last year I coauthored “Programming Scala” for O’Reilly with Dean Wampler. I’m deeply interested in programming language design and implementation, minimalist art, cocktails and spirits, and all sorts of other things. My wife and I just moved to Portland, Oregon a few months ago, and just recently moved into our first house. Read more


MacStories Interviews: Ben Brooks

[MacStories Interviews is a new series of email interviews and conversations with with well-known developers, bloggers, journalists, geeks.]

Please welcome Ben Brooks, author of The Brooks Review. Ben was one of the first people to accept my invitation for MacStories Interviews. You can follow him on Twitter as @benjaminbrooks. The interview was conducted from October 9th to November  3rd.

- Tell me a little about yourself: who are you, what do you do, etc…?

My name is Ben Brooks and I live in Seattle, WA with my beautiful wife. I run a commercial property management company in Lakewood, WA that I co-founded. During my free time I write over at The Brooks Review (brooksreview.net) talking mainly about technology.

When I am not glued in front of my computer I love to get out and hike, or shoot some pictures around town. My wife and I are also seriously addicted to chilling at home in front of our TV watching shows and movies, because the weather in Seattle can often demand that you stay in.

- What’s your current setup?

There are computers scattered throughout my house and office, but my main computer is a first generation unibody MacBook Pro (2.8ghz 6GB RAM 240GB SSD). I compliment that computer at work with a 24” LED Cinema Display. On the road I have a 16gb WiFi only iPad and a 32gb iPhone 4. I pack that all in either my Booq Taipan Shadow Messenger bag or my Booq Boa Push iPad bag - both of which I love.

At my office, other than the monitor, the only other thing that I attached is a Fujitsu Scansnap to stay paperless. I use a Bluetooth Apple Keyboard at both places and a Magic mouse at work.

At home I keep my MacBook Pro on a Rain Design mStand and have a Magic Trackpad paired up in addition to the keyboard. I also have 3+ terabytes of external hard drives for backups and media storage. I keep a well used Mac mini (original G4 1.42ghz model) hooked up to our TV in the living room for a media center.

Two things that come with me when I carry either the iPad or MacBook Pro are my Bose in-ear headphones and my Verizon MiFi for constant Internet access.

I used to be all about big crazy setups but over the past two years I have slimmed it down (still have way too much) to just what I need. I also try to keep the wires to a minimum because no matter what, wires tangle up on me. Read more