Getting started with Quicksilver

Carl Beeth

Multi gesture user interface


At first I was a little skeptical about this multi touch interface demo but when they start to pan rotate and zoom maps with one two handed move I was sold. Make sure you watch the video the impressive stuff starts around half way in. And the fact that Apple has a patent on some related technology makes me all giddy that we may see some practical application of this in the not impossibly distant future.

The Trojan Macs

For mac aficionados there is something more important than Christmas and that is Macworld San Francisco in January. The rumor mills are running rampant on predictions for this macworld with intel iBooks topping the list of predictions but I am wishing for some other things from Apple. What I would call the trojan macs.

The first is what I would call the Mac mini TV, this would be a modified version on the mini specially designed to fit under the large plasma and LCD HD television sets that all the people have been buying themselves for Christmas. Compared to the current mini it should have an added TV tuner card and much bigger hard disk, it should still be as silent as the mini but it would not need to be as small as the current mini. Of course it will also require a PVR capable version of Front Row. It should be mainly marketed as a PVR with a mac under the hood

The second machine I would like to see apple release, I even hesitate to call a mac, would be a hybrid of an ibook and the Nokia 770. Think of it as a ibook with the keyboard replaced by a touch screen and a added infrared port. It should be marketed primarily as a kind of ebook/web reader/itunes controler but again in reality there is a mac under the hood.

The nice thing with both these machines are that they are not primarily macs and therefore can be marketed more like appliances negating a lot of the windows arguments nor will they require all the third party software to be ported to Intel on day one. But they will both put OSX in the hands of a lot of people, expanding the OSX user base in a trojan way.

Groking Quicksilver

Although I have used and loved Quicksilver for quite some time it’s only these last days that I have really groked it. I got the revelation when looking at a video of a quicksilver and backpack integration. When Tiger came out there was some speculation if quicksilver would survive spotlight, someone wrote that spotlight is about nouns whereas quicksilver is about verbs. Spotlight just returns things whereas quicksilver allows you to do things with things. So even though I used the verb part of quicksilver it was always like a foreigner that didn’t quite master the grammar. Now finally I get it.

So if you are a mac user and you have not given Quicksilver a real chance. I highly recommend that you spend some time exploring it. 43folders has a good starting point. just remember that a little like photoshop, quicksilver is one of those programs you can only really feel the full value once you grok it ;-).


Xavier just showed me Yubnub a kind of command line for the web, It allows you to do all kinds of searches and commands from a single field.

Of course the first thing i needed to do was to find a way to integrate it into the moucho excelente OS X App Quicksilver

Passion and Projects

These guys really loved their project

"It's midnight. I've been working sixteen hours a day, seven days a week. I'm not being paid. In fact, my project was canceled six months ago, so I'm evading security, sneaking into Apple Computer's main offices in the heart of Silicon Valley, doing clandestine volunteer work for an eight-billion-dollar corporation."

Flash iPod

John Gruber over at Daring Fireball is speculating on the speculation of an upcoming flash based iPod. He points out many of the problems with Apple coming out with a flash based iPod. But I think he misses one important points why Apple should come out with one.

Fair use I want to be able to share some stuff that I buy in the music store with friends. I bought "The Da Vinci Code" for $30, that is steep for an audio book only I can listen to, If I had been smart I would have bought it at Amazon in CD format for the same price.

Now if there was a cheap flash based iPod I could transfer it to that player and borrow the whole player to a friend. In a way re-instituting one aspect of fair use.

Of course for this to work the player needs to be cheap enough, On the other hand it does not need lots of storage. My hunch under $100, sadly I think there is little chance Apple will go down that road.

Project Looking Glass

Although this Sun 3D desktop demo is quite cheesy there are two very cool things that should be looked into:

  • The back of the window concept, in this demo it is very crude but the concept is very powerful and already used very creatively by some applications. I would love to see it generalized as a OS level feature.
  • The spine of the window, this would be a great way to improve on exposé.

Now the interesting thing is that these features don't require 3D, sure the animation of flipping the window should be in 3D so would the turning the window to show it's spine but that does still not require the whole desktop metaphor to be a 3D environment. I have yet to see a compelling argument for that.

xScope, Cool Screen Tools for the Mac

xScope is a powerful set of tools for measuring, aligning and inspecting on-screen graphics and layouts.

Carl Beeth

Ken Bereskin's "Panther" Weblog

Bite size tips on Panther

Carl Beeth

iTunes Music Store

I admit I have become a Music Store addict. Up to now my addiction has been tempered by the limited selection and high album price but after reading this:
Apple strongly recommends going even lower than $9.99 [Recommended Album Price]. They'd like to see that price drop to make the full-album purchase even more desirable.
and other notes from the Music Store Indie Event I think I am in trouble.

Apple as cultural innovators

Tim has cool comments on Apple as an innovator
"...But what Apple does so well is to realize the potential in a technology, and to frame it in such a way that people discover that they need it. In a way, they are cultural innovators more than they are tech innovators... "

Living without Word

Yesterday I had a discussion with a friend about the fact that I must be nuts not to have MS Word installed on my computer. I am probably among the 0.01% of professionals that don't have Word on his computer, I don't even have a substitute like open office. The reason I don't have Word is not because it is a Microsoft product but rather because it's useless to my needs.

I very rarely need to produce paper documents. Most of my reports to clients are published straight to web where they can live a more useful and dynamic life than a paper document. Almost all my correspondence is email. That leaves just a couple of paper documents a month and for those I use indesign an application that produces beautiful document and leaves me in control.

So the only down side of not having word is that people tend to send me word files. Most of those I can safely crap and the few that come from clients I can have converted by friends or colleagues.


This looks quite cool. However, I wonder if the commands are not a little too complicated, too many fingers involved. (via unsanity)

Improving the Safari user interface.

Dave Hyatt has called on Safari user to to give suggestions on user interface improvements. Here is my take on an already very good browser:

Tabs: I guess this is the most requested UI feature. Although I love the tabs in Chimera I think we need to find a smarter implementation. Ironically the main issue I have with tabs is that I love them so much that they fill up too quickly. So when surfing with Chimera I tend to have multiple windows open full of tabs and then finding a particular page tab put's me in a worse situation as I can not use a window menu. Instead, I have to scan the tabs of each open window. Having said that if implemented as tabs, use the favorites bar and make the bookmarks a permanent tab:
Tab possibility in Chimera
Just push the standard favorites to right as you open more tabs. Another, probably better possibility is drawers.

The brushed metal look: Here I will differ from the general Mac community in saying that the main reason apple tends to use brushed metal over standard Aqua for so many of their applications is that Aqua is not that good. It tends to be too high key. Here is an example of a web page viewed with both interfaces:
Brushed metal vs Aqua
Notice how in the chimera screen shot the web page blends in with the UI. This is not a good thing and affects many Aqua applications. The Standard Aqua theme is about 5% and does generate enough contrast between the document and the user interface. Now brushed metal on the hand goes from around 40% to 20% and tends to contrast too much, the light to dark fading can also be confusing. what Apple needs here is a new theme that is somewhere in between these two. Something between 15% and 20% would be good. Irony is that OS9 averaged about 20%. With Apple wanting to clearly differentiate OSX from 9, the likelihood that Apple will listen is probably zero. One interesting side note is that the choice of brushed metal has allowed them to reduce the vertical space that the UI takes up, a good thing!

Shortcuts a la Chimera and OmniWeb is a must and simple improvement. Plus then possibility to hide the Google search box.

A wysiwyg activeX like component: This is desperately needed in OSX Browsers. Hopefully it would be part of WebCore and better than the one offered in windows. The most important thing is that it has to be real easy for web developers to implement without requiring browser sniffing. Jim Ray has other good ideas for WebCore

There is also plenty of attention to detail I like:

  • The shaded link box when you drag and drop a URL. Should maybe be extended to the address bar and bookmarks. (Consider even adding it to cocoa framework for other programs to exploit)
  • The way bookmarks are organized and presented. And the possibility to have the bookmarks as the default view when opening a new window.
  • The lack of fluff. I don't want to see Safari merged with NetNewsWire, Sherlock and co. Keep the browser simple and concentrate on cross application integration. For example allow some kind of way for the user to transfer a RSS link to NetNewsWire or another RSS reader.
OK that's it for now maybe more tomorrow.

Starting to love Safari

I am amazed how quickly Safari has taken over my mind share. When I first looked at it I dismissed it because it did not have tabs and less than perfect CSS Support. I had grown addicted to that those features in Chimera. But now I am realizing I am spending more and more time in Safari by choice. Today I was in for another positive surprise. One of the things I love in safari is the full page bookmarks management, a kind of virtual tab (hopefully the basis to bring in completely). As I was there adding a new folder to the bookmarks I realized it would be great if the browser started up on the bookmarks page. As was just about to file bug report with the idea when I realized maybe they already had. Sure enough in the preferences there it was. This is what I love in Mac software, usually if you think something should work in a certain way, it does.

Some thoughts on the Jobs keynote

I guess three days should be enough to dissipate the reality distortion fields from the MacWorld Keynote. So here is my assessments of the stuff:
  • Final Cut Express Brilliant move, anyone that has played around with iMovie will want to get their teeth into something a little more powerful but at $1000 final cut is beyond the scope for most people $300 is much more acceptable.
  • iPhoto2, iMovie3 and iDVD3 all look like good upgrades and the iLife integration is also a smart move.
  • Safari Like almost everyone I surprised apple did not pick the Gecko but after some reading on the web I think this letter to the KDE team and this old post from Dave Hyatt one of the Safari team members and one of the people behind my current favorite browser Chimera reveals the general thinking. Anyway it seems the renderer still has a long way to go and as long as they don't get rid of the Metal look and add tabs I will stick to Chimera.
  • Keynote Maybe the most significant announcement of the MacWorld. Keynote could be a the first step in Apple's declaration of independence from Microsoft. Take the horrible PowerPoint and make something that both pro's and beginners can love. By fully leveraging Quartz it looks like they have just done it.
  • The 17" PowerBooks What can I say, This is the machine I have dreamed of for years. Now that it is available why am i not going nuts. It's a little bit too expensive and the screen resolution could be higher, everything else is perfect.
  • The 12" PowerBooks Also a gorgeous machine but again in my opinion a little flaw in not including DVI video output. This machine combined with one of Apple's beautiful desktop LCD's would have made make a killing.
All in all I think it was a some great stuff

I need a new backpack...

... a bigger one to fit this. More comments in a while.

Is the desktop interface dead?

Steve Johnson asks the question. while comparing MS and Apple strategies.