Dear Apple

Well you kind of let me down with the Macbook Air. 1 USB port? No replaceable battery? Lack of the syncing stuff I hoped for. And the price…

However, I’ll let you off since you gave me this:

iPod touch update

£12.99 well spent. The touch was already eminently useable for most of my browsing and media needs, now it’s even more so.

My Macworld predictions

Everybody else in the tech universe seems to be making predictions about what Steve Jobs is going to come up with today, so here’s mine:

  • He will announce the new Macbook Air, as many have reported is likely.
  • Also as widely discussed it will be thin, very thin, and likely have nothing more in terms of ports than a couple of USB and power. Network? Wireless only. Peripherals? USB and Bluetooth, including things like headphones. No external monitor capability.
  • Explaining away the lack of Firewire, Jobs will announce that Apple will put their support behind USB3.0 and Wireless USB from now on with Firewire still supported for legacy reasons on desktop, Macbook and Macbook Pro hardware. Macbook Air probably won’t have enough disk for video editing anyway…
  • Disk will be solid state.
  • Will support two essential use-cases – standalone laptop machine in which case you will likely need the USB optical drive accessory, or much more interestingly it will be able to sync up to a host machine e.g. iMac. iTunes on the Air will sync to a host iTunes in much the same way as Apple TV does.
  • iTunes 8.0 will support DVD ripping and iTunes movie rentals. You can rip your DVDs to your host Mac and sync them to the Air or via USB optical drive directly. Movie rentals are a no brainer.
  • The syncing mechanism will be extended to include your home directory, settings etc, allowing your Air to be a truly portable mini-copy of your desktop Mac back home.
  • Naturally remote syncing will be supported via a combination of .Mac and Back To My Mac.
  • Time Machine will be updated so that it knows not to backup synced content on an Air that is already being backed up on a host Mac. That is if you are using the host Mac as the Time Machine destination.
  • It won’t have any sort of multi-touch interface, just keyboard and trackpad.
  • It will be powerful enough to run stuff like Aperture or Lightroom for photo editing with comfort, and the screen will be widescreen, probably not OLED yet.

Ok, I confess, this isn’t so much a prediction as a wish list. Whilst I love my iMac to pieces I would like to be able to take it on the road sometimes, especially when away on trips and I want to do some photo editing. I don’t need things like optical drives, external monitor ports or at a push a wired network connection. What I do need however is to not feel like I would have to maintain data between two machines. This is why I’ve never bought a companion Macbook for instance. Currently you either go mobile with a Macbook/Pro and compromise on disk and screen real-estate, or you stay deskbound with an iMac/Mini/Mac Pro. The Air would seem to fill the gap between the two allowing desktop Mac owners to take their data on the road without feeling like they have a whole management problem with two machines.

I know I’d buy one like a shot…

Calling Wyoming, anybody there??

Looking my visitor data collected by Google Analytics I notice that the only US state I’ve not been visited from is Wyoming:

Map of US

Looking at a 2003 survey it doesn’t appear that Wyoming is particularly behind in computer/internet usage compared to other states, however, Wikipedia tells me it is the least populated state.

I want to fill in the almost square space in my map, so if you know anybody in Wyoming, point them this way!

Photophlow: flickr + irc + web2.0 = awesome

Click for large version.

I first read about Photophlow on Ajaxian a few days ago. Of course I signed up immediately for their limited beta and this morning an invite was waiting in my inbox.

Photophlow is an extremely well designed web application for community viewing of photos from flickr. The best way of describing it would be to imagine a photo slideshow application mashed up with an IRC chatroom. It hosts a variety of virtual rooms (you can create your own) in which people can gather. There are rooms available for flickr groups and the application will highlight room for groups you are already a member of. Anybody in a room can perform a flickr search and then select a photo to be viewed. Meantime all people in the room can talk and discuss in real-time as well as having direct access to usual flickr features such as adding contacts, favourites and comments.

From within a room you can display a list of photos from either a choice of options (the photostream for the related group, your photos, your contacts, explore etc.) or you can search. If you click on a photo from the resultant list it is shown larger on the right hand side of the window. People then naturally start commenting on it, critiquing and generally interacting with each other. It is fascinating to see how the conversation develops. This morning I entered the room and began looking at a couple of photos. A few more people came in and I struck up a conversation with a guy from Huddersfield. Somebody else started looking through his photos and in the meantime a conversation was taking place about the best wireless remotes for off-camera flash. The Huddersfield guy then took us off to view a photo from a friend which recently made the top spot on explore.

The beauty is the way that other people can control what you view. It has the potential to be disruptive if people are constantly changing photo, and I guess as more people come into the system this will be something to keep an eye on. It would be tempting for a lot of people to go into a room and immediately start displaying their photos for instance. Thankfully there are a couple of different modes. In any room you can choose to go into manual mode which means others cannot override the photo you are currently viewing. You can also go private which means others cannot see the photo you are looking at, but you are still in the room and can still participate in conversations.

Things get even more impressive when you try the built-in support for twitter, allowing you to create tweets when you enter a room of ad-hoc from directly within the photophlow interface. They also have tumblr support, and the ability for the system to notify you by email or IM when certain events happen, like somebody entering your personal room.

The screenshot above shows a rather serendipitous moment when one of the other people in the room did a search for “shielding” and one of the photos that came up was by Roo.

I have three invites to give away, so please leave a comment (make sure you enter your email address on the form) if you want one.

Attending Lotusphere 2008

In a couple of weeks I’ll be heading off to Orlando and my first ever Lotusphere conference. I’ll be staffing the Meet the developers lab and showing off some of the new stuff we are doing in the next release of Lotus Connections.

Being a relative Lotus newbie I am looking forward to experiencing Lotusphere. Whilst I’ve been to many WebSphere and Transaction & Messaging/Impact conferences before, they don’t seem to have the same buzz as Lotusphere. I’ve been taking a look at a few photos on flickr and for instance a search for ‘lotusphere2007’ returns 2,940 results compared to a meagre 69 for ‘impact ibm’! I remember walking around an evening reception at T&M Europe 2006 in Salzburg with my camera and getting some strange looks 😉 Needless to say I’ll have my camera with my in Orlando and will do my best to post up the photos to flickr as I go along, as well as the occasional blog post and twitter update I guess.

If you happen to read this and are attending then drop a comment as it would be great to meet people.

My air travel in 2007

Following the lead of Andy and Roo, I’ve been totting up the number of airmiles I travelled in 2007, plotted on this map:

Adrian's flights in 2007

That’s a grand total of 23,137 miles, much more than I thought. I dread to think how many miles I used to clock up back when I was in a job which took me all over Europe for two years, with frequent US trips and a jaunt to South Africa added in. This time around there were only four segments of work-related flights: Heathrow to Chicago return and Chicago to Minneapolis. The rest were all for pleasure including flights from Heathrow to Rome, Stockholm and Boston.

Unsurprisingly after our move to Dublin we’ve been fairly regular customers of Ryanair, flying to three different UK destinations: Luton, Bournemouth and Leeds-Bradford.

A quick tot-up shows that I’ve flown with the following airlines in 2007:

Aer Lingus x1
American Airlines x3
Fly BMI x1
British Airways x2
Ryanair x5
Air France Cityjet x1

My award for best airline goes to British Airways for ease of check-in and in-flight service. They gained big bonus points for giving us champagne when flying back from Rome on Lana’s birthday. Top BA tip: if you ever find yourself checking in online for one of their 757s then row 26 is the one to go for.

Worst goes to American. I’ve only ever flown to the US on American, US Airways and Virgin. Up until this year I always rated AA above the others. However I’ve subsequently changed my mind. This has nothing to do with the fact that my best man phoned them up to inform them we were travelling on our honeymoon with them to no avail 😉 Seriously though, their in-flight service is surly and sometimes downright rude.

Best airport? Well I would say Detroit Metro Wayne County purely because it has a 1 mile long terminal with a monorail inside it, however I was there in 2006, not 2007. Therefore I’ll have to say Rome Fiumicino – clean, efficient and with a good range of shops.

Worst goes to Heathrow. This pains me to say as I have a love affair with LHR that went sour this year. My first ever flight was from there in 1986 when my dad took me on a surprise trip in a British Airways BAC 1-11 with Patrick Moore to watch Halley’s Comet. It is probably the airport I’ve travelled out of most, but this year I had to do something I’ve never done before: transfer through it. The flight connections centre is a complete, unorganized mess. Additionally, every single flight I’ve been on into or out of LHR this year has been late. I’ve given up counting the number of times I’ve heard the captain of a flight say that delays are due to air traffic hold ups at Heathrow. It is running too near to capacity, and I’m not sure a new terminal and runway are going to help that.

Finally, 2008 is getting off to a flier already (excuse the pun!) This weekend coming we are travelling from Dublin to Luton for the weekend. On the 19th I fly off to Orlando for work, we are planning a holiday in February and already have a large number of weddings lined up for later in the year including ones in Switzerland and Washington DC! Even the UK weddings we have will invariably mean two flights: one for the stag do and one for the day itself.

Edited to add a Dublin-London City flight I forgot!