Before the Macintosh.

Xerox-star-8010-09

via Digibarn

And even before the Lisa, in 1981 there was the Xerox Star. The link above has a number of high-quality scans of the system. 

The Lisa, introduced in 1983 and featuring a young Kevin Costner in one of the ads, would sell for $10,000, yet that was peanuts compared to the Star: 

The Xerox Star was not originally meant to be a stand-alone computer, but to be part of an integrated Xerox “personal office system” that also connected to other workstations and network services via Ethernet. Although a single unit sold for $16,000, a typical office would have to purchase at least 2 or 3 machines along with a file server and a name server/print server. 

Interesting that in the above shot the printer didn’t get the bullet points you see on the screen. 

Seeing these two predecessors just three years before the Mac’s launch makes you appreciate the littlest Apple all that much more. At $2,500 it was truly remarkable. 

Advertisements

Dear Apple: Please add decent mobile control over MobileMe photo galleries

As a MobileMe subscriber I enjoy using the Gallery for photos. I think the interface and options for viewing photos in the galleries is beautiful. However, every time I maintain the site I can’t help but be frustrated at the lack of control Apple provides. The only real control comes via the Mac using iPhoto or Aperture. And even then, photos placed on the galleries have less utility than on the desktop. 

The Mac

With Aperture or iPhoto you can create albums for upload and sync to MobileMe. You can add or delete photos and the albums stay in sync. You can add new albums, drag and drop photos between them, and any keywords or star ratings added to photos in a MobileMe album work just like any other album.

Unfortunately, once you get off the Mac some of this data is not used, and your ability to make changes are reduced drastically. 

The Web

The Gallery interface for MobileMe on the web isn’t too bad. Here you can add/delete albums. You also have some control over albums, but are missing the ability to set privacy or the download quality of the photos (see album settings below, MobileMe on top, iPhoto on bottom). These are important settings, yet they can’t be controlled via the web interface. 

Mme_album
Iphotoalbum

As for photos, you can add/delete, rotate, and drag and drop them among existing albums. Not bad, but there are no other editing controls, no ratings, and no keywords. Further, even if ratings and keywords are used on the Mac, they’re not available on the web interface. You know the keyword searches you can do in Flickr? Yeah, there’s none of that in MobileMe. 

The iPhone

On the iPhone it gets much worse. You cannot use the web interface, instead you’re routed to a page that tells you to load Apple’s Gallery app. The app is beautiful (below) and great for viewing pictures, but that’s all it allows. There’s no facility to edit information or change settings for albums or photos. There’s no upload facility, and not even the ability to delete a photo from an album. Aside from viewing all you can do is email a link to a photo or album. 

Iphone_gallery

It should be noted that a picture viewed in the native Photos app can be uploaded to MobileMe, where you can select an existing album (but not add a new one) and a title/description. Again, no editing, deleting, ratings or keywords are allowed. 

The iPad

Sadly, the iPad is the worst mobile device of all for controlling one’s MobileMe galleries. Like the iPhone, you can’t use the web interface and must download the Gallery app. But the Gallery app has not been upgraded for the iPad, so it’s either very small or very ugly, take your pick.

The Upshot

In short, you have good control of galleries via your Mac, but some of that data isn’t stored online, and when you leave the Mac you’re limited. The Web interface is OK, but lacks privacy controls, and the iPhone/iPad have essentially no controls at all. 

Apple ought to change this. The Gallery app could take some cues from Flickr’s own app, which allows title, description, photoset (including adding a new one), tags, image size, geotag, and privacy level for each upload. Further, it allows editing an existing photo’s title, description, photoset, tags and privacy. It also allows you to delete photos. 

It’s frustrating that real maintenance on my MobileMe galleries requires I get back to a Mac. Frankly, it takes the “mobile” out of MobileMe. It’s no wonder I use Flickr more often. 

Apple Discontinues A Failure (in 2001)

Apple_cube

It was early July, 2001 when Apple finally threw in the towel on the Cube. Introduced to much fanfare as the G4 Cube only a year earlier, the device never met Apple’s sales expectations. 

Not all was lost, however, the radical design earned it a place at the New York Museum of Modern Art. 

What was probably most interesting about the Cube’s demise was Jobs quoted as saying: 

“That was not a failure of design,” Mr. Jobs said. “It was a failure of concept. We targeted the Cube at a professional audience. We thought they would rather have something small on the desk than expandability and we were wrong. It was a wrong concept — fabulously implemented.”

Affordable Mac Alternatives For Adobe CS5

This week? Adobe. Listen up. You have some great stuff, but increasingly, your sweet suites are bloated, crash happy, expensive, and sometimes don’t behave like a good Mac app citizen.

Like Microsoft, Adobe has milked it’s cash cow for 15+ years for all that they can get. I realize that, for true professionals, they can earn back the upgrade price in one job, but the vast majority of Adobe’s customers are not such professionals, and are paying too much.

The above article discusses alternatives for such customers. Powerful and productive programs for less money (a lot less money) than Adobe’s offerings. Unless you literally rely on CS for a living, you should check them out.

Google to Mac users: Eat the crumbs we throw you

I’ll be interested to see how well Chrome does among Mac users.

You mean there’s finally a real Chrome browser available for Mac? Oh, wait, no, there’s not. Just the same old tired beta, even though it left beta on Windows ages ago.

Google’s taken so long to deliver a Mac version I assumed they’d outsourced the job to Adobe. No need; I guess when it comes to Mac software they’re the new Adobe.

Does Chrome install on the Mac with that insidious Google “updater” always running in the background? You know, the one that even if you hunt it down and kill it, it just reinstalls itself the next time you run the Google app? It’s just one reason the Mac version of Picasa (beta, of course) was blown from my Mac, with no Google software to return.

I’ll never understand why so many Mac users are eager to eat scraps off the floor that fell from a developer’s Windows table. Not me. No thanks, Google. Take your cheesy product to Linux, I’m not interested.

Tog: The Mac and the iPad

Probably the strongest character trait of Steve Jobs is his absolute lack of fear. While every other CEO in America, it seems, shakes in his boots at the very thought of not having a good next quarter, my experience in knowing Steve Jobs is that, frankly, he could care less about the next quarter. He’s much more focused on the next five years, rather than the next 90 days.

Great article from Tog (Bruce Tognazzini) on parallels between the original Mac and iPad. Lots of great comments and observations about Steve Jobs from a man who was there.

Great Dual-Screen Wallpapers

The work PC I brought home has two monitors. The same wallpaper on each screen looks silly, so I went over to Digital Blasphemy and snapped up a bunch of dual-screen ‘papers. The six shown here are just a few of the many I downloaded. Beautiful stuff.

They’re not free, but for $15 you get 90 days access, which means you could easily download everything there. It also means you generally don’t see this wallpaper on other machines, keeping your PC unique. I’d say 75% of the wallpapers on my Macs and PCs are from DB.