Particle Debris (week ending 9/11) An OS Palooza

| Particle Debris

I've collected a lot of technical news debris over the last two weeks, so I'll just roll them out and note their original publication date.

Aug 28: Apple has published some details of Snow Leopard for developers. Anyone who wants to get into a little bit more technical detail of the new OS will find these Developer Notes interesting. If anything, it reminds us that there's a whole lot more technology in an OS than just a pretty screen of icons.

Aug 31: For those also interested in a nice recap of how Grand Central Dispatch (GCD) will help developers, here's a good summary article. It's not that there weren't APIs for multi-threading before, it's just that they were awkward to use. GCD overlays those APIs with a higher level set that takes a lot of the tedium away. If it's easier to do, developers will invest the time to improve the app's performance.

Aug 31: Why don't teenagers tweet as much as older people? Here's the result and analysis from a survey of over 10,000 teenagers, 13-17. Basically, Facebook and MySpace already fulfills the need.

Sep 1: What happens if Snow Leopard decides your MacBook battery needs replacing? It'll let you know. Hold down the Option key when you click on the battery icon in the menu bar to see the status.

Sep 1: For those who are fans of the very popular iStat app for the iPhone, it's worth noting that Apple forced Bjango to remove a very handy function that displays the free memory. The developer isn't sure why, but those who already have version 1.0 get to keep it the way it is. BTW, new new version with new features but missing that free memory display is on sale now for US$0.99.

Sep 1: Many users of Windows XP weren't thrilled with Vista, but the ice may be breaking, thanks to Windows 7. After all, being one OS generation behind is a badge of honor for some IT managers, but two?? Greg Keizer noted that the Windows XP market share has taken a big drop lately. It seems Vista is gaining some acceptance and Windows 7 some positive mind share.

Sep 2: The perennial question of why there are no Mac viruses keeps many befuddled. Explaining it requires some deep technical knowledge and likely a discussion with the black hats. Philip Elmer-DeWitt took a stab at it in this decent overview.

Sep 4: I have predicted that Apple will end its exclusive agreement with AT&T next year. Dan Frommer agrees. (Proving exactly nothing, but it sounds good.)

Sep 4: Apple is placing its bets on the power of modern graphics processing units (GPUs). A very astute and technically deep writer, Daniel Dilger explains why.

Sep 6: For those who've upgraded to Snow Leopard, a nastygram from Apple awaits. The company is deprecating creator codes for files, and muddied the waters with a change to the way apps and files are associated. Many won't like it at first. Here's a terrific explanation by Matt Neuburg on the way it was, is now, and forever shall be. Required reading for every Snow Leopard user.

Sep 9: There are two initiatives cable companies desperately want to invoke, despite back pressure from various consumer protection groups -- and maybe the FCC. One is charging by the byte on their ISP side -- instead of the traditional unlimited access. That's to make up for money lost by people abandoning their cable subscriptions. And secondly, tying your free access to video content on the Internet to a corresponding subscription service for regular broadcast. It all depends on a tricky authentication system -- that is verifying that you have a cable TV account to allow access to some Internet TV sources. Larry Dignan summarizes the second part.

Sep 10: Often, we get overloaded, even punchy, with a barrage of app and OS updates. That's what happened to the team at Tidbits when Mac OS X 10.6.1 was released. This looks like a typical recap of fixes in a maintenance release. It isn't. Read the whole thing; you'll be rolling on the floor laughing.

Sep 10: Sometimes Steve Jobs pooh-poohs a technology, only to later see Apple bring out a product that looks a lot like what was previously dismissed. The Guardian's Bobbie Johnson wrote up a nice piece recapping the history of that process. This time, Mr. Jobs says Apple won't move into e-books. Should we believe him one more time?

Technical Word of the Week (TWoW)

Shovelware (n.) Crappy software, pushed out the door in quantity to make a quick buck.

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