Sunday, June 22, 2008

.Mac and MobileMe

I signed up for .Mac back in February when I was setting up my then new Mac Pro. I noted then that it seemed expensive at $A 139.95 per year, and I stand by that. I've since branched out from synchronisation to occasional use of iDisk, and uploading a few web galleries from Aperture. On a per-byte basis, I think Apple's making good money out of me. But the syncing Just Works. I cannot recall encountering a problem in four months.

Apple recently announced a makeover for .Mac, starting with a name change to ‘MobileMe’. To make a completely superficial observation, I don't like the name. Microsoft already tried it, and apparently it didn't work out too well. There's a brochure-like features list, as well as a transition FAQ, but I didn't see anything that made me sit up and take notice. More storage: Great, though I'm hardly pushing the current capacity. A new domain name: Wow. New web apps: Now, these look very cool.

Over at the Guided Tour page, there's a short video overview of the new system, and in particular the new web applications. The Mail, Contacts and Calendar applications look very impressive—very much like their desktop counterparts, Mail, Address Book and iCal. The video is worth watching just to see them in action. A lot of the demonstrations are taken from Safari running on Windows Vista, which I thought was a neat touch. (The presenter said ‘cloud’ way too many times, though.) It's not clear to me whether the Mail application is solely for reading mail sent to a MobileMe account, though, or whether it literally syncs up with Mail on the desktop. If not the latter, I can't imagine ever using it. It may well be occasionally handy to use iCal and Address Book as web applications, though.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Spaces in 10.5.3: marginally less broken

Towards the bottom of the page, the release notes for the Mac OS X 10.5.3 Update mention some fixes to Spaces. John Gruber covered the changes at length last month, but since I was critical back in November last year, here's my brief take. From the release notes:
Resolves an issue in which switching to a different space and returning back to the original space may reorder the application windows with a different active window.
I can still reproduce that bug. I'm sitting here in the top-left of four spaces with a Safari window in front of a Yojimbo window. Ctrl-Down, Ctrl-Up... Yojimbo window in front of Safari window, Yojimbo window active. Short of making a screencast, you'll have to take my word for it. But the bug persists.
Resolves an issue in which activating an application from the Dock switches to a different space, even if there is a window for that application in the current space.
I can still partially reproduce that bug. I've got the Mail Activity window in one space, my main window in another, and a new message window in a third. If I head to the third space, make the new message window active, and hit the Mail icon in the dock, I am transported to the least useful of all spaces: the one with the Activity window. I don't see how that behaviour is helpful. Granted, if I make something else active in the third space, hitting the Mail icon in the Dock does just activate the new message window.
Fixes an issue in which Command-Tab may incorrectly switch to a new space.
As far as I can tell, this bug is fixed.
Addresses reliability issues with Spaces when syncing preferences over .Mac.
I don't know what this was about. I'm happy to assume it is fixed.

In brief, Spaces remains at least partially broken. I have yet to find it useful.