Enable Key Repeat in Lion

If it’s been killing you like it’s been killing me and you want to enable key repeat in Lion just type the following in the command line:

defaults write -g ApplePressAndHoldEnabled -bool false

I couldn’t put up with it any longer.

I also added this user default to my list in a previous post: Mac OS X User Defaults. It contains a pretty thorough list of suggested and commonly sought changes.

The New iMac

Apple has done a tremendous job marketing the new iMac on its website. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think the iMac was only 5mm thick and flat on the front and back.

I found only two images on the site that model a profile view of the new iMac: on the design page and in the Apple store under the gallery tab. The first shows the progression of the iMac over the last 14 years.

Evolution of the iMac

The second image is much more detailed and much larger.

27-inch iMac Dimensions

Other than these two images, I doubt you’ll find another image on the site that shows the the back of the iMac peaking out from behind the screen. All the images displaying the iMac are captured so it looks like a flat monitor. That’s exceptional marketing. Granted, the back isn’t any deeper than it was before (at least I don’t think it is), it’s pretty obvious they purposefully don’t allow it to show. Furthermore, I couldn’t find a specification anywhere that said how “deep” the iMac is from the front of the screen to the apex of the dome-back (not including the stand). Maybe it’s actually deeper than the previous model and that’s why they won’t tell us. Hmmm…

As I was toying around with pricing on the 27″, I was frustrated because you can’t customize the iMac with anything less than 768GB of flash storage. While I’d love a solid state drive that big, I can’t fork out $1,300. I’d prefer an internal 256GB SSD and then just add a 1TB external drive connected via USB3 or Thunderbolt. But I guess they want to discourage that, thus the 768GB SSD or a fusion drive alternative, which isn’t a terrible idea for an extra $250.

Now the question is, do I buy a new iMac when I graduate or more lenses for my DSLR? :)

iPad Mini vs. Kindle Fire HD

I noticed that Amazon.com is taking advantage of a direct product comparison with the iPad Mini. Smart move on their part and good advertising tactic. Go for that swing group!

Amazon Kindle Fire HD - Much More for Much Less

Apparently it’s not iPad Mini vs. Android tablet, but iPad Mini vs. Kindle Fire HD.

Amazon highlights the key characteristics that standout against the iPad Mini: price and pixel density. It even went as far as to be redundant just to drive the point home. Notice the first two points are basically a restatement of pixel density (verbal vs. numerical) and are very similar in argumentative premise. The Kindle Fire also boasts wifi that is 41% faster than the new iPad (purportedly). The quote by Gizmodo adds a nice touch of ethos, though I’m not sure how much validity it really adds.

I stumbled upon an article comparing the new iPad Mini to the Kindle Fire HD. It had some good points. But some of the arguments were bolazo (that’s Uruguayan for nonsensical).

I like Apple products a lot. In general, I think they are well designed. I’ve had a better experience with my MacBook than any other previously owned laptop. Granted your newest product is going to be a better experience than the last (hopefully); however, there are things I just love about my MacBook that I didn’t get with my PCs. I’ve mentioned a lot of them before (trackpad, gestures, Preview, among other things). Of course this is just my preference. Some people hate gestures. I could throw money at them and they would want nothing to do with it, let alone a MacBook.

Back to my point. There are some arguments in the article that are flat out terrible. For example, the author suggests that “[Apple] has gotten away with selling what are essentially commodity products at an extremely high premiums by establishing a strong brand that has embedded in the general population the image of superiority.” The kind of technology Apple sells is not a commodity. This guy is writing like a first-world-ian. The only way in which Apple products are like commodities is that when the price goes up, fanboys and fangirls still buy them. Other than that iPods, iPads, iPhones, MacBooks, etc. are not commodities. Tablets and smart phones in general are not commodities. Ridiculous. On the flip side, Apple has managed to “get away with”, or better said, successfully been able to sell their products at high prices because of the loyal consumer base they have grown as a result of branding, marketing, design and a host of other strategies.

Later the author makes this statement: “In short, while the Apple software ecosystem is closed and very rich today, Android will reach parity and even surpass the richness of the iOS world going forward, eliminating the software ecosystem advantage that Apple can use to justify its higher prices for inferior hardware.” Wow! Google, you should really pay this guy more. …

This is taking me back to my previous rant on journalism a little bit. At this point the author’s persuasive pitch left me unconvinced and I stopped reading. And it’s not because he claims “Android will reach parity and even surpass” iOS. That may very well happen. May the best product “win.” But inferior hardware? Talk about a sweeping generalization of Apple products.

The iPad Mini may not meet the mark of the Kindle Fire HD in pixel density and screen resolution, and I personally think it would have been better to include the Retina display, but to label the rest of the Apple suite as inferior is absurd. Apple is paving the way for higher screen resolution, something that I know has pushed a number of people into the Apple product sphere. Are their products perfect? Obviously not. I think many of us, myself included, have questioned and wondered about some of their strategic decisions. Perhaps I’m focusing on the minor details of his article too much, but he really could have done better in crafting his argument.

I guess my main point is some times I’m a bit struck at the persuasive arguments people conjure up, and yet they fail or choose not to look at the bigger picture. That’s the ugly side of the Internet. We have this glorious tool where people can express themselves. Yet some people, often people who hit the front page of the Internet (Google Search, page 1, in all it’s query-able varieties) just can’t write a well-rounded argument. I suppose they don’t have to and they won’t, especially if they have an agenda (i.e. drive traffic to their site, etc.). What also bugs me is the thought of people accepting their words at face value.

This goes beyond this one insignificant post. It stretches out to articles and media productions on politics, religion, finance, and just about everything else. I hope that people research and investigate for themselves, that they read other articles from different sources, that they work the numbers and check the stats. I think part of the reason I’ve been thinking about this is because I know I’ve fallen into these traps before and I’m sure I write articles that miss important points. Furthermore, a lot of people never care to check the facts and they begin to form solid opinions on topics they know little of other than the fodder that one Internet farmer has fed them.

It’s the same with news on the TV. I can’t stand watching news on TV because of all the political bias and other garbage. And yet I know people who watch the same news station night after night (mostly people from an older generation). Diversification isn’t only an investment principle. I believe it’s enables us to seeing the bigger picture and to develop a more sound understanding of the world around us.

End rant. All in all, I both liked and disliked the way Amazon called out Apple on their front page. It was bold and daring. In a sense, it showed consumers “the truth” about the iPad Mini versus the Kindle Fire HD, albiet biased advertising.

At the same time, I thought the front page comparison was petty. It sorta reminded me of laundry detergent ads, even though in this case it’s more factual. It also reminded me of the Samsung ads. “The next big thing is already here.” This kind of advertising is amusing and can be effective (especially when focusing on the swing group), but there is a higher plane of advertising.

When you have to stoop down to try and show consumers you are better than the competitor by comparing yourself to the competitor’s product, you know you aren’t reaching for that higher plane. Your product should sell itself by showing consumers how it delivers what is most valued and how it fits who they are.

Typical Journalism & Consumerism

Typical Journalism

It doesn’t take much to be a typical journalist. Beyond the basics of good grammar and vocabulary, it seems like all you have to do is pick a topic readers want to read about and then come up with a persuasive argument. So many people are easily swayed because they are looking for validation of their own opinions. It’s not hard to persuade these kinds of people, especially when it comes to dichotomous views. So it is with bi-partsan politics.

So it is with the new Apple iPhone or the new Samsung/HTC Android phone. I found a lot of the tech news surrounding the release of the iPhone 5 intriguing. So many haters. So many people saying they are let down. “It’s basically the same phone.” “Apple is copying Samsung.” I must admit, I too found myself caught in the wave of disappointment at first, mostly due to the early leaks. When you’ve already seen the leaked videos on YouTube and then you watch the actual release, you feel like the birthday guy/gal showing up to the surprise party you already knew about. Nobody likes that. Everybody feels let down.

It’s tough to put a cap on all that when there’s so much hype about your product. IMO, few other companies have been able to pull-off what Apple has done in the past, building up significant hype about their product. Notably, this can be good or bad, depending on how people take it. In the past, it seems like it’s been mostly good. This time around, not so much maybe.

One reason why there’s so much hype is because Apple has such a cult-like following in addition to the cult-like opposition which only adds to the attention. These audiences have only become more polarized over the years. This may be my biased point of view, but I haven’t been as impressed with other companies’ product releases (e.g. Microsoft Surface). Honestly, I’m stoked to see the Surface in the hands of consumers. As an aside, I think the new Windows Phone is pretty sweet. Hopefully they can gain some traction in the marketplace and bring developers on board. To me, that means Microsoft made a worthwhile product. More power to them.

Typical Consumerism

Your average consumer is great at what they do: consume. Consumers demand the best. They demand a consistent return or better. If you deliver amazing results once, you better deliver even better the next time.

Consumers are also superficial. They don’t think about what goes into product. They only care about what the product does and what it looks like. Most consumers don’t even understand half of the technical mumbo jumbo, they just want to see bigger numbers (3.5″ –> 4.0″ or A5 –> A6 or 4 –> 5 and don’t you dare think about adding an “S” to the end of my product because that means it’s just an upgrade and it should have been there in the first place!!!). Most consumers can’t even fathom what goes into the development of a product. I’m pretty confident the designers at Apple put a lot of thought into the changes they made. It’s like doubling your processing capabilities and making the screen bigger isn’t enough anymore.

Maybe we should demand more of Apple. Maybe they can do better. Sometimes I wish they would change more myself. Everybody loves a cool, new look. But I’m not sure how realistic that is. Sounds more like being a typical consumer.

Some times I wish they would change iOS up a bit and (going back to the old PC argument) make it a bit more customizable. I feel a bit overloaded by icons and the screens. I don’t like the groups much some times either. Regardless, I don’t see Android as a way better alternative. Windows Phone just seems fresh, different, and newer; not better necessarily. There are plenty of other things I like about the iPhone anyway.

Conclusion

I think Apple could have stepped up their game in some aspects. Why didn’t they have turn-by-turn navigation 1-2 years ago? I don’t know. I’ll tell you how much I’ve missed it once I have it. Otherwise, I’m over it. Whenever I’m with people that have it, I find it annoying and obnoxious. Maybe I’ll change my mind. Why is Apple finally going bigger on the screen? There’s many answers for that depending on who you ask. Is Apple boring? Is Apple a copy cat? There’s lots of answers to those kinds of questions too. Dan Lyon says Apple Has Become BoringJohn Gruber says Apple Is Still Exciting. MG Siegler says it’s all in the Turn. You can also look at the lawsuit results or who had the bigger screen first. There’s an answer from both sides. It’s all subjective.

Overall, I’m sure the iPhone 5 will be another great success, just like the iPhone 4, which continued to sell like hot cakes despite the antenna issues. Is it better than the latest Android phone (or the new Windows Phone for that matter)? Meh, that’s subjective. Are its tech specs comparable? Yes. Am I going to buy a new iPhone 5? Probably. I’ll probably sell my iPhone 4 for $300 and get the iPhone 5 for $300. I’ll break even and get a sweet new phone? Why not!? I got nothing against Android. I’ve never owned one. You like Android? You think it’s better? So buy one. You like PCs? So buy one. I’m more of a fence sitter when it comes to technology. I mostly fall on whichever side I like and stick there until I find really compelling reasons to switch. I venture out and try out the new stuff, but if it’s not blowing my socks off, I see no need to switch right away.

One of the most amusing conversations I had surrounding the iPhone 5 went something like this:

Dude: So what do you think of the new iPhone 5?
Me: I don’t know. It seems pretty cool. I’ll probably get one.
*Momentary Silence*
Dude: You should just get an Android phone.

It was as if the disappointment surrounding the new iPhone 5 was so universal that it clearly meant it was an inferior phone, that it was a no-brainer to NOT buy one, and he was expecting me to say that I wasn’t impressed and that I wasn’t going to get one. Well truth is, I wasn’t jumping up and down when I first saw it, but that’s because I was sucked into the perspective of a typical consumer…and I wasn’t surprised. Happens.

It’s like people are looking for validation that their phone (or some other device, methodology, practice, sports team, or whatever) is better so they tell you to make the switch, or they tell you all the reasons why your _________ is terrible and theirs is better. Takes me back to the put-downs that are so profuse in grade school. Classic way to make yourself feel better. It’s a good tactic really. For those who need that kind of self-reassurance. Check yourself. I know I’ve been guilty.

Fact is haters gonna hate. Typical journalism. Typical consumerism.

Magic Mouse, Meet BetterTouchTool

Apple Magic Mouse

I’ve already talked about how BetterTouchTool is a must have for any Macbook user. But I never went on to discuss how BTT integrates with a Magic Mouse (since I don’t have one). This always intrigued me.

Since we are doing some iOS development at work, HQ sent us a Mac Mini with a Magic Mouse. Naturally, I volunteered to setup the Mac for my team with good software (BetterTouchTool, Caffeine, Sublime, etc.) and the like so that it would run beautifully.

The effect of marrying Magic Mouse to BTT is just as breathtaking as Magic Trackpad + BTT.  You get the ease of a mouse and no more tired fingers when you’re using Photoshop, Visio or anything involving a lot of clicking and dragging. iMacs, Thunderbolt displays and other widescreen monitors have an exceptional amount of screen real estate, which make using a trackpad really tiresome. It’s even a bit tiresome with a mouse. Thus, by using gestures on a Magic Mouse, you still benefit significantly.

For those of you who haven’t read the aforementioned post about BTT, let me just say that I’m not talking about the default gestures that Apple gives you with Mac OS X. I’m talking about custom gestures with 1, 2, 3 and 4 fingers on the Magic Mouse–though limited 4 finger usage.

Using gestures on a Magic Mouse in contrast with the trackpad on a MacBook does take some getting used to. Notably, the Magic Mouse has less surface area than a trackpad. But since you can get both a mouse and gestures, I’d get a Magic Mouse and skip the extra Magic Trackpad any day. I guess that’s kind of a no brainer though. However, now I can say I’ve experienced the ease of making multi-touch gestures on a Magic Mouse. If you haven’t, you’re missing out.

Mini-App of the Day: BetterTouchTool

BetterTouchTool IconIf you don’t know what BetterTouchTool is, you should read this post. If you have a Mac, you should really read this post. If you have a PC, you should still read this post. It will be worth your time to see what you are missing out on either way. It will also answer why you’d ever want to buy a Magic Trackpad if you are a Mac user and you’re saying to yourself, “Isn’t a mouse better in all regards?” For those of you who know what BetterTouchTool is and currently use it…just glory in your preeminence. ;)

BetterTouchTool is a big reason why I have loved my switch to a Mac for the last 2 years. I’ve always been a PC user. I have nothing against PC’s in general. I had some bad luck with a Dell laptop once, but I’ve seen plenty of Macs crash and burn too (some of you are probably sitting there saying, “You should have bought an HP” or “…a Lenovo.”). Though, those Asus Ultrabooks are looking pretty slick if you want the PC version of a MacBook Air.

BetterTouchTool is a utility designed to give you more control of gestures on your trackpad.  Apple did us a huge favor by making trackpads a lot bigger and by integrating the button into the pad. Genious. Apple also did us a great favor by eliminating (and returning to their old standard I might add) the second button because now if you want those menus, you just tap with two fingers. Also genious. (I realize this is up for debate depending on preference and habit, but if you are going to just argue more is better, I won’t humor you. I will entertain that two buttons–one on the left, one on the right–is just as good.)

So what does this mean? Well, Apple included a few gestures in Leopard, then a few more in Snow Leopard, then a few more in Lion. Maybe they’ll finally have a sufficient amount in Mountain Lion, though I doubt it. BetterTouchTool (BTT) makes up the lack thereof. You can go ahead and turn off most of the default gestures Apple gives you and re-program them how you want. That’s what I did. BTT allows you to add almost as many gestures as you can think of and assign them any number of preconfigured actions or a shortcut key. So now, instead of having to move your cursor everywhere or even reach to your keyboard for a shortcut, you can just use your trackpad.

For example, if you want to open and close tabs in your Internet browser, or go back and forward in your navigation history, you can do that with a gesture. You don’t need to click the button with your cursor or press Ctrl/Cmd + T or Ctrl/Cmd + [. Just program those shortcuts into gestures. This goes for any program.

Since it’s kind of hard to demo this with screenshots because you would need to verify I’m not using the keyboard, I went ahead and made a simple screencast video.

The following video gives you a short idea of how to actually “program” these gestures.

One limitation to gestures is that you inevitably run out of easy to remember and easily executed gestures. There are a lot of different gestures available, but some of them are hard to execute so chances are you will just resort back to keyboard shortcuts or cursor clicking. That said, I would encourage you to not give up after the first couple attempts to use some of the gestures. Putting all five fingers on the track pad and clicking is a little awkward the first time (just like the first time you played Halo and had to get used to the strange joystick combination or the first time you drove stick shift or rode a bike). Naturally, your muscles will adapt and you will react on muscle memory as soon as your mind thinks “Finder” or “New Tab.”

For your convenience and demo-ing. I’ve included a download of my current BetterTouchTool configuration below. I admit there is a lot of room for expansion into other apps I don’t use regularly; however, the basic and most powerful functionality that I need is there and I use it everyday. I highly encourage you to check this out and spend some time customizing it to your needs. It will highly improve your Mac experience.

Download BetterTouchTool.
Download BTT Functionality Demo Video or view on YouTube.
Download BTT Preferences Demo Video or view on YouTube.
Download My BTT Configuration File (you’ll want to remove the .txt extension before importing).