All posts in Apple

The Cognitive Need for OSX Finder Labels.

October 2013 brought sweeping changes to the features and financial models of many Apple software products. As Mavericks, the latest version of the Mac OS, moves the technology forward it presents many baffling changes that evoke like the proverbial “two steps backwards” phrase. For my day-to-day workflow the most disruptive change is the elimination of File Labels.

The new Finder Tags are great, but they are no substitute for the ability to quickly label a file name with a color. Having now lost the  ability to quickly “swipe a virtual highlighting pen across the name of the file,” I find it has much more of an impact on my daily computer use than I would have ever guessed it might.

Tags are great for sorting, searching and long-term organization, but Labels are a much better method for quick and sure visual identification, visual organization, and short-term flagging of files in lists.

But what about that tiny colored dot by the file names? Doesn’t that serve the same purpose? It does not. Here the cognitive problem the dots create:

labelsWith labels, one could quickly skim a list of file names and simultaneously see the color associated with each. One action, one thought.

With Tags, these two pieces of information are no longer in the same place, or within the same glance. With eyes focused on one, the other is in peripheral vision. As mentioned before, the dots are very small, and the distance between the name and the color dot varies depending on the width of the Finder column. This causes ones eyes to shift back and forth trying to connect these two bits of information. Trying to use Tags in the same way as Labels, one end up reading file names multiple times just to verify. I find that I no longer grab files with confidence that they are the one I marked earlier without several eye-shifting checks.

Labels eliminate reading, and often even thinking about, file management allowing one to better concentrate on the work they are doing in the first place.

Sure this all happens in milliseconds, but the latter takes longer, and it creates stress and doubt. Consider that one might perform this action thousands of times per day, what was once rather effortless becomes burdensome.

I’m not suggesting that Apple change or eliminate tags. I am just asking for Labels to come back, or for some other way to quickly highlight files. If you feel the same way, let Apple know on their OSX Feedback Page.

UPDATE: March 26, 2014

Problem solved for now. Tran Ky Nam Software’s utility XtraFinder adds several cool features to the OSX Finder. The free app was updated today with the option to show Finder Labels!

Google’s $35 Chromecast makes Apple TV an expensive “hobby”

chromecast_deviceChromecast will certainly be compared to Apple TV, and many pundits will jump to the old standby “insert-product-name-here killer” but isn’t the first product on Cc’s kill list Google TV? Not according to this diplomatically correct Google statement, “Chromecast offers an alternative solution to existing non-connected HDTVs with a simple and affordable device. We believe there is ample room for both products to exist and succeed.”

Janko Roettgers at GigaOm offers a thoughtful analysis of the new product and where it may sit in the coming online media ecosphere.

The real issue however isn’t how the Chromecast product introduced this week stacks up against Apple’s current-generation Apple TV. These products are just the first step towards a future in which both companies could be offering their own pay TV services over the internet to compete with traditional cable and satellite TV offerings.

Sony-Voice-Control-RemoteSkepticism about the future of Google TV is not unique. I own two of the much maligned products; a Logitech Revue, and the less elegantly named Sony NSZ-GS8. I really enjoy using them, and they work quite well as a front end to my satellite service.

The Sony voice-control remote (right) is one of the best control devices I’ve ever used. But all Google TV’s are rough around the edges. They are difficult to setup if anything goes awry and this makes them far from ready for non-geeky users. If Chromecast is super-easy to install and use; and brings over just a few choice features from Google TV, then GTV becomes redundant.

Apple TV is a huge hit despite it’s hobby status, but Apple claims the success is not from Over The Top content.

395773441912Apple accounts for the majority of sales by far, despite offering relatively narrow content access – this is not (yet) a market being driven by the value proposition of a streaming TV experience. AppleTV’s AirPlay feature was strategically crafted to simplify the process of transferring laptop and tablet displays to a TV screen, and it is AirPlaying – not OTT streaming – that is the primary reason for purchase of AppleTV devices.

That quote is from last week’s Apple earnings call, where they also mentioned that Google was ” conspicuous by its absence in this segment.” What a difference a week makes.

Working with Final Cut Pro X Audio in Logic Pro X

The release of Final Cut Pro X was the most turbulent product launch of recent memory. The controversy rhetoric has thankfully died down since, and the product continues to improve every few months thanks to  ongoing efforts from Apple as well as third-party vendors. Looking past the more argumentative points of workflow changes and vanishing features (don’t get me started on the lack of Motion round-tripping) few would argue with the statement that FCP audio tools have always been anemic.

For months, many FCP editors have hoped that a new version of Logic might appear like a knight in shining armor galloping to our auditory rescue. Alas, has not quite worked out that way … yet. There is some semi-cumbersome interoperability between the recently released Logic Pro X and FCPX, but the export/import/export dance is far from the fleet-footed round-tripping we were hoping for.

None the less, here’s a collection of workflows and tutorials from around the internet that lead to FCPX/LPX harmony.

Logic Pro X And Final Cut Pro X Working Together: FCPXML

Ben Balser from MacProVideo explains Roles, audio formats, and working with FCPXML files in this well illustrated walk through.

FCPX & Logic Pro X Integration | Tutorial

Dan Alen offers a screencast tour through the steps involved along with some handy tips on what not to do.

Logic Pro X and Final Cut Pro X: How they work together

Alex Gollner, better known as Alex4D serves up his explanation of the step-by-step process on his popular website. Be sure to also check out his article prognosticating What Logic Pro X tells us about the future of Final Cut Pro X.

Logic Pro X and the Death of Software Upgrade Pricing

It only took a few hours after Logic Pro X’s release for several hastily prepared first impression videos to start appearing, as well as two professionally produced courses from training companies fortunate to have pre-release product access. Early adopters hungry for insight, instruction, or just a good software geek binge love a thoughtful tutorial or walk-through. It’s information at the speed of screen capture.

Now a few days later, the punditry starts to pour in. This is to be expected with a tent pole software release from Apple. Nothing stirs the opinion pot like a seemingly precedent-setting move from Cupertino. The theme of this weeks news cycle is the confirmed death by execution of software upgrade pricing.

To set the stage, the Apple App Store has yet to make available a system for discount purchasing of software upgrade. And after five years, it seems that they have no interest in doing so, much to the chagrin of many software consumers. Some vendors toy with workarounds, such as first week discounts on new releases. The theory is that it is a discount to customers astute enough to be tracking upgrade cycle of their favorite app. The technique is a nice kluge that does double duty as an awareness promotion for new patronage. But it’s a double-edged sword that cuts loyal customer that don’t happen to be poring over software release cycles with the diligence usually reserved for stock portfolios and Breaking Bad season premiers.

Leo Laporte laments the lack of upgrade pricing, “Why is that impossible in the App Store? We have computers now. Surely they can figure this out.” Take his semi-rhetorical question in the satirical manner it is presented and not as technological naïvety. Yes, they’ve done this before, and sure it may be another Apple industry-decreed vision of the future. But I think it is likely a subtler move; a pricing test balloon to judge public reaction from a niche market, rather than a hard hardware statement reminiscent of the overnight obsolescing of floppy discs or the FireWire force feeding of the past.

Not that those tough love tactics weren’t good for the industry, and the human race in general. But they did demonstrate a boldness that Apple has not shown since Steve’s passing. Perhaps the release of the new Mac Pro will “demonstrate the full power of this station” once again with a bold, definitive move. We will have to wait for the price reveal to fully know.


Until then, it is safer for the more timid (like a fox) Tim to flex experimental muscles with the mushiness of product pricing. That’s easier to backtrack on (I’m looking at you iPad 2 $100 refund check) than are decisions set in the stone that is silicone, plastic, and aluminum.

Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh

Sixteen years later, the Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh is still one of the coolest computers every built. I just unboxed mine after about 10 years of storage, plugged it in, and it booted right up.


Here is Sir Jony Ive introducing the product in 1997.

If you imagine an object there is a television, that’s a radio, that’s a computer, whatever computer means. You imagine an object that has an incredible sound system. You imagine all of those functionalities, all of those technologies converging into one object. What should that object be. What on earth should it look like?

From MacWorld – July 1997

The Twentieth-Anniversary Macintosh is also a piece of desktop sculpture, with the components housed in an impossibly slim curved enclosure that combines the all-in-one look of the original Mac with the svelte luxury of a Bang & Olufsen stereo system. The subwoofer and the Mac’s power supply, linked to the main unit by a half-inch-thick cable, reside in a separate oval enclosure that resembles the smokestack on a 1930s ocean liner, with a rubber ring around the top. Visually, it’s a knockout.

Aimed at hard-core aficionados and wealthy collectors, this new Mac is mainly a commemorative item celebrating Apple’s 20th year on the planet–a three-dimensional thank-you note to the millions of Mac fans who remained loyal through the recent dark period, as well as a reminder to the PC crowd that the people in Cupertino still make the most innovative products around.


András Szalay at NAMM

I’m not sure how I missed this one before but here is a video of András Szalay, along with Burr Johnson, at last year’s Fishman NAMM booth. When asked how he achieved the superior tracking of the Triple Play, András, holder of six midi guitar patents, modestly replies, “I’ve had some experience.”

First Fishman Triple Play video from NAMM 2013

VGuitar Forums moderator, television producer, and guitar technology guru Elantric brings us the first video of the Fishman Triple Play from NAMM 2013.

In the first clip Benjamin Singer shows how the Triple Play clips on and off a guitar in a flash. Magnetic posts attached with thin adhesive keep the transmitter in place, while a clear plastic channel allows the pickup to slide firmly into place. Background accompaniment for both videos is provided by demonstrator extraordinaire, Burr Johnson (shown above).

Next Andy Lewis walks us through the main interface and some of the bundled software. Check out how easily one can split the fretboard into multiple instruments (2:10).

Will there be a bass version? “Absolutely!” Apparently Victor Wooten (at 3:45) really wants one (and we all really want him to have one, I’m sure), and founder Larry Fishman is a bass player. A floorboard unit with a 5-pin MIDI output is “on the roadmap” (4:50) but Andy did not want to discuss future products. Roland owners should not be holding their breath for 13-pin out (5:23). At 7:50 Andy discusses Fishman’s philosophy on the market and customer for MIDI guitar.

Andy Lewis on tracking accuracy; “A lot of traditional MIDI guitar products require extremely clean playing… to make this product have broad appeal we’ve worked very hard to make the product work with nearly any kind of guitar player. … It took a little extra work to make it work with different playing styles.”

David Mash presents The Macintosh for Guitarists at Macworld 2013

David Mash is the Senior Vice President for Innovation, Strategy, & Technology for the Berklee College of Music. Who better  to present The Macintosh for Guitarists tech talk at his year’s Macworld iWorld.

David-Mash-Macworld-PresentationJudging from his slide deck, he gave a comprehensive overview of computer-centric guitar technology with particular emphasis on MIDI guitar interfaces, applications, setup, and usage.

Friend-of-the-site Braccio was at the presentation. He reports from the scene that Mr. Mash, who is a long time Roland Guitar Synth user, is “completely sold” on the accuracy and reliability of the Fishman Triple Play Wireless Guitar Controller (FTP for short). “I saw David play a couple of times this week at MacWorld” said Braccio, ” and he used the Fishman each time with no issues.”

Also in attendance at the session was Robert Godin, founder of Godin Guitars. They introduced a new guitar last week at the NAMM show with an integrated FTP. Braccio reports that  Mr. Godin is also “completely sold on the Triple Play. Godin Guitars will be moving over to using the Fishman rolling out new models in April (nylon string) and May.”

Check out David Mash’s extensive web site at

Fishman at Macworld

Braccio, a regular at the VGuitarForums, reports from San Francisco that Fishman Transducers has a presence on the show floor at Macworld iWorld 2013. They are in booth 951. Godin Guitars is also displaying at Macworld for the first time. Coincidence?

This is a great move for Fishman. The technology press will be all over this. Hitching their MIDI wagon to the iPad, and being a first of its kind on the device is a fantastic strategy for lots of free press.

The Fishman Triple Play was also featured onstage during David Mash’s tech talk, The Macintosh for Guitarists. David is Senior VP for Innovation, Strategy, and Technology at Berklee College of Music. A long time MIDI guitar devotee, David is excited about the Triple Play’s uses in transcription and education, according to Elantric who spoke with David at last week’s NAMM conference. Elantric, a long time moderator at VGuitarForums, predicts that most music students will soon own Triple Plays “as part of their 2014 curriculum. Rather like some schools now require iPads.”

Last year when I wrote this article, I was concerned about Fishman entering a product category that a huge company like Roland with all its resources could not seem to figure out how to take it to the masses. Today many of my fears for Fishman, and the future of MIDI guitar, are alleviated. Look for lots of tech, and general public, press about the Fishman Triple Play over the next week or so.

Dang, I wish I had gone to Macworld this year. I was there last year.

Psychedelic Zoom – Problems with new iPad (3rd gen) display

No, it’s not a Video Toaster DVE, but this psychedelic “zoom with trails” probably isn’t what Apple intended to be the elegant transition from one iPad 3 app to the next. My guess is that it’s a problem with the display chips. Here is a video of the “effect.”

Click to continue to the video…

Where to buy an iPad at midnight?

Apple stores open early tomorrow, but if you can’t wait for 8:00 AM to scoop up some New iPad goodness there is an alternative. PC Magazine is reporting that WalMart will have a “limited supply” of 16GB Wifi-only iPads for sale at 12:01 AM local time. As for any other early rising retailers, PC Mag says:

Rivals do not appear to be matching Walmart’s early opening. Spokespeople for Best Buy and Radio Shack said their stores will keep normal hours of operations tomorrow. Target did not reply to a request for comment by press time.

My preordered iPad did not make the first shipment, so it is probably still on the production line at Foxconn. I have done my fair share of Apple line sitting in the last few years, but this time I decided to sleep in.

7:30 PM Update – A call to a nearby Walmart verified that they (at least this one) will have all models available tonight for sale, not just the 16BGs. Hmmmm, maybe I will head over there around midnight, buy one, cancel my Apple order and sleep in even later tomorrow.

11:30 PM Update – Three people in line at this Wallmart. My daughter and I are number 4.

Read the exciting conclusion…