30 July 2007

Surround me!

Now to a subject that interests me and warms my heart. Surround sound. I will limit myself to two narrow fields, OS X support for it, and Apple hardware support for it. Everything else around it just have to wait for another day. Maybe one glorious day I will own a new surround sound home cinema. But those dreams are for another day, and another blog entry.

First up software. The state in general is appalling. It is the same with other OSes, with really no properly integrated solution anywhere to be seen. So what the heck do I mean then? You get all sorts of magical software included with your sound card, and maybe even something with your surround capable motherboard. You can get certain applications to actually output surround sound. For instance quicktime plays trailers in surround on my PC just nice and fine.

So what the heck is all the fuzz about? Well, I do not like bundled applications, and I haven't even seen any for the mac, and quite frankly, I do not want them. I want Apple to integrate the idea of surround sound into the platform. I refuse to believe that it could be that big of a deal, and it would set one single standard for users to understand.

This would mean standards for surround sound in games (core audio probably can do quite a bit, but there are certainly more to do). Nice settings in preference for setting levels, how certain codecs should be handled, if any automatic stereo to surround conversation should be done (doing this in Windows XP with a Create sound card is just plain insane, just so you know!). I'll leave it up to you, my very few readers, to connect the dots.

Next up, probably easier to discuss, is hardware. I do no like analog cables, and I do not like S/PDIF either. Apple has now killed off the floppy, the PS/2 connectors, and so on. Why not kill this old beast once and for all and introduce HDMI (1.3+ implementing *everything*) to all your computers? The argument is the same for any standards following HDMI (display port etc).

So why do that? Apart from making it a breeze to connect Apples to modern TVs one could use that connection to connect the sound into a receiver or into an integrated surround sound system with its own D/A converter. Nice and clean and do not need to be slaves to DD/DTS has 8 channels of uncompressed sound will take us quite far.

There, that is my little rant about surround sound on the Mac. It has bugged me for a very long time now, and I wish that Apple could continue their push to eliminate old connectors that doesn't deserve to live, as well as old technology that no longer makes any sense. That's all for this time folks!

24 July 2007

Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares

Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares. What the heck does *that* have to do with anything? Well, for starter's it's called "Den elaka kocken" in Swedish, and I see no reason to call it "The mean chef" really. The guy is not at all mean. In fact, he really does these people a kindness others have never before shown them. He tells them the truth about themselves and what they are doing, he gives them perspective, insight, and help. But again, what is this all about? John! You scream, why-ever would you bring up a TV show in your blog? Well, let's get ready for a ride.

The basic idea of the show is that Mr Ramsay is suppose to help a restaurant and its owner get back on track. The thing is, apparently, the owners and staff doesn't always seem to get out of their established, and quite frightfully bad, ways of doing things. They oppose the quite sound advice of someone who clearly has succeeded better than they. The bright lot of you should by now have an idea where I am going with this. And if not, good luck at the show when you can. It was quite entertaining:)

So, does this sound familiar? Can you draw some parallels with another certain industry? Yes you can. Countless are the times I've had to endure a young whippersnapper trying to tell me that I am wrong about it all and that surely isn't right and you should just chucked all of that stuff out and I know that this and that technology is useless and this other one surely is the way to go, blah blah blah. You know the drill, right? I've got nothing against new ideas, nor being proven wrong. But step one will always be to gain my respect. Listening to someone with more experience than yourself, and take in what she or he says, before starting to complain and wanting to change things, are a good way to to gain my respect. So is proving that you yourself has experience and talent.

But I got side tracked (blog, why blog, why not webbump? web brain dump:) ). The idea stuck me while I was watching the show. This is exactly what a lot of software companies need. They are going about making software in the complete wrong way, and no languages, development philosophies, nor restructures can help me. Hiring even more people will definitely screw them over. So what do they need? They need someone to come in, open up their eyes, and give them some tough love, some sour medicine, some understanding of what they do, and most importantly of it all. Guidance and help to bring them onto the right track again.

I don't want to lessen what Mr Ramsay does in his show, but getting a bunch of Grinch like software engineers to see the error of their ways is seldom an easy task. Nor is it to upset a bunch of frighten school children, I mean managers, nor a number of Scrooge McDuck copies in upper management. Especially from the inside. It is an eternal uphill battle, fought tooth and nail from a position of close to no power, with the only tools to your disposal being your perseverance and your believe in there being a better way.

Not that this is anything new under the sun, but that show just really hit a note in me. What if one would do exactly that, but in a software company? I think that it would be totally great, and oddly enough, I would want to do it. I could imagine myself being that very person, going in there, screaming and muttering and pointing things out, only to have people miss me when they understand how much better it can be. How stress, missing bits and pieces, chaos, and a lack of fulfillment doesn't need to be the standard operating procedure in a company.

So with this, slightly confused professor like, rant I will leave you to think, comment, and maybe blog yourself, on this very broad subject. It is not just what you do, but how you do it!

15 July 2007

Now I have a MacBook. Ho ho ho.

Yes, I have a mac now. I am an Apple fanboy. I have yet again fallen. Maybe a short computer story is what is needed here. Once upon a time my father bought me a Commodore 128 computer. It was a pretty expensive toy to be honest, but boy did I love that computer. I stayed with the (later on) ill fated C= gang and upgraded to an Amiga 500 and then an Amiga 1200. I really liked the Amiga, and found it to be a lot of fun, and a heck of a lot nicer than any other computer that I came into contact with back then.

But all good things seem to end, so C= went belly up and I decided to get a PC. A Pentium 90. What a beast:) Windows 95 was such a bugger that I switched to Linux for a year or two. But Linux ended up tiring me out, it was just thing after thing that had to be upgraded or fixed and mucked around with. No fun at all after a while! So the next computer, a dual P200mmx was set up to run NT 4, which was a total blessing compared to Linux and win95. I never ever used win98/me, which I am still happy about:)

Things went on in the same manner, with an upgrade to Windows 2000 and then XP. With a new 1.4Ghz Athlon and then an Athlon 64 3500+. Everything looked like the next step would be the much talked about Longhorn. But it took time, and Vista, well because of Vista I upgraded Windows XP to MacOS X instead. Which is something I am very happy about.

So the next computer became the very first laptop. A MacBook with 2GBs of RAM and a dual core 2.0Ghz CPU. It is nice, very nice. By far the best looking computer I have ever owned, and the fastest as well. Well, the GFX is more than likely slower than the nVidia 6600GT in the (very loud) PC just next to me here, but the CPU is way faster, and the OS, the OS is what makes things happen. MacOS X is way better than Vista. Leopard here I come!

And today I bought something for my mac, a new screen. Well, it is both the PCs and the Macs new screen. But the mac, well, it loves the new screen. 1680x1050 is a lot nicer than 1280x800, and quite frankly, I want a stationary mac now. And an iPod, and an iPhone. I haven't liked my computer this much since the C= days to be honest. I belong again, I am happy about my computer even if it has little things about it that sure isn't perfect. Heck, even big things that are wrong. But there has to be something for them to put into MacOS 0x0B after all :)

Probably should mention that I also have a mac keyboard. Which is nice, well, but only a little nice, because it is far from as ergonomic as the natural keyboards. It is just that they look like crap. So pain in my hands or pain in my eyes? Jonathan Ives, come here at once, fix me a keyboard please! I beg of thee!!!