Goodbye Tumblr, Hello Wordpress

Reposting from my old main Tumblr page for people who find this page and not that one.

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I’ve been blogging for years. I’ve used three different blogging platforms in that time. I started on Blogger (aka Blogspot) a few years back, and moved to Tumblr a year or two later. That’s when I really started blogging like crazy.

Now, Twitter is the place I go to share small thoughts that I normally would have shared on Tumblr. As a result, I’ve been doing more long-form writing here on Tumblr. Lately, I’ve really been getting aggravated with Tumblr’s text editor. It just isn’t cut out for the type of writing I’m trying to do here. I can’t even center text or images.

Starting today, I am moving my blog to a self-hosted Wordpress site. I think (hope) Wordpress will better suit my needs. If you’d like to subscribe to my blog posts, Wordpress doesn’t have a “follow” feature like Tumblr does, but there are RSS feeds and each new post is automatically published to my Twitter.

Update: there’s an email subscription option in the sidebar, if you’re into that sort of thing.

On the new blog, you can expect long-form writing about video games, politics, technology, and more. I can’t say exactly how often these posts will happen, but they will definitely happen.

I’ve really enjoyed Tumblr, and their new iPhone app is fantastic. Sadly, I rarely share anything to Tumblr from my iPhone anymore, since I mostly do that type of stuff on Twitter now.

I’ll still login every few days and check my dashboard. I do follow quite a few (41) people on here and I’ll still be interested in what they have to say.

And I had just picked out this great new theme, too. Oh well, nothing lasts forever.

My new blog will be at the same web address, blog.mikebeas.com, to make things easy. My Tumblr will live on here at mikebeas.tumblr.com.

I am not sure if I will continue updating i.mikebeas.com, or if I’ll roll that into my main blog. If I do, I’ll try to import all the good posts from that blog to Wordpress, as you’ll see I’ve done with my recent, longer posts.

Goodbye, Tumblr. You’ve been really good to me. I think I’ll miss you quite a bit. Wordpress just doesn’t have that “fun” feel to it. Still, it’s better-suited for what I need, so I don’t have much of a choice.

No, there will not be a new iPhone at WWDC

Please stop saying there is a chance that Apple will unveil a new iPhone at WWDC. That’s nonsense. Complete and utter malarkey. Here’s why: it’s a developer conference. It’s about people developing software for operating systems, not about consumers buying new hardware.

I know what you’re thinking though: But Mike, that new hardware will bring new features, and the developers will need to see those new hardware features if they’re going to build software to take advantage of them.


Hang on. I didn’t say there won’t be new hardware. I said there won’t be a new iPhone. Big difference. You see, developers have had plenty of time to play with Mountain Lion over the past few months. By now, most apps should be capable of running on 10.8 without issue. Now that the software side of things is taken care of, developers are ready to move on to the next step: working with the new hardware.

Apple doesn’t just rollout new software on new hardware to developers all at once. First they give the developers time to play with the software. Then they give them the new hardware. iOS betas always precede new iOS hardware launches. Mac OS X betas usually precede major hardware changes. Minor spec bumps can happen at any time, of course, but changes to the hardware that are a direct result of an OS change will always be preceded by the appropriate software beta (for example, the Lion-style keyboards with Mission Control and Launchpad keys didn’t ship on Macs until Lion launched).

Basically, major hardware updates come after developers have had time to play with the associated major software updates. So then, the next step for Mountain Lion is something new in the hardware. If you take some 2x resources and rumors of updated MacBook Pros into consideration, it would seem the next thing we’re going to see will be a Retina MacBook Pro.

So here’s what I’m thinking we’ll see at WWDC.

  • iOS 6: this will clearly sport some obscenely high number of changes and new features, like Facebook integration (maybe?).
  • Mountain Lion (again): we’ll see a release date or a rough release timeframe set. We’ll see a few extra software features that won’t really affect developers (and therefore they don’t need as much time to play with), such as Dictation and the addition of Facebook to the social networking stuff.
  • Retina MacBook Pros: I’m not 100% sold on this idea, but it makes sense to bring out a line of Retina Macs for developers to start working with. Like I said, some stuff in Mountain Lion sort of indicates they’re working on that, and there are rumors and leaks going around that we’ll be seeing them soon. Shipping them just after Mountain Lion rolls out would make sense, and announcing them a bit early would give developers time to get their apps ready.

And here’s what we won’t see:

  • New iPhone hardware: We’ll see that in the fall. The iPhone 4S just launched and Apple wouldn’t take the risk of alienating all of those customers by introducing a brand new phone so soon. And with Cricket picking up the iPhone 4 and 4S, there’s really no indication that either phone is coming to the end of its life cycle.

Oh, and for good measure, here’s what we should see but probably won’t:

  • New Mac Pros: WHY HAVEN’T THOSE THINGS BEEN UPDATED YET?!

Eliminating the Finder

Since the dawn of time (or shortly thereafter), people have been using things like Windows Explorer and Finder to locate and manage their files. I find this system to be annoying. I have so many different folders and files that it’s difficult to always remember what I put where. Sure, I could just use Documents, Pictures and the like for storing those files, but I need more sorting than that, or I’ll never find anything. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I try, it’s too hard to keep my ever-growing collection of documents sorted.

But then something awesome happened. Apple came up with this really nice integrated file browser for iWork on iOS. And then they brought it to the Mac for iCloud files.

So why not just build off of this and make it the new file browser? And by that, I don’t mean the place we go to see all of our files, but the place we go to see the files we need.

Instead of digging through Folders in Finder, why not just open the app you want to use, open the file you want, and be done with it.

So how does this make anything better? Won’t we have to dig through tons of stuff to find what we want?

Nope. See, in each app’s Info.plist, it will specify which file extensions can be used with that app. Then the File Browser will only show files with that extension.

This is slightly different from how iCloud currently works. Right now, iCloud sorts files by which app they belong to. A .txt file written in TextEdit on a Mac can’t be opened via iCloud on iA Writer for iOS. With this new file management system, because everything is based on file extensions, you would be able to open that file in any app that supported .txt files.

And of course, for situations like video editing where you need to import a bunch of video clips, there would be the option to launch a separate browser. Say for example you were working in iMovie. The file browser that shows when the app opens will let you browse for iMovie projects, but you’ll be able to launch a video browser that shows video files compatible with iMovie, just like you can do on iMovie for iOS.

As for iCloud files, rather than a separate tab for iCloud and local files like you see in the screenshot above, files stored in iCloud could be indicated with a cloud icon like iTunes Match uses.

And finally, Finder could stick around for power users, albeit hidden in the Utilities folder, and no longer always running. The filesystem would be easily laid out with folders named after the file extension they contain, and most features of the current Finder would still exist, although since you should be able to duplicate files right in apps using the Save A Copy feature, and you can delete and rename files from the file browser, there doesn’t really seem to be a need for most Finder functions anymore.

So let’s just get rid of the inefficient Finder. It was great for a long time, but computer usage has evolved and file management needs to evolve with it.

Hello, old friend.

Guess what’s back in Mountain Lion? If you guessed brushed metal, YOU’RE WRONG! Hooray!


In the off chance that you happened to bother looking at the photos on this post, you probably guessed that it was fine-grain volume and brightness controls. In that case, you are correct. You can use Option+Shift+(Volume or brightness button) to change the appropriate setting by 1/4 of a tick-mark (meaning instead of 16, there are 64 possible settings).

This fancy feature got killed off in Lion, but I guess Apple realized it was actually very nifty and decided to bring it back for 10.8. Now you all have a reason to buy Mountain Lion when it comes out.

Such a simple idea. Why hasn’t this been done?

Such a simple idea. Why hasn’t this been done?

Concept: SmallBar

This is an overhaul of iOS 5’s notification banners. Currently they get in the way of buttons in most apps, and while they’re not nearly as bad as the alert popups in iOS 1-4, the new ones do have their pitfalls. SmallBar (yes, that’s a play on CallBar by Josh Tucker and Elias Limneos) is designed to completely get rid of the current issues.

This is what the default iOS 5 banners look like. Notice how they cover part of the app’s header, where buttons for composing, canceling, and navigating the app usually are. This makes it tough to hit the part of the button that’s expose without tapping the banner and leaving the app. It’s kind of annoying.

This is what SmallBar looks like. All it does is bump off the regular status bar content and hijack the status bar for displaying text. I will admit the body text should probably be a little bigger, but it’s late and I don’t feel like playing with it any more tonight.

Tweak idea with no name

This one is a bit tough to understand, so I’m going to take it slow. OK, ready?

If my iPhone is currently on AC power, disable vibration. If my iPhone is on battery power, enable vibration.

I’m tired of my phone vibrating in the dock.

Screen Real Estate: Echofon vs. Tweetbot

It’s no secret that I don’t didn’t like Tweetbot. Well, I’ve suddenly (for some entirely unknown reason) decided that it’s not so bad. I could actually use it with a few changes. One of those small changes is the size of profile pictures in the timeline. Currently the timeline feels cluttered. On Echofon, it feels open, and leaves me with breathing room. Let me show you what I mean.

Echofon on the left, Tweetbot on the right.

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THE HEADER

Both apps have the same size header. There isn’t a whole lot of change here.

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THE SEARCH BAR

The search bar in Tweetbot has a little extra padding around it that makes it a few pixels bigger. Could this be done away with? Sure, but it doesn’t need to be. It doesn’t take up as much screen space as the next item on this list.

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THE TIMELINE

This is where the majority of the space is wasted in Tweetbot, and is the most claustrophobic part of the app. Look at the profile pictures in Echofon compared to Tweetbot. They’re much smaller. Even though Echofon adds an entire line to each tweet for the timestamp, it can fit the same number of tweets (and even the same number of lines in the very last one), but Echofon’s screen looks less cluttered and provides more breathing room. Shrinking down the Tweetbot profile pictures by even 5-10px would provide a lot of much-needed whitespace to the timeline.

The font is also smaller in Echofon, and I’d like to see the option of having Tweetbot’s font dropped another point or two.

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THE TAB BAR

What Tweetbot does here is actually pretty clever. They omitted the labels from the buttons (I personally don’t care one way or the other if the labels are there or not), and in doing so, they’ve managed to shrink the tab bar enough to make up for the extra pixels the padding on the search bar used up, keeping the viewable timeline space in both apps almost exactly alike (I would even say it’s likely they’re exactly the same size, but I’m just eyeballing it here).

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SO BASICALLY…

Echofon wins out in screen real estate usage, but Tweetbot can make a comeback by simply resizing a few elements (the text and images). Echofon’s is nice and open with lots of whitespace. Tweetbot needs more whitespace. 

CNBC figured out the iPad event details [Updated]

CNBC reports that they have figured out the iPad event date and that the next iPad will be quad-core and feature a Retina display and LTE connectivity .

Update 12:11pm - CNBC has also learned that the event will be in New York

Update 12:11:03pm - CNBC has updated their story to say it might not be in New York

Update 12:12pm - CNBC has updated their story to say the iPad might not be the focus of the event

Update 12:12:34pm - CNBC has updated their story to say they were just kidding about the updates and that the event will be in New York after all

Update 12:12:35pm - CNBC has updated their story to say that Steve Jobs will be present at the event

Update 12:14pm - CNBC has updated their story to say they misunderstood someone in the newsroom saying that Jobs would “be there in spirit.” Jobs will not be present at the event.

Update 12:15pm - CNBC has updated their story to say they were probably wrong about the event location and it might be anywhere

Update 12:15:24pm - CNBC has updated their story to say that it definitely will be in New York and they are pretty sure that’s right, or at least like 75% sure

Update 12:16pm - CNBC has updated their story to confirm that they probably know what they’re talking about and ask readers to bear with them as they attempt to sort out the details

Update 12:18pm - CNBC has updated their story saying they were previously incorrect and that Steve Jobs could be present at the event, citing a “95% chance that this guy on Twitter is right.”

Update 12:19pm - CNBC has updated their story to correct a previous statement. “The guy on Twitter was kidding,” they say.

Update 12:20:43pm - CNBC has updated their story again to indicate that the event could be held in America, and that other locations were unlikely. Hard-hitting stuff, guys.

Update 12:20:44pm - CNBC has updated their post to note that their website was hacked and the previous update was not legitimate.

Update 12:23pm - CNBC has updated their article to announce that they have no new updates but will stay on top of the story.

Update 12:26pm CNBC has updated their story to say that they are done updating the story because they’re “like 75% sure, for real this time, you guys” that they finally have their information straight. The event will be in New York.

Update 12:32pm - Apparently while we were constantly refreshing the CNBC article for new updates, Apple went ahead and actually announced the event will be on March 7th and will be in San Francisco, not New York.

Update 12:34pm - Wow. CNBC is now reporting that the iPad 4 will be announced in Honolulu, HI next year in April. Yeah, we’re totally believing you guys. Totally.

Content is King

I don’t know if you guys noticed or not, but Apple is kind of rich. You may also know they’re kind of maybe possibly making a TV. And everyone knows you can’t have a TV without content. So where does the content come from? Previously I posted about how I think the Apple TV ecosystem might work. But then I had a different idea.

Apple has a ton of money. They can serve up iAds in the Apple TV interface. They can make lots of money. In the past, I speculated that people might subscribe to shows for a fee. But then I realized how rich Apple is. And I realized that if you had to subscribe even to shows from NBC, ABC, CBS, and other networks that make their own content available for free on their own websites, it would be cheaper (actually, free) to watch pretty much all of the best shows on TV. Who would pay a monthly fee to subscribe to a show they could just watch online? Then it hit me. Apple is super rich. They could afford to pay ridiculous licensing fees to content providers and absorb the cost to end users. They could make profit from the iAds, put that money into licensing the content from providers, and provide the content subscriptions for free.

Could you imagine what kind of crazy revolution they would spark if you could watch all of your shows for free, with minimally invasive iAds in the letterbox every few minutes? Or incorporated into the content somehow? Watch anything for free. TV would never be the same. All the content you can stream on your computer is now available on your TV. Apple absorbs the cost, offsets that with the iAd revenue, and you have what could be a pretty good recipe for success. As far as getting advertisers interested, who wouldn’t want to pay to be part of Apple’s latest revolution? Think about it. What advertiser is going to say, “No, we don’t think Apple can change this industry. We don’t think they can turn huge profits. We can’t see how advertising on an Apple platform would really benefit us”?

TV needs to change. Content is king. It’s time to Think Different.