Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Random personal news

  • My nephew George 'Bly' Blystone was recruited by Elon university baseball.
  • If you watch Law & Order, the scene shot towards the loading dock and into the office of a courier was actually CodeFab's office.
  • Tomorrow will be extra exciting. I have to clear the snow off my flat roof before the rain on Friday/Saturday.

11:30:57 PM    

Microsoft buys [some of] Connectix

By now, most folks should know that Microsoft bought a number of assets from Connectix, including Virtual PC (both the Mac and Windows versions).

... Representatives of the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant said Virtual PC for the Mac will continue to be sold and that Microsoft plans to continue developing the software, which has more than 1 million active users. A Microsoft executive said the company did not purchase the software to kill it, nor does Microsoft plan to stop developing its native Macintosh software, such as the Mac OS X version of Office. ...

It is interesting to note that Microsoft has now positioned themselves to move forward in a similar fashion as has Apple with its transition from OS 9 and prior [Classic] to Mac OS X.

That is, Microsoft does not have to worry as much about backwards compatibility because they now have the basis for an excellent black box within which "legacy" applications can run in a more traditional environment.

By acquiring the Connectix "Virtual PC" technology, Microsoft can now focus their development efforts "beyond XP" on moving their computing platform forward without being hampered by having to build in support for legacy technologies and applications.

Keep in mind that "beyond XP" has a heavy emphasis on security specifically aimed at creating the ultimate DRM [Digital Rights Management] platform. Given Microsoft's Tablet PC rollout and the Xbox platform, "beyond XP" obviously has dimensions that are not necessarily aimed at the traditional desktop computing environment. To achieve that requires considerably more formality and isolation between the application (and even driver) layers and the underlying OS than has been present in Windows up to and including XP.

Anyone from the Macintosh community will be experiencing Deja-Vu about now. Apple did exactly the same thing by isolating Classic-- pre Mac OS X-- applications in the "Blue Box". If Microsoft does choose this path, they will likely be able to create a much more transparent legacy application environment simply because modern Windows tends to be better abstracted than Mac OS 9 and prior.

I have used Virtual PC on Windows to run other versions of Windows and to run OpenStep/NeXTstep. It works very well. The existing VPC is much more like the original Blue Box with, what, OS X Server v1.2?.. Or was it one of the OS X betas?... in that it runs "PC in a window" or "virtual PC takes over screen" mode. There is no concept of allowing the VPC to create/maintain "rootless" windows.

Just as Apple did with Classic, Microsoft can now place hooks in the new operating system to allow the legacy OS to be integrated nearly transparently with the modern environment. How that might interact with DRM remains to be seen.
5:38:32 PM    

PDF Workflow (Cool OS X Trick)

I'm constantly running aross documents-- web pages, email, whatever-- that I want to read but don't currently have time do so. I typically "print" the document, save to PDF, and then completely forget that I have saved the document someplace to be read later. I even tried creating a "Read These" folders, but then I have to dive through the filesystem to save the PDFs to that location.

As of OS X 10.2.4, Apple has introduced something called PDF Workflow.

Instead of explaining what the above link can explain much better than I, just try this:

  • Create a folder on your Desktop called Read These Soon
  • Create a folder in your Library called PDF Services. The name is critical, including the space.
  • Create an alias from the folder you created on the desktop into the PDF Services folder created in the previous step.
  • Rename the alias to something like Save as PDF to be read later
  • .

In a browser, pick your favorite article on O'Reilly and hit cmd-p to print the article.

Where the Save as PDF... button used to be, you should see a popup menu which contains to items; Save as PDF... and Save as PDF to be read later. Select the latter.

The PDF of that page will automatically be saved to the directory you created on the desktop with no intervention on your part.

Way cool.

But PDF Workflow is even more flexible than that. It isn't limited to just saving PDF. You can also drop scripts, apps, filters, and other mechanisms into the PDF Services folder. That'd be the Workflow part of the whole thing.
2:17:45 PM