Taking a Chance with x.0 Releases

For the past three days, I’ve had the Snow Leopard disc that’s in the mail sitting in a pile. Generally I couldn’t care less about installing software, but for some reason I was second guessing myself. From the people I know that have Macs, they are generally split between getting the latest release and waiting for the first point release (i.e. 10.6.1). I can easily see the logic in waiting, but you hold off on getting the latest and greatest. The same dilemma will arrive in a few weeks for PC users when Windows 7 launches. I’ve been using the Release Candidate for quite a while and I find it fine with the exception of a few compatibility issues with software here and there.

I usually don’t like to get into specifics, but I think maybe holding off for a point release may have been better with Snow Leopard. Most of the problems I was having didn’t really get fixed and now I have a few more bugs to deal with.

Exchange Support

What a load of nothing Exchange support has been to me thus far. The only reason I intended on using it was to hook up my school email with my regular email in Mail. Unfortunately, I presumed the same technology was in Snow Leopard that is on the iPod/iPhone. Apple’s portable devices license a technology from Microsoft called ActiveSync which allows it to directly connect with an Exchange server. On the desktop/notebook side, they connect to Exchange using EWS or Exchange Web Services. I assume since I can access my school email through the web, they have this enabled on their servers. I could be horribly wrong and pointing the finger at Apple, but they should have just used the same technology.

WiFi Connection

Apparently a ‘cool new thing’ in Snow Leopard was that you can see all the signal strengths in the drop down menu. Whoop dee doo! The problem that I currently have after upgrading to Snow Leopard is that it likes to time out my connection. It’s not dropping connections like a few other people are complaining about, but when I try to load any web page it will time out. The funny thing is that Adium still appears to be connected for a minute or so until it eventually times out and signs off.

QuickTime X

While I generally like the improvements they did with the new QuickTime Player, I wonder why they didn’t take the time to build in WMV playback into the player. It’s like the freaking Swiss Army knife of players with Perian installed, but it still lacks support for WMV playback. I have to use a turd of a plugin called Flip4Mac WMV. It might not be the developers fault it’s a pile of crap since Apple probably has him go through plenty of hurdles. The import time of a WMV file on Leopard wasn’t that bad, but it’s currently slow as molasses in Snow Leopard. This is most likely a result of the beta version I have to run.

In general, Snow Leopard is more refined than Leopard though. Expose is a lot better, along with new version of the Finder which is a bit faster than the old version. Start up and shut down times are a bit faster. Also, Stacks on the Dock can actually dig down into other folders and the Put Back ‘feature’ in Trash has already been put to use (Only god knows why it took them so long to put this in). I haven’t had a chance to test out the HFS+ read support for Boot Camp yet or the built-in support for Cisco IPsec VPN connections. I must say this though:

I wouldn’t have purchased 10.6 if it had been the normal price. ($129 USD)

The $25 price made it a lot easier to swallow.

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Is RSS Dead?

A few months Steve Gillmor posted an article called Rest In Peace, RSS. He has this notion that the real-time web will take over and supersede RSS. If there’s one thing that I can be sure of, it’s that RSS is never going to go away. The biggest problem is that websites like Twitter and FriendFeed are single companies, but RSS is a protocol. A protocol is a general set of rules and RSS isn’t controlled by a single entity. The big question is, what happens if Twitter or FriendFeed fails? They are seemingly becoming large companies, but they aren’t public companies and rely on private investment. Unless they start becoming cash cows within the next few years, they’ll be thrust out of existence and a thing of the past.

This isn’t to say the entire idea of the real-time web is completely defeated. There are new technologies like Google Wave that emerging, but they’re still in a testing phase. There is no telling whether it will catch on or not. Although the problem of a single point of failure arises again. Twitter has been down a lot, but it most likely doesn’t affect 99% of the people in the world with internet access. If people start piling onto a single service, it creates a problem. This probably has even reared it’s ugly head in the enterprise as companies increasingly move their applications to the “cloud”.  The recent outage at Google shows that no matter how large a company is and how large it’s infrastructure is, there are still failures.

Of course failures will still happen on separate systems, but it’s a contained failure. If I get all my news through Twitter and then Twitter goes down, so does all my news. RSS allows for separation and if one feed goes down, it’s not an apocalypse. I have to admit that I’m now somewhat of a hypocrite though. I use NetNewsWire on the Mac for my news feeds. The new version syncs with Google Reader. I believe Google Reader has it’s own service that goes out and crawls the feeds and puts them in the reader. So instead of pulling directly from the site, there is an abstraction. I wish it pulled the feeds directly, but NetNewsWire is a great client and even if the feeds can’t update, I still have a nice list I can view on my computer of all the feeds I’m subscribed to and go there separately if need be.

Another problem Steve mentioned was information overload. He doesn’t want to parse through all the information. The problem is that the real-time web will eventually get like that. If you follow too many people on Twitter you’ll be getting updates faster than you can read them. I have about 50 feeds in my RSS reader and I currently follow 113 people on Twitter. I’m fortunate that many of them don’t post a lot otherwise I would probably have to stop following them. Newspapers have spoiled us in a way. They have editors that filter through a lot of news and gives us what they think is the best. Going onto the web, your friends and you are the only filter. The world is a large place and if you try to view all the raw news, your brain would explode.

Real-time and RSS both have their separate places. In my mind they serve different purposes and one will not be taking another over. I’ve always loved the fast pace of innovation in technology, but some technologies are so pervasive and deeply rooted in society that they’ll never leave. RSS is one of those technologies and it is not dying nor will it ever be dead.

PS: Just to note, there’s a button in your browser to subscribe to my RSS feed.