posted by Eugenia Loli on Tue 24th Jun 2003 15:32 UTC
IconI was present at Apple's WWDC yesterday and witnessed one of the historical moments in Apple's history, the introduction of their 64-bit platform. Am I impressed? The answer is complicated. I was happy to see Apple moving on and deliver. But I would have expected nothing less from a 4 billion tech company who had the need to catch up with the "other" platform, the 32-bit PC. You all heard by now what's new in yesterday's press releases and news coverings. But here is a wrap up of the first day of the conference and a commentary on what Apple really announced yesterday, underneath its surrounding distortion field.

We got there (myself and my friend, DesktopLinux.com's Jill Ratkevic) quite early so we got through the media registration on time (thankfully they let me in, as they couldn't find my name on their list, while I was already pre-registered via the Apple PR!!) and then we spoke to a few Apple people around. I waved to Steve Sakoman from a distance (the Newton & the BeBox architect; was at Be/PalmSource before he got back to Apple a few months ago after 13 years) and saw a few well known journalists in the tech area. At around 9:30 AM the gates opened, and they let us into the auditorium, where the keynote would take place.

The Media people were all in the left area of the room, next to the VIPs, and after half an hour everyone in the room was already sit, all 3,500 of us. Lighting was good, air conditioning was also good, and everything was going according to plan. All very well organized.

At 10:00 AM, Steve Jobs got on the stage. That was the second time I was seeing Steve live, but I somehow knew he would be... wearing the the same black t-shirt and jeans as in every other public appearance/event (yeah, for us women, clothing is a matter of discussion :).

Click for a larger version So, the keynote kicked in with a roundup of the current achievements of Apple the past few months, the 5 million songs sold via iTunes, the iPod etc. Then, the Panther presentation started and we learned about the updated UFS file system (possibly with journaling support by default), Samba 3, VPN updates, rootless X11 by default included in the OS, faster Preview PDF version, local file encryption, built-in fax capability (showed in every Print dialog) and some font management. Nothing really groundbreaking here, just updates on the OS for things that were really needed and that other OSes already have. A nice update nevertheless.

The cool-stuff-to-look-at would definately be the new Finder, which is really not "new," but it has being reworked on its usability side and now it includes more options on its root menu. A new "Actions" menu allows you to extend the functionality of the file manager while you now have the ability to add labels to your folders. What not many people have realized though, when Steve was doing the Finder search demo, is the kind of search that was performed. BeOS users would absolutely recognize the pattern of "spitting out" results in the search window, one by one. The new file system is obviously indexed by default and what remains to be seen is if Live Queries are also included. Live Queries is, in fact, the only feature that BeOS' BFS still has over other fs implementations, as it requires kernel support. XFS has this feature, but the Linux kernel does not embrace it, and even worse, there are no Linux apps to actually support these specific XFS features.

So, what is "Live Queries" you ask? Well, let's say that you have two Finder windows open, and you search on a large directory (let's say, /Users/Eugenia/files/) for all files that start with the word "tap" on them. The search Finder window will get you the results. Now, go to the other Finder window and drop from your desktop the file taper.jpg to the /Users/Eugenia/files/ folder. Now watch the search Finder window and it has automatically updated its search results to include the new file! It might not sound very useful in this example, but under BeOS were every file had attributes, you could search by this attribute and have complex searches ("Queries"), which could also be saved for future searching). My husband never used an email client for example when he was using BeOS. Each email was an individual file under BeOS, so you could use the file manager itself to sort out your email via multiple/advanced ways! Anyways, enough ramblings about Finder and Live Queries. It is not much of a surprise though, as Dominic Giampaolo (creator of BeOS BFS) and Pavel Cisler (creator of BeOS Tracker file manager and part of the Easel Nautilus team) now work at Apple too!

Expose and Fast User Switching are impressive for "MacOS X first timers" as these feature sport funky visual effects when you use them. I heard a number of "wow" in the salle, including the journalist sitting next to me. I told him, "it is just Quartz Extreme hard at work, nothing new". He wouldn't listen. And at the end of that specific presentation, Steve Jobs said "so, you wonder how we do that? With Quartz Extreme!" And then the guy looked back at me and said "aaah...". Just made me think how people get easily excited over a few visual effects, without understand what's what and where they come from, and how much or how little engineering might these features really needed.

So, what is Expose? It is the Apple way of dealing with window clutter. It is Apple's 'virtual desktop' solution. It zooms down the opened windows using Quartz Extreme's 3D capabilities, and then you easily select which window you want to come into focus full-size. Fast User Switching is just like XP's, but each time you are changing to a different user, it moves the whole screen as a cube to the other user's desktop. Yeah, innovation. Pretty much like this innovation. Hehe...

And then, it was iChat AV and its iSight web camera (every attendee in the WWDC got one for free btw). Well, nothing to say about it really. The camera is slick looking (and shouldn't have cost more than $80 or $90 at best), it is just an IM application with camera/audio support, just like MSN 6. Only with less features.

Table of contents
  1. "Innovation or Catch Up, Page 1"
  2. "Innovation or Catch Up, Page 2"
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