The First App You Open

You wake up. You grab your phone. What’s the first app you open?

This sounds like a silly question — or worse, an insulting one.1 But I find it’s a rather enlightening question. Depending on when the question is asked, the answer can either be telling about the current state of apps or the current state of you.

A seemingly simple question but exceptionally thought-provoking.

Working with Multiple iPhoto Libraries

When I threw my father a surprise 50th birthday party a number of years ago, we had to scour our family to find decent pictures of his childhood, teenage, and early adult years. In the age of cheap storage and phones that double as many people’s only camera, today we have the opposite challenge of past generations: we have way too many photos.

My wife’s MacBook Air is a testament to that. Her iPhoto Library has grown to over 125 GB, causing her machine to be resource-constrained while iPhoto is open. Between the birth of our son at the start of 2012 and the advancements of the iPhone, she went from snapping around 1,000 or so photos back in all of 2010 to nearly 7,000 just through October 2013 alone.

While a second stage will be to move significantly older photos off of her hard drive, step one was to make iPhoto more manageable by reducing the overall size of her iPhoto Library. My approach was to group photos by year into multiple iPhoto libraries. Beyond speeding up iPhoto usage, this felt like a nice way to browse photos and just as importantly ensure there was no longer a single point of failure by having a single, massive iPhoto Library.

iPhoto does natively support the ability to have multiple iPhoto libraries but as usual, the simple solution is not as simple as it sounds. The main issue is that the easiest way to get photos from one library to another will cause the important metadata associated with the photos to not be maintained. That’s where Fat Cat Software’s iPhoto Library Manager comes into play. While iPhoto Library Manager does much more, what I mainly used it for was to copy photos from the default iPhoto Library into ones associated with each year.

The best part about this app, is that it actually uses iPhoto itself to do the work. After you create the library and choose the photos (and videos) to copy, iPhoto will systematically open and close in the background. Unlike the “easy way” of moving photos mentioned above, iPhoto Library Manager automagically employs the importing functions multiple times to maintain event info and other metadata of the photos. Doing this manually would take a considerable amount of time and could also introduce copying errors.

iPhoto Library Manager also has a nifty find duplicate photo feature—even across libraries—that I’m sure will be helpful at some point. And if I ever want to eliminate certain libraries, there’s also a merge function. For now, problem solved…no more fans kicking off when iPhoto is open. iPhoto Library Manager is well worth the $29.95 price tag.

GoDaddy's Acquisition of MediaTemple

Since the GoDaddy acquisition, I’ve been contemplating migrating away from MediaTemple by the end of 2013. Back at the dawn of the Internet, I used GoDaddy exclusively for domain registration. Over time, I came to dislike how much they’d try to upsell you during the checkout process. Additionally, I have not appreciated how they advertise themselves, especially during the Super Bowl. I ended business with them a number of years ago and now do all domain registration through Hover.

After some deliberation, I’ve decided to continue with MediaTemple because they will operate as independent entities. I’m also taking into consideration that MediaTemple did some due diligence on the supposed new direction of GoDaddy. If GoDaddy does clean up their act, having their resources behind MediaTemple actually does provide additional confidence in their long-term viability as a business. I realize that’s a big “if” and plan to see if this new GoDaddy is real or just marketing speak. Only time will tell.

Jeremy Olson’s Response to iOS 7

Although I think we should try to give our apps a unique look through subtle twists on the iOS 7 design language, I’m excited to focus more on making our apps unique by experimenting with novel interaction models, transitions, and physicality, making our apps a lot more visceral.

- Jeremy Olson

With Apple focusing on clarity, deference, and depth for iOS 7, the new user experience and interactions models of iOS 7 apps are just as important as the new design language.

A point made by Harold Emsheimer on the companion Branch discussion highlights this further, “For now we are just focusing on the new APIs and less on the UI.” It’s an interesting approach that would likely start with incorporating elements such as UI Dynamics and then attack an iOS 7 re-design later, so as he puts, “we aren’t developing new patterns from our gut reactions.”

rMBP 15″ (Mid 2012) versus Ultimate MBA 13″ (Mid 2013)

Who isn’t tempted by the claimed 12 hours of battery life for the new MacBook Air? Still, performance can’t be ignored. So, I pulled up last year’s Macworld lab tests to check out a rough comparison between a base model of the MacBook Pro Retina when it first launched (what I currently use) versus a supped up MacBook Air, just announced at WWDC. This YouTube video, which shows some performance differences between the two, is also interesting.

Unfortunately, Macworld seems to have changed some of their tests, so it’s not a full one-to-one comparison. Overall, the new fully maxed out MBA doesn’t appear to fall too far behind but I just can’t bring myself back to a non-Retina display. And that’s even considering I mostly use my rMBP docked.