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Tuesday, 07/26/05

One of Mac OS X 10.4's sexiest features is Core Image, which depends heavily on the ability to offload increasingly taxing visual processing to the increasingly muscular "graphics processing units" on the computer's video card. The shimmery droplet effect when you deploy a new Dashboard widget is the gimmick that people have probably seen the most so far, but it's a drop in the bucket on the tip of the iceberg. Core Image and Quartz Composer offer eye candy on Willy Wonka scale.

However, to use Core Image's hardware acceleration, your video card needs to be at least 'this' tall: an ATI Radeon 9600 or better, or an nVidia GeForce FX or better, which were still pretty scarce when Tiger was shown to developers in 2004. They remained pretty scarce when Tiger shipped in 2005, available only on PowerBooks and G5 PowerMacs.

Today we saw Apple's first post-Tiger hardware releases: an imperceptibly updated Mac Mini and an updated iBook, and with the Radeon 9200 and 9550 respectively, neither of them have the GPU chops to play well with Core Image.

This feels short-sighted on Apple's part. Core Image is a big win for the platform, and though it's inevitably going to be abused (in the same fashion that early desktop publishers abused their smorgasbords of fonts), it has real potential to make computers nicer to use. But while developers can't even count on customers with brand-new machines being able to see their whizbang effects rendered in real time, uptake isn't going anywhere.

Update: A day or so later, Apple amended its Core Image page to claim hardware-acceleration support for the Radeon 9550 in the iBook, which is a chip that didn't exist when Apple put out its "9600 or better" guidance. So, half of a nevermind. 09:06AM «

From Sunday's New York Times, Four Unions to Boycott A.F.L.-C.I.O. Convention:

"Today is a tragic day because those who left the House of Labor are weakening our house, and shame on them," said Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers of America. "Solidarity is more than saying, 'my way or the highway,' and 'if you don't do it my way, I'll take my marbles and run.' "

In other linguistic bulletins from Leo Gerard, friendship is more than saying, "Stop calling me, I never liked you", and leadership is more than saying, "I certainly hope that you fail." Gumption is more than saying, "I think I'm going to stay in bed all day" and happiness is more than saying, "I'm sad all the time."

I would think that one of the primary goals of the man representing a vanishing American occupation like steelworking would be avoiding public statements that made him look like a dinosaur. I guess I don't know anything about the modern AFL-CIO. That's probably why I'd bet on Andy Stern and the SEIU to be the ones standing when the dust clears. 08:39AM «

Tuesday, 07/19/05

Via Buzz Andersen's del.icio.us feed, the BART Widget. This is the nicest, least obtrusive interface I've ever seen for trip planning. Note especially the tactile drag-and-drop interface for setting departure/destination stations, and the sensibly draggable chronological depiction of departure times. If I still lived in the Bay Area, this would make Dashboard compelling all by itself.

So of course, BART's lawyers are carping at author Bret Victor not to use their precious map graphic anymore. BART would be better served taking the money they're spending nastygramming him, stuffing it into a big fat envelope, and personally depositing it at his feet. The man has talent. 05:38PM «

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