Monthly Archives: April 2006

Learning OS X Cocoa Programming: MandleTry

MandleTry screenshotI wrote a few days ago about how I had this killer (simple but useful) Mac application idea bouncing around in my head for a year now. I have to confess I’ve spent a fair amount of time over the last three days in refreshing my Cocoa programming skills, and I’ve written my first decent test-app: a Mandelbrot generator.

Back when I was a teenager I was fascinated with the Mandelbrot set. It was kind of the “hallmark image” of the then-newly-emerging field of fractal geometry. This was the same field of Mathematics that was allowing computer-generated landscapes like moon in the Genesis Planet Demonstration video from Star Trek: Wrath of Kahn. I remember staring at the strangely beguiling image in a Scientific American article, fascinated with its strange features. Also incredible was the fact that no matter how closely you “zoomed-in” to a point of the Mandelbrot set, you got a uniquely different-yet-similar picture.

I remember being about 16 years old and reading and re-reading the article, trying to understand the relatively simple mathematics behind it. It was just the equation z=z2+c but in the complex number plane. I understood complex numbers and had a year or two of algebra under my belt, but couldn’t get it. Then one day I had that “eureka” moment and it all made sense. I jotted down the simple quadratic, translated it into a computer algorithm and set to writing a program to test it.
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Apple .vs. Windows, my own 2¢

There’s been so much wild speculation about what Steve Jobs is up to with the new Apple Boot Camp tool for Intel-based Macs. For those who haven’t been already inundated, Boot Camp is a boot manager that makes is possible to install both Max OS X and Microsoft Windows XP on 2 different partitions of an Intel Mac. When you start up the computer, you can pick which one will start up. (I don’t know if it provides any ability for one OS to see the partition of the other.)

Speculation has included some crazy ideas like Steve Jobs wanting to get out of the Operating System business by embracing Windows Vista, writing a OS X compatibility layer to cover old Mac software. Others talk about Windows Vista and OS X running “side by side” at the same time on Intel Macs. I’ve got my own 2¢ on a specific angle, and it has to do with my previous rant about how the new Windows Vista is nothing but Windows 2000/XP with a slight face-lift.
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The Search for the Perfect Task Manager

Personal Information Management has been on my mind for years. There’s never a time when I’m not striving to improve the way I organize “bits of daily information” like my calendar, phone numbers, etc. In fact, a number of close friends and I have been experimenting with some of the (life) organizational techniques in the (slightly cultish) book Getting Things Done by David Allen.

Being a Mac enthusiast, I’ve embraced the Apple PIM (personal information management) offering, which consists of the Address Book, Mail, and “iCal” calendar application. One other very important addition is Mac’s iSync application which, at the cost of $100 per year for a .Mac account, allows me to effortlessly synchronize my Address Book and Calendar between all my Macs (my desktop and laptop) and my Palm Pilot and my Razr mobile phone. It also allows my Safari (the Mac web browser) bookmarks to be synchronized between the desktop and laptop.

iSync was the must-have application which locked me into Mac’s Address Book and iCal—and by extension, the Mail program which I really like anyway. Keeping contacts between the laptop and desktop was simply impossible and trying to do so drove be bonkers. I also hate hand-programming (and updating) phone numbers in my mobile phone. I revel in not being stuck when my phone dies, I change providers, or just want to upgrade it.

But this total buy-in has locked me into using iCal, whose “todo list” management is it’s weakest link.
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