I was very saddened today to read of the passing of Michael Crichton. What, you may ask, does this have to do with macosxhints.com? More than you might think -- Michael was a big-time Mac user and early OS X adopter (rare for someone who relied on their machine to make a living!).
Back in 2001, when this site was just a time-intensive hobby, I didn't have any ads, and relied on donations to cover my hosting costs. Michael Crichton was one of the early donors, and in addition to his check, he sent me a very nice card and autographed book.
His passing today hit me pretty hard, and the best way I could think to handle it was to write about what he meant to me, both personally and relative to this site's history. So rest in peace, Michael -- you entertained millions, and you will be missed.
Today not only marks Election Day in the United States (vote early, vote often!), but also the eighth anniversary of the launch of macosxhints.com. Obviously, a lot has changed in eight years, and the pace of hints here lately has slowed -- but that's not surprising, given the continuing maturation of OS X itself. But with roughly 12,000 hints in the database, we've covered a lot of OS X-related ground during those eight years.
One thing that hasn't changed is the mission of the site: to share OS X tips and tricks with anyone interested in reading them. After all, it's the community that really makes the site work -- only about 1,400 of those 12,000 hints have my name on them. That's why every hint ever published is still available to anyone who wants to read them; what the community helps to build should always be freely accessible to that community.
Thanks to all of you for making this site an invaluable resource for OS X users around the world. It's been an amazing eight years, and I'm looking forward to the what the future brings. While the volume of hints may vary over time, as long as there are hints to be shared, I hope we'll be around to share them.
Apple introduced new MacBook and MacBook Pro models today, which both look terrific to me, save one glaring (couldn't resist!) mistake: the glossy-only screens. It's no secret that I'm not a big fan of glossy screens on laptops, and the fact that I can't get a matte screen on the new MacBook Pros means, quite simply, I won't be buying myself a new MBP.
But I'm curious what others think, hence, I just posted this new poll on that very subject. Basically, how will the lack of a matte screen option affect (or not affect) your MacBook Pro (or even MacBook) purchase plans?
Obviously, you know where my vote went...but what about you? Is the glossy-only screen a deal breaker or not?
I've just posted a new poll on your personal Mac purchase plans. Basically, with what we know now (not much, as usual), which Mac do you plan to purchase next for personal use? For each model, you can choose the currently-shipping version, or the we-know-they're-coming-someday next revision to that model. There's also an option for an as-of-yet unannounced Mac model -- something like the Mythical Mid-range Mac Minitower, for instance.
Personally, I keep holding out hope for the Minitower, but I don't think that will come to pass, so it'll probably be a next-revision iMac for the kids.
Beginning tomorrow (August 14th), I'm once again leaving the site in the capable hands of kirkmc, aka Kirk McElhearn, my fellow Macworld contributor and author of many Mac-related books. He'll be in charge of hints and related activities until Friday, August 22nd, when I return from "an extended period of recreation, especially one spent away from home or in traveling" (according to Dictionary, that's the definition of "vacation").
Unlike past workingvacations on Geek Cruises, this will be a true vacation -- I won't have a reliable (or possibly any) internet connection, and my iPhone's data connection will be shut off so that I don't incur those ghastly AT&T charges for international data usage. In short, if you're trying to contact me for the next 10 days or so, don't expect to have much luck, as I'm headed "off the grid."
I'm sure Kirk will do just fine in my absence, and I'm looking forward to catching up on the hints I missed when I return -- it's not often I get to read the live version of the site and see hints for the first time!
I realize the numbers probably increase daily for most of us, but I thought it'd be interesting to see just how many apps we're all installing. In my case, that number is about 45, but a good number of those are installed just to test and possibly review for Macworld. I have about 30 programs that I use somewhat regularly.
Those of you who visit here as guests, or who have the "Hints1" theme selected in your preferences, have probably noticed that we've got a slightly revised appearance as of, oh, about five minutes ago. New logo, new story title colors and topic icons and text, and some links to other Macworld sites in the header are the most visible aspects of the changes we've made.
Going forward, we'll probably be tweaking things a bit more as we move to the just-released Geeklog 1.5 -- hopefully including a CSS-based theme that eliminates (or greatly reduces, at least) the use of the <table> tag in the current theme.
In looking through the polls we've posted here over the years, I was shocked that we've never asked about music collections. That oversight is fixed with today's poll, which asks how many songs are in your iTunes Music library. Note that we're interested just in Music, not Movies, Audiooks, Podcasts, etc.
To cover a wider range of music collection sizes, the poll also uses a non-linear spread of answers. Smaller sizes are separated into 500-count buckets, which increases to 1,000-count and then 5,000-count buckets for the medium and larger collections. While this means you can't read the results in a linear fashion, it will show more detail for those with larger collections -- otherwise, this poll would've maxed out around 10,000 songs, which I know a lot of people are well over.
Yours truly? 3,920 songs, and not growing very rapidly at all -- so far this year, I've only added 14 songs to our collection (no CD purchases, all singles from the iTunes Store).
Update: I probably messed up a couple votes, but I changed the high-end buckets from 2,000-increments to 5,000-increments, just to allow a bit more room for those with large collections.
The recent menu bar item count poll was quite popular, so this time, I thought I'd find out how many 'Other' System Preferences panels we all use. I asked the same question back in 2005, and the average was somewhere around three or four; it will be interesting to see if it's increased over time or not.
For the record, there are 10 on my main Mac (Apple Qmaster, DivX, Flip4Mac, GeekTool, Growl, MenuMeters, MercuryMover, teleport, TypeIt4Me, and Witch).