Displaperture

In Mac OS 10.4 Tiger, Apple had a nice detail in the GUI, rounded corners on the screen. The rounds were small, but simulated the rounded corners of older CRT monitors on modern LCD displays. To me, though, the rounded corners meshed well with the precise radiuses that adorn the corners of Apple hardware. Apple got rid of this detail in Mac OS 10.5 Leopard and left a hard 90º corner with no artificial radius.

Displaperture

Tonight I came across a small application by Many Tricks (you may know them from their popular application launcher Butler) called Displaperture that adds radiused corners back to Leopard. An added bonus, you even get control over the size of the radius, and you can scale it from barely visible to impractically intrusive.

Considering that every Apple device sold today runs a LCD display, using this application may seem like a step backward. However, the effect looks GREAT on the new Macbook screen with it’s borderless black bezel. Setting a tight radius on the corners of the screen gives the bezel a consistant and polished look. Below you can see a picture of the effect on my Macbook Pro. It’s not for everyone, but it’s great to see such a simple free tool to set the effect.

Displaperture on my unibody Macbook Pro

Axiotron Modbook Pro

modbookpro3-737507Via: Develop3D

You may remember Axiotron from when they released the Modbook, a portable tablet computer built around a hacked up 13″ Macbook. With a professional quality pen tablet screen the Modbook became a subject of lust for many designers and artists that have been forced to turn to Windows systems for a portable tablet.

Now that Apple has released the new line of Unibody Macbook Pros, Axiotron has stepped up to release the Modbook Pro, another portable tablet built around the guts of a 15″ Macbook Pro. The system is more powerful and has a bigger screen, but that’s not what has me most interested in the unit.

A major downfall of traditional tablet computers is that you lose many of the keyboard access you need for shortcuts and modifier keys while working in applications like Painter, Photoshop, Illustrator, Rhino, etc. Axiotron is trying to overcome this with the Modbook Pro though, touting their new Synergy Touch technology. This technology lets you use the pen while also using your fingers for touch input at the same time. System software overlays keyboards, numpads, or shortcut keys in floating transparent panels so that you can hold down modifier keys while giving input with the pen. If this works as well as they say it does I believe it could change the tablet industry. I’d love to see them license the technology out to other tablet manufacturers or even Wacom for use in the Cintiq line of displays.

As far as how they’re accomplishing these two input methods at once… I’m assuming it’s a capacitance touch setup for the hand input, and the typical RF Wacom technology for the pen. They must have a threshold set on the capacitance input to ignore a surface area much larger than a couple fingers, otherwise the palm of your pen-hand would be delivering all sorts of false input while you operate the pen.

The Modbook Pro is a pretty hefty investment at $5,000, but I imagine there are a few professionals who will see the pricetag as a bargain for such a mobile workstation. It will be interesting to see how Axiotron does with this product, and what else they’ll come out with.

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Mini: Augmented Reality Print Ad

Mini AR AdVia: Technabob

Mini has released a print ad in Germany that takes advantage of augmented reality technology to give you a virtual model of the new Mini convertable. When you go to the special Mini website you can launch an applet that ties into your webcam and looks for the print ad. Hold the ad up and you get a 3D model of the car. Unfortunately, the application is Windows/IE only right now, but if you’re on a Windows machine you can print out a PDF of the ad and try it out yourself.

Check out the Technabob post for more information and a video.

My friend Henry also pointed me to this article on artoolkit for the iPhone, which gives developers the ability to roll out this sort of interactive media on the handheld. It would be amazing if applied to print ads in the city, with 3D models and even video trailers for movies being overlayed. Nearby WiFi access points could be installed or leased to provide bandwidth (perhaps the AR application used could automatically connect to WiFi hotspots with certain names).

iPhone AR Toolkit

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SmartSleep for Mac Notebooks

I’ve always loved the nearly-instantaneous sleep feature of Mac notebook computers. If I needed to get up and go with my 12″ Powerbook G4, I could snap the lid shut and throw it into my bag. Recently I grabbed a new Macbook Pro, and noticed that the computer didn’t go into sleep instantly. Instead, the computer was writing RAM to the hard drive, a process called hibernation, which kept the system’s state safe in the event of power failure (your battery dies, or you swap it out for a new one). This is a great feature, but I don’t have a secondary battery to swap, and I was getting tired of closing the lid and waiting for the white light to start pulsing. If you don’t wait for the light to pulse, then you’re moving the computer while the hard drive is active, and you risk damaging the drive. The sudden motion sensor (SMS) is active while the machine is in use, but apparently isn’t active during this hibernation process.

I can across this great blog post by David Alison describing the situation and showing a quick terminal command you can use to disable the hibernation mode. After running the command, shutting the lid on the notebook will skip dumping RAM to the hard drive, and will just instantly sleep. I was hessitant though, because if you don’t hibernate and your battery dies while the machine is asleep, you lose your system’s state. Also, if I bought a second battery, would I remember to hunt down the terminal command and reverse the setting? I’d also be losing the instant sleep state again.

Thankfully Jeremiah posted a link to SmartSleep in the comments of David’s blog. SmartSleep is a preference pane that lets you turn on and off hibernation (writing RAM to disk) with a drop down menu. It also features a mode called SmartSleep, where the computer will hibernate if the battery is below a certain threshold of charge, but otherwise sleep will be instant. Perfect!

If you’re a Macbook user and you want instant sleep, grab a copy of SmartSleep for yourself.

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WikiMe: Location Based Wikipedia

WikiMe [iTunes Store Link] was just released by SupportWare for the iPhone and iPod Touch. WikiMe is another great application of the CoreLocation service built into the 2.0 Mobile OSX firmware. When you launch the app, it grabs your location and then shows you a list of Wikipedia articles of places in a configurable radius around your location. Touch an item in the list, and you view the Wikipedia article page in a built-in browser. From there you can show the location of the article’s subject in Google Maps, Bookmark the page in WikiMe’s bookmarks list, or e-mail a link to the Wikipedia article to a contact.

You’re not restricted to seeing articles for your immediate location though, you can plug in any zip code and get results, regardless of where you’re currently located.

I can see this app coming in very handle while traveling, especially in areas with a lot of history. It’s like a social media tour guide. At $0.99, I think the app is a great deal. Cheap enough to be bought without hesitation, but the authors are still getting compensation for their nicely executed app.