Archive for April, 2011

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved.

I know it seems like yesterday when Wolfram released Mathematica 8.0, but they just released an update: version 8.0.1. This version is not an incremental update, so the entire application must be downloaded and installed. This update is free for owners of Mathematica 8.0, and it can be installed over or in addition to version 8.0.

8.0.1 Enhancements

The list of updates from version 8.0 to 8.0.1 (courtesy of Wolfram’s site) are:

  • Many new automatic simplifications for derived distributions, including affine transformations, sums of variables, parameter mixtures, and censored and truncated distributions
  • Improved results for Dot with large (> 1,000,000 elements) lists of integers
  • Improved stability under Intel Sandy Bridge CPUs by including a new version of the Intel Math Kernel Library
  • Performance and robustness improvements for many graph and network operations
  • Improved startup time of the front end
  • Improved the creation of MathLink TCPIP connections under certain special network conditions
  • Improved export of Real and “Real32” images to TIFF, to be compatible with more external TIFF image viewers
  • Improved functionality and stability of Home Edition by including more 64-bit components

Click here for a complete list of changes/enhancements to Mathematica, going all the way back to version 1.0.

5-18-2011 Update

Last weekend I downloaded and installed the 8.0.1 release. It is not an incremental update, so it took awhile to download the >2 GB file. The installation of 8.0.1 in parallel with versions 7.0 and 8.0 still on my laptop was nearly flawless, but I had to exit and restart the program to get the application to run without any warning messages (something about an initialization that failed to complete). After the restart there were no more problems (or warnings) and my initial tests with the product have been fine. I did not use a stop watch to time it, but it did seem to start noticeably faster than version 8.0.

By Mike Hubbartt, Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved.

This brief tutorial is meant to help people get started writing their first Ruby program using the Eclipse IDE.

Step 1: See if Ruby is already installed.

Ruby does ship with some operating systems, however it is available for multiple operating systems here.

  1. To verify it is installed on your Mac, launch Terminal and enter ‘irb’ to start interactive Ruby. If the prompt changes to ‘>>’, enter a simple Hello World program like ‘puts “Hello Ruby on Mac world!”’
  2. To verify it is installed on your Linux computer, open a shell and enter ‘irb’ and , enter a simple Hello World program like ‘puts “Hello Ruby on Linux!”’.
  3. If you have a Windows computer, you need to download and install Ruby, then follow the instructions to test Interactive Ruby on Windows here.

Step 2: Get setup with Eclipse

  1. Download and install Eclipse if you don’t already have it.
  2. Launch Eclipse, then locate and install the Ruby Development Tools plug-in using the Eclipse ‘Help/Install New Software’ menu option. At the Available Software dialog box:
    1. Select –All Available Sites– for the ‘Work with’ drop down list.
    2. Expand the Programming Languages section and select ‘Dynamic Languages Toolkit – Ruby Development Tools’.
    3. Press the Next button, review the options, then select the Finish button.
  3. Use the IDE ‘Eclipse/Preferences’ menu option to pull up the application preferences dialog, then select ‘Ruby’ on the far right of the dialog.
    1. Expand the options under ‘Ruby’ and select ‘Interpreters’. If none are displayed, select the ‘Search…’ button at the right side of the screen to locate any installed interpreters. Apple ships a ruby interpreter – in OSX 10.5.x I found them in /usr/bin/ruby.
  4. Now use the IDE ‘File/New/Ruby Project’ to create a new Ruby project. Name it to any convention you follow (type of project, class, etc.).
    NOTE: You want to use the Ruby Perspective when writing Ruby code, which is available using the IDE ‘Window/Open Perspective/Other’ option and selecting ‘Ruby from the list.
  5. Select ‘File/New/Ruby Class’ to create your first Ruby program. Name it hello, then enter this simple Hello World program to confirm you can create and run a Ruby program:

    class hello
    def hello
    puts “Hello Ruby World”
    end
    end
  6. Save and execute the file and verify you see the text string in the Eclipse console. Congratulations. You just created your first Ruby program using Eclipse.

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved.

I had a couple of press releases from Adobe today, and was very happy to see they are releasing an SDK (Software Development Kit) for Photoshop CS5. I appreciate when product vendors give developers a way to interface with their products, which isn’t new, but it doesn’t happen as often as I’d like. I use Adobe products extensively and already downloaded the SDK and developer guide and intend to dig into them this afternoon.

I’d like to invite other developers that use this SDK to add comments to this post. Tips, code samples, solutions for real-world problems, or just general impressions would be good for new or experienced developers.

The body of Adobe’s announcement is below:

========================================================

Hi,

I thought you would like to know that Adobe Systems Inc. today announced the Photoshop Touch Software Development Kit (SDK) and tablet applications that interact with Adobe Photoshop CS5 and Photoshop CS5 Extended software, uniting the fun and interactive experience of touch devices with the power and precision of Photoshop. Using the Touch SDK, Adobe has developed three initial Photoshop CS5 companion apps for Apple iPad: Adobe Color Lava for Photoshop, Adobe Eazel for Photoshop and Adobe Nav for Photoshop. The apps are designed to enable users to create custom color swatches, paint and drive popular Photoshop tools from tablet devices.

Developers can access the free Adobe Photoshop Touch SDK today for Windows and Mac OS platforms on the Adobe Application Manager at www.adobe.com/devnet/photoshop. Current Photoshop CS5 customers can experience the value of the connection to devices by downloading and installing a free patch available on www.adobe.com or via the Adobe Application Manager, beginning May 3, 2011.

The Adobe Color Lava, Adobe Eazel and Adobe Nav applications for Photoshop are also expected to be available in early May 2011, ranging in price from US$1.99-$4.99, on the iTunes App Store. For more information or to sign up to be notified when the apps become available for purchase, visit www.photoshop.com.

The complete press release follows below, or you can find it online at the following link: http://www.adobe.com/aboutadobe/pressroom/pressreleases/201104/041111AdobeCS5.5PhotoshopTouchSDK.html. Customer and partner quotes are available at: http://www.adobe.com/aboutadobe/pressroom/pressmaterials/pdfs/041111AdobePhotoshopTouchSDKQuoteSheet.pdf.

Join the social media community on Facebook and Twitter.
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Photoshop
Twitter: @Photoshop

********************

Adobe Photoshop CS5 Integrates Tablets into Creative Workflows

New Touch SDK Kick-Starts the Development of Interactive Tablet Apps that Communicate Directly with Photoshop CS5

SAN JOSE, Calif. — April 11, 2011 — Adobe Systems Incorporated (Nasdaq:ADBE) today announced the Photoshop® Touch Software Development Kit (SDK) inviting developers worldwide to create mobile and tablet applications that interact with Adobe® Photoshop CS5 and Photoshop CS5 Extended software, uniting the fun and interactive experience of touch devices with the power and precision of Photoshop. The Photoshop Touch SDK and a new scripting engine in Photoshop CS5 now opens the door for Android™, BlackBerry Tablet OS and iOS apps to drive and interact with Photoshop on the desktop. Adobe today also launched Creative Suite® 5.5, a significant mid-cycle release to the industry-leading design and development software for virtually every creative workflow across print, video, mobile and online media (see separate press releases).

Using the Touch SDK, Adobe has developed three initial Photoshop CS5 companion apps for Apple iPad: Adobe Color Lava for Photoshop, Adobe Eazel for Photoshop and Adobe Nav for Photoshop. The apps are designed to enable users to create custom color swatches, paint and drive popular Photoshop tools from tablet devices.

“Our research shows that creatives are adopting tablets faster than any other group and we heard loud and clear that they want to use their devices to interact with Photoshop, the tool they depend on most of all,” said John Loiacono, senior vice president and general manager, Digital Media Solutions, Adobe. “The apps that we announced today show some of the creative ways tablets can work with Photoshop and over the next few months Photoshop’s vibrant developer community is going to dazzle us with innovative apps that further integrate tablet devices into creative workflows.”

Photoshop SDK Encourages Creative Development Adobe has developed three initial Photoshop Touch apps: Adobe Color Lava, Adobe Eazel and Adobe Nav. Adobe Color Lava, allows creative professionals to use their fingertips to mix colors on the iPad, creating custom color swatches and themes to transfer back into Photoshop. Adobe Eazel, which takes advantage of cutting-edge painting technology, lets digital artists create rich realistic paintings with their fingertips and introduces a new kind of interaction between “wet” and “dry” paints. These paintings can then be sent directly to Photoshop CS5 for compositing or for taking the artwork further. Lastly, Adobe Nav increases workflow efficiency by letting users select and control Photoshop tools using the iPad as the input surface, customize the toolbar, browse and zoom in on up to 200 open Photoshop files or easily create new files. All three applications take advantage of the iPad tablet’s touch screen for a truly immersive, tactile, on-the-go experience. While the first applications available are for the Apple iPad and the iOS, the Photoshop Touch SDK makes development possible on other devices, including Android and BlackBerry PlayBook.

Utilizing the Touch SDK, developers will have wide access to Photoshop functionality with the freedom to innovate and create new apps or add capabilities to existing ones. Adobe has already engaged with a number of developers across the industry to incorporate tablets and other devices into creative workflows that empower Photoshop users in new and groundbreaking ways.

Pricing and Availability

Developers can access the free Adobe Photoshop Touch SDK today for Windows and Mac OS platforms on the Adobe Application Manager at www.adobe.com/devnet/photoshop. Current Photoshop CS5 customers can experience the value of the connection to devices by downloading and installing a free patch available on www.adobe.com or via the Adobe Application Manager, beginning May 3, 2011. The Adobe Color Lava, Adobe Eazel and Adobe Nav applications for Photoshop are also expected to be available in early May 2011, ranging in price from US$1.99-$4.99, on the iTunes App Store. For more information or to sign up to be notified when the apps become available for purchase, visit www.photoshop.com.

Adobe Photoshop CS5 and CS5 Extended are available through Adobe Authorized Resellers, the Adobe Store and Adobe Direct Sales. Estimated street price for Adobe Photoshop CS5 is US$699 and US$999 for Photoshop CS5 Extended.

Today, with the launch of Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 product family, Adobe also announced a new flexible subscription-based pricing plan. With subscription pricing customers can use Adobe Photoshop for as little as US$35 per month. For more information about Subscription Editions, visit www.adobe.com/go/cssubscription.

Education pricing for students, faculty and staff in K-12 and higher education is available from Adobe Authorized Education Resellers and the Adobe Education Store at www.adobe.com/education/purchasing/education_pricing.html. More information regarding education volume licensing for higher education and K-12 institutions can be viewed at www.adobe.com/aboutadobe/volumelicensing/education.

For more detailed information about features, OS support, upgrade policies, pricing and international versions please visit: www.adobe.com/go/photoshop. Join the Photoshop community on Facebook (www.facebook.com/photoshop) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/photoshop).

Adobe Photoshop Family

Building upon the history of Photoshop innovation and leadership, Adobe offers a line of Photoshop solutions for every level of user. Photoshop CS5 and Photoshop CS5 Extended software are at the heart of the Photoshop family, providing unrivaled power and editing freedom. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom® addresses the workflow needs of serious, amateur and professional photographers, helping them find, manage, enhance and showcase images in powerful ways. Adobe Photoshop Elements software provides accessible tools and sharing options for photo enthusiasts. Snap-shooters can quickly and easily share and edit photos with simple gestures using the free Adobe Photoshop Express mobile application on their iPhone or Android devices. Photoshop.com completes the Photoshop line providing easy access to learning resources, product information and online Photoshop Express tools.

About Adobe Systems Incorporated

Adobe is changing the world through digital experiences. For more information, visit www.adobe.com.

###

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved

Apple iPod touch 32 GB 4th generation iPod
Price: $299.00
From: Apple (www.apple.com)

I’ve been an early adapter for several of Apple’s products. I bought (and still have) Apple’s 1st generation Shuffle, Mac Mini (G4 CPU), and AppleTV. I like them even though better versions of the products followed a relatively short time after the initial units were released, but I am still cautious about buying other 1.x or 2.x released. I did get a 3rd generation iPod Nano and love it but the next one has recording features I could have used, but it still functions well and I have no intention of getting rid of it.

We recently bought a new AppleTV (the 2.0 release) and love it, but I have been wanting either an Android or iPad tablet or something similar in function but costing less money. I decided to get a 4th generation iTouch and after using it for a week, I love it. I bought a 32GB iPod touch from the bookstore at my school (University of St. Thomas) for the same price that it is sold at stores or from Apple.

After class I took it home plugged it in to charge over night while I looked at the rest of the goodies in the package. The box for the touch is barely larger than the unit itself. There is a tiny manual, the usual Mac earphones, a cord to connect it to your computer, and a tiny manual that directs you to Apple’s site to get a larger (and far more useful) manual. The touch is thin. it appears to be 20% the thickness and weight of my archaic PalmPilot LifeDrive.

I waited overnight for the unit to charge and then began by getting the user manual and some free goodies from iTunes. Almost immediately I was notified there was a newer version of iOS 4.3, so I downloaded and installed it without a problem. The first thing app I got from iTunes was the remote control app to control our new AppleTV. I used the remote control app to go through the AppleTV options and it worked as well as the remote included with the AppleTV. I also grabbed the NASA app and a few astronomy-related free apps, then downloaded the new commercial Astronomy Course Assistant app from Wolfram ($4.99 at the iTunes store). What can I say? I’m into astronomy and Ted (few contributor on our site) always touts how the iPhone and iPad are great tools for astronomy. You know what? He’s right.

I decided to test streaming movies, so I selected several digit downloads from my iTunes library and synced them to the touch, then streamed the content to the AppleTV. It worked flawlessly. We saw the 2.5 hr Robin Hood movie (the Russell Crowe version, not the dreaded Kevin Costner version) and it was as smooth at play and fast forward as our 1st generation AppleTV when playing and fast forwarding locally stored content (on the internal drive).

Something I didn’t know (should have read more of the manual, I know) was that, when streaming, the touch will send an entire playlist to the AppleTV. To take advantage of that, I went into iTunes and added some new playlists to show the movies I wanted by category.

I used the camera indoors – this generation of the touch has forward and rear-facing cameras and both looked good in the situations when I used them. I took a few pictures but did not do any HD recording, but I will this Spring. I should mention that the 4th generation has what Apple calls Retina Display – it just means they put more pixels of images per area of the scree, so it the content is clear and sharp. Very nice.

I tested FaceTime to call a friend with an iPhone. Dave-Bob and I worked together years ago at a company called BORN, and Dave-Bob has a 4th generation iPhone, so I added him to my contacts list. With my touch accessing the internet with wifi, I called and chatted with Dave-Bob for 15 minutes. We both were really impressed, as it worked so well. The images were clear and updated at a decent (although not flawless) rate. We both were able to switch between the front-facing and read-facing cameras during the call. This feature requires that the receiver has a current version iPod or iPad, so it won’t work with cell phones or landlines, but it is very cool and one of the best reasons to have a new touch/iPhone.

I have some work to do before I’m fully over to the touch. I need to get some music loaded, plus I need to export my PalmPilot data and import it into the touch.

June 1, 2011 Update

I installed a few more apps recently and they are decent:

  • Solitaire – free, but it runs ads before the start of every game and they are a pain to deal with
  • Tetris – old school, but addictive
  • BurgerTime – one of my wife’s favorites and the reason she hijacks my iPod Touch every night
  • Madden NFL – free; the eval version which lets you play a quarter (probably much better on an iPad)
  • Pandora – free; streaming music organized by genre

Email and Tweet alerts continue to be an excellent reason to have the touch nearby while working on code or writing articles. I rarely use the headset at home but have used it several times while on campus.

May 23, 2011 Update

I’ve installed a number of apps since this review was posted on April 2. The ones I liked best are:

  • Angry Birds – $1.99; as easy and addictive as Tetris, and I enjoy playing it a few minutes a day
  • Skype – free; it works as well as the version on my laptop
  • Twitter – free; it also works as well as the version on my laptop
  • WordPress – free; and the Stats section provides a nice way to monitor traffic at my blogs
  • Food Network – $1.99; it has a lot of easy yet tasty recipes

Alerts are an excellent reason for having a new iPod touch. While in sleep mode, my iPod uses WiFi to notify me when I have new email or a new Tweet. I don’t have to stop working on a program or website to see if I need to respond to someone, which is very handy.

CONCLUSION

The new touch is not only good for music and movies, it should be invaluable in college classrooms. My school (UST) does provide support for the touch/iPhone and I expect I’ll test that out when I take it to class next week. I could have used the HD video recording capability last semester in my web design class, but also think it will come in useful this summer when I’m outside on the biking trails. Overall, I really like it and feel it is as good (and useful) of a purchase as my Macbook. Now I have no reason to put off learning how to develop for the touch, and maybe I can create something that will help fund future Apple product purchases. Now that would be nice indeed.

POSITIVES

  • Thin, light, powerful, and a bargain for the features.
  • Auto-reorientation: switches between portrait and landscape easily.
  • Easy to navigate between screens and applications by gesture.
  • Absolutely gorgeous display – small or not, it is easy to read.
  • Video calls over wi-fi connections with another 4th generation touch/iPhone rocks.
  • Good quality video – HD quality recording according to Apple.
  • Streaming content to our AppleTV was flawless – I particularly like having the Touch connected to my Macbook to recharge it and to have the Touch stream a movie at the same time (saving valuable battery life).
  • Use the Remote App to to add Playlists to organize iTunes movies – we put series together in each playlist, so we can watch as few or many of the series without needing to manually select them.

NEGATIVES

  • When watching a movie on the touch, the screen was dark. I know that was due to the low light level in the room, but it wasn’t a simple matter to easily adjust the brightness and I’d like to see Apple include that in a future update of the video player.
  • My fingers are a bit large for doing a lot of typing on the on screen keyboard – I’d love it if they’d let me use a stylus or external keyboard the way I do with my PalmPilot. I’d really like being able to use my Apple wireless keyboard with the touch, and hope Apple does provide that functionality in a later update to iOS.

RECOMMENDATION

5 Stars. Buy it. If you have a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd generation iPod, this version is far and away the best I’ve seen. I like my 3rd generation Nano, but it will strictly serve as a backup from now on. I know Apple will release another update, probably this Fall, but I don’t see what they can add besides more memory or a faster processor to make an improvement over this release. My wife also likes it and she let me know this touch will become hers when we get an iPad later this year. She loves playing games on it, and is interested in being able to use it to stream movies to other AppleTVs in our house.