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Fast Company: All Of The Ways Apple’s New Free Mac OS Hurts Microsoft Windows

Apple’s quest to bring iOS “back to the Mac” has now gone beyond the contents of the software in two key ways:

  • Free upgrades.
  • A steady, proven release cadence of one operating system per year, which increases the value proposition of a Mac purchase and helps get years out of one machine in an age where people will just toss PCs after a couple years.

In four years, my mid-2009 MacBook Pro — which shipped with Leopard — has gotten Snow Leopard, Lion, Mountain Lion, and now Mavericks. Contrast that with the computer I built in 2003 with Windows XP Professional: It was rendered mostly obsolete by Windows Vista (which arrived three years later), so I stuck with XP (with a Linux dual-boot as well).

So much iOS 7 frenzy, so little time

A lot has been written about iOS 7’s release since yesterday. I’ll spare you those nitty-gritty details. If you’re interested in a high-level overview about how it all works and what to expect if you’ve yet to get it installed, I think James Williams did a really superb job at showcasing the big things.

From a personal perspective, I offer these thoughts:

  • iOS 7 feels lighter and more effortless to use than its predecessors. I’ve thought this since I first put beta 2 on my daily-driver iPhone 5 and I still think this now.
  • I stopped noticing the icons about a day or so in the first time. They are not the end of the world, nor are they a sign that the operating system is somehow horribly flawed. Is there room for improvement? Sure there is. That improvement will come as this look matures.
  • My excitement wasn’t around the public availability of iOS 7 itself (I’ve been running the gold master build for a week) but was more focused on finally seeing what app developers have done with the new interface. It’s impressive what some have done in three months, while others simply reskinned their existing apps to keep up (anything built against the iOS 6 SDK looks tremendously out of place). My best advice is to not judge iOS 7-ready apps by what came out on Wednesday — it will take more time for new conventions to really work themselves out in the iOS 7 world. The emphasis on using the full screen for content should yield some tremendous creativity and excellent design — I’m pretty excited to see what people come up with.
  • iOS 6 has looked gaudy and heavy for a few months now. It’s such a jarring difference going back and forth between the two looks.
  • My iPad 2 is finally starting to show its age — it does feel a little slower and the iOS 7 interface is just inferior on a non-Retina display device. (I’ve seen it on a fourth-generation iPad and it is just gorgeous.)
  • Some of the special multitasking gestures on the iPad feel awkward now, especially swiping four fingers up from the bottom of the screen to get to the task list. Before, the foreground view (active app or home screen) would slide up, revealing the linen-backed task list panel underneath. Now, swiping up continues to display the multitasking UI, but the active window slides up and to the left, which just does not feel natural. This definitely needs some work.
  • I will never get over seeing non-geeks get really excited for a new release of an operating system. It wasn’t long ago when similar enthusiasm would draw blank stares and the friend zone.

GR2Analyst 2.0 is a really welcome upgrade

GR2Analyst 2.0 radar screenshot

GR2Analyst 2.0 (branded as #chswx Analyst) looking at the KGSP radar Saturday afternoon. (Alas, a quiet day in Charleston.)

A big upgrade to one of my go-to radar analysis tools, GR2Analyst 2.0, is now out, allowing for a uniform presentation between it, GRLevel3, and GREarth, all tools I use on a regular basis. Here’s what I particularly like about GR2Analyst 2.0 (and, in many cases, the 2.x series of GR products in general):

  • Easy movement between panel configurations. The GR radar viewers let you split the screen into 2 and 4 panels to assist in more rapid and accurate diagnosis of radar features, and you can assign up to 8 panel configurations to the number keys 1-8 for quickly flipping through them. For instance, I’ll be looking at radar when I see an area of what looks like rain moving into the area; I can hit the ‘4’ key which brings up a two-panel view of reflectivity and correlation coefficient (a dual-polarization product) which can pretty quickly tell me if I’m dealing with something meteorological or not. I also have presets saved with four-panel views of varying tilts of a storm’s reflectivity and velocity, a four-panel view for tornado debris detection, as well as a four-panel view which focuses on locating areas of damaging winds and large hail. I have similar presets in GRLevel3 especially surrounding hydrology (rainfall products do not currently exist in GR2Analyst because they are not base data).
  • Right-click to zoom. Previous versions of the GR products required enabling a separate zoom tool; now, just hold the right mouse button and drag and it zooms in on an area. This works really well on my Magic Mouse; on the trackpad, I more typically just flick upward to zoom in, though if I hold Control and drag, that will have the same effect.
  • A cleaner overall presentation. Being able to choose the widths of lines and add borders and highlights to many of them reduces the potential for confusion between state and county lines when using shades of gray to delineate them. I also appreciate that cities are outlined and not tied to a specific point and that warnings have similar borders and highlights now. One cool thing in the 2.x GR products is their ability to parse through tornado warning text and apply special highlights if the tornado is reported on the ground or the NWS employs “Tornado Emergency” wording.
  • A long-standing bug with Flash Flood Warnings has been fixed. In previous versions of GR2Analyst, if a flash flood warning is extended using a Flash Flood Statement, it did not know about it and would remove or fail to rebox the polygon despite the fact the warning would continue for at least part of the area. The 2.x series of GR products fixed this bug and I’m glad I’ll have consistent flash flood polygon display again across all my software packages.
  • I can maintain one set of color tables. At long last, my gigantic GR 1.x color table folder can either be purged or converted to GR 2.x-compatible color table files. Incompatible color tables were a big growing pain during the transition to the new products; I’m glad this transition is over for me. (People who use vanilla GRLevel2 will still need to maintain older color tables.)

The GR 2.x series also ships with the ability to acquire high-resolution background imagery from various sources (depending on zoom level). While beautiful, the Landsat imagery isn’t terribly compatible with a lot of my more advanced color tables designed to help subtle features stand out; I also find that in my Windows XP virtual machine the Landsat background, when combined with the METAR placefile from AllisonHouse, causes a big drag on performance. I’m not sure if I’m going to keep the background enabled in Analyst as a result. Otherwise, though, performance is great in the VM — really surprisingly good considering it is running against a Core 2 Duo.

All in all, the new GR2Analyst will make it that much easier to do what I do over on @chswx, and that is pretty outstanding. (A free upgrade because I bought the dual-polarization addon for 1.x helps, too.)

No room for this in our discourse

This is an actual tweet made by an actual Texas state legislator in response to the public showing up to the Texas State Capitol building in favor of a filibuster of an abortion bill. Regardless of your views on the bill itself, I think all decent people can agree that the public showing up to a public place to express a political opinion in a nonviolent manner is the exact inverse of “terrorism.” Shameful.

Full moon -- known as "supermoon" -- as seen from my vantage point west of the Ashley River in Charleston, SC. Tonight is as close as we'll get to the moon this year.

Full moon — known as “supermoon” — as seen from my vantage point west of the Ashley River in Charleston, SC. Tonight is as close as we’ll get to the moon this year.

More flooding in downtown Charleston today

I feel like a broken record on the weather side these days mentioning storms every day. This year has just been utterly ridiculous for rainfall (33″ as of today) and for the second time in two weeks downtown Charleston flooded again after thunderstorms packing 1-3″/hr rain rates trained over Charleston, one after the other, right at time of high tide, which also coincided with the evening rush. Makes for an awesome night!

The National Weather Service has a Facebook gallery; also check out Holy City Sinner’s photo gallery.

I’m ready for a drier pattern…