While Python comes pre-installed on OS X, Apple doesn’t do a good job on keeping the Python runtime environment up to date. Currently, on Mac OS X 10.7.4 “Lion”, entering
python -V returns
Python 2.7.1. Even worse, Mac OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard” is still on a Python 2.6 release.
While the latest Python releases are always available on http://www.python.org, updating a Mac isn’t a simple, straight forward process.
Follow along and update your Mac to Python 2.7.3, or 3.3.0 or whatever the newest 2.x and 3.x release might be, when you read this. To update your Mac to something like Python 2.7.3, I assume that
- your Mac-User account is setup as an “Administrator” account.
- your Mac already has this folder: /System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/
To read about how to upgrade to Python 3.3, jump to the very bottom of this post.
ETrade provides a great mobile app experience on iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry. I think it’s almost expected that the feature-set provided by the dedicated native mobile applications are not quite the same. The Windows version and especially the one for Blackberry fall far behind what ETrade has to offer on Android and iOS.
For instance, in April 2012, Speech Recognition was first added to their iPhone (not iPad) mobile application and later to the Android app as well; allowing the user to request stock quotes, options chains, company information, or to launch the stock order, just by using voice.
“Investors are becoming more accustomed to interacting with voice-enabled technology, and we’re proud to be one of the first to offer this innovative feature to our mobile users,” said Michael Curcio, President, ETRADE Securities. “By integrating voice technology, ETRADE provides a mobile experience unlike any other – creating a state-of-the-art and convenient approach to navigation.”
ETrade uses speech recognition and speech synthesis software provided by Nuance Communications, Inc. The application is feature-packed, comes as an 11 MB download, and is not, what you would call a thin client. Only a very few of those features however, are accessible through Voice Commands.
The broad introduction of Voice User Interfaces, which allow humans to interaction with computers through voice/speech, may be the next revolution, when it comes to User Interface Engineering and represent an even bigger change, when compared to the transition from text-based to graphical user interfaces. A Voice User Interfaces seems to be especially attractive on smaller devices, like small phones or watches that don’t allow for many buttons or have a touch-screen that is just not big enough, to allow for comfortable interactions.
The first generation of watches that connect to smartphone via Bluetooth is now available, most of them are not equipped with a microphone and speaker, i.e. don’t provide a good platform for a Voice User Interface.
- Pebble, E-Paper Watch for iPhone and Android.
- Smartwatch, Sony Android watch.
- MOTOACTV, Motorola GPS Fitness Tracker with MP3 Player.
- NEXD, The Next-gen Android watch.
- i’m Watch, i’m SpA, Smartwatch connects via Bluetooth to a phone.
TiffanyScreens in the Mac App Store
I never really liked going to “PowerPoint Meetings”, sharing the screen content with others during a meeting, usually requires to connect a projector to the presenter’s laptop. In a lengthy process, the laptop’s screen resolution and refresh-rate needed to be manually adjusted to synchronize with the projector. What follows is a lecture style presentation, featuring slides being projected, hugely magnified onto one of the meeting room’s walls; often, lights need to be dimmed, and listeners either doze off or start checking email.
A couple years back, I wrote TiffanyScreens, which allows you to share presentations (or any screen content), without requiring a projector.
Imagine a scenario, where every participant brought a laptop computer to a meeting and watched the presentation on that laptop’s display – participants sit on a table facing each other, instead of the wall. No adjustments are necessary; images are scaled automatically on arrival, to best match the receiver’s display-capability. To support lively meetings, everyone participating, can with a single button click, turn his computer into the presenting device.
During the development, I had small engineering groups in mind, but it became more and more obvious that instructors, educators, and educational institutions would appreciate TiffanyScreens the most. Listening to users’ feedback, TiffanyScreens has been iteratively improved, refined, and optimized.
Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM Lens
I really wanted to like this lens. It has a nice build quality and has a really good feel and helf. I also liked the larger 62 mm Filter-Thread, compared to comparable lenses. However, mounting the lens already felt somewhat odd. It did not want to go on a Canon 7D body, as easily and smooth as my Canon and Tamron lenses.
Taking the 1st shots and looking at them at the camera’s LCD already was disappointing – the pictures has an odd pale almost green look. After importing the photos into Lightroom we saw the stunningly poor quality. Not even close to an inexpensive 1.8 nifty fifty and worse than any of my zoom lenses in that rage; unbelievably soft and out of focus.
Pack your own parachute and bring your own wireless router
If you ever gave a talk or presentation that involved demonstrating software running on a wireless device, you probably remember some restlessness, approaching the venue.
What would the Wifi conditions be? Would you be able to connect your device(s) to the Wifi network? Would the bandwidth be sufficient, to support a smooth demo? etc. etc.
There is no such thing as perfect and you can never be over-prepared. The same it probably true when it come to display-adapters, especially if a MacBook is your presentation tool of choice. Pack all the Thunderbolt/MiniDisplayPort to DVI/HDMI/VGA adapters you can find. And just in case, I usually export my slides to PDF and put that file on a FAT-formatted USB-Thumb-drive. Moreover, I used to schlep a standard home-office router, together with its bulky power-supply of course. But not anymore …
I recently came across a nifty and tiny Wifi Router that is not only fast enough, but can be powered with a standard 5V phone charger, using a standard Micro-USB Cable – or even better, leeching power off a standard USB-Port (e.g., one of the MacBook’s USB-Ports).