AE CS4: Leopard vs Vista

Being a Mac guy who works with After Effects, this news really bothers me. Keven Schmidt at Creative Mac benchmarked renders in After Effects CS4 on Mac OS X and Windows. The result? AE still renders faster in Windows, by roughly 1.2x. Now, AE has traditionally rendered faster in Windows, but now that we’re on v9 and OS X has been around for 8 years, you’d think there would be significant improvements. Kevin about sums it up:

Either Adobe isn’t tuning After Effects on the Mac at all, or tuning the buhjeezus out of the Windows versions. Hell, even single process rendering on Vista generally spanks multiple processes on Leopard, for the love of Pete.

This, coupled with the continued sub-par performance of Flash on the Mac really makes me doubt Adobe’s commitment to the Mac platform.  Are they still bitter about Final Cut Pro eating into Premiere sales back in 1998 & 1999?

As a side note, the other takeaway from the post is that enabling multiprocessing in AE doesn’t save much time in either platform. For longer renders, it may help, but for those intermediate small batches, you may be better of sticking to single processes. This is something I’ve suspected for a long time, and I’m glad to see some numbers on this.

Apple and Code Signing

By this point, most of us are familiar with the App Store and the controversy: why do apps have to be vetted by Apple before being deemed acceptable to install on our own devices? This is not a post specifically about that, but rather the extension of that practice.

Several months ago, I ran across a post on Rogue Amoeba’s Under the Microscope blog about code signing in Leopard. At the heart of the discussion was the following quote in an Apple mailing list:

In order to achieve the nirvana of only running valid code, the system must completely refuse to run unsigned code. Since that would really have ruined third party developers’ Leopard experience, we don’t do that in Leopard (except for the Parental Controls and firewall cases, where we surreptitiously sign unsigned programs when they are “enabled” to run).
Eventually you will all have signed your recent releases, and we’ll have fixed all the (important) bugs and closed all the (important) holes, and a switch will materialize to this effect – to refuse (at the kernel level) to run any code that isn’t valid.

Posted to apple-cdsa on March 3, 2008 ((It should be noted that I commented on that post as to who, exactly, “Perry the Cynic” was. He is an employee of Apple as past posts of his in the mailing lists will clearly indicate.))

At that time, I said that no one would accept such measures. How could people possibly use a system where all the code is signed in such a manor? The iPhone App store is certainly such a system, but it’s a closed device with the expectations of a closed device. ((Except, perhaps, for the Jailbreak community.))

However, with the apparent success of the App Store, Apple’s history of using smaller projects as test-beds for OS X, the inclusion of the Trusted Platform Module on Intel chip sets when Apple made the x86 transition ((Even though the TPM is not enabled on Intel Macs, its presence just adds fuel to the fire.)), and the support for signed code in Leopard, I have to wonder.

If Apple does indeed move to a closed system with all applications requiring signing in order to run, it will be a troubling time for those who run on Macs. Take, for example, the recent rejection of a podcasting application from the App Store:

Today I finally got a reply from Apple about the status of Podcaster.

Apple Rep says: Since Podcaster assists in the distribution of podcasts, it duplicates the functionality of the Podcast section of iTunes.

This bears repeating: an application was rejected because it duplicates the functionality of iTunes, an Apple app.

Now, I’m usually an advocate for Apple when it comes to “the whole solution.” I believe that by having control of the hardware and the OS which runs on that hardware enables them to provide a solid experience. That, however, is as far as my advocacy for a controlled system will go.

Yes, I use iCal, Mail, Final Cut Pro, and many other Apple apps, but I do so as a choice. The minute I lose that choice is when I jump ship. No user experience, regardless of polish and ease, can justify that. Imagine if I was forced to use iChat instead of Adium, Safari instead of Firefox… Motion instead of After Effects.

This single tweet from Steven Frank illustrates the worst-case-scenario:

Scenario: Apple makes code-signing mandatory for desktop Mac applications. You can now only buy them through iTunes. Think it can’t happen?

I think it can, I just hope against hope that it doesn’t. If it does? I’ll stick with Leopard (or in some cases Tiger) until I can no longer install those systems on new hardware. Once that happens? Well, I just hope Linux will have matured enough to get the support from the software I need to use on a daily basis.

[thanks to Daring Fireball for inspiring the conversation]

Time Machine Done Right

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So I finally made the jump to Leopard last weekend. Overall, I’m fairly impressed with it. Time Machine is definitely nice. But Something always bugged me about the way Time Machine is accessed.

If I’m looking for something in a folder and I want to access a TM backup, I have to go down to the dock, then click Time Machine. Sure, I could put it in the sidebar, but it’s not a search or directory or drive, it’s not even really a program, it just brings up an interface. And yes, you could put Time Machine in the toolbar, but that just looks ugly.

After some very minor searching, I ran across this post on The Pug Automatic blog. So I grabbed the PSD, threw a Time Machine icon on there, and turned it into a .icns fle with Icon Composer. Here’s how I got it into a copy of Time Machine for the toolbar:

  1. Make a copy of Time Machine. I named mine “Run Time Machine.” (This is so you can still keep a clean copy in your dock or elsewhere as the new icon is only 32×32.)
  2. Right-click on your new copy and select “Show Package Contents…”
  3. The file we’re looking for is in Contents/Resources/backup.icns.
  4. Replace that file with the icon I made here (right-click, save as).
  5. Finally, drag your new toolbar ready Time Machine to the, well, toolbar and enjoy your extra .3 seconds you’ve saved.