Microsoft’s Blaise Aguera y Arcas shows off Photosynth at the most recent TED conference. Wait for the demo of the incorporation of thousands of Flickr images of the Cathedral of Notre Dame. It’s phenomenal and I have little doubt that this is how either the Web or operating systems will work in a few years. (Thanks, R.L.)

Switching from Text Tool to Selection Tool in InDesign

I’ve used InDesign to design printed materials for many, many years now. When you’re working in a text box and you want to move to the selection tool, you have to move from the keyboard, grab the mouse, click on the selection tool and go about your business. It doesn’t sound like a big deal or a time waster but add this movement up over the course of a day and you’ve got a silly workflow.
After 2 minutes of research, I found the solution. It’s a matter of changing the Keyboard Shortcuts in InDesign and it works like a charm.

Michael Moore on Government.

I guess this is politics week here at Deckchairs.
I can’t say enough good things about Michael Moore’s recorded speech to the California Nurses Association on Tuesday about the realities of health care in the United States. It’s completely on and is a must-listen (or -read) for anyone confused about why contemporary health care in America is provided inequitably. He’s so completely coherent, funny, and smart that I think the guy should be considered for a Nobel. Who else is willing to say publicly that American government can be reconstructed to provide real health care for all Americans, regardless of income level?
One beautiful quote: “Ask your grandparents if that Social Security check comes every month. It not only comes every month, my Dad said, it comes on the same day. Through the government-sponsored US mail. And remarkably it is the same amount every month! They actually get the check right. How do they do that? Tens of millions of seniors every month get a social security check on time for the exact amount!”

Hamas Rules.

So 1.5 million Gazans now have the lovingly hooded Hamas government to thank for taking over their schools, infrastructure, and nationhood. A fiasco.
Let’s see who might be to blame here. I’ll write a list:

  1. The United States (for saying little and doing nothing)
  2. Gazans (for voting Hamas in)
  3. Fatah (for idling)
  4. Israel (for denying)
  5. The United Nations (for handsitting)
  6. Saudi Arabia (for funding)
  7. Syria (for financing)
  8. Iran (for supplying)
  9. Egypt (for organizing)
  10. Jordan (for ignoring)
  11. Russia (for laughing)
  12. Lebanon
  13. Kuwait
  14. Bahrain
  15. Yemen (these four, for fomenting and abetting)

I Saw A Mighty Heart.

Despite its not very good title, the new Angelina Jolie vehicle, A Mighty Heart is a surprisingly good movie. I received an advanced screening of it last night and, though I wanted to write up my quick thoughts then, I felt a need to wait one day to let the physical processes crawl into something coherent, which, it turns out, didn’t happen:

  • I didn’t quite grok all of the visuals because the theatre (note Canadian spelling) was so crowded that we had to sit in the second row. I don’t think I’ve had to do this since I was 14, watching The Jerk.
  • Angelina Jolie, no matter what anyone will say, plays a (pretty) believable wife of Daniel Pearl. We, in the witness chairs, view her slow but brave collapse as her husband is first missing, then hostaged, then murdered.
  • I worried at the start that A Mighty Heart would play up the huge cultural differences between Pakistanis and foreign nationals and, in particular, Americans. It did and, despite its somewhat hamhanded approach (the country is shown as one completely overpopulated hellhole), it succeeds in defining the phenomenal differences in privilege Pearl and his family have over nearly the entire world.
  • The last little point: The depiction of massive use of cell phones, email, and just-in-time news throughout the movie truly made the movie. It’s hard to imagine what the entire harrowing experience would have been like without trace-back routes, IP detection schemes, photo interpretation, intelligence sharing and interpolation, and lost cellphone calls. Were it a kidnapping depicted in 1947, we would have had 90 minutes of conversation and the reading of daily news.

Apple Redesigns.

Apple redesigned its own website today and there are many kudos to go around. To wit:

  • A nicely unified top navigation with, amazingly, only seven tabs at the top. I can’t imagine how hard it was for Apple’s marketing, sales, and technology executives to agree on these final top categories. There was probably blood on the large, wide conference table up until launch.
  • It’s been predicted for a long time that Apple was going to lose its aqua-look interface and tabs (which Vista adapted in the past few months). Apple did so with its brushed metal theme. But here’s the brilliant part: They didn’t overdo it. The metal shines, just gently, and it doesn’t make its way into every little aspects of the rest of the site. For instance, there’s no brushed metal hanging on to every subnavigational element, nor is there brushed metal gradients on the background of every section or page. I don’t love it, but I do like it a lot.
  • Apple has a whole new section called <a href="Downloads. This is a huge big deal, akin to opening a new store within the site. It puts the company in direct competition with two sites that I visit a bit too often (okay, once a day): MacUpdate and <a href="Version Tracker. Both of these sites detail and track the latest independent and corporate applications developed for the Mac. For Apple to have gotten into this game means that third-party software is now critical to their business model; too, my guess is that it will help further differentiate the company from Microsoft and its Windows operating system in that it directly points visitors to a range of powerful and inexpensive third-party solutions.
  • The new iPhone is front and foremost on the site, with its own little item at the top. I wish that tab well.
  • A lot of things are the same. Same widespread use of the Lucida Grande font, thankfully. Same cute, discrete headlines: “Hello, tomorrow.” “Mail. Think outside the inbox.” Same three column Store.
  • Safari, the native Mac browser, is now available for Windows. More brilliance. If it works as well on Windows as it does on OS X, a few million people are going to have the ability to see what makes looking at websites a pleasure.
  • Downgraded is Apple’s .Mac service. In fact, upon a quick review of the new site, I can’t even find .Mac. Quicktime, too, got whacked.

My first impulse, still unacted upon: buy something. I just wish it could be Apple’s stock.
Postscript: Apple’s Canadian site still has the old look. So does Bulgaria’s.