Monday, August 31, 2009

Follow Me To Bunny Land

Every so often, I accidentally create something that ends up being a ginormous time suck. This is one of those things.

Follow this Link To BunnyLand to see what I mean...


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Three Cool Things

These are three cool features suggested by our users. We put them in, and it turns out they're indispensable. These let you focus on only one app at a time, hide desktop objects when Conjure is in the background, and sink Conjure to the desktop level.

You can watch it on YouTube now, or you can watch it on Blogger via the movie below...


Monday, August 17, 2009

Conjure 4.0.8 for Teachers Redux

Alright, it took forever to get the YouTube video online, so officially, this kicks off on the 18th. That's tomorrow.


Conjure 4.0.8 for Teachers

I'm still testing the major update (4.1), which includes AWESOME support for Spaces. I think everyone will love it. It's the first time that I can ever recall actually being able to tolerate Spaces for more than a few minutes. The best part is, it now also handles multiple monitors in a way that I don't think anyone has ever done before. Two giant birds, one... bunny? Anyway, it's on the way. But, 4.0.8 will make it out the gate first. Why? Because it has some features that a few friends of mine (teachers) have asked for, and they need it NOW. So it's going out today.

Speaking of which, I'll be starting a half off promo for teachers and educators tomorrow. I'm working on a video that shows how you'd use it, as well. More news on that to follow...


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Using Clusters To Think More Betterrer


I just posted a new video showing how to use Conjure to create mental maps, and how to use Clusters to help organize your thoughts.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Conjure 4.0.7 is Done!


I finished the major bug hunt release. This effectively squashes all known bugs in Conjure 4.

Here's the list of things that are new or different:

  • Added shiny new Help system!

  • The Leopard PPC G5 crash bug that happened when the help system loaded was fixed in the process.

  • Double-click text box will deselect prior selections.
  • Clusters now 'float to the top' when objects above them (in the stacking order) are added to them.
  • Lines now collapse in Clusters. It's not as nice as I'd like it to be yet, but at least it does it now.
  • Fix for duplication bug. Duplicating an image with option+drag could create a corrupted object under some circumstances. These are all fixed now.
  • Copying and Pasting some types of objects that were created in Conjure could corrupt other objects, under some circumstances. These are all fixed now.
  • Added support for bundle folder types, like Pages' documents. These should launch properly now on double-click.
  • Fixed Duplication of Link bug, where objects duplicated by option+dragging a link could cause bad links. In this version and going forward, links cannot be duplicated.
  • Inspector is now hidden when entering the overview mode. Before, it would stay open, allowing you to change data you couldn't see.
  • All file extensions are now hidden. Who needs 'em anyway? They're still visible in the info window.

Thanks to everyone who sent in bugs!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Why is Cluster an object, and not an action?

I was asked today why there's a Cluster object in Conjure, and not just a 'Cluster' or 'Group' command.

So here's my question for you.

Do people actually think in nouns or verbs?

Way back in the olden days of the computing world, there were actually debates about this kind of thing.

See, the computer software developers wanted to make something that would mirror the normal human way of thinking, because that would lead to 'intuitiveness'. Right? Well, we all thought so back then.

Although I'm sure it did spill over into the real world, this debate didn't happen in person, it was done by software releases. The Unix folk, and their PC (commandline) brethren, were all of the opinion that software 'does a thing', and that it does this 'on things'.

The renegade Mac platform (and a few others, mind you) had 'things' that you 'did things to'.

So the PC world would have CHDIR command (change directory), followed by the directory to change to.

On the Mac, you'd click on a folder object, and go to the file menu, then select 'open'. Or double-click the folder.

In Conjure, I'm trying to stick to this noun based approach.

Objects are the most important thing, then you do something with them.

That's why it was important to me to have a 'cluster' object, and not just a 'cluster' command.

Hope that answers that.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Conjure for Writers


I've been asked how Conjure helps me write. So I posted a video showing how I used Conjure to write the previous blog entry. Enjoy!


Why a Tablet Mac will Absolutely, Positively, Succeed.

Apple's Tablet Mac is a brilliant product, and will absolutely succeed, almost regardless of how it's implemented. Bold statement? Nope. I can prove it...

Every person's view of the world is shaped by the things they do every day. If you write every day, it's hard to imagine a world where a tablet makes sense. Your own occupation will likely color what you think other people do with their time. Many bloggers and especially many in the mainstream media are writers. Naturally, they would think this would fail. Because they might not use it.

When the iPod came out, a number of us artsy folk didn't think it would do well AT ALL. We were WRONG. Because to us, music is just not that important. So obviously, the iPod would fail, because who would spend that much on a musical device? Again, we didn't understand the target demographic.

So let's look at a few of the occupations or interests of different people out there, and how they would be affected by a Tablet Mac. After all, it's difficult to understand the target demographic when you're not the target demographic.

Let's start with the easy ones. People who will not use a Tablet Mac.

Hardcore Gamers

What can I say? Gamers will always prefer a joystick over a touch tablet interface. That's not to say there won't be a plethora of games for a Tablet Mac. But it doesn't make a lot of sense to make a first person shooter on a tablet. Why? Well, when you get frustrated and throw your controller on the ground, that'll cost you more than an extra (virtual) life.


Programmers, like writers, tend to be text oriented people. Well, some of them at least. But the growing number of fans of Quartz Composer show that there are people out there who prefer graphically oriented software design software products over their textually oriented parents.

Nevertheless, if programmers see a new platform emerge, they'll embrace it. This is going to happen at some point for the visually oriented demographic.


Writers will probably NOT use a Tablet Mac, at least not for writing. Certainly not as much as someone would whose field requires that they create something other than text.

But text is the domain of the writer. Much more so than the domain of the artist.

While writers do create art, it is so as much visually oriented as it is conceptually oriented. That is, the user has to see what is on the screen, digest it, and decide based on its worth based on what they see, to decide if it's good.

Paragraphs become paintings, scribbles, and such. The thing is, the keyboard is a better avenue for this than the finger or a stylus on its own.

The only parallel to typing found in the 'real world' is writing with a pen or pencil, and that becomes horribly inefficient when you can type much faster.

But that's what writers think the tablet will mean. A return to the cramped hands of yesteryear, or that artsy people will dictate how they have to type.

Every person's view of the world is shaped by the things they do every day. If you write every day, it's hard to imagine a world where a tablet makes sense.

But to many people, a Tablet Mac WOULD make sense.

So here's a list of People who will use a Tablet Mac

Artists will absolutely love a tablet Mac. This is because most of them are visually oriented people. The keyboard and mouse is a crappy replacement for a real brush. That's why things like the Cintiq exist. But we'll call this the no-brainer crowd, and not just because people think we're flighty. No, it's because almost every artist I know of would KILL for a Tablet Mac.


Well here's an easy one. The thing is, the software will conform to the platforms. How many teachers would LOVE to be able to use a touch sensitive screen instead of an entire computer? Ever watch a teacher try to fiddle with the disconnect of keyboard->display->overhead? Well, apps like Conjure are designed to help with that, but they can only do so much. In this case, I suspect teachers, especially those that routinely use an overhead to explain things, would find it far easier to use a Tablet than a keyboard based system, because of the shorter disconnect.


Every coach I know either has or wants a tablet computer of some sort. Why? Because you can't type when you're out on the damned field. For some reason, despite that millions of Americans watch football, basketball, and baseball games every year, we seem to forget that there's a HUGE number of people out there who actually PLAY those games. And their coaches can take advantage of new playbook software like AnimatedPlaybook to help with the coaching. A Tablet Mac would be PERFECT for this crowd.

One more thing here. What part of a school (at least in the US) tends to have the most money? Sports.


If your teacher uses a Tablet Mac, you're going to be inclined to, as well. Especially if it has a camera, and especially if your teacher will share their class notes with you. I used to print out my class notes and take them with me, so I wouldn't have to sit and look at them on my PowerBook. Yes, that dates me. So does your mom. But the problem I had with my PowerBook was that it just wasn't comfortable for READING. It was great when I had to do DATA ENTRY. But not for actually processing things that were already done.

When you're studying, that keyboard just gets in the way. A Tablet Mac would solve this easily.


Now, musicians are one target demographic that so far have been left far out of the loop. Keyboards don't talk to them. Nor do iPods. But a touch sensitive screen would let you do things like create a type of virtual piano keyboard unseen in modern times.

Look at the number of unique iPhone musical instruments! Who knows what opportunities are out there, on Tablet computers, for musicians?


For the most part, you'd think that scientists were primarily text oriented people. That's generally true, for publishing papers. But it's not true for the rest of what they do. If you've ever been in a modern science lab, the computer, with its keyboard, often creates a roadblock. It's hard to type when you have thick rubber gloves on. Granted, it would be hard to use a Tablet computer based on capacitance as well, but maybe pressure sensitive tablet wouldn't be such a bad idea here.

The thing is, the computer is often off on its own, sitting in some unobtrusive part of the room. Why? because it takes up a lot of space. A Tablet computer would take up only as much space as the screen, which would make it a perfect companion for most science equipment.

Sci-Fi junkies

Duh. No one uses a keyboard in the future. Haven't you ever seen a movie?

Casual Gamers

The iPod and iPhone have revealed a massive untapped market. There are people out there who find an actual game platform, like a Nintendo DS or PSP to be awkward for the types of games they like to play. These often tend to be visually oriented people. And kids. Don't forget the kids. They love this stuff. The casual game market for a Tablet Mac would be unbelievable.

Business People

Yes, business people will use a Tablet Mac. Why? Because with the exception of accounting software, most software tailored to businesses these days rely heavily on the visual aspects of computing. Go take a look at some of the chart apps on SalesForce. It's unreal. Well, a tablet interface would beat the snot out of a screen+keyboard+trackpad any day, for wiring up things in those apps.

And business people bring me to another point...

People who have to fly

I just flew back from Cleveland. Granted, I'm a big guy, but I had to prop my MacBook Pro up in a 'V' shape, so I could drape my hands over the side. Then I had to hunch over it and view my screen at a fairly sharp angle. My MacBook Pro is sexy, but I couldn't help but feel like I was trying to see down her shirt.

If I'd had a Tablet Mac, I could have easily fit the whole screen and everything on that stupid plastic flappy seat table thing. I would have been perfectly happy to grumble occasionally over having to type on a touch sensitive screen, rather than a real one, if it meant I could at least have some comfortable part of my body.

Target Demographics

I'm getting to my point now. Just hang around a few paragraphs more.

See, the target demographics for Mac users are (I hate this term) the 'creatives'. They're the artists, the musicians, people who are visually oriented to begin with. To many of them, the keyboard is already a hindrance.

Well, that's exactly the target demographic the Tablet Mac would appeal to.

The Average Person

So. Where does the 'average person' fit in here? Well, again we come back to my original premise. The concept of the 'average person' is often reflected by who you are. And most writers, or at least most of the people who have been saying the Tablet Mac will fail, are writers. Where do they fit in? The people who will not be using a Tablet Mac. Or at least until they have to write something on an airplane.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Conjure 4


Conjure 4 is launched.

So why did I go from Conjure 3.0.1 to Conjure 4? Isn't that cheating?

No. Here's why.

Conjure 3 was based on some underlying technologies that frankly weren't designed to do the rather mundane things I thought it could. Core Animation is great at moving objects around a screen, but it kills editable text, and renders the OSX spell checker useless. It appears my bugs related to this are unlikely to be fixed in Leopard or Snow Leopard, so I have instead gone back to the 2.0 codebase, and added everything in 3.0 (and more!) to that. In the process, I redesigned the core engine to be more expandable and scalable going forward.

As a result, we have a substantially better version now. Far more stable. I think you'll like it. But it's an almost complete rewrite, so we bumped the version number. However, I also feel like my existing users didn't get the experience I wanted in 3.0, so I'm again extending the free upgrade path for all 3.x users. So if you have 3.x, just re-enter your serial number, and it should work just fine. And the same goes for MUPromo users, even though I think earlier I said it would be a paid upgrade. No charge.

That said, it creates a new database file for 4.0, so your existing 2.0 and 3.0 versions will continue to operate properly. Sometime in the future I'll add a feature to use existing databases, but that's not in this version.

So Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Conjure 4

Hey hey. Didn't think I'd ever get around to saying this...
Thursday, August 6th, 2009, Conjure 4 will be unveiled.

I'm extending the free upgrade offer to all existing 3.x users, mainly because I'm really, really sorry for how Conjure 3 was released. Basically, there are a few minor bugs in Core Animation that Apple has chosen not to fix at this time, or for Snow Leopard. That's why text fields are inherently screwed up in Conjure 3.

Additionally, I'm spinning Clothesline and the Audio note taker off into their own products, so I removed them from the Clothesline arsenal. They didn't really make sense there, as no one used the audio note taker for what it was intended, and Clothesline would be a better as a separate app, in something like a Finder replacement.

But going forward, it will be really, really easy to update Conjure 4 now, so I think this will be an exciting year. I'm going to be updating it in tiny updates rather than huge rewrites, like versions 2-3 and 3-4.

Alright, off to tinker with the forums, and to make sure the launch goes smoothly!