Sunday, October 27, 2013

Apple kills off Keynote

I know there are bigger problems in the world. You can read all about them elsewhere. A problem just entered my world that stands to grow for the foreseeable future, and this is my blog, so…

Apple killed its decade-old presentation software, Keynote.

Keynote was Apple's response to Microsoft PowerPoint. It was originally coded solely for Steve Jobs' use. He wanted to be able to make presentations that didn't suck. He wanted cinematic builds and transitions that appeared three-dimensional rather than cheesy builds and transitions that looked appropriate for grade school. He wanted to leverage the Macintosh's processing power and graphics capabilities.

In 2001, Apple allowed Mac users to buy Steve Jobs' presentation software for $99. Over the years it was updated and upgraded. New transitions, new graphics, video, and animation capabilities. Better and more powerful with each release. PowerPoint consistently lagged behind.

I had grown fond of Keynote over the years and gradually learned how to make it do what I needed to do. Whenever a new version came out, I'd be sure to own it the day it dropped. The reflexive "wow's" I got from my otherwise jaded high school students never failed to amuse me.

But the last time a new version was released was early 2009. Before Obama was sworn in as President. The iPad had not yet been announced. Keynote 5 (iWorks '09) was fine, but was getting long in the tooth here in the second Obama administration. Microsoft's PowerPoint 2008 was upgraded in 2011 and was starting to look like a potential contender for pros designing high-octane presos.

So here it is 2013. iPads and iPhones are in the world in quantity. Google has designed and implemented Google Docs web applications for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, etc., allowing multiple-machine access via the Internet. There are iOS versions of the iWorks apps. And Steve Jobs is dead.

And in a decision that stings as much as it stuns, Apple has decided to adopt a "me too" approach to its iWork productivity suite. This past Tuesday, Apple pronounced that it had rebuilt—from the ground up—each application in the suite (Keynote, Pages, and Numbers).

They weren't kidding about "ground up". Apple decided that iPads are now content-creation devices, rather than media consumption devices. So rather than allowing Keynote to be a full-throttled computer app that leveraged the capabilities of the multi-core processors in Apple's MacBook line, it was decided that the productivity apps should be neutered and stripped down until the OS X version couldn't be used to assemble something the iOS version wasn't comfortable with.

Apple's VP presenters thought we should be delighted that iWorks apps could be used like Google Docs apps. They showed it off as if had never been seen before. In a preview at last summer's WWDC, they beamed with pride over the possibility that someone could design Keynote-y things on the web using a PC running Internet Explorer.

I feared that spelled doom. Now that fear is fully realized.

Keynote is dead. The program Steve Jobs made Apple's software engineers design so he could create bad-ass presos is no longer being developed or supported. Apple still has a product called Keynote. But Keynote 6 ('13) is related to Keynote 5 ('09) like a 1978 Ford Thunderbird is related to a 1961 T-bird. That is, not much at all.

For now, I recommend staying with Keynote 5.3 and not even upgrading to Mac OS X Mavericks. Apparently the QuickTime in Mavericks no longer supports Interactive QuickTimes, so you can no longer have a manually-advanced QuickTime export of a Keynote preso.

I don't foresee Apple reversing themselves on this or otherwise making things right. They've got multi-device, cross-platform fever. And they're giving away the apps (just like Google). But if you're someone who already has any Keynote presos created in 5.3 or earlier, the havoc that 6 will create for you will make that "free" update a downgrade you really cannot afford (in repair time and energy).

Apple will eventually make Keynote 5.3 inoperable in an as-yet unnamed surf beach OS X. I do not relish the day when I will need to export my Keynote presos as PowerPoint files to edit them in the only remaining high-octane preso editor.

Lest you think this is just me on a rant:

Medium: Apple’s iWork for Mac will only be as smart as his two dumb little brothers

Apple Support Discussion: Keynote's newly missing features

Having not switched to Mavericks and downloaded Keynote 6, I am unable to offer this review at the Mac App Store. I am, however, rating the usefulness of the posted reviews. I'm finding the 1-star reviews to be the most helpful and the 5-star reviews to be the least helpful.

Go check out Lincoln Physics

James Lincoln is a high-energy physics teacher from the southland here in California.

He's into sharing physics gems and physics teaching gems through videos and blogging.

Here's his video explanation of dog vision.

To keep up with what he's doing, bookmark his blog:
Lincoln Physics.

There, you can find out where the dog vision video was shown on Vrijdag, 25 Oktober.

Gender issues at West Point and beyond

Gender barriers have fallen (or are falling) in many areas of US society. But nationwide gender equity nirvana remains elusive. Physics and engineering appear to be areas in which progress is slow compared to other academic fields. And evidence shows that "scientists prefer gentlemen."

So does West Point. The Army academy admits men over women by a 6 to 1 ratio. Some insiders worry that this is intentional.

"I spoke to a number of faculty members who said that there's an explicit class composition goal at West Point that actually functions as a ceiling, and that women haven't risen above 16 percent because the academy only wants 16 percent."

Read and/or listen to the report here: West Point Women: A Natural Pattern Or A Camouflage Ceiling?

By dragging its heels on gender-blindness in admissions, West Point is placing the Army at a disadvantage in terms of attracting and preparing the best military leadership America has to offer.

There is a proud West Point graduate at my school. He authors a blog called Right on the Left Coast, and he is not bashful about expressing his opinions. Whether or not he, as a West Point grad, harbors any gender bias is not for me to say. To the best of my knowledge, he teaches his subject well and is well-regarded by students.

When a West Point classmate went public with her account of sexual harassment and rape at the academy, he quickly called her story into question.

When an obscure academic attempted to show—statistically—that males are superior to females in mathematical aptitude, he found room to promote this biased and misleading analysis on his blog. The study did not appear in learned (peer-reviewed) journals, but rather as a post on a Libertarian website.

Though I offered a counterpoint to that post as a comment, he elected not to publish it. And that is entirely his right as owner of that blog.

In any case, I look forward to the day when gender equity is the norm, and the incidents of sexual harassment and gender bias in the military seem as out of place as the now-unacceptable sexist behavior exhibited on AMC's Mad Men.