My memories of Steve Jobs

I just finished putting my daughter to bed tonight and I come down to my office and I see the news.  “Steve Jobs has passed away at 56.”  I have never felt so sad about someone passing away that I only met a couple of times.  His impact on my life goes well beyond the 30 minutes or so we spent in a conference room.

Everyday I put an iPhone in my pocket, and use my Mac to organize family photos, and my MacBookPro for work.  The first Apple hardware I ever used was in 1st Grade, in 1985.  I don’t remember much about it, but I know I enjoyed my time on the computer.  It probably even captured my attention enough to want to write software 14 years at AOL.

From an early visit on the Apple Campus with the iChat Team

From an early visit on the Apple Campus with the iChat Team

It was at AOL, that I would get a change to work closely with Apple and get the chance to initially see him, and then eventually meet him.  I was always impressed that you could find Steve walking around campus, in the Mac Cafe eating lunch with the troops, etc.  My first encounter with Steve was during a visit in 2006.  I was riding in a car with a colleague who will remain unnamed, and as we were pulling out of the visitor lot in front of 1 Infinite Loop, we nearly ran over Steve Jobs.  We were all so stunned we just looked at each other.

Later in my career at AOL, I got to meet Steve and I after I got over my nervous excitement, he was one of the most genuinely passionate persons about Apple products and technology.

Steve’s legacy goes beyond the physical technologies we all use.  His commencement speech at Stanford University, the movies from Pixar, and the huge influence he has had over leaders in the tech community today.  The world today is a lesser place with his departure, my condolences go out to Steve’s family, friends and my friends at Apple.  Thanks for everything Steve.

Behind the Scenes at an Apple Store

Popular Mechanics had a great article today from an Apple Store employee, who I am sure is now an ex-store employee given Apple’s stringent rules.

Despite my inside access at Apple’s Cupertino Campus for years, I never was able to get details on what happened at Apple Stores.  Though I did get a great story about “testing” the Apple Store before any opened in May 2001, from friends.  Apparently, Apple put its own employees on buses and took them to non descript warehouses in the Valley.  When they walked in the warehouses were set up as Apple Stores.  The employees were given time to “shop” and executives observed how the overall flow of the store worked.  After a certain amount of time, they would clear out the store, reconfigure it, and start the process all over again.  Eventually they found a perfect combination of displays, open space, number of clerks, etc.

As for some of the behind the scenes hilarity:

  • Dealing with drug dealers who come in and try to buy iPhones with fake IDs ranks high on the list.
  • Pushing MobileMe and AppleCare is a common theme, and happens to me every time I buy something at the Apple Store, and I never get it.
  • Foreign resellers haggling on prices is an issue, but if you go to Sawgrass Mills Mall in Florida you will see that is a common problem even at the Lee Jeans Store.

I am definitely going to look at my shopping experience more closely the next time I am in the Apple Store.

via Wikipedia

AIM for Mac Beta3

On Tuesday we posted the latest AIM for Mac client, Beta3, on our beta website.  AIM for Mac was first released a month ago, and in that time we have made a bunch of changes.  The application is built on top of the Open AIM Cocoa framework that is available as part of the Open AIM Mac SDK.  Here are some highlighted changes in Beta 3:

  • Redesigned Buddy List header area and added Quick Status and Away toggle
  • Find Buddy search box is now toggled using the magnifying glass icon
  • Will now auto-format phone numbers so users can send IMs to SMS text message capable phones**
  • Fixed issue for Tiger users to correctly display status messages on the Buddy List
  • Preference window will now remember size/screen position
  • Fixed auto-accept file transfer preferences when user closes and reopens application

You can download AIM for Mac Beta 3 here.

As always we appreciate feedback on how this client is coming along.

** – I find it interesting that Google Talk launched IM to SMS as a very very burried feature in GTalk today.  It will be 5 years on December 17th this year that we released IM to SMS for AIM.  I along with our mobile team in Seattle and our AIM Host team in Dulles brought this great feature to the client oh so many years ago.

AIM for Mac

This morning we just pushed live a new beta AIM client for the Mac.  You can check out all the details here, but needless to say we are excited to share this application with you.  This builds on our commitment to developing software for Apple hardware, whether it be AOL on Desktop, AOL Radio or the AIM iPhone app.  Here are some of the features for client:

  • AIM Experience: Users can customize their AIM for Mac experience with AIM Expressions – Change your AIM sounds, wallpaper, emoticon set or Buddy Icon.
  • Favorite AIM Features: AIM File Transfer, Tabbed IM conversations, friendly names, AIM Groups, AIM Blast groups are supported.
  • Easy Access to Mail: With a single click, you can view your mail in AOL or AIM webmail.
  • Speed: Download, install and launch AIM for Mac in seconds.

AIM for Mac is built on top of the Open AIM platform, using the Mac SDK.

Download AIM for Mac here.

As always we appreciate feedback.

AOL on Desktop for the Mac

It has been an eternity (well more like 5 years), but we have released a new AOL client for the Mac. The client will run on both MacTel and PPC for Leopard and Tiger.

So far the reviews have been very good for this application, so if you are a long time AOL user on the Mac check out the latest build.

One thing about this client that is worth pointing out is the buddy list and IM functionality in the client is powered by the Open AIM Mac SDK. The Mac SDK contains framework for applications to be written using Cocoa. This framework is the same that powers our experimental AIM Lite client for the Mac that we released in January of this year. You can view the source for this experimental client in the Mac SDK. We are starting to see more applications being written for platforms other than Windows which is really exciting.

I know the AOL Mac team would love to have some feedback on their work. They have a blog where you can keep up with the latest info and where you can share your thoughts on the client.

New Year’s Treat… for the Mac

Happy New Year everyone, and today we have some exciting news to go along with the new year. The AIM Lite team has been hard at work on various different projects, and we’re proud to announce a preview version of our favorite —

Download for Mac

This is a native Mac AIM client with a large feature set. It’s made for Mac users, by Mac users, and I think you are all going to like it.  This client is used by the Open AIM development team to test the API.  AIM Lite is the test client we use on the Windows side of the house.  Much like MFC Buddy whose source code is shipped inside the Windows SDK and is available via the AIM Gallery,’s source code is available in the Mac SDK.  As always you can download all of our SDKs and read all about our API on

This is the first public release of the client — but for those Mac developers out there you can see old versions in source at the OpenAIM developer website here. You can also see full release notes here. also supports plugins! Try out KidIM, which allows parents to setup a simple IM environment for kids. Try that our here

As always, we thrive on feedback. Just like in the windows version of AIM Lite, please send us feedback via the Help menu.

Here are the screenshots:

AIM Mailbag Part I

I got a lot of questions, both on the blog and via the Wimzi widget on the right side of the blog, as a result I am going to break down the Mailbag in to two parts. Thanks for all the questions, and remember you can always ask questions not just when I am doing a mailbag. On with the questions:

Q: Could there be a way to have for privacy reasons the Cell/Mobile Icon be a preference where you can shut it off on your own will when connecting via mobile.

A: There is a preference in the Privacy Settings (AIM Buddy List Menu: Edit | Settings) to allow, or not allow others to see that you are mobile. If you uncheck that box, people will not see the icon. However if you are forwarding your IMs this preference will not work, so what happens when you set up mobile forwarding, is that you have an option of adding a group that can only send you IMs. This is accessible in the Mobile Settings accessible in the same way that Privacy Settings can be accessed. When the group is added to your buddy list, you can add buddies to the group, and only those buddies will see you online as mobile and be able to IM you. Here is the Mobile Preference window:

Q: Beta testers have been asking for actually colorized Screennames in their buddylists… like a buddy sound call it a buddy color. I am sure there is alot of technical issues to work out on that.

A: We actually have this in the API, in the IAccBartItem interface under the prop AccBartItemType_RichName. The only client that supports this is the AOL 9.0 client in both displaying the text and setting the text. What is interesting about this code is that it is very complex and a maintenance nightmare. I actually had the task of reverse engineering the protocol for this feature to support it in OpenAIM, and it was no picnic. In any case here is a screen capture of what custom colorized Screen Names in the Buddy List looks like in AOL:

I am not sure if we will ever add this to AIM/ICQ, but if we do, it will be different from the way AOL did it.

Q: You are probably sick of hearing the quesion…Is there any new info you can give on AIM for Mac?

A: (No I am not sick of hearing this question as I type from my MacBook Pro) 😉 In case you are not aware Open AIM has a full API available on Mac (Linux and Win Mobile as well). The Mac SDK contains a full Mac AIM client written by one of the engineers on my team, the only issue is that you have to compile it yourself via XCode. I am very confident that by the end of the year at the latest I will be able to share some news regarding a Mac Client.

Q: Why did you do aim 6.5 refresh instead of just going to aim 6.6 and also how come you skipped 6.2,3, and 4?

A: I wish I could say we engineers decide on version numbers for the client releases we do, but we do not. In the old days when I first started on AIM during AIM 2.5, we, the engineers, definitely tried to control the versioning based on features we added and bugs we fixed. So when we did bug fixes and minor features we would increment in tenths (AIM 3.0 to AIM 3.1). If we did a major release like when we moved to host based buddy lists we incremented by the whole number (AIM 3.5 to 4.0). In the case of Open AIM, my team chooses version numbers based on when we modify or add to the interfaces. For example when we release multiple versions of Open AIM 1.3 the differences are non-interface changes (mainly bug fixes). For the client, there is no exact reason why we skip version numbers, it may be related to business/marketing or technical reasons.

So that is the mailbag for tonight, I will get to more questions tomorrow where we will cover new features, GTalk, custom clients and the always popular why will my AIM MusicLink not work.

Tiny Buddy version 3.20 and AIM Fight Widget

One of the most common question I get is what are we doing with operating systems other than Windows. Most people know that the AIM core platform that my team writes is cross platform, in other words it works on Mac, Linux, and Windows Mobile operating system, and of course Windows. Even better from a cross-platform point-of-view are the Web AIM APIs, which will work everywhere.

With this in mind here are two Apple related releases to check out. The first one, TinyBuddy, is not new, but definitely a helpful little application for iPhone and iPodTouch to send quick IMs to people without incurring the SMS charges. The latest TinyBuddy version 3.20, has the following improvements:

  • Better performance for large buddy lists.
  • One less prompt on sign-in and first IM sent.
  • Better status message display (previously it did not show status messages, just away messages).
  • Better information if you are signed off because Mobile Safari suspended the page for too long (happens if you switch to another application or web page).
  • Uses Dojo 1.0 for the JavaScript toolkit.

You can check out TinyBuddy here:

Last week there was an article written by John Fronckowiak, about how he built a Mac OS X Dashboard Widget for AIM Fight. Using the AIM Fight interface John built a very slick widget that not only allows you to easily fight other SNs but also shows fighting history. Check it out here: