⌘ + Q: I didn’t mean to do that

Tuesday, June 14, 2011 at 9:55 AM

by Robert Sesek, Software Engineer

In Chrome, have you ever accidentally hit ⌘ + Q when you meant to hit ⌘ + W? It’s both frustrating and a productivity killer to close your entire browser by accident, because you then have to restart and wait for all the pages to reload. It happens to us too. But now we’ve added a new feature in Chrome for Mac that can help keep you from losing your work.

On the Mac, Chrome can now warn you before quitting so that you don’t accidentally quit the browser when you’re just trying to close a single tab. To enable this feature, go to the Chrome menu in the upper-left and select Warn Before Quitting. The next time you press ⌘ + Q, a floating window will appear, instructing you to Hold ⌘Q to Quit. This way, if your hand slips and you press Q instead of W, you can go right on browsing without interruption. If you really do want to quit, hold down ⌘Q as it says and, after a second, all the windows will fade away and you can release the keys. If you want to skip this warning and quit quickly, you can just press ⌘ + Q twice.

As a side note, if you ever accidentally close a tab or window, you can use Chrome’s tab restore feature to get it back. Simply press ⌘ + shift + T, which will reopen the most recently closed tab or window. Just like the Undo command in your word processor, you can use this shortcut multiple times to repeatedly reopen closed tabs. You can also find tabs you’ve recently closed on the bottom of the New Tab page, or in the History menu.

We hope this feature helps prevent you from losing your place accidentally. Happy browsing!

WWDC 2011 Journal, Day 4

Friday, June 10, 2011 at 8:57 AM

by Mike Morton, Google Mac Team

Google Engineer Mike Morton is finished with Apple's 2011 Worldwide Developer Conference. Here's his final journal entry, written before he hopped a plane for home earlier today, where he's probably catching up on sleep and email, in that order.

My last day in town began with a short – OK, very short – visit to the hotel gym, then the usual breakfast at Moscone of pastries (have these folks not heard that carbs are out of fashion?) and coffee. The guy across the table was wearing a t-shirt that read "I was a Mac user when Apple was doomed". It’s nice to be not doomed again.

Early in the day, I went to a talk on accessibility on iOS. This included a great demo of iOS features to help people who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, or motor-impaired. There were also details of how to make sure our apps are useful for everyone. We also saw a short video of the Wearabraille system, which is the most high-tech accessory I’ve seen for an iPhone.

Most talks include a demonstration app, sometimes with an Apple engineer creating the app one piece at a time. Since they paste in prepared snippets of code, that kind of demo moves fast, occasionally leaving me with the feeling of watching a cooking show on fast forward. Building an app on the fly, even with prepared ingredients, can be tough on the Apple folks, too. Even though it’s scripted, the parts done manually are an invitation for the Demo Gods to fling a few thunderbolts. Audiences are very patient, as most of us have been hit with thunderbolts ourselves, but it’s still tough on the person giving the talk.

One of today's highlights was a performance by James Dempsey and the Breakpoints. James is the funniest guy at Apple, and does a song every year. I got there early and scored a front-row seat. Worth the effort, not only to see James perform "The Accessibility Song" on iPad instead of his usual guitar, but also for the number of words rhymed with "accessibility". I don’t think the performance has hit YouTube yet, but you can find several other performances online.

The other music news of the morning was speculation about which musical act would show up at the traditional Thursday night WWDC bash. Rumors flew about The Edge, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Arcade Fire, and others. Some thought it would be someone whose music was played before the sessions. That would suggest the equally unlikely possibilities of a James Brown gig or a Beatles reunion.

Those wanting to drink at the party had to show IDs to get wristbands. Perhaps they were expecting some serious drinking: the wristbands said "If found, return me to WWDC". The Franti faction was right, and the band rocked Yerba Buena Gardens, driving some of us old folks to the far edge of the garden, where the volume was more tolerable.

Tomorrow’s special event is Buzz Aldrin speaking, but I’ll be airborne while he talks about orbit. I hope he repeats next year! Tickets for next year are already on my mind — WWDC 2010 sold out in eight days, and 2011 in eleven hours. Pressure for tickets will be intense in the future. I wonder if we’ll see scalping, or perhaps ’bots which will buy your ticket for you.

WWDC 2012 will bring new things, but it will also be the same thing all over again: long lines, repeated sleep deprivation, seeing friends. I wonder how we can keep this blog from being the same thing all over again. What should my intrepid editor and I do? Interviews with attendees? Writing in lolcat for teh intire confuhrens? Capturing each day in a single haiku? Using nothing but memes built at http://memegenerator.net? We'll have to work on that. See you next year!

WWDC 2011 Journal, Day 3

Thursday, June 09, 2011 at 10:22 PM

by Mike Morton, Google Mac Team

Every June, Mike Morton travels to San Francisco for Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference so you don't have to. WWDC content is covered by a non-disclosure agreement, so Mike's observations focus on ambiance, human behavior, and the effects of sleep deprivation.

I thought I was smart when I asked for a room across the hall from one of my team members, so we could easily get together for breakfast. It didn’t feel so smart when he knocked on my door early this morning. When I stuck my head out the door, he apparently noticed that my hair was going in enough directions to inspire Stephen Hawking to new theories about the nature of space, and helpfully observed "Oh, I woke you up." I didn’t have the presence of mind to reply, "No, no, I had to get up to answer the door anyway."

A few of us headed to Moscone and found a line of people waiting to get in. I knew I shouldn’t have answered the door. But it wasn’t much of a wait, and we soon had caffeine and pastries and were heading for the first session of the morning. I hit four talks today, skipping a couple of slots in a struggle to keep up with work email. (I got down to under 100 messages, but it’s back up since then).

Queues continued inside Moscone, with thousands of people waiting for the most popular topics. At one point, I left a small room and walked halfway around the building to a large one, only to find and follow a line of engineers reaching right back to where I started. The veneer of civilization wore a little thin as some attendees snuck in exit doors to avoid the wait and get good seats, but Apple staff mostly stopped that. I watched one Apple staffer trying and mostly succeeding to keep us in line, and asked him whether it was more like herding cats or herding sheep. He didn’t hesitate in answering — “Sheep”.

During lunch, Michael Johnson from Pixar spoke to a huge audience about Pixar’s technology and people. I caught him last year, but he always works in new material. There may or may not have been sneak previews of future films, but the non-disclosure agreement probably means I shouldn’t go into detail. As always, his talk was a lot of fun, a nice break from the serious stuff. That serious stuff does weigh on some people after a while. In the last session, I heard snoring a few rows back.

I keep seeing old colleagues and friends I but don’t have enough time to talk. I also wind up confessing that I flat out can’t remember a few names, but nobody seems to mind.

I’ve written in past years about the value of labs, where you can talk one-on-one with Apple engineers for help with learning new areas or solving problems. Unlike past years, I didn’t come with many questions, but some people sure did. There were huge waits in some labs. Unfortunately for the Apple folks, they wear distinctive t-shirts, so I bet they get cornered in the halls by people who didn’t get to them in the labs.

Tomorrow is my last day at this conference. I’m heading home early Friday morning. We’ll see if I can balance talks, email, and socializing – and oh, yeah, that gym in the hotel.

WWDC 2011 Journal, Day 2

Wednesday, June 08, 2011 at 10:22 AM

By Mike Morton, Google Mac Team

Google Engineer Mike Morton continues his nerd's-eye-view report from the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco. Today Mike starts with a festive breakfast and finishes at this year's edition of the legendary Stump the Experts.

My team had a 7:00 a.m. meeting at a nearby restaurant so I woke early, dashed through the shower, glanced guiltily at the hotel gym, and headed out, only to find the restaurant is closed on Tuesdays. I continued on to a 7:30 breakfast for folks who coordinate chapters of CocoaHeads. I had a great time talking with people from around the world, everything from small talk about the conference to challenges in getting people to present technical talks. Mark Dalrymple, who helped found the organization, showed up and was mobbed by friends and well-wishers, about five steps from the food table. I helped disengage him and steered him to the food.

There were door prizes, with iTunes gift cards going to the oldest chapter (besides Mark’s), the person who traveled the farthest, and the one who had the earliest Mac model. There was a tense moment on that last one when another guy and I both said we had original 128KB Macintoshes. I challenged "September, 1984. Full price!" He admitted he got his for two bucks at a yard sale — score!

Mark talked a little about founding Cocoaheads with the mysterious Agent M. (I’ve never known Agent M’s name, and have gotten kind of resigned to that little mystery. I was kind of alarmed to see that nobody else there seemed to know it either.) Mark graciously said that Agent M had the vision to plan a global organization, joking that left to himself he would have named it "the Western Pennsylvania Macintosh Programmer’s Cooperative". We posed for a group photo. Someone yelled "Java!" at the right moment and got a good group laugh.

I headed to Moscone and played hooky only once in six sessions. Apple works hard to make their engineers give polished talks with polished slides, and it shows. Most presentations were good — and crowded. Lines to get into the most popular sessions snaked randomly around the waiting areas.

A few sessions had hiccups: A missing slide, a demo application not working. Presenters rolled with the punches. One cheerfully moved on with "imagine you saw a demo, and it was great!". (He got a round of applause.)

I went to lunch in the Moscone cafeteria for the first time this week and found that every table had power strips and fast, wired network connections. Nerdvana! As so often happens when traveling, network connections are iffy. My hotel’s wi-fi and wired connections are both flaky, and Moscone’s wireless net is variable, depending on how crowded the room is. My iPhone’s tethering makes a nice Plan B at any location.

After dinner out, I poked my head in for the Apple Design Awards. It was crowded, so I left and took a break at the hotel to try to catch up on email and other things. I returned about 9:00 p.m. in time for Stump The Experts, my first time seeing this famous event. It’s a manic, disorganized, geekier-than-thou fest, with serious technical trivia about products (way back to the Apple I, even) and programming, but also some wild hats, a lot of improv, rebus puzzles, trying to guess a "will it blend" mystery object from its blended remains, a Mountain Dew tasting, and a "crazy Swiss guy". If I had attended any of the 19 previous years, maybe I would have understood what that last was all about.

Stump The Experts in a typically organized pose

The event is a competition between the audience and the on-stage experts. The format is… well, I couldn’t figure out if there was one. Competition is high-spirited, with lots of argument about who’s right. Example: "I quote the Wikipedia page, which we didn't even have to lie and edit".

Some questions are asked on the spot by the audience. The biggest laugh of the night came when an audience member asked what sounded like a rhetorical question: how did a particular much-hated app gain App Store approval? One expert turned out to be the bowling partner of the guy who wrote the app, and texted him to ask. The answer was "beer", which may or may not be a rhetorical answer.

We wrapped up at 10:30, with a few brave folks disco dancing to "Night Fever" as the rest of us headed out to get some rest (or beer).

WWDC 2011 Journal, Day 1

Tuesday, June 07, 2011 at 12:28 PM

by Mike Morton, Google Mac Team

Google engineer Mike Morton is back with his annual report from Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco. Today Mike blogs about lines, coffee, a parking garage, and even more lines (or is it the same line?).

My alarm went off at 4:30 a.m. and I stumbled out of the hotel before realizing I hadn’t checked Google Maps for the short walk to Moscone. I figured I could follow the stream of geeks in WWDC sweatshirts instead, but I didn’t see a lot of people. Some salmonic instinct from past conferences kicked in and I found the conference anyway. (It’s not hard — when you get near it, the line of attendees outside is obvious.)

I walked a couple of blocks to near the end of the line and found my colleague Pat (cutting in line to join friends is always accepted). He told me someone had been by counting and he was about number 700 in line. By this time, it was nearly 5:30 and a lot lighter. Many WWDC’ers were huddled against the wall of Moscone, trying to avoid the chill and looking unnervingly like homeless folks I’d seen a couple of blocks before on Market Street. Someone was playing saxophone on the sidewalk across the street. Most attendees looked pretty tired. A lot had brought folding chairs.

The line stretched around the block

Other Google colleagues and some friends-of-colleagues joined us. Paul, another engineer on the iOS Books team, brought coffee. (I owe him big time.) Lots of catching up, introductions, schmoozing, talk of past WWDCs, and speculation about this one. One great speculation game was the Expo Bingo app, which gives you a couple of dozen phrases to watch for. My board looked like this before I started…and I didn’t do very well.

Apple staff encouraged us to close gaps and stand four abreast, later six abreast, to try to reduce the length of the line. Engineers aren’t especially good at following simple orders, but the Apple folks tried anyway. Lots of people came by promoting various companies -- giving away freebies or coupons, hiring, and so on. We spent hours on the north side of Moscone West, looking at a big parking garage. I’m surprised nobody has paid to hang ads on it.

When registration reopened at 7 a.m., I took a break to go inside for that. Everyone got a nice "WWDC 11" sweatshirt. I’m giving mine to my friend Andy, who’s crazy enough that he flew all the way from New York to San Francisco despite having no ticket for the conference. (Andy was not crazy enough to wake up and join us for hours in line, though.)

Staff let us in a little before 8:00 a.m. A staffer counted as I went by, and I was number 935. Inside it was warmer, with coffee, juice, and pastries. We crowded into long, broad lines in the hallways…and waited some more. Some folks sat; a few lay down. At one point the line surged then stopped as suddenly — a security guy explained that someone had picked up a backpack and others had followed suit and…well, these things happen. We debated whether we should be more properly compared to sheep or to lemmings. Security folks weren’t entirely reliable: another told us that we were too far back to fit in the main room, and would be in an overflow room, which would have sharply reduced the RDF. He turned out to be wrong.

By 9:45 we got to sit down in the main room. One friend, who’ll remain nameless, exclaimed loudly “This is the best thing that’s happened to me today”. We’d been standing for 4 to 5 hours. I suppose I shouldn’t complain — rumor had it that the guy at the front of the line had been waiting since noon yesterday.

About 10:00 a.m., James Brown’s “I Feel Good” blasted, and soon after that Steve Jobs walked on. He looked gaunt, but smiled broadly at the standing ovation he got. An audience member yelled “We love you!”. I’ll let you read more detailed accounts of the announcements in the many blogs and media sites covering it, and just say that I was impressed at the breadth of new features, and was glad he pulled a “one more thing” line to introduce iTunes Match. In the end, there were no hardware announcements, but nobody grumbled except for one colleague who lost a bet over that.

The afternoon was just a couple of sessions, one at a time. Tomorrow there’ll be many sessions running concurrently, and I’ll have to think about which ones to pick.