Tuesday, January 31, 2006

iMac G5 20"

Apple just slashed US$200 off the price of their 20-inch iMac G5s, to $1499; that's about the price I paid for my iBook G4. The fact that pro software like Aperture doesn't run on Intel yet makes this a VERY...VERY tempting offer.

Clearly Apple are trying to clear inventory, but this brings us back to the debate we had before - pick up the cheap PPC chip Macs now, or hold out and get an Intel based one later when software becomes native?

Hmmm...

XP

I saw a brief link in MacNN's RSS feed about somebody who posted instructions for getting Windows XP to run on a MacBook Pro. The link got pulled, probably for a lot of different reasons, but here's the thing that gets me - I really don't get why you would want to do that.

I cannot, for the love of anybody, even begin to comprehend WHY one would even CONSIDER running Windows on a Mac. Ok, so it can be done, good for you, but that's like me installing...windows media player on an iPod and going "LOOK! IT WORKS!" Or for a less technologically relevant example, it's like taking the engine out of a car, replacing the wheels with 4 deformed hamsters, and saying "LOOK! IT MOVES!"

WHY would you want to run an INFERIOR operating system on a SUPERIOR machine that COMES with a SUPERIOR operating system? Whilst I appreciate the value in showing that it can be done...it just seems oh...so pointless

I apologise for the shouting, it's just...don't waste your time when you could be spending it developing a useful piece of code instead. Honestly, if I ever catch anybody running XP on a Mac...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Disney

Here's something that sparked my interest - Disney just agreed to take over Pixar for $7.4 billion in shares. They're issuing 2.3 Disney shares for every Pixar share. Nice merger, two great companies who I wanna see continue working together, but here's the thing: by doing the takeover, Steve Jobs essentially becomes Disney's majority shareholder, and automatically gets a spot on their board of directors (in fact, remove the word 'essentially' from that last sentence). The studios will continue to operate as they are, same people, same places, under the name Disney Pixar.

Soooo...Apple's CEO on Disney's board? He's not gonna be a quiet one, that's for sure. On top of that, the iTunes Music Store added a bunch of new Disney content immediately after the announcement.

I'm now imagining a world where Steve Jobs has a large amount of power over Disney film production, product distribution (can you say 'more Disney content on iTunes?) and the Disney-Apple partnership. Don't forget, Disney has the rights to a lot of TV shows as well as their awesome movies.

Jobs said he wanted to make a dent in the universe; he's well on his way to doing that with the iPod and the Mac...now with Disney, how big a hole in the universe does the guy wanna make?

On an unrelated note, according to this Macworld article, real-world applications running on Rosetta seem to run at about half their normal speed...which sucks if you want a new Mac and need to use old applications frequently. Hurry up and bring out those native apps!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Converting video to iPod

Just a brief post...I thought this would be difficult but shake that thought. Mac users, if you have a video iPod...if you have videos on your computer, iSquint is your solution. If you have DVDs, Handbrake Lite gets those videos on your iPod. Both of these apps have been around for a while, I've been using them for a while, but just realised that I'd never actually posted about them since my 'how the heck do you get videos on an iPod?' post. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Nano scratch?

I've been looking at the scratches on my nano (there are a couple, nothing too bad), and comparing them to my other iPods, most notably my 3G iPod, and I've come to an interesting conclusion.

Yes, the thing scratches. No, it doesn't scratch any more than any other standard iPod has. The scratches are almost exactly like those on my 3G iPod.

I think the hype over the nano scratches has been a result of a couple of things:
a) The thing is a lot smaller (duh), so the scratches do seem more prominent.
b) On the black, the scratches are far more noticeable due to the contrast between the scratches and the...err...blackness.
c) Because the front is flat, as opposed to rounded as my 3G is, the edges can get scratched more easily, but that's due to the shape of the thing - flat, sharp edges always scratch more than rounded ones do.
d) The screen is really bright, and when it's on you can't notice scratches. When it's off, it looks like any other iPod screen. On my 3G, whether it's on or off, unless the backlight is on, the scratches are equally noticeable. Because you don't always notice the scratches on the nano, when you do see them, I guess they seem more prominent, or at least more annoying.
e) All of this damn internet hype over the scratching makes people SEARCH for scratches, and treat their nano as if it's a fragile artifact. And if one scratch appears, OH NO! I TOLD YOU SO! iPods scratch, nothing new there. You don't want scratches? Get a case.
f) The nano is so unbelievably small and pretty and sexy, that people (well...at least myself) have to spend hours staring at it from all angles and under every possible lighting. And that's when scratches get noticed.

I do feel like the nano has a lot more show-off power than the standard iPod, so when you start using the thing as an aesthetic symbol, as opposed to a purely functional, brilliant music player like the iPod, then things like scratches become more important.

But hey, I don't complain about my 3G, and I'm not complaining about my nano.

I admit though, that I've bought a Crystal Film set from Power Support. It's one of those sets of films that you put over the front and the back of your iPod nano and it protects the wheel, front, and back. I got this set because it uses static cling technology, meaning it can be removed and reapplied easily. I hate the thought of putting anything permanent on an iPod. Although it was a bitch to apply, I'm perfectly happy carrying my nano around without it's case. It's just too sexy to keep in a box :P.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Macworld

So, Steve Job's Macworld keynote is done - and boy did he leave the bombshell till the end. Hopefully you've all seen it by now, if not, go and watch it now! Here are my thoughts on what was revealed:

iLife '06:

A pretty damn big update to iLife - quite impressive, but it felt like Steve spent waaay too much time on this; I'm not going to spend that much time on it.

iPhoto updates are great - its about time, iPhoto always needed a speed boost, and new features like one-click effects look like they could be really useful and save a lot of time. Photocasting I'm not too sure about yet, it seems like it could be phenomenal though, and whilst the idea is good, I find it even cooler that the photocasts automatically get updated in iPhoto. iMovie's big addition was the new animated themes, which look pretty sweet; you could make some pretty good quality movies with those themes. iDVD, good piece of software; FINALLY 3rd party DVD burners are supported! The new iTunes has that little ministore that's stirring a little bit of controversy about privacy, but given the popularity of the ITMS, I think it might be an ideal way for ITMS users to find new music. Heck, if you don't like it, just turn it off by selecting 'Hide Ministore' in the Edit menu, or press the little button in the bottom of the iTunes window.

Garageband's new podcast studio looks awesome, and I loved Jobs' 'Super Secret Apple Rumours' skit, haha...8 pound iPod. I'll definitely try experimenting with podcasting if I get my hands on it. A lot of great podcasts are already made on Garageband, like the MacCast, and it looks like it just got a whole lot better as a podcasting tool.

Finally...iWeb. What to make of it? It's definitely beautifully designed, and like many Apple software products, functions brilliantly as a complete package. It looks like it will be a lot easier to make a stunning website with lots of different features using iWeb, as it seems to handle page editing, photos, podcasts, RSS, blogging etc very effectively, making it quite comprehensive. The templates, naturally, look very nice, like the ones in Pages. I think iWeb is designed to, and indeed will, make website creation far more accessible and appealing to your average end user. I approve wholeheartedly - I for one would rather not deal with too much HTML formatting, and things like manually putting a podcast or a video podcast on a page.

I think we see a clear emphasis on .Mac and internet services with the introduction of photocasting and iWeb. If these apps are well received, I wouldn't be surprised to see a surge in .Mac usage. Perhaps Apple's overall strategy is to make .Mac the centre of all of one's personal internet related activities.

All in all a huge update to iLife, making an already fantastic software bundle even better.

iWork '06:

Jobs spent very little time on this, but I'm going to try and find more information on iWork '06, because I sincerely hope that there has been a lot of change to Keynote and Pages. I love both pieces of software, but they don't quite have the snazzy Apple feel to them that iLife has at the moment.

Update: I've taken a look at the new features of iWork '06 in this Macworld article, and I LIKE the look of it! The new add-ons to Keynote aren't spectacular, and so may not have warranted a place in Jobs' keynote, but when it comes to making presentations, the new features look like they'll be fantastic, especially the interleaved bullet builds. The Pages update looks nice too, new templates, an easier way to view your pages...good stuff. I can see why Jobs didn't talk about these too much in the keynote, but I'll be ordering my copy very soon.

iPod remote:
A nice little accessory I guess. I like the look of it, clearly inspired by the iPod shuffle (which I am madly in love with). Lots of other accessories out there that do similar things, but this remote is an FM tuner as well, and the nice thing about it is the interface that shows up on your iPod when you're listening to the radio - looks real sleek. A pleasant accessory, but nothing to get too excited over.

Whilst most of the keynote seemed off-pace and even, dare I say, duller than usual, of course..the HUGE news was the switch to Intel and the new iMac and MacBook Pro.

iMac Intel Core Duo:

So, we finally have it. The first Intel based Mac. Basically this thing is exactly the same as the iMac G5, with all the same features, except that it has the new Intel Core Duo chip, and as such is meant to be 2-3X faster.

Whether or not it's really 2-3X faster in practice of course, depends on what software you're running. I'd expect all Apple software (iLife, iWork etc.) to run beautifully, as it's all universal now. Jobs said that non-native software running through Rosetta will only show signs of slowing down for pro users of processor heavy software, like Apple's Pro software and heavy work on Photoshop.

All in all, this Mac seems to be just a souped up iMac - nice to see the chips out so early; but we all expected that anyway :P.

2-3X faster for the same price? I say good deal.

MacBook Pro:

Now here's the absolute whopper. Apple tried and failed and failed again to put a G5 chip into a notebook, and now FINALLY we have a laptop that crushes the G4 barrier of the past. And wow, Apple's stats are phenomenal; 4-5X faster than the current PowerBook G4. That blows me away - I consider the Powerbook to be a PHENOMENAL system, and to shatter it by that much...wow. I can't wait to see one of these in action. The MacBook Pro sounds like the laptop to end all laptops (except for its name...can't say much about that).

And check out it's new features! These blow me away as much as the system does.


  • Built in iSight: When I first saw this on the iMac G5, the first thoughts that came into my head were 'HOLY CRAP that's small!' and 'It'd be so sweet to have one of those on a laptop...I wonder if they can do that...nah.' Now we have it on a laptop! This thing is supposed to have twice the resolution of the commercial iSight camera, and seeing as I have that attached to the top of my laptop all the time, this'll be a big plus. Now we can close our laptops without having to remove the iSight, and we don't have go through the process of attaching the damn thing either! An awesome, awesome addition.



  • MagSafe: A magnetic power adapter! This thing is pure genius. When Steve said in the keynote, 'how many of you have had your notebook go flying after somebody tripped over your power cable?', I was bouncing up and down going 'ME! ME! Almost everyone I know! What're you gonna do about it huh?!?'. Then he revealed the new plug; held in magnetically, comes off when tugged on. All I can say about this is...I WANT IT, NOW. Pure GENIUS, and Patent Pending for Apple :P.


  • Built-in Front Row: Whilst I still have issues with this thing using an IR remote instead of Bluetooth, I love the fact that this has been added. Plug the MacBook Pro into your TV, and boom, you have a home entertainment super hub. Sweet.

  • 15.4-inch Cinema Display: Sporting huge resolutions, this thing is apparently as bright as the Apple Cinema Displays. Now, I thought the PowerBook's newest display was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen in a laptop, but now this? If you haven't seen one of Apple's Cinema Displays in action, trust me, they're stunning. This computer will look stunning as well as run beautifully. And with the addition of Front Row, imagine how awesome it's gonna be watching movies on the MacBook Pro.


  • All in all, unless Apple releases something better in the next few months (don't count against them doing that...), this is the laptop to end all laptops. And at the same prices as the 15" and 17" PowerBook, I can't see why anyone would buy those anymore...no matter how sweet they still are. I WANT A MACBOOK PRO!

    Overall, a pretty off-paced keynote, until the end, when Steve dropped the atom bomb that is the MacBook Pro on us.

    Thursday, January 05, 2006

    New Year cheer

    Happy New Year!

    Well, we've entered 2006, and there's less than a week until Macworld. Meanwhile, the Consumer Electronics Show has kicked off in Las Vegas, with good ol' Bill Gates delivering an opening keynote, unveiling some of the 'new' features of the upcoming Windows Vista. In an interview with Bloomberg at the CES,Gates discusses the new Windows operating system and calls Vista a 'big, big milestone'. So let's take a look at some of their 'breakthroughs' and some of the new technology he unveils. I'll add my thoughts after each one...just for kicks.

    1. New search features built into the operating system, with Vista including 'great desktop search capability', as well as new internet search services. Gates says that search should improve a lot, give straight answers, and not require a treasure hunt to find what you want.

    - What's that thing...one of the most powerful features of Mac OSX Tiger, that genuinely allows you to find anything on your system with relative ease? Oh yeah, Spotlight. Oh, and Google figured out the whole internet search thing a while ago. You know, upon reflection, the only major search engine/tool that frustrates me the point of it feeling like a treasure hunt is the Windows 'Find' function.

    2. New software called Photo Gallery will provide users with a way of organising photos, even allowing them to resize them and remove red-eye.

    - Wow...that's exactly what I use iPhoto for.

    3. In an interview on BBC's World Business Report, Gates talked about how software could allow users to better interact with and organise their music and photos, and how important these new features were to Vista.

    - Hey, iWonder where he got the idea of having an operating system complete with software and integrated functions that let you organise and handle music, photos and movies with ease? Big breakthrough for Windows users I guess, who haven't had an update since...oh...2001, when they released XP. Too bad he didn't copy the Finder layout too.

    4. The new version of MSN Messenger will include capabilities to place phone calls over the internet, with a handset to go with it.

    - What innovation! I hope MSN Messenger's VoIP features are good, seeing as iChat doesn't work on PC's and there aren't any better alterna..[ahem] Skype [ahem]...tives for making calls over the internet.

    5. A new built in service, Urge, will allow users to download songs off the internet for a fee. A few music players, built by companies like Toshiba, use Microsoft software for handling portable media and syncing with devices. These will benefit from Urge.

    - What can I say...there are some things in life that Urge will be ok for...for everyone else, there's iTunes. I wonder what the ratio of Apple:Toshiba is in the portable media player market?

    6. Gates talks about how HD DVD representing a 'big deal' for PC users, allowing users to have a jukebox of movies on their hard disk.

    - Remember Macworld 2005, when Jobs said more or less the same thing? If iLife didn't come with OSX, I'd hug the box right about now. And why doesn't Windows have a 3rd party utility like Handbrake Lite?

    7. New security features will be built into Vista, eliminating the need to download loads of add-ons.

    - Security? Isn't there a HUGE security flaw in XP that you should be working on first? And a quick poll, who here downloads hundreds of add-ons to protect their Mac? Anybody? No? Didn't think so.

    Hmmm...

    Basically the jist of Bill Gates' hype over Windows Vista is improved internet services, improved security and how it will allow users to organise their photos, music and movies, as well as search for files easily on their systems. I would say, if you wanted that so badly, you could've bought a Mac a few years ago.

    In the Bloomberg interview, Gates is asked whether or not Microsoft has learned anything from competitors such as Google and Apple, and he responds by saying 'we know all about rapid growth'. Straight answers eh? Maybe we should build a search feature into his brain.

    Here are a few more things I love about Microsoft:
    - The Xbox 360 uses 3 IBM PowerPC chips. The Xbox 360 overheats and crashes. Apple has just switched away from the IBM PowerPC chips.
    - They delayed the release of Vista 'Longhorn' by 2 years. As Jobs so beautifully put it, in the time that Apple released Cheetah, Puma, Jaguar, Panther, Tiger and announced Leopard, Microsoft released...XP.

    It's also probably worth mentioning that we'll have to wait until about the end of the year before we can get our hands on Vista. Apple should be releasing Leopard around then. You gotta love Microsoft's breakthrough innovation.

    Ladies and gentlemen, I've said it once, and I'll say it again. Buy a Mac.

    By the way, PC World just gave the iPod nano an award.

    "Unfortunately, people are not rebelling against Microsoft. They don’t know any better." - Steve Jobs