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Things related to Apple (computers, iPods, iTunes, OS X, Macintosh, etc.) hardware and software made or influenced by apple.

Written By: Gary on January 24, 2009 One Comment

So twenty-five years ago today, Apple released the Macintosh computer. And as far as I’m concerned, they changed the world.

oldmac.pngI was never an Apple II person, I was an Atari 800 guy. Then I used PCs for a while (DOS and Windows 3.1). For years I couldn’t understand why I should switch from my cheaper PC-Windows machine so it took me a few years (8) to get one (after using them in my graduate education program at MSU) but I’ve been a convert ever since. That’s not to say I don’t own a Windows machine (or two) but they’re usually doing mundane tasks, which my Macs are for creative tasks and what I want to use for my everyday stuff.

Here’s a YouTube vid of Steve Jobs demoing the Mac back in a 1984 keynote (wearing a bow-tie).

I think my first Mac was a used Macintosh Plus (with an add-on external hard drive), then a classic (same shape way more power), a PowerPC 6100 (pizza box shape), a tower PowerMac G4 (the first one with a DVD burner) and I owned a few used ones that I picked up here and there (a IIci and IIcx and a Quadra 605 that had been upgraded to a PPC). I paid way too much for the two PowerMac desktops, I did a few processor upgrades to get some more life out of them.

But I’ve also had a few Apple laptops: The PowerBook Duo 280c which in my opinion was the best laptop ever; more of a sub-notebook (1.5″ x 10.9″ x 8.5″) and you could get a dock you could stuck it into (like a big floppy) and it would use the monitor(s), keyboard, mouse and anything else plugged into the dock (hard drive, CD, etc.). I eventually upgraded the motherboard in that to turn it into a PowerPC 2300c and used that for a while. After that I had a PowerBook G3 luggable laptop, it was huge but had power, memory, storage and a beautiful 14 inch(?) display; fully loaded I think that was over $5,000 but it was a heavy beast to lug around. Since then I’ve stuck with smaller 12-inch models: an iBook (I got the iBook instead of the PowerBook because I wanted a smaller model), the first 12-inch PowerBook and the last 12-inch PowerBook (the 12-inch PowerBook is probably my second favorite after the Duo). My latest is a white 13.3-inch MacBook (the fastest plastic model from just before the uni-body models) and it seems like a monster compared to the 12-inch model but I love it, I don’t leave home without it.

Since the Macs were more expensive I generally did a few things to save money. I’d upgrade the memory myself from Other World Computing (they’ve always be notoriously expensive for memory upgrades). I usually used some other brand monitors (even though the Macs have traditionally been better). And I usually used non-Apple printers except for the Apple StyleWriter which was an excellent printer; my first was an old NEC 8023 dot matrix that I purchased an adaptor for, also some HP and Epson ink-jets, a used QMS laser, a used HP lasers and a new HP laser (my current).


To make sure you watched it, here’s a question:
What’s wrong with the above version of the ad?

I’ve also had an Apple Newton (it was way before it’s time) and two iPods. I’m craving an iPhone (or a Touch) and considering the plunge.

So that’s my personal Apple Macintosh computer history. I really didn’t realize I had so many different machines. Out of all of those I had two problem machines: the ultra expensive laptop (2 bad motherboards, but after the second replacement it was perfect) and the iBook (a lemon, multiple problems, eventually the agreed to give me a brand new one). The other laptops have been great and I’ve always beat the hell out of them (scratches, gauges and drops) but they’ve held up quite good.

Lately, I’ve been using the laptops more than the desktops, my last desktop was from 2001 (I’ve boosted memory, hard drives and processor since then) but the last few laptops have been faster than the older desktop so I’ve neglected the desktop. I’d like a new one, I just haven’t been able to justify the dollar$ for a new tower desktop and the MacMini just hasn’t had enough juice (it’s more like a fast laptop) and the Mini really needs a refresh/upgrade from Apple.

So (like the guy in the ad) I can say “I’m a Mac”.

Written By: Gary on January 20, 2009 No Comment

So I’ve never been happy with most digital calendars. I’ve used them for years, but never been completely satisfied with them, they’re just always missing a few things. Usually I use what’s on my Palm Pilot, a slightly modified version of their calendar with a week view. Sadly, this is virtually the same datebook they’ve had for years and never had a decent weekly view (handspring had a version for a while) so you have to add a program on to do this. FYI, if you don’t have a Mac or don’t use a calendar this post might get pretty boring (even if you do it’s probably not the most exciting) but if you are on a Mac and use Google Calendar and/or a Palm it might be useful.

jan20ical.pngI don’t like more of the desktop software that I’ve tried. If I find something I really like, generally the one thing that puts me off is the view of the days (either one day or a week) they generally show me a 8 or 12 hour block, this is useless to me when I have something outside that block of time, when I glance a the week view, I can’t see appointments that I have in the evening (and those are probably the fun things!). I have so few things on my calendar, I’m not booked for something different every 15 minutes, it’s easy enough to squish things together. It’s computer software, they should be able to do it.

What I’m currently doing is syncing iCal with Google Calendar. It’s pretty quick and has worked well with all the testing I’ve done today (I’ll tell you how at the end).

calendar_goog.gifGoogle’s calendar shows me about 12 hours so I have to scroll to see if I have anything going on. iCal for the Macintosh gives me a nice 24 hour view, but they could easily compress the 1 am-6am section to something even smaller to give the rest more space (I’ve got nothing going on all week at those times) and even the on-line version does shows you all 24 hours. Another minus is that iCal doesn’t have a way to set a default calendar, I want it to chose the one I’m syncing with Google, I can sort of cheat for that but I see that not sticking all the time, but a option to set a default seems simple enough.

iCal and Google lets you subscribe to other calendars; kind of like a live feed that it’s updating to your calendar. When on-line it generally seems easier to add other items to my Google calendar (like when a site lists their upcoming events). While iCal doesn’t make it easy to copy from one category to another (it’s main category to my Google category specifically).

My end result is getting the Google Calendar synced with iCal and then syncing iCal with my Palm, thus having my appointments everywhere (preferably on the Palm and on the Laptop). And then I can use the desktop application for entering info.

If I just sync in iCal I guess they’d be on the web (in MobileMe), but I’d rather have them in Google Calendar. I can do more with Google while I’m on-line and easily add others events to it and subscribe to other calendars but with iCal I can’t see my subscribed calendars in the MobileMe web interface. I could just always use Google Calendar all the time, but not if I’m off-line, I guess that’s why I need iCal. If I got an iPhone this would be less of an issue, I’d just sync iCal with an iPhone and be done with it. Hmm…

FYI to get Google Calendars to talk to iCal I used Calabortion (from Google). I don’t know if you actually need it (I think you can type everything in by hand) but it’s a tiny application that makes configuring a breeze (just need your Google address and password). It’ll even add your subscriptions (go to preferences) but since it’s read-only it’ll yell at you when you sync.

Written By: Gary on January 14, 2009 No Comment

I try not to speculate to much about gossip and things about people but Apple did release a press release on Steve Jobs health today. It was actually a letter from Steve to the staff with phrases like:

“In addition, during the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought.”

“I have decided to take a medical leave of absence until the end of June.”

I hope everything turns out okay; he can’t be too happy that he’s needed to do this, doesn’t seem like that kind of guy (and I’m thinking he can’t be well if he’s doing this). Two, not having him in charge of Apple will shake things up a bit in the world (rumors do that enough as it is) for at least a few days.

Found at MacRumors.

Semi-Sidebar: I was going to make a comment like “and their stock didn’t do to good today, I wonder what time this was made public” but they did a heck of a lot better than Dell or Palm. It doesn’t look like the market as a whole did too good and Apple’s not that far off the curve.

Friday update – There is a nice “Get Well Steve Jobs” cartoon on Joy of Tech.

Friday update 2 – The Telegraph.co.uk has a health timeline for Steve Jobs, just click and take a peek at the pictures (the 6 mugshots at the top).

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Written By: Gary on January 6, 2009 No Comment

So it looks like some nice stuff:

  • iPhoto and iMovie with some nice updates.
  • The geo-tagging in iPhoto looks cool. Will someone please figure out a way to sync my GPS with my photos for the location they were taken!!!!
  • iWork on-line looks great and that it’ll give GoogleDocs a run for their money.
  • And a way cool app to use your iPhone or Touch as a preview remote for slideshows!
  • The 17-inch MacBook Pro looks great, but 17-inches is just too much of a hassle to haul around. I still think my 13.3 inch MacBook is huge compared to my 12-inch PowerBook.
  • Non-Removable battery for the MacBook 17-inch MacBook Pro. But it lasts 8 hours and 1,000 recharge cycles (triple the standard). It’ll be interesting to see how this works out…
  • The new MacBook has a matte option on the display (that’s for me!) and up to 8GB of RAM!
  • Looks like all music with be DRM free by the end of the year at the iTunes store (I’m not sure if by default it’ll be DRM or if you still have to buy the ‘iTunes Plus’ version or if everything is ‘plus’). And pricing will change older stuff is cheaper and some newer stuff will be more.
  • But they will still have the iTunes plus at a higher bit-rate for more money (I think). Isn’t that how you got the DRM-free before, was with the iTunes Plus?

Check out the MacWorld Keynote Coverage from Engadget, start at the bottom and scroll up.

No new Mini’s, iPhone Nanos or anything that I need.

I was hoping for tethering for the iPhone (connecting the computer to the iPhone to use it’s 3G internet) and a model with more memory…

Written By: Gary on December 15, 2008 No Comment

A free update, weighing in at 190 MB!!! OS 7 was probably only about 8 MB total and I think a few floppies of that was fonts! (Or am I thinking 6.0.5?)

I’m hoping for better Airport connectivity and some more reliability with Mail and faster sync with MobileMe. Better security and a Trackpad System Preference Panel for the MacBooks too. More info here.

A reboot before installing might be a good idea… Backing up too, but that’s not likely to happen…

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Written By: Gary on December 14, 2008 No Comment

So it looks as if I use Ecto 3, with WordPress it’ll automatically convert my posts Technorati Tags to WordPress Tags jsut by reposting them to the blog. Very cool.

On Ecto 3, I really liked Ecto 2 and was avoiding version 3 due to some key-press changes and some other visual changes. I might remember more later, but I just wasn’t liking the feel before, but with it handling WordPress tags properly, it’s now a no-brainer.

Another big bonus – It’ll actually let you edit the “Pages” in WP (like the “About” page) and it treats them differently than the posts! (But it seems to have some problems retrieving pages/posts once your site gets more full).

BTW, I had to set it to access the XML-RPC, I couldn’t get it to use Atom for the posting, I’m not sure if this really matters.

Written By: Gary on December 14, 2008 No Comment

I really like the way Apple did this iPod Touch ad.

I couldn’t see it when I went to http://games.yahoo.com/, I assume I need to be running Windows? I tried Safari and Firefox.

Here’s the direct link. I found this at MacRumors.

Written By: Gary on November 22, 2008 One Comment

Img 0455I thought this was funny that someone stuck this sticker on their motorcycle.

 

 

 

Written By: Gary on November 10, 2008 One Comment

So if you buy one of these at the airport is there any music on it? Is it even fully charged?

They should come with a sampler? or an audiobook! That’d make for a good impulse buy…

 

iPod vending machine…‘ uploaded by garylapointe

Written By: Gary on October 20, 2008 One Comment

Yes, I know I’m always talking about Apple Laptops, especially the MacBook, but I really like the Apple laptops. So the new MacBook metal laptop itself looked really nice but what I really noticed was that it felt really really sturdy whether it was opened or closed. It’s got the black border around the display with i don’t like at first glance but people must have liked it on the iMac so I guess I’d get used to it. I’d trade up in a second (half-pound lighter, backlit keyboard, brighter lower power LCD Display, longer battery life) if I needed to have it replaced for some reason but without a significant speed upgrade I really can’t justify the cost (any cost really) especially since my memory won’t transfer, neither will my spare battery or my video adaptor.

Two questions:

  • When you use the security port (Kensington lock slot), does it lock in the battery and the hard drive by stopping you from opening the back? (it was really close to the release latch)
  • If there is no firewire, is there no target disk mode or will it work via USB? (no reason that they couldn’t)I still think it was ridiculous that they removed the firewire port. It’d have been easy enough for them to say a year ago that they planned to phase Firewire out so make sure you purchase USB devices, that would remove the real valid complaints.
  • Written By: Gary on October 17, 2008 No Comment

    So I stopped at Kinko’s to fax something, unfortunately I had to fax it twice since I forgot a page (duh!). But I was looking at their computer area and I see they want $12 an hour to use a computer. One person here just looks like they are just checking their fantasy football and that’s got to get pricey after a while; others are just surfing and one guy is working on a Word document. They could probably lease/rent a computer for less than $24 a month (that’s the going price for an iBook with Apple’s credit) and subscribe to a T-Mobile WiFi for $30 a month and could sit at the same Kinko’s and recoup their costs in less than 5 hours. Plus, you’d have a laptop for anywhere use and you can use it at free WiFi spots and most other T-Mobile spots.

    You’d have to pass a credit check to get the computer but other than that it seems like the way to go to me. It’s a decent neighborhood where I am and none of these folks look homeless so I can’t think of any reasons not to go this route. Any one have any thoughts on this?

    Looks like they have some new print on-line service that you can print and ship via FedEx (it’s actually called FedEx Kinko’s now) from home or remote.

    Written By: Gary on October 16, 2008 One Comment

    So the new 13-inch MacBooks look nice, but nothing to run out and ditch your current model unless you’ve been waiting for a new one. They have two new metal models and the lower-end white plastic model but still really nice white-plastic model for $999. The processor still tops out at 2.4 GHz on the fastest model (but they upped the bus speed about 33% so that’ll help). The important parts (IMHO) are:

  • LED Screen – Brighter and lower power (I think this is only on the metal models).
  • Backlit keyboard on the fastest model.
  • New NVIDIA graphic chips (only on the metal models) – These should make the graphics faster (but they still use shared memory) and as a result make your computer faster.
  • The metal models weigh a 1/2 pound less and should be more durable.
  • No firewire on the metal models and they did not increase the number of USB ports (if you need an external drive you’re short one port now).
  • On the metal models: They changed the video connector, battery and they come standard with 2 GB of DDR3 memory now (so don’t plan on moving that from your old machine to the new).
  • New bigger glass trackpad about the size of an iPhone (only on metal models)
  • No combo drives! The low-end model has a Super-Drive DVD-Burner now; previously it’s always had a DVD Reader / CD burner combo drive.
  • Smaller packaging and the computers are supposed to be more ecological to dispose of.

    All in all, nice new machines. I’d probably wait until the next speed refresh when they might have some of the bugs out (as many new models have). $1599 for the high end model (plus $150 for a total of 4 GB of memory and $100 for a 320 GB hard drive).

    I’d really like the LED display, the backlit keyboard and the metal case (if it is stronger); I’m pretty rough on my machine and my current plastic MacBook just isn’t holding up as well as my old 12 inch iBook.

    I’m assuming when they run out of old parts the plastic version will get the same display, new trackpad and same graphic chips (and lose the firewire); or possibly become a metal model, it’s gotta cost them a lot to tool the low end machine completely differently.Later:
    Looking at the MacWorld speed tests, comparing 2.4 GHz models (13 inch new, 13 inch last Feb. (mine), and 15 inch), the speed differences are negligible when it comes to plan old processing (even with the 33% bus increase) it’s the PhotoShop (still minor) and Quake (WOW!) where the differences are. Similar results were found by Primate Labs with a 3% overall difference in the 2.4 GHz machines.

  • Written By: Gary on October 12, 2008 2 Comments

    I really don’t care what my laptop physically looks like (I want my display to look nice though). I want it functional and preferably small, light and durable. I want features at a good price. If it’s sexy too, that’s a bonus.

    I’m dying to see the specs on the new Apple MacBooks next Tuesday (Oct. 14, 2008) but I’m really hoping for more features at a great price (we need more converts). I’m not even in the market for a new laptop but I can’t wait to see. A twelve or eleven inch MacBook might change my mind though; the same goes for a touchscreen (but I’m not expecting that).Personally I like the plastic cases better than the metal, the metal slips out of my hands plus it dents more easily…

    Here’s My Dream MacLaptop:

  • 12 or 11 inch display (doesn’t need to be full height).
  • Small solid state drive and a big hard drive. All the system stuff goes on the solid state drive.
  • Lots of memory.
  • Blu-Ray DVD drive would be nice (it’s that time).
  • Non-powered audio jack (so I can use any mic/headset).
  • Security – can’t power on or wake up without a password.
  • Backlit keyboard.
  • A spot to plug in an external WiFi antenna (I’m tired of weak reception areas).
  • Internal spot for Sprint 3G cellular card (or other brand equivalent).
  • Maybe GPS (it’d go well with the mobile cellular).
  • and if we’ve got GPS and cellular we might as well as be able to run iPhone and iPod Touch apps.

    Or for something way smaller: Take a current Macbook, chop off everything below the keyboard (the trackpad area) and shrink the screen to be the same size. Somehow a track pad would have to pop out or something would visually watch your fingers gesture on the table where the trackpad would be. Obviously a DVD drive would not fit in such a machine.

  • Written By: Gary on August 25, 2008 No Comment

    So my “D” was a little crooked on my MacBook the other day so I pressed it down and it snapped back into place and has been fine. Today when I opened the lid the key just feel off and I can’t get it to snap back on.

    I can type on the missing part. It’s just annoying and I’m afraid I’ll lose the key before I can get it back on.

    While I love my white plastic MacBook it just hasn’t held up as well as my old plastic iBook. I used to beat that old iBook up and never had any problems. In addition to the “D” key I’ve got a few cracks around the seam that I have no idea when/where they came from.

    Written By: Gary on August 19, 2008 No Comment

    So in addition to the 30 Day MobileMe credit from a month ago, they are giving another 60 days of free MobileMe credit.

    My problems have not been too bad during this transition (I don’t use their mail) so I’m getting 90 days total!! Plus they’ve doubled my space (back during the transition) which makes it 20 times the storage what it was a year ago.

    Written By: Gary on July 23, 2008 No Comment

    There seem to be lots more rumors on new MacBook refreshes lately and with their free iTouch (or Nano) promo (students, teachers or staff), I really want to buy now before the promo ends on September 15. I’d prefer they’ve added GPS to the iTouch but that’s just not happening yet. I’d more excited about an iTouch with the new Apps store :)

    Written By: Gary on July 16, 2008 One Comment

    While a lot of people seem to complain about the .Mac / MobileMe service I’ve always had pretty good success. The biggest thing I use it for is iDisk so that all my laptop files get automagically backed up to the server, I can then access those same files from the web and have the get mirrored to one of my other Macs. It does the same for the my bookmarks and mail settings (and it’ll do the same for contacts and calendar, but I haven’t been using my mac for that). They are removing the web access to the bookmarks, I only occasionally used this, but I don’t understand why they took this away (it was an already written feature so why remove it); I’m especially annoyed since I renewed for a year and then they took the feature away.

    For the same cost they just increased storage from 10 GB to 20GB so that’s a bonus. They’re still more expensive than most storage on-line but the connivence is what makes it worth it. It’s also slow if you just decide to sync up gigs and gigs of data, but it’ll get there eventually and it resumes seamlessly (usually) the next time I connect.

    I did have some MobileMe problems during the transition and the iPhone 2.0 launch (I don’t have an iPhone) but they all resolved themselves. As a result for those problems and the ones others had they are offering a free MobileMe MobileMe30-day credit extension to your account (you were a .Mac member whose account was active as of July 9, 2008 or you are a new MobileMe member who created your account on or before July 15, 2008 at 7:00 PM PDT).

    Written By: Gary on June 3, 2008 No Comment

    photo_ukregentstreet.jpgMom is at Harrod’s.

    I’m in heaven! At the Flagship Apple Store on Regents street in London.

    It’s a huge store. A little bigger than in Chicago! Gotta go shop!

    Later – Turns out we have live music too! Jessica Hoop and Lissie, I’ll be checking them out on-line later…


     


     

    Written By: Gary on March 8, 2008 2 Comments

    So after the MacBook Air not being what I had hoped for, I had been hoping for a 13.3 inch MacBook Pro and while the Air is small, I wanted something not so stripped down. Since then, I’d been trying to decide between a 13.3 MacBook and a 15 inch MacBook Pro (size vs. power, I’m used to the tiny 12 inch PowerBook), I thought I’d let fate decide for me and get the next one that they upgraded. Unfortunately, last week they did an upgrade on them both on the same, letting fate avoid making the choice for me.

    This week I was at a conference and was at the Apple Booth and was playing with the 17 inch MacBook Pro and asked if they had a 15 inch to look at and then I realized I was using the 15 inch model. It just seemed so large and bulky to me. I think I’m going to have to go with the 13.3 MacBook, I think it’s only about a half pound less in weight, but it’s a bit smaller. I’m not even sure how I’d fit the 15 inch on the back of an airplane or train seat tray.

    Of course, the day after I order it, they’ll release a 13.3 inch MacBook Pro

    Later: I went with the 2.4 GHz White MacBook (I couldn’t possibly justify the Black one for $110 more, that doesn’t even make sense!), with the 250 GB HD and lots o’ RAM. The biggest downside to not getting the Pro is that the glossy screen was the only option (and the non-backlit keyboard).

    Written By: Gary on March 5, 2008 One Comment

    Apple has released or upgraded/refreshed something new every Tuesday since MacWorld. This week there was nothing. The stranger thing is that I didn’t hear much (anything?) about it. I did recall him saying something at the keynote like ’50 more weeks to go’ and it was just odd at the way it sounded, so when they kept rolling things out I thought that was pretty great and maybe it was a weekly thing.

    But I see that Leo Laporte just mentioned an Apple Event tomorrow, so maybe there will be something announced there…

    After Google-ing around, I’m guessing it’s just the SDK kit for the iPhone / iTouch. Although if it’s not an actual product, it’s still not following the pattern.

    LATER REVEALED: I haven’t watched the Steve Jobs presentation yet. But it looks like it’s the SDK that was expected, it’s $99, I’m not sure if that was expected and it’s free (see comments). Also they have a way to be in the “Enterprise beta” program, but I don’t know if I’d want my enterprise testing new software if it’s not finalized yet. But the “remote wipe” sounds like a great option if you’ve got secure data. The “Exchange Sync” looks nice that’ll convince a few BlackBerry users to jump; is it coincidence that Google released an Exchange / Outlook to Google Calendar Sync yesterday?

    Written By: Gary on February 12, 2008 No Comment

    So I just downloaded the AppleTV update called Take 2 (or is it Take2?). I wasn’t thrilled with the changes that I saw in the preview because I thought the interface was pretty great. But I’ll agree that some changes for the new interface was necessary.

    Since you now can shop the whole iTunes store via the AppleTV something to surf around a larger library was necessary. They new sections fill up the cover art at a more than acceptable speed (my cable modem is 6000 down and 384 up) and it flowed pretty nicely. But a lot of the old interface is still around for the sub menus and it they really clash with each other. But I like the shopping on-line option, I’ll try it later just so I can see how well it works. I would have purchased last night’s Kyle XY episode but it wasn’t ready for download yet for some reason…

    The amount of movies and music and TV is just a little overwhelming. There’s just so many options and you can scroll in so many directions! And all the album art just looks fantastic in large high quality images!!! They need a all you can watch or listen to with the music videos, pay a flat rate and go cRaZy for a few hours.

    The podcasts are interesting, You can browse very nicely and you can view/stream but if the site is slow, you’re gonna wait a while for that hi-def video. You can select download and it’ll be there later for you. It’s strange that you can favorite a podcast, not to be confused with subscribing, but you can’t actually subscribe; this would be inconvenient if you don’t actually have a computer.

    The new Flickr photo viewing works great, but I wish there was a way to view the descriptions or titles of the photos. And I wish there was a way to look at thumbnails; for example a person has 500 photos in a folder and there isn’t a way to jump around it just goes to slideshow mode. This never bothered me with my photos, but when looking at someone else’s it jumped right out at me….

    Overall, it’s a great update in that it adds some great functionality. The new interface will grow on me (it’s not like I wouldn’t recommend it to someone). I just feel it’s missing some normal Apple consistency in the Human Interface Guidelines area…

    I’m still missing a way to build a video playlist (or a video shuffle). I’ve got hours of video podcasts and I don’t have a way to string them together as my own private TV channel. I hadn’t heard about it or this release but it just seems like a natural outgrowth of the music playlist and/or shuffle.

    The update took a while and had to reboot more than a few times installing all the features but seems like it worked just fine. I expect they’ll be a update soon to fix a few minor things, like the TV Genre of “Cops and Robberts”.

    Written By: Gary on February 3, 2008 One Comment

    This is great, it looks like Apple has semi-extended movie rental time limits. I say “semi” because once the 24 hour time limit passes you cannot go back to the beginning of the rental, but you can resume where you left off.

    This makes me very happy because I’ve thought the 24 hour was just too short. My thought from a few weeks ago was “Maybe they can do something to cripple it, maybe after 24 hours any viewed portion is not viewable any more”. It seems (at least on an iPod) that you can’t leave and do something else and still have it resume when you come back (“delete” or “resume” are your choices) your iPod is “stuck” on that screen. Maybe they’ll do it a little different on AppleTV or iTunes…?

    I think the new AppleTV software was supposed to roll out last week so it should be appearing soon.

    Written By: Gary on February 2, 2008 6 Comments

    So I went to the Apple Store today to take a peek at the MacBook Air. Honestly, I had pretty low expectations so I thought I’d get my socks knocked off, but it was just okay. It’s more beautiful than my 12 inch PowerBook, but just by a small margin. It’s light and thin seems pretty durable, and has the beautiful LED display (but a bit of glare). But I thought I’d leave and say “I have to have one”, but it didn’t happen. If I had the extra bucks to spend it on I’d certainly get one, but I think I’d still need a more powerful laptop.

    Pluses: 3 lbs., 13.3 inch low power LED display, small, new track-pad, backlit keyboard. Please note, some of these are huge pluses.
    Minuses: External DVD drive (which I could live with), special MagSafe power adaptor, slow hard drive, lacking ports, 80 GB, maximum HD, no option for a spare battery and (of course) the price. Note that while it’s a metal MacBook it has a shared memory video card like a MacBook, not a MacBook Pro.

    The solid-state 64 GB drive is a plus, but the $1000 price tag is certainly a minus…

    If I had a 17 inch PowerBook, the MacBook Air would make a great addition as a “day” computer, when I don’t need the power or DVD drive and didn’t want the 6.8 pounds to lug around. If I could only have one machine I’d probably take a loaded MacBook 13.3 inch (5 pounds). If I could “create” an ultimate machine it would be a 12 (or 13.3) inch MacBook Pro; I could even live with an external DVD drive it it could lower the size and weight…

    This kind of fits with my initial thoughts when I first saw the announcement of the MacBook Air, it’s not what I was hoping for. If you haven’t seen it, this is the MacBook Air ad.

    Written By: Gary on January 26, 2008 One Comment

    My Apple TV has been one of my favorite technology purchases and I never expected that I’d like it that much. Actually, I’d been interested in it but it took a visit to Best Buy, after happy hour, for me to finally commit to the 40 GB version. I took it back a few days later but only because I knew I needed the 160 GB version, bigger is better after all…

    Apple TV is pretty much an ‘iPod for your television’ and iPods are pretty much the standard to beat for portable media players (at least the standard for handheld audio players) so these should be selling much better. I’ve always been impressed with my Apple TV and had been surprised they hadn’t really caught on more than they have. The Apple TV interface is excellent, it’s as good as the TiVo (except it doesn’t record), you can buy videos (and music) on your computer to load it up, but that is a little inconvenient for some people. You can convert videos for it, but that’s not for the average user. I knew it was close to what people want but it wasn’t exactly there yet.

    A few weeks ago at MacWorld they announced movie rentals for the Apple TV. $2.99 for old movies, $3.99 for new ones and $1 more for HD quality. Plus, you can buy music (and music videos) on-line and view/subscribe to podcasts (for free). They changed the interface, I personally think it’s a little more complicated, but since you need to be able to browse an infinite number of music and movies I can understand it (and maybe I’ll like it too). This new interface is free to original Apple TV owners and should show up in a few weeks (I keep checking).

    I heard all this when they announced it and I’ve been mulling it around in my head, but I finally just watched that part of the keynote from MacWorld (on my Apple TV, of course) and now I really think this is getting even closer to being the media box for your TV.

  • If I can start watching a movie in about 30 seconds, why am I going to rent something from the store? (there is a 30 day wait after a DVD release)
  • Why am I going to subscribe to Netflix? (all the movie extras and plus for TV shows you I get multiple episodes on one DVD)
  • If I can purchase a song the instant I need it, why am I going to run out and buy the album? (at least I think I can purchase a song, I saw Steve purchase a music video).One of the biggest shortcomings of this (and all digital video rental systems out there) is that you only have 24 hours from start to finish. It’s just not long enough, if I start it at 8 tonight, I need the ability to finish it tomorrow at 8 or 9 in the evening. Because of that, I think 30 hours is the minimum I need to seriously consider this as a way to watch movies (at least for me). As you increase the time to 36, 48 or even 72 hours it makes this a much better option, especially for the impulse buy. I know “they” don’t want bunches of other people to borrow it and view it so they longer the time, the higher the chance of this. Maybe they can do something to cripple it, maybe after 24 hours any viewed portion is not viewable any more, that’s slightly complicated but it makes it a little more fair and might make the movie companies a little happier, IMHO…

    But TiVo has had these features for a while now: music and photo streaming from your computer for years now, podcasts (very limited menu selection) for a few years too and recently they’ve added movie / TV rentals from Amazon Unbox (but you wait hours for it to download). I wonder if there are more TiVos than Apple TVs out there??

    I’m confused about a few things:

  • Can you buy a movie from the Apple TV interface?
  • Can you push HD movie rentals down to your computer or iPod? (I don’t think they said that specifically for HD).

    Things I’m not confused about, but I’m wondering:

  • How long until I can access media from my Time Capsule?
  • How long until I can rent TV shows?
  • How long until I subscribe to TV shows at a reasonable rate?
  • How long until I can dump my cable package?
  • How long until the cable internet and DSL providers complain about the bandwidth that is being used up? FYI, where the Apple TV requirements list a “broadband connection” it also says “(fees may apply)”.
  • Is the hardware in the new Apple TV exactly the same? I know the software is going to be the same, but I don’t think they said it was exactly the same either.
  • How long until the 30 day wait before renting (after new releases) is removed and I can rent as soon as it’s out? (they don’t have a delay before music purchases).

    Complaints about the Apple TV:

  • I need a video playlist option. I want to have a way to link these video podcasts and music videos into my own personal non-stop “channel”.
  • I need a way to find this tiny remote when I misplace it. It’s so small and light.
  • It needs a regular video-out and S-video out for people who don’t yet have TVs with component video or HDMI.
  • They still don’t have a use for the included USB port.
  • I think I’m gonna need a bigger hard drive!

    Also, they announced a price drop of $70 for the Apple TV.

  • Written By: Gary on January 15, 2008 2 Comments

    Apple MacBook Air MC233LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop Apple ComputerSo I like the new MacBook Air. But while it’s smaller and lighter than all the current MacBooks, and it’s one-third lighter than the 12 inch PowerBook, you give up a bit. You can’t have a spare battery, as a matter of fact you can’t even change the battery yourself. The hard drive space is limited, an (iPod?) 80GB hard drive that runs at 4200 RPM, or a pricey 64GB flash drive. It does have the cool new multi-touch-pad and the built-in camera. No internal DVD drive, mono-speaker, only one USB port and a few other things I’m sure I’m not thinking of. If you haven’t seen it, go watch the ad….

    It’s got these minuses (but it’s been a looonnnggg time since they refreshed a 12 inch PowerBook and and I’m definitely having “Air Envy”) I think if they take apart, slap it in a regular (or slightly smaller than regular) case with a changeable battery and a real hard drive (and maybe DVD drive) they’ve got what everyone has been waiting for.

    I really thought I was going to want to snatch one up but it’s just not what I was expecting (and I’ve seen others say the same. Maybe if I actually see one, but I think until they do my (fictional) upgrades, I might just wait until the next refresh. I’m guessing the MacBook 13 inch will have the new multi-touch pad and LED screen. I can get an awful lot of power for the same price (if I buy my memory somewhere else).

    Here’s an idea for something even smaller (no DVD though). Make ma a MacBook but chop the screen in half to the size of the keyboard and somehow have the trackpad slide out! It’s really be a “wide-screen” but it’d be tall enough for normal use.

    I really miss my old Apple Duo (or was it a PowerBook Duo?)….

    Written By: Gary on October 1, 2007 No Comment

    So Apple and iTunes added these myTunes “widgets” you can add to your web site or MySpace page or whatever. This isn’t new news (2 months old?), it’s just that I never got around to trying them. Here’s the thing, the options are limited, they don’t show the album artwork unless you click on something and it’s not very configurable. You have to activate it on-line through the iTunes store, so someone can’t just track your music history by adding a widget with your ID in on to a web site and then create the widget. That’s nice from a privacy stand point, although I’m generally not too picky about my privacy.

    On the whole lack of configuration: it’s got a few options 3 sizes and a few color options, but still limited. One thing that bugs me is that the “My iTunes Favorites” widget it lists people that I’ve bought just one song, that’s not a “favorite”, heck it could be only one song because I hated them! Actually most cases seem to be from a compilation album, (possibly) a free song, or I bought a song for my Mom or something, either way I should be able to set a minimum limit before they list it (or something like that). Maybe it would be more reflective if I’ve spent more money on albums (and less on songs).

    It seems a little slow for just moving text around too. I don’t think I’ll be using it (other than in this post for a sample).

    And it someone clicks on my widget and buys a song from iTunes, I think I should get a few pennies credit at the iTunes store from them :)

    Written By: Gary on September 26, 2007 One Comment

    So Amazon opened the Amazon MP3 store which has been getting some good reviews and (most importantly) it semi-integrates by pushing your purchases into your iTunes which is great for automatic syncing with your iPod. They’ve had tracks for download for ages, but this is their big jump into the market (you do need their downloader for this).

    Amazonmp3I actually spotting it yesterday when searching for some music but I didn’t realize the format change of my search results indicated a whole new service. I did notice that the tracks were only 89 cents though!

    Keep in might for 89 cents they are a dime less than the iTunes music store for regular tracks but since there is no encryption (DRM) and it’s encoded at a higher quality (even than Apple I believe) these are 40 cents less than Apple’s $1.29 a song. That’s about 1/3 less if you’ve been getting the DRM-free higher quality songs (and that’s what I’ve been getting lately). And they are MP3s, so they play on just about anything (but higher quality does mean larger songs). Buying whole albums will generally discount the price.There are exceptions to the 89 cent price for the individual songs, but I can’t figure out the rules to tell you. And like the iTunes store I believe there are tracks that can’t be purchased separately from the album, I thought I saw that yesterday but I can’t find an example of that today.

    And to be fair to Apple, their DRM free $1.29 songs are generally much cheaper if you buy the whole album (the 14 track One Cell in the Sea – by A Fine Frenzy is only $7.99 (which I think is the same as the iTunes DRM version) which is the same price as the Amazon mp3 store, except Amazon doesn’t appear to give you the booklet.

    So the end result, IMHO, it’ll never beat the seamlessness of the iTunes Music Store but but with it’s downloader (which does give you a free song), Amazon mp3 might be a good alternative or at least a second place to check when shopping for songs. If you’re not an iPod user it’s probably a great place to consider for your mp3 shopping (I think the downloader will push the tracks to other players but since I don’t have any I”m not certain). The downloader does work pretty good, I did try it. It would be nice if it were smart enough to add it to an “Amazon Playlist”.

    I fully expect to see them selling movies, television, music videos, audio books or distributing podcasts via the same mechanism in the future….

    Written By: Gary on September 12, 2007 No Comment

    So my Mom went to get me a Gift Card from the Apple Store and she was talking about her experience there. I’ll paraphrase –

    I had never been to an Apple Store, it’s kind of a strange store. It was 10:30 am on a weekday and they were packed, there weren’t any cash registers and it was just kind of odd. The store was very small but there were a lot of staff and they were all busy. It was a different shopping experience.

    It was just an interesting experience listening to her talk about it, trying to comprehend the Mac fascination of the Mac users.

    I kinda wished I had talked her into getting a MacBook, I just wasn’t sure if she’d use it and wasn’t sure if it was worth the extra expense (in case she didn’t use it). Now I know that it would have been…

    Written By: Gary on September 6, 2007 No Comment

    So Apple redid the iPod line-up yesterday:

  • iPod touch – Basically an iPhone without the phone. It’s got the WiFi browser and you’ll now be able to buy directly from the iTunes store from the phone.
  • iPod Nano – Totally new shape to accommodate a new larger screen so you can watch movies and video! Available in 4 or 8 GB sizes.
  • Classic iPod – The same but up to 160 GB of music a video (also in 80 GB).
  • iPhone – Price dropped $200 and only the 8 GB model is available now. And you can buy ringtones and songs via WiFi. I’d expect at 16 GB model soon…

    You can use the WiFi free at Starbucks, but I’m not sure if that’s for surfing or just buying music. You can also see a “now Playing” list at Starbucks and easily purchase any of the last ten songs. If it’d update my podcasts via WiFi or if the had a 160 GB iTouch I’d really be tempted…

    Please note – Some of the features and items aren’t ready yet, but I think all are supposed to be by the end of the month.

  • Written By: Gary on August 26, 2007 2 Comments

    Once I got into Chicago yesterday everything went completely smooth. I got food, I got checked into my hotel immediately, showered and managed to hook up with Kevin and Dave and we went over to that Apple Store to check out some eye candy (iCandy, get it?!?) and wandered around a bit before meeting up with the bigger group later. I had a blast with all of them and I’ll expand on that later, but I’m checking out of the hotel and I thought ager my other problem post the last few days I’d mention that all is well.

    And today I feel a whole lot better than I thought I would after all the Long Island Iced Teas, so that’s a bonus too…

    Written By: Gary on August 19, 2007 One Comment

    10Gb.MacI’ve mentioned Apple’s .Mac service before and I really like it. Apple has expanded their .Mac on-line backup/syncing to 10GB (from 1 GB). Apple has always been behind the curve in how much storage space for the cost ($99 a year) but they’ve made up for it. With the increased storage it really makes the family plan more practical and affordable too.

     .macIf you have a Macintosh, you’ll love this (especially if you have a laptop or more than one Mac). It’s a remote backup / synchronization / file sharing / training / web publishing software service rolled all-in-one! The biggest feature to me is that if you use your iDisk for all your documents, the next time you connect to the internet it seamlessly synchronizes this document to the server & all your other Macs and you can access the files from any web browser on any platform (it also keeps a copy of all your documents on your hard drive so you can see them if you aren’t on-line). It also synchronizes your bookmarks, e-mail, calendar, contacts data/settings across all your Macs. So if I drop my laptop (or have it stolen), I don’t lose any of my data (as long I’ve been on the internet recently).

    With the extra storage I can save all my purchased iTunes to to my .Mac Music folder and it’ll be on all my computers and I don’t need to make a copy until I have a DVD’s worth of music. The same goes for my photos, I’m always worried about losing my irreplaceable photos.

    For regular documents, you’ll never notice that it’s biggest downside, it’s slow. But if you drag a bunch of huge files in there it’ll take a while, but since it’s seamless you’ll probably never notice, if it doesn’t have enough time, it’ll just continue the next time you’re on the ‘net!Banner To get more info you have to read my earlier post (I’m already repeating myself from that one).

    Written By: Gary on July 23, 2007 One Comment

    So the future of television is certainly changing. The networks haven’t completely caught on yet, but they will. In a day when users can download higher quality video than they currently receive, get shows from parts of the world that aren’t available and have the advantage of having no ads and are free (please note this means stolen). We can also buy many of these videos from the iTunes store or Amazon UnBox for $1.99 an episode (iTunes has some at 99 cents for an episode and sometimes get that cheap if you subscribe for season). I know “legal” is not what people think when they hear the word BitTorrent, but BitTorrent.com even sells shows legally these days.

    If I could subscribe to a lot of the shows I enjoy for 99 cents an episode and have them automatically download to my AppleTV, TiVo, iPod or other device I’d never have anything more than basic cable. I’m sure this goes for a lot of people. Everything needed (except the mentality) to do this currently exists. The networks and producers of these shows need to somehow start embracing this model before it gets even easier for people to get (steal) these shows for free.

    Or charge me significantly less and let me trade the produces some statistical information about myself and let them insert in advertising relevant to me. Give me geeky ads, movie and TV show previews that I like, music that I like. Advertise events and concerts that are taking place where I live. I don’t need diaper ads, tampons, bad credit information, refinancing, ads for cars that cost $50,000+, ways to give up smoking. With the right information instead of advertising a new bed which I may have just purchased, they can advertise new pillows or new sheets (and mark in their files to start giving me new bed advertisements in another 5 years) that I might actually purchase.

    Even better, let me give “them” lots of information about me, which I’ll update a few times a month with information about what I’ve purchased or I’m shopping for (who in my life has a birthday coming up) or where I’m traveling to. And they can actually pay me to watch television! I’m not looking for a lot of money but just something to make it worth giving them info (besides, think of how much you’d save on cable if it was free!). Maybe some hotel discount coupons when I mention a vacation, or a coupon for Best Buy when they know I’m looking for a new video camera.

    Written By: Gary on July 22, 2007 2 Comments

    My AppleTV is awesome! An “iPod for your TV” is a accurate description. I ran the software update (painless!) and it gave me YouTube videos and fixed “enhanced podcasts”.

    It mirrors one of your computer’s iTunes just like an iPod does (and allows you exceptions) and will stream from any other computers running iTunes (platform independent) and I don’t think there is a limit. I can’t believe how fast it pulls hi-res movie previews from Apple down to the unit, it’s very very fast. It’s actually much faster than pulling down YouTube videos (many which are low-res).

    It really streams full-scren video from other computers really efficiently. Very rarely does it need a moment to catch up. It has no problem with steaming audio. It almost makes no sense to download podcasts, I bet you could stream them live if you had a way to just get the RSS feeds onto the AppleTV.

    With “enhanced podcasts” it now properly advances the embedded images to follow along with the audio. The problem is that it just shows them to the side like the album artwork, some images are much larger so it really cheats you by scaling them down. Since you don’t use the up/down keys on the remote during this process “up” would be a great way to enlarge the images.

    I have the same image size concern when viewing slideshows with the “Ken Burns effect”, sometimes I want to view the whole image. Once again this would be another great use for the up button. The down button could be used for viewing filenames, date, time and other info about the images. Actually, this would be a good use for the down button while viewing videos or audio.

    A few more features (like on the TiVo) like weather, movie listings and maybe Flickr photo viewing and it’d be even better…What I don’t like is that it only lets you sync with one computer. I’d like to sync music with one, videos with another and podcasts with another (not so sure if I care about the latter).

    What I need:
    1) A way to automatically convert videos and stick them into iTunes for me (so when I drop/download a file to a folder, it starts processing for me). I could probably do this via Mac or Windows….

    2) A way to play other file formats on the AppleTV, such as AVI and DiVX files. I think I can hack it to do that but I’m not sure if I want to take it apart yet.

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