WarGames

Written by: Adam Christianson

Categories: Editorial

WarGames

When Apple announced last week that they had updated the “new” iPad after just 7 months it caused a small uprising of complaints from some customers. I understand having some frustration since it seems we’ll no longer be able to time our Apple purchases to the unofficial yearly release cycle. But I’d love to ask them this: Were you truly this unhappy with your iPad 3rd generation before the new one was announced? For the past 7 months did you feel the iPad slow, underperforming, unusable? Is it suddenly unusable and underperforming now or does it just feel that way because you know now there is a “faster” one? Perception and marketing are powerful weapons. They are the instruments used today to get us to buy the next new thing and to enlist our friends and neighbors to do the same. Apple has become a master recruiter. Apple says the new one is better. The CPU and GPU are up to twice as fast and to be sure the impressive benchmark numbers prove it. But benchmarks are just numbers and “up to twice as fast” is relative. If I have an a App that takes one second to launch on my iPad now, does it really matter that the new iPad can launch in half a second? I have a new iPad (3rd generation) and I use it daily for tasks like writing, drawing, email, web surfing, and gaming. It doesn’t feel slow, old, or obsolete. The knowledge of a “new” one being out there hasn’t change that for me. Why not? I resolved myself a while ago to the prospect that new technology will hit store shelves faster than they can swipe my credit card. I choose not to worry about it. There will always be something newer, faster, more pixel-fied, and shinier hitting the selves tomorrow. Technology companies are in a feature and specifications arms race and consumer is collateral damage. Our buyers remorse is simply a consequence of their war. Luckily, there is no draft and we get to choose if we want to enter the battlefield. Some will. I’m resolving myself to not participate. I’m choosing to be conscientious objector, getting the best thing I can afford at the time and enjoying that until I decide I want something new. In my opinion not doing that leaves you with just two other choices. Sit around and always wait for the next big thing never being able enjoying what’s available now or join ranks. You CAN achieve technological superiority and stockpile a massive hoard of the latest and greatest technology, but it’ll probably just end with the thermonuclear destruction of your bank account.

“Shall we play a game”?

Making the most of a jailed iPhone

Written by: John Fiore

Categories: Editorial, Hints & Tips

Until the SDK comes out I’m stuck in envy of my friends who can play games like Labyrinth and use native apps such as iFlickr, iFlix, and MobileChat. Getting used to web apps can be difficult, but I’ve spent a fair amount of time sifting through the obscene amount of web apps that have little or no functionality to find the best.

Instant Messaging: There are a few options here but Meebo easily provides the best experience. It is essentially the same as the other options, however with Meebo you can use your existing account to log into multiple IM accounts at the same time. This however has a secondary purpose that makes it so great. When you’re instant messing with Edge there is a good chance you will get disconnected and miss parts of the conversation. Meebo enables logging when you sign up for an account, so you never miss any part of any conversation, and can refer back to it ¬†at any time. http://meebo.com – automatically loads iPhone version upon visit.
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Analysis of Psystar’s Open Computer Video

Written by: Adam Christianson

Categories: Editorial, Mac Pro, Random Thoughts

So over the last week Psystar has created a lot of buzz, controversy, and skepticism with their new Open Computer. They claim their system will run an unmodified retail version of OS X Leopard on non-Apple hardware. Now, EULA breaking legal issues aside, we know from the OS X86 Project, that it is possible to cobble together a beige box PC clone and make it run OS X. The thing is, to date no one has done it commercially and, as far as we know, Psystar has not shipped an Open Computer running OS X yet.

Today, Psystar tried to put all naysayers to rest by posting this video on their web site. They claim it shows their Open Computers running OS X Leopard, Ubuntu 8, and Windows Xp Professional. Now I am not refuting their claims, but as I watched the video I did notice some things that seem just too wonky not to point out. Besides I always love a good conspiracy theory.

psystar_video_1.jpg

As the video opens we see the alleged Open Computer running OS X on the far left. There is a bundle of small cables under the desk below the system and it looks like they are probably Ethernet cables. Nothing too unusual but, as you will see, they later seem to disappear. Even more unusual is the space below the desk on the right where there is an empty wire rack shelf system. Note that at this point in the video there seems to be nothing there. Also note that the area to the right of the display is empty. These two points will become significant later.

psystar_video_2.jpg psystar_video_3.jpg

As the camera pans right we see the Ubuntu machine and the Windows box. Both have several cables coming out the side of the computer and running to the right toward the monitor.

psystar_video_5.jpg

Now notice the Mac system… no cables coming off to the right like with the Ubuntu and PC systems. Also notice that the bundle of Ethernet-like cables pointed out in the opening scene no longer seem to be visible.

psystar_video_4.jpg psystar_video_6.jpg

Next the video transitions into showing the Open Computer supposedly running Leopard and the Mac version of Quake 4. What is interesting in this shot is there now seems to be an extra cable running from the right of the monitor toward the area of the desk where the empty wire shelf system sits. That shelf is also no longer empty as it looks like it now has a strange blue box sitting on it. At first I thought the cable near the monitor might be the mouse cable, but in the Quake demo scene you can clearly see the mouse cable moving with this mysterious second cable above it. The thicker cable does seem to be the monitor cable and it is going off to the right not the left. Remember, the Open Computer that is supposed to be running OS X Leopard is to the left of the monitor, not the right. Interesting.

psystar_video_7.jpg

Finally, the closing shot shows the exterior of the Psystar offices. When reports of Psystar and their Open Computer (initially called the Open Mac) first surfaced on the web, several reports noted that they changed their address as many as 3 times. Now that fact alone is strange enough, but throw in a phone number with an oddly high number of 6’s, plus the fact that they seem to want to keep things private and you have the makings of a full blown conspiracy.

Can someone ring up Fox and see if he is available to come down to Florida?

iPhone: Six Months After The Fact

Written by: John Fiore

Categories: Editorial, Random Thoughts

When the iPhone first came out, you couldn’t go any website without seeing loads of stories surrounding it. People loving it, people hating it, people having love/hate relationships with it, everyone had something to say (even MacCast writers). Some of the major complaints have been addressed with recent updates and iPhone now has a remarkable hacking community. Nothing has changed with then news sites, iPhone is everywhere and there is nothing you can do about it. This post/rant is a newbies perspective on why the iPhone is the best, and worst piece of technology in recent years, hope you find it interest

I’m twenty years old and a total geek, but I’ve only had owned mobile phone for about 3 weeks. My first phone was a V3 Razr, which was okay, but after owning the (hacked) iPod Touch and always thinking “I could click this number and call it if this were an iPhone” the Razr felt very limited. Even more so when browsing the web with the Opera browser or playing any games. Then came Sunday January 19th, the day I lost my iPod somewhere in New Jersey. The next day I went out and bought an iPhone.
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Guitar Hero 3 Rocks the Mac

Written by: Charlie George

Categories: Editorial

I know, who would have thunk it, but when I was cruising Apples online store, there it was. Plus it was $20 cheaper than the retail versions for the consoles at $79.99.

Guitar Hero is a REALLY great game, and you can now jam comfortably in front of your Mac.

Here are the specs for those who wish to jam:

In the box

* Guitar Hero 3 software
* Guitar Hero X-Plorer wireless guitar controller
* Guitar strap

System Requirements

* Mac OS X v10.4.10 or v10.5 or later
* 2GHz or faster Intel Core Duo processor (2.33GHz recommended); does not support PowerPC processors
* 1GB RAM (2GB recommended)
* 6.1GB free hard-disk space (5.1GB + 1GB swap file)
* Video card: ATI Radeon X1600 or nVidia GeForce 7300
* Video memory (VRAM): 128MB (256MB recommended)
* DVD-ROM drive
* Macintosh mouse and keyboard

As you can see it’s a bit processor and RAM reliant. If you have the power then rock on!

Apple Announcements and Marketing 101

Written by: Chris Christensen

Categories: Editorial

I have heard a number of people express the opinion recently that Apple has changed the way that it announces products. This comes from the fact that Apple recently pre-announced two products, months in advance before you could even order them. The two products were the AppleTV and the iPhone. This has set the expectation for a number of people that they might learn about the next iPod or the next iMac in a similar pre-release fashion. This post is intended to discourage that expectation.

Let’s back up a bit and look at what this from Apple’s point of view. In general when Apple, or some other hardware company, releases a new product they are going through a product transition. So when they announce a new iPod they are trying to maximize how much money they make. A product transition has some risks for the company.

If they announce a product too soon and the product sounds very good then people may choose to stop buying the current product and wait for the new product. This is called the Osborne Effect after Osborne Computer Corporation which pre-announced a series of new products in 1983. The company went out of business shortly there after and the most common story has been that their sales dried up when they announced these new machines. (Whether this actually caused Osborne to go out of business is not universally accepted in retrospect, no one seems to argue that this was helpful to the company).

If a company still has old units in its warehouse when it ships the new product, these products will have to be sold for less money (or perhaps not sold at all). But, if the company guesses wrong how many of the old product it will sell in this transition and runs out of units in the warehouse then it may lose sales to a competitor. Combine this with a slip in the new product and you get the kind of scenario that can keep executives awake at night.

So why did Apple decide to pre-announce not one, but two products last year? The main reason would seem to be that they were not going through a product transition. They did not have a TV box when they pre-announced the AppleTV nor a cell phone when they pre-announced the iPhone. Why does this make a difference? The big difference here is that customers may in fact not buy some product that they were planning on buying and wait for the Apple product, but in this case it was not an Apple product. So with the iPhone, for example, what Apple wanted was for people to decide not to by that new BlackBerry, Blackjack, Razr, etc but to wait for the iPhone. What Apple did was create F.U.D. (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) about their competitor’s products. They did not need people to pre-order the iPhone so much as they wanted them to at least wonder whether they should wait and see. FUD is a very useful marketing tool. If you don’t have something sell, marketeers are trying to at least get you to wait before buying a competing product. Their hope, which worked in the case of the iPhone, is that if you wait long enough they will have a product you will want to buy.

So, will Apple pre-announce the next iMac. That is unlikely. But if they get into yet another consumer product business then it is very likely that they would pre-release that product.

Apple next on the EC’s radar?

Written by: Tom Lees

Categories: Editorial, Random Thoughts

Microsoft, on Monday lost it’s three year long appeal case (full extremely long document can be read here) against the EU anti-trust order which was imposed in 2004. The order will make the enormous fish pay a record fine of $613 Million, sell a version of Windows which does not include its media player, and force them to share code relevant for allowing devices of different operating systems to communicate with Windows devices.

This is a landmark case for the European Commission (EC) who seems to be actively pursuing large US companies with large market share in their respective fields, and it appears that Apple is next on the EC’s radar.

Apple and some of its music partners are currently facing investigation by the European anti-trust officials for the pricing of items in the iTunes store. The commission wants to discover the reasons for different pricing in different territories of the European Union (for people who aren’t in Europe, you can only purchase from the country which your credit/debit card address is located. Apple also has different prices in the different stores). This is no joke for Apple as the EC has power to fine a company up to 10% of there worldwide revenue.
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Deforestation courtesy of iPhone

Written by: Adam Christianson

Categories: Editorial, Random Thoughts

AT&T has begun sending out bills and to iPhone customers and it is not pretty. To manipulate a quote from Star Wars, “I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of trees suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced”.

Checkout the video below from iJustine (tastyblogsnack.com). It shows her opening her 300-page AT&T bill. It had to come in a box rather than an envelope?! Come on.

The issue is, even though the iPhone data plan is unlimited, AT&T itemizes every bit (and byte) of data along with it’s associated charge. That means when you load a page in Safari, every graphic, image, video, sound, etc. is listed line by line in your bill. Now luckily, iPhone owners can opt-in to receive their bills electronically. If you have an iPhone you should set this up immediately. Do it now, don’t wait.

My big problem with this is that AT&T (and Apple) should know better. With an unlimited data plan it makes no sense at all to itemize charges like this. Let’s hope they hear the complaints coming from their customers and change this practice soon.

Advertising Agencies Notice Apple

Written by: John Fiore

Categories: Editorial, News

Ad-Blocking has been a subject of much debate since its conception. On the one hand we want to support the free sites we enjoy, yet cannot stand obnoxious ads. All the more so when they disguise themselves as application windows to mislead the uninformed user. Being on OS X has been a safeguard against these types of ads for people like my parents, who switched this time last year.

This may not be anything terribly new, but it appears at least one company has put a half-hearted attempt at misleading Mac users. While looking up guitar tabs this morning I came across this:

MacXP

You might say that including both a Windows interface and a Mac interface would be ingenious, except for it’s fatal flaw. The first giveaway is, of course, the large Fisher Price looking buttons sticking out like a sore thumb. The second is it not being an actual window you can interact with. You might say the ad is doing more damage to itself by alerting Windows users that something is up.

However annoying it is, I couldn’t help but chuckle when I saw the attempt. At the very least we can say Apple is finally getting more attention, maybe not the kind we want, but it’s a start.

Reticent Switcher? Give ‘em your Mac.

Written by: Adam Christianson

Categories: Editorial, Follow-up, Random Thoughts

Last week, on the first “I have something to say” segment, we discussed some strategies for convincing our PC using friends and family to make the switch to Mac. In that conversation we briefly touched on what I consider to be maybe the best method for creating a switcher; get them to use a Mac. Now, that can be a challenge as many would-be converts would prefer to try before they buy and most are not willing to drop $600 plus bucks up front for a Mac test-drive. Luckily, many of us have a secret weapon hiding in the spare bedroom, the closet, or tucked away in the garage. It’s your old Mac and chances are it’s still a decent little machine. Anything with a G4 or better processor can pretty much be dusted off, loaded up with Tiger and iLife, and compete with just about any currently sold bargain basement PC. It’s a great way to go. So what are you waiting for? Pass on that OS X Mac goodness. Listener Eric did it and checkout what he experienced.

[Email to the Maccast, 7/29/2007]
I actually converted my parents to Mac when I was in college. Two years ago I gave my mom my year old laptop that ran Windows when I purchased my Power Book for school. My parents are as far from computer literate as they come… they had a computer that was running Windows 98 and was turned on about 3 times a year before I gave them my old laptop.

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