Archive for the ‘Apple’ Category

You don’t have Skype yet?

Posted on September 14th, 2007 in Apple, Internet & Networking, Linux/Unix, Windows | No Comments »

I’ve had an epiphany; not everyone on the internet uses Skype yet, and some of these people are even in my family! If you are now shaking your head in disgust; you feel me, there is no need for you to keep reading. If on the other hand you don’t know of this “Skype” I speak of? Read on – your diligence will be rewarded.

Every now and then a program comes along the so redefines or expands how we use computers that it is termed a Killer App. WordStar and VisiCalc where some of the first such, defining and practically inventing the word processing and spreadsheet markets. In the 80s’ PageMaker, Photoshop and Illustrator did it for desktop publishing. More recently, Mosaic (and its predecessors Netscape, Internet Explorer and Firefox) redefined the way we think of the Internet.

Simply put, Skype is the “Killer App” of today’s internet. For its millions of current users, Skype is an indispensable part of daily life. What does it do? In addition to being a really good text IM client, Skype delivers excellent quality voice/video chat, and it does it for free. Computer to computer calls feature gorgeous clarity with support for up to 10 callers. Solid multi platform support, in addition to the Windows version, the Mac and Linux versions interoperate seamlessly – so no one is left out based on their OS. And for mere pennies a minute you can dial out from your computer to international phones. In fact you can buy a year of unlimited computer to domestic telephone service for a flat $30 – And you thought services like Vonage were a deal!

In addition to superb call quality and free or very discounted phone service, its one of the best VoIP (Voice over IP – or the whole idea of talking over the internet) clients I’ve ever used, due to tight integration with Programs like Outlook, IE and Firefox.

So what are you waiting for, go download it free now – I’m waiting to hear from you.

Apple to Customers – “Sucks to be you”

Posted on September 8th, 2007 in Apple, Business & Industry | 1 Comment »

So on the off chance you are one of Apple’s blindly devoted fanboys (or fangirls) who already bought a $600 iPhone over the last couple of months all I can say is; here let me get you a little salt to pour in that open wound. This week, after just two months of being on the market, Steve Job’s gleefully slashed the 8GB iPhone price by a third to $399, and discontinued the 4 Gig model all together. At this point rumors are swirling and there are reports of people having mixed success getting refunds and credits, but this much is for sure; Apple has yet again managed to steal the media spotlight and create product buzz for the iPhone unlike any other cell phone manufacture before.

What’s most surprising is the outrage people are expressing over the sudden price reduction, not the price drop itself. But this is nothing new from Apple. Let’s face it, Apple has built the iPod economy around planned obsolescence and the disposability of their consumer electronics from the beginning. No removable/replaceable batteries in any iPods or the iPhone. No external expansion options for memory in any model. No credit is given towards a new model purchase nor is there any upgrade program. Apple has always been about pumping out units, not customer “satisfaction.” In fact, the more dissatisfied you are with a previous generation iPod (or Mac for this matter) the more likely you are to just chuck it and pony up for the latest flavor?

Ipod Vending

Take a cue from the photo I took at the airport last week. People now purchase $300 iPods as you would a bag of chips or a coke. And its not just the airport, these are popping up at malls, school campuses, heck I saw one at the Hilton in Vegas next to the elevator going to my room! Good Lord, have we gotten so trivial with our dollars and reduced our expectations of how long a piece of consumer electronics should last that it’s now normal to buy and dispose of them while walking down a hallway to a hotel room?

So why are the early adopters of the iPhone shocked over this sudden price drop? This is nothing new from their precious Apple. Besides, the same individuals that are so bent over this travesty are going to be the first ones in line around the Apple store next year to by the iPhone 1.5?

In fact that’s what they should be demanding, not a $200 credit for the price drop, but a refund on their time spent in line, we’ll call it “iLine.” It’s a fantastic new offering from Apple where you pay $599 for the privilege of camping out in front of an Apple store for a “limited” new product that will actually be readily available to anyone one week after launch, in fact they will have so many of them in stock two months after launch that there’ll be a price drop to entice sales in order to hit the 1 million unit projections for the end of September! Silly isn’t it, surely Mr. Job’s would never try such a thing.

So all you crazed iPhone users, while you are crying to get your technology tax of $200 refunded, why not ask Apple for a voucher to reserve your place in iLine 2008. Then you can again pay too much for an over-hyped, over-priced product that will again be discounted soon after you purchase it, and you can again swear how this is the last time you will fall under the sway of Apple’s marketing machine.

iPhone: Can you hear me now?

Posted on June 3rd, 2007 in Apple, Gadgets | 2 Comments »

 iphone

Apparently Verizon won’t be able to for the next 5 years. USA Today via AppleInsider is reporting that Apple is barred from producing a CDMA version of the iPhone for at least 5 years. Both Sprint and Verizon utilize CDMA networks. Good business move – and is it just CDMA subscribers who will be missing out?

I would be quite surprised if Apple is truly pleased with this arrangement, as it limits the iPhone’s potential market. Now I’m not questioning the decision to select a GSM network over CDMA. GSM is clearly the more dominant global standard for cellular networks, and thus logical choice for an initial offering. But it’s not just GSM that Apple is locked into, it’s AT&T/Cingular specifically. Where does this leave Apple in its negotiations with other North American GSM providers (T-mobile for example) not to mention what are the international implications of this AT&T exclusive?

Others have been quick to point out that Apple should be selling iPhones direct at Apple stores anyway (ala the iPod.) Not so fast. I actually understand the advantages of working with an established mobile provider like AT&T. Remember, this is Apple’s 1.0 offering in the mobile phone market, and not to knock Apple’s engineering, but AT&T has been at this whole phone thing for a little while longer. Also, if by any chance, there are any technical difficulties, wouldn’t Apple rather all these end-users show up at a local wireless provider store then slam the Apple stores?

Time will tell just how big the iPhone is going to be. My bet is there are many lessons yet to be learned by the folks in Cupertino about the phone business. I’m just looking forward to a time when all the pre-realware hype to about the iPhone dies down and people start reporting real world experiences.

Foxmarks – A Must Have!

Posted on May 22nd, 2007 in Apple, Internet & Networking, Linux/Unix, Windows | 1 Comment »

Once in a while a widget/app/gizmo comes along that is so dang useful and cool that I simply must share. Foxmarks for Mozilla Firefox is one such plug-in.

Foxmarks is a nifty little cross-platform extension that will both backup and synchronize your firefox bookmarks. This is ideal if you work on multiple machines, and even across multiple Oses

http://foxmarks.com/

If you are a Firefox users and have multiple systems, simply put you need this Extension – Enjoy.

64-bit Computing – A reality ahead of its time

Posted on March 22nd, 2007 in Apple, Business & Industry, Linux/Unix, Windows | No Comments »

There have been many great advances in desktop computing over the years; and some truly great ones, that fail miserably. The Apple Newton, IBM PC Jr, RAMBUS Memory, 64-bit implementations of software on desktop PCs come to mind – OK well, maybe not the PC Jr., but back on point. 64-bit processors, their respective OSes and more specifically the applications that are available for them, continue to make one ponder, “When will 64-bit computing become a reality?”

 

Alpha Chip

 

In that question lies the problem. 64-bit environments are a reality now, and have been for over a decade; we just don’t really expect them to be, so as businesses, consumers, enthusiasts and the industry as a whole, we propagate a self fulfilling prophecy that the technology is not ready for prime time.

 

And before I get barraged with, “Well, Actually….” responses about how you use 64-bit Oracle or other select server applications, this diatribe is focused primarily on the desktop, though an argument can be made about the sad state of adoption on the server side as well (I’ll just save that for another time.)   

   

Dispelling Myths

 

Contrary to all the industry press, bloggings, and snappy AMD/Intel ads and press-releases; 64-bit platforms have been available for some time. I little history lesson is in order.

 

My first experience with a true 64-bit box was in the early 90’s, the DEC Alpha AXP. Ah, Digital Equipment Corporation, I get a little teary eyed at the thought. Great company, superb engineering, solid performing systems and terrible marketing – so it should be no surprise that many of you might not even recall the AXP systems.  At 150 Megahertz the AXP was blisteringly faster than the flagship Intel chip of the day, you might remember that one a little better, this new thing called “Pentium”, it topped out at 90 MHz. And for an OS, you could run Windows NT (the now defunct Alpha version), OpenVMS, or DEC’s Tru64Unix. While most of these machines are now collecting dust in IT bone yards, a few continue to find life with 64-bit Linux distros for the Alpha.

 

Sun Ultra Sparc

 

The next 64-bit offering to grace the stage, Sun Microsystems Ultra Sparc. What’s that? You don’t remember who Sun is? That’s ok they seam to have a problem with their identity too, but back in the day, the 90s, Solaris was king of the go-go Unix powered internet bubble. The Ultra line of chips was to power 64-bit Solaris running from the largest datacenter on down to the “workstation” on your desktop. Heck, there were even a few OEMs who engineered notebooks with these. Still not ringing a bell? Humm, well that explains a lot about Sun’s current dwindling market share.

 

So if both of these have left you scratching your head surely you will recall the first major 64-bit offering from Intel.  Merced, or it’s current brand name – Itanium. Intel started hyping the crap out of this dog before the turn of the century (oh its so weird to use that expression to describe the 1999 – 2000 – 2001 time period.)  In case you missed it, we where all going to stop buying Pentiums, as they were scheduled to be discontinued shortly after the Itaniums started shipping. After all, why would anyone want a 32-bit processor when they could have a new 64-bit one running at a slower Megahertz that was both pin and code incompatible with the x86 architecture. Not so much.

 

Then there was Apple. Surely Apple with all their technical prowess, engineering experience, and marketing appeal could make this 64-bit thing work! Well they did get the science part right – partly. It was the Macintosh G5, billed as the worlds fastest micro computer and 64-bit through and through. And at it’s core, the G5 chip and memory interconnects have 64-bit data paths; but OSX, while certainly capable of running in a pure 64-bit mode, opted to go with only 64-bit extensions for large memory addressing. But never mind, it turns out that the PowerPC chips that were so fast, got replaced by those 32-bit Intel chips; those ones that were sure to be phased out by 2003, what where those called… oh yea Pentium I think it was. Been so long since any of us have seen one of those.

 

 G5 The Fastest?


Software –  cause I still haven’t found what I’m looking for..

 

Where are the Killer 64-bit apps? There lies the crux of the whole thing. In fact one could ask where are the sorta killer 64-bit apps, or where are the simply ok-but-working 64-bit apps.

 

In each of the previous 64-bit mis-steps, chronicled above, there was not the single quintessential force required to drive adoption, good software. And here is the sad part, since those ill-fated attempts of the 90’s – what has changed? Not a heck of a lot.

 

You think I’m exaggerating? AMD has offered its Opteron and Athlon 64-bit architectures for a couple of years now – how many of you are running the AMD64 version of World of Warcraft?  Oh that’s right, that product does not exist.

 

What AMD is not mainstream enough, too fringe – let’s look at Intel. Itanium, 64-Bit Xeon and Core based systems have been in production even longer, How many people do you see running Half Life 2 for XP Pro x64 version?

 

Frankly I don’t know what it’s going to take for 64-bit solutions to take hold! I’ve been hearing the rhetoric about how life changing the 64-bit apps are going to be, for over a decade now, and it’s just not happening. Its time the industry either gives up on 64-bit on the desktop or build something that makes users value this fancy “new” technology.

 

New iTunes, Still no Vista Fix

Posted on March 7th, 2007 in Apple | No Comments »

While some Blogs and Podcasts are surprised that the latest version of iTunes (7.1) does not resolve lingering Vista compatibility problems, not so shocking to yours truly.

 

As you might recall from my post: iTunes Vista problems are a Microsoft “Win-Win”; whatever the reason Apple has opted not rolled out a fix, it does not seam to be in Apple’s interest to continue delaying.

 

IPod Embargo working?

Posted on February 28th, 2007 in Apple, Business & Industry | No Comments »

In a world of growing danger, hostility and terrorist threats it’s rare that you can pick up the news and find something hopeful coming out of North Korea. Yet that’s what many news agencies are reporting; Kim Jong Il’s ready to shut down the reactors and engage in a diplomatic exchange. Wonderful news indeed.

 

But how did we get here? Could it be the intricate multiparty talks, or perhaps it’s a new found wisdom and understanding on the part of the North Korean government, hum… well maybe it’s just an example of how Apple is saving the world from nuclear winter; one IPod at a time!

 

What???    

 

   Kim Jong Il and his Ipod

 

Well, let’s flashback a few weeks. Some of you may recall that part of the strategy to get Mr. Il’s attention was to cut off access to all kinds of high end luxuries, Playstation 3’s, nice French wines, Italian sports cars, oh and IPods. At the time this struck me as a great idea, but I has not prepared for how quickly this approach would yield results!

 

Love my 1337 Photoshopping skills!

 

iTunes Vista problems are a Microsoft “Win-Win”

Posted on February 6th, 2007 in Apple, Windows | 1 Comment »

With the recent news that iTunes is doing all kinds of misbehaving on Vista, a colleague asked, “why would Microsoft allow this to happen on their flagship OS?”  And while at first glance his assumption looks like a valid indictment of Microsoft Vista, I have to ponder is there more a more sinister plan afoot at Redmond?

 

“C’mon Eric!”, you’re thinking, after all iTunes is a significant part of people’s computing experience – surely this is just another MS marketing blunder.  The reasoning goes something like this, “Not having full compatibility out of the box with a mainstream media application like iTunes, Microsoft is going slow adoption and/or frustrate users of Vista.” And while I do not dispute the truth of that argument let me just roll with this for a bit.

 

Here is the scenario – Microsoft has drug it’s feet and not put any pressure on Apple to get iTunes ready for Vista on launch day. The immediate responses:

1. Shame on Microsoft, there should be better testing and integration with large ISVs like Apple.

 

 

2. Apple is in no hurry, why does Apple want to support Vista anyway, with OSX and Macintels gaining market share why should they hurry up to support Vista users?

 

 

3. Microsoft has found yet another way to botch the Vista roll out forcing iTunes/iPod users to faultier or loose out on functionality.

 

Wow sounds like a win for Apple and at the very least a PR nightmare for Microsoft! But is it? Does Apple actually stand to benefit from having its iTunes service unavailable on every new computer that ships with Vista or those upgrading?  Certainly not, over 50% of all iTunes sales are on non-Apple platforms, why would Apple want limit their market to the Macintosh install base (still under 10%?)

 

On the other hand, why would MS want to slow expansion and continued use of iTunes anyway? Microsoft makes money for every song that is sold on iTunes, remember MS still owns a stake of Apple, and the iTunes store is highly profitable.

 

Still think it’s a vast Microsoft debacle, try this thought on. If the iTunes incompatibility were severe enough to force people into deciding between their beloved iPod or a new version of Windows, and they just had to have Vista – Microsoft is more than happy to sell you their music solution visa vie the “Zune”.  

 

See anyway you slice it Microsoft stands to Win – the rest of us, well, I’m not so sure!

Mac Users Can’t resist Vista

Posted on January 31st, 2007 in Apple, Windows | No Comments »

Are they sucked in by the Widgets or is the Expose like Aero interface, I’m not sure but Users like Steve Siddle just can’t get enough.

 

Steve With Vista

 

I ran into Steve at Fry’s today, as you can tell from that grin on his face; there is no way I’m prying that Vista Ultimate out of his hands. Well actually that was till I told him the Retail price of $399, then the grip was a little less barbaric – ok, so he quickly dropped it and ran away in horror.

For those of you who don’t know Steve is a Mac/Final Cut Guru by day, but slips into his alter ego of WWII Sniper by night in DOD.

 

All joking aside, his only question about whether to upgrade to Vista or not was just, “Can I PWN N00bZ better with Vista?”

As the Leopard the Roars!

Posted on January 24th, 2007 in Apple | No Comments »

 OSX banner

 

Apple Recon is reporting there will be a February 20 Apple event to announce the new OSX 10.5 and stronger faster Mac Pros.

 

If this is in fact the launch/roll-out of will have just barely missed Mac World, interesting timing???

 

Go over and check out their coverage in detail.