Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

13
Apr
10

Has Apple Forgotten the Mac? Umm, No.

Yay, more dumbassery from Gene Steinberg. Its yet another overly-long whine fest about how Apple is way too focused on one cash cow to the detriment of the other. I’m going to save myself the aneurysm and just respond inline.

You know that sales of new Macs are increasing at a speedy pace, generally faster than the rest of the PC industry. You also know that Apple’s mobile platform has long since surpassed the Mac in terms of total user base. With 80 million and counting, against roughly 30 million folks owning Macs, you might see reason for Apple to care less about the computing platform that made it famous

Granted, I’m sure there’s a bit more profit margin in a 64GB 3G iPad than an entry-level Mac Mini, but let’s face it: Apple makes an assload of money from selling Macs, and most of the Macs they sell are nice, profitable Macbooks. Hell, after today’s refresh, I’m saving all my pennies for a new top of the line Core i7 15″ Macbook Pro. You can’t tell me that Apple cares less about that than the 16GB 3GS I bought or the 32GB iPad I plan to buy this summer.

Also consider how Apple has promoted new Mac hardware. Pretty much all recent upgrades have been announced with simple press releases, even the iMac, said to be the hottest desktop computer in years. At the same time, Apple’s mobile platform and even the iPod both earn special media events, where the press is invited to San Francisco or Apple’s campus in Cupertino to get personal treatment and even time to get hands-on experience with the new hardware.

The new Pros got a chipset upgrade. Its a big deal for me, since I’m rocking a first-gen Core Duo Macbook Pro from 2006. One of the reasons I buy Macs is their lasting power. But get real, a CPU revision that everyone knew was coming doesn’t warrant a special event, especially not five days after the last one. Besides, its not like Apple doesn’t hold a week-long party to get everyone acquainted with its new cats.

All right, it’s true that new versions of the Mac OS also get the full treatment. Then again, special demonstrations plus lots of WWDC sessions are essential to help developers learn about new features and updates to Apple’s development environment. No way to avoid that.

So what are bitching about? Snowy isn’t even a year old and Leopard got two WWDCs.

Now in the wake of the unveiling of iPhone 4.0, there are reports that Apple has put off Mac OS 10.7 in order to allocate more developers to work on the mobile platform upgrade. Of course, it’s not that anyone outside of Apple can know for sure. There may be loads of reasons for a presumed delay, if one exists, and perhaps it’s just to give Apple more time to devise a load of sexy new features and make sure they are fully integrated into the existing OS structure.

Dude, 10.6 came out on August 29, 2009. Today is April 13, 2010. Snow Leopard is less than seven months old. OS X releases tend to hang around for 18-24 months, so fucking RELAX! This year’s WWDC will most likely focus on Snowy, iPhone OS 4 and iPad. I’m expecting that 10.7 LOLcat is going to include a bunch of UIKit, which will unify some OS X conventions between platforms. Remember, the iPhone OS and the Mac OS are both based on the same underlying OS. Hell, 10.6 already has a bunch of iPhone tech in it.

It’s not as if you actually need a new version of Mac OS X. Snow Leopard is still pretty new in the scheme of things, and the vast majority of apps still don’t support the most important new features, such as better performance with multicore processors and harnessing the power of advanced graphics chips.

That’s why new hardware always comes with custom OS builds that take advantage of new hardware. Always, at least since I bought my first New World Mac (12″ Powerbook that’s still alive and well) in 2002. Unless you’re arguing that Apple should release a general update that gives my 2006 laptop support for features it doesn’t now, nor will ever have?

Even the enhanced 64-bit support hasn’t lit much of a fire when it comes to companies who build the software that takes best advantage of accessing more system memory. In the forthcoming Adobe’s Creative Suite 5, out of over a dozen apps in the various production packages, only three —Photoshop, Premiere Pro and After Effects — are listed as providing 64-bit support. Then again, I doubt Adobe could offer any reasonable excuse if these high-power apps didn’t gain that capability with this revision, since the Mac was bypassed in CS4. At that time, by the way, Adobe’s excuse was that Apple just completed its Intel migration, and thus there wasn’t enough time to take advantage of Apple’s revised development tools. Then again, Adobe does a lot of cross-platform stuff, and didn’t Steve Jobs poke holes into that approach because he regards the results as “sub-standard”?

Yeah, sure. Because its not like Apple hasn’t been begging Adobe and Microsoft to use Cocoa since 1998 or anything. Neither company supported native Intel hardware until they had to, and neither made the switch to Cocoa until Apple killed 64-bit Carbon. That’s hardly Apple’s fault. As for Adobe’s cross-platform stance: CS4 is ass on both Windows and OS X. It ignores UI conventions for both platforms in favor of its own. It ignores standard OS key commands on both platforms. Adobe’s security is crap and it makes updates (and installation) far more difficult than they should be. And people wonder why Apple doesn’t want Adobe to have any control over the iPhone platform.

When it comes to Mac hardware, it’s not as if speed bump upgrades have been coming at a fever pitch. On the other hand, Tuesday morning’s MacBook Pro upgrade — a step that vindicates the pithy email from Steve Jobs telling a customer not to worry about the long delay since the last refresh of this model — does indicate that Apple is still in the business of delivering compelling upgrades.

Why would Apple update hardware at a “fever pitch?” That wouldn’t make people nervous about buying Macs because something new is always around the corner or anything. Kinda like how Droid owners who paid $200 weren’t at all pissed about the Nexus One or the fact that the Droid could be had at Amazon for $50 two months later? And the rumors that Intel was having trouble delivering Arrandale and Clarksfield chips couldn’t possibly be true, especially considering the lack of such chips showing up elsewhere?

Although the announcement arrived in press release form, in keeping with their recent posture, it does offer the promise of up to 50% faster performance. The graphic chip dilemma, the response to the conflict with NVIDIA and Intel over the former’s license to build integrated graphics for the latter, was resolved in possibly a less satisfactory fashion. Basic graphics are now handled by an Intel HD Graphics chip, with the option of using the discrete NVIDIA GT 330M when you need superior performance.

So what was Apple supposed to do about that? Intel changed its licensing scheme, which forced crappy Intel integrated graphics on everyone using Core iX chipsets. Apple did exactly what everyone expected them to, which was pretty much the only thing they could have done.

As with the previous model, pricing for the cheapest MacBook Pro starts at $1,199. The 17-inch version, the only one containing an ExpressCard/34 slot, lists for $2,299. Battery life is estimated at eight to nine hours, due to the greater power efficiencies of the new parts.

I have an expresscard in my port. Its a card reader for my SD cards. Just for some perspective, I tend to spend between $2000-$2500 on my laptops, which last me for around four years. I expect to spend around $2200 on my next machine. In 2002, that $2500 got me a 12″ Powerbook with a 32GB HDD, 640MB RAM and 866MHz PPC chip. This year, $2200 will get me a 15″ Macbook Pro with a 2.66 Core i7, 4GB RAM and a 500GB HDD. Plus all the extra goodies that unibodies have. Not too shabby.

Now as to the OS itself, remember that Apple exists to make a profit, not to upgrade its personal computer operating system on a fixed timeframe. That upgrades comes when they decide that they can provide value in a new version, perhaps sell lots of upgrades and, more to the point, push out more Macs that take better advantage of the new features. If sales are moving along at a good clip, and Mac users aren’t filling Apple’s Feedback pages with loads of complaints about a long-in-the-tooth operating system, I suppose there’s no real incentive for them to move forward any faster.

It. Has. Been. SEVEN MONTHS. Since Snow Leopard shipped. Apple ships new major OS releases when it has enough new APIs ready and in good enough shape for public consumption. Developers are still learning how to use the goodies in 10.6. I can just imagine the howls from everybody if Apple tried to ship 10.7 this year. “Apple’s screwing users for charging for a new OS again!” “Apple’s screwing developers be dumping too much on them!”

Then again, maybe the rumors about a delay in 10.7 are just that — rumors. Maybe Apple is working full steam ahead on getting the new version out according to an internal timetable that, of course, we know nothing about. Yes, it’s true Apple delayed Leopard’s arrival to finish the first iPhone OS, but don’t assume history is about to repeat itself.

Rational people shouldn’t be expecting to hear anything about 10.7 until next year. Even if we do hear about 10.7 at this WWDC, it’ll likely involve a vaporware presentation about new major features, but there won’t be any beta or new code. 10.7 won’t be “late” at all, even if there’s no new information at all this year. While I’m at it, when’s Windows 8 shipping?

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04
Feb
10

Storage

One of the memes about the iPad that’s both common and irritatingly stupid is the notion that the only good iPad is the most expensive one: 64 GB and 3G. Well, the second most irritating. The iPad = tampon is worse and makes me want to punch anyone who says that in the teeth. Anyway, back to storage. I’m not really sure where people got the idea that everyone has this huge library and so HAS to get the most storage possible on every single device they have. Its my contention that the 16GB version, and the wifi-only one at that, is good enough for most people.

Honestly, most people don’t have huge iTunes libraries. My mom and Claudia’s parents have tiny libraries. They didn’t catch the digital bug as much as I did, and have huge libraries of CDs and vinyl. Hell, my mom still has literally hundreds of Beta tapes that she never bothered to replace. My mom uses her iPod mainly as a mobile stereo to use around the house. Neither she nor Claudia’s parents were ever really into mobile music, and didn’t use Walkmans, Discmans and still don’t really see the need for an iPod, although Claudia’s mom bought an iPod Shuffle. That she doesn’t use. Claudia’s and my brothers have small libraries that are each around 10 GB.

That’s the thing. Most people only bother to collect or digitize the music that they really like and so have small libraries. Its only geeks and music junkies who have huge libraries. They simply don’t need a huge amount of storage. Here’s the other thing. I’m two feet in the digital packrat camp. I’m still interested in the 16GB iPad.

Why? Its simple. Apple doesn’t make an iPad that has enough storage for all my stuff. If I had my music, movies, audiobooks, iTunesU and podcasts, I have an iTunes library that approaches 200GB! My music alone is around 60GB for over 10,000 files. The only thing Apple makes that can hold all of that is (drum roll) a computer! I would go for the smaller iPad for the same reason why I went for the 16GB iPhone. If I can’t fit everything, then I’m just going to go for what I’ll need until I can hit my laptop again.

This is just my own anecdote, so YMMV. I listen to a lot of podcasts and barely catch up to all of them throughout the week. There’s a lot of music on my phone that I don’t listen to. I can usually get through the day with my podcasts and one or two playlists. I doubt that having an iPad will change my habit. The same is true for video.

How many movies can you watch in a day? I mean, in an average day, how much time is there to watch one, let alone several 90+ minutes movies? For me, its not too many, and honestly, its usually when I’m at home where my large TV and comfy chair live.

Then there’s the issue of the use case. The iPad is not going to replace my iPhone for the simple reason that one fits in my pocket and the other doesn’t. I’m not going to carry an iPad with me to the mall or on errands. When I take it out, its more likely than not going to be in my bag with my laptop anyway. So I don’t need to have the same stuff on each device. Nor do I have to take it all with me all the time. Apple knows this, which is why they’ve positioned the iPad the way they have.

01
Jan
10

Simple

Both Gruber and Marco have some good pieces up regarding the Apple tablet. Both of them spill a lot of ink to basically say that no one knows what The Tablet is, does or how it works. I haven’t bothered to write anything about it other than to complain on Twitter about how stupid this whole thing is and to express my hope that the whole thing would just go away. That’s because, like Gruber and Marco, I not only have no idea what this thing would look like or be like, I also have no idea what it would have to be like in order to blow my mind.

Back in late 2006, everyone “knew” that Apple would be releasing a phone. No one knew what it would look like. At all. My own hope was that it would be a Treo mashed together with an iPod Nano, but good. (For the record, if the iPhone hadn’t happened, I would’ve been rocking a Treo 680.) The original iPhone was, in fact, very much like a Treo mashed together with a Nano, but good. The iPhone OS is very much a child of the UI conventions of Palm OS and the Newton, but wholly modern.

Its very simple for me to say that Apple should glue two very different devices together to come up with a great product. Delivering the actual iPhone was nothing of the sort. Its similarly easy for people to say that The Tablet has to be unexpected, completely new and amazing to succeed. Apple’s had more than ten years to see what doesn’t work with portable and mobile devices. They are not going to come up with a tablet PC, a giant iPod Touch or a JooJoo.

The other, more profound reason why I haven’t bothered myself too much is because I don’t have any pressing need for it. Every cellphone I had before the iPhone was a total piece of shit. My house is surrounded by wires that basically made it impossible to get a call on the street or anywhere but a single corner towards the back. Then there’s the contacts issue, and all the other stupid problems of dumbphones and pre-iPhone era smartphones. I don’t have that problem with computers. I’ve been living out of laptops since 2002. I want more power and more capability out of my portable machine, not less. I want Nehelem, USB 3, lightpeak and all the other goodies. I don’t see how Apple can impress me to the point that I’m willing to give up a next-gen MacBook Pro for a The Tablet and an iMac.

This is the simple question that no one has been able to answer yet: If I need to take my laptop bag with me anyway, why would I choose a The Tablet over a MacBook Pro? Weight is not an issue, usability is. One of the big arguments for netbooks is their small size and weight (and cost). But having used several of them, I can’t get over the less than full-sized keyboards and the tiny trackpads, especially compared to the large, multitouch pad of my current MBP and the huge one of my next MBP. People want to use tablets because all they do is use the web and consume media. I do that, but I also write. A lot. I also do coding, photography, light video, digital drawing and painting and 3D modelling and animation. That’s a lot to give up.

I might just be outside of the target for The Tablet, but somehow, I don’t think so. Whatever it is, it needs to be something that solves a problem that I and normal people have. The problem is, I don’t know what that need is. Its not that simple.

27
Dec
09

Yes, That is The Reason

IO9 asks: The failure of Jennifer’s Body at the box office punctured the myth of Megan Fox, but in doing so left Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen’s epic success even more inexplicable. You mean that everyone who went to see that genuinely wanted to see giant robots fighting for the right to appear in a story that made sense instead of Megan Fox’s ass? Really?

To answer that: yes. I went to see Transformers 2 despite Megan Fox, not because of her. I went for no other reason than to watch a bunch of giant robots beating the shit out of each other. I contend that there was too much story and not enough robot on robot violence.

The takeaway? Fighting robots are fun and Megan Fox is not hot. At all.

18
Dec
09

Enough Already

I’ve been hearing stories like this for what seems like years now. The problem isn’t that we like to listen to music, or even to sing badly along with our favorites. The problem is that the corporate music industry appears to be of the opinion that no one should listen to their music.

At all.

That’s why corporate music should be dead to us all. We should all just keep to public domain and CC music. If the record labels don’t want us listening to their shit, we should honor their wishes.

15
Nov
09

Ah, What Fun

So after yesterday’s post, I got a response, and its about what one would expect. Its kind of funny to look at the similarities between the new Mac user and the recently ex-Mac user. To the new Mac user, everyone who used a Mac (or Apple product of choice) before they did is a fanboy. To the ex-Apple user, everyone who’s still using Apple kit after them is a fanboy living in Steve Job’s RDF.

To put things in perspective, our chinless hero Mike Doyle (O’Dolye RULES!*) used Apple gear exclusively for 15 years and never explored any alternatives. He doesn’t really ever get into what set him off, but it seems to me that he’s pissed because he’s not cool for using Apple kit anymore. I contend that he was never cool and no amount of consumer electronics will ever change that. Anyway, the comments:

Mike Doyle:

Timothy, Paul has said nothing that a.) hasn’t already been said in the comment thread of this series; b.) I haven’t already responded to; and c.) isn’t entirely one sided–not to mention ironic.

All Paul has done is write a highly emotionally charged (boy is he angry about the things I say about Apple) defense of Apple–as if Apple needs him to defend it–to tell me that I’m too emotionally involved with the OS. The sad part is none of these over-eager Mac fans get that that’s what they’re doing. Funny, too.

Paul:

Mike, sorry, when did sarcasm equal emotionally charged? Anyway, I did point out quite a few things that haven’t been brought up and that you haven’t addressed. You said things like the Apple ecosystem is completely closed, and I brought up specific examples of how it isn’t, including helpful links. I pointed out that Apple does nothing to hold your data hostage. All of your PIM data in open the open file system using open standards. Your iTunes library is open and accessable to you or third party software.

The App Store is closed, and that is a problem, potentially to Apple’s detriment. There is a lot of cool software that can’t exist on the platform right now, and that’s driving people away. But it’s not driving tons of people away yet. But unless Apple gets its act together, I’ll be taking a good long look at Android and WebOS when my contract’s up.

You still haven’t explained exactly why its a bad thing for Apple to include useful software, but OK for Linux distros to do so. Or why its bad for Apple to build mice, keyboards or monitors. Its not like Apple forces you to use them. Is Dell wrong to include Dell mice? Should Microsoft not sell Microsoft-branded mice?

I also just pointed out that it takes work to use Linux. I’ve been doing I for over a decade, so I know what I’m talking about. I also pointed out that, in your zeal to accuse Apple of being a closed proprietary vendor, you missed the many open source projects that Apple controls or contributes to. You also seem to have missed the minor detail that Microsoft isn’t exactly known for its friendliness to FOSS. And you missed the fact that cloud services, especially Google’s are neither free nor open. Just ask Richard Stallman.

You rail again the iPhone for being closed and Android for being open, but the only difference between them is Apple’s terrible review process and refusal to allow side-loading and Android’s (limited, but better than the iPhone) ability to run background apps. If your primary need is to run Google Voice, then clearly an Android phone will always beat out an iPhone. But don’t make the mistake that you’re using open source or free apps. All of Google’s Android apps are just as closed and proprietary as Apple’s. Google even forced Cyanogen, the leading Android ROM hacker to stop distributing its apps with his ROMs.

I’m not defending Apple or attacking Google or Linux. I’ve been using Apple since I was a kid (although not between 1999 to mid-2002. Apple was a real mess then, and so was its product line.). I’ve used every version of Windows since 95 and various Linux distros since 1997, including full time while I wasn’t using any Apple gear. This isn’t to impress people like you, but because I’m really into computers. Apple is in no way perfect, and I thought I was clear about that in my last post.

I use a Mac because I like Apple’s laptops the best. I prefer OS X and Linux over Windows because I prefer the unix way of computing over the Windows way. I ran Vista since the beta until the Windows 7 beta because I like the new shiny. He’ll, I’ve used the same Kensington Turboball for the last 11 years (outlasting 4 PCs and 2 Macs) because its thatbgreat. I am hardly an Apple fanboy.

Again, I could care less about what kit you’re using or planning to buy. I think that its a good thing that you’re trying something new, and that everyone should do it. I just pointed out that a bunch of what you said is bullshit and presented actual evidence to back my position up. I just think you’re a waffling new media douchebag desperate for attention. If you were really serious about switching, you should just buy a PC and be done with it. Its not like they’re hard to find.

You can call me a fanboy and ignore everything I’ve said, but that doesn’t chang the fact that I’ve been living in a hybrid ecosystem that includes Apple and non-Apple hardware and software for over two decades. And you’ve been living the fanboy life.

*Sorry about the Happy Gilmore reference. It seemed appropriate.

03
Nov
09

You Tell Me

I don’t know if its just me or not, but I think that this truck might just be a cylon is disguise…