Looking Out from the Inside

Friday, December 30

Tis The Season for Prognostication

Just over one week until we know for certain at Macworld but it seems like the rumor mill has quieted down a bit so it's tine for predictions. Now it goes without saying that I don't have any sort of insider information. This is just me taking a lay of the land and telling you what I think the 9th'll bring us.

I think this is going to be a very media-centric Macworld. New Macs will include Intel based iBooks and Mac minis. Neither will have Firewire as Apple shifts emphasis towards USB 2.0 for consumer use and Firewire 800 for professional applications. The Mac mini will come complete with Frontrow capabilities, though it remains to be seen whether or not there will be a built in DVR solution. It will have a built in dock, though, for easy connectivity with an iPod.

Speaking of iPods much has been made of Apple's running out of 1 Gig iPod shuffles. Many have predicted that this means Apple is going to update the line with a new version of the shuffle. To these people I say bollocks. No the shuffle idea was goofy from the get go. The only people it really made sense for were people who ran with it and such and therefor didn't want a spinning hard drive strapped to their arm. Well, thing is all the benefits that were only found in the shuffle before can now be found in the nano. Suddenly the nano has lost it's niche. That's okay though. They'll be wiped aside in favor of a 1 Gig iPod nano for $149.

But that'll leave us with a two iPod lineup, something we haven't had since 2004 and the introduction of the iPod photo. Well not really because the new lineup will go back to those days with a ultra portable version (nano), a standard version (iPod), and a new enhanced version, in this case the iPod video: a brand new, fully video-centric device. I wouldn't be surprised if this new device comes with additional iTunes Video Store announcements: specifically Fox content and maybe even a subscription service for video downloads.

So there we have it, my wholly unprofessional, uninformed predictions for Macworld 2006. New iBooks and minis, iPod video, downloadable content galore. How far off am I? Guess we'll see in 10 days.

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Heading image Courtesy of Norton Sales

Thursday, December 29

Happy 5th Night of Chanukkah!

No, I'm not Jewish but damn if I didn't miss every other holiday this season. I'm just glad the oil lasted for over a week, betters my chances of hitting it at least once.

At any rate I just got back from The Land the Internet Never Heard Of. Also known as Waterville Minnesota. No disrespect to the grandfolks up there, but when you live so far away from civilization that the nearest AOL dialup number is long distance you've got problems. Yes, I was so desperate for the electric glow of civilization that AOL dialup sounded good to me. It was horrible, may you never be forced to share a similar fate. Seeing them was good, though, and Christmas swag, well that always rules. My biggest thing actually came in an envelope in the form of enough holiday money to finally go out and get myself a gorram digital camera. Gaze ye upon it's orangy visage above.

Well it seems the rumor mill has been pretty quiet since I left. iTunes has got some free videos (I highly recommend Lazy Sunday), AI claims that Apple is so busy designing it's new Intel based notebooks, Mac minis, and iMacs that they've asked Intel to design the motherboard for the new Power Macs, and some poor kid in Hawaii got a nasty surprise instead of an iPod nano.

That's about it for the post-holiday wrapup. Hope you had a good one and Santa (or appropriate gift bearing entity) left you something cool.

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Heading image Courtesy of Amazon

Friday, December 16

Wikipedia on the Rocks

I know it doesn't have to do with Apple specifically but this place is supposed to be a "A look at the world of technology from the view of a Mac user," and this story certainly fits the rubric. Wikipedia has been taking it's knocks of late. The had a piece all about it's troubles on Talk of the Nation but the gist of it basically comes down to the idea that if anyone for any reason can edit any entry how can we use such a source with any confidence in it's validity?

Interestingly enough the most insightful commentary I've seen to this has come from the ever eloquent Tycho of
Penny Arcade

Any persistent idiot can obliterate your contributions. The fact of the matter is that all sources of information are not of equal value, and I don't know how or when it became impolitic to suggest it. In opposition to the spirit of Wikipedia, I believe there is such a thing as expertise.

Don't get me wrong here, Wikipedia is a great resource, but like anything else on the Internet with a capital I it needs to be taken with a grain of salt. If you read something there and it jives with your personal knowledge and is corroborated by other independent sources of information then chances are you can trust it. Just don't expect to use information gleaned solely form a Wiki to be the foundation of your doctoral thesis.

It is then, with no surprise, that we read an Ars article that quotes Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, discouraging people to cite from them.

No, I don't think people should cite it, and I don't think people should cite Britannica, either; the error rate there isn't very good. People shouldn't be citing encyclopedias in the first place. Wikipedia and other encyclopedias should be solid enough to give good, solid background information to inform your studies for a deeper level.

Personally, I'll continue to use the Wikipedia just as much as I always have. The community nature of it makes it a generally useful source of information and, if nothing else, an interesting experiment. Just as with anything else on the webs, caveat emptor.

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Read More
Heading image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Thursday, December 15

HBO to iPod: Wanna Date?

It just keeps coming. First the president of NBC opens up the possibility of even more content saying "I don't think there's a limit as to how many shows we can have available." Then Macenstein reports that Fox will be announcing a partnership at the Stevenote in January. Now HBO has come forward saying that they want in on the iPoddy goodness too.

Chris Albrecht, HBO's CEO (OMG!) said that he's "very excited by the video iPod." Of course, this doesn't make mention of HBO programming in the iTMS but it's not difficult to imagine premium content like The Sporanos becoming the niche that the shoots the new iTunes Video Store off the charts. Stay tuned, kids. This is something to watch.

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Read More
Heading image Courtesy of HBO

Tuesday, December 13

MWSF Rumor: 13" iBooks?

Echoing a rumor Apple Insider posted back in November, Think Secret is reporting that Apple is about to drop the 14" iBook in favor of a new widescreen 13" model. In this scenario the 12" PowerBook will also see the chopping block. This makes a lot of sense as it would make the overall lineup of notebooks 13" iBook, 15" PowerBook and 17" PowerBook with the possibility of a subcompact built where the current 12" iBook stands.

With all these intel laptop rumors flying about it might be time to sit down and take stock of what we have. At this point it's generally taken for true that MWSF will bring Intel based Macintoshes. The fact that Intel is introducing it's new line of laptop chips on January 6th that notion has become even more likely. This makes iBooks and PowerBooks likely but doesn't rule out the Mac mini which primarily uses iBook components.

The Case for an Intel PowerBook
It's all about power and what needs that power right now. PowerBook sales are languishing. Ever since the iBook made the jump from G3 to G4 processors it's become increasingly difficult to justify the premium of a PowerBook. It's basically become a question of whether or not you can live with the graphics hardware of the iBook, if you can then there's no reason to upgrade. If you need that power then you're forced to pay through the nose. With dual-core versions of Yonah being introduced days before the Expo it only stands to reason that the PowerBooks, being the weakest product in the line, will be the first to take advantage of this new technology. iBooks will come later using the forthcoming single-core Yonah which, according to Intel will be introduced before June.

The Case for an Intel iBook
What good is a computer if you don't have any software to run on it? iBooks are likely to be the first to receive the switch because iBook users generally don't use the big, complex applications that will be among the last to make the processor switch. Apple, of course, has had all their own applications in Universal Binary format for some time now, by the time the computers are out they'll be every bit as smooth as their PPC brethren. Not so for programs like Dreamweaver, Photoshop, and Mathematica. Those will require more than a simple recompile and may have to be rebuilt from the ground up. If Apple released Intel Powerbooks before these core applications are ready for action the customer backlash will be immediate and unrelenting. No, better to introduce a consumer line. Something to show that this chip migration isn't so hard. Something to show the analysts that this was the right decision and it's going better than could be expected. Better to introduce an iBook and leave the PowerBook until it's ready.

The Case for an Intel Mac mini
Before the Mac mini was introduced and we had something to call it, rumors flew about a new "Headless Mac." Among the proponents of this rumor was AppleInsider. Interestingly, though, they claimed that while the finished product wouldn't include it, an iPod dock was initially planned for this headless iMac. Fast forward a couple months when the Register notices that there is, indeed, an internal firewire connection that isn't used for
anything. With the subsequent introduction of Front Row and the reintroduction of a Mac mini w/ Dock rumor it's easy to see what an Intel based Mac mini might look like next to your TV.

What I don't expect to see is an Intel based iMac, and most certainly not PowerMacs. So far as I know that latter possibility hasn't even been broached by anyone. I do expect to see a laptop and I'm leaning towards an iBook but either choice would make sense so it all depends what sort of mood Steve's in that morning. The Mac mini would be another extremely likely candidate as it hasn't been updated in a while and could use a power boost if it's ever going to be able to handle HD content. My only reservation about that one is if it'll be the multi-media powerhouse complete with DVR and remote and content delivery system and everything else that's being bandied about. Of course in a month all this speculation will be moot and we'll all know. Until then I'll keep my ear to the ground.

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Read More
Heading image Courtesy of Apple

Monday, December 12

Cross-Platform Portable Firefox

I just have to say that this is about the coolest thing ever. In my Post-Turkey Day Post mentioned my SD card acquisitions. Well I'm putting them to their first use as a vehicle for all my passwords and bookmarks and websettings with this tool.

Cross-Platform Portable Firefox is exactly that. A portable version of Firefox (it lives on your USB drive) that will work on both Windows and Mac computers. Windows you just open the application. Macs, run a pre-built terminal script that will allow the Windows app to operate under a Macintosh environment. Now no matter where you are, as long as you've got a USB port with access to the web-o-tron at large, you're home.

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Heading image Courtesy of Mozilla

Saturday, December 10

Google Earth = Awesome!

The enterprising users at MacUpdate have taken Google Earth out for a spin and are generally positive on it. There are some reports of it consuming nearly all system resources but most of those posters didnt' mention their system specs so who's to say if it's Google's fault for building bloatware or the users fault for trying to run too much power on too little hardware.

One thing that is mentioned is that it's heavily relyant on Open GL. For those of you who have the GPU to power that it sounds pretty sweet. For the rest of us whimpering along on an ATI Rage with a woeful 16 MB of RAM, well then this app is more likely to inspire depression than awe.

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Heading image Courtesy of Google

Friday, December 9

With This nano, I Thee Wed

Well not wed exactly. Engage would be more accurate. Even so, congratulations are in order for JD and his soon-to-be. Great quote:

I was very nervous that the right message was there since I didn't open it ahead of time... It would have been a shame if there was a mix up and she got the one that read "congrats crazy Jim on the big 5-0".

Yeah, I imagine that would be a little awkward.

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Read More
Heading image Courtesy of Jeff Belmonte

Google Earth For Mac

Looks like Goole's Macintosh policy of "You'll get it when you get it" is starting to change. Early betas of Google Earth for Mac OS X are floating around the webs and is expected to hit a public beta pretty soon.

As for me I'm in the midst of upgrading my aged (but precious) gumdrop iMac to 10.4 so I'm not about to throw any untested software on there until I really get settled. I will, however, keep an eye out for any impressions from other users.

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Read More
Heading image Courtesy of Google

Wednesday, December 7

iPod, Meet Your Doppel

The Register reports that Creative is ready to announce it's answer to the new iPod. With a nearly identical form factor (about the same face-on but it's twice as thick) the Vision:M will sport a recordable FM tuner, a slew of video formats, Windows DRM complience, three colors to choose from, and about twice the battery life as the iPod. The most interesting feature, however, is a undeniably Apple-like connector on the bottom of the player (available accessories will include a white docking station). No doubt this is only the first of many accessories designed for the connector.

The announcement is expected to come tomorrow with availability in Japan coming this month. At this point it is unknown when the Vision:M will cross the pond to domestic shores.

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Heading image Courtesy of Apple Brothers

Tuesday, December 6

DigiTimes: No MacIntels for You!

DigiTimes, home of the unreliable rumor, is reporting that we shouldn't expect Intel based Macintoshes until June 6th. They claim they're getting their info from Taiwanese manufacturers but seeing as they also claim that 10.4 for X86 can be downloaded from Apple's website (Wrong) and that the MacIntels will be badged with Intel Inside (WTF!) in the very same article I'm not putting much faith in them. That having been said, it's always safe to hedge your bets when it comes to Apple's release dates.

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Heading image Courtesy of Seinfeld

iTunes Video Store Busts Wide Open

Busy morning at the Lofti HQ. No sooner do my feet hit the floor than I see the iTunes Video Store has been innundated with new content.

And it's about freaking time.

New partners include SciFi (Battlestar Galactica Series and Miniseries), USA (Monk), and NBC (Holy Cow! Law & Order, The Office, Surface, The Tonight Show, The Late Show and vintage episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Dragnet, Adam-12, and Knight Rider). The rumor mill is rumbling about Fox jumping into the fray at any moment but at this point them or CBS. Finally I think it's safe to say there's something for everyone now. Now it's just a matter of seeing if the iTunes market as a whole is going to bite.

Edit 10:29 AM
Apple has just put out their press release. You can find it through the Read More link. One interesting thing that I totally overlooked was the fact that all these shows come from one umbrella: NBC Universal. One deal, 11 new shows. Hooray for media consolidation.

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Read More
Heading image Courtesy of Apple

Friday, December 2

Too Cute for Words

No image, no Read More, no time for any of that. You have to check this site out right now...

I Love My Mac: The Song!

BusinessWeek to Apple: Bring on the UWB

I wish I worked at BusinessWeek. Apparantly all you have to do to get published in that mag is write a wishlist and hand it to your editor.

They do have a good point, though. Apple has always been about the wireless and adding some fat, wireless pipes through UWB would be pretty freaking awesome. Trouble is that UWB is no where near mature so I can't see it actually showing up in the next versions of anything at this point.

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Heading image Courtesy of NiCT

Thursday, December 1

Intel: Yonah Preview

So if you're as plugged into the Macosphere as I am (and if you are what's wrong with you?) then you undoubtedly know what Yonah is.

For everyone else out there, Yonah is Intel's next big thing. A laptop centric chip designed to be super low-power (for saving battery life), super cool (for small enclosures), and super effecient (for all the processing power you'll ever need). Well it's not slated for release until next year but our friends at Anandtech got to spend some time with it and ran some quick benchmarks. It all gets rather technical so it's a good thing Ars Technica is there to help.

All in all it looks like a pretty sweet little chip. Expect to see this in upcoming notebooks and, more than likely, the Mac mini.

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Read More

Heading image Courtesy of Intel

MWSF Rumor: Mac mini Tivo?

Think Secret, the once (and future?) crown prince of the Macintosh rumor mill, is expecting nothing less than a full fledged Mac mini powered DVR. According the article the new mini will be Intel based, sporting the 3.5" hard drive (= lots more storage for less $$), a built in iPod dock and will include "both Front Row 2.0 and TiVo-like DVR functionality."

This sounds pretty awesome and is something that lots of people have been thinking about ever since the diminutive machine was announced but Ars Technica has its doubts. They do make a good point, releasing your own DVR isn't exactly the textbook method of wooing new partners in your burgeoning online video store, but if Apple's drive isn't to push the video on iTunes market but rather the iPod in general market then I can see how a recording device would make sense.

Add to all this rabid speculation an article on The Mac Observer saying how Intel and Tivo have announced that they'll be partnering to bring Tivo content to Intel products. Of course the article goes on to say how Apple will soon be an Intel product and that with all this speculation regarding a Mac DVR flying about maybe this is the basis of it all.

Unfortunately the long and the short of it is that none of us are going to know for another month and a half. Something this big is going to be under such lock and key as to make the man in the iron mask glad to be stuck with just a bucket on his head (it's not even 9 yet, you can't expect my similes to work that well yet). Until then, dream your dreams of Battlestar Galactica on an iPod near you. I know I'll be.

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Read More

Heading image Courtesy of Apple