Looking Out from the Inside

Tuesday, January 31

Apple Clearing Out iMacs

Of the Power PC variety, that is...

Last week Apple Insider reported that the 17" PowerPC iMacs have been EOLed. Now MacRumors (among others but I saw it there first) is pointing out that the price for the 20" iMacs have been cut $200 to $1499: a flippin sweet deal if you're in the market for a sturdy home machine that can run all Mac software on the market right now.

If you're a student you'll be able to get an additional $100 knocked off the price if you order through the Apple Education Store. If you're not a student you can get an even better deal, albeit through mail-in rebate through Amazon.

Have at 'em!

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Heading image Courtesy of Apple

Saturday, January 14

What The Hell Is Viiv?

With Apple moving to Intel processors and Intel making such a ruckus over their new Viiv (pronounced like five) technology there's been a lot of debate about how Viiv was coming to the Mac. Viiv was going to be the cornerstone of a Apple based set top box. Viiv was going to allow Apple to do everything you could ever want from a media computer. Of course all this begs the question, what the hell is Viiv?

A trip to Intel's website isn't exactly informing. They talk a lot about content partners and streaming and subscribing and all this but, frankly, all of that has been able for quite some time now. Pay-per-view is neat, but not new. TivoToGo is handy, but not developed by Intel. So if everything Viiv is supposed to be doing is already possible what is it exactly? There's a list of compatible components on the Overview page but still no explanation of what this ethereal product is.

Well leave it to Peter Rojas from Engadget to corner someone at the Intel booth at CES and wrangle a real answer out of him. Turns out all the hype around Viiv isn't so much as any new technology but just a fancy DRM platform. It's a way to lock content down to certain uses defined by the content providers based heavily off existing Intel chipsets and Windows Media Center

So nevermind when you hear about Viiv and Apple in the same sentence. Viiv = Windows Media Center . Apple's got their own thing with FairPlay so while they might use Viiv spec processors and such it is not a Viiv computer.

Unfortunately this conversation hasn't been posted anywhere but if you really want the first hand story check out their podcast # 59 and fast forward to 9:40.

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Heading image Courtesy of Intel

The Lofti Glossary

I'm a pretty huge geek. The fact that I started this website to begin with is proof positive. So when I start talking about RAM and DRM and one processor vs another it's nothing but a thing. But I don't want this to be a site just for der über geeken. I want my Mom to be able to log on and understand what the hell I'm talking about.

But it's hard to talk about technology without slipping into technospeak. Especially when the alternative is explaining the difference between AAC and MP3 every flipping time the iTunes Music Store comes up. So here you go, a quick and dirty list of common phrases and initials. Expect it to be linked frequently to aid in interpreting any confusing articles I post. If you see anything you have a question about please don't hesitate to mention it to me and I'll add it to the list.

AAC - An audio codec, a modified version of which is used in the iTunes Music Store. If you don't know what a codec is just look down.
CES - Short for the International Consumer Electronics Show, the biggest convention of consumer electronics in the world.
Codec - enCOder/DECoder. A bit of software that turns music into digital information (like ripping a CD to your computer) and turns that digital information back into your music (what the iPod does when you push play)
DRM - Digital Rights Management. Software that limits the way you can use your media. FairPlay (see below) is the DRM used in the iTunes Music Store.
EOL - And acronym for End Of Life, the status of a product that is no longer in production but still for sale. Reports of EOLed products often comes directly before a product update.
FairPlay - The DRM used in the iTunes Music Store. In it's current itineration it allows songs to be played on up to five computers and a single playlist to be burned up to seven times.
iTMS - The iTunes Music Store. Found in the left hand column of iTunes songs, music videos, and tv shows can be purchased from there and played on your iPod.
MacWorld - A huge freaking convention held every hear in January dedicated to Apple and Apple products. Expect a lot of rumors leading up to MacWorld and a lot of news to follow it. Also MWSF for MacWorld San Francisco (There used to be a summer MacWorld on the east coast, hence the differentiation).
MP3 - The codec to make digital music popular. Unencumbered by DRM it is the most popular format for digital music.
User Interface - What you interact with when you use a computer. Everything from the way a program looks to the feedback you get from a webpage to the error messages your operating system gives you. Ideally a user should be able to navigate it without conscious thought. Realistically the UI is the biggest stumbling block between what a user wants to do and what a user actually gets done.
Windows Media Center - A version of Microsoft's Windows operating system designed to be used connected to a TV. Among other things it provides for television to be recorded directly to the computer.
WMA - Windows Media Audio. The codec used in nearly every online music store aside from the iTunes Music Store and compatible with most digital music players other than the iPod.

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Heading image Courtesy of Harvey Tobkes

Metal Was So Last Year

The Fireball has a funny little bit on the slow, torturous demise of the Brushed Metal Interface. John Gruber is a flipping genius and I am constantly in awe of his occasional UI anthropomorphication. A quote if you're too lazy to make the jump:

A bedraggled figure stands at the front door of a nice house. It is Brushed Metal. He wipes his mouth, brushes various crumbs and bits of detritus from his chest and sleeves. He’s been out all night. He knocks on the door. A few seconds later, he knocks again.
The door opens, revealing Safari, looking comfortable in a robe and holding a mug of coffee. This is his home. He seems slightly surprised to see Brushed Metal, but he’s cheerful.

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Heading image Courtesy of

Friday, January 13

Apple Worth More Than Dell. Dell Falls Asleep Crying.

MacDailyNews reports that at market close today Apple's market worth was $72.1 billion totally smoking Dell at $71.9 billion. Not a whole lot to say about this story but the article has a great little anecdote about the Michael Dell/Steve Jobs rivalry. I highly recommend.

On a similar subject, last time Apple was valued at around $80 they split the stock. There's a rumor floating around the street that they're getting ready to announce another one soon. I don't like to get into the nitty gritty of stock prices and investor evaluations but a split usually brings increases prices with it so anything that's good for Apple's economic security is good for me.

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Heading image Courtesy of Alfred State College

MacBook vs. Dell Inspiron: Price Premium Say Wha?

Entreprenuring blogger Mike McHargue took it upon himself to check out Dell's website and see if there's really a price premium for the new MacBook over Dell's Core Duo offering. Now this sort of thing is never an exact science: how much is a built in iSight worth to you? but Mike does a pretty fine job and it turns out that the Dell is cheaper: by about $50.

That's pretty freaking close and if it were me and I could pay $50 more to get an identical model that was 3 pounds lighter and otherwise on par I'd jump at the chance. Guess it's just another benefit of the Intel switch: when you use (mostly) the same hardware as the other guys you can hit them where it hurts.

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Heading image Courtesy of (believe it or not) WalMart

Google Earth for Mac Announced

Little post over on the Google Blog announcing that Google Earth has left beta testing and is now freely available to PC and Mac users alike.

Given their former depressing support for our favorite fruit company (to say nothing of their woeful presence at MacWorld) getting equal billing as Windows with this application is a nice little coup.

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Heading image Courtesy of Google

Intel Australia: Windows Might Work On Mac Afterall

Golly Bob Howdy! It's the story that would never end!

So first everyone's all like: "Dude, we can totally splatter Windows all over these new Apples!"
Then Apple's like: "We're not letting that BIOS up in here. Step off!"
Then Intel came in and was all: "Dudes, chill. EFI can pretend it's BIOS. Then we can all get along, right?"

Engadget reports that according to Intel Australia the chipset in the new macs will support BIOS with a "Compatibility Support Module" installed. No word on if such a whatzit is available, though, so as far as I'm concerned this story is over.
At least it is until people starting putting XP install discs in their new iMacs. Then it's game on.

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Thursday, January 12

But Wait, There's More!

One rumor that was plastered all over the web (including this site) was the expectation of media friendly Mac minis and Intel based iBooks. Well now it's starting to look like we weren't all wrong so much as premature. As His Steveness announced at the keynote itself the rest of the Mac product line will be announced as it's ready and according to a recent article on Apple Insider iBooks (MacBooks?) will be the first out of the gate in the "second calendar quarter" (That'd be April-June for the rest of us).

While new iBooks/MacBooks might be nice for some of us it still doesn't answer the DVR Mac mini rumors. Well that's where a teensy bit of speculation comes in. AI has been amazingly accurate this MacWorld and once upon a time they released a little report saying that iMacs and PowerBooks (now MacBook Pros) would be the first out of the gate with Mac minis following shortly and iBooks coming in/around April for the K-12 buying season. Combine that with an uncharastic and anonymous rumor on Wired's Cult of Mac blog and it sounds like Mac minis could be in our near future.

Stay tuned, kids. The future looks bright.

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Heading image Courtesy of Apple

Dual-Boot? Not So Fast.

Okay, it looks like Phil was slightly misleading when he said that they weren't doing anything to disallow Mac users to install Windows as well. You see, and you'll have to pardon the following geekery, current itinerations of Windows are all built on top of something called BIOS (Basic Input Output Structure). It's at the core of all Windows machines and was initially built sometime during the mesozoic era. Needless to say it's ancient and well in need to be replaced. Well Apple thought so too and so Mac OS for Intel processors is built on top of what's called EFI. Just think of it as a more modern BIOS.

So we have XP on BIOS, Mac OS on EFI. So much for Windows on Apple, right?
Wrong.

Windows Vista will be rockring the EFI too so it isn't so much a matter of never in a million years. We just have to wait for Redmond to finally roll out their new version. Which puts we MacAddics in the uncomfortable position of rooting for Microsoft to come out with their upgrade as soon as possible. It truely is a bizarro world we live in.

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Wednesday, January 11

New Toys for iPods

Well the iPod announcements this MacWorld were light to be sure but that doesn't mean nothing happened. Specifically two new products were introduced, an in-line remote with a built in FM tuner and a new AC connection kit.

The Radio Remote, yes that's it's real name, just plugs into the headphone port on your 5th Gen iPod or iPod nano. From there you can control your music and slideshows through the remote or select the Radio option from the topmost menu to bring up an old analog style FM tuner. It even has the ability to display song information so long as the station broadcasts it.
Personally I'm not planning on running out and buying one. First off I've got a mini which isn't worthy of the FM lovin' but even if I did the idea of listening to the radio when I've already got all my favorite music with me seems a bit counter intuitive. Even so it's nice that we're catching up with a feature found across the rest of the industry, even if it is through a $50 add on.

The second accessory announcement is the AV Connection Kit. Selling for $99 the kit is basically a bundle of a Universal Dock with Apple Remote, a USB Power Adapter, and an AV Cable. All of these have been available for quite some time now but never in such a convenient package as this. If you've got a dock connector then you're down with this bundle.

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Heading image Courtesy of Apple

MacIntelsTo Have Dual-Boot Capability

One of the things on everybody's mind is whether or not the MacIntels will be able to run Windows. According to Phil Schiller, Apple is in no way trying to block such an event saying...
If there are people who love our hardware but are forced to put up with a Windows world, then that’s OK.

Just don't expect a Knowledge Base article anytime soon telling you how to do it.

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Heading image Courtesy of Apple

*Yawn*

It's almost three. I just finished watching the keynote, updating the new product guides, and rearranging the sidebar. I'll finish up with a final keynote wrapup tomorrow morning if I can drag myself out of bed. Until then take it easy and I'll see you on the flip side.

Product Guide: iMac

Introduced January 10th, the new iMac is the first ever Apple computer to run on Intel Processors. According to Apple's own benchmarks these new machines will run 2-3 times faster than the most current iMac G5s. Aside from the processor, however, the machine remains largely unchanged. Slightly enhanced graphics capabilities but other than that they come with an identical feature set. Note: features that have been upgraded between models are italicized.

17" iMac Intel Core Duo - $1299

CPU: 1.83GHz Intel Core Duo
Memory: 512 MB DDR2 SDRAM
Display: 17" TFT w/ 1440 x 900 resolution
Graphics: ATI Radeon X1600 Pro w/ 128 MB GDDR3 SDRAM (Supports Extended Desktop)
Hard Disk: 160 GB at 7200 rpm
Optical Drive: 8x Superdrive Dual Layer
Networking: 10/100/1000 Ethernet
I/O: 2-Firewire 400, 3-USB 2.0
Misc: Mighty Mouse
Apple Remote (w/ Front Row)
Built-in iSight
Airport Extreme (802.11 G) & Bluetooth built in
Headphone/Optical output, Audio line in, Built-in stereo speakers and microphone

20" iMac Intel Core Duo - $1699

CPU: 2.0GHz Intel Core Duo
Memory: 512 MB DDR2 SDRAM
Display: 20" TFT w/ 1680 x 1050 resolution
Graphics: ATI Radeon X1600 Pro w/ 128 MB GDDR3 SDRAM (Supports Extended Desktop)
Hard Disk: 250 GB at 7200 rpm
Optical Drive: 8x Superdrive Dual Layer
Networking: 10/100/1000 Ethernet
I/O: 2-Firewire 400, 3-USB 2.0
Misc: Mighty Mouse
Apple Remote (w/ Front Row)
Built-in iSight
Airport Extreme (802.11 G) & Bluetooth built in
Headphone/Optical output, Audio line in, Built-in stereo speakers and microphone

Heading image Courtesy of Apple

Tuesday, January 10

Product Guide: MacBook Pro

Announced January 10th, 2006, the MacBook Pro is the new flagship notebook computer from Apple and is the first Apple notebook to sport Intel processors. Based heavily upon the 15" PowerBook, the MacBook Pros differ in a few key ways. Most importantly, the Power PC processor has been replaced with a Dual Core Intel processor. Other major improvements include a built-in iSight video camera in the upper bezel, an IR receiver that will work in conjuction with the Apple Remote and Front Row, and a new magnetic power connector to keep your laptop from flying off the table when your dog snags your power cable. RAM has also been upgraded as have the Hard Drive and Graphics capabilities. Notably missing, however, is dual layer support for the SuperDrive, a standard in the final itineration of the PowerBook.

With the massive increase in processing speed, the 1st generation MacBook Pro is sure to be a financial success, but came not without reservation from some. Released five and a half months before anticipated, the MacBook is largely without immediate, native software support from a proponderance of 3rd party software developers. Because of this, tt's acceptance by the traditional PowerBook market of professional graphics artists is, at this point, uncertain.

As of publishing, questions regarding the MacBook Pro's ability to run the Windows OS natively as well as Apple's success in locking the Mac OS down to Apple hardware. Details will be reported as they become available.

The MacBook Pro is expected to ship in February 2006. Note features that have been upgraded between models are italicized.

1.67 GHz Intel Core Duo - $1999

CPU: 1.67 GHz Core Duo processor
Memory: 512 MB DDR2 SDRAM
Display: 15.4" TFT w/ 1440 x 900 resolution
Graphics: ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 w/ 128MB of GDDR3 SDRAM
Hard Disk: 80 GB SATA at 5400 rpm
Optical Drive: 6x Superdrive
Networking: 10/100/1000 Ethernet
I/O: 1-Firewire 400, 2-USB 2.0, ExpressCard/34 slot
Dimensions/Weight: 14.1" x 9.6" x 1.0" / 5.6 lbs
Battery: Currently Unknown
Misc: Apple Remote (w/ Front Row)
Built-in iSight
Airport Extreme (802.11 G) & Bluetooth 2.0+EDR built in
Analog/Optical Line in, Analog/Optical Line out
Dual Link DVI output

1.67 GHz Intel Core Duo - $1999

CPU: 1.83 GHz Core Duo processor
Memory: 1 GB DDR2 SDRAM
Display: 15.4" TFT w/ 1440 x 900 resolution
Graphics: ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 w/ 256 MB of GDDR3 SDRAM
Hard Disk: 100 GB SATA at 5400 rpm
Optical Drive: 6x Superdrive
Networking: 10/100/1000 Ethernet
I/O: 1-Firewire 400, 2-USB 2.0, ExpressCard/34 slot
Dimensions/Weight: 14.1" x 9.6" x 1.0" / 5.6 lbs
Battery: Currently Unknown
Misc: Apple Remote (w/ Front Row)
Built-in iSight
Airport Extreme (802.11 G) & Bluetooth 2.0+EDR built in
Analog/Optical Line in, Analog/Optical Line out
Dual Link DVI output

Heading image Courtesy of Apple

Kevin Rose: I know something you don't know!

Kevin Rose of Diggnation fame has posted a couple whispers he's heard to his blog. The dude seems to have a pretty awesome track record, albeit the morning of, but we're not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, so let's see what we've got here...

  • 15" intel Macbook - order tomorrow, ships Feb (thinner, dual core)
    Everything I heard says 13" iBook with 15" PowerBook later this year but we'll see.
  • iPod FM receiver
    Well this should make a lot of people happy and excitable. I'm just not one of them (NPR comes in an AM flavah round these parts).
  • iWork/Life '06
    Whatever you say, dude. There was that iWeb leak a couple days back but with no details whatsoever we'll just have to wait and see.
  • New remote of some type
    Sounds like it corroborates the plasma rumor. According to that tidbit the standalone media machines would come with the standard 6 button remote while the new TVs from God come with programmable, learning, make your coffee remotes. Neet.
  • Photocasting (iPhoto)
    Like as in Flickr? Already have an iPhoto plugin to do that...
  • OS X.4.4 w/new widgets
    Not a whole lot to say here. Widgets are fun but if that's all they're bringing to the point upgrade party it's going to be a slow MacWorld.

Only a couple hours now, kids. See you tonight.

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Heading image Courtesy of IDG

Monday, January 9

MacWorld: Final Notes (i promise)

A couple quick notes re: the party in Frisco.

Senior O'Grady from the one and only PowerPage tells a most interesting tale of Apple branded plasma HDTVs with the computer built right in for your convenience. According to the yarn the TVs will rely heavily on Viiv technology which is interesting to me as every itineration of Viiv I've seen relies pretty heavily on Windows Media Center Edition. Not that it couldn't ever happen, you know...

If you're an observent critter and happen to be perusing the .Mac homepage you've probably noticed the little outage notice. For the rest of you here's you go:

.Mac will be undergoing scheduled maintenance from 7:00 AM to 12:00 PM PST on 1/10/06. All .Mac services will be affected. We apologize for the inconvenience

Pretty convenient, that timing what with the Stevenote running from 9:00 to 10:30 that morning. Could this be the update that Think Secret reported on early December?

The eagle-eyed folks at Engadget reported about some screenshots of TiVoToGo (NoT aNnOyInG aT aLl) running on, you guessed it, a Mac. Won't they be pissed if they announce this just as His Steveness walks out and announced a homegrown solution for the same old problem. Unless of course TiVo is liscensing their technology as the DVR backend for the much anticipated Frontrow 2.0. Now that's the sort of thought that'll fester.

That's most all the rumor mill has turned out on this MacWorld eve. Being a distinguished Mac Blogger for all of, eh, one and a half months I didn't manage to get a press pass to the show myself. In the meantime please check out the fine fellows at Engadget for a moment by moment breakdown of the festivities. Just be sure you come right back for the breakdown and any new product guides as the need arises.

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Heading image Courtesy of IDG