g r o t t o 1 1

Peeve Farm
Breeding peeves for show, not just to keep as pets
Brian Tiemann
Silicon ValleyNew York-based purveyor of a confusing mixture of Apple punditry, political bile, and sports car rentals.

btman at grotto11 dot com

Read These Too:

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James Lileks
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As the Apple Turns
Entropicana
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Capitalist Lion
Red Letter Day
Eric S. Raymond
Tal G in Jerusalem
Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Saturday, January 14, 2006
01:36 - But at least Macs are still more expensive, right?
http://mikemchargue.com/2006/01/price-deathmatch-apple-macbook-pro-vs.html

(top)
Apparently not:

I configured the two machines as closely as possible. The only change I made to the MacBook was going with two 512 MB DIMMS instead of one. I had to change several options on the Dell to match the Mac Book (add remote, bigger HD, add DVD burner, add Bluetooth).

Final Price:
MacBook Pro: $2,399
Inspiron E1705: $2,341

Well, there's still the iBooks.

For now.

Via Kevin.


18:41 - They fix me bug
http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/17743

(top)
Safari 2.0.3, which is included in Mac OS X 10.4.4:
  • Safari now displays certain documents that have text/plain headers as plain text rather than treating them as HTML.
  • On certain websites, such as Telia Webmail, buttons on a page might overlap in Safari; this update resolves the issue.
  • Text within a nested HTML table's cells (such as a web-based form) no longer disappears when you click it.
  • Addresses an issue in which some websites, such as www.cbsnews.com, could cause CPU usage to spike unnecessarily, or cause Safari to stop responding, unless Safari's Enable JavaScript preference was deselected.
  • Resolves an issue in which Safari could unexpectedly quit if you tried to save a web page which includes an inline PDF file as a Web Archive.
  • Addresses an issue that could cause Safari to unexpectedly quit when filling out forms on some websites.
  • .Mac now syncs which RSS feed items you have and haven't read in Safari.

  • Emphasis mine, because that last one was one I submitted.

    I'm sure others did so too, but I'm gonna claim credit anyway. Yay!


    17:47 - They like us! They really like us!
    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,181602,00.html

    (top)
    How to know you've made the big time:

    Two two-day courses at this year's conference taught attendees techniques for forensic analysis of Mac OS X and the open-source Linux operating system.

    John Sawyer, an IT security engineer who works for the University of Florida, took the OS X course and said it was very useful. His employer recently purchased a Mac for the IT department so that staff could become familiar with the platform, Sawyer said.

    IT staffers at the university are increasingly finding malicious software, such as remote control "bot" programs running on Mac OS X, though most have had much experience analyzing the operating system for security breaches, said Jordan Wiens, a network security engineer also at the University of Florida.

    Bots are a problem with any Unix, of course; but considering that the authorities' attention to a threat usually comes on the heels of the exploiters', this is a sign that Macs are getting prevalent enough that people are starting to see them as legitimate targets. The party may soon be over: the downside of runaway success.

    Of course, I have to wonder whether the story's (and the seminar's) coverage of iPod shuffles as data-ferrying mechanisms isn't driven more by the fact that it's a buzzwordy device than by pragmatism, because there's no dearth of no-name keychain drives out there that can present the same security risk for far less cost—and far less risk that someone at the security desk will go, "Hey, is that the new iPod Mitochondrion? Can I see it? Lemme play some music!"

    iPod, Xbox, Mac OS X, Linux, PSP. It's almost like they combed the headlines for the hottest products and built a seminar around the promise of letting a bunch of security geeks play with a room full of them. And then invited a bunch of reporters so they could list all those keywords in their own headlines.

    Via JMH.


    14:40 - Work with what you've got

    (top)
    When you see that OxyClean ad, with Billy Mays yelling into the camera about his cleaning products, does it make you want to buy the product more than if it were sold with some tastefulness and subtlety? When you see those "Blue Hippo" computer ads, are you filled with confidence in the products they're selling? Does Matthew Lesko really seem like he holds the secrets to personal wealth and happiness?

    It doesn't seem to do it for me. But apparently it works well enough that some companies—notably Real, with its Rhapsody service—are trying to sell online music through the late-night cable TV avenues, with all the scumminess that entails.

    Rhapsody's ad features a guy in a white room who grins way too widely as he demonstrates a computer running Rhapsody, belting out imploring lines like "You gotta get this!" He gleefully shows off all the marvelous features of what he repeatedly calls "the #1 rated online music experience" (whatever the hell that means), how it's free (it isn't), doesn't require a credit card (it does), and has no monthly subscription fee (which I guess means they're just calling it something else when you go to the site to sign up for $9.95/month). He sneers at how "some other online music stores" only give you 30-second free previews, whereas apparently Rhapsody's streaming music thing is a much better deal. And the best part? The website/domain, which is at www.81.freerhapsody.com. Nah, that doesn't sleaze me out.

    Remember those ads for DiVX—not the video codec, but those awful pay-for-play video-disc competitors to DVD that Circuit City and Disney tried to foist on us? With their VHS-like resolution, their low-rent sound, and the fact that the player had to be hooked up to a phone line so you could unlock a movie every time you wanted to play it? (Presumably Apple based its iTunes business model in part on the failure of DiVX and the demonstrated fact that people like to own their media, even if it's more inefficient, and don't like having to phone home to keep unlocking it.) The ads made hollow-sounding claims just like the Rhapsody one about how great and immersive the sound was (showing a family on a couch getting doused with water coming out of the TV), how crisp and clear the video was, and so on. But it felt as cheesy as those "Video Professor" schpiels. You just got a really weird vibe from it. It's a case where the superior technology was so much better that it didn't even need to advertise... whereas the slimy and sleazy competitor would never exist without the ads, however brief and ignominious its life was.

    iTunes hardly advertises either—its multicolored silhouette-dancer ads might be iconic and ubiquitous, but they tell you nothing about iTunes' feature set other than that it lets you dance around with white earbuds hanging off your head. Apparently that's all they need. But Rhapsody has to do this? If I were the ad agency, I'd see the game as lost from the outset just by virtue of the fact that that kind of ad is necessary.

    Poor guys.

    UPDATE: Of course, sometimes it's the ad agency's fault. I'm sure Nasonex is a fine product, but thanks to that horrible 1995-grade CG bee, I'm guaranteed to treat it as though it's some kind of unsanctioned Guatemalan hair-growth treatment made from tree bark and poison-dart frog juice.


    14:22 - Viddy this, O my brothers
    http://epeus.blogspot.com/2006_01_01_epeus_archive.html#113691474857846379

    (top)
    Kevin Marks explains "How Apple lost it's Web Video mojo, and how it could get it back" (via James A).

    I'm pretty much agreeing with it.


    11:55 - A couple of random Intel thoughts

    (top)
    It seems that pretty much everyone who made predictions as to the contents of the Stevenote—in particular, which Macs would move first to Intel—was way off the mark. Some skeptics refused to get their hopes up over any Intel Macs at all; and those people who did expect to see them all agreed that the ones to arrive first would probably be the bottom-end, consumer-oriented machines (particularly iBooks). Matt Roth-Cline, in fact, was about the only one I saw who correctly predicted that the Intel switch would be something Apple could position as a huge leap forward in performance, not a crippling setback—and thus that they could move out the PowerBooks/MacBook Pros first, leaving iBooks (and Mac minis) for later. It seems pretty obvious in retrospect. Why wasn't it at the time?

    Probably for the same reason that none of us knew what to make of the iMacs and Power Macs. If the switch were something to be ashamed of, then Jobs would want to switch the iMacs before the Power Macs—but both the iMacs and PowerBooks had received recent refreshes, and so that (subliminally if not explicitly) took them both out of the running as candidates for any kind of major bump. So we all thought inevitably about iBooks, if for no other reason than that they were long in the tooth and needed (more than any other product) to become more price-competitive, which we hoped the Intels would make possible.

    What I guess we weren't willing to take into account was not only that Intel would be a giant boon to anyone using native software (and that there would be a lot more of that native software at launch time than we'd imagined—a lot of it rolled out in stealth as part of 10.4.4), but that Apple was in fact willing to rev the iMacs and PowerBooks, the two products in the lineup that had most recently been revised. This knocks most of our conventional wisdom into a cocked hat... but with Steve, that really shouldn't come as a huge surprise to us.

    Where it gets interesting is where it leaves the remainder of the product lineup. You can still buy G5 iMacs and G4 PowerBooks at full price, and word is that the 12" and 17" PowerBooks at least will continue to be available for a good long time, well beyond the inevitable introduction of the corresponding MacBooks (buyers might want to wait for Rev 2). And who knows about the iMacs. The question we have to ask is: who would buy the PPC-based alternatives right now? There must be a lot of them, to justify keeping the standard price and not showing signs of ramping down production of what now, in light of the new laptop's built-in iSight and cool magnetic power cable, looks like a defeatured discount model. All I can think is that enough people out there need Pro-level performance (for Pro apps that are Altivec-heavy) and aren't willing to wait for the universal binary versions of those apps, like Photoshop (or World of Warcraft), or pay for the upgrades of the ones that are coming soon, like Final Cut Pro. In other words, the Intel machines are a lot faster as long as you have or can afford all the software in native format; but the PPC machines are still faster if you have to run your critical apps in Rosetta, and for some people that's still going to be the case for a few months at least. It's a shaky theory, but it's all I can figure. But it does explain why they can continue trumpeting the recently revved Power Mac G5, with its shrieking and stomping quad processors (and fire-breathing performance—d'oh), without any word on when its Intel counterpart will be arriving, aside from "by the end of the calendar year". At least I could imagine buying a quad-G5 today, considering that it would undoubtedly be able to take advantage of some very specialized Altivec-accelerated apps and wouldn't make me break the bank even further by forcing paid upgrades of all the $1000+ Pro apps.

    But that leaves us with one question: Who would by an iBook today?

    iBooks aren't Pro-level machines; there's nothing you'd want to run on them that will cost you vast amounts of cash when the time comes to get an Intel-native version of it. Most iBook users get along just fine on bundled software alone, plus iLife and iWork, which are universal today and modestly priced. But we know that an Intel CPU will make those apps run two to three times faster right out of the box. iBooks are great price-wise and an obvious choice for someone of limited means buying a Mac; but such a buyer would also be cognizant of the need to get the most performance for the money, and would be willing to wait a few months if that's what it took. So who in their right mind would buy a G4-based iBook rather than waiting for its replacement?

    It's this that leads me to think that the next machine to switch over, and pretty soon (like maybe in March, along with the Pro apps, though that doesn't make a lot of sense from a rollout perspective), is the iBook. Maybe they're planning on waiting a whole year before revving the Power Mac (though it would be a big credibility hit for the power users—why would their flagship machine be the slowest, at least in perception?) and the Mac mini; but surely they can't expect the iBook, their highly-thought-of price leader laptop, to be the last team to arrive at the Amazing Race checkpoint. It's the least attractive thing to buy in its current configuration, and it seems to me it's the first one they ought to address.

    (Incidentally, I'm guessing it'll be renamed and called simply the MacBook, considering that Steve reportedly wants to have "Mac" be in the name of every Mac model, and considering the seemingly superfluous "Pro" on the current Intel laptops' nameplates.)

    Maybe it's just a massive hedge to say "by the end of the calendar year" for the complete switchover. But they've got to complete it a lot sooner than that, under the current conditions. Intel is not being seen as a handicap or any reason to wait for apps to become ready, as Apple has put a lot of effort into making sure that all the software they offer for everyday users is universal from Day 1. So waiting makes no sense; time is against Apple here, and they can't afford to take their time bringing out everything else in Intel flavor.

    It seems to be winning friends and influencing people already. More of the same, please, Steve!

    Friday, January 13, 2006
    16:03 - Windows, My Foot
    http://www.grc.com/sn/SN-022.htm

    (top)
    So there's supposed to be this big Windows Metafile (WMF) exploit that's in the news these days. Via Chris, there's apparently some evidence that it's no ordinary vulnerability resulting from an untested corner case or bad bounds checking:

    Steve: Well, okay. First of all, it makes no sense at all in a metafile device context. In the context of processing a metafile, setting a printer abort is crazy because it's not a printer context. You don't print metafile contexts in this way. It's just not the way it's done in Windows. So it doesn't make sense. But it's like, okay, well, so maybe, you know, it's there anyway; they didn't think to remove it or take it out. Except that, when I was pursuing this and finally got it to work, what Windows did when it encountered this Escape function, followed by the SETABORTPROC metafile record, was it jumped immediately to the next byte of code and began to execute it. That is, it was no longer interpreting my metafile records record by record, which is the way metafiles are supposed to be processed. You don't actually execute the metafile. As we said before last week, and I think the week before, it's sort of a script. It's a script of Windows graphics calls that allow you to specify, you know, draw a rectangle from here to here, draw a line from there to there. And it's in a nice sort of device-independent fashion. So you don't run the code in the metafile. But what Windows did when it encountered this particular nonsensical sequence was to start executing the next byte of code in the metafile.

    Leo: Hmm.

    Steve: And it's like, okay, wait a minute.

    Leo: Why?

    Steve: You know, that's crazy. But what's even more crazy is what it took for me to make it do this. As I said before, each record in a metafile begins with a four-byte length, followed by a two-byte function number. So in other words, each metafile record has six bytes minimum that it can possibly be in size. Oh, and since the size is in words, the smallest possible size for a metafile record would be three words long, or six bytes. Look, the reason I had problems making this exploit happen initially is I was setting the length correctly. It turns out that the only way to get Windows to misbehave in this bizarre fashion is to set the length to one, which is an impossible value. I tried setting it to zero. It didn't trigger the exploit. I tried setting it to two, no effect. Three, no effect. Nothing, not even the correct length. Only one.

    . . .

    Leo: So you're saying intentionally or - Microsoft intentionally put a backdoor in Windows? Is that what you're saying?

    Steve: Yes.

    And it's also possible that it's only been in the code since Windows 2000, because earlier versions of Windows have been declared "not vulnerable" to the bug.

    First Sony, now Microsoft. Who can we trust? Surely Symantec...?

    UPDATE: Here's an explanation, via James A., who says "It's a feature, not a bug".

    Back in the days of Windows 3.0, code needed to be run in your image if
    the user cancelled printing. Also on that page is the reason why earlier
    versions are "not vulnerable" - there's no application associated with
    .WMF except in recent windows versions (the image and fax viewer).

    M'kay...

    UPDATE: Chris says:

    That doesnt explain it. The feature was to set a callback address to for code to run if the user cancelled printing. It wasnt supposed to actually run code IN The wmf file itself. Also, why have it activate something if the length is set invalidly ?

    He also has this link, which is another whole kettle of crap.

    UPDATE: Microsoft responds.

    UPDATE: More on the Symantec one, via Aziz.

    UPDATE: This is probably the final word, via James A.

    Wednesday, January 11, 2006
    14:48 - Wonders fail to cease
    http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=915D874D-D747-4180-A400-5F0

    (top)
    Windows Media components for QuickTime, by Flip4Mac.

    You can now play your WMV/ASX files in the QuickTime player. Hurrah! I can use the scrub bar—finally! I can copy frames out! My life is now complete!

    It's buggy, though—it seems to crash the QT player every time I close a player window. And copying a frame out actually seems to not work right. But this is a huge milestone nonetheless.

    Tuesday, January 10, 2006
    15:10 - So what the heck is Lightroom?
    http://photoshopnews.com/2006/01/09/the-shadowlandlightroom-development-story/

    (top)
    Via Daring Fireball:

    The development of Adobe Lightroom, code named Shadowland, was not something Adobe started after Apple announced Aperture. The Shadowland project has been going on for years.

    How do I know that Adobe has been working on Shadowland for so long?

    Because that’s how long I’ve been working on it.

    And yet it's still odd that it should be announced today—and as a free public beta—which is Mac-only. That's some set of coincidences.

    Lightroom looks to have a somewhat less ambitious mission than Aperture—its "loupe" view doesn't amount to anything more than a preview box that you drag over a thumbnail, like in Photoshop, as opposed to the trick circular "magnifying glass" loupe in Aperture that can magnify anything in the workspace or filmstrip, and the "light table" functions are actually rather rudimentary. There's a "Compare" view that lets you see several pictures side by side, tiling them neatly and smoothly to fit into place, but that's nothing that Exposé can't already do. Aperture's claim on the ultra-flexible stack-based digital light table still seems to be inviolate.

    But then again, Lightroom runs perfectly happily on my three-year-old (!) G5 and 22-inch monitor, with no slowdowns or other indications that it was breathing hard. From what I've seen I don't think it would be a good idea to approach Aperture without a tiger-training chair in one hand and a quad-2.7GHz G5 in the other. It may be another story once it's a native Intel app running on a native Intel Mac, but as of now the useful market for Aperture is rather rarefied, and the people who don't own top-end Macs and/or who are scared off by all the negative press might find that Lightroom does the job quite handily.

    Here's a detailed review of Lightroom by Michael Reichmann. I don't know if I'll have the time or expertise to really provide a good in-depth look, so maybe I'll defer to guys like this on such matters. It's certainly a lot more comprehensive than I'm equipped to be, and it provides a good comparison of Lightroom and Aperture for anyone curious about how they stack up.


    13:20 - So here's the skinny

    (top)
    Let's see if we can recap what's gone down...

    First of all, iLife '06, whose major improvement appears to be iWeb, which isn't so much an HTML editor as a component-driven content manager for your .Mac web space. It's got built-in blogging/podcasting/photoblogging stuff, and while it all looks very pretty, I'm skeptical of the layout quirks evident in their blogging software, and I don't doubt that .Mac blogs will become as easily identifiable as default Blogspot templates. Which is no bad thing, I guess, but it means I'm not about to jump to it.

    Meanwhile, iPhoto has boosted its speed and added stuff like calendars and greeting cards, as well as improving the printed quality of the books (good). And GarageBand has a "Podcast Recording Studio" with some interesting sound engineering features that I'll have to look into. They're trying to grab hold of this whole "podcasting" thing with a vengeance—someone else coined the name, but by gum, Apple isn't about to skip over this mindshare windfall.


    There's nothing hugely new in iPod/iTunes-land, but there's this thing: a radio tuner/remote.

    Just plug in your iPod Radio Remote and select "Radio" from the main iPod menu. Tuning takes place right there in the color display with your Click Wheel, just as you'd set a classic analog radio. Easily mark a favorite station for quick access later, and switch between favorite stations using either the iPod or the remote.

    If you're listening to a station that supports the Radio Data System (RDS) standard, you can even see song title/artist or radio station information in the iPod display.* The iPod Radio Remote supports FM stations from 87.5 to 107.9MHz (in both the US and European standards) and 76 to 90MHz (the Japanese standard). You can switch between the different standards when traveling.

    Cool. So for fifty bucks, that's one fewer perennial complaint that can be leveled by the competitors. Somehow I doubt they'll sell one of these to every iPod owner, too—which will retroactively show up all those complaints as being rather gratuitous, as I suspect them to be: if you've got all your music on your iPod, why would you care about the radio? (Notably, AM is missing from this product—so you won't be getting your favorite 24/7 news or harsh talk station on your iPod; if you can't tear yourself away from NPR to get in your car and go to work, you'll have to miss out. Or—wait! The car has a radio!)

    So that's all that. Now we've got the Intel Macs: the iMac and the MacBook Pro, neither of which look any different from their predecessors. Not even an Intel Inside sticker.


    Both have Intel Core, and both are being rated as several times faster than their predecessors (up to 3.2x on the iMac, up to 4x on the MacBook). Pretty wild numbers. But will people actually see these kinds of improvements? After all, there's no native software for these machines yet... is there?

    Well, that's what the real big news in all this is: Apple's been steadily and stealthily rolling out Intel support into all their software, so that Tiger 10.4.4 is now a Universal Binary—and so is iLife '06 and the new iWork. Presumably, because Steve said the entire Mac line will be moved over to Intel by the end of the calendar year, we'll see all the Pro apps come out in native versions along with the revised Power Mac (or whatever they'll call it—since the PowerBook became the MacBook to indicate the dropping of the PowerPC, the Power Mac will have to become the Mac Mac. Right?) when they're slated to arrive in March. And the upshot of all Apple's efforts over the past few years to get everybody onto Apple software for their content creation and everyday computing lifestyle (moving us onto Safari from IE, and Mail from Outlook Express, and all the iLife apps from... whatever there was before them) means that we get all of our software in native formats for no more than the usual upgrade costs—and in the case of all the apps that come with OS X, free. If you've already got Tiger, and if you already do most of your stuff using the built-in Apple apps, you won't have to spend any time in Rosetta. That's pretty dang cool if you ask me.

    Now, although surprising companies like Quark (!) and Microsoft have announced officially that their next releases will be Universal Binaries, Photoshop isn't on the list—and apparently its emulated performance under Rosetta is nothing very inspiring. So that explains why Apple will be able to continue selling Power Macs (slower than the iMacs by an acknowledged huge amount, and yet selling for twice as much, not including monitor) for the next few months, or until Adobe decides to commit to its own fat binary. But I don't think that'll be a long time in coming. Just from the brief look I've had at Lightroom, Adobe is going head-down straight at the Mac market in the pro content creation field; Lightroom, after all, is available for Mac first, and its interface is very Mac-centric, to the point where I wonder whether they plan to try to port its interface widgets to Windows, or leave some features out that wouldn't translate well. This kind of commitment to the Mac market I haven't seen since Photoshop went cross-platform, and I'm thinking it must represent some kind of new rivalry (perhaps born of the Aperture mess in and of itself) where Adobe plays the part of the third-party upstart taking on Microsoft's applications on the Windows platform, and Apple plays Microsoft. Adobe's learned how to use all of Apple's development tools and go-fast widgets every bit as well as Apple has, and now we see that they're actually serious about using them too, evidently seeing the Mac market as being worth winning. That's bound to be good news no matter how you look at it. It's far better than having Adobe abandon the Mac in disgust (which, arguably, would kill the platform dead).

    So, about those Intel Macs. There's no FireWire 800 on them. Why? Because the Intel Core chipset doesn't support it? They certainly could have fit it in if they'd wanted to, especially on the iMac. Is it the same reason for dropping FireWire on the iPod? Not space concerns, but the judicious shaving-off of features that nobody uses? I've been hearing that FireWire 800 is essentially as widely used as the undocumented "Geek Port" on the old BeBox: it's been there for people to use, but nobody's taken the plunge aside from a few external hard drive makers. Certainly if they're going to only support one standard and not the other, they'd have to opt for FW400, because it's the one all the camcorders and DV bridges support. It's too bad that FW800 couldn't have been implemented with a backwards-compatible connector, because then we wouldn't be having this conversation.

    The new iMacs are exactly the same, feature-wise, as the old ones—same screen sizes, and even the same price points. Interestingly, you can still buy the old ones at the Apple Store, for the same prices as the new ones; I guess that's in case you really need those native third-party apps and don't want to wait or upgrade. I hope people who aren't in that boat won't get fooled into buying the wrong ones. If I were an Apple sales droid, I'd be careful to make sure the customer knows the score. It's not even an upsell, as the price is the same.

    Same goes for the MacBooks—same price points as the old PowerBooks, but they only come in one size (15.4"). If you want a 17" or 12", you still gotta go for a G4, at 1/4x the speed, but the same price as ever. I hope they rectify this situation soon with some appropriately-sized MacBooks to replace the entire old line.

    But the new laptops' feature set is impressive. Bluetooth is standard, as is AirPort and gigabit Ethernet; there's also now an iSight, so the laptop can do all the FrontRow stuff that the iMac can, and comes with that cute little remote. It has the backlit keyboard and standard DVD burner. It has the aforementioned magnetic power connector, which I think is just the bee's knees. It has SATA drives (hopefully they're more durable than the ones in the 12" PowerBooks—every single person I know who bought one of those has had the hard drive die). It has optical audio in/out, and its dual-link DVI port can drive the 30-inch monitor. In other words, until the Power Macs get here, this is your new high-end Mac. And at $1999-$2499, it's hardly extravagant.

    I'd convinced myself quite effectively that I didn't need a laptop; after I gave away my old iBook I haven't missed it. This development makes it hard to stay true to my resolution, though.

    We're now officially in the Time of Confusing Product Lineups, as a quick look at the online Apple Store will attest; from now until the entire lineup is on Intel, there'll be more Mac models available than there have been since the days of the Performas with their wonky numbering schemes. But from the look of how they've managed this transition, being well practiced in the art by now, if that's the worst we have to put up with I'll consider it a resounding success.


    10:33 - Stuff Day
    http://mwsf.macnn.com/

    (top)
    Live Stevenote coverage at MacNN. Here's what we've been looking to hear:

    First Mac with an Intel processor. "A little ahead of schedule." The iMac. Jobs recounts machine's accolades from reviewers. Intel-inside new iMac. Same sizes: 17- and 20-inch. Same design. Same features. Same prices. What's different: 2-3x faster with Intel Core Duo processor. Each processor is faster than the G5. 10.2 on iMac G5/32.6 on iMac Core Duo. 3.2x faster. FPU (13.0/27.1 for 2.1x). Every iMac now has dual processors.

    Gads!

    I've actually been spending my time this morning looking at Project: Lightroom, which has just been released as a free beta. I haven't had long to look at it, but so far I'm very impressed. It's Mac-only right now (reportedly they're "working on" a Windows version); interesting, that, because the interface and feature set is very Mac-centric, with Mac OS X-style "tokens" (like in the Date/Time preferences) for specifying saved filenames, and Mac-style "spinner" wait cursors. Very, very slick interface, even if some features (like EXIF data) seem unfinished, and some metaphors (like "Develop") seem forced; it's got a great layout and a very tasteful and pervasive use of fades and zooms in navigating around in it. And on top of it all, it's only 8MB. I didn't think anything fit into 8MB these days, least of all something aimed at a $500 boxed Pro app from Apple that requires a giant screen...

    More on this as it, er, develops.

    UPDATE:

    MacBook Pro. Use the Intel Core Duo. It is 4-5 times processor than the PowerBook G4. Integer --> 6.7 --> 30.3 for 4.5x faster. "Fastest Mac notebook ever." Also the thinnest available. 15.4-widescreen LCD display that is as bright as Cinema Display. Also built-in isight computer.

    Gah!

    UPDATE: AAPL is up almost 7%, to $81. Remember when I stupidly bought it at $61, pre-split?

    And remember when Apple announcements made the stock go down?

    UPDATE: Hallelujah!

    Since every single person I know who has a PowerBook has had the power connector get crunched, this is like a beam of light from the heavens.

    Monday, January 9, 2006
    16:04 - a great way to put consumers back in control of their PCs a great way to put consumers back in control of their PCs a great way to put consumers back in control of their PCs
    http://tauquil.com/archives/2006/01/06/re-introducing-the-real-windows-vista/

    (top)
    Hee hee. Someone's been having a little too much fun with the Vista keynote announcements.


    15:43 - With friends like these...
    http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20060108-5927.html

    (top)
    Those who keep saying Aperture isn't meant to be a Photoshop replacement (whether or not anyone ever suggested it was) get a free Exhibit A: Adobe is bringing out their own Aperture-killer. (Or Aperture-coffin-nailer, as the case may be.)

    What's particularly interesting is that Adobe is releasing a public beta of Lightroom on January 10, the opening day of Macworld. I don't think you'll be seeing this one on the keynote stage, as Jobs isn't welcoming Lightroom with open arms. Chances are, Jobs won't be stopping by the Adobe booth at Macworld to check it out either. In fact, there are likely to be tense times on the showroom floor between the Apple and Adobe booths and if the wrong people cross paths, we may have more than a typical Macworld on our hands...

    It is not certain whether it was a direct stab at Aperture or not, but an Adobe rep on a conference call I was on last week said that the motivation to release a public beta was that they felt it was a bad idea to release a major 1.0 product like this without getting broad user feedback first. Ouch! Body blow. Keep an eye out for Steve's flaming dragon punch at the keynote.

    Steve had better not just tiptoe around the Aperture criticism if he wants it to survive; he might have been able to let it catch on slowly as of last week's product landscape, but now with Adobe jumping into the fray with a direct competitor that's all but guaranteed to bring with it all the advantages of Photoshop's editing toolbox (one of Aperture's big gaps), Steve's going to have to either pull out the big guns and throw a whole building full of people after this one—or concede defeat. And the latter's not really his style.

    This is a time when Apple's really going to have to get down in the mud and fight if they want to win. Most of their other victories in recent years have resulted in Apple being the only game in town for as long as it took to establish a market or a product class, and then, by the time the rest of the industry caught up, Apple had hopped on ahead to the next thing. That's how they managed the iMac revolution (by the time everyone else was doing candy-colored translucent machines, Apple was on to flat-screens and snowglobes) and the iPod/iTunes (by the time the other guys had figured out how to do a serviceable jukebox, Apple had opened up the Music Store), and any number of other products where they could afford to whirl Tasmanian-Devil-like through the landscape, alter reality, and then zip away before anyone knew what had hit them. But now they've riled up Adobe right where they live, and they're all but guaranteed to take a serious bruising this time—and that's in the best-case scenario, e.g. if they win. As of last week, Apple's biggest advantage with Aperture was that nobody else had done anything like it; but now that advantage will be gone, and its shortcomings will be all the more glaringly obvious. (Besides, I think LIghtroom is probably a better name than Aperture, so that's yet another disadvantage.)

    We can take this for granted, though: by the time the smoke settles, pro digital photographers are going to have some bitchin' tools at their disposal, which may never have existed if it weren't for this Battle Royale that seems to have sprung fully-formed into the floodlights. Ain't competition grand?

    Via Aziz Poonawalla.


    15:30 - Eddy company
    http://www.exclaim.ca/index.asp?layid=22&csid=6&csid1=3880

    (top)
    This (via evariste) brings a spark of warmth to my cold, dark heart:
    What's the meanest thing ever said to you before, during or after a gig?
    Matt Stone: When people say to me, “God, you guys have one of the best shows on television. You and Family Guy.” That f*cking hurts so bad.
    Trey Parker: Very well said. It's such a kick in the balls. And the other one is, “Oh my God, it's those guys from BASEketball.” Which happens a lot.

    Hey, I thought BASEketball was great. But I'll bet I know some British guys who would feel the same way if they read a blurb I saw just a few minutes ago from a kid who said a certain cartoon was "in the same high rankings as Monty Python and Ed, Edd, and Eddy". Ouch.

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    © Brian Tiemann