Archives For techology

Best of Show

January 25, 2005 — Leave a comment

MacWorld SF for the most part was all about the new user experience. For long time or power users, finding personal satisfaction required roaming the vast floor space at the Moscone Center.

There were over 275 exhibitors, with recognisable names in software and hardware like Adobe, Extensis, Filemaker, Microsoft, Nikon, and Quark taking up large amounts of floor space. However with the exception of Griffin Technologies and Roxio, most of the exciting offerings at the show were from the smaller manufacturers.

My runners-up in the Best of Show software category are Ambrosia Software; long time shareware manufacturer of games and utilites; and relative newcomer; Panic. These companies both make practical, stable software cheaply, which some of the bigger names might want to take stock of.

Ambrosia recently released their digital recording application WireTap Pro, as well as an OS X version of their classic game Aperion. WireTap Pro allows users record audio from any running application as well as  any input device on your Mac including the microphone, line-in or headset and save it in a variety of formats including mp3, AAC, Quicktime or AIFF.

Panic is a newer arrival in the Mac shareware market and produce a number of cool utilities including Transmit; an FTP client; Unison; a USENET client; and some smaller fun utilities like Destastic; which allows you to make notes on a computer desktop like a whiteboard; and Stattoo; which gives users widgets for mail, weather and time in a translucent desktop bar.

However my Best of Show goes to a tiny start-up company called Delicious Monster who have produced a brilliant piece of software called Delicious Library. Delicious Library allows users to catalogue their books, CDs and DVDs into an easily accessible database. What makes this different is armed with UPC or ISBN numbers and an internet connection the application will pull in all the appropriate information, the application also allows users with an Apple iSight to scan the UPC codes directly into the database. The programme also allows you to import other catalogues your may have created in another programme or have saved in a number of formats and if you have stuff that isn`t in Amazon database where Delicious Library pulls their information from your can enter it manually. For people who value their collections this is the ideal tool for managing and keeping track of your library.

Next time Delicious Library vs Books.

21 years ago, today Steve Jobs launched the Macintosh and neither his sense of showmanship or the response of the faithful have changed.

i`ve mirrored the file here but be forewarned it`s kind of big. not something you want to attempt looking at on dial-up.

Last Tuesday`s keynote address; at the opening of the MacWorld San Francisco conference; by Apple CEO Steve Jobs held little or no suprises for mac users who had been frequenting rumour sites online or following the spate of recent lawsuits by Apple. However it did not stop faithful attendees from reacting joyfully with each new product announcement.

However these new products were not necessarily aimed at the hardcore faithful, but to lure new users to the Macintosh fold. Leading this charge was the Mac Mini; a computer that may possibly be the future of household digital convergence.

The Mac Mini is Apple`s first foray into a sub-$500 computer and standard features include a 1.25Ghz G4 processor, 40Gb hard disk, 256Mb Ram, upgradable to 1Gb, slot-loading combo drive; CD-RW/DVD-Rom, 2 USB 2.0 ports, 1 Firewire (IEEE-1394) 400 port, ethernet and digital and analog video out support. The computer is not necessarily for first time buyers, as it comes bereft of keyboard, mouse or monitor. Because of its small footprint, the machine is not user upgrade, however optional factory installed upgrades include ram, Apple`s wireless solution; Airport, Bluetooth, SuperDrive; DVD-RW/CD-RW and an 80GB HD. There is also a marginally faster version of the Mini Mac with a 1.42Ghz G4 Processor and an 80Gb hard drive standard that retails for $599.

One of the first things you notice about the Mac Mini is the incredibly small profile; the machine measures two inches high by six and a half inches deep and wide; about the same height as a VCR. Although this machine seems primarily geared towards enticing ipod owning PC users to switch, the machine lends itself; with some tweaking; to become the centre piece of the long touted digital convergence. With WebTV attempting a second coming, this may be the ideal time for a device that connects to the internet, can manage your music, edit and create video and can connect through your television.

The other big hardware announcement at MacWorld was the ipod Shuffle; Apple`s entry into the flash MP3 player market. The Shuffle is incredibly small; and the assertion that it`s smaller than most packs of gum is not an exaggeration; in an average adult hand, it is barely visible and the retail prices of $99 and $149 for the 512MB and 1Gb versions make them readily accessible to almost everyone. On the day of the show, 20,000 were available for sale at the San Francisco Apple store two blocks away and within three and a half hours they were completely sold out. Ideal for users on the go and parents pandering to their children`s desire for an MP3 player, the Shuffle is an ideal size at an ideal price.

Lost in all the hardware hype at MacWorld was Apple`s attempt at not offending software manufactures with the iWork suite. iWork features two applications, Keynote 2; an upgrade to the original presentation application and a brand new piece of software called Pages.

Pages fills a void on the mac platform somewhere between Microsoft Publisher and Adobe Pagemaker; a simple user-friendly publishing application. With Adobe`s discontinuation of Pagemaker, low end users no longer had an option on the mac until now. Pages offers a multitude of templates for letters, newsletters, reports, brochures and resumes, that allow users to drag and drop their existing photos and text into.

Apple`s announcements at this expo catered to new and basic users, leaving high end users some what out in the cold, however there were many other exhibitors at MacWorld expo that filled that void.

the tease begins, he`s talking about the ipods now. 4.5 million ipods sold last christmas. 10 Million total, over 8 million in calendar year 2004.

and here it comes, more car manufacturers adding built-in ipod  adaptors; nissan, mercedes, volvo, ferarri, alfa romero and scion.

itunes on motorola phones announced at CES.

and now the show stopper, a flash ipod player; ipod shuffle. no display, smaller than most packs of gum, weighs less than an ounce. smalled LED display. either shuffle or playlist. USB 2.0, 12 hour rechargable battery, autofill feature from iTunes, share songs and data. two models; 512Mb, 120 songs, $99, 1Gb, 240 songs, $149.

available today.

acessories include a battery extender, sports case, arm band and a dock, available in 4 weeks, $29 each.

oh iWork is $79 and is available January 22.

time for the hardware annoucements. and the rumour sites were right; the Mac Mini.

slot loading combo optical drive, FW, USB2, Ehternet, modem DVI and analog video. it`s small and it`s bring your own display, keyboard and mouse. shipping with Panther and iLife `05, priced at $499 and $599; 256MB, 1.25Ghz G4 and 40 and 80Gb HD.

hour two begins

January 11, 2005 — Leave a comment

i apologise for the stuccato nature of these posts but i`m trying to post as fast as it happens, there will be a more coherent summation either tonight, depending on my access to an internet connection otherwise, it`s going to happen tomorrow.

we`re back to demoing idvd, with all the new features i`m not really getting into because you can read all about it on the regular channels later today.

next up is GarageBand and a new jam pack that features orchestral instruments plus a whole new host of features that will be demoed again by John Mayer who seems to be having a great deal of fun with it. now they`re recording four tracks live which is kind of cool to observe and experience.

iLife `05 free with all new Macs or retailing for $79 and available a week from Friday.

holy shit, Apple takes on MS to some extent with iWork, which features a new version of Keynote and a new word processor called Pages, which is now being demoed by Phil Schiller

and so it begins

January 11, 2005 — Leave a comment

with blather about the new apple stores, 101 to date, 1,000,000 visitors a day. now we`re on the new imac, more blather. we know all this. i`m waiting to be impressed. does this mean the noted reality disrtortion field doesn`t extend into the over flow room.

ooooh tiger, shipping first half of this year, but all the features we knew about all that already. oh wait, a preview.

steve`s demoing spotlight, which is the content finder built into tiger from almost anywhere, in any format. and it crashed, sort of.

next up is the mail app, integrated with spotlight, more integration with all mailboxes, smart mailboxes; allowing you to sort by content; and a slideshow built into the mail application.

also coming with tiger is quicktime 7 with a new codec H.264 and on-screen controls, realtime scaling etc, etc, etc

now dashboard; a series of widgets, including weather, currency exchange, calculator which thus far is the most impressive thing i`ve seen.

ichat also gets a bump, with up to four to video conferences at once using the new H.264 codec and up to 10 simultaneous

audio chats.

on to more stuff, steve has just declared 2005 the year of High Definition Video and just introduced FinalCut Express HD for editing HD.

and as expected iLife `05, with new versions of iPhoto, iDVD, iMovie and GarageBand, not updates for iTunes just yet. more editing features for iPhoto as well as support for RAW format.

in an interesting development, i can`t seem to log into journalspace from the overflow room`s wireless network anymore.

so i`ll just keep typing and hope for the best. imovie has new features including support for HD.

interesting developments, on stage now is the president of Sony to talk about their HD consumer cameras and is singing Apple`s praises as part of making 2005 the year of HD.

a combination of excitement and still being on CST ensured that i was awake by 5:30 this morning, but weather and train delays ensured that i arrived late enough to get stuck in the overflow room watching the keynote on big screens and almost guaranteed none of the actual keynote swag. the room isn`t full yet, but there are still 16 minutes before the keynote begins and there are a lot of journalists standing outside haranguing our handlers for access to the actual area. i`m content at this point to just deal with it. i know what it`s like, i`ve been here before, i should have braved the rain and left earlier.

i have a camera but a fat lot of good it`s going to do me taking pictures of the screen. like this

in news of swag, i managed to pick up at an event last night, the monster ipod car cable; now it`s just left for me to buy an ipod; and a copy of adobe`s indesign.

keep it here, there will be more posts, `live` from the overflow room as the keynote progresses.

the countdown begins

January 7, 2005 — Leave a comment

For the first time in several years, Apple Computer may not provide a live feed of its opening keynote presentation at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco.

read the rest here

however, next Tuesday is going to be one of those multiple posting days, as i`m assured there is wireless access at the keynote and i`ll posting live as details are unveiled from the keynote.

in other news, for firefox users trying to get some more ooomph out the browser here`s a tip that i found here:

# Hit “Control+T” to open a new tab.

# Type “about:config” and hit enter.

# Scroll down to where it says network.http.pipelining

# Double click to change this value to true.

# One below this you should see network.http.pipelining.maxrequests

# Double click this box and change the 4 to 8 [ed.: some sources suggest 30 or 100 instead of 8, which may conceivably seriously tax some web servers… do what you will and may god have mercy on your soul, speed demons].

# Scroll down to where it says network.http.request.max-start-delay (makes the page start to render as soon as your browser starts recieving information)

# Double click and change the value 10 to 0.

# FireFox should now run much faster.

good luck and may the force be with you.

i am exhausted. last night was my first full night of sleep in almost a week, but it was a truly wonderful thanksgiving.

starting last Tuesday night, i got the new drive for my laptop; a huge thank you to my JS benefactor; spent a great deal of time installing a new beta OS, realising it wasn`t working, scrubbing the drive again and cloning everything off my functioning system, managed to stay up until 1am working on that.

Wednesday was even more entertaining, had to get to work early to drop off a print job for a client, then left for what i thought was an hour to drop vic to work and pick up a friend from the airport, managed to be out of the office for three hours, not bad generally, but considering my original plan to leave after lunch, it didn`t look good. i managed to finagle my early departure by pointing out that i had been at the printer after work hours on Tuesday and at the client early on Wednesday. i left the office, picked up the boychick, son of a good friend and my favourite librarian and began the trek to Kingston, TN. Obeying all speed laws made reasonable time, then proceeded to leave the gas sipping Neon there and return to Nashville in my mother in law`s Grand Caravan with a hutch, coffee table and television stand. I was making fairly good time back, traffic and all when the rain came down and i realised how badly the wipers need to be changed. Made a slight detour to Walhell; mea culpa, mea culpa; changed wipers in the rain and got back on the road and home a little before 9pm. not content with how well the new drive was functioning i decided to make a second stab at installing the beta os while i was waiting for SOS who was overnighting to arrive. i managed to completely screw up the installed os, requiring another scrub and attempt and a clean os install. SOS arrived close to midnight and we stayed up until 3am catching up.

Thursday was a little less hectic but just barely. after the two late nights, we didn`t managed to get up until late, well i was up earlier than everyone else, but was trying to get my machine to work the way i wanted it to while everyone else was asleep. i managed to get the beta os up and running but i wasn`t getting my mail and resorted to dumping the mail folder and trying to import my old mail, not fun, since i also lost all my signatures and all my rules, since i`ve been accumulating them since 2000, i wasn`t looking forward to redoing all of that manually. i abandoned the computer to accompany vic to CSG`s first annual non-traditional thanksgiving feast which was spectacular fun. it was vic, CSG, Ms Te and us, the significant otters, dining on home made fajitas, playing trivial pursuit; girls against boys, we won and then monopoly; i won. we returned home for pie making and savouring the fact that we had the house to ourselves. there was no hope for a full night`s sleep on Thursday because i had to pick up two Trini friends from the bus station at 2:45am, being awake enough to drive to pick them up, threw off my sleep cycle and i had to get up early to take vic to work anyway.

Friday was the first encounter with a real bird. i picked vic up from work and along with my two trini friends went to CSG`s parent place on the outskirts of Nashville. there were two birds to chose from; a deep fried cajun turkey and a traditional bird, both of them were lovely and i ate to much, laughed loudly and had and eventually reposed to the couch for a nap.

Saturday was another early morning, with a drive back to Kingston in the picture. note to self, playing freeze tag with the nieces and nephews in the cold wind blowing off the lake, not a good idea on the part of a 33 year old, but it was fun. more consumption of good food, more great conversation, then we took a trip to Knoxville to see another one of vic`s friends and her wonderful house. cue massive amounts of house envy. then back to Kingston too late.

Sunday; waffles, waffles, waffles and an early departure back to Nashville to beat the traffic, a pit stop at the Eddie Bauer outlet to look for a leather jacket, nice jackets, but nothing i could afford.

I am driven out, but i wouldn`t have changed anything about this weekend. good friends, good food, good company. i am truly thankful for my life.