Sep 032009

Beatles logoExhibit A: The entire discography is to be re-released on 9.9.

Exhibit B: The Beatles: Rock Band is released on 9.9.

Exhibit C: Apple organizes a large ipod-related press conference on 9.9.

A+B+C = Beatles back catalogue to appear in iTunes?

Perhaps not, since the tagline for the conference is straight out of a classic Rolling Stones song.

Then again, the boys in Cupertino have proven themselves to be wily indeed.

My only Beatles-record is a wobbly russian vinyl edition of the White Album, so I’m pretty much settled on the idea of buying at least some of the albums. Perhaps the entire set, if a properly priced deal on the collection is available. And the Rock Band game, definitely the game.

May 052009

Following Apple’s surprise banning of the Nine Inch Nails application from the Appstore, Trent Reznor takes off on warpath.

And quite rightly so – the objectionable bit in the application, access to the 1994 Downward Spiral album, is available in iTunes.

But apparently less offensive as a plain download than through the application.

Round 2.5 is the interview in Radar.

Mar 092009

Apple and a big batch of touchscreens, five scenarios derived from the leaked news. The big screened ipod is by far the most credible alternative – a wholesale move to a pure touch-interface seems too farfetched for the company’s mainstream computers. Then again, this might be something completely different, it’s not as if Apple’s moves in the last years have been predictable at all.

Sep 102008

The reality distortion field has been parted once again. This time the Apple event concentrated on music-related products (and a note about an emergency firmware patch to the ailing 3G iPhone).

While the storage capacities of the new players are indeed big, and billions of songs have been sold throughout the years – the most telling statistic of iPod’s absolute dominance over competition is the fact that 90% of cars sold in the US feature an integrated dock for the device.

I’m pretty happy with my current 8GB nano, but am seriously tempted by the second generation of iPod touches. Considering that the price drop is substantial, the threshold to buy is definitely getting lower. And the new version of iTunes will be rolled in in a couple of days.

Apr 282008

In an unexpected turn of events, Psystar, the alleged supplier of cloned Macintosh computers has been proven legit.

Legit in the sense that someone’s been able to capture a machine on video, not to the extent of being legal in any way.

Bets on Apple suing the proverbial socks off the company are taken at the usual bookies.

Jan 152008

Apple logo

It’s mid-january, it’s time for Macworld, the regular parting of the reality distortion field, when Steve Jobs shows which products are going to line his pockets with cash.

The show did not disappoint this time around either.

This time the star of the show was the next-generation laptop, MacBook Air. Whose most remarkable feature is its positively anorectic depth – at its thickest the laptop is less than two centimeters thick, and correspondingly, its weight. Software-wise, the biggest innovation is probably the introduction of iPhone-originated multi-touch gestures via an over-sized trackpad.

MacBook Air dimensions

The new features come surprisingly cheap, and the battery life (at five hours) isn’t anything to scoff at either.

As a recent buyer of a new laptop, the excuses not to utterly covet this baby are few, but not insignificant. It’s brand-new technology, and Apple has had serious release1.0-issues in the past, so stability might be an issue. The lack of software that’s aware of the multi-touch capabilities will take a while to arrive. The sales volumes will overwhelm production, and the availability will be an issue. On-board HD-capacity is really expensive. There, there. Feel better already. A little.

Dec 232007

Someone at Apple seems to have had a very bad december thus far:

Exhibit A: first thinksecret shuts down following a settlement.

Exhibit B: then Fake Steve Jobs is hit with a second suit, the company hoping to silence another voice with money. And in a truly Kafka-esque moment, the plaintiff is threatened with loss of assets unless three bad entries in the blog are retracted, each one of them being more or less obvious (the “just a single button in the iPhone” hovering even near a real issue).

I’m betting on zealous lawyers, not company policy.

Lawyers whose bumbling actions will probably end up in the doghouse on account of massive amounts of bad publicity.

Nov 232007

Bought a new computer the other week, and got it delivered tuesday evening. Apple’s web store proved to be efficient, and hit the delivery schedule spot on in the estimation.

I moved into the mac camp more than two years ago, and had no intention of straying from Steve’s disciples. lynch, the replacement of gromit the iBook, is a Powerbook Pro. Sleek and metallic, and hopefully powerful enough to last the next few years as the generic computation device of choice in the HQ.

Leopard, which was supposed to come pre-installed, wasn’t. But with the provided dvd that was quickly taken care of. Though not without a hitch, as the admin password for the Tiger-installation proved to be more significant than assumed (yeah, to be able to upgrade the operating system you have to remember said password).

While the iBook had a decent screen, the LED-powered screen the new laptop has is leaps and bounds ahead. And the extra real estate and brightness does not come at the expense of battery life either. Quite the opposite, as a fully charged battery clocks in at unexpectedly above four hours.

The keyboard is less plastic than that of the iBook, but sizewise there is no significant change. The illumination in low-light conditions has yet to prove its worth. As has the automagical brightness adjustment of the screen. Disabled both on account of occasionally triggering them accidentally in normal sofa conditions. And first worrying whether my flu medicine has kicked in an extra gear in surrealism.

The famed new release of OS X, Leopard has been stable and not too changed from the Tiger. Which is to say that I haven’t been playing with the Spaces or the Timemachine yet. The latter supposedly kicks in uncomfortably when an external drive is connected, something bound to happen when bringing in music and photographs from gromit.

Installed lots of mandatory applications instead of fiddling with the operating system. No firefox 3 yet, it’s too early in the cycle for that. Safari 3, on the other hand, seems to work well, and doesn’t go on memory consumption binges like firefox recently has every now and then. Though its lack of “where this link points to”-info field is more than a cosmetic demerit. Canon’s site was spectacularly slow, so camera software has to wait (and iPhoto may be able to pull the images out anyway). Nokia’s brand spanking new PC-Suite Light for the Mac shows some definitely interesting tools as well.

No games yet (apart from ScummVM and a multi-talented interactive fiction interpreter). Lynch ought to pack enough power to facilitate gaming natively (I’m dreading my first step into the inevitable MMORPG addiction), with a bootcamped Windows XP (as soon as I find an SP2-equipped XP installation disk) and virtualization. With both VMWare and Parallels bringing circa-2003 XP on the desktop with ease, and there’s no disrespecting DosBox emulator either. One of the three alternatives will, sooner or later, provide the ability to finish classics such as Planescape:Torment and Fallout 2 comfortably on the sofa.

Oct 252007

Tomorrow Apple launches Leopard, the sixth incarnation of OS X, which ought to line the company’s pockets even further (not that they’re already brimming from the sales of ipods and iphones).

Gromit the iBook has been a faithful servant for years (entry called whoopsie tells the story of the purchase), but the time’s come to upgrade.

I’m definitely settled on a laptop, but undecided between the regular and pro version of the Macbook. The former is a bit cheaper, but the latter boasts a bit funkier looks and a non-integrated graphics card. Which might actually come in handy, when the machine contains means to run windows (and games) natively. Nope, I don’t harbour any illusions on being able to kick it with the likes of Alan Wake, but Civilization 4 would be good indeed…

There’s been no indication of any serious upcoming hardware upgrades, though the extended touchpad for iPhone-like multi-touch would be a nice addition.

Jun 112007

The WWDC is upon us, and it means that St. Steve of Jobs will appear on stage to preach to the choir. Some of whom carry means to convey the message almost live. (Yeah, many other sites do pretty good coverage, as well, I picked engadget, sue me).

While the apparent return of Macintosh as a decent game platform probably raised quite a few eyebrows, it’s the next incarnation of OS X, Leopard, that’s the most interesting topic of the presentation.

We’ve got a basic version that will cost $129,
we’ve got a Premium Version which will cost $129…
We’ve got a business version! $129.
Ultimate version! We’re throwing everything into it, it’s $129.

Steve Jobs

Yes. Unlike Vista, with its half a dozen different versions, buying Leopard is simple. The official release date is stated to be “in october”.

But it looks like the company is going to be able to keep the iPhone’s imminent launch on the 29th. So the fears of cascading delays pushing it back ought to be on the unwarranted side.

Jan 152007

One of the things swept wayside by the media torrent known as the iPhone is the Apple TV that’ll be released in february. From appearances and description alone, the Cupertino folks are taking the battle of the set-top box seriously – Microsoft is trying to counter the process with new functionality in Xbox 360.

Even less attention was given to the beta-release of Dashcode, the tool to create Dashboard Widgets. Until now the creation of such (for the likes of, say, Konfabulator and Opera) has not been productized at all. Not that it’d matter, since the languages involved are Turing complete, but for debugging purposes the new tool seems to be formidably better than logging from javascript.

Jan 152007

So, I was caught in a connectivity-free zone last week, when Steve Jobs launched the iPhone in the MacWorld keynote – an event that was covered in the media across the world in an unprecedented depth (after all, the company is trying for a measly 1% of the market).

Despite its well-advertised shortcomings the gadget is undeniably cool – and it probably will sell like hotcakes once it is released.

While a lot of the facts about the forthcoming phone are undisputable (like the lack of 3G in the initial release), there’s a lot of uncertainty in the community.

The following is a list of the more useful information sources that I’ve come across during the week (and it’ll probably be updated at irregular intervals – when interesting additional tidbits surface):

  • Start from the basics: Apple’s product page.
  • New York Times’ David Pogue’s iPhone FAQ, parts 1 and 2.
  • Jason Kottke’s impressive roundup of links (I’ll attempt to avoid duplicates between his selection and mine).
  • First indication that the phone will be application-locked, that is, users will not be able to install software on it.
  • And directly attempting to reverse the above decision: pleas to allow exactly that from 43 folders and Tim O’Reilly.
  • Inspired commentary in Hesari’s 5G blog.

As a telecommunications device the iPhone is not too hot – it’s missing a lot of key features (a real keyboard for starters – I just can so not see anyone writing a 400 character SMS on the virtual one). The 2MP camera is too late 2005 to qualify as a useful camera – the picture management software may be great, but the camera likely will not. And as a music device it’s outstripped by the company’s own iPod – we’ll be fiddling with 100GB gadgets (and 16GB nanos) by the time the phone debuts.

So, what’s left is a seriously bling-bling user interface. Screenwise the iPhone is head and shoulders above the competition, and the Apple’s famed UI-engineers can probably conjure up something that will be usable by both absolute beginners and scarred veterans.

If nothing else, the upcoming phone will give the competition a good scare, and probably advance the user interface technology by several leaps and bounds when the incumbent manufacturers are forced to react to the innovations of the upstart. Competition is always good – so the new entrant ought to be welcomed. And simultaneously treated with a healthy amount of suspicion and doubt – after all, it has taken Microsoft forever and day to come up with an adequate mobile phone.

As a rather recent Apple fanboy I will be keeping my eyes open for the phone, but likely will not seriously consider buying it immediately (after all, the law of 1.0 still holds true).

Jan 052007

Wired has posted a set of ten questions that Apple must answer in 2007.

Good questions, all of them, and a lot of them have nothing to do with the product portfolio. And surprisingly, there’s nothing about the predicted Apple phone on the list, even though it’s the most hyped item on the agenda.