MacWorld-SF 06

Since I wrote some last year about the then newly announced products at MacWorld, I thought I might post some thoughts on this year’s as well. I stated last year’s theme was affordability (with the announcement of the Mac mini and the iPod shuffle). I’d say this year’s theme is more like play catch up .

FM Tuner for iPod

Yawn. Radio is dead. Plus, aren’t there existing third party solutions here or even portable media players with integrated FM tuners?

PhotoCasting in iPhoto

This comes across as Apple trying to push .mac1 and iLife as Web2.0 hip services. I’m not saying the functionality shouldn’t be there, it’s just that it always has been with a Flickr account and a 3rd party (free) iPhoto plug-in. Getting some tighter integration will be nice, especially for those who just want a simple and intuitive place to do all of this. However, no earth is shattered with this announcement. Also, could that be a more lame name? Apple didn’t even create podcasting, so to use photocasting feels very "me too."

iMovie & Garageband – Now With Podcasting!

Again with the catching up to podcasting (remember adding it to iTunes 9 months after it caught on?). I’ve only recently gotten into playing with iMovie and for the most part, it was pretty robust. However, adding the ability to work with multiple files and also video podcasting is a nice feature. Not all projects need to be full-length feature films destined for DVD and this sort of recognizes that fact.

I confess I have zero experience with GarageBand, but adding podcasting here is another nice feature. Integrating iChat for interviews while recording is also nice. However, I wonder if phone-recording laws apply and if there’s come cute pop-up warning.

iWeb

Okay, here comes Apple’s biggest catch-up yet: iWeb for sharing stuff online. Kind of a easy link between the rest of iLife and .mac (or presumably whatever other online place you have to park stuff). Again, people have been doing this on macs all along with plug-ins and by virtue of some know-how. Now Apple steps in and ties it together for those who want it really simple. Nothing wrong with any of that, it just should have been here earlier. Now it just feels as though they wish they’d though of Flickr, or podcasting, or Blogger, or whatever.

I’m not trying to come down on the software, as Apple typically writes nice software that is very easy to use. I just am surprised at Apple’s "not designed here" attitude that seems much more like what I expect from Sony or Microsoft.

iWork ’06

Apparently they have finally realized that some of us use spreadsheets (a lot!) and have added (at least) tables with calculations2 within iWork. Of course this isn’t worth too much of Jobs’ time in his key note. Doesn’t speak much for iWork as a office suite (or for doing work on a Mac), does it?

New iMac – Now with more Intel!

Pretty much the same machine, but now with a dual-core Intel processor. People have been guessing they’d release new machines with Intel chips every day since the first announcement last June. I’d say this is much earlier than I had figured they’d do it, though. I was truly expecting at least a year (June ’06) for them to roll these out. According to Intel, this is now 2-3x faster than the iMac G5. I suppose they made Apple eat their video-tape of that old burning Intel bunny suit commercial. The really amazing thing here, in my opinion, is that OS X 10.4.4 is completely native on the Intel chip, as are the new "universal" programs (iLife ’06 and iWork ’06). Of course, you’ll have to pay $49 to upgrade your old Pro apps for a universal disc. I suppose that’s a drop in the bucket if you’re shelling out for a new machine and for all that pricey software (albeit, very nice software that makes me drool).

Rosetta is also on the Intel machine, but does that just mean that your old PowerPC machine apps will run fine (or, at least marginally okay)?

The New MacBook Pro – Laptops, now with more Intel!

Of course this is the major announcement of the day and it is, without a doubt, significant. The only "catch up" aspect of these new machines is that this is probably where Apple hoped to be with their laptops about six months ago, in terms of speed and power consumption. However, I think these are (going to be, since they don’t ship until next month) the premium in laptops, if not computers, period. If anyone was expecting Apple to start with the low end machines and work their way up, they completely busted that theory.

Well, that’s all for my blogging about the news from Apple-land. I was following the key note address from Steve Jobs via MacRumors.com during my lunch break, but that’s over now and it’s time to get back to my day job. I’m very impressed with the new Apple machines but a bit underwhelmed with the software announcments. I’m always curious to hear what my mac lovin’ friends and family think, so feel free to let me know.

Engadget has some photos from the presentation. Still waiting on Apple to update their site. They just did, and several of the pages now have some Quicktime (?) movie that crashes FireFox. Great.

  1. 2006-01-12 Update: George Hotelling has some much more thorough and clear thoughts on iLife and .mac, and also points out that .mac is required for photocasting. That really makes this a proprietary system, on the publishing end, and of little interest to me, personally. []
  2. Following the link, you’ll note that you’re only allowed to do simple calculations within the table. I’m not sure what "simple" limits you to, but I doubt it’s anything very grand. []

My Pandora Thinks I’m… Okay, It Just Thinks

I just this evening discovered probably the only online streaming web site for music I’ve ever wanted to listen to. That’s because I actually get to dictate what gets played on this station. I really quit listening to radio a few years ago and buying an iPod really sealed that coffin. As much as I hate to admit, I really don’t even listen to public radio anymore, even though Richmond has a great public radio/TV station. We even have a decent indy station, but I just don’t listen.

You see, my problem is that while I really want to discover new music, I want to have some control on what direction that takes. Sounds like a conflict, doesn’t it? Well, not so much. I’m just particular about what I want and while other people who know me can make terrific recommendations, most DJ’s and the like have no idea what I’m going to like.

So, for the past few years, I’ve used Amazon.com, iTunes Music Store, and Metacritic to track down new music when no one I knew and who in turn, knew my tastes, was making recommendations for me. They’ve worked well, but I still felt like I was only just listening down the same path I’d been on for quite a while. Well, this evening I was listening to Inside The Net No. 6 interviewing Tim Westergren, the founder of Pandora and The Music Genome Project. I won’t go into all the gory details of Pandora’s recommendation engine (which is The Music Genome Project), but suffice to say, it is the most advanced I’m aware of. Better yet, it is as simple as naming your favorite song or artist or just as complicated and in depth as you wish to make it. Even better still, it is completely free. Not only is there no charge, it is interconnected such that I can be at iTMS or Amazon.com with just a couple of clicks.

So while our TiVo may think1 that we’re raving lunatics for slasher films and Amazon.com thinks I wish to purchase every building code ever written, Pandora is really pointing in the right direction. Time will tell how useful it is, but so far I’m very impressed.

  1. This and my title are in reference to a well-known Wall Street Journal (subscription required) article titled "Oh No!, My TiVo Thinks I’m Gay"by Jeffrey Zaslow. The article really captured what so many people were noticing about recommendation engines and led to some refinement in TiVo’s system. However, our TiVo still has a long way to go. []

‘Ol Blue Eyes

Last week, while on a job site inspection some building foundations1, I had what must be the strangest conversation with a contractor yet:

Contractor (to me): Yeah, so we’ll just have the additional bars delivered in the morning rather than attempt use some replacements… say, is that your natural eye color or do wear some sort of contacts?

Well, uh, I do wear contacts, but this is my natural eye color. I suppose I get that a lot, though.

Contractor (to soils guy): Seriously, take a look at this guys eyes. Isn’t that the wildest eye color you’ve ever seen?

At this point, I have little choice but to stare at the soils guy right in the eye like a crazed person.

Soils guy: Huh. I think my baby will have similar eyes, since my wife is white and has green eyes. (He’s olive skinned and obviously foreign-born, perhaps Greek or Turkish).

Contractor: Well, they’re really wild looking, anyway, man. Talk to you next week.

I have a brief conversation with the soils guy before walking to my car simply shaking my head. It’s not everyday I have a burly construction superintendent comment on my eye color.

  1. Foundations which may or may not, Kevin, have a box of voodoo magic underneath them. []

Dude, Where’s My Car?

Parking Garage

When I fly where ever, I find it’s easiest just to leave my car parked at the long term garage (as opposed to a taxi or a friend). Before I go on my trip, I empty my camera’s memory card. The first photos I take on my trip are my parking spot number and the section of the garage I’m parked in. That way, when I return, there’s no worry in trying to find my car. Sure I could just write it down, but this is even faster. Now, I just turn the camera on and scroll back around to the first photo.

The Check Is In The Mail

It looks like I’m not the only one who can’t figure out what year it is (or was, in this case):

Dear Jason Coleman,Your Epson $20.00 rebate check has been sent via 1st class mail on 12/28/2006. Please allow adequate time for delivery.Sincerely,Epson Rebate Administrator

From an e-mail I recieved today regarding some Holiday shopping rebating.

Forward, Backward, and Right Now

It’s the first day of a new year and I am looking forward to it in a big way. Of course, that attitude springs from having had such a great past year. Angela and I went on a couple of adventures to Paris and Hawai’i this past year. I started a new job and also (finally) obtained my professional license. Angela’s job reached a turning point this past year and she has been very happy there, as well.

Since this is my web-site, it wouldn’t seem right to pass up the opportunity to speak to how big 2005 was for the web and blogging. You can go to Google News and read all about how so many people got into blogging in the past year and how they made as much news they reported. However, on a much more personal level, 2005 represented the opportunity for me to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones. I read so much about social web applications and I certainly would have been skeptical had I not been benefiting from how fun and effective they could be at communicating.

I think the coming year will better (technology marches on) with regards to connecting with friends and family. I’m learning more how to benefit from what’s out there and doing my best to spread the word amongst everyone so we can all be a little more in touch. We’ve got some great tools to keep up with what is going on with everyone and their interests. I’m sure we’ll get some even better ones in the next year and the ones we have will begin to work better together. Knowing that we’re going to have some new tools is exciting, and hopefully some of my friends will be putting some great new tools, too.

As for right now, it’s been great to see family and friends in person (Of course, that’s what we’d always do if we could but we can’t). While blogs are great for learning about the day-to-day news of people and getting to know more about their inner thoughts, there’s really no substitute for the spontaneous interaction of being together. We get to laugh with one another and we get to let the conversation flow in ways that just one person couldn’t think of. It’s been wonderful to see both of our families and all our friends from Cookeville and Nashville. Reading blogs, checking up on Flickr photos, following on dugg stories or Del.icio.us links are so much fun when we’re apart, but getting to hug our friends and laugh with them is what we’re really just biding our time for.

Well, enough about blogging about it. I’m going to hang out with our flesh-and-blood relatives while we still can. Have a great 2006.