Sunday, May 28, 2006

Mac News Shorts

The Good:
Bloggers Win One vs. Apple
A California appeals court has sided with bloggers, saying that Apple has no legal right to subpoena information from them regarding alleged employees' leakage of product information. The blogs involved were and AppleInsider. There were a couple issues involved. One was Apple's right to subpoena without providing any evidence that they had exhausted their own search methods for the identity of the employee. The other issue was that Apple contended these blogs were not journalistic in nature and not subject to First Amendment protection. The court clearly stated that there is no metric to decide if something is journalistic or not, and that to do so would violate the First Amendment.

"In addition to being a free speech victory for every citizen reporter who uses the Internet to distribute news, today's decision is a profound electronic privacy victory for everyone who uses email," said EFF Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "The court correctly found that under federal law, civil litigants can't subpoena your stored email from your service provider."
(Sources: TUAW, EFF, PowerPage)

My reaction? Woohoo! This is the correct and appropriate ruling. We all know the MSM (mainstream media) is full of crap and has no more journalistic integrity than any other human being that publishes anything. We also know that you don't need a license or permission to call yourself a media source in the US. (China is another matter...) In today's world where average people have very effective means to communicate to the masses, any such certification would be met with derision. But perhaps the best news is that all those righteous MacSheep who screamed that these blogs were giving away trade secrets and their publishers should be hauled off to jail if they didn't comply... well those pinheads can now officially f--- themselves. Time for Apple to go after their leaky employees, not weblogs that work hard to promote their products.

The Bad:
Buy one iPod per year!
Steve Jobs suggests that people should be buying an iPod a year if they want to have the best stuff in an interview with NBC (via Engadget).

My take: Hmmm, well if you would make one worth buying every year... I love my nano, despite the scratches. But I also want to love my 3G iPod - but it seems to have stopped uploading new files and crashes iTunes. I don't want to buy the newer video iPod - too big a body & too small a screen for movies. Yup, I might purchase v2 of the video iPod if they address these problems. But until then, I'm not interested. I don't think I'm the only one who feels this way.

The Ugly:
New eMacs Coming?
AppleInsider is reporting that Apple is working hard on a slimmed down replacement of their eMac line, sporting Intel processors and perhaps LCD screens. Engadget has a nice mock-up of what it could look like.

My reaction? *Yawn*. With the inexpensive MacBooks and Intel Minis, does Apple need another inexpensive machine? Perhaps for mass sales to public school systems it could be useful. But Apple really needs to get off its collective ass and make a truly portable laptop @2kg or less. There is an entire market they are kissing off by ignoring this, particularly here in Japan.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Nike + Apple = Nipple!

Apparently Apple and Nike are teaming up to enhance your iPod experience. Apple will soon sell its "iPod Sports Kit" - which when paired with special Nike shoes (Nike+) will help you keep track of your work out. There seems to be some wireless plug that goes into your dock connector slot that receives signals from a sensor you jam into a special pocket on your Nike+ shoe. Apparently it gives you some vocal coaching, along with 'Nike Sport Music content' (yuck!).

Although the ad suggests it works just with the nano, I recall reading somewhere it might work with iPodVideo - just more to haul around.

Apparently, it will also allow you to share your data on the internet, and see who is kicking your ass on the track.

My thoughts:
-Sort of intrigued by this idea... but let's skip the whole shoe thing and come up with a cyberpunk body implant that will send those signals so it can be used with any sport! Wire the implant to your heart and bioelectric fields on the muscle groups you want to stimulate. Then sell the software module you need for the activity you do. Better yet, make the iPod an implant too. I want my Nipple™ implant today!

-Since I can't run anymore, because my hip joint is turning to powder, it's not much use to me. I'm wondering how many Nihonjin will suddenly become joggers because of this...

-If millions of poor kids get their moms to sew pockets on their non-Nike shoes - will it still work? Probably some stupid disclaimer on the warranty.

-If I take the freaking sensor and wave it around in the air for an hour or tie it to the pedal of my bike, can cheat my way to the top of the internet listing for runners? :-)

-If Barry Bonds uses one of these things, can we put an asterisk next to his name on any listing?

BlogZot for Pzizz

Pzizz is software for your computer that is supposed to help you take effective (relaxing & revitalizing) naps. You can export the sounds and upload them to your iPod for portable 'naps'. I've long wanted to get this software, but balked at the price.

Now it looks like MacZot is going to give us a chance to lower the price of Pzizz software, via its BlogZot program, by $15. Blogger's may get a chance at a Free Sleep module ($20). The BlogZot site also says they'll add this app to their current BlogZot bundle, at least I think so.

My curiousity is piqued by Pzizz, given my insomniac hours.

The blurb for MacZot bloggers to post is below: Fans want Pzizz because 'According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep deprivation and its effect on work performance may be costing U.S. employers some $18 billion each year in lost productivity. Another study pushes this cost to over $100 billion.' - link to full article

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

SanDisk Ad Campaign - My Brother's Idea?

Engadget is reporting something from iLounge - an ad campaign by SanDisk to take market away from the iPod. The above image is part of their campaign, supposedly. My Mac-hating brother would absolutely love this... I find it sort of funny too, in an iconoclastic way.

Unfortunately, iDon' doesn't open any real sites, as far as I can tell.

UPDATE: You can find the whole campaign at:

Funny stuff!

MacZot Scavenger Hunt: CollaboZOT

This might be of interest to some of you. MacZot is having a virtual scavenger hunt to figure out the apps in its MysteryZot (several apps they bundle together) during this week. Users can band together in teams of 1-5 to find some clues hidden in software and on the net. However, I'm not sure how one actually joins a team. (I thought I did, but I don't see any notification...) And after kludging my way through the first clue, I can't figure out how to go further.

Oh well - if any of you want to join my team - great. If I can figure out what it is... :-)

Monday, May 22, 2006

My Quick Impressions of the New MacBrick

I had a chance to briefly take a look at a MacBook this afternoon while playing tour guide to Akihabara for some visitors from Hawaii. I popped into the fake Apple store - the MAC store, and stole away from my charges for a few minutes to see the MacBook (MB) while they piddled with iPod accessories.

They had two, a black and a white MacBook. I tried both keyboards, and have to say they felt inferior to that on my 12" G4 PB. There is also actual space between the keys, giving them a sort of hard edge I don't care for. I also noted that one of the MBs was missing two keys. I have no idea if this was customer abuse or a QC problem.

Both MBs were lacking batteries (like Jason observed in another store), but felt quite heavy anyway. Big plastic-coated bricks...

I'm starting to wonder if batteries are removed for other reasons, however. Such as to prevent their theft or problems when the magnetic plug is yanked.

Performance I didn't have a chance to futz with, given time. But these are not very attractive products in my opinion. And I didn't even notice the glossy screen.

Oh well - let's hope Apple gives us a truly portable laptop soon...

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Store Impression of MacBook

MacKenchi's man on the street - Jason - took the time to email me his impressions of the new MacBook at a Japanese electronics retailer yesterday. Here is what he said (though slightly edited).

"Just laid hands on a MacBook. very nice design, keyboard is good for typing, mag latch is very cool. Mag AC plug is very nice.

I don't like the glossy screen at all. Matte black (case) looks odd and dull, but a glossy case would have been cool. Bic Camera deviously doesn't have the battery in the display models. I pointed this out to the staff and asked if it was because it was too omoi (heavy). She said "yes"! Other than the weight and glossy screen, a very nice system."

I wonder how many other retailers will display the MacBook in this way. I'm not sure you would see that in the US or Europe. Hopefully, I'll get a peek at the MacBook Sunday on my pilgrimage to Akihabara.

(Check out Jason's site at:

SandVox 1.0 Released - better than iWeb

Web page building on the Mac has been a bit kludgy, until recently. Unless you wanted to just directly type html code and upload it to your webserver, WYSIWYG apps were not very WYSIWYG and difficult to use.

RapidWeaver is a relatively inexpensive app ($35) that has gained in functionality and features since its release. However, the knock on RW has been that it isn't so user friendly, support is not always sufficient, and purchasing additional templates and plugins can add up. [I have little experience with RW, so this is second hand.]

iWeb was released early this year by Apple along with its iLife suite. Steve Jobs touted its user friendliness, and many Mac users enjoy its easy learning curve. Unfortunately, iWeb was designed to work with Apple's .Mac service, though it is possible to design sites for non-.Mac hosts. The biggest gripes are in its extremely simple and limited features. And, geez, iWeb templates are absolutely horrible, with few other options available.

Karelia software is a small company that has been working on a user friendly web editor and were on the verge of being 'scooped' by Apple's January iWeb release before they could get their app to market. So, Karelia released a beta version of its web app - SandVox and has been working on it with beta testers for several months. I downloaded the first beta version of SandVox (SV) and found it unusable - completely. I came back a couple months later to see if it had improved and found that all of the major problems in the first version were gone, and other than a few interface issues and export problems - it was a much improved product. The feedback and responsiveness of Karelia folks to my requests, problems, and bugs were excellent. It's clear that they worked closely with all their serious beta testers, as it is now a fairly polished product.

Karelia finally released SandVox v1.0 today with two versions: Basic Sandvox - $39, and Sandvox Pro - $69. The pro version has some html customization features - and perhaps others, though I've not had a chance to mess with it much yet. SandVox' big advantage is in ease of use (easier than iWeb) without sacrificing functionality. I feel its interface is superior to iWeb. And frankly its templates beat iWeb's to a pulp (and you get more of them with the app).
SandVox also plays nice with .Mac as well as other servers. Uploading content from it in FTP mode is a breeze (though there yet may be a few bugs to work out with SFTP).

I'd like to compare it directly with RW, but haven't had time to do so as yet. From what I can tell so far, RW excels in customization and features. However, SV may be the easiest web page builder on the planet.

So, my recommendation is go and get SV soon. This program is ideal for folks with little experience on computers and the internet. And it's likely that Karelia will work hard to improve future versions, given their zest during product development.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

New MacBooks Released - Overweight and Underwhelming

Apple released the new MacBooks today, a day on which no events were planned, though ThinkSecret predicted they would appear at this time.

The Good:

  • New MacIntels broaden the product line.
  • Relatively cheap laptops ($1099-1599 or ¥134,800-179,800)
  • Accessories: built in iSight, Front Row, & Apple Remote
  • Color options - white or black
  • 6 hour battery life

The Bad:
  • VERY heavy - 5.2lbs, a pound more than the 12" PB and slightly more than the 13" G4 iBook
  • Color options - to get black, you have to get the most expensive model.
  • Graphics - Instead of an ATI uses Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950, which, I'm told, sucks. Also has only 64MB of video memory!

The Ugly:
  • The Name: iBook was so much better, and it's sad to see it go. MacBook is just not cool.
  • The Unit: From the promo photos, this just isn't an attractive computer in my view.
  • Glossy screen - actually I like this, but lots of folks do not.
  • Keyboard - this appears to be something different than on the MacBookPro's - have to see it in person, but looks ugly.

The Word:

I think this may be a nice entry level laptop option for those folks wanting something like the old iBook - sort of like a portable version of an Intel MacMini.

However, I'm pretty pissed that Apple can't design/produce something that is comparable to weight and features on Windows laptops. It's at least pound too heavy, and not fast enough to get excited.

Professional users want a small, fast, light laptop. Japan public transport commuters want something light. And women want something that looks cute. Apple just doesn't get it, and I have to wonder if Japanese Mac laptop sales will fall further.

Say it isn't so, Steve! Give us a truly portable laptop, that our wives will want to bring home.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

すごい UltraPortable

Check this out! Wow! ¥144,000 and runs XP with all the bells and whistles like: Bluetooth, Wifi, 3 USB ports, touch screen, camera, chat cam, and hardware keyboard. Engadget has some English stats if you are interested. US price will be higher, most likely.

It goes without saying that it would be cool if Apple could design something as cool as this to run OSX.

Mac News Shorts

  • iPhone - a rumor that the Japanese company 'SoftBank' was working with Apple to develop a supposed iPhone got around two days ago, but has been all but denied. It was originally reported by Nihon Keizai Shimbun, but SoftBank denied any such product announcment without totally ruling out the possibility (AppleInsider). You might recall that SoftBank is supposed to take over the Japan Vodaphone division. This would be a big feather in their cap. Breaking into Japan's keitai market is a major challenge to Apple or any other company, so don't hold your breath.

  • Product Announcements? - Apple will hold a press event to mark the opening of their New York City store this Thursday. There are indications that the supposed new laptop and updated iPods could be announced at this event, or even earlier during the week in a less flashy manner (AppleInsider) . Let's hope something is announced, regardless of the venue.

  • TUAW Censorship? - Apparently, comments I post to TUAW articles on their website are now being filtered out, based on my primary email address. I've tried several times adding comments, but failed. By changing my email address, I am able to publish. I guess I should expect it, given my harsh tone on their promotion of Yahoo services and lack of content in many articles (like reporting the iTunes store releases). I think TUAW does a better job of Mac news than MacNN, and they certainly have more articles. However, they stretch for content many times when they don't need to. Oh well, I'll get over it.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Death Blow to Windows

The other day, I was talking to the computer lab guy, "J", from my campus about Windows Vista. He's about my age, and quite knowledgeable about PCs - but a Windows guy. J is one of those PC folks who isn't a Windoze bigot, and has always been impressed with what I do with Macs.

On this day, we got around to something he often ends up saying when we talk computers, "Apple should release their OS for use on any Intel machine."

Usually, I respond to this with, "Well - it will never happen, because Apple wants to control their hardware or they can't make enough profit to survive."

However, before I could repeat this mantra - I stopped. I asked "J" when he thought Vista might come out. And he replied, "June... of NEXT year." He also explained that several of Vista's intended features were sidelined - yet the timetable still was delayed.

At this point, I had an epiphany of sorts. Why doesn't Apple release OSX for non-Apple PCs RIGHT NOW? I mean, this is the PERFECT time. Vista isn't anywhere near completion, and there is a vast market of Windoze users getting fed up with their OS falling behind. And if Apple's OSX is solid enough for general use, they would absolutely mop up the floor with disenfranchised Windoze users.

And right now is the time, when MS and Windoze are at their most vulnerable state. If Apple did this and plays their cards right, it would literally be a "coup de gras" to Windows.

My friend "J" agrees, and affirms that he'd buy OSX if it were available.

So, how about it Steve? The time is ripe.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

No New Macs Today

Ummm, well... looks like there will be no new Macs released today or even this week. AppleInsider claims they they will come out "later this month" along with some changes to the iPod line. ThinkSecret stumbles all over itself and claims that the new Macs will come out next week, and indicates supply problems are the reason for their delay.

I have to wonder, like other pundits, whether all these rumors were engineered by Apple in order to generate increased interest in their next product release. Or to make ThinkSecret look bad.

(Note: Image from TUAW.)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

New 13" Mac Laptop Coming?

Well, rumor has it that Apple will announce its third Intel laptop on May 9th (the 10th to us in Japan). Think Secret claims that they'll call it the MacBook (BOO!) and that it will come in two colors: black and white (Yawn).

It's not entirely clear to me that this story is accurate, but I certainly welcom a new laptop. But if the details are accurate I would be a bit disappointed. I favor keeping 'iBook' as a name for consumer laptops. MacBook just doesn't roll off the tongue so nicely. I also hope they'll release something other than a monochrome color - though not fluorescent.

Again, I feel these laptops need to be thin, lightweight (<1.5kg!) and attractive to women to return to prominence in the Japan market. I know my wife won't want one otherwise.

I just don't get why Apple can't release a truly kick-ass laptop. They are rollin' in dough and on a spending spree, according to TUAW. Apparently they threw $700 on retail outlets and the Apple campus. How about ramping up the R&D for the computing platform, eh?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

7-11 iPod Sales

I sort of remember hearing we might be able to purchase iPods in convenience stores, but was totally surprised to see it several days ago. In the past, I had seen iTunes song purchase coupons in my local 7-11 store, behind the main counter. Then a week back, I was picking up my dinner at a 7-11 in Yokosuka and on my way to the counter something caught my eye. I thought "Oh, iPod songs", and was curious about the cost of songs when I saw boxes saying 'iPod' on them.

Being the Mac nerd that I am, I looked closer, and was surprised to see boxes containing all current iPod models, as well as some accessories. To be accurate, however, I should explain that the iPod boxes didn't contain any actual iPods - they were empty. You bring the box to the counter, they scan the price, and pull out the iPod from their stockroom or something. (This is standard practice in many electronics retailers here for various pocketable items, such as memory cards and game cartridges.)

Apparently, MacNN reported on this possibility in October and said some iPod models would have to be delivered in a day or two. Akihabara news posted a 7-11 iPod display in February (photo from their article) and it seems a lot of folks posted photos in Flickr or some similar site. So, I guess I'm sort of behind the pack here.

I was struck by how tempting it was to stop and grab an iPod off a display and have it rung up like any other purchase. Selling at a conveni means less hassle for the consumer. You don't have to go to an electronics or computer retailer, just your local 7-11. And you can buy an iPod 24 hours a day!

I can see a new category of iPod sales - the 'Drunken Binge' whim purchase.