Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Apple Fun = iPod HiFi & Intel Mac Minis

Ok so this wasn't totally unexpected. The iPod HiFi is pretty boring in my opinion. The Intel Mac Mini is exciting but a totally predictable move by Apple.

Here's the skinny on the mini from MacRumors:

At the media event February 28th, Apple unveiled a revised Mac mini featuring either a 1.5Ghz Intel Core Solo or 1.66Ghz Core Duo processor, offering up to a 5x increase in overall speed from the previous model. The form factor for the machine remains unchanged.

The new mini sports the Apple Remote with Front Row, up to 2 GB memory, Intel GMA950 graphics processor, DVI connector w/ VGA out option, Slot loading optical drive, up to 120GB hard drive, built-in gigabit ethernet, analog and digital audio, USB & Firewire ports, iLife '06 and Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger.

Additionally, the new mini offers "Shared Music, Photos & Video" which allows the mini to stream music, photos and video wirelessly from other macs on the same subnetwork using Bonjour technology. iTunes TV shows can be streamed.

1.5Ghz Intel Core Solo Model: $599
1.5GHz Intel Core Solo processor
2MB L2 Cache
667MHz Frontside Bus
512MB memory (667MHz DDR2 SDRAM)
60GB Serial ATA hard drive
Combo drive (DVD-ROM/CD-RW)
Built-in AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth 2.0
Apple Remote

1.66Ghz Intel Core Duo Model: $799
1.66GHz Intel Core Duo processor
2MB L2 Cache
667MHz Frontside Bus
512MB memory (667MHz DDR2 SDRAM)
80GB Serial ATA hard drive
Double-layer SuperDrive (DVD+R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
Built-in AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth 2.0
Apple Remote

All Mac mini models also include an integrated Intel GMA950 graphics processor with 64MB of shared DDR2 SDRAM, 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet, four external USB 2.0 ports, FireWire 400 port, optical digital and analog audio in/out, and built-in mono speaker.


Optical audio out and the ability to stream media from other Macs on a network... mmmmm Wonder how the mini would work as a PVR when used with an Elgato?

Very very tempting. Wonder if the 4200rpm drives have been upgraded to 5400rpm now they're SATA? The Core Duo is far better value for money considering you're getting an extra cpu core. Apple willll sell bucketloads of these!

The Ultimate Gadget?

In a little over 4 hours we will know exactly what Apples definition of ‘Fun’ and ‘New’ are.

I have a feeling that we are not looking at anything earth shatteringly good or even particularly *new*, rather just some simple addictions for the iPod line. As Thinksecret.com are reporting an iPod Boombox I’m certain that this is a given, other than that my money is on a Front Row + Remote solution for existing Macs and perhaps some films added to the iTunes Music Store.

But then there is always the ‘one more thing’ isn’t there?  (^_^)

Who's More "Fun", Apple or Microsoft?

According to ARSTechnica (Microsoft's Origami: touchscreen computing, entertainment on the go?) Microsoft will be going head to head with Apple for the "fun" segment with both companies announcing new "fun" products today.

This really confirms one thing:

Microsoft is trying desperately to diversify away from software.

Currently the XBox 360 is operating in a competion free market (PS3 and Revolution are a way off yet). The same cannot be said for the MP3 and PVP market which is extremely congested with tons of companies fighting for the 10% of the market which isn't iPod dominated.

Apple have created an iPod halo which they hope to use to tempt users to switch to the Mac platform. Could the XBox and XBox 360 provide a halo for Microsoft and convince users to buy more Microsoft products in the consumer segment? (Microsoft already have the Halo halo... now I'm confused!)

Monday, February 27, 2006

Games That Pushed The Limits

Games That Pushed The Limits
Some games are simply ahead of their time, pushing the limits of what the technology can do. The thing that struck me the most when reading this article was just how much more potential the Dreamcast had.

Microsoft Origami

Hey now this looks interesting. It appears that Microsoft are about to launch an entirely new product, a small capaciously connected handheld PC. There are pictures and even a small video of the said device kicking around the internet.

2 Things:

1. Can Microsoft really hope to start building their own *PC's* without angering their other hardware partners? Perhaps Microsoft feel that it’s time to take the Apple route. They’ve already proved that it can work for them with the XBOX and 360.

2. Will this be available before Apple get around to launching their own palmtop PC?

IKEA Cappuccino Mixer

Yet again I find myself reviewing a gadget related to food and drink. Oh well it's 11am and so it must be time for a coffee break. With the increased popularity of Starbucks and Starbucks clones people want more than just a standard cup of coffee. We need a little cappuccinho, so chocolate sprinkes, cream etc. This is where the IKEA Cappuccino mixer comes in. It's cheap and cheerful. It'll whisk your coffee around giving it that frothy Starbucks feel.

You can pick these up at IKEA for under £10. They're also available through eBay.

Friday, February 24, 2006

My Old PC - Early 1999

My AMD PC from early 1999. I loved this PC! The AMD K6-2 chip rocked and at the time nothing could touch the 3Dfx Voodoo2 (unless you had 2 Voodoo2s via SLI). I also loved my Gravis GRiP system, that was so much fun, 4 controllers on one PC!

Such happy memories. Shortly after this I upgraded the CPU to an AMD K6-III 400Mhz which was really swift thanks to it's extra large L2 cache plus the motherboard 1mb L3 cache.

At last! (^_^)

Official Google Blog: Mac Widget time


Click Here!
For those who have never had the pleasure of riding the best Disney ride of all time.

1 Billion Songs

iPod users are music thieves says Ballmer Yeah right Ballmer, whatever.

0 to 1,000,000,000 in 3 years, nice one!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

OS X Virus Leap-A Update

This article is very interesting: The Cult of Mac Blog

Two points come to mind:

1) How soon will Apple patch these security holes?

2) Sensible computing practice will prevent this virus from infecting your Mac. - Never accept or open files from unknown sources. Even if the source is trusted always double check before opening a file. Better safe than sorry.

Does this mark the end of innocence on the Mac? Possibly. Is that a bad thing? No. Apple have a chance to take action before a problem exists. OS X is still a much more secure OS than Windows. Also thankfully Microsoft no longer provide IE for Mac OS X.

Remember play safe. Your PC or Mac is an essential gadget and you'll regret anything you do to harm it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Windows Defender Beta 2

Microsoft have finally gotten around to releasing the Beta 2 of their useful Anit-Spyware application. It's a must have for all Windows 2000 and XP users. Defender works in exactly the same way as it's predecessor. Microsoft have chanced the icon to an icon of a wall that looks rather like something out of a 1980s video game. The menus and interface have been updated too. Once again I urge all Windows 2000 and XP users to download this application.

Download from Microsoft:
Windows Defender

In addition all Windows users should ensure they have an up to date Anti-Virus program (AVG is a good free option) and Adaware from Lavasoft compliments Microsoft's Defender to protect against spyware and malware.

Monday, February 20, 2006

79% believe Mac will be targeted more often in wake of Leap-A Mac OS X worm

79% believe Mac will be targeted more often in wake of Leap-A Mac OS X worm- Sophos

Love it! Well right now there are no wild threats to OS X so the chance of OS X being targetting more in the future is a 100% bet! I think this is another case of anti-virus companies looking for new marketplaces. I love Sophos and think their products are very good but talking up Apple viruses is pretty sad.

59% of the pathetic 600 people surveyed thought that the situation was worse on Windows! hahahaha! Well duh! Anyone who didn't think that has obviously never used Windows or Mac OS X.


I feel this article from ARS Technica sums up the hoo ha over this exploit very nicely.

----another update----

Sophos have come out and issued a swift 'Don't Panic!' to the Mac community. There's been a lot of hype around this virus 'outbreak' but really does 50 machine infections amount to anything more than a blip? No! All this recent wave means is that Mac users should remain alert but they should have known that already!

Friday, February 17, 2006

ffmpegX - Encoder for Mac OSX

Without a doubt ffmpegX (currently version 0.0.9v) is an essential OS X application. If you need to encode or transcode video on a Mac then this is the gadget for you. It's a front end for a bunch of UNIX video encoding tools. It's every easy to use once you've got your head around the install procedure. The encoding is very quick, even my humble Powerbook Pismo G3 500Mhz can encode in an acceptable amount of time. If you're lucky enough to have a G5 is simply flies along!

Talking of slow computers, I find ffmpegX a lifesaver when I'm trying to play a video which is too intense for my poor little G3 cpu. I simply transcode to a more acceptable setting and without losing too much quality I have smooth playback on my old laptop.

ffmpegX is an opensource app so feel free check it out!

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, - 730, 735, 740, 745... ? ? ? ?

Vista computers to have five performance tiers, not two, says ATI executive. Oh great! Just what we need, more numbered confusion. I fear this is an attempt to dumb down the whole specification side of computing to such a degree so that people can be spoonfed rubbish. I'm a geek and I'm totally confused. What about Joe Public? No hope at all!

Space Exploration Technologies Corporation

Space Exploration Technologies Corporation
SpaceX are trying to get the cost of space travel down. The cool part is that their first series of rockets are named 'Falcon' in homage to the Millenium Falcon. Cooool.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Video iPod - When??

These mock-up pictures simulate the Video iPod as described in Engadget's Apple still at work on true video iPod? article. Will we see an iPod that looks anything like this in the near future? Possibly. The 3.5" 16:9 screen is a pretty obvious improvement but I'm not too keen on the touch screen however. Yet when Apple do something they generally do it well so if anyone could pull it off it would be Jobs and co.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

XP + Pentium-M / Core-Duo + USB 2.0 = Short Battery Life

Anandtech have posted a really interesting article about the Windows XP USB 2.0 power bug. Check it out here.

Basically if you have a Core Duo or Pentium-M processor laptop with a USB 2.0 device connected and you're running Windows XP then the chip cannot enter it's low power states. That results in about a 15-30% reduction in battery life. Surely you can just disconnect the device? Not in all cases. Some of these laptops have built in USB 2.0 cameras. Oooops. There is a 'fix' out there but it's not official as yet. If you own a Pentium-M or Core-Duo laptop I advise you to check out the article for more information.


Microsoft have released a fix.

Songbird - 0.10 User Preview Version

Last week saw a big buzz around the release of the first public preview of Songbird the Firefox based 'iTunes killer'. This is a very early release, a proof of concept. So what is the concept?

Songbird is an opensource music player ala iTunes developed by some of the guys who worked on Winamp (aaahh the goodole days). It connects to the media on your local machine as well as podcasts, web based radio, playlists and may other web based content providers. It's built around the Firefox engine so it has many browser like features which will surely make it very flexible in the future. Also because it's opensource it's not tied into one music store or music service. Surely that must be a good thing!? I mean I only buy online music from iTunes Music Store because that's the app that I use to listen to music. On the other hand at present Songbird can't handle the DRM music that the other music stores sell (groan!). I also found that it couldn't play the AAC files I'd encoded in iTunes (good old Apple tweaked MP4).
As a concept Songbird is great! Time will tell if they can pull all the ideas together in a nice user friendly way. Bringing more music in under one opensource roof would be really good for consumers and I think long-term that's got to be good for the bands and record labels too.

Songbird is cross platform so whether you're on Windows, Linux or Mac go and check it out!

Download for free @ Songbirdnest.com

Friday, February 10, 2006

Halo 2 - Vista Only

Looks like Halo 2 gamers face Vista upgrade according to this BBC article. If true I guess it means two things:

1) A long wait for Halo 2 on the PC (Vista won't be here before the end of the year)
2) Halo 2 fans needing to upgrade from XP or XP 64-bit

Not sure if this is designed to boost Vista sales or sales of the X-Box 360. Probably the latter knowing Microsoft. What a shame that Bungie are a total tool for Microsoft now.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

"This is almost certainly the year of the OS X exploit."

Saying that 2006 will be the year of OS X exploit seems a little wide of the mark. Ok so Mac OS X isn't 100% secure but is there a modern GUI-based OS that is? Let's not beat about the bush here this is the DECADE of the Windows exploit. For once we have a situation where Windows is ahead of OS X. Spyware and Viruses have been a 'feature' of Windows since the early days of the internet.

A key point that is mentioned in this article is that OS X has inherent security from the ground up that doesn't exist in Windows. Windows runs as administrator by default and all rights are granted to the user without the need to enter an admin password. Being UNIX based OS X always requires a password for a user to install any new applications. Also Microsoft really screwed up with ActiveX allowing it far too many rights and hence opening holes which hackers could use. OS X does not support ActiveX. Finally, Windows is a clear market leader and as such there are more hackers with Windows PCs, hence there are more viruses and hacks for Windows. That will change as OS X gains market share.

"This is almost certainly the year of the OS X exploit." - I remain a sceptic.

Apple Security Issues May Surface Soon - The Mac Observer

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Old Meets New in Spectacular Style!

Much coolness! This is a seriously nice gadget. I have quite a number of LPs that I haven't heard for many hears simply because they are not available on the iTMS and I don't have a turntable. Strangely one of the tracks that I was after was available on the iTMS in video format but not as an audio single, weird no?

Laser Turntable

The Next Xerox Moment?

It's an established fact Xerox invented the first mouse based GUI. Unfortunately they failed to realise it's potential and Apple ending up stealing it for the Lisa (then Macintosh). The video on the page referenced below made me think of this defining moment in computer history, the potential of just such a gesture based user interface, coupled perhaps with a *smart* linguistic user interface is amazing. Check out the video, it's stunning!

Gesture Based GUI Demo

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Yeah right! - CD anti-piracy firm vows openness

How can a DRM be open!? That's the whole point of the DRM.

Here's my advice: Don't buy Sony BMG CDs. Not while they march on with the horrible MediaMax DRM system. DRM is horrible at the best of times but the MediaMax DRM has proven to be the worst of a bad lot.

CD anti-piracy firm vows openness

Monday, February 06, 2006

Lighting on the Cheap

I'm looking to rig up a somewhat portable, space-conscious, cheap but effefctive lighting setup for home photography. Studio lighting is uber expensive - but I'm thinking of using some halogen work lights combined with some form of diffuser.

Another one bites the dust

Apple's dominance of the digital music player market has claimed another casualty, Dell. *sob* Looks like taking on Apple at their own game isn't as easy as it looks. Now that Apple's personal computers are switching to Intel chips the competition between Apple and Dell is bound to intensify. Dell's business is all about volumes and nothing about innovation. Quite the opposite of Apple.

Dell drops hard-drive MP3 line

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Canadian helps Texas teen battle RIAA

This article ties in with my previous post about the future of the music industry.

“It's time to step up and say ‘This is crazy,'” Mr. McBride said Monday from his Vancouver office.

“My hope is that this (Nettwerk's support) will create a positive concrete conversation between the artists, their managers and the record labels as to what the future is.... The fan is the future. Suing the fan is like shooting yourself in the foot.”

Globetechnology: Canadian helps Texas teen battle RIAA

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