Thursday, May 24, 2007

I’ve invented a new MAC (Apple take note). I call it the iMtiny.

Take one standard Mac mini. Change out the power supply with that of a laptop (power and battery). Connect it to a LCD digital photo frame and add a compact usb keyboard.

It’s tiny. Shouldn’t weigh more than your average laptop and may even be cheaper than an entry level Macbook.

I got the idea when I saw some LCD digital photo frames in Media Markt the other day. They looked really stylish. Then in the MAC section I saw a MAC mini for the first time ever. I thought, gee they’re really tiny.

Let me know if you have a better name or anyone actually builds one….. (Could happen).

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Play on the go, but not on a MAC.

Too say the least, after waiting (and checking apples website every day), I’m very disappointed in the new line up of Macbooks.

You can’t really call them new because all they’ve done is used a slightly faster processor and added more RAM and larger hard drives. That's hardly revolutionary.

Nowadays all computers are what I would call “capable enough” for most people, even the entry level ones. But that's where my problem is.

I want to buy/I’m ready to buy an entry level Macbook. The problem is a simple one. Crap graphics on the Macbooks. The Macbooks ship with Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 (integrated graphics). Which is fine for most business use and even graphics editing or Photoshop work (2D), but quite frankly it’s not good enough for games, and I play games (I plan to dual boot into XP, it’s a shame but at the moment the only decent way).

With games the single most important (more important even than processor speed) is your graphics card. The better your graphics card, the less work your processor will have to do, and with multiple pipelines and heaps of very fast ram on the card even the mobile graphics are now great for games. Except on entry level Macbooks.

You can get a Macbook with a decent graphics card, but they have a US$1999.00 starting price (because there are many other better specifications).

On a PC you can get a laptop with a bigger screen, good processor and reasonable graphic for less around $600.00.

I’ve always been an advocate that Macs don’t cost more because of all the useful software included and the better more efficient and more productive OS (MAC OS X), but come on Apple, when are you going to update the graphics on your entry level laptops?

The truth is, if you want to play games, you can get a better entry level games laptop by buying a PC.

But I want to play games, and I want a MAC, and I’m still waiting…….

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

You can't download condoms. Low tech, often means safe.

I want to talk about security, but not about the type of security where you download some kind of program to protect you. No, this time let’s talk about low tech.

There are so many simply ways you can protect yourself from electronic thievery and the like that don’t involve special hardware or software.

Take for example using your credit card over the internet. By now you should know that if a padlock appears on a site it means you have a secure connection and that information passed between yourself and the web site cannot be read by others.

Actually that doesn’t mean your safe, because even unscrupulous people can make a secure connection. You also need to know who your dealing with and decide weather you trust them or not.

But that’s for another post. I’m going to talk about a low tech solutions to protect yourself.

Have you heard of a think called a Trojan? It’s a program that infiltrates your computer allowing its owner control. Control can mean running programs like keyboard loggers that record your every keystroke (in the hope of finding you credit card number etc). So when you enter you credit card number why not start notepad and click back and forth between the web page and notepad, occasionally typing some random numbers into notepad. Then you wont have to worry about a keyboard logger that slipped through your high tech securty suite.

My brother suggested another cool low tech solution. Save a text file with the middle six digits of your credit card and then copy and paste it. Don’t use the whole number because that might be able to be found. Also don’t be stupid and call it “credit card number.txt”, give something memorable like “are you sure you can afford it.txt” this will also help you control spending habits!

I’m always surprised how terrible people are with the saving their files. That’s why Microsoft saw fit to make a folder called “My Documents” for us to store everything in.

This makes an easy place for virus writers to tell their programs to search for useful information. I personally use a folder called “My files” on a separate Hard Drive. This has the added advantage of making my C: (Window Hard Disk) free to format and re-install Windows from time to time (it needs it).

When it comes to email security, tell your friends that all future emails coming from you will have a subject that starts with something personal. E.g. “Today’s topic:” or “Newz:” and then ad whatever you need specific to each email. If you’re email gets hijacked by a virus, your friends will always know if you authorized the mail they received from you or not.

Never under any circumstance store passwords on you computer unless they are in a specific encrypted program. Why not write them on a piece of paper and store it safely.

You see we have high tech lives and are under high tech dangers.

Don’t be afraid to come up with a new low tech way of keeping safe. If you think you have a good one, add it as a comment here.

Keep safe.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Leopard, fast land animal, slow arriving operating system.

One sometimes has to wonder how Apple made it this far.

When Microsoft licensed it's DOS (disk operating system), the Apple equivalent was leagues ahead.

But Microsoft licensed its product and Apple didn't, and the rest is history (O.k. Thats a simplified version, but Apple has been trying hard to gain OS market share ever since).

Apples Macintosh range of computers survived only because of the MAC OS. It was quickly adopted by people in the businesses of design, publishing, audio and video. These people just wanted to get on with the job and/or weren't always technically minded. Lets face it being creative and being technical can sometimes be polar opposites. The MAC became the standard in creative businesses and those who used MAC, loved MAC and stayed MAC.

Notice how I said MAC people stayed MAC? There are allot of MAC owners who have iPods, but not all Macintosh owners love everything Apple. .

The Windows operating system however did the opposite to what Apple did. Windows captured 95% of the world operating system market and then started making a good product. Microsoft didn't worry itself in the early days about silly little things like quality, ease of use or stability. It set it sights on market dominance then used its power, position and profits to slowly improve the product.

At the same time Apple used the “if you build it they will come” marketing strategy. Making a great product (albeit a more expensive one) in the hopes that people would buy it. Not as many of them did.

But MAC OS has been holding on against Windows. Apple It's has been profitable all these years because it sells hardware as well (more computers than any other single manufacturer).

Today,Apple is really sitting in a pretty interesting position.

Millions of iPods sold, #1 music and movie downloading site, about to break into the telephone market with the iphone. Not to mention that the MAC OS has transitioned to the Intel platform allowing MAC users more speed, power and flexibility.

Whats more here comes the “leap frog effect”. Apple is soon to release its newest OS offering (we'll, by soon I mean October) which should be better than Windows Vista. Vista should have jumped ahead with all that money and time spent on it, but some annoying features (can you say “user account control”) have meant its come up a little short (at least in my book).

With many cool new feature's like “time machine” which lets you simply wind back the clock to recover deleted (or even saved-over files) and some feature still secret Leopard has a real chance to triumph over Vista.

To my surprise Apple is taking advantage of its loyal Macintosh users and delaying Leopard (until October 2007). It's has sifted some of its development resources away from Leopard and onto the iPhone, Apples new foray into the mobile telephone market.

But it's forgetting one of the major reasons people have MACs. The MAC OS has always been ahead of Windows. Macintosh users have always been safe in the knowledge that they were using the best there is to offer. What happens when you take away that advantage?

Are MACs just going to end up like PC's? Similar price, same components, same OS just with a different skin?

MACs are finally a similar price to PC's. Finally they have the speed, power and flexibly. Finally you don't have to commit to the MAC OS without good backup alternatives.

And Apple is throwing away the great advantage it could have if Leopard was here now.

Who knows? With Vista not quite the legendary OS the PC world was waiting for, Apple might have been getting more 'switchers' right about now.

I'm sure they are not going to loose customers. Are they? Maybe they want to sell mobiles instead? Time will tell.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

MAC vs PC (Conclusion)

If you've read my other posts, you know the answer already. I recommended you look at the other post for more detail.

Now that Apple MACs are Intel based they have the power for the price. MACs are either a fraction more expensive than PC's or the same price (occasionally cheaper). As I explained, if you compare directly the specifications of an iMAC or MAC mini, and adjust PC prices for miniaturisation , the MAC clearly come out on top.

But hardware maketh not the computer. Software is everything, because without software computers are nothing.

A beautiful collection of easy to use, fully integrated prosumer applications combined with the ability to run Windows as well (if you want it). Makes the MAC easily better value for money all round.

Turning to the easy of use are of the OS itself, it's not that MAC OS X shines, its more that Vista is a big leap backwards when it comes to making the computer more intuitive for all of us.

Perhaps Microsoft has just decided the masses are finally getting to grips with Windows and has made Vista harder to use to keep technicians in a job.

The bottom line is MACs are still easier to use.

I gave software availability to the PC. If your a true gamer, you need Windows installed with the best and latest support, updates and drivers. Because Apple doesn't support Vista (or Xp for that matter) on its machines and Windows is the gaming platform, the PC wins (all other windows software works in MAC OS X, with parallels or crossover - or you can dual boot into Windows)

As far as looks go, you can't argue taste. While the MACs have always looked good, were now starting to see genuinely pleasing PC designs and Vista doesn't look bad either. I would like to see PC makers get it together and bring more design innovation to their cases but there are at least enough now to make this one a dead heat.

I didn't even talk about security in fairness to PC's. The only reason Windows is so vulnerable to attack is that everyone is trying to attack it. I just didn't want to make the match too one sided.

The whole argument fails to point out that computers are better the ever before and no mather wich platform you choose you'll be using a great Computer. Me? I'm going MAC. Too many pros to ignore.

Also remember I didn't include Linux in this squabble. Linux is fast becoming of age. It's getting too powerful and usable to ignore. If you must stay PC, think about saving the cost of a Windows license and go to for a great version of Linux with a whole heap of great applications all free and legal. Look out for posts on that to come.

What I still like about PC's and don't like about MACs:

Unnecessarily high entry level.

Paying for a Monitor (mid range models) even if you already have one. Or if you prefer, not being able to buy a reasonably powerful MAC without monitor.

Bigger screens on entry level laptops.