Saturday, May 31, 2008

Apple MAC video games console, the time is now!

I am in the market for a new PC. Without a doubt I want a MAC. Well to be truthful, I want Leopard with iLife, therein lies the problem.

Apple currently doesn't have a model that fits my needs. This is down to two main reasons. 1St, I'm a gamer (in a couple of months I will be a profession gamer) and 2nd I already have a monitor I'm happy with.

The monitor issue is not an uncommon complaint. There are many people who upgrade their computers and monitors separately and who therefor need a new computer but are happy with the monitor they have got. With Apple that leaves two choices the Mac mini and the Mac Pro. While they Mac mini is a great machine, if you want to play games or us any 3D apps it comes up lacking. The Mac Pro is an impressive animal capable of anything you throw at it, but an entry level Mac Pro costs $2799 (at time of writing). What is needed is something in between.

I think the time is right for apple to bridge this gap and they could do by entering a great niche. I envision Apple making a games machine.

Macs have never been the platform of choice for gamers, I put this mainly down to fate. For various reasons (that I'm not going into here) games got off to a better start on the Windows/Intel platform than on the MAC and the PC has never looked back. While there have been some excellent game releases for the MAC, the sheer quantity an quality of windows games out there, doesn't make it a gamers choice.

But with Apple recently switching to the Intel processor thats brought the opportunity back for Apple to get it's game on. Now on a Mac you can dual boot into windows (Apple even help you do it with bootcamp). While this is pretty pointless as far as I'm concerned for any other applications (because the MAC OS and Mac apps are generally much better), it does make sense for games.

Better still, as a gamer I always like to have my system clean for running my games optimally. If all my other applications run on the Mac OS side, that would leave me with a clean windows version strictly for games.

Thats were a new product for apple could fit in. Apple could easily bridge the gap between Mac mini and Mac Pro with a machine aimed at gamers. It could also come up with a funky design that would suit the customers. I'm so sick of the PC game machines which have a 'tattoo' or 'alien' look. Just because I play games, doesn't mean I have bad taste.

Who knows perhaps Apple could buy/license the technology from Parallels or Crossover, put it together with a streamlined version of Leopard (using a Front Row like interface for the installed windows games) as a boot option and the Mac games machine could suddenly be a console! (or is Apple afraid they'll just end up making another “pipin”)

Apple already tried to make a games console once with the pipin (pictured).
Is it too scared to make a games MAC?

This new game orientated Mac wouldn't have to be just for hard core gamers. It could also be for those other people who have a good monitor, but want something more than the Mac mini, and less than the Mac Pro. Just make it look cool and throw a great choice of graphics cards in there, and you've got a winner in my book (can I pre-order?).

Who knows, the mini is not all that far away from another refresh, perhaps this time, it will get decent graphics capabilities which may make my grumblings a mute point.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Macbook Air is old news, here comes the XO-2

Forget MACbook Air, the coolest thing on the horizon in the computing world might be something bound for the third world.

I long been a fan of the OLPC program. OLPC stand for One laptop Per Child and is basically an initiative to get laptops in the hands of children in developing nations. Bravo I say.

Sure, I agree with my brothers criticism that really impoverished people need clothing, food, clean water, shelter and education far more than they need a laptop. Further more, the donated laptops might just end up being sold on the black market (ebay?) creating a dependency cycle of people needing to get them, to sell them, to survive. Yes, sure that may not solve much, but one would hope that's doesn't end up being the norm. I would think enough units would go into the right hands to make a difference. Isn't something this charitable better than nothing in its absence?

Further more, some of the people getting excited and involved with the project may not be the type to expend so much time and energy helping to provide wells or housing. The people driving this project are tech people, they like tech and it motivates them. It hard enough to motivate people to be charitable as it is.

I've seen other criticism too, but rather than defend OLPC further I just wanted to point out how the project could also benefit the rest of us. The next genration OLPC (the XO-2) is quite innovative and more importantly super cool! Once you put OPLC “give 1-get one” program (where you buy one laptop and another is donated to a child on your behalf) together with the next generation ebook-styled XO-2 (pictured), there are going be be a lot of people buying one for themselves just for the coolness of it. I mean, check it out! Who wants a Macbook air now?

The OLPC XO-2 in Laptop mode

The OLPC XO-2 in book mode

The OLPC XO-2 in Flat mode

The next gernation OLPC (the XO-2) will have:

  • Dual 16x9 proportioned sunlight-readable touch screens

  • Keyboard and touchpad both replaced by touch screens

  • Physically smaller than XO-1; size and weight more like a book

  • 1 watt power consumption

  • Target price of US$75 to large educational buyers

You can find out more about the OLPC here.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Get a job interview, the alternative method.

Recently I received something cool in my inbox, a job offer from with a company I'd love to work for. I decided that not only did I want the job, I had to have it!

I'm not going to say too much about the position yet, but rather talk about what I am doing in an effort to get the job.

I started by sending a covering letter and sent it away attached it to my CV.

After four days I had received no reply, ok sure thats not that much time, but I was not prepaired to just sit and wait for them to come to me. I decided action had to be taken.

I starting working on an plan to make sure I got noticed. I researched the company on the Internet and wrote a magazine style display ad promoting myself (one that any advertising agency would be proud of) as the ideal candidate for the position..

Now I had to make sure this got into the hands of the right person. I needed to find out the first name of the person in charge of hiring for that position. I already had a first initial, but I needed more to succeed with my bizarre plan.

In order to find out what this important persons name was, I rang their office to ask, or at least, I tried to ring. Nobody answered the telephone number I found on the Internet. I wondered if the information I had found on the Internet was incorrect. So I called the German office, I could have asked in English because it is an international company and Germans are well known for having a reasonable English ability (they learn it in school from a young age), but I decided my accent would win some respect (relatively few foreigners bother to learn German) and told the operator I had to send a package to this person at the Spanish office.

5 mins later I had found out:

  • she was a woman
  • what her full name was
  • the physical address of the office
  • and even got her unlisted direct phone number!

Part two of the plan involved some theatrics.

I went to a shopping mall and purchase the following items:

  • A Star shaped gift box
  • Coloured balloons
  • A Hello Kitty helium filled balloon (pictured here)

I put my one page ad/presentation into the gift box Attached it to the balloons and drove in to the companies head office.

This company office is normally closed to the public, but because I showed up with a car full of balloons and told security "I had a delivery", I was ushered in.

I had only expected to drop the package at reception content in knowing that it would get to its destination and get noticed, but the receptionist was so excited by all the balloons, she insisted I deliver them in person to the woman concerned. 5 mins later I had an on the spot interview in person. It was a bit awkward at first, and maybe just a little uncomfortable for both of us, but we managed. I worried a bit that my Spanish was good enough, but she said it was the most interesting job application she had ever received, so thats got to count for something doesn't it?

I have since passed two more stages of the application process and have been waiting for some kind of indication as to whether I will get to the next and final stage (a formal interview with the head of department). Regardless I'm pretty pleased I got so far, I guess I'll now just have to wait and see...

EDIT: I have since been ask to go in for an interview. It went well, but I'm just waiting to hear the bad news (can you feel my pessimism?). Still I'm really pleased with what I achieved and I guess its now 50/50.

EDIT #2 (two week later): I got the Job! that just goes to show how thinking out side can improve your chances! I start in two months :)