My MacBook Pro came in today (through work). I’ll be writing about my experience making the switch and turning to the dark side as I get farther into it. I will say this, however. I feel very vulnerable. It’s going to be a bit of a learning experience for me as I re-learn how to do things on a computer. It came in this afternoon, so I didn’t get a whole lot of time to install stuff. I did a clean install of Leopard (it came with Tiger installed, but had a Leopard DVD in the box). I got Firefox and Adium installed and messed around the System Preferences. I’ll play more tomorrow getting it on Active Directory and getting Office 2004 installed and Entourage configured to use my Exchange account. Hopefully, I’ll also be able to get Adobe CS3 installed along with Parallels to run Vista. It’s currently charging as I let the battery die. I will say that the battery is one hearty battery. It took a good 3-4 hours of use before it would die and that included the Leopard install. It didn’t even have a full charge when I got it (though it was close). More to come…
There’s a nice article over on Slate (via Slashdot) about how Google’s presentation software doesn’t even come close to the much loathed MS PowerPoint. The biggest reasons behind this are the following:
- Google’s software only works with an active internet connection. While you can save them as HTML files, you can’t edit them. This means that you can’t edit them on the plane when flying to a customer to make a sales presentation.
- PowerPoint offers a whole lot more in the way of customization, including animations; drawing on the slides; custom templates, fonts, colors, etc.; different types of slide transitions.
The only thing that Google offers that PowerPoint does not is live collaboration. However, as I reported before, MS is releasing something in the near future that will allow for that. While I said it comes up short, that only applies for people who aren’t already using MS Office.
However, the ultimate presentation software, according to the article is Apple’s Keynote. The reason being that it offers even more fine tuning over PowerPoint. While I seem to be an Apple hater based on previous posts, that is very far from the truth. Keynote is a pretty impressive piece of software.
Here’s some more iPhone news, and of course, my opinions on it all.
A class-action lawsuit was filed in California and is currently seeking plaintiffs. If you live in California and want to get in on this go to the official lawsuit website. You are a member of the class if you want to transfer your iPhone to a different carrier, if your iPhone bricked when you upgraded it, Apple refused to honor the warranty on your phone because you either unlocked it or installed third party software, you paid an early termination fee with your carrier to switch to AT&T to use the iPhone, you paid for a third party extended warranty to cover your unlocked iPhone, or you incurred roaming charges when you used your iPhone abroad. If you fit into any of these (and anyone can really fit into the first category), you should really get on board and try to get this class action suit spread nationwide. Apple needs to know how we feel.
Of course, if our laws were more like France, Belgium, and a bunch of other European countries, there would be no need for this lawsuit. Apparently Apple fans in those countries won’t be seeing the iPhone anytime soon because they have laws against selling cell phones that are locked to a single carrier. We need laws like this in our country, of course that’ll never happen because Congress sleeps with the corporations rather than do things to help the people who elect them. They vote based on who gives them money (and dinners and other fun stuff) rather than the people they actually represent and elect them. It really is quite annoying. I love the service Verizon Wireless offers, but I hate their phones (though I do like my new Chocolate, but I wish it had full functionality).
I know I write an awful lot about Apple and how much I dislike them, but they’re really started to turn into a company that they never were before and it does bother me. I really want to like Apple. I think they do make some nice products, but the company itself prevents me from really liking them and dropping the money on their products (yes I do run Windows, but I also have to support Windows, it’s easier this way… and I didn’t pay for it as I get a copy from my job).
Anyway, various reports have come in saying that Apple has said that the new firmware might permanently disable any unlocked iPhones because the unlock “hack” broke something. There are several different unlocking hacks, one of which is a hardware hack. The hardware hack does have the potential to damage the phone, but purely software hacks are reversible and do not cause this problem. Apple decided that they would void the warranty on any phones that have this problem because they were unlocked. Unfortunately for Apple, a decades old law makes it illegal for them to void the warranty unless the third party application (in this case the unlocking hack) damaged the phone or the phone’s native software.
My opinion (and for those that know me, I am very opinionated) is that Apple should embrace the unlocking and third parties as it increases the value of the iPhone. Believe it or not, not everyone who might buy one wants to use it only on AT&T’s network or use only Apple-approved applications on it. I am also of the opinion that wireless carriers should not be crippling cell phones and should be allowing all uses of them. Most cell phones today have Bluetooth, but they “don’t support” the full capabilities (such as file transfer). This is because the wireless carriers are afraid of losing the income from the sale of overpriced ringtones to people creating their own on their own computers and transferring them to their cell phones. Lucky for me, both Susan and I have the same cell phones (the LG VX8550 Chocolate, the new Chocolate, I love it by the way) and she bought the music pack that came with a USB cable. I was able to make my own ringtones editing an mp3 I had with Audacity (an open source audio editor) and send it to my phone using Bitpim (an open source information manager for phones). However, I do still wish I had the capability to send files to my phone via Bluetooth (since my laptop has Bluetooth).
So the moral of the story is that cell phone carriers suck because they cripple phones (something I think should be outlawed, but won’t) and that Apple sucks because of their premature threats of voiding warranties. The question I have is with whom the burden of proof falls that the third party software (in this case the unlocking hack) damaged the phone and caused it to turn into a brick.
The Optimist/Pessimist: Apple’s iPhone Unlock Warning (Boing Boing Gadgets)
Sorry for the long title, but I recently came across a post on Boing Boing Gadgets that discussed exactly how I feel about Apple, and why anyone who read my previous posts about Apple shouldn’t consider me an Apple-hater.
That’s the direct link to the blog in question. It’s a long read, but well worth it for anyone who cares about Apple, technology, or portable music and movies. It’s exactly how I feel, but put to much better words that I could have ever written myself. The gist of it is that Apple needs to quit the anti-consumer crap or else they’ll lose their consumers. They can only go so far on the people who blindly follow their every move before those people lose the blinders and realize that Apple is screwing them over big time, which is what Apple has started to do, though it first started with the iPod/iTunes thing when they first released the iPod. I won’t call it anti-competitive behavior, though some of it is. I’ll call it anti-consumer behavior.
The long version of this is the following… Things like locking out third party apps from the iPhone and iPod Touch (though you can write them if you’re close to Apple) are what I’m talking about here. Preventing people from playing DRM’d (but something other than FairPlay, such as PlaysForSure) music and movie files on the iPods. Preventing people from playing FairPlay songs on other portable devices. It sounds like I hate Apple whenever I complain about their products and the tight grasp they hold over all of it, but the fact remains that I want to like their products. I think the iPod is a cool looking device and the iPod Touch is a great device (though I will never buy an iPhone because I wouldn’t be able to dial with one hand while not looking at it because I can’t actually feel the “buttons”). I think MacOS X is a kick ass operating system and their computers have a great design. I don’t like that you can’t replace the battery in the iPods or iPhone yourself, that it has to be done by an authorized technician. I don’t like that MacOS X will not run natively on hardware that was not approved by Apple. I don’t like that Apple hardware is so closed. You buy an Apple computer and it’s a very closed proprietary system even though the operating system was based off one of the most open operating systems in existence. While it’s nice that if something goes wrong with the computer, it’s either really easy to fix or you know it has to go back to Apple. But that’s the problem, it has to go back to Apple. There’s no real customization. For all the proprietary crap in Windows, it’s a more open system. It runs on all sorts of different pieces of hardware (so long as it’s all x86 architecture). It allows all sorts of different drivers and software. With Apple computers, it’s Apple’s hardware and software or nothing.
And the biggest thing that I don’t like about Apple is that they’ve seemed to have left their computer division in the dust. They’re ignoring the people who kept them from folding… the people who religiously bought Apple computers regardless of how bad they sucked. They’ve become a gadget company.
So for all you people who have read my blog and though of me as an Apple Hater, that’s just not true. I want to love them, but I can’t because of the company. Steve Jobs is great at marketing, but he’s arrogant and soon enough that arrogance will catch up with him. Apple has become just like Microsoft, the company everyone loves to hate. They’re in it for the money and nothing else. They just don’t care about their consumers, and why should they when their consumers swoon over everything that comes out of Steve Jobs’s mouth? So again, it’s not Apple that I hate, it’s the uninformed consumer who thinks Apple is and never will be (or never could be) an evil corporation like Microsoft.
As I previously reported on the new iPods being restricted to using iTunes to sync music and movies, there is now word that the hash has been broken for at least the new iPod Classic.
However, while this might be applauded, I would take caution at using these methods for Apple can and likely will invoke the DMCA in the breaking of their code.
Discussion at Boing Boing (links to the fix are in the comments)
Apple has decided that the new iPods will not work with any media applications other than iTunes. What does this mean? Ultimately, it means that third party applications that might be better (and are likely better) than iTunes will not work with the new iPods that Apple recently announced. A natural side effect of this is that users of operating systems (such as Linux) other than Windows and MacOS X will not be able to use the new iPods as Apple only makes iTunes for Windows and MacOS X.
This is yet another move by Apple to keep their stuff locked into themselves. They try to be all about open source software, but this move locks Linux users out of using the new iPods. Apple started with their operating system that can only be installed on Apple hardware, even though the hardware is the same as any other PC. While there are projects like OSx86, they certainly are not approved or endorsed by Apple and the legality of them is questionable. Apple then moved onto their Fairplay DRM, forcing songs bought at the iTunes Music Store to be played only in iTunes or on an iPod. Now Apple is forcing iPod owners to only sync their media players with iTunes. Apple is slowly proving that they no longer “Think Different” and are no different than other big corporations (Microsoft, for example, as Apple is always touted as the anti-MS). I really think Apple would do themselves a favor if they were to spin off their gadget divisions into a new company and go back to concentrating on computers. I also think they would be doing themselves a huge favor if they were to release MacOS X for all computers as a competitor to Windows. However, they like their proprietary format. Some say it keeps them from having problems with drivers and the like, but I say it’ll help make their products better if they were more open and there were more eyes on the stuff (they might even be able to better cut into the Windows market share).
It might seem like I am an Apple-hater. That is anything but the truth. I just see them for what they are… a big corporation that doesn’t really care about their consumers as much as their die-hard fans like to think they do. I imagine this will be reverse engineered at some point, but even that will be legally questionable under the DMCA.
One of the announcements I failed to report last night was that Apple decided to drop the price of the iPhone by $200. Unfortunately, upon release about a million people bought the same phone for $599 and are now left $200 short. While I can fully understand Apple’s reasons for dropping the price (there’s no way they can compete with better smartphones while their own phone costs a whole lot more, meaning they can only depend on fanbois to a degree). The hate mail has been piling in since this announcement from angry customers who paid way more than they should have for this phone. The only thing Apple can really do at this point to appease their loyal customers (remember the lines of people waiting to get into Apple on the release date for the iPhone?) is to give anyone with a phone a $200 rebate. Of course, Apple has to keep their stockholders happy. If they do anything at all, they’ll end up giving these people $200 in Apple gift cards (or they can be real jerks and just give them iTunes gift cards and let people buy up their crappy compressed DRM’d music).
Regardless of what happens, Apple is in a bind… appease their loyal customers or keep stockholders happy. It seems to me that this might’ve been planned from the get go. They knew that people would buy the phone for $599, so they sold it. They also knew that the interest in the phone would drop really quickly after the initial release because of that ridiculous price tag. My theory is that they released the phone selling for as much as they thought they could get at the time, and then drop the price when sales started to dwindle and they made some other announcement. I expect that they figured their fans to be blind idiots who think everything that Steve Jobs does is infallible. They figured wrong.
Business 2.0 has a pretty good blog post about this. My opinion… the original iPhone adopters are rightfully pissed.
UPDATE: According to CNN, Apple’s stock dropped more than 5% after the announcement. The story is here.
UPDATE #2: Apparently, Apple is doing sorta what I had expected, only worse… they’re giving anyone who bought it over 2 weeks ago (those who bought it less 2 weeks ago can get a $200 rebate, those who still have it in the package and bought it less than 2 weeks ago can return it outright) a… get this… it’s a doozie… $100 Apple store credit! WOO HOO!!! Stevie-boy says he’s making things right with his “valued” iPhone customers. Making it right would be giving them all back $200 cash. Not only is this not cash, but it’s not even $200! Open Letter from Steve Jobs to iPhone Customer
Business 2.0 updated their post.
If you’ve been in a bubble today, at least in the technological sense, you wouldn’t have heard this, but Apple announced 3 new iPods today. I’ve said it before on here and I’ll say it again, I can’t stand fanbois. I am certain not one for anything (unless you count Phish, though they are certain not infallible like some people consider Steve Jobs and Apple).
The first “new” product is an upgrade to the iPod Nano line. It gets a bigger screen, the ability to play videos and comes in 8 GB or 16 GB flash memory. I don’t fully trust flash memory just yet. I’ve seen too many USB flash drives fail after many write/format cycles. I’ve also seen lots of people with iPod Shuffles that have died (both the original stick shaped one and the new square one). I have also known people with issues with their iPod Nanos. So I’m not sure that increasing the capacity of them would be such a great idea, especially since I know that it takes more power (and really, who needs 16 GB of music on them all the time?).
The next “new” product is a new iPod Classic. It’s a hard drive model and comes in up to 160 GB. My thought on this is that Apple is just trying to win people over by saying “we have a 160 GB portable music player” when no one will ever have a need for that. The only good thing about it is that it brought the prices down on the other models.
Finally, they released the iPod Touch, which is similar to the iPhone with a touch screen (for all the people who didn’t want to switch to AT&T to get an iPod/Phone/wannabe smartphone). It also has Wi-Fi capability, probably because they were getting pressure as Microsoft already had that in their Zune.
Now, my thoughts on all this… who cares? I have an iPod Mini that someone lost and I picked up (though I did try to find the owner). I wouldn’t have one otherwise. I don’t use portable music players and haven’t since I stopped taking the bus to high school (back then, we had discmen). If I were to own a portable digital music player, it’d be something that was a bit more “open” than the iPod. I am not a fan of the iTunes Music Store, nor am I a fan of the fact that Apple won’t license their DRM to other vendors (like MS did with Plays-for-Sure, even if they didn’t make the Zune compatible with it). I just don’t like DRM (as you can see by my nice Defective by Design banner/button on the right sidebar). Because of that, I won’t buy an iPod or songs from iTunes. In addition to not liking DRM, I also don’t like the low quality of the compressed music files. You might say you can’t tell the difference, but I can, even on my cheap Aiwa bookshelf stereo (I’d probably also notice the difference on an iPod with a pair of halfway decent headphones, unlike the ones included with the thing).
So after all this, I might sound like I don’t like Apple. That’s only partially true. I don’t like Apple because Steve Jobs has had every opportunity to rid iTunes music completely of DRM (or at least to license the code to other media player manufacturers). However, Steve-o likes his litte iTunes/iPod lock-in. Do you blame him? No one looks at Apple the same way they look at Microsoft in the eyes of the anti-trust laws, though Apple has a borderline monopoly on online digital music sales and portable music devices. The reason for this? Because all those DRM’d songs you bought off iTunes can’t be moved to a device that is not an iPod. I don’t like being locked into a single device like that. It’s anti-competitive. I liked Apple’s computers when they were still using the PowerPC processors and I had hoped they’d lower their prices when they switched to Intel. That didn’t happen. Instead, they got sloppy with their hardware. I like MacOS X. I like it a lot. However, I don’t like it to the point where I’ll spend extra money on a computer with the same hardware in a machine I can get for at the very least a few hundred dollars less than the nice shiny Apple because it has a picture of a bitten Apple on it. I don’t like the Apple locks OS X users into using their hardware. I’m all about openness. Sure, I use Windows and it’s definitely not the most open operating system in existence, but neither is anything that Apple releases (and besides, eventually I’ll have installed Ubuntu Linux on my machine here, but I just need a bit more time to myself when work isn’t as crazy).
That’s the end of my rant. Apple announced some shiny new stuff. The fanbois drooled, while the realists rolled their eyes.
There’s some decent comments on the BoingBoing Gadgets posting regarding the announcement.