Goodbye Symantec

October 30, 2003 at 10:40 pm | Posted in Macintosh | Leave a comment

Mac users have always had a love/hate relationship with Symantec. Long-time Mac veterans remember the mid 1990s when Symantec bought out many Mac utility companies. One of them was Peter Norton Computing. Once they got their slimy hands on Norton Utilties, they dropped all their other products (anyone remember SUM – Symantec Utilities for Macintosh?).

I have to admit, under Classic MacOS, Norton Utilities was pretty good, and I paid for many upgrades since Version 3. When OS X came out, I had been using Linux for a few years and knew that BSD had the filesystem and robust utilities that made Norton obsolete; I have never bought any OS X software from Symantec. However, disk defragmentation and optmization was not in BSD/Darwin; it really isn’t necessary, but many Mac users have been conditioned to think that running something like Norton Speed Disk would help improve performance.

With Panther, it appears that a form of disk optimization is built into the system for files less than 20 Megs. This is good news for most users (since most files are less than 20 Mb unless you’re doing video or high end Photoshop work).

Let me say it again – goodbye Symantec, and good riddance!

Globalization not good for US

October 30, 2003 at 10:19 pm | Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

There was good economic news today as the US economy grew by an estimated 7.2%. However, many are still waiting to see if this is really the start of a recovery or a one/two month anomaly. Most people could care less how much the GDP grows; what matters is whether they have a job and a way to make ends meet. Those who have a job, on the other hand, are worried whether they will still have a job in the months and years ahead. This article should give American workers pause:

In the new manufacturing facility, labor, electricity, tax and government fees will account for only 5 percent of manufacturing costs, according to executive vice president Michael Wang .

Show me a place in America where the above is true and I’ll show you a sweatshop. We cannot maintain our standard of living if we continue to insist on lowest price at the cost of everything else that is important.

Other than that, the good news is that the new, 3rd generation iMacs may be announced at the next Macworld Expo. Let’s hope enough people can still afford them when they ship.

Underneath a blood-red sky

October 26, 2003 at 9:35 pm | Posted in Rants | Leave a comment

This weekend has been surreal – I’ve spent most of my time indoors, except a few times to get out to eat or run errands. The Southern California wildfires have been sending ash falling from the skies, unless the Santa Ana winds are blowing; then the ash sandblasts your face and irritate your eyes. The streets are dirty, with black patches on the sidewalks and on the gutters where they accumulate due to the traffic.

The sun is a fuzzy orange-red ball that can be seen by the naked eye; I’m not close enough to see the sun hidden behind smoke cloulds like the scenes on TV. The smell of burnt wood fills the air, and people who spend lots of time outdoors are wearing face masks.

The usual gang of idiots will blame environmentalists for this one, but here are three facts:

  1. One fire was set by soldiers at a live fire exercise
  2. The San Diego fire was started by a lost NRA gun-toting hunter firing a flare, in the middle of a dry dead forest with 50+ mph winds.
  3. State budget cuts have reduced the number of Canadian Super Scoopers in Southern California from 4 to 2.

When you invade Nature by building into the foothills, expect Nature to fight back. Hard.

ExposÈ Exposed

October 25, 2003 at 11:07 am | Posted in Macintosh | Leave a comment

One of the much-hyped features of Apple – Mac OS X Panther is the ExposÈ window management feature. After playing around with Panther for a few hours, I’ve come to the conclusion that like the Dock, ExposÈ is useful for the average Mac user – one who has gone up the learning curve somewhat but is still not pushing the limits of the machine. I still think power users and heavy multitaskers still need something better. The first screen shot below shows my desktop with ExposÈ. The windows are getting smaller and more diffcult to manage if you have more than 5 applications open; they’re even beginning to look like minimized dock windows. Also, the aesthetics of messy desktops does not appeal to me. Compare with the second picture that uses Virtual Desktop.

Panther does, however, have one nice feature – not only does it mark the return of Finder labels, but it remembers the Finder labels used by the Classic MacOS (9 and earlier).

ExposÈ:

Virtual Desktop:

Panther on the loose!

October 24, 2003 at 11:12 pm | Posted in Macintosh | Leave a comment

Low End Mac’s Dan Knight speculates on the effects of Apple’s recently announced iBook G4 and lower-priced G4 eMacs on their more expensive (and higher margin) products (iMac, PowerBook, G5 towers).

I saw this effect first-hand tonight at the South Coast Plaza Apple Store. Even though one of the first guys in line bought two G5s, I saw a lot more people buying the new iBooks and eMacs. As further proof, this is what I took home tonight, even though I only wanted to get one of the three products shown:


I guess we’ll see if Apple makes their numbers.

Stout recollections

October 21, 2003 at 9:34 pm | Posted in Food and Drink | Leave a comment

My first taste of Irish stout was a sip from my brothers glass last month in Seattle. Last Saturday, I finally had a chance to drink a full glass of Guinness — from a can with the little white ball. I only managed to drink one while my cousin put away three.

I didn’t give it much thought until I drank another one for dinner and then came across this epinions.com post. If this is the kind of writing one can do after drinking a few stouts, then I’ll have to consider drinking more of this ‘midnight stealth’.

G5 Fan problems

October 18, 2003 at 10:38 pm | Posted in Macintosh | 3 Comments

Much has been said about the industrial design of the G5 — the ease of accessing components for upgrading and repair. Unfortunately, innovative design was not applied to the power supply; there have been reports of noisy fans coming from the bottom of the unit. One G5 owner tracked down the noise on his computer and wrote this page telling how to repair/replace the PSU fan. Needless to say, it’s a heck of a lot more difficult than a similar operation on a generic white-box PC. I admire those who are on the bleeding edge of Mac technology. It’s good stuff, but I wish the company would treat us better, given that we pay a premium price for a premium product. Having a Cube these past couple of years, noise levels are a consideration, along with performance and expandability.

Spending $100 worth of labor and time on a $5 fan does not make sense. I’ve said before that Apple would make a mistake in the design of the G5 similar to their mistake on the “Windtunnel” G4s – the operation of the entire machine dependent on unreliable parts. They should have taken some of the effort designing the enclosure to make the PSU more easily accessible; a pop-out compartment at the bottom similar to the ones on PowerBooks would have made these kinds of problems easy to fix.

I think I’ll wait for Rev. B.

Nothing a cinderblock couldn’t do…

October 16, 2003 at 8:31 pm | Posted in Macintosh | Leave a comment

Check out the marketing-speak on this page. The author makes a connection between the much-loved (but under-selling) G4 cube and the current G5 towers.

I’d get one myself, but I have already raised my Cube and installed a cooling fan.

In other news, Apple announced the availability of iTunes and the iTunes Music Store (iTMS) for Windows users. Under that basic announcement, Apple has also announced a few interesting things that will make it the premier online music retailer regardless of platform:

  1. Featured on AOL Music
  2. Pepsi to spend millions of it’s own marketing budget promoting iTMS; 100 million songs given away
  3. Independent labels on iTMS, furthering undermining the RIAA monopoly
  4. iPod becoming more than a music player – it can now play audiobooks, record audio and store photos.

Unlike it’s competitors, Apple makes little if any money on the iTMS, using it to leverage sales of their hardware products. This fact alone will allow it to outlast those companies whose only business is music downloads. About the only other competition I can see is from Microsoft, and you know the copycats always end up copying Apple.

Gun control works

October 15, 2003 at 10:18 pm | Posted in Humor (G- and R- rated) | Leave a comment

New York City: Sources: Ferry Pilot Tried Suicide

If New York had less strict gun control laws, the accident investigation would have been more difficult. Nice try though with the BB gun.

Virginia 1, Texas 0

October 13, 2003 at 7:36 pm | Posted in Macintosh | Leave a comment

Virginia surpasses Texas in supercomputer race

I would consider this to be a form of political correctness – The University of Texas had to buy their supercomputer from nearby Dell, lest they incur the wrath of Sir Michael. In doing so, they have squandered $38 million dollars of taxpayer money. Meanwhile, the Virginians spend only $5 million, get more processors, and at least double to triple the computational power of the Texas supercomputer.

So you see, political correctness is not limited to liberals and Democrats. The only difference is that when done by conservatives, lots more money is wasted, usually taken from those who can least afford it.

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