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ATPM 13.04
April 2007





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Welcome to the April issue of About This Particular Macintosh! Spring has arrived in the northern hemisphere, while fall has begun for our neighbors south of the equatorial line. No matter the season you may be experiencing, this issue of ATPM provides the best news, views, and reviews in an easy-to-read monthly format. We follow the changes in the Macintosh world as we all experience this change of seasons.

Apple TV Has Come to Be

Despite a delay in the release of Apple’s latest home entertainment and computer peripheral product, called Apple TV, the long-awaited product has arrived in living rooms. The reviews of the product have been generally favorable for what might be described as an entertainment convergence device. Enclosed in the box is a low-power Intel processor and a version of OS X that allows the buyer to stream music, photos, and video from a Mac or PC to their television.

Because it’s much of a Mac with an Intel processor, a version of OS X, and a hard drive, hackers have already taken pleasure in making custom modifications such as activating the otherwise dormant USB port. The product’s detractors have focused on the small 40 GB hard drive and lack of a DVD player for direct playback of commercially released movies.

NAB 2007

Apple will have a big presence at this year’s NAB conference scheduled to convene on April 14th. Billed as the world’s largest electronic media show, speculation suggests Apple will release a new version of Final Cut Pro during the event. Many Mac enthusiasts hope the company will also announce release dates for new Macintosh content creation hardware at this assemblage of broadcasters and other media professionals.

The March Quarter

Similar to the way economists forecast economic activity and journalists report on the results, Apple has its own cadre of followers who track sales, estimate the company’s performance, and discuss seemingly infinitum the results. Apple is scheduled to report its results for the March-ending quarter on April 25th. We will discuss the results in this column in the May issue of About This Particular Macintosh. Early reports indicate that Macintosh sales are stronger than originally forecast despite the lack of Mac product upgrades during the three-month period and the competing release of Windows Vista during the quarter. Apple ended its fiscal quarter with the company’s share price at $92.91 and off from its all-time high of $97.80 set in January, following the iPhone announcement.

The Education Quarter

The June fiscal quarter has traditionally been Apple’s strongest three-month period for sales to schools, particularly in the K–12 space. Watch for good news this quarter from Apple on education sales and the return of schools that abandoned the Mac years ago over price and single-source supplier issues relating to Apple’s previous go-it-alone chip architecture strategy. The migration to Intel-based Macintoshes has renewed interest in the Mac from schools and enterprises looking for cost-effective and easier-to-use computers. Absent the bloat of Windows, the lesser security risk of Mac OS X, and pricing that matches and often beats competitors on similarly equipped computers, Apple should enjoy brisk education sales this season.

Will Leopard Change Its Spots?

Mac OS X 10.5 is one of the most talked about upgrades to the Macintosh operating system since the Public Beta release of Mac OS X almost seven years ago. The coming release of Leopard will represent the longest period between commercial upgrades of Apple’s modern operating system. On April 29th it will be two years since the release of Mac OS X 10.4 called Tiger.

In public comments about Leopard, Apple CEO Steve Jobs made reference to certain unannounced features to be included in the new OS. These features will be revealed as Leopard is prepared for commercial release. What additional changes might be in store for Leopard? For one, Apple has developed a versatile OS to meet the needs of computer users, developers, consumers interested in entertainment devices and the demands of our increasingly mobile society. Depending on your vantage point, Leopard will have a new look and many new uses.

Seasons of Change

The personal computing experience now extends beyond a user and a desktop. The iPod, Apple TV, and the forthcoming iPhone illustrate the manner in which the needs and desires of computer users are no longer confined to a sedentary spot in the home or office. Laptop sales are beginning to eclipse desktop sales to consumers. The editors of ATPM chronicle the changes in the personal computing experience each month, saving you time and providing useful information in a concise way no matter the season.

Our April issue includes:

Bloggable: They Hit the Snooze Button

To say that Windows Vista isn’t exactly overwhelming users with joy may be understating the case a tad. Wes Meltzer found a couple of Windows geeks who are talking about leaving Windows completely—and at least one is using a Mac. Where is the real world and what have you done with it? That, plus Bill Gates, Fire, and a little post-hoc fallacy fun, in this month’s Bloggable.

Mac About Town: Who’s Got Your Back?

You find out who your real friends are when times are tough. Turns out that the same can be said for tech support. But who thinks about tech support until he sees his bright shiny Mac turning into a bright shining brick? Mike Chamberlain reports on his most recent experience with Apple Care.

MacMuser: Size Is Everything

Most men never believe the old chestnut that size isn’t everything. But now Pfeiffer Consulting has the evidence to prove them wrong.

Next Actions: Getting the Hang of Collection/Gathering

Getting everything into the digital “in box” can be tricky because of multiple buckets. This column looks at different ways to do collection/gathering stage work.

Photoshop for the Curious: Levels and Curves and Oh my!

After reading this month’s column, you may never use the Brightness/Contrast adjustment ever again!

Web Accessibility: What Browsers Can Do

When you visit a Web site, you aren’t powerless or at the mercy of the Web designer, but can take some control of the site’s appearance and functionality. This article considers the powers available to users of Safari, the browser that comes installed on every Mac.

Segments: Takeaway Lessons From Billy Madison

“I’ve been betrayed. Several days ago, I came across a very disturbing post on…a publication for which I have previously written: …By paying the ‘discounted price’ of just $200, you can move to the head of the line and get your product reviewed…”

Desktop Pictures: New England

This month’s desktop pictures were taken by Lee Bennett during a 1997 trip through New England.

Cartoon: Cortland

In this month’s Cortland, our hero finds himself traveling to other dimensions, while persons from other dimensions travel to ours, and the Dark Lord I.T. is trying to travel to other dimensions, or our dimension, or…Heck, there’s just a lot of dimension-traveling going on this month!

Review: Audacity 1.2.6

A working review of the open-source sound editor Audacity, which does much of what expensive editors offer at a price anyone can afford.

Review: Aviator Laptop Stand

A new jack-of-all-trades portable laptop stand that really excels for in-flight computing.

Review: Dodge That Anvil! 1.0.4

Multiple difficulty levels and many power-ups make Dodge That Anvil! enjoyable for a long time.

Review: HomeDock Deluxe

The HomeDock Deluxe has the potential to be a very nice conduit between your iPod and your home entertainment system. Unfortunately, in the condition in which it’s currently shipping, that conduit is more like a gauntlet.

Review: Take Control of Mac OS X Backups 2.0

Joe Kissell provides a thorough and useful guide to nearly every conceivable scenario for backups on the Mac.

Review: Wings3D 0.98.34

Wings3D will appeal to those of you looking to get a start in 3D modeling. Even if you’re not interested in 3D graphics but want to keep your computer-savvy kids busy and out of online trouble, install this small simple program for them to explore.  It is that easy to use.

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