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ATPM 13.09
September 2007




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by Robert Paul Leitao,

Welcome to the September issue of About This Particular Macintosh! We begin the fall school term with anecdotal reports tha the Mac has reached new heights of popularity on college campuses across the country. A few years ago a Mac in the dorm or classroom was seen almost as an oddity in an otherwise Windows-centric world. The iPod and the iPhone are driving college students to the Macintosh in droves. We expect these reports of a hot Mac market on campus to be validated in August and September PC industry sales estimates.

How might the popularity of the Mac change computing on campus? We will be following this story in the months to come.

Audacious Tidbits and Puckish Musings

Years ago an editor at ATPM observed, based on our content and approach to editorial development, that the letters stood less for “About This Particular Macintosh” and more for “Audacious Tidbits and Puckish Musings”. Maybe she was correct in her observations. At ATPM we celebrate not the computer, but the “personal computing experience.”

We chronicle the interplay between people and technology and the manner in which computing enhances our lives at home, at work and at play. In the information age and this technology era, the personal computer brings news and information into our homes and offices much more quickly than most would have imagined just a few short years ago.

The Macintosh is unique in its functionality and design. Good news or bad, the Macintosh delivers content in a way that’s unmatched by any other PC in the world. This month we look at the news in a decidedly ATPM kind of way.

The Month That Wasn’t

August is a month of vacations, high temperatures, and a race against the calendar to pack in as much fun in the sun before September’s Labor Day weekend and the unofficial end of summer. We began August’s 31-day trek with high hopes of warm sunny days, a reprieve from the pressures of the clock, and a respite from day-to-day cares to replenish, recharge, and re-create. The waves of early August optimism crashed against the rocks of economic reality as the sub-prime crisis took center stage, the stock market plummeted, and news stories about a global credit and liquidity crisis filled the newspapers and airwaves. The innocence of summer gave way to reporters covering the rise in home foreclosures and dissipating consumer confidence. September should be a better month for news. It’s too bad most us will be reading that news at our desks instead of in the backyard or at the beach.

NBC Forgets the ABCs

At press time Apple announced that the company will not be selling NBC television content for the upcoming season through the iTunes Store. Rather than subject customers to a near trebling of the price for NBC shows, Apple has chosen not to offer the content through iTunes. Has NBC forgotten the ABCs of success by choosing not to provide content to consumers at an industry competitive price?

ABC and other content distributors appear content with the $1.99 retail price for TV shows sold through iTunes. We’ll soon know if the executives at NBC change their demands. Can Apple influence pricing on behalf of consumers? This story will continue to unfold as the fall season begins and other online distributors enter the market to compete with Apple.

The September 5th Apple Special Event

Apple fans who have had their fill of August’s problematic economic news are cheered by the announcement of a September 5th Apple special event. Tagged with the line “The beat goes on,” rumor boards and newsrooms are filled with speculation about Apple’s planned announcements. It’s easy to assume the announcements will have something to do with the iPod and music. It’s not as easy to assume what Apple has in store. To stay two steps ahead of the competition, most of us assume we’ll soon have new iPods made available in September for the Christmas season. Let’s just assume that no matter the liquidity challenges faced by millions of homeowners, it will be another merry holiday season for iPod sales. Stayed tuned for more in our October issue.

The August Apple Special Event

Among the few bright spots in an otherwise challenging month were the introductions of the new iMac and iLife ’08 at an August 7th Apple special event. Priced more competitively and in a new enclosure, the new iMac is receiving generally favorable reviews. Many of these favorable reviews are coming from PC publications that had previously dismissed the Mac as merely a niche product. The iMac is being ignored no more.

iWork Goes to Work (Finally!)

While many of us enjoy discussing and debating the merits of Apple products, the attractiveness and usefulness of the Mac and its intriguing functionality, there was one matter upon which virtually all of us agreed—the lack of a spreadsheet component in the iWork productivity package was a glaring hole in the product. Relegated to home and school use due to the absence of a spreadsheet component, the new iWork suite includes Numbers, a spreadsheet component that nicely integrates with Keynote and Pages. iWork is now ready for work. It may take time for iWork to supplant Office in a Mac office, but the new iWork suite has garnered the interest of Mac owners who use their computer for heavy work as well as for play.

Acer Buys Gateway

Taiwan-based Acer is trying to stay at least one step ahead of Lenovo, its mainland rival in the global PC business. In late August, it was announced that Acer is purchasing beleaguered US PC maker Gateway in a deal scheduled to close before the end of the year. Lenovo’s purchase of IBM’s PC division has not brought that company the global success it expected. Acer is taking the fight to Lenovo in the US through the Gateway acquisition while the two firms battle for growth in Europe. For Apple, the Gateway acquisition means it will take the company just a bit more time to recapture the #3 spot in PC domestic sales. Growing at a pace about three times more quickly than the PC business itself, Apple’s surge in Mac sales should not be affected by the Acer acquisition of Gateway.

The Bayou Bengals

The fall semester ushers in a new college football season. The pageantry, traditions, and storied rivalries begin anew for the new school year. This month, in a nod to the interests of our managing editor, we make honorable mention of the LSU Tigers and the team’s pursuit of a unified national championship. Winners of the 2003 BCS National Championship, the imperfect BCS bowl system left the AP national championship that year in the hands of the men of Troy rather than the boys of Baton Rouge. Lamenting the perceived lack of attention paid the SEC’s perennial championship contender, we make mention today of LSU’s highest pre-season raking since 1959. Debuting in the #2 spot, the Tigers have high hopes of winning it all this season. For the sake of editorial constraint, we won’t mention which team debuted at #1. Will this be the year the Tigers get their national championship game against the Trojans? Computing aside, September is the month to get back to school, back to work and back to life—pageantry and rivalries included.

Our September issue includes:

Bloggable: Our Sense of Childlike Wonder

There’s no Santa Claus? No Easter Bunny? And Fake Steve Jobs isn’t really a Silicon Valley celebrity, or Steve Jobs himself? Turns out he’s just some East Coast senior editor at a magazine? What a let-down. The bloggerati react to the unveiling of the real Fake Steve Jobs, plus spam, spam, spam, egg and spam, in this month’s Bloggable.

MacMuser: IT Pros Are Anything But

Mark Tennent wonders what’s wrong with FTP.

MacMuser: Time, Ladies and Gentlemen

Microsoft could take some lessons from competitors regarding the amount of time required to perform certain tasks.

Photoshop for the Curious: Creating Seamless Tiles

A single tool in Photoshop plus a little know-how with the Clone Stamp or Healing Brush tools are all you need to convert most any pattern or texture into one that seamlessly tiles repeatedly.

Desktop Pictures: Great Ocean Road, Australia

Reader Jennifer Curry provides this month’s images of Great Ocean Road in Australia.

Cartoon: Cortland

More and more, the swing dance hall offers naught but misery for Cortland, while Todd suffers iPhone temptation. We’re also given a handy guide to online forum denizens.

Review: Cocktail 3.8.1

Cocktail puts a wide variety of Mac OS X system, interface, and application settings under one application roof.

Review: Curio 4.0

Since our review of version 2.4, Curio has become a full-featured project planning suite.

Review: NetNewsWire 3.0

The most recent update to NetNewsWire represents more of an evolutionary change for a product that has traditionally seen major changes. Not that that’s a bad thing.

Review: radioSHARK 2

A primarily visual refresh that does nothing to improve the poor reception or atrocious software.

Review: Snapz Pro X 2.1.1

With many enhancements over the built-in screen capture methods, including the ability to record screen movements into QuickTime movies, Snapz Pro X is an indispensable tool for all Mac document writers, but there is a catch.

Review: Stikkit

Stikkit is a Web service that combines a personal information manager, a notes database, and natural-language parsing into one complex and very powerful service to organize your whole life. All you have to do is write a few simple sentences. You stukkit!

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