Welcome to the February issue of ATPM. Issue 7.02 contains the following articles, reviews, and features. Before we introduce them, though, here’s a short look at major Mac news items from January:
Mac OS X will be released on March 24, and Apple will likely honor purchases of the OS X Public Beta using restricted coupons.
Last month’s reader poll asked for your favorite MP3 player. 47% preferred SounJam MP, and 24% preferred Audion. QuickTime Player collected 8%, and the remainder of the votes were divided among MacAST, SoundApp, and other players.
Our internal staff poll showed a similar division: one third SoundJam, one third Audion, and one third other players. Note that the poll was started before iTunes was introduced, so it does not include that choice.
This month we want to know where you bought your current Mac. Go cast your vote!
Tom Iovino explains the reasons why people may be afraid to shop online and why their fears may be exaggerated.
“The lessons I learned that day in Maryland are the ones that cause quite a few people to shy away from shopping on the Internet. How do you know that someone won’t overcharge you when you make a purchase on the Internet? And just how secure is your information? Can someone charge on your credit card?”
In his final installment of AKA, Robert Paul Leitao discerns fact from fiction in life, on TV, and in the PC industry.
“Since the introduction of the Apple II, rumors and prognostications of Apple’s imminent demise have filled the papers, the airwaves and now the Internet. Whether the figurative “Martians in the manholes” were IBM, Microsoft, concerns about MHz speeds, software availability, market share, or even product price, Apple Computer has survived and in most years the company has thrived. Bad fiction can never mirror reality.”
David Ozab shares his opinions on iTunes, Yamaha’s mLan, Apple’s music strategy, and the latest NAMM show.
“The promise to start a desktop music revolution comes sixteen years too late. Instead, Apple should do everything in its power to support the continued third-party development of hardware and software that centers around their computers in order to keep the support from musicians that they still enjoy. In part, this means continued support of PCI-based solutions through the G4 desktop. The addition of a fourth PCI slot was an important step, but it also needs the continued advocacy of FireWire and the encouragement of third party developers, Yamaha in particular, to transform products from vaporware to hardware.”
This month, Paul Fatula uncovered the following Web sites: Isys Information Architects Inc. (user interface praise and blunders), MobiusCo (abstract desktop pictures), Patrick Combs’ Good Thinking Site (amazing story about a $95,093.35 junk mail check), Privacy.Org (updates on Internet privacy), Spammimic (encodes messages as spam ;-)).
Jamie McCornack explains two transition tricks for iMovie and iMovie 2, in particular “Slow Motion” and “Beam Things Up.”
“Let’s say, for example, you want your cat to materialize from thin air. I don’t know why, maybe you’re doing a documentary on quantum physics, but let’s say that’s what you want to do. Aim your camcorder at a comfy chair and turn it to Record. Now take your unsuspecting kitty, and being sure to keep yourself out of the picture, toss it onto the chair.”
Evan Trent explains the use of audio file formats for the use on CDs.
“In my opinion it makes more sense to just burn out the MP3s directly to an audio CD using Toast 4.x. This will result in a CD that is playable on a home stereo, and the sound quality will be no worse than the MP3 source file, although you will not be able to fit as many songs on the CD as if you converted and compressed the AIFF files beforehand.”
Richard A. Fowell reviews and compares two shareware/freeware chess programs, Sigma Chess 5.12 and Vanessa Chess.
“These days, chess strength should seldom be your primary decision factor in selecting a chess program. With the power of modern Macs, even Vanessa Chess is a much stronger player than most humans when set to full strength. For an opponent that is challenging, rather than unbeatable, one must usually set the computer to an “easy” level, or limit the number of moves the program looks ahead to one or two moves (“fixed depth 1" or “fixed depth 2" in computer chess argot). Price and convenience of acquisition are important factors, and commercial programs can’t touch the price of freeware/shareware programs (Vanessa Chess is $10 shareware, the other four are freeware) or the convenience of downloading.”
Matthew Glidden reviews Driver, the newest car racing game from MacSoft.
“You assume the role of an ex-race driver turned policeman who goes deep undercover to infiltrate organized crime syndicates across the country. You turn in your gun and badge for the keys to a 70s muscle car and the chance to build a reputation for fast wheels and cool nerves among the law-breaking elite. The game features a wide variety of missions, most of which are courier- or chase-oriented, following location or time objectives in a race around realistically-modeled US cities while avoiding police pursuit.”
In this mini-review, Christopher Turner introduces us to his favorite SoundJam MP Skin, whose interface is reminiscent of the Final Cut Pro look.
“The interface is simple and uncluttered. The uppermost left button closes not only the interface, but the application, which is standard across all SoundJam skins. Just beneath the title bar the skin shows the encoding rate and KHz rating for the file being played, and whether it is in stereo or mono. A timer plays in the far right just beneath the WindowShade button.”
Daniel Chvatik looks at Apple’s newest “killer app,” a trendy MP3 player that wants to excel through ease of use and close system integration.
“While I think iTunes is a great program, some things about it bother me. For one, it’s slow, especially once you add a lot of songs. Just try clicking on your playlists back and forth. It takes over a second to load a short list. The redraw is so slow that you can actually see it. This is not a big problem if you just listen to music, but if you want to actively manage your playlists, it can be quite annoying.”
Gregory Tetrault introduces the computer version of the popular TV show. Now you can prove how much better your are than those people on TV.
“In spite of the minor problems listed above, I enjoy playing Jeopardy! I played so often while writing this review that I have encountered some questions three times. The game is still challenging for me when set to highest difficulty with adaptive AI (artificial intelligence).”
Eric Blair evaluates the newest version of the popular golf program.
“I’ll be honest—I don’t like playing golf. I’ve never seen the point of hitting a small white ball around a grassy area, finding said ball, and repeating the process till the ball ends up in the hole. Personally, if I’m trying to sink a ball into a hole, I’ll go out and play pool. That being said, I’ve always enjoyed computer golf games.”
David Ozab reviews the FireWire CD-RW drive by QPS.
“First, I tested the drive as an audio burner. Using the inexpensive generic CD-R included, I burned a data file at 8x with no problems. Then, using another cheap disc (which I would never recommend), I burned an audio file at 8x. The drive and the interface had no problems with the extra demands of audio either.”
David Ross shares his experiences with the new Iomega ZipCD, a 4x4x6 USB CD-RW drive.
“Within minutes, I was burning my first CD with nothing more than a cursory glance at the manual. I’d heard horror stories about the time it takes to burn a CD so I started off with a 50 MB text folder to get the feel of things. Having dragged and dropped, I chose Simulation Mode from the Recorder menu—a handy little function which, as you would expect from the title, simulates a recording in real time. If all goes well, there should be no Toaster coasters when it comes to the real thing.”
MobiusCo and ATPM Staff member Lee Bennett present their fantastic desktop pictures this month. Lee’s pictures are from Florida Lighthouses, while Mobius’ introduces us to the world of digital art.
The Answers!—Ed Goss reveals the answers to last month’s Trivia Challenge.