Welcome to the March issue of ATPM. Before we introduce the columns and reviews for this month, let’s take a look at some recent Mac-related happenings:
On February 21, Steve Jobs presented the keynote address at Macworld Expo in Tokyo, Japan. Clad in unusually proper attire (a pinstripe suit) Jobs devoted the first portion of his presentation to topics discussed during the MW Expo SF keynote address. He introduced the PowerBook G4 and the new Power Mac G4 desktop towers to the Japanese audience—noting that both are now shipping in volume—and also showed off many of his favorite OS X features. One important announcement for the Japanese market was the inclusion of several Japanese fonts in OS X, as well as the introduction of a Japanese version of iTools.
The Japanese audience certainly welcomed these announcements with great excitement. Those of us with faster Internet connections were able to view a QuickTime stream of the keynote after the fact (Apple did not provide live streaming) and it was clear, though not especially surprising, that Jobs hit a home run with the Japanese fonts.
The next announcement, however, was received with somewhat ambiguous enthusiasm. Jobs introduced two new iMacs, complete with new “flavors”—Flower Power and Blue Dalmation. There were moments of awkward silence while the iMacs were displayed on stage. An eventual applause filled the hall, but it was almost as if the audience were obeying an “Applaud” sign which had lit to counteract the shear confusion that no doubt struck the attendees. Our readers will discover that the new iMac flavors have proven quite the hot little topic of conversation among ATPM staffers, as will be evident from the two columns this month that discuss Flower Power and Blue Dalmation.
On a more clearly positive front, Jobs announced price reductions on both the Cube and the Cinema Display. He promised to work hard in continuing to lower prices when possible. Also worthy of mention: iTunes 1.1 was debuted, offering support for many third party CD-R/RW drives.
No doubt the most exciting news from MW Tokyo, however, is that the nVidia GeForce3 video board will be available for the Mac prior to its introduction on any other platform! The card will be a BTO option on the G4 towers. There is certainly every indication that the nVidia will provide an unprecedented level of video performance, and that combined with the G4, and soon OS X, the Mac itself may redefine the standard for high performance graphics workstations.
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Finally, let us note the final passing of MacWEEK, which will be rolled into MacCentral on March 5. Although most people feel that MacWEEK was never the same after it was renamed eMedia Weekly and then brought online, many remember how great it once was. We’re sorry that it had to end this way, but thankful that we were able to enjoy the publication for so many years.
Last month’s reader poll asked where you bought your last Mac. Interestingly enough, mail order stores (such as MacMall, Outpost.com, etc.) trumped the online Apple Store by more than 200%—the former weighed in at 38% and the latter at 17%. The second most popular category was “Small Computer Shop (Computer Town, etc.)” at 22%. Computer Mega Centers like CompUSA pulled 12%, and the remaining votes were distributed among College/School Stores (5%), Department Stores (3%), and “It was a gift” (2%).
This month we want to know how fast your Internet connection is…go cast your vote!
Tom Iovino tackles the iMac’s image as a toy, the Mac product line, and how Apple’s new flavors and hang-up on the Cube merely confound the problem.
“Can somebody please explain why Apple has released the latest color combinations on the iMac? Again, I have to wail in protest. We come back to the question that has plagued the Macintosh since 1984—why does it look so much like a cute, little toy? Now, I know that there are Cube fans out there, but I’m not sure exactly how the Cube is supposed to fit in with this marketing strategy. The sales on these new machines haven’t been encouraging, and it is leading to a product line that’s once again becoming unwieldy to market.”
The new iMac flavors appear to be quite a hot topic here at ATPM. David Ozab puts his pen to page regarding his distaste for them:
“The new iMacs might look like the tunes Steve Jobs keeps in his library (judging by his iTunes demo), but they certainly don’t match my taste in music, not to mention my decor. Perhaps they’re designed to coordinate with the trippy visualizations of iTunes, which, to me, look somewhat like an Apple-branded version of the “Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite” segment of 2001. I’m starting to sense a pattern here. Have Steve and pals been growing mushrooms on the Cupertino campus? Will the next iMac designs sync with iTunes audio? Whoa, dude!”
This month, Paul Fatula shares his favorite book- and text-related Web sites, including the Advanced Book Exchange, Applefritter, and The On-Line Books Page. Also mentioned, though not related to books, are Twenty Questions and the Journal of Mundane Behavior.
Paul Fatula reviews a truly unusual wireless input device:
“Different from any mouse I’ve seen before, the FinRing is a mouse that you wear on your right index finger. It’s wireless, sending its signal to a small receiving unit that plugs into your USB port. Surprisingly, no special software is needed; your Mac reads the signals just as though they were coming from any standard mouse.”
Gregory Tetrault evaluates an outlining and diagramming tool:
“Inspiration can best be described as a visual aid for outlining, conceptualizing, and planning. You use Inspiration to create flow charts, brainstorming diagrams, concept maps, and text outlines.”
In this review Eric Blair introduces us to a different type of e-mail client:
“One of the advantages of e-mail is that you can, theoretically, read it anywhere that there’s a computer. Unfortunately, this is also one of e-mail’s disadvantages—how are you going to get to your e-mail? For cases like these, a program like Mail Beacon fills the void.”
Gregory Tetrault checks out the successor to MacInTax:
“TurboTax helps you prepare your federal and state income tax forms. The program will walk you through all the steps needed to complete and file your tax returns. TurboTax will use information from your previous return to get you started. TurboTax can import financial data from Quicken or other financial programs. TurboTax can also file returns electronically.”
Michael Tsai compares one version control solution to its competitors:
“If you be manage non-Mac files, such as a Web site, you should investigate both VOODOO and CVS to see which is better for you. VOODOO supports orthogonal version management and a unified interface. CVS has several clients to choose from, is cross-platform, and is more efficient for many tasks once you learn to use it. If you need version control to manage Mac files (e.g., with resource forks), VOODOO is probably the best choice. It’s much easier to use than Projector and, I’m told, more reliable.”
This month ATPM Managing Editor Daniel Chvatik presents some wonderful desktop pictures from his summer trip to beautiful St. Lucia.