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ATPM 8.02
February 2002






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On a Clear Day You Can See the Hollywood Sign

by Mike Shields,


As my three long time readers know, this month I’d write about my reaction to the sad state of affairs that Super Bowl commercials have become, a trend started after Apple’s 1984 ad. And again this year, we are to be sadly disappointed, as Apple has chosen not to spend the $2 million necessary to secure a 30-second spot. And February is the month I started writing for ATPM, so, I make a mention of that. However, things haven’t been normal lately, and therefore I find myself in the unique position of being able to comment on the recent Macworld Expo, not even having been there.

What Do We Know?

A line from a Pink Panther movie, however, strangely relevant. Most of the good stuff was released at the recent DV Expo, which I told you about the last time. And QuickTime Live will be next month, so, that’s next column. What did we get? A really funky next-generation iMac. Sure, it’s got all the latest and greatest features, at least according to my last MacMall catalogue—however, somehow, I was expecting more. And what is this iPhoto? The world may never know.

Well, OK, I can tell you, but the Apple site does it better. And it’s only available on OS X? Some of us are still limping along with the Mac they bought five, six, even seven years ago.

Who is this software for? According to Steve, everyone with a digital camera. According to me, some people with a digital camera, a dual-processor G4 and OS X. The reality is probably somewhere in between, although, you definitely need OS X.

The question you have to ask yourself is, “Self, can my current Mac handle OS X?” Well, for me, the answer is “no.” I suppose for most of you others, the answer may well be “no” as well. Even if you have a G3. Apple is being sued. Check out this recent story at MacCentral, which brings us to the other major announcement at Macworld Expo.

The Next Generation iMac

For those of you that haven’t seen it, it looks something like the bridge of the Enterprise—from whichever series you may like the most. It does indeed have the G4 processor, as well as the funky, flexible, fifteen-inch flat-screen. Try saying that three times fast. It’s OK, I’ll wait. Not to mention the circular base. A good use of space, or an ugly eyesore? You be the judge….

The good news is, it has the same display range as most 17" monitors, complete with 1024x768 resolution. So, if I really wanted to, I could do the movie thing on it. The high end model has a big enough hard drive, more than enough FireWire and USB ports, and a SuperDrive. All for a mere $1800. As we’ve previously discussed, bringing down the cost on a low budget movie is always a good thing. And making the Writer/Director/Editor/Best Boy’s job easier is another plus. OK, maybe I’m taking on a bit too much. I didn’t even mention that I’m the star, as I won’t really be using a Mac on screen, in a movie set in 1939. You’ll have to wait for the second sequel for that.

What Else Happened?

Not that much. The speed bumps and the Gigahertz G4’s didn’t really happen ’til recently. I’m sure there were a lot of third-party announcements of new software, however, right now, nothing comes to recent memory.

OK, ATI came out with a TV Tuner with a USB connector, which will work with a Mac. But maybe not for OS X. Small comfort for those who bought the same device at least year’s Expo with the expectation that it would work with OS X.

And Chris Horvath, of Tweak Films demonstrated how it was easy to port his company’s 3D wave software to a G4 running OS X, because of its Unix underpinnings. His company is responsible for stunning effects in several recent films, including Deep Impact and The Perfect Storm. With the added GeForce3 video card, it was even able to run faster than it ever had under Unix.

And Earth Browser has been upgraded as well. I have a friend that signs on every night to check the weather in Newport Beach CA. It’s also nice to know that she’ll be able to check the weather in Newport Beach, RI as well.

And, for fans of Schrödinger, Atom in a Box has also been upgraded. Everything you could possibly want to know about Quantum Mechanics, but were afraid to ask.

For the gamers among you, a company called Pyrogon Inc, has come out with Stellar Deep, an online role-playing game for OS X. And Ambrosia Software released Deimos Rising, the pulse-pounding sequel to Mars Rising. I never got the hang of Ares. Oh well, it runs on Macs faster than mine. Again, time to upgrade.

And something really cool, well, for guys like me anyway, MacReporter. Instead of going to thirty to forty different Web sites, all the news that’s fit to regurgitate to you, the home reader, now comes to me. OK, so, I’ve been rendered obsolete.

Maybe had I actually gone to the Expo this year, I’d have a different take on it. I don’t really know what I wanted out of this year’s Expo. The economic downturn certainly affected it, as there were 20% less companies than last year. Also missing were the large advertising banners that in previous years, were draped across almost all the available wall space. Enthusiasm was at an all time high, however, thanks to the power of Steve and his 22nd-century iMac.

72 and sunny in Redondo.

e You next time.


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