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ATPM 9.11
November 2003




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by Robert Paul Leitao,

Yowza! The editors this month agree. The November issue of ATPM has been declared an official Yowza! issue of our monthly Macintosh Internet magazine. What’s a Yowza! issue? It’s our designation for an issue that provides comprehensive coverage of extraordinary happenings in the world of Macintosh computing. So hold on to your hats, buckle up in your easy chair and get ready for the ride. Welcome to the November issue of ATPM!

OS X Loses Its Spots

On October 24th, Mac OS X lost its Jaguar spots. Panther (Mac OS X 10.3) was released to the world. Panther debuted to cheering throngs of Mac users at Apple retail stores nationwide. Apple closed the stores for a half-hour before the choreographed 8 PM product introduction. Mac fans attending the Apple retail store special event in Santa Monica, CA might have cheered Panther’s release anyway, but the reopening allowed us to come back inside from the cool bayside air.

The latest iteration of Apple’s Unix-based operating system sports more than 150 new features and again raises the bar for the Windows competition. Realizing they were developing a superior OS and head-to-head competition would really be unfair, years ago Apple Computer spotted its Windows rival 95% market share as a momentary lead. Now that Mac OS X has lost its own spots, we expect the Windows market share advantage to disappear sometime late next year. Really, we do.

iTunes for Windows, Too

Apple hosted one more special event in October. This time attendees weren’t locked outside, but the doors were only open to the press and other invitees. Apparently music stars Bono, Mick Jagger, and Dr. Dre couldn’t get a seat. They attended the event briefly via iChat AV. But music artist Sarah McLachlan was able to maneuver a piano onstage to perform live for the invited guests.

Aside from the star power of the music industry luminaries mentioned above, Apple’s CEO introduced one more standout performer—the new iTunes Music Store for Windows. In the first three days or after release, Windows users downloaded more than one million copies of the digital jukebox software and the service sold more than one million songs.

During the event held at San Francisco’s Moscone West auditorium, Mr. Jobs announced that through the end of September Apple had sold more than 1.4 million iPod digital music players since the first iPod was introduced. During the months of July and August, iPods represented 31% of all digital music players sold. Not only did iPods represent almost a third of all players purchased by consumers during the two-month period, but the sales also represented 56% of the revenue from all digital music player sales. The iTunes Music Store also handled 70% of all legal sales of downloaded music.

As if the temporary 95% market share in operating systems isn’t enough, representatives from Microsoft have complained Apple’s use of the AAC open standard for the iTunes Music Store is unfair. The software behemoth would prefer Apple use Microsoft’s proprietary WMA music file format instead.

Virginia Tech Takes the Top Spot (Almost)

Virginia Tech, until now best known for its Division 1A football team, has received world attention recently for another group of world-class competitors—the university’s computer science instructors and students.

Soon after the release of Apple’s G5 computers, student volunteers at Virginia Tech began building one of the world’s fastest supercomputers comprised of 1,100 dual 2 GHz Macs. At press time the Virginia Tech Mac-based supercomputer cluster has been rated at 9.55 teraflops or 9.55 trillion calculations per second, making it the world’s third-fastest super computer. The Virginia Tech super computer, now dubbed the “Big Mac,” has been built with a three-year budget of $5.2 million. By contrast, the world’s fastest super computer, Japan’s Earth Simulator, was constructed for $250 million. No, that amount is not a typo.

The “Big Mac” is the world’s faster supercomputer made from consumer available computers. The only modification made by Virginia Tech students to the G5 otherwise available at the Apple Store was the addition of an Inifiniband card in a PCI-X slot to speed communication between the G5s. The student volunteers were treated to free pizza for their time. Official results of the world’s supercomputer performance competition will be released on November 15th. If you would like an in-depth personal tutorial on the test methods for determining teraflops, please contact Chris Turner, our managing editor. He’ll call you back. Really, he will! Chris is just sorry he missed out on the free pizza.

Apple Beats The Street

For the three months ended September 27, 2003, Apple Computer reported a 19% gain in revenue over the prior year period and a total of 787,000 Mac CPUs shipped in the quarter along with 336,000 iPod digital music players. Excluding extraordinary items Apple reported net earnings of $.08 per share. Wall Street was expecting earnings of $.07. Extraordinary items included, Apple earned $44 million after taxes or $.12 per share. At the end of the September quarter Apple had cash and equivalents of about $4.566 billion. For the fiscal year Apple reported revenue of $6.21 billion. Only $3 million of Apple’s revenue for the quarter and fiscal year came from the sale of supercomputer cluster components (otherwise known as the dual 2 GHz G5) to Virginia Tech.

The Yowza! Issue Continues…

In this month’s special Yowza! issue of ATPM our writers and editors review several Mac-related products and continue our look at today’s state-of-the-Mac. While we don’t offer free pizza, we do offer our thanks. We appreciate your support. We really, really do!


Our November issue includes:

The Candy Apple: What’s in a Name?

How would your life be different if you changed your legal name to match your online name?

Machine Language: Advertising and Apple

Apple’s advertising for the iPod and the Apple Music Store is fine, but what about the rest of the lineup? Machine Language columnist Matt Coates says Apple could learn a thing or two from the new Microsoft and HP ads and mentions products and services that should be getting more attention from the marketing department.

The Desktop Muse: A New Computer, a New Column, a New Life

David Ozab returns from hiatus with a semi-regular column about the Mac, music, and multimedia.

Quick Tips in Design: Part 5—Shape

Andrew Kator continues his series of graphics tutorials. This month, he examines shape and compares the simple, complex, geometric, natural, and the abstract.

About This Particular Outliner: Outliner Features—Part 2

In this month’s outlining column, Ted Goranson finishes his survey of outlining features.

Cartoon: Cortland

Cortland and Todd encounter all variety of irony as they search for new jobs—and NeoCort makes another appearance.

Cartoon: iTrolls

The iTrolls encounter delusional Bill, Appleman, lawyers, Ballmeratronics, and .Mac’s blogging software.

Desktop Pictures: Thailand

Reader Grover Watson contributes photos from Bangkok, Thailand.

Reviews: Huevos 1.1 and iSeek 1.0

Preferring keyboard use before mouse use, ATPM Editor Michael Tsai examines two search tools to see how well they cater to this preference.

Reviews: ID Bag and Brain Cell

Continuing our spurt of reviews of bags and cases for various portable devices, Chris Lawson takes a look at two options from Tom Bihn.

Review: iPod: The Missing Manual (book)

One may think using an iPod is very straightforward. Gregory Tetrault reviews a book with 344 pages that say otherwise.

Review: iTrip

In spite of very small annoyances and challenges, Eric Blair still finds the iTrip to be the perfect solution for road trips with car radios that lack cassette players and auxiliary inputs.


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