eXtra Notes

Blue Apple

Graham K. Rogers

Unpublished ideas that are not going to make it into print

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Like the last xnotes, I was in the middle of collecting loads of items for a podcast, when I thought that (A) I have too much, and (B) this would be better shared by the medium of print -- or at least the website. It fulfils the intent that I had when I first started with these xnotes: to put stuff in circulation that might get lost, and would certainly not see the light of day in the eXtensions columns.

In a best effort to meet demand for its top-selling iPod nano this Christmas and New Year holiday, Apple Computer is building and shipping 100,000 of the ultra-slim digital music players each day, reliable sources tell AppleInsider. This is approximately 9 million units per quarter. How many extra computer sales might that lead to. AppleInsider is one of those sites that is worth looking at from time to time, especially in rumour time (see below) as they have some of the better advanced ideas concerning Apple.

I keep getting the feeling from looking around here, and from my mailbox, that there are more local users than before; and I was asked if my name could be put forward to help teach some western customers who were moving to Macs from PCs. I actually suggested this a couple of years back to someone local here -- it was obvious that even System 9 users (and before) might need some guidance -- the original purpose of the eXtensions column although that has fallen by the wayside a bit. I get more columns but precious little space in each, particularly when compared to others.

Jealous? Me? Yes.

'Tis the season to be silly. And I am not talking about the end of year red white and green colour schemes and all that this entails: humbug.

Once we get past the end of year celebrations, and I shall be getting quietly sloshed at home, the real silliness comes with the crescendo of rumours on the approach to the Mac World Conference in San Francisco in early January when The Steve will as usual deliver the keynote address and we all hang on his every word waiting for that delicious moment when he says, "Oh, and one more thing."

Several "one more things" may be coming and not only in terms of hardware, but let me deal with that first. Locally, dealers are convinced that there is something BIG about to happen. Not that the dealers are told anything: that would be like sending email to all the world and his friend. They get the impression from rumours emanating from Apple here who seem to be on standby. I must admit that I was told at the last demo I went to, "See you in January" and when I raised an eyebrow there was a hasty cough, cough and it was covered up with "Well, that's the conference and there's BOUND to be something. . . ." Indeed there is.

I heard this week that Dell and NEC are about to produce laptops with the Intel Yonah chip on board. This is one of those chips that has been suggested for Apple's Intel machines. Now Dell is planning these to come out in February; and Apple has the conference in January. Could we see Intel Macs then?

In part confirmation (and this is how devious it all gets) a school area in North Carolina is replacing its laptops early -- at 2 and a half years instead of three -- so that they continue with PowerPC Macs as this will be QUOTE "before the company announces its new product lines Jan. 9, 2006." This came from a newspaper called the Free Press.

According to sources, last week members of Apple's marketing team wrangled over the release of 1GB iPod nano -- essentially a 2GB nano sans half the flash memory -- which the company recently showed to its business partners and considered for release early next year.

Some members of the team reportedly argued that 1GB iPod nano would occupy the same value space as a redesigned iPod shuffle, which Apple is expected to introduce at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco during the second week of January. One should also note that the local distributor has stopped offering the 1G iPod shuffle as the price is already too close to that of the nano.

For a 1GB iPod nano to be successful in the digital music player market, sources say Apple would need to price the player aggressively at the $149.99 price point, which poses the question of whether the iPod maker could sustain its profit margins on such a model. Sources and analysts believe Apple could market its second-generation 512MB iPod shuffle for as little as $79.99. which is about 3300 baht. To be scrupulously honest, I am pretty sure I copied that above -- not the local stuff -- from an online source and I cannot remember where: remember some of these points were initially intended as notes for a podcast.

Apple has made available a resource for IT developers. One featured profile is the US Army whose website is attacked regularly, so they use OS X Server. Also available are some spiffy downloads for the skilled among us. There is also a nice selection of Open Source and Freeware utilities for networking, programming and server use.

A columnist for that unbiased publication, USA Today, predicts that 2006 will be the year that Steve Jobs falls from the popularity pedestal, on the grounds that what goes up, must come down, eh?

The same writer, Kevin Maney, also predicts that in 2006 cellphone cameras will actually become useful (you should tell that to the BBC following its coverage of the London bombings), RSS will become the next big thing (I presume that is when MS finally catches up), and Google will help Microsoft get its groove back. Well, something has to; although another column elsewhere tells us that MS, having teamed up with MTV, is hoping for a HALO EFFECT™. I guess HP is too as they have just announced another re-entry into the music business.

I just saw in the Register that a consortium of computer and consumer electronics companies (including Apple and Intel) has come together to produce the next generation of video connector. VGA, DVI, now what? It is UDI, unified display interface. All in the interests of what?

The Register also carried an item with an idea that has appeared before: the popular 'earbud' type headphones worn by users of iPods and MP3 players could lead to hearing loss.

The warning comes from Dean Garstecki, a Northwestern University audiologist and professor, who said that because earbuds are placed directly into the ear, they can boost the sound signal by as much as six to nine decibels.

I spoke to my ear doctor -- he thinks us westerners get more ear infections than Thais in the rainy season -- and I asked him whether the iPod was a problem. He concluded that as long as the volume was not too high and for not too long, it would not be problematic, eh?

While listening to an interview last week on the Mac Night Owl, with Dr Smoke, he suggests that, if OS X (Tiger) users have Adobe Acrobat 7.0 they should make sure that they update to 7.0.5 otherwise their systems could build up massive logs of several gigabytes very quickly. Apparently it took Adobe 7 months to fix that one.

Locally the newly opened Paragon Centre has a few stores with an IT flavour, and has some Macs on sale on floor 3. This is right next to the planned Apple store run by Copperwired -- the same guys in Siam Discovery and Soi Thonglor. Although one or two prices in the Paragon Centre store now are worth comparing (although not the PowerBook I saw which was fearsomely over-priced), there is no 3 year warranty that is provided by other stores, so it will be interesting to see if there is any change when that new outlet is ready. I recently bought a basic Mac mini from Copperwired at the knock-down price of 16,900 (there are still some there and I may pick up another one at the end of the month).

I am also buying a 1.42 GHz Mac mini with superdrive from EITS, who do an education discount. With these machines I am picking up, I will start to create a small Mac centre in my office as I am fed up waiting for pigs to learn to fly and those in the position of making decisions to wake up to the fact that turning out engineers -- particularly computer engineers -- with experience only of Windows (no mattter how widespread it is), is not in our best interests. Donations will be gratefully received, etc., etc., etc.. . . .

All materials ©copyright G.K. Rogers. Free for individual use.

Other links:

Bangkok Post, Database
Mac Center: Thailand
OSX Faq Mac Dr Smoke's X Lab Site George Mann
Applelinks MacNightOwl MacNightOwl

Phuket Mac User Group

For further information, e-mail to Graham K. Rogers.

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