Welcome to the July edition of About This Particular Macintosh! In just a few days, mission Deep Impact may provide clues to the origins of the universe. The project is one only NASA could design. Think about it: a man-made spacecraft is racing across the cosmos on a course to collide with a comet the size of Manhattan on Independence Day in order to create a crater the size of the stadium that sits at One Patriot Place. It’s a star-spangled kind of thing that may give July 4th fireworks a whole new meaning. NASA is looking for celestial clues to the beginnings of Earth.
Deep Impact is scheduled to complete its fiery mission less than a month after Apple Computer set off some fireworks of its own. Think about it: the renegades of the PC industry who inspired us to Think Different may be creating a deep impact of their own by abandoning an 11-year chip partnership with their first nemesis, to set the company on a collision course with its one of its first developer partners and recent 11-year nemesis. The first battle of the operating systems has long been over, but the second big battle may be about to begin. The switch to Intel may come six months from now, but the clues to Apple’s product planning may take several more months to unearth.
The Intel on Intel
To the surprise of only a few people in the WWDC audience, Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs announced in early June that Mac OS X has been compiled over the years for both the PowerPC and the Intel chip architectures. What surprised some people in the audience is the announcement that Apple will be migrating the Macintosh to the Intel chip architecture beginning in 2006 with the transition mostly complete by the end of 2007. To the surprise of just about everyone in the audience, the computer used by Mr. Jobs during the keynote address was an Intel computer running Mac OS X.
The Big Why?
Why would Apple transition from the PowerPC to Intel chips? In the words of Mr. Jobs, it comes down to power consumption in relation to performance. In other words, future Intel chips offer more punch for the power. Using what’s called “universal binaries,” developers can prepare Mac OS X applications for both PowerPC and Intel chips.
The Big Lie?
Two years ago Steve Jobs promised the WWDC audience that Apple would soon release a 3 GHz G5. Unfortunately, IBM’s G5 chip development lagged behind expectations. It wasn’t that Steve Jobs lied; his plans for faster Macs ended up being denied. Apple will continue to release PowerPC-based G5 computers until the transition to Intel chips is complete.
Color My World
Or at least color my iPod. Responding to several months of product speculation, in late June Apple announced its first color-screen iPods that aren’t called “iPod photo.” Of course, this product release hasn’t squelched more speculation. Mac users are a surly lot! Many now speculate Apple will eventually release a video iPod no matter the size of the iPod’s small screen. In the meantime, the color iPods are ideal for viewing photos and will display album artwork in their original hues.
The new color iPods come in 20 and 60 GB varieties and will carry as many as 25,000 photos. For those of us who use an iPod to color our world with music, the new iPods add a bit of visual panache to our songs.
Color My Radio
In announcing the color iPods, Apple also announced the release of iTunes 4.9. The newest version of iTunes supports podcasting, a word that has quickly entered the American vernacular. Podcasting has been called “TiVo for radio.” It allows iPod users to download pre-recorded content through iTunes to their iPods and listen to the content at their convenience. iTunes supports subscription arrangements, allowing users to “subscribe” and automatically download new podcasts as they become available.
With the new color iPods adding color to one’s music, the array of audio content available through podcasts adds a bit of “color” to what’s available on the “radio.”
When Does a Leopard Get its Spots?
Actually, that should read “When does Leopard get its spot in the Apple product line?” The answer: late 2006 or early 2007. Leopard is the code-name for the next version of OS X. Many of us are still wrestling with Tiger, and yet another OS X beast is now being tentatively scheduled for release.
Leopard will find its spot just as Microsoft’s long overdue update to Windows XP is scheduled to hit store shelves. Tiger has brought new features to Mac users and has set new standards in functionality for popular operating systems. Leopard running on Intel chips may provide Apple with the bounce it needs to pounce on much of Microsoft’s share of the operating system market. By the time Leopard and Longhorn are available to consumers, both operating systems will have the Intel chip architecture in common.
The Spirit of 76
That’s the percentage of market share of the digital music player market held by the iPod in all of its various forms. The spirit of continued innovation that’s bringing the color iPod to market may help Apple maintain its commanding share of market through the balance of the calendar year. The iTunes Music Store is close to reaching one-half billion songs sold.
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We welcome you to our July issue and all of the explosive news and views our digital pages may hold. Our July issue includes:
Michael Tsai introduces ATPM’s new publishing system and what the changes will mean to you.
The Candy Apple: It’s Just Business and Other Items
Ellyn considers Apple’s Intel chip announcement and some other stuff.
Segments: Hit Me Again
“This is the best possible time, ever, for Apple to be doing this transition [to Intel chips]. This extremely difficult and risky chasm must be crossed now, while iPod, iTunes, and Mac sales are hot.”
Segments: Love at First iBook
Does technology push us apart or bring us together? It all depends on how you use it and whether you are open to the possibilities.
Segments: Podcasts: Number One on the Hype Parade
“The business of content is all about presentation and marketing. Quality comes far behind availability and access. Consumers will settle for mediocrity if they can get to it easily and reliably.”
How To: Filemaking
Charles Ross provides a tutorial on simple relational databases using FileMaker 7.
How To: Marcus in Widgetland
With Tiger has come Dashboard, a feature that allows for easily accessible tiny applications called widgets. And with Dashboard there’s a deluge of widgets in every shape and size. Get started on the road to widget wizardry.
Desktop Pictures: Guitars
Reader Mark Montgomery shares several artistic and desktop-worthy images of guitars.
Review: Altec Lansing FX6021 Speaker System
The Super Speakers with the Silly Name (with apologies to Price Pfister).
Review: Altec Lansing XT1 Speaker System
These speakers might not save the modern-day Willy Loman from his personal demons, but at least his sales presentations will sound good.
Review: Curio 2.4
A review of Zengobi’s Curio, a brainstorming and development application that helps graphic designers track projects from concept to final draft with integrated design, search, and organizational tools.
Review: Graphire Bluetooth
Wacom’s latest graphics tablet offers the precision of a stylus and the convenience of a bluetooth wireless connection.
David Zatz compares the Noisebuster ProTech NB-FX headphones to the Sennheiser PX100.