Monday, November 27, 2006

Age of Empires III Now Available for Mac

Age of Empires III for Mac
I'm a HUGE fan of the original Age of Empires. My friend Matt and I would play networked games for hours. Age of Empires II was good, had fantastic graphics and gameplay, but more complex. Age of Empires III continues the trend. Play one of 8 conquering nations for control of the new world. If you're looking for a Christmas present for me, hint hint.

Age of Empires III costs US$49.95 and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later with a 64MB or better video card. It is an Universal application and works with PowerPC and Intel-based Macs.

iPod Power Adapters Outsell Zune

iPod power adapters are more popular than Zunes. :-)

Nike Releases iPod Controlling C.O.R.E. Backpack

I really just don't care enough to comment on the new Nike C.O.R.E. Backpack. If you must know, head on over to Engadget.

via Engadget via iLounge

Beatles Coming To iTunes?

Beatles on iTunes
Fortune is claiming to have learned that Apple may be close to an exclusive deal to bring the Beatles to iTunes, at least for a limited time before the other music services do. As previously reported, Apple Records has been in the process of readying the Beatles recordings for the digital age.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

"About as Pleasant as Having an Airbag Deploy in Your Face"

Chicago Sun-Times Columnist Andy Ihnatko hate - HATES - the new Microsoft Zune, and he makes some excellent and amusing points:

  • Am I really about to manually create and install a .dll file?
  • Zune is incompatible with Windows Media Player.
  • And why (for the love of God) doesn't it support podcasts?
  • The Zune is a complete, humiliating failure.
  • Result: The Zune will be dead and gone within six months. Good riddance.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

U.S. Copyright Office Provides New Exemptions Under The DMCA

The U.S. Copyright Office made some surprising exemptions to the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act). Cellphone users can break software locks in order to use the phone on competing carriers. For example, carriers "lock" cellphones in a way that makes them only work on their networks. This new exemption will allow you to break the lock and use your phone with whomever you damn well please.

Other exemptions include academic uses, persons with disabilities, etc.

The most disappointing news is that the long-awaited exemption for making copies of DVDs was not made. I bet you didn't even know that making copies for your personal use (any other use would be piracy) of DVDs that you purchased was illegal. That includes copying DVDs to your iPod with video. This is of course unlike CDs, cassettes or records where you can make copies, mixes and otherwise use the music in any way you want (for your personal use).

Monday, November 20, 2006

Shocker: Zune Not Impacting iPod Sales (yet)

Ah, hype is a funny thing. While the Zune has been on store shelves for only a week or so, the media is of course making as much of a big deal as possible about the Zune vs. iPod competition. MacsimumNews.com is reporting that Zune sales are not impacting iPod sales.

Geez people, it's been a whole week. Give it a rest.

I finally had a brief moment to check out the Zune today at my local Target. It's not as big, dumb and clunky as it looks in pictures and video. I like the bigger screen. I'm not sure about the interface tho. It could be that I'm just so used to the simple, easy iPod interface, but there's an awful lot going on in the Zune interface. Everything seems to take an extra click or two to get to than the iPod.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Black Friday

Thinking about an Apple product? New MacBook or MacBook Pro? Mac Pro? iMac? iPod? You might want to wait until 23 November, also known as Black Friday - the official start of the Christmas frenzy buying season.

Last year Apple.com and Apple Retail Stores offered discounts on a wide variety of products, including computers. As you probably know, Apple doesn't discount their computers very often.

Demand for Shuffle Exceeds Supply

iPod Shuffle Sold Out
AppleInsider is reporting that demand for the new iPod Shuffle is exceeding supply. If you plan on getting one of these things as a gift this year, get it now!.

As of Friday Amazon.com was out of stock and one of its resellers was charging a $30 premium. Other retailers are out of stock and can't get more. Apple.com has up to a 5 day wait depending on where you are in the world (other iPods ship within 24 hours).

Guess Who Praises The iPod; Zune a "Modest" Competitor

Bill Gates recently mused about the "phenomenal, unbelievable, fantastic" iPod and calls his own company's foray into MP3 devices "more modest" at Stanford University.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Tip - Smart Playlists

David Gagne has some excellent tips for creating useful smart playlists.


  • Update Those Genres

  • Rate Those Songs

  • Separate The Slow Stuff

  • Cycle Your Songs

  • The Hidden Secret: Groupings



  • via DavidGagne.net

    Tuesday, November 14, 2006

    Zune vs. iPod Round 1.0

    Zune vs. iPod
    Peter Lewis over at Fortune Magazine has a great blow-by-blow comparison of the iPod and Zune. Zune was launched today of course to what appears to be a not surprising lukewarm reception.

    Some things I hadn't really realized that the article points out: The Zune Marketplace apparently shows songs and artists it doesn't actually sell; it only plays music from the marketplace - not the "plays for sure" scheme Microsoft try to con everyone (including their partners) into; the 3/3 sharing of music is not universal - some artists and songs have a different limit or do not allow sharing at all; while that screen looks huge on the Zune, it's only 1/2 an inch larger than that on the iPod.

    In-Air iPod Connectivity

    Apple announced today deals with 4 major airlines to provide iPod power and seatback LCD screen connectivity for travelers' iPods. Delta, United, Continental and Emirate airlines will begin providing seat connections in mid-2007.

    This is actually pretty cool. One of the rare places I use my iPod outside of my car is on flights. It would be very cool to charge my iPod and watch movies in-flight on the larger seatback LCD screen.

    Monday, November 13, 2006

    EFI Firmware Update Now Available

    Intel-based iMac, MacBook, Mac mini, MacBook Pro and Mac Pro users should run Software Update to get the latest EFI firmware upgrade. This fixes issues with Boot Camp, start up and wake-up-from-sleep issues.

    BTW - the previous MacBook Firmware upgrade and/or 10.4.8 really cools the machine down. It was extremely warm (that's just below "hot" on the thermometer) before, but now it's just "warm".

    Tip - Set Unique Headphone Volume

    If you have a new Intel Mac there's a little-known tip for setting a unique volume preference for headphones. Previous Macs would not enable you to store a volume preference for headphones, but the Intel Macs can. Just plug in your headphones, pop on over to the sound control panel and set your preference. Easy.

    Credit for Singles

    MacRumors is reporting a possible credit system in iTunes to help incentivize album sales. If you buy a single and then later decide to buy the album, you're double-paying for that song. This scheme would somehow credit you back for all or a portion of the single purchase.

    Zune Unboxed

    The good people at Engadget have unboxed their new Zune a day ahead of the official launch (14 November 2006). Very anti-Microsoft packaging - clean, simple, very Apple-esque. Right down to the Zune window decal a-la Apple.

    While it will be a cold day in hell when they pry my iPod out of my cold, dead hands; I'm still very intriqued by what they've come up with.

    Update: Just as I was going back to Engadget to continue reading today's stories, they just updated with their experience installing the Zune. Well, the packaging may be very Apple-esque, the installation is all Microsoft.

    Saturday, November 11, 2006

    Japanese Get A Mac Ads

    Get A Mac Already.  Dumbass.
    Check out Apple's Get A Mac ads in Japan. Funny. Because they're talking in Japanese. And it's funny to hear Japanese.

    Thursday, November 09, 2006

    Great Idea, Way Overpriced

    iPod Theft DeterrentHere's what I think is a great idea, but it's just a bit overpriced.

    I primarily use my iPod in the car. And yes, when I go into a store, restaurant or whatever, I generally leave my iPod in plain view. Or if I do put it in the console, it's still pretty apparent I have an iPod with the cassette adapter, charger, etc.

    iDisguise offers disguises for your iPod in the form of candy tins. For a mere $11 you can have one too, sans mints. Or for a mere $2, you can have mints and when you're done, a place to put your iPod.

    They are at least being smart - they will change the design of the tins every so often so thieves don't get too familiar with a particular design.

    I just think the price should be around $6. And include free mints.

    New Mac Guy?

    RadarOnline is reporting that Justin Long, the Mac in Apple's "Get a Mac" campaign is being replaced. I liked the interplay of him and John Hodges, but I would admit that Hodges' portrayal of a PC was actually more fun than the Mac.

    *Update: According to Macsimum News, Justin Long is still the Mac guy despite the above report.

    Wednesday, November 08, 2006

    xMovies

    No, not adult movies (who would want to watch single-x anyway?). Microsoft has launched a movie download service via their XBox Live. It should be an interesting race to see who captures the most downloaded movies. I think the concept of downloading movies is quite different from music. Apple really ought to consider the rental model for movies. While people do want to own some movies, they typically rent far more than buy.

    MacBook Upgrade


    Apple announced today that the MacBook now sports a Intel Core 2 Duo processor with a 25% speed bump compared to the previous model.

    I've got two MacBooks and I LOVE them. Best laptops Apple has made so far for the consumer market. Go buy yours today.

    Tuesday, November 07, 2006

    Sunday, November 05, 2006

    Repair that Cracked iPod LCD Screen

    Fix a cracked iPod screen
    If you crack your iPod's LCD screen all is not lost. For a mere $40 (nano) or $50 (video), you can replace it yourself. FastMac will send you a new LCD screen and do-it-yourself tools & instructions.

    Not handy? For an extra $40 they'll do it for you.

    You can even get a new higher-capacity battery installed.

    Friday, November 03, 2006

    Which iPod is Right for YOU?

    There's a myriad of choices if you're looking for an iPod. I think the simplest way to think about it is prioritizing size, storage, usage and price.

    Size
    If you're looking for the smallest and lightest iPod, the new 2nd generation iPod Shuffle is your choice. This thing is tiny. And the most wearable with its innovative built-in clip.

    But there is a price to pay if smallest and lightest is a high priority. The iPod Shuffle lacks a display. Your choices are to play music sequencially or shuffle. And forget about video or photos of course. Your color choices are silver and silver.

    If size is important, but a display and flexibility is essential, there's the iPod nano. Choose one of 6 colors - blue, silver, green, red, black and pink. Its 1.5 inch color display lets you choose your music by artist, playlist, album, podcast, etc. Also display photos on it. But no video. It also doesn't play any games. The nano is larger than the Shuffle, but it's thin and extremely light.


    Storage
    How many songs do you have? Need to have ALL of them on your iPod?
    iPod Shuffle: up to 240 songs
    iPod nano: 2GB - 500 songs; 4GB - 1,000 songs; 8GB - 2,000 songs
    iPod with video: 30GB - 7,500 songs/10,000 photos/40 hours of video; 80GB - 20,000 songs/25,000 photos/100 hours of video or a combination of all three.


    Usage
    How and where will you use your iPod? If you do a lot of travel, and choice is essential, the iPod nano or iPod with video is probably your best bet. Do you want to watch movies or tv shows? The iPod with video is your only choice (in black or white). Want to kill time with games? Only the iPod with video can do that. Not so with the nano (small screen) or Shuffle (no screen). Will you be using the iPod for exercise? The small size of the Shuffle or nano is probably best. Any iPod will work in the car, but if you want to use an FM transmitter, the iPod nano or iPod with video is the only option.


    Price
    Least expensive: iPod Shuffle at $79 (silver only)
    Most expensive: iPod with video 80GB at $349 (black or white)
    Least expensive with a screen: iPod nano 4GB at $149 (silver is the only color option at this price)
    Least expensive with video: iPod with video 30GB at $249 (black or white)
    Color choices: Silver - iPod Shuffle or iPod nano 2GB; Blue/Green/Pink- iPod nano 4GB; Black - iPod nano 8GB, iPod with video 30GB/80GB; Red - iPod nano 4GB or 5GB; White - iPod with video 30GB/80GB

    If price is a huge consideration (when isn't it?) consider a refurbished iPod. You might be able to afford the iPod you really want without breaking the bank. Get up to 70% off the original price.


    Nuances
    The RED iPod nano is only available at Apple retail stores or Apple.com.

    When will the next version of the iPod come out? Any day now. If you wait for the latest & greatest, you'll never buy anything. Will Apple release a new version of the iPod right after you buy yours? Probably. That's the price of innovation and staying on the bleeding edge. Get your iPod today. I mean it. You won't regret it, and you'll rediscover music.

    8GB iPod nano RED Available Today

    8GB Red iPod Nano
    In addition to the new 2nd generation iPod Shuffle Apple also released a new 8GB version of the iPod nano RED today.

    Previously the 8GB iPod nano was only available in black. If you want my personal opinion, and if you're reading my blog you might, I think the RED is the best color maybe next to black. The others are just too intense for my tastes.

    The 8GB iPod nano RED is at the same cost as the black, $249 USD.

    Yet Another FM Transmitter - But with a Boost

    XtremeMac AirPlay Boost
    XtremeMac has announced the AirPlay Boost. Now there are a lot of FM transmitters out there. And for the most part, they all suck. Why? Reception. They just don't transmit far or strong enough.

    What makes the AirPlay Boost different is that it has an external antenna. It's very slim and doesn't look like it would get in the way. In addition, it has a pass-through dock for charging, on-screen display, stereo/mono mode, etc.

    All I know is that my next car will have a direct iPod connection. I don't want to fool around with FM transmitters or tape adapters anymore.

    Zune Walkthrough

    Engadget has a great video of the upcoming Zune interface.

    I have to say I like the larger screen and appreciate the interface opportunities the screen real estates affords. The integration of the album art is really nice. The interface looks a little busy to me, but it could just be that I'm so used to the simple elegance of the iPod.

    The much-talked about wireless connectivity is certainly interesting. Steve Jobs said recently that "it takes too long". I don't think so at all - it took about 10 seconds or so for a song to transfer over. Now of course the two Zunes were 1 inch away from each other and in a controlled environment so real-world scenarios might be different. The fact that you can only listen to the song no more than 3 times or for no more than 3 days (whichever comes first) is still pretty lame.

    I can't wait to see what the desktop software for the Zune looks like.

    The device itself still looks really clunky and does not have a "cool" or "wow" factor at all. I think Microsoft is counting on their community strategy to overcome that. We'll have to wait and see.

    Wednesday, November 01, 2006

    Apple Crack

    Apple Fair GameHere's an interesting all-Apple workaround for Apple's DRM using iMovie if you're so inclined. Of course, if you commit to Apple's excellent products and avoid legally-dubious activities, you don't really need this, but I suppose that's what it comes down to.