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October 25, 2002

As of today I’m running Mac OS X as my primary OS. So far there’ve been no real problems. Getting Web sites set up again in Dreamweaver is a chore, as is figuring out a navigational system between the OS X Dock and DragThing, but it feels as though OS X is going to be pretty easy to iron out.

October 17, 2002

Based on news from IBM and others, it looks as though the Power Mac G5 will be based around IBM’s PowerPC 970, a 64-bit processor that will initially ship at 1.4GHz and 1.8GHz frequencies. There have been no official announcements that Apple is going to use the PowerPC 970, but industry analysts say that Apple is going to use the chip in its next generation of Power Macs. The processor is expected to sample in the second quarter of next year and ship in the second half of next year. Therefore, the earliest we could possibly see the G5 is in the second half of next year. The chip is based on IBM’s POWER-series processors that normally power high-end applications such as servers. The PowerPC 970 is Alti-Vec (or “Velocity Engine,” in Apple’s lingo) compatible, supports symmetric multiprocessing (SMP), and supports system buses as fast as 900MHz.

October 10, 2002

PC Magazine bestows its Editor’s Choice Award upon Apple’s iMac. I’ve had the pleasure of working with the flat-panel iMac and believe it’s worthy of PC Magazine’s award. The flat-panel iMac has the very best display of any personal computer in its class, is fast, and features cutting-edge industrial design.

June 19, 2002

Scooby Desktop
Here’s my new desktop at a little less than half its actual size. After acquiring some Scooby Doo line art, I colored it in FreeHand and added the graphic to what was an otherwise plain desktop on my primary display. If you’d like a Scooby desktop—or, God forbid, you’re stuck with a peecee—email me with your request along with your screen resolution and I’ll make a desktop picture (or wallpaper) for you.

May 6, 2002

There’s been a lot of news in the Mac world since my last post, but I just haven’t had time to write about it. Besides work, the other thing that’s keeping me busy right now is retouching photos from my wife’s cousin’s wedding. I took the photos with a Canon PowerShot G2 and I’m proud to say that most of them are professional-caliber photographs. (Of course, it doesn’t take a lot of talent from the photographer to capture outstanding images when he has my wife’s cousin Leslie to fill the frames!) Have a look to see for yourself. The remaining ten to twelve photos should be posted by early next week. Retouching these wedding photos has afforded me the opportunity to explore Photoshop 7.

April 20, 2002

Apparently, Photoshop 7’s development codename was Liquid Sky, because if you hold down the Command key as you choose About Photoshop…—from the Apple menu in OS 9 or from the Application menu in OS X—you get an alternative About Box graphic. The type comprising the words Liquid Sky, incidentally, is a stretched version of Jeremy Tankard’s Blue Island. Remember when Photoshop’s development codename was Big Electric Cat? He’s still in there, but now he has better manners. (View spoiler.)

April 19, 2002

Work is keeping me from exploring Photoshop 7 as much as I’d like right now, but I’m relieved to see that third-party filters for previous versions of Photoshop still work with Photoshop 7, at least when booted in OS 9.2.2. The only filters that I don’t want to work without are the Sharpener Pro series of filters from nik Multimedia, and a reply email from a company spokesperson stated that nik is currently working on OS X-native versions of its filters.

April 18, 2002

Photoshop 7 hit my doorstep today. So far I can tell you that Photoshop 7 should be installed twice, once for Mac OS 9 and once for Mac OS X. More later.

Today was my first chance to work with Apple’s new flat-screen iMac. A marketing research client just bought new iMacs for his two sons and himself. For now I’ll say that the new iMac with AirPort is more of a breakthrough technology product than the original iMac that was introduced in August of 1998. More on the new iMac as soon as I get some time.

April 14, 2002

Macintosh Network News is reporting that Photoshop 7 began shipping yesterday. My orders at MacMall are still on backorder, but maybe that will change this week.

March 30, 2002

My Norton SystemWorks 2 upgrade arrived yesterday via USPS. SystemWorks 2 includes Norton Utilities 7, Norton AntiVirus 8, Retrospect Express, and Spring Cleaning. Norton Utilities 7 is the first version of this popular suite of utilities that runs natively under Mac OS X. Unfortunately, Norton Utilities 7 runs only under Mac OS X. There’s a sticker on the box stating, “Norton SystemWorks 1.0 included for Mac OS 8 and 9.” Further, if you boot from the SystemWorks 2 CD to do disk maintenance, as most Norton Utilities users will, you’ll be booting into OS 9.2.1, which won’t run the just-released version of Norton Utilities. Therefore, unless you’re running OS X when doing disk maintenance, you’ll be using the same version SystemWorks that’s been available for well over a year.

March 21, 2002

Macworld Tokyo is officially underway after Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced new and unexpected hardware and software during his keynote. Perhaps most important to publishing professionals is the new 23" Cinema HD Display. Apple’s newest display offers a native resolution of 1920 x 1200 and an even higher contrast ratio than the 22" Cinema Display, 350:1 versus 300:1, respectively. The Cinema HD Display ponies up enough resolution to display high definition video in its native widescreen format with some room left over. Just like the 22" Cinema Display, this stately personal computing peripheral doesn’t come cheap; she’ll set you back a cool US$3500.

I work with a friend who uses the 22" Cinema Display and must say that his display sports the crispest video imagery I’ve personally witnessed. But Apple didn’t fix what I consider a flaw in the design of the original Cinema Display, specifically that the display is supported by a stand resembling the support piece of a picture frame sitting on one’s desktop. This design requires the display to lean back slightly, and I believe the 22" and 23" Cinema Displays are too large to lean back except on desks that have relatively low desktop heights, at least if the user wants his or her path of vision to intersect the display at ninety degrees. Many computer users now use desks with built-in keyboard drawers and these desks typically have desktop heights higher than what’s optimal for the 22" and 23" Cinema Displays. Designing a new display support mechanism that also allows the top of the display to lean slightly forward doesn’t seem like too much to ask for a display costing at least US$2500. Look at the new iMac as an example. You can angle its display just about any way you want.

Other news from Macworld Tokyo includes new software and a 10GB storage option for the iPod, a US$100 price increase across all three iMac configurations, over five thousand iMacs being shipped daily, iTunes 2.0.4 updates for Mac OS 9 and X, and Bluetooth-enabled hardware and software for Macs natively supporting Mac OS X and USB. Bluetooth is the name for a recent short-wave radio technology that facilitates communication between network devices and other network devices and between network devices and the Internet.

Photoshop 7 is now pre-orderable directly from Adobe. At US$149 the upgrade price is slightly higher from Adobe than from other sources, but Adobe notes that a training CD is included for a limited time. My Photoshop 5, 5.5, and 6 upgrades (and possibly 4, though I’m not certain) included training or tour CDs inside their jackets, so it’s unclear to me whether the training CD is simply an unmentioned perk that will accompany purchases from other sources or if this is a special perk being offered exclusively by Adobe. Adobe notes that Photoshop 7 is scheduled to ship in mid-April. MacMall expects Photoshop 7 to ship in late April, and Ben Willmore, whose name appears in Photoshop’s credits, says the program will ship “around” April 1.

March 13, 2002

Epson today introduced a new photo inkjet printer in the United Kingdom, the Stylus Photo 950. It features an improved resolution of 2880 x 1440 (previous Epson photo inkjets feature 2880 x 720), borderless printing, a built-in cutter for trimming roll paper, and a front-loading CD tray that allows direct printing on CDs. The printer was introduced in the UK today for £323. I believe that translates into approximately US$458.

This printer looks as though it prints on standard-width paper (8.5 inches wide), so I expect a larger model to be introduced sometime in the near future.

Neither Epson’s US or UK sites have been updated to include more information on the new printer. When Epson last introduced new printers in the UK, it took about thirty days before the new printers became available in the US.

I’m interested in knowing if Epson’s new photo printers use the PRINT Image Matching technology the company introduced at the Photo Marketing Association Expo in February. I’m also curious about the accuracy of the stock ICC color profiles, because the profiles for my four-year-old Stylus Photo EX are great while the profiles for the more recent Stylus Photo 2000P are the worst canned profiles I’ve seen.

You can read more at Macworld UK’s site.

This news comes on the heels of news from Hewlett-Packard that it’s going to introduce new printers featuring 4800 x 1200 dpi. Is HP going to steal the photographic crown from Epson? Epson has a tight reign on that crown, so I’m sure Epson won’t be defeated without a good fight. Whatever the outcome, we the consumers will reap the benefit of the brawl.

When I placed an order for some Photoshop 7 upgrades with MacMall, there was a notice stating that Photoshop 7 would ship in late April.
Today would have been my maternal grandmother’s eighty-seventh birthday. She was a wonderful woman and I miss her.

March 8, 2002

Digital Mastery’s Ben Willmore offers a nice Photoshop 7 preview with his Ultimate Guide to Photoshop 7. Willmore says that Photoshop 7 is scheduled to ship on April Fools Day. Hmmm…

February 24, 2002

Photoshop 7Today Adobe formally announced Photoshop 7, its industrial-strength image editor. The new Photoshop is OS X native, works with OS 9.1 and 9.2, and will ship in the second calendar quarter of this year.

Photoshop 7 features a first-ever file browser. In 7’s file browser users can look at many images at once; rank, rename, and add other information to the files; rotate thumbnails or the file itself.

Another new feature of 7 is the Healing Brush, which promises to be easier to use than the Clone Tool when getting rid of imperfections such as acne, scars, creases, and tears. A close cousin of the Healing Brush, the new Patch Tool works with larger areas of an image in the same way as the Healing Brush.

Photoshop 7 also boasts a revamped painting engine that can now mimic natural media tools more easily. Along with the new painting engine are new brush styles that aide in creating natural media effects such as chalks, charcoals, and painting in pastels.

There’s a new automatic color correction tool, too, whose purpose is to get rid of color casts. (Didn’t a proper Curves or Levels adjustment do that before?)

In Photoshop 7 users can finally rename layers by simply clicking on their names, like is done in the Macintosh Finder. There’s a first-ever spelling checker to complement the text functions introduced in version 6. 7 users can create custom palette position settings so their workspaces can be optimized for a specific purpose, like retouching, painting, masking, or compositing. The Liquify plug-in also saw some enhancements, as did the Extract plug-in, and previews in filter dialogs are now larger. Photoshop 7 comes with ImageReady 7, which is still a separate application focused on interactivity and animation of Web graphics.

Pricing for the full product is estimated to be US$609, upgrades from previous versions of Photoshop will be US$149, and upgrades from Photoshop Elements or LE will be US$499.

For more information see Macworld’s in-depth coverage, Adobe’s updated Photoshop pages, and

February 12, 2002

Digital camera image sensors will soon offer a new level of quality. Foveon reports immediate availability of a new image sensor on which each pixel captures red, green, and blue image data. All current sensors in digital cameras, whether those sensors are CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) or CCD (charged coupled device), capture red or blue or green only. Software in the camera then interpolates the missing color to produce the captured image. Foveon’s new sensor, the X3, reduces the amount of interpolation involved in producing the image and is therefore significantly more color accurate than present sensors.

The first camera to use the Foveon X3 will be introduced later this month and will be an SLR from Japanese manufacturer Sigma and will retail for US$3000. Kodak is also looking at Foveon’s new sensor, and if the quality is as high as claimed, other digital camera developers are sure to adopt it, too—or develop their own version of a new sensor that’s similar to the X3. X3 designer Carver Mead says his new chip is not only the first photosensor whose image capture quality surpasses film, but will also be less expensive to manufacture than present designs.

There’ll be no new Macs in the “coming months,” including Macworld Tokyo, says Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior director of Hardware Product Marketing. I appreciate this public statement because it squelches rumors of an imminent release of a all-new Power Mac. When Apple recently introduced its dual 1GHz Power Mac with so little fanfare, many of us believed that Apple must have had even bigger plans in the very near future. But just what does “coming months” mean? Is July included in that reference? I doubt it.

If you had a nickel for every time QuickTime 5 was downloaded from Apple, you’d have 80,000,000 of them, or US$4,000,000. According to figures released by Apple last Thursday, there were over 80,000,000 downloads of QuickTime 5 last year, and this number will grow to over 100,000,000 by the time QuickTime 5 is a year old. QuickTime is the multimedia layer of the Mac OS, enabling certain applications to display video, still images, and sound. Apple’s annual QuickTime Live convention is taking place this week in Los Angeles, California. QuickTime 5.1 is rumored to support MPEG-4 and to be released this week.

According to a report from Macintosh Network News, Apple will soon open a new retail store in Lenox Square mall in Buckhead.

Stephen Wildstrom of BusinessWeek notes that the new iMac is less expensive than similarly equipped PCs. (Thanks, MDJ.)

February 7, 2002

On February 2 I stated that I hoped Apple would one day offer a video card that supports two Apple Display Connector- (ADC-) equipped displays. Well, we’re halfway there. On Wednesday Apple announced the NVIDIA GeForce4 Titanium as a build-to-order option for Power Macs. Apple’s two higher-end professional desktops come with the GeForce4 MX, a lower-cost alternative to the GeForce4 Titanium. The GeForce4 Titanium features two connectors: one ADC and one DVI (the card comes with a DVI-to-VGA adapter that allows the DVI connector to be used with traditional CRT displays). With Dr Bott’s DVIator, a DVI-to-ADC adapter, one can now drive two Apple flat-panel displays with a single video card.

But is it worth the cost? That, of course, depends on one’s pocketbook. Let’s take the least expensive scenario as an example. We spend US$250 for the GeForce4 Titanium upgrade. Then we spend an additional US$150 for the DVIator. Advanced mathematical theory leads me to conclude that we’d spend about US$400 for the option to use a second Apple flat-panel display. What would we have done before Apple’s announcement of the availability of the GeForce4 Titanium as a build-to-order option? We probably would have bought the PCI version of the ATI Radeon 7500 video card with 32MB of double-data-rate memory for US$89 from MacMall and the DVIator for US$150. Consulting the same advanced arithmetic theories used in the calculation above, I declare that we would spend somewhere along the lines of US$239 plus shipping. With this latter option we’d fill one additional PCI slot and we wouldn’t have the same performance offered by the GeForce4 Titanium, but we’d probably pocket about US$150 in savings and still have three open PCI slots for future expansion.

James Thompson released DragThing 4.2.1 today. The update resolves a conflict between previous versions and the system component Carbon Lib 1.5. For those of you who haven’t taken it for a spin, DragThing is the best desktop launcher you can get for the Mac. See a screenshot of my main DragThing dock.
Over 1100 students at Emory University here in Atlanta, Georgia, USA went nuts with digital video in their second annual iMoviefest.

February 2, 2002

Shhh! Don’t tell anyone but Apple introduced speedbumped Power Macs last Monday. Apple’s top Power Mac finally features dual 1GHz PowerPC G4 processors with 2MB of level-three cache running at half of the processors’ speed, offering Macintosh creatives up to fifteen gigaflops of pixel-pushing power. A gigaflop is a measurement representing a billion floating point operations per second, which means the new dual 1GHz Power Mac can tally up to fifteen billion floating point operations per second. Apple claims the new dual 1GHz Power Mac is up to three times as fast as a 2GHz Pentium 4-based PC in Photoshop, but I suspect this claim is quite slanted.

The top new Power Mac also features a faster SuperDrive for DVD recording and the new NVIDIA GeForce4 MX video card. This model also features 512MB of memory and an 80GB 7200-rpm hard drive for a new and lower price of US$2999. This model replaces a dual 800MHz system that sold for US$3499. (Folks who bought the dual 800MHz Power Mac shouldn’t feel bad upon hearing news of the new machines, because the system I have, a single-processor 733MHz G4, sold for US$3499 just one year ago.)

The two other new Power Macs clock in with single processors running at 933MHz and 800MHz. Apple’s retail pricing schedule for its new Power Macs is as follows:

  • Dual 1GHz, 2MB L3 cache, 512MB memory, 80GB 7200-rpm hard drive, SuperDrive, GeForce4 MX with 64MB DDRAM, US$2999.
  • 933MHz, 2MB L3 cache, 256MB memory, 60GB 7200-rpm hard drive, SuperDrive, GeForce4 MX with 64MB DDRAM, US$2299.
  • 800MHz, no L3 cache, 256MB memory, 40GB 7200-rpm hard drive, CD-RW, ATI Radeon 7500 with 32MB DDRAM, US$1599.

Apple introduced these new Power Macs without much fanfare, which is very unusual and suspicious. Many Mac faithful believe Apple will introduce an all-new professional desktop machine, the Power Mac G5, at Macworld New York in July. Perhaps this is why Apple didn’t hold a special media event.

Who knows? Who cares? I don’t detect any performance difference between the dual 800MHz Power Mac G4 introduced last July and the “lowly” 350MHz Power Mac G4 that Apple introduced in September of 1999. Maybe if I spent time with professional video applications or three-dimensional rendering, I’d be able to feel the difference. My single-processor 733MHz G4 runs Photoshop as if Photoshop were a word processor. Images have to hit the scales at over twenty-five megabytes before I notice any slowdown.

I hope Apple offers a completely redesigned case with the G5. The Power Mac case Apple’s using now, designed by iMac case designer Jonathan Ive, is the best case I’ve ever seen for a professional desktop machine, but Apple’s been using this same basic case with only minor modifications since January 1999 when the blue and white G3 was introduced. I’d like a case that’s a little shorter and wider and begs to adorn one’s desktop. Another feature I’d like to see is a single video card with two Apple Display Connectors (ADCs) so we can use two of Apple’s industry-leading flat-panel displays on a single video card. Currently, people who wish to use two ADC-equipped displays must use a second DVI video card (US$80-$200) and the DVIator (pronounced “deviator”; US$150) from Dr Bott. Especially as prices of Apple’s displays fall, an increasing number of Mac users who are purchasing new Power Macs will want the same multi-display setup to which they’ve been accustomed.

January 27, 2002

Quark released QuarkXPress 5 last Wednesday. Quark’s touting Web integration, tables, and layers as the top new features of XPress 5.

Quark is still the most popular page layout program in the world of print, but I predict that Adobe’s InDesign 2 will considerably decrease QuarkXPress’s marketshare over the next year. Quark has long been criticized for its substandard customer service and arrogant general attitude.

Quark’s pricing schedule for XPress 5 is as follows:

  • New product, US$899 (list)
  • Upgrade from QuarkXPress 4.x, US$299
  • Upgrade from QuarkXPress 3.x, US$399

According to Macintosh Network News, Quark is offering those who beta-tested QuarkXPress 5 a US$100 discount. However, it’s still unclear as to whether Quark is offering the discount to those who simply registered for the beta or to those who submitted reports during testing.

Extensis will release Portfolio 6 in February. Portfolio is asset-management software, which means its purpose is to track and manage graphics, video, audio, and text files. Portfolio 6’s new features include folder synchronization and a global palette that provides convenient access to tracked files. Portfolio 6 can also rename batches of files based on user-specified criteria, which could be quite convenient for those of us who dump dozens of photos at a time onto our hard drives. (I’m currently using the US$15 Better Finder Rename contextual menu plug-in for this purpose and am very pleased with its features and stability.)

Initially Portfolio 6 will not offer native support for OS X. Surprised and disappointed, I emailed Extensis and received a reply stating that native OS X support would be provided in the form of a free 6.x update later this year, probably in early summer. Portfolio can be expanded into an enterprise-level digital asset management system with the addition of Portfolio Server.

Extensis’s pricing schedule for Portfolio 6 is as follows:

  • New product, US$199.95
  • Upgrades, from US$69.95
  • Portfolio Server, US$2500 (includes five client licenses)

In an episode of absolute insanity my wife gave me a set of Klipsch ProMedia 5.1 speakers as a Christmas gift. This is a six-speaker, five hundred-watt, THX-certified configuration. Ideally, one would have a 5.1 soundcard to take full advantage of these speakers, but, alas, such soundcards aren’t available for the Mac. We do have access to the SoundBlaster Live! four-channel card, but after the SoundBlaster developer laid off more than half of its Mac team and hasn’t made any public comments regarding drivers for OS X, I don’t think it’d be wise to use that card. Without a 5.1 soundcard, it’s kind of tricky to figure out how to hook up the ProMedia 5.1s. A three-way adapter from RadioShack (Goldseries part #42-2458) will solve the problem.

At medium-low to low volume levels, I believe these speakers may not sound quite as rich as my old US$60 Cambridge SoundWorks speakers. But once the volume is pumped up, it’s a whole ’nother ballgame—so much so that it’s really ridiculous. Not only do these speakers rattle my office windows, they rattle the windows on the other side of our house and vibrate the whole top floor (which covers approximately 1300 square feet). I have to do something about the rattling windows. They rattle so violently that their noise gets in the way of the crystal-clear audio thundering from the Klipsch speakers. Creed’s “In America” never sounded so good! My wife and I recently enjoyed Creed and U2 live in concert and agree that the Klipsch speakers are clearer than and about as loud as what we heard inside Philips Arena. A good friend and client also has this set of speakers and they rattle his office’s windows, too. I can’t recommend these speakers. They’re a good way to annoy everyone else in the house as well as one’s neighbors. As a matter of fact, it should be illegal for those who like country music or rap to own these speakers.

January 11, 2002

The New iMac

Apple’s new iMac is going to be a big hit. Its fifteen-inch flat-panel display is best of class and weighing in at less than eleven pounds, the new iMac can be easily moved. Unlike previous iMacs, the new iMac features a G4 processor and an optional SuperDrive for burning DVDs as well as CDs. The new iMac replaces a successful design introduced in August of 1998. Apple has sold over six million iMacs since its introduction. Prices for the new iMac range from US$1299 to US$1799.

Perhaps the second-biggest news from this week’s Macworld Expo in San Francisco is that from this point forward, all of Apple’s new machines will ship with OS X as the default operating system, though switching to OS 9 remains a very simple task.

There’s no telling how many grandparents across the globe are going to be surfing aboard OS X before I do. I’m still awaiting an OS X-native version of Photoshop, which is slated for a second-quarter release, before moving up to OS X.

Apple’s industry-leading price for DVD-R media dropped by half this week. Those of us who are lucky enough to have a SuperDrive in our digital arsenals can now purchase five-packs of DVD-R media for US$24.95 per pack.

Apple made photographic history with its introduction of iPhoto, an application for printing your photos—from your own photo printer or by ordering prints electronically—making slideshows, and creating and ordering custom printed photobooks. iPhoto is free and for OS X only.

Speaking of photos, I’m posting a photos page to share some of my own. There should be at least a couple of photos posted by midnight.

January 7, 2002

Holy cow! Time Canada has posted a picture of what Steve Jobs will likely unveil at Monday’s Macworld San Francisco keynote. The sleek new machine will reportedly sport a G4 processor and be available with Apple’s SuperDrive, the optical media recorder that can read and write both CDs and DVDs.
Jobs, Ive Introduce New iMac

Jonathan Ive, lead designer for Apple, at left and Steve Jobs at right.

What’s also shocking is that this image and at least one other image are publicly available from a high-traffic, professional site before Mr Jobs’s keynote. Every Machead has heard that Mr Jobs works diligently to prevent leaks such as this from happening. Further, Apple filed suit against someone in the recent past for leaking information about what was eventually introduced as the Cube. My guess is that some of the folks at Time are being removed from Mr Jobs’s Christmas card list. It won’t surprise me to find these images removed until after the machine’s formal introduction on Monday.

This machine is likely to be one of many new things that Apple brings to the personal computing space. Apple is touting this week’s Macworld as being one of the biggest ever. Professional desktop machines are expected to finally break the 1GHz barrier, Business Week says that a new and even larger top-of-the-line flat panel display is supposed to replace the current 22" model. And if there’s one thing you can count on for sure, it’s to be surprised. Apple never fails to surprise. Apple may fail to introduce the product that every Macophile is craving, but it never fails to surprise.

You can tune into the keynote live via Webcast at noon Eastern Standard Time today.

Everything is easier on a Mac. See for yourself.