That was fast. Apple already cut the iPhone 8gb price to $399. Early adopters are probably feeling a bit raw about paying $200 extra for being in just the first 2 months. But Apple also introduced the iPod Touch in 8GB and 16GB models which is just an iPhone without the phone bit (but, and this is key, including wifi and Safari). My goal is to just have 1 device I can use for whatever, but I’m stuck trying to decide between the phone or the everything-but-phone version. Either I’ll get the iPod now and switch to the next generation of the phone next year (and the old iPod can be used for Fen to watch videos, etc) or just go for the phone now, and deal with having less storage and less of a reason to upgrade next year.
In any case, it really does appear that Apple has hit another set of home runs. It would be great if the iPhone were unlocked, or didn’t use AT&T or had a memory expansion slot or… But it still is so much more compelling than the alternatives that it doesn’t really matter.
I forgot to add, one key for me is that both use flash storage so I can use them in the airplane at altitude.
posted in Mac, Technology |
Apple finally upgraded the Mac-Mini to a Core 2 Duo. The store is not back up yet so the full pricing and options are not available, but starting at $599 this seems like a potential great option for the display I’m working on for the kitchen. Of course I can use the fairly small Asus barebone I bought for that too so unless I have a problem with the Asus I’ll probably stick with that for now.
posted in Hardware, Mac, Technology |
The new version of Parallels Desktop for the Mac is out. Its funny- they were hyping it up for the last couple of weeks for the 3d support, file copying, and snapshots. I’m sure those will all be pretty useful features, but for me the bootcamp thing was critical- since I switched to running Vista in Bootcamp I haven’t been using Parallels at all so this is the big breakthrough in the new version.
I installed the new version of Parallels and after a couple of days hassle with my activation key, I finally was able to start it up and create a VM pointing to my boot-camp partition. It proceeded to boot Vista- at first it looked like it was hanging, but as best I can tell it was just doing a bunch of processing. Sign in, and it does some device install and reboots again. After it reboots, it again is installing something- this time the Parallels tools. Next lots of “Windows can’t verify the publisher of this driver software” dialogs appeared. This all took surprisingly long- not a serious problem or anything, but it does beg the question of what its doing for 30 minutes or so. The bigger problem was that there was no indication of progress so I couldn’t tell if it was stuck in a loop or something?
In the end it rebooted and it seems like everything is fine. The Coherence feature where each window from Windows opens in an individual Mac window is wild. For some reason the “Use Multiple Displays” feature was not on by default for Coherence. In the end it appears to be working great, although the performance of my Windows apps don’t appear to be in the same ballpark as they were when running natively. For example opening individual emails from Outlook appears noticeably slow.
posted in Mac, Technology, Vista |
Part of the main motivation for writing a blog is to help myself remember all those key things for sometime later. Like that list of critical utilities it takes to keep Vista happy running on a MacBook. The bad news is I blew it and now I’m rebuilding my MacBook drive and I can’t remember some of the key stuff I had installed.
One key utility is SharpKeys. SharpKeys lets you remap keys on your keyboard in Windows. So for example the Mac doesn’t have the equivalent of the Windows “del” key- its delete is like the Windows backspace key. So I’ve used SharpKeys to map the enter key that I don’t use much to Del.
The other utility is Apple Mouse Utility. Apple Mouse lets you use the control key to right click when running Windows to get around the lack of a two-button mouse on the MacBook.
I’ll try to document more here as I go along.
posted in Mac, Technology |
My car is fixed.
My phone is fixed (2nd try for Verizon to get it right).
My MacBook is working. They still need to fix the top of the case, but I’ll give it a .8 since its working.
Airplane is still in the shop- should be done on Wednesday.
More thoughts on the Apple Store experience. I suspect the whole experience would be a bit of a different situation if my warranty had expired. I saw a guy in the store with an older iBook G4 with a dead 60gb hard drive and they were quoting him like $350 to replace it. This is a $60 part. But back to me- my warranty is still good. No hassles. I had read about some people having issues with Apple replacing their case when they had the same cracking as mine, but not even the slightest issue. EXACTLY how it should be for a premium product like this, yet not sufficiently common.
The replacement hard-drive for my MacBook was in. They partitioned it for me so it was all ready for my boot-camp install. And it was all updated with all the latest patches. None of that “I just bought a new PC from Dell so I get to run Windows Update for the next 2 hours” experience. Keep in mind that the Mac has 100% the same thing if you install the OS yourself, but in this situation Apple took care of it for me. The replacement top-case wasn’t there yet so it took them 30 minutes to figure out how to let me take the MacBook home even though only half of the repairs were done. But they figured it out and everything is good.
posted in Business, Mac, Technology |
Yesterday I came up to my MacBook which was running Vista under bootcamp and something was acting really strange. I managed to shut it down, although that took probably 30 minutes. Then I was greeted with the joyful experience of it not successfully booting- each time partway through the boot process it would restart. Restore last known good configuration didn’t help, safe mode didn’t help. I was pretty sure something was wrong with the disk.
So I tried to boot into my Mac OS partition. No luck. I grabbed a Mac install disk and booted it to get to the Disk Utility. It wouldn’t do any repair on the NTFS partition (no surprise) but it tried to repair the Mac partition. The first time it took about 20 minutes before it decided that it failed and after that it failed quickly. Given this I decided I probably had a bad disk and looked into my warranty options.
My warranty was still valid and I looked for a place to contact Apple support online. I hate talking to people on the phone if I can help it. No such luck, but they did mention you can bring it in to the “Genius Bar” at a local Apple store. This sounded like an interesting option so I signed up for an appointment the next day (today).
One note on the appointment sign-up. This was a very well executed web app. It would have let me sign in with my Apple ID, but it was also happy to let me proceed without signing up for an ID by putting in my name and email address. The whole process was very light-weight and easy and is a model for good web-design when you want to not scare away users with a heavy-weight process.
This morning I brought my machine in and checked in at the bar. I had to wait a couple of minutes but no big deal. The guy who helped me quickly took my feedback that I was a professional software developer (they need to gauge the technical level of their audience) but was still able to be helpful with troubleshooting things that I hadn’t thought of. It did remind me how rusty my Mac skills have gotten. I can imagine a more frustrating experience if you warranty / AppleCare has expired, but the no arguments, we are just going to fix everything and work through your problems with a real live person is easily worth the $200 premium you pay for most Macs.
I remember being skeptical about the Apple Store concept when they first rolled it out, but its yet another thing that have executed exceedingly well (ok, I don’t get any points for being the first or even the 100th to observe this). The only real flaw in the support experience is that they don’t really officially support Windows on the machine. To be honest, given the overall “cool” factor of their hardware and this experience, if they could really officially support Windows (which they might with the next OS release once BootCamp is official), their climb from 3-6% market-share would probably jump to 15%+. To be clear I mean really support Windows- pre-install it and have the genius-bar guys help you with your Windows issues on Apple hardware (with no attitude about how much better it would be if you had just stuck to Mac OS / how everything is Microsoft’s fault).
Even more importantly that 15% market-share would represent solidly capturing the high-end of the market. They would be able to do it maintaining their $100-$400 extra price point, and signing people up for multi-year service contracts at rates that Dell would kill to capture.
I get that fully, 100% supporting Windows is a big challenge on multiple levels for any company, and its harder for some cultural reasons at Apple. But doubling (or more) your revenue strikes me as the sort of reward that would make taking that on worth every bit of the effort.
Back to my poor sick hard-drive. I’m currently installing MacOS on an external USB drive to try to recover the data from my Windows partition and determine for sure if the disk is hardware damaged or just a serious software issue that the Mac repair utility couldn’t fix. Getting the Mac OS installer to install on the external USB drive was a bit of a challenge. This article on booting from USB drives from my good friends at Tidbits gave me the info I needed to figure it out. The problem is there are different master-boot records and the default ones that the Disk Utility put down didn’t meet the OS Installer’s specs and it wouldn’t explain what the problem was- it just said it wouldn’t install on that disk because you can’t boot from it. The one trick was that in the Disk Utility I was selecting the partition and not the disk itself. When you select the partition you don’t get the necessary partition tab with the options button you need. Click on the disk itself and all is well.
posted in Business, Hardware, Mac, Technology |
Several posts from Mac people have complained about the Vista virtualization license rules that basically say you can’t do it unless you have the Ultimate or Business SKUs. Now, I think this is a lame business strategy on Microsoft’s part, but is it unfair as has been alleged?
If its really unfair, how about Apple lets us run MacOS virtualized inside Windows. I challenge Apple to say that they are fine with this. I’d even be fine if they only went half-way and only allowed it if there underlying hardware was a Mac (but I’m still going to call that a 50% cop-out compared to the “Apples to Apples” scenario of buying a retail copy of MacOS and installing it on a VM on a arbitrary PC.
posted in Business, Mac, Technology |
Apple has posted BootCamp 1.2. Since it now officially supports Vista I’m off to try it out right away. I’m hoping the upgrade won’t be too painful.
posted in Mac, Technology |
His observation that Macs are everywhere is dead on. I bought my MacBook a couple of months ago and on most client visits I’d rather bring my MacBook, both because its lighter than my Dell, but also because its the “cool” machine to have and you see them all over now.
But Robert goes on to say that “WPF/E and Expression and the fun workflow that Manuel and John show off won’t matter one bit if you develop Web sites on a Mac”. I think this misses one of the key angles on the recent Mac phenomena- many of those Macs are running Windows, at least partially. The inflection point when the developer community shifted from a few mostly isolated designers running Macs to everyone carrying them around is pretty clearly the Intel Macs, Bootcamp and Parallels. This means that Expression, etc, run great on those Macs.
Of course part of the sad thing is that both Microsoft and Apple are so ambivalent about this shift that neither is really capitalizing on it. Apple is the closest, but I get the vibe (I hope I’m wrong) that Apple doesn’t really want Windows to kick-ass on their machines. If all the drivers for Vista were 100% and Apple added right mouse buttons and/or a couple of keys to the keyboard, Vista on my MacBook would be a killer experience rather than a “nice but somewhat annoying” one. But Apple is conflicted because they fear that might diminish the MacOS.
So, while it would be nice if Expression ran on the MacOS, the fact that WPF/E runs great there, and you can run Expression on your Mac hardware I think gets Microsoft 80% of the way there. Most of the Mac-developers and designers that I’ve worked with lately all run Windows for various tools and IE testing and as long as they can run the results of their efforts on the MacOS, they are willing to work in both environments.
posted in Developers, Mac, Technology |
Parallels has released a new version of their Mac virtualization software. Overall I’ve een pretty happy with my MacBook, but there have been a few ups and downs. In any case I’ve been running Vista under bootcamp the last few weeks and was hoping to take advantage of the new feature that lets me run the same OS install inside the MacOS in a VM.
The sad news is that appears to not be supported. Parallels won’t let me select the Boot Camp option unless I’ve selected WinXP as my OS, and I’ve seen several forum posts about it corrupting your OS. I can’t afford the time to fix it all so I’m not going to take the chance at this time. If someone else has gotten this to work, please let me know.
posted in Mac, Technology |