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Archive for November, 2007

“Who is Your Daddy and What Does he Do?”

November 28, 2007 Leave a comment

ps3

The Sony Playstation 3 recently celebrated its first birthday even though the models sold a year ago are nowhere to be found. A 20GB version and a 60GB version debuted. The 20GB was discontinued shortly after the new year, and the 60GB model was replaced with the 80GB over the summer. In 2000, when Sony released the Playstation 2, DVD sales were just starting to take off. Everyone wanted a DVD player and Sony was still capitalizing on the success of the original Playstation. Kids would tell their parents about a DVD player and it could also play games on the side. My first DVD player was a Playstation 2. Fast forward a few years; we have Toshiba and co. pushing HDDVD and Sony pushing Blue-Ray.

The trouble is, other than those really wanting the latest and greatest (present company included), there isn’t a real necessity to make the switch from DVD to a new Hi-Def format. This isn’t the switch from analog to digital, many people still don’t have HD Televisions and the format war hasn’t helped matters at all. So what is the reason to buy a Playstation 3? Where’s the draw? What’s new?

Sony is one umbrella. Playstation used to have its own branch of Sony but now it’s all under one roof which is exactly what the Playstation 3 is. It’s quite possibly everything you need aside from a television and speakers to create a powerful all-in-one media center. Of course, continue to market it towards gamers as a game system but that is not the main potential of the audience. The only minor thing holding it back is the lack of video/audio inputs to use as a receiver from the TV. However, the 80GB version plays DVDs, Blue-Rays, houses music, has HDMI and optical outs for discreet audio, accepts multiple card formats and has multiple USB inputs, and let’s not forget how important wireless is today. Anyone remember what the PSX tried to be?

psx

Well the PS3 accomplishes this task completely. Sony needs to market the PS3 to a much larger audience. The average gamer is over 18 years old and they’re the first adopters of all this new high end technology. That’s the Playstation 3 market. Sure it plays games, but that’s one thing out of the many it does very well. The Playstation 3 cannot be a success without mass diversification. Time will tell if it’s a successful game machine but I think that’s a secondary factor at this point. The games will come and when they do, people will say, “On PS3? Sweet! I already have one of those!”

The Playstation 3 is the ultimate media center at the moment. It’s not a $3000 Windows media center that doesn’t even play games. It’s a $500 media solution for everyone with an HD Television or those looking to make their TV the center of their media experience. Let’s not forget it’s also quite a good looking machine. It covers a large footprint but a gorgeous foot it is. So come on Sony, tell us what we need to know about the system. We all know it plays games, but more people need to know everything else it can do. There is where Sony will find the success of the Playstation 3.

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OS X Leopard vs Windows Vista: Fight!! (Part 2)

November 16, 2007 8 comments

Hopefully you had a chance to see the first half of this piece which I showed off some of the visual differences of Apple’s newly released operating system and Microsoft’s recent OS release, Windows Vista. I now want to take a look at some of the features both operating systems have and the different ways they are implemented.

Disclaimer: I have been unable to find a screen grab tool for Windows that allows me to set a timed exposure so I have been unable to grab screens of Flip 3D or the Alt+Tab program selector. If you know of one, please let me know and I will edit this post ASAP.

FLIP 3D and Expose:

Flip 3D, found in Windows Vista, is a really interesting concept but I just don’t think it feels right. It’s more of an offset rolodex than a 3D representation of the windows you have open. It runs fairly smoothly and mapping it to the Ctrl+Tab function was a smart idea on Microsoft’s part. Including the desktop in Flip 3D was also a really smart idea to let you easily get back to it without having to minimize windows or click the “show desktop” icon in quicklaunch if you have it enabled.

Expose

Above is Apple’s expose, which actually isn’t new at all to OS X and can be found in previous generations and it has remained relatively unchanged in Leopard. Expose can be activated by a keystroke, a mapped button on the mouse, or through the use of “hot corners.” There are two expose activations: one is for ALL windows and another is for only the windows within a particular program like you have multiple Firefox windows open. Once activated you simply hover your mouse over the window you like and click it. Expose then sweeps aside and the window you clicked becomes the main window. Really smooth and you can have as many windows as you want on the screen, they will just be smaller which is something you don’t have to worry about in Flip 3D.

I also want to talk about Apple’s Cmd+tab feature which is the same function as Windows Alt+Tab.

CMD Tab

People who love this feature in Windows, you have to tip your hat to Apple on this one since it is an Apple invention. However, I do like the windows version better because Apple only lets you select programs whereas the Windows version cycles through ALL available windows. Apple uses expose to cover this feature. If you’re anything like me, however, you’ve become good at counting how mane “tabs” until the next window and can do it without looking.

FILE MANAGEMENT

I already talked about the look of file icons between the two operating systems and felt the folder look in Leopard was a step backwards. Granted the icons are all uniform, but they don’t pop like the ones on Vista. Let’s take a look at how each OS enables you to browse the files.

Windows Vista

Window

Even though I don’t have pictures of all the settings, nothing has really changed from XP to Vista except for live thumbnails which is a VERY welcome change instead of the standard .doc icon or picture icon. But you still have list, details, icons, thumbnails etc. The browser on the left hand side is also much more welcome than the one in XP. Cleaner and easier to get where you want.

OS X Leopard

With Leopard, Apple took a page from the iTunes book and added Coverflow. Some have even said Leopard should have been called OS X iTunes since most of the visual changes are from iTunes.

Coverflow

Just like Coverflow in iTunes allows you to see album art for music, in the Finder it allows you to see live details of the file or folder you are on. Just browse left and right and the icons rotate in that direction. If you want to take a close look at the file you are on without having to open the program just hit spacebar to activate Quicklook.

Quicklook

Quicklook brings the file to the foreground of your desktop and allows you to browse it without even having to open the program it was created in. The address book is a poor example but if this were a .pdf or a word document, I could browse and read the file without having to open Preview or a text editor. Thanks to this feature. I have found papers I wrote in college with an entire 2 sentences on them that were just wasting space.

WIRELESS AND NETWORKING

Both OS X and Windows support wireless Internet and Bluetooth. It would be crazy not to in this day and age. It’s just a matter of how easy it is to manually set up these devices. Both operating systems picked up my wireless router fairly easily, but what if I need to manually get into the device properties.

Windows Vista

Wireless

Even though a lot of the settings are easier to configure than before, there is still the feel and look of “you’re connected and you really shouldn’t be messing with this.” The diagram at the top is a nice touch as a way to explain the flow of information, but if it weren’t for Leopard, I wouldn’t complain about this, but all you get is wireless options in this window.

Bluetooth

Bluetooth preferences in Vista still have that “device manager” look to them. If you’ve never messed around with device manager, I doubt you’re going to know you’re way around this window either.

OS X Leopard

NetworkingPref

Previously, with OS X 10.4 Tiger, you only had access to Internet options through Ethernet and Ariport. With Leopard, everything is right where you need it. Open up Network preferences and you’re there and it even includes FireWire with the option to add other devices and I assume USB would be one of them.

BlueToothPref

While there is still a little to be desired with the Bluetooth setup in Leopard, it’s light years beyond what Tiger did. For Leopard all you have to do is make sure your Bluetooth is turned on for your device and your computer and just click “Set Up New Device,” and you’re set.

Note: Even though it will recognize the iPhone, there is still no ability to use the iPhone to control the computer for front row, iTunes or anything. I haven’t tried it in Windows, but I doubt there is much use in Vista either.

A SOLO FEATURE OF VISTA

I cannot stand desktop clutter. I want as few things as possible on my desktop which is one of the reasons I switched to Apple. Even though the clutter sucked, it was much easier to use as program navigation than the Start menu. As I stated, I primarily installed Vista so I could game and I thoroughly like the way games are enabled in the start menu. Everything gets its only little neat window.

Games

And thanks to the system rating, I now want a faster HD because it’s the only thing keeping me from a 5.9. Otherwise, all my games are within a click away. (If you have any game suggestions by the way let me know). I suppose with Leopard, I could create a stack for my games, but there aren’t a slew of games for Mac yet so as long as Aspyr keeps screwing up.

That just about covered everything I wanted to show you between the two operating systems. I firmly believe it would be a hands down win for Leopard if it weren’t for the lack of gaming. However, in the OS shootout, OS X Leopard does come out on top. Both operating systems have a lot in store for them in the future but the future is sooner for Leopard then Vista.

A Final Note: Leopard 10.5.1 has been released for update and Vista SP1 beta has been previewed.

Whoever is at Fault, Fix It: Where is My RAM?

November 13, 2007 5 comments

Many people have been making “the switch” from PC to Mac. Over 50% of Apple computers bought were by first time buyers. For the first time ever, Intel Macs occupy a larger market share than PowerPC Macs. While there are many reasons to make the switch, one of the biggest if not THE biggest reason is you can dual boot OS X and Windows on Intel Macs. With Leopard, Apple is fully supporting Bootcamp, their software to install Windows.

There are many reasons to dual boot such as programs that will only run in Windows to the lack of gaming support for Apple computers. I personally installed Vista to be able to play games on my Mac Pro, Apple’s powerhouse computer. I want to play games like Gears of War, Bioshock, and Crysis. For the upgrade to Leopard and to game in Windows, I installed an extra 2GB of RAM in my system to make a total of 3GB. Here is what I get:

system

OS X recognizes 3GB of RAM. Sweet, yay, fine.

SystemStats

If you take a close look, Windows Vista only sees 2GB of RAM. For games like Bioshock requesting 2GB of RAM and Crysis 1.5GB, those of us using a Mac Pro are left almost in the dark. Granted Gears of War runs pretty well cranked up but the computer is at its limits with the failure to recognize the other 1GB along with Vista hogging resources in the background.

There are a few forums that discuss the problem but neither Apple nor Microsoft is coming out to say what the problem is. It appears to be an Apple problem with the Mac Pro because those with PC’s can see over 3GB of RAM. Could it be because the RAM is held on 2 separate trays? Or is it a problem with Bootcamp? I haven’t seen reports of other Apple computer lines having this problem. So what’s going on Apple? Where is the fix or are you unwilling to identify this as an actual problem? Someone needs to step it up.

Categories: Uncategorized

OS X Leopard vs Windows Vista: FIGHT!!! (Part 1)

November 13, 2007 6 comments

As of the end of last week, I have been dual booting my Mac Pro with Windows Vista Business edition. My primary reason for doing so was gaming since, as we all know, there is little support for gaming on the Mac. Now that I’ve had a little time with Vista and Leopard, I want to give you my opinion on the two operating systems. If you have read any of my previous posts, you may be quick to think I’m an Apple fan boy, but you have to remember I was primarily a Windows user until January of this year and a vigilant defender of the OS until then as well.

Both Leopard and Vista were released in 2007 about 10 months apart, Leopard being the most recent release of only a few weeks. Both are clean installs, not upgrades, and neither of them have received a major update. Leopard 10.5.1 was seeded to developers last week and Service Pack 1 is due out for Vista hopefully in January of 2008. Until then, we might as well take what we can get.

BOOT TIMES:

Windows Vista 60 Seconds
OS X Leopard 22 Seconds

While this is pretty quick for Windows, it’s nothing compared to 22 seconds for OS X. I even took 5 seconds off for the time it took to type my password into Windows. As experience tells us, as more and more stuff finds its way onto the operating systems, these times will slow down.

SYSTEM USAGE:

Windows Vista systemstats
OS X Leopard istat

You’ll have to maximize these pictures. Vista is using about 660MB of RAM whereas the Leopard system is using 390MB and Adium and Firefox are making up the 455MB after 5 hours of usage. It’s hard to say who wins here because the Vista RAM meter isn’t broken up per application or system resource and OS X has been on for 5 hours. (I’ll provide an update to OS X RAM usage soon).

Both computers recognize 4CPU’s and the only thing I am actively doing at each time is taking a picture. Vista is using 2, 3, 0, and 8% of processors while Leopard is using 0% across the board. While I am sure it’s not perfectly 0%, Leopard does a much better job of throttling and processor distribution than Vista and I still can’t for the life of me figure out what Vista is trying to read from my HD half the time. Even when it puts the monitor to sleep, it begins grinding away. And again…only 2GB of RAM being recognized in Vista. If you look at the Leopard stats, you can see I have 3GB in the machine. I’m really eager to find what the cause of this is. It’s looking like a Mac Pro issues but hopefully an update will come along from either Microsoft or Apple.

Although not really easy to tell what the hard drive footprint of each OS is, Leopard was about a 6GB install when I got rid of the language packs and printer drivers and Vista was around 10GB. I used to installed Windows 98 between 350 and 400MB. My how things have changed.

VISUALS:

Windows Vista

Desktop Window

OS X Leopard

Desktop Finder

Vista came with some extremely high resolution back ground that I think are gorgeous. I’m using a different one than you see here. Apple comes with some backgrounds but prefer to leave most of that process up to you. I do like the new visual stylings of folder icons in Vista better, but it’s impossible for Vista to match the look and ingenuity of Coverflow and Quicklook (pictures coming). (Keep in mind for both drop shadows, the alpha layer doesn’t show up in screen shots and will appear MUCH lighter on the desktop).

Since I am a visual person, I find the transparent windows in Vista a welcome pleasure over the Fisher Price stock look of XP (Green and Blue bubble theme…blech!). It doesn’t assist me in knowing what window I am on, but it is a nice look. I switched back to a classic theme for a short time, but instantly went back to Vista stock.

GADGETS AND WIDGETS

Gadget Gadgets for Vista

Widgets

Widgets for OS X

These are strictly a matter of personal preference visually and some people have complained they don’t like hitting a button to bring up widgets in OS X. OS X users would complain having Gadgets on top of apps all the time would be a problem and as far as I know, there isn’t an easy way in Windows to map Gadgets to a mouse button. However, Windows offers a much easier way to shut down Gadgets than OS X does to shut down Widgets. I find Widgets to be much more convenient and practical. The stats and screen grab widgets are by far much easier to use in OS X and are overall much easier to access with a mouse wheel click.

TASKBAR AND THE DOCK

The taskbar in Windows and the dock in OSX serve two completely different purposes. Except for quicklaunch, the taskbar is for programs you have open whereas the dock is for easy access to your most used programs and ones you are presently using.

Taskbar

taskbar

The Dock

Dock

Both look pretty good, can be hidden, and both can show previews of what you’re looking at presently. However, the dock is a lot more functional. Everything you need as soon as you need it and with the inclusion of stacks, the clutter can be reduced even more while adding new functionality. Getting to everything you need in Windows is still a series of steps, although made a little more convenient by the new program menu in Vista.

CONTINUE to the next part in the OS saga when I get more in depth with the operating systems to see how they handle stuff like wireless, Bluetooth, system restores, etc.

If there is anything you would like to specifically know the differences of, please post in the comments and I will do whatever I can to answer your questions.

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Windows Vista: A Quick Review

November 9, 2007 4 comments

The System

Processor 2xIntel Xeon 5150 Dual Core 2.66GHz (4CPUs)
RAM 3GB DDR PC5300 667MHz
Video ATI Radeon X1900 XT 512MB Ram
Hard Drive Maxtor 140GB Partition

For anyone not keeping up, this is actually an Apple computer which I used bootcamp to install Windows Vista. I did a clean install of Windows Vista Business edition. Keep in mind bootcamp is NOT emulation software. It turns the computer into a full-fledged Windows machine. The two operating systems never interact. Vista Business edition is missing features mostly related to entertainment. Heaven forbid if I can’t make high def movies in Vista. I do, after all, have OSX running on the other side. Let’s get on with it shall we?

This is by far the easiest installation of Windows I have ever done. Excluding the time to set up bootcamp, it clocked in at just under 1 hour and I had to do very little in between. As soon as Windows installed and I added the Apple drivers for video card and keyboard support, I did a Windows update. It was so nice to not have to restart between every single update per Windows XP. However a restart for Windows still takes forever. I’ll have exact time for you in the near future. It is nice how the desktop loads in the background and everything is ready to go once it’s presented to you unlike having to watch individual parts load like in previous iterations.

I’ll dive more into this later when I launch my Vista and Leopard comparison, but Vista does look pretty for the most part. Although Flip 3D is by no means 3D. It’s like taking a few pieces of paper and offsetting them to see what’s written on each one. It could easily look a lot better though OpenGL, but the window designs are nice. I will be sticking with the stock theme instead of reverting back to a Window Classic look.

Big red flag coming up: Check my system stats again…3 Gigs of RAM. Under my system info in Vista…2Gigs of RAM, whaaaaaat? After scouring some forums, it appears the 32bit version of Vista only supports 2GB RAM. I hope this is something remedied in Service Pack 1. I found this in a mac forum to be exact so if you’re a PC user and do not have this issue, let me know. With games having a 1GB minimum these days and Vista occupying 600MB to run, things could get a little choppy over time.

Most annoying part of Windows Vista, all the permission Windows needed to do anything…ANYTHING! I understand this is to protect people from themselves, but if you’re so prone to problems like this you probably shouldn’t be using a computer in the first place.

Stability-wise, I was able to stop and switch between Gears of War and Civilization IV pretty easily without too much of a performance hit. Speaking of performance, I did add the system info gadget. When I installed XP through bootcamp, XP only saw 1 of my 4 CPU’s. Thank god Vista sees them all. However, it does a really poor job of distributing the work across the CPU’s. One will shoot up to 100% while others remain quiet. The Maxtor HD I have is extremely loud in the first place, but I will be doing nothing in Windows, and it will still be searching for something for minutes on end so I don’t know what it’s trying to find.

Windows Vista is definitely a visual departure from previous versions, but the underlying principle is still the same for how you move around. A few more bells and whistles while moving some stuff around that I’m having trouble finding. The new Start menu is a nice touch removing the annoying scroll lists of program files. How it maintains the games in a file is a neat idea but when I was trying to explain to my girlfriend about how to load Civ IV, I stopped and said forget it. It’s definitely not set up for someone new to Windows. I’m sure the folder can be moved but it shouldn’t have to be.

I am looking forward to Service Pack 1, assuming Apple says it’s ok to go ahead with the install. Hopefully it will take care of the RAM issue and CPU throttling. So a little longer than a short review but now I can bring my Leopard and Vista comparison to you.

Your Shows May be Put on Hold…or Already Are

November 9, 2007 Leave a comment

In case you’ve missed the news or have been left in the dark to wonder why your favorite TV shows are now in repeats, there is a little writers’ strike going on in Hollywood. It’s actually quite massive. After talks over the summer for contract negotiations fell through, the Writers’ Guild went on strike. The last time this happened it was in 1988, lasted 22 weeks and cost the industry $500 million.

The writers are hoping to reap larger royalties from DVD sales and digital downloads. While this would idealistically be nice, digital downloads have not been show to be profitable yet. TV shows don’t become profitable until reaching syndication (where the show is picked up for reruns on other stations outside of its normal viewing time). What happens is stations, locally and from other broadcasters like ABC, FOX, NBC, etc., place bids on original programming. This is why you see scrubs on Comedy Central, Family Guy on TBS, The Simpsons on ABC. You see how it goes. The magic number is 100 episodes for syndication even though some have broken this mold like Family Guy and Futurama. The only thing that might come out of DRM and DVD sales for now is perhaps lowering the magic number, but there are no extra profits to be had.

The LATimes has comprised a comprehensive list of the shows being affected. If that link doesn’t work just Google it. As you can see some shows, mainly the late night ones have already been put into reruns because they rely on current events for material. Others will take some time like primetime dramas and comedies. Even though there is material until January, it will be interesting to see a Soap Opera in repeats or even replaced with something else assuming the strike lasts that long. Other seasons will be put on hold for a while like Law and Order, Lost, My Name is Earl, etc. once their current new material is used up.

One thing to pay close attention to is shows like Scrubs in their final season. The last handful of episodes aren’t completed yet and with NBC ready to pull the plug on the show a few years ago even after an Emmy nomination, NBC may choose to just cancel the rest of the series. I hope not, but that is a likely scenario.

One thing is for sure, the television industry is going to lose a lot of money. Advertisers don’t want to pay for spots at current market price for old commodities. The audience is excited for new episodes of shows and will become disenfranchised with repeats and mid-afternoon infomercials. If the writers are able to get what they want, the industry will have to pay up but at least for now, they’re not having to pay their writers. It will be interesting to see what comes out of this. Hopefully something everyone can agree on and a return to our regular programming.

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1.1.2 Broken Already?

November 9, 2007 Leave a comment

For the iPod Touch perhaps. Even before it’s official release, TUAW is reporting firmware 1.1.2 has already been jailbroken perhaps with the iPhone coming soon. There is no mention of what the exploit to allow this is or if it’s a single step process or a length of steps as we first saw with 1.1.1. Assuming this is true and easy to do, this would pave the way for an easy upgrade to iTunes 7.5 and iPhone/iPod Touch firmware 1.1.2.

Stay tuned for more info but for now I recommend ignoring the update and just relaxing with your cool 3rd party apps. Stay tuned for more.

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