Coming Soon – MacBook Air First Look

Something that has got me really excited is that I’m going to be getting my hands on a MacBook Air. I’m hoping it’s sooner rather than later – it’s been on order since the day it was announced. I’ll be posting some unboxing pictures and my first impressions of the MacBook Air. Stay Tuned!

Editor’s Note: Greg Probst is the author of Blue Sleeves Blog and is a regular contributor to Probstisms.

Apple’s Christmas Spirit

Santa Claus

Just in time for the holiday season, Apple has released a new Get A Mac ad featuring good ol’ Saint Nick and our two favorite television personalities, Mac and PC. This time, they’re in wonderful CGI glory.

The Get A Mac ad campaign has been a huge success, and the ads are getting better and better as time goes on. Mac and PC have great timing together, and it’ll be a sad day when Apple changes to another ad campaign.

Anyway, while I was watching this latest ad, something came to me. I think PC (John Hodgman) would make a great voice over actor for a Disney/Pixar movie. He has great comedic timing, and his voice would be perfect for an animated character.

El Jobso, what do you think?

Send Some Holiday Cheer with iMix

The iMix feature in Apple’s iTunes Store is one that I have never really gotten in to. Sure, I used to mix cassette tapes when I was a kid, but for whatever reason, I’ve never really been one to build a lot of playlists in iTunes. That’s not to say that playlists and iMix aren’t really cool.

My buddy Terry Brown of Lazy Revolution fame sent an iMix to me today of some excellent jazz Christmas music. I’m not talking about the normal stuff you hear on the radio. Check out this iMix and see for yourself.

Now, to me, this is a great use of iMix. What better way to pass along some holiday cheer than to hip a friend on to some cool jazz music. If you have some favorite music you’d like to share, feel free to post a link in the comments section of this post.

Safari Has A New Trick

I have been playing with Safari 3 on Mac OS X Tiger and Windows XP lately to see how it compares to Firefox. Safari 3 definitely launches faster than Firefox on both my Mac and PC, and it also seems to render pages faster. The RSS reader is still one of the best I have seen in any of the browsers although I have switched to Google Reader to keep track of my RSS feeds.

There are still some annoying page rendering differences between Firefox and Safari, and I’m not quite sure who to blame. Is it Apple that hasn’t built in support for the latest web standards, or is it the web designers that have built their website to look good on IE and Firefox? As a content creator, it is incredibly frustrating to me that each browser has its own quirks. My site looks perfect on Firefox and Safari, but it looks like crap in IE 6. For that, I place the blame on Microsoft for baking in a whole lot of proprietary code into IE 6. IE 7 does a much better job at rendering standards based pages, but it still has a ways to go.

I could go on and on forever about bad page rendering, but I did have a point for this post. Safari 3 has a really cool new feature that I have come to use a lot. Under the Window menu, there are two new options: Move Tab to New Window and Merge All Windows. I don’t have a whole lot of use for the first option, but I really like the Merge All Windows option. I have come to really enjoy using Tabs while browsing the Internet, and sometimes, a link will automatically open in a new window. I have to admit, it drives me nuts when this happens, and the Merge All Windows option has been a huge help.

Apple has once again introduced a great new feature to make browsing the Internet faster and easier. Now if they can get together with the major web sites to make sure the pages render properly, I’ll be a happy camper.

A Few Notes from A Casual User on Mac OS X Leopard 10.5.1

Mac OS X Leopard

I’m a Mac fan … I don’t go all crazy and have to have ALL the latest gadgets. For the record, I have an iPhone, iPod (I’m a generation behind), and a new 20″ aluminum iMac. OK, so I have to have some of the newest gadgets, but by most standards, I’m a very casual user.

Here is a list of the things I use the most:

Apple Apps:

-Safari
-iTunes
-iPhoto
-Mail
-iChat AV
-iCal (but mostly only on the iPhone)
-Address Book (to sync my iPhone)

Third Party Apps:

-Sirius Mac 2

…and a few others but used too scarcely to mention. I didn’t even have Office on my machine until about three months after I bought it.

So, in my casual use, there have been a few noticeable differences since upgrading to 10.5. I’m going to vent on two here:

Let’s start with Safari. I use Safari as my main web browser. I know that Safari 3 is still in Public Beta but I never used to have this problem. When viewing RSS feeds, it takes what feels like forever (up to about 10 seconds) to load as little as 5 new feeds. It never did this on the previous versions. I have not tried the RSS feed in Mail heavily yet so I don’t know if the problem exists there or not so I’ll have to try that and find out. Point is, I like viewing the RSS feeds in Safari while I’m browsing my other websites.

In iTunes, if I’m viewing a video (usually a TV show or music video), I often times will close the video window when it’s a music video that I don’t have the song file for. When I select another video, the audio will play, but the video window will not pop back up. If I select a size for the video screen, I get the turning beach ball, and iTunes quits. This also happened on Tiger so I’m not sure if it’s something I’m doing, but I don’t think such a simple thing should be such an issue.

More to come as I continue to discover new and hopefully exciting things!!

Editor’s Note: Greg Probst is the author of Blue Sleeves Blog and is a regular contributor to Probstisms.

Scoble’s Little Computer Problem

It sounds like Scoble’s pissed off at his Mac. Apparently, his computer had a little trouble after the latest Mac OS X update, and it was restarting over and over again. What this usually means is that there is some conflict either with hardware or other software drivers. I haven’t had a problem with a Mac OS X upgrade or update as far are I can remember, and I’ve been using the same Power Mac G4 since 1999. To think back even further, I don’t remember having any problems with System 7, Mac OS 8, or Mac OS 9. Now, that’s a lot of solid updates over the years.

I understand the frustration Scoble is feeling. There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get when your computer isn’t working right. There are so many potential issues that it’s almost overwhelming to even get started with troubleshooting, but you have to do it. I’m really surprised he gave up so quickly and ran to his blog to light up Apple like a Christmas tree. His post really sounded like a computer novice wrote it, and I expect more from someone who has a background like Scoble. He could have at least pulled out his Mac OS X disk to see if it would work. Sometimes, it’s something really simple, but you have to at least start the troubleshooting process.

Unfortunately, I think this is just the beginning of the Apple backlash. There have been so many switchers in the last several years that there are bound to be people who feel like they need to run back to their Windows machines at the first sign of a problem with their Macs. They’ll spend a day or two with their Windows machines and realize why they moved to the Mac in the first place. Apple’s not perfect. Mac OS X isn’t perfect. It is certainly better than Windows, and that is coming from someone who has been using a Mac since System 7 and Windows since 3.1. Unless Microsoft makes some dramatic user-targeted improvements to Windows, I will confidently recommend Apple computers to anyone who asks.

If you want an entertaining response to Scoble’s little rant, you have to check out Fake Steve’s reaction. Hilarious!

Some New (Old) Posts

Some time ago, I wrote three blog posts as part of an application to join the blogging crew over at TUAW. Having not heard from them since I sent the application, I figure that it is time to make those posts public on Probstisms. All of the posts have been back dated to when they were written.

The first post is about the iPod halo effect.

The second post is about the Apple/Starbucks partnership.

The third post is a review of Google Docs from a Mac user’s perspective.

I felt pretty good about the posts at the time, and I hope you enjoy them too.

The Leopard Backlash

As my good friend, Scott Driza, so eloquently pointed out on his blog, Hobbub.com, there has been some negative press coming out about Apple’s latest operating system release, Mac OS X Leopard. While I haven’t had a chance to install Leopard on my own Mac, I find it incredibly difficult to believe some of the claims coming from historically pro-PC web sites and magazines. As far as I’m concerned, Walt Mossberg and David Pogue have given Leopard their seal of approval, and that’s good enough for me. Both of those guys know their stuff when it comes to the Mac so I trust and respect their opinion. While I also have respect for magazines like eWeek, I know that they are relatively new to the Mac scene so I take a lot of what they say with a grain of salt. I know their experience is mainly with Windows, and that’s cool because I use Windows at work and like to keep up with what is going on in that world too. Anyway, I have a feeling a lot of the negative comments about Leopard are being a bit overblown now that Apple is in the mainstream spotlight, and really, that’s a good thing because it will only make Apple work harder to make their products that much better, and that must really have their competition shaking in their boots. Many of Apple’s products are already industry standards for quality so just imagine the products they will introduce thanks to the increased coverage and pressure from the mainstream press and Wall Street.

For those of you that want to get the scoop on everything going on in the Mac world, I would suggest Macworld, TUAW, MacRumors, and AppleInsider.

A Fresh Start For An Eight Year Old Power Mac

The Mac OS X Leopard launch this weekend got me thinking about how I could get more out of my good ol’ Power Mac G4. I didn’t buy Leopard because I’m waiting to hear how it runs on G4 processors. Based on my experience with iLife ’08, Apple is clearly not optimizing applications for the G4 and its Velocity Engine anymore. Take iMovie ’08 for example. iMovie ’06 runs like a champ on my computer. I find it very difficult to believe that iMovie ’08 could not have been optimized to run on a G4. It does not make any sense to me. The performance of iPhoto ’08 is also a bit suspect on my Mac especially compared to the last version. Anyway, that’s a whole other topic.

The Leopard launch convinced me that it was time to give my Mac a fresh start. My hard drive was approaching capacity, and the performance of the machine was definitely starting to slow down a bit. To give a little background, the machine still had Classic (Mac OS 9) on it. It also had every file I had created in the last eight years. I’ll be the first to admit that a fresh OS install was way overdue.

With my internal 120 GB hard drive and 250 GB FireWire hard drive both almost full, I had a bit of a dilemma. It was time for another external drive so off to Costco I went. With a new 500 GB FireWire hard drive in hand, I was now ready to implement my master plan. The first step was to do a full backup onto my new hard drive. Once that was finished, I broke out my Mac OS X Tiger disk and did a nice fresh installation for the first time since who knows when. I have decided that my internal hard drive will be used almost strictly for applications. With over 140 GB of photos, music, and videos, I don’t want to keep my media files on the internal drive. I plan to use the 250 GB FireWire drive for my iLife media files. The drive will be a little over half full when I move all of my files over so I will have room to grow. That will leave the 500 GB FireWire drive to backup every file on my other two drives. That will give me plenty of room not only for a full backup but also incremental backups for the foreseeable future.

With my new setup in place, I feel like my Mac (barring anything catastrophic) should last for quite some time. I can see using this machine for at least another couple years. Now, don’t get me wrong; I would love a new iMac, but my Power Mac seems to be a lot more responsive so I am happy to keep on using it.