Tag Archives: Mac

Mac Expo and the Launch of Leopard

Lots of Space as No Apple Stand!

I have to say that if I’d paid £15 per person to come into this years Mac Expo I’d be decidedly disappointed. In our case, having got complimentary tickets we made the best of it and headed off into central London.

Anyway, what was wrong with the expo? Firstly it was noticeably smaller – although having the seminar theatre made up for it a bit, the biggest absence was glaringly obvious the moment you walked through the door – Apple themselves.

Last year they had the largest stand at the show, and had their entire range of hardware and software on show for you to play with. I wanted to have a play with the new iPod’s and they were nowhere to be seen – other stands had the new iMac’s to play with, and the organisers had managed to pull together a number of Mac’s to demonstrate what you could do with the platform. There were some big stands though – with Quark, HP and Microsoft all having big stands. Amusingly Microsoft were trying to plug Office 2008 – but demo wise aside from the Mac version of Expression, only had Office 2004 to show.

So where on earth were Apple? You didn’t have to go very far to find out. A trip on the Underground up to Regent Street and at the flagship UK Apple Store and you found out – it was absolute chaos!

An Empty Apple Store

When we got there at 4pm the store itself was closed, but was filled with a lot of staff frantically rushing around ready for the 6pm launch of Leopard. There were seemingly as many on the pavement outside. Several were managing the queue that even at this point was around the corner of the block and halfway over to Hannover Square – many sitting there with MacBook’s open. Other staff were fielding questions from people wanting to go into the store – one was even running an impromptu Genius Bar with a girl who had come up especially with a MacBook problem.

We hung around outside the store for a bit, and overheard a couple of conversations which highlights quite what the store is known for. Firstly a guy came past and asked why the store was closed, and was told it was for the launch of a new operating system – “What, for the iPod?â€? came the reply. I heard other people describe it as “The iPod Storeâ€? too.

Not wanting to hang around in the queue – I’m doing my usual wait-and-see with regards to Leopard – we headed off to have some dinner, and came back just after 6pm to see how it was going.

After 6pm it was even more chaotic. Crowded around the doors were camera crews filming the events, the rush hour commuters were all trying to get past on the street, and the queue had now reached back round into Hannover Square itself, despite the store now being full of customers putting down the cash for Leopard and in some cases putting down a lot more money to buy a new Mac. If you want to see what the launch was like from someone in the queue, check out this great photo set by Christianno Betta – as you can see from this set he also got a copy of Leopard too.

So that it seems was where Apple were. Whilst the Mac Expo organisers we’re busily trying to attract people by opening late for the launch – the real action, and all the hard-core Apple fans were queuing outside the Apple Store hence it was all hands on deck for that, and I guess they couldn’t spare the staff to man a stand at the show.

Just as a postscript, looking at the seminar schedule, Apple are going to be there today – demonstrating Leopard not surprisingly! It wasn’t a total dead loss from our point of view either, as over in the corner we found the stock picture site that Beth has been using for some of the online look of Displaced Moose who said that there are no problems with her using the same images on her business cards – the only no-no is reselling the pictures themselves.

Stephen Fry – Devices and Desires

I blogged a couple of years ago about an article about Stephen Fry that appeared in Mac Format and about his addiction to the Mac platform stretching back twenty years.

Recently Stephen has started a blog and the topic of his first posting – Devices and Desires – which discusses another technological addiction, mobile devices and Smartphones. Not surprisingly he has an iPhone, but this looks at the competition, most of which he has tried.

Style wise this is a bit different from your usual technical article – very Stephen Fry (so it does have a couple of more adult comments) – but it is a great read, and pretty funny in places. Incidentally as an example of the quirkiness, the title of the article is taken from the General Confession in the Book of Common Prayer (“I have followed too much the devices and desires of my own heartâ€?)- not a common point of reference for a computer article, but somewhat appropriate!

Looking at his history, it seems he is a Psion 3 fan whereas I only came in when the Psion 5 was launched. He’s tried Palm devices, but is very frustrated with the way they seem to regularly try to commit corporate suicide. He is particularly damning about the Palm Foleo, a mobile device even he did not want.

As an aside he also mentioned Markspace Missing Sync as a good way to synchronise a PocketPC with a Mac – not surprisingly after my nightmare with the product I can’t agree. Despite it’s numerous updates over recent months, I’m still not sure I actually trust it not to scramble my diary!

According to the article, he has tried a number of Symbian smartphones, and has some harsh words for Sony Ericsson:

What a crushing, lowering, fury-inducing disappointment. Just how dumb are the software engineers, designers and marketeers at Sony E?

On the other hand, he seems to quite like the latest Nokia offerings.

Moving on to the iPhone, he has many of the same criticisms as other techies and industry commentators – but again like quite a few in the US he is using the phone anyway.

What is quite impressive is that for a blog with only one article, Stephen Fry has so far had 140 comments – hopefully that will persuade him to write more as I for one will certainly be reading.

PC Pro: The Average Home User Should Get a Mac

So six months ago they were doing their annual Mac attack, now the schizophrenic PC Pro has swung back the other way again. On the cover of issue 157, one of the headlines is “Apple’s New iMac – Run OS X and Windows on this stunning £799 systemâ€?!

Flip to the review and you’d think you were reading a Mac magazine at times:

This tightly integrated all-in-one offers plenty of performance and fabulous looks, yet it costs less than £1,000. And we can’t name a system by a PC vendor that does all of that.

The review finishes off with this paragraph and a ‘Recommended’ award:

The iMac offers some significant improvements over the old model and good value for money. We’d love to recommend a system from a Windows OEM, but until the rest of the industry takes a slice from Apple’s pie, the iMac remains the most impressive all-in-one on the market.

Later on the magazine reviews VMWare Fusion, the latest piece of virtualisation software for Intel Mac’s. This gets a recommended award, and the review even details what utility you need to download from the VMWare website to package up your old PC as a virtual image to use on your Mac.

That’s not the end of it, the very last page of the magazine has an opinion piece by Jon Honeyball declaring 7th August 2007 as the day the music finally died for Microsoft. The by-line makes Honeyball’s point clear – “With the launch of its spreadsheet, Apple has defined the home appliance of computing.â€?

In case you still haven’t got the significance of 7th August 2007, it was both the day that Apple revealed iWork ’08 which for the first time included a spreadsheet application, Numbers. It’s also the day that Microsoft announced that the next version of Microsoft Office for Mac OS X would be delayed for six months. This is going to prove a point that Honeyball first made last year, that Microsoft are not oriented towards the needs of the home user.

Honeyball contends that the average home user wants to just walk into a store and get a computer in the same way as they get any other commodity like a TV or a dishwasher, and they want to take it home plug it in and it just works. Whilst Numbers is no Excel killer, it does everything the average home user does with a spreadsheet, more than that the iWork suite can open all the latest Microsoft Office better than Microsoft can under Mac OS X for at least the next six months. So the average user can walk into an Apple store, and walk out with a machine that a PC magazine describes as the most impressive all-in-one on the market, more than that it will include iLife which will allow them to work with their digital pictures, home movies and upload them to the web, and for an extra £60 they can get iWork which integrates seamlessly in with the other applications to provide Microsoft compatible word processing, presentations and spreadsheets.

With the launch of its spreadsheet, Apple has completed the circle. It’s now defined the home appliance of computing. There’s no reasonable task it can’t do out of the box or with a few extra purchases while in the shop. And it all works together in the way an appliance should.

Whilst obviously I’d agree with Honeyball, it does come as a major surprise to find PC Pro – them of the “32 reasons why PC’s are Better Than Macsâ€? – essentially saying that the majority of home users would be better off with a Mac!

Birthdays

There are a couple of significant computing anniversaries this year. Firstly, it is twenty years since version 1.0 of Powerpoint was released – initially only for the Apple Mac, the PC version came along a few years later once Microsoft bought out the original company. Presentation Zen not surprisingly has an article on the anniversary linking off to a Wall Street Journal interview with the original developers who ponder what their creation has become and the effects it has had on business. This quote from Robert Gaskins is particularly telling:

“A lot of people in business have given up writing the documents. They just write the presentations, which are summaries without the detail, without the backup. A lot of people don’t like the intellectual rigour of actually doing the work.”

The other anniversary is that this week marks ten years since the Psion 5 was launched. The Register have done a great article telling the story of Psion and the people involved from the birth of the Psion 5 until the present day. What is amazing is how many ex-Psion staff have gone on to be part of market leading companies working on gadgets that Psion weren’t able to produce themselves. There is also a good deal of discussion as to the reasons that Psion ultimately withdrew from market, which in part seems to be blamed on existing customers who stuck with their Psion 3’s. Interestingly although Psion may be gone from the the PDA market, it is interesting to note that their belief in their operating system, Symbian was well founded. It does sort of leave you wondering how things might have been different if Psion had the finances to produce all the gadgets they had ideas for.

How to Get Flamed by Mac Zealots

Mary Jo Foley couldn’t have done any better at igniting a flame war if she tried with this posting titled “Leopard Looks Like… Vista“. Number 4 is just plain wrong, and is probably worth explaining to any worried Mac owners out there. Unlike the PC’s, Mac’s have had 64-bit processors for a number of years with the G5 and G4 processors – so Leopard isn’t cutting out owners of those Mac’s. It is also worth bearing in mind that Tiger is partially 64-bit already – Apple has taken a phased approach with a single version – none of this 32-bit/64-bit version incompatibility confusion that people encounter on Windows. The current version of the OS, Tiger is 64-bit in parts anyway (check out this Apple explanation for more detail) – Leopard is merely the next phase in the process. The 64-bit business is purely for the techies, as a Mac end user it has no bearing.

VMWare Unity

TUAW highlighted this great video preview of the new Unity feature in VMWare: Fusion. The competition with Parallels Desktop is really starting to hot up, as although they’ve had a similar feature for a while with Coherence, Unity seems a lot more slick. I don’t doubt though that Parallels Desktop will respond to this…

The real question is whether it is enough to make having to run a Windows laptop unnecessary…

When Gates met Jobs

If you watched any of the dreadful Ruddy Hell! It’s Harry and Paul you will probably remember a series of sketches they did imagining Steve Jobs and Bill Gates meeting at a party. They are two of the biggest names in the industry, and haven’t appeared together on stage for more than 20 years. Steve Jobs company is running an advertising campaign lampooning key products of Bill Gates to the extent that PC magazines feel they have to run articles defending the PC. As a result how the two get on together is a subject of much speculation, especially as despite all of this, Microsoft is the largest developer of Mac software outside Apple.

With all the speculation, it is impressive that the D5 conference has managed to get the two men together on stage. The full session runs for well over an hour, and is available in seven parts with a prologue. If you don’t have that much time, check out the highlight reel which includes a number of gems and little snippets.

Steve Jobs also gave a solo interview – check out that video for a classic Jobs line when challenged with the point that via iTunes, Apple is one of the biggest Windows software developers…

“That’s right. … It’s like offering a glass of ice water to people in hell.�

Update: You can now get the entire session with Gates and Jobs as a single download from iTunes.