Category Archives: Apple/Mac

Apple and Mac related postings

Cats Love Macs

Catching up with the Unofficial Apple Weblog tonight, they had a great little article that highlighted the ‘Cats Love Macs‘ group on Flickr – just the kind of group for Mac owners who are cat lovers too…

The contents of the group are essentially what it says on the tin – loads of pictures of cats with Macs, and there are some great shots there.

However, my favourite has to be this one by khirano.

The Predictable Windows V MacOS X Comparison Article?

Every so often, editors of PC and Mac magazines seem to feel the need to do a comparison article, where they compare Windows XP with MacOS X. To some extent this tends to be a fairly pointless exercise, and entirely predictable – the PC magazines always put Windows on top, the Mac magazines always ensure that MacOS X wins.

The article in the July 2006 issue of PC Pro is no exception. The cover splashes with ‘Vista vs Apple – The essential guide to choosing your next operating system’, before spending ten pages going through all the aspects of the two systems proving that Windows is the best choice, indeed they put Vista ahead in every category.

However some interesting observations about the comparison. Firstly, the playing field is not exactly level as they compare Windows Vista – the next generation Windows that is still in beta – with the current generation of MacOS X. Now to be a fair comparison, either they need to compare Vista with Leopard, the version of MacOS X that is expected to come out about the same time as Vista, or compare current Windows XP with Tiger. They also are slightly odd over iLife. They heavily down-mark the Mac for not including iLife – which is true if you are buying a boxed copy of Tiger for an existing Mac – however all new Macs include iLife for free. If you are a PC owner, the only way you’re going to get MacOS X, is to buy a Mac. Indeed the article even concedes later on that a lot of PC owners will need to buy a new PC to run Vista anyway.

What is more interesting though is some of the comments in the text. Firstly, they highlight at one point in the article that, as with most magazines, the whole article has been written and put together on a Mac. In the conclusion, despite the scores at the bottom, there is a fairly startling admission for a PC magazine, that there is little to separate the next generation Windows from the current MacOS X, and more than that that 80% of users will find that Tiger meets all of their needs. The article even dares to suggest that with the current prices of Macs, and the industry standard software that is available on the platform that a Mac would make a good choice for a business machine, and it is largely down to the fact that Windows is the de-facto standard that most business purchasers would go for a Windows machine. Indeed even the editor seems to be falling for the Mac somewhat by highlighting that they have yet to find a PC manufacturer who can compete with the Mac Mini. Strange times indeed…

New Apple Mac Advertising

Apple have always had a reputation for memorable advertising, with campaigns such as the iPod campaigns being almost instantly recognisable.

Recently they’ve started a new campaign, with these two characters, one of whom is a Mac, the other of whom is a PC. Now if you are a PC user, especially one without much of a sense of humour, then I suspect you won’t find the adverts funny in the slightest, and I guess if you’ve seen them are even now working up a list of the ways in which you think that the adverts are wrong and misleading. However if you are a Mac user, then I suspect you’ll find them really quite amusing, certainly Beth and myself had a good few laughs watching them through.

It is also worth noting that as well as being amusing, I also think the adverts hit several of the right buttons with regards to points which should be made, but have been missed in the past. For example the fact that Microsoft Office is available (indeed started life) on a Mac is made in two of them. It also makes the point that iTunes and the iPod – familiar to many on the PC, integrate into the larger iLife suite on the Mac.

Anyway, the blurb that goes with the adverts can be found on the ‘Get a Mac‘ page on the Apple site, or alternatively you can cut straight to all the ads on this page where they are available to view right up to HD quality.

Writing About Things You Don’t Understand

Yesterday, thanks to the ever interesting Unofficial Apple Weblog, I came across this gem of an article published in a US student newspaper. In their posting, TUAW post it alongside a link to this apparently spoof review of the Mac Mini.

However, the new article is a review of Boot Camp by someone who doesn’t appear to have seen it or tried it, and patently doesn’t understand the technology. I won’t go over everything that is wrong with what is said as I passed it on to Howard who thoroughly dissected it point by point.

Having said that, although the student article is an extreme example, it is a pretty common problem. I can highlight examples of mainstream media that often produce this kind of ill informed article – take the RFID article from the BBC that I grumbled about last week.

Macs do Windows (Officially)

After a pretty short gap from when the ‘booting Windows on a Mac’ prize was given out (which does lead me to think that this has been planned for a while), Apple have come out with an official solution – Boot Camp. Putting aside how sick the people who stumped up cash to encourage the hackers to solve the problem must be feeling at this point, the Apple solution is, as might be expected, a lot more slick.

I’m expecting a real-life report from Mr Durdle once he’s done, but until then the feature list includes:

  • Non-destructive partitioning of the drive – the hacked version required you to clear down the whole internal drive, the Apple solution creates the XP partition from free space.
  • Apple provided drivers for all the Mac hardware – the big issue with the hacked version was that there were no graphics drivers. Here the Boot Camp process produces a CD with everything you need.
  • A nice little boot loader that allows you to boot into XP, which handles the whole issue over the Mac’s not having the BIOS needed by Windows.

Certainly it makes a Mac, as a tool for people who have to work with Windows for part of the time a viable proposition. Although Apple quite pointedly don’t offer support with Windows, they are going to include this as part of the next major release of MacOS X.

Even if you don’t have an Intel based Mac just yet, the Boot Camp pages make an amusing read for the subtle and not so subtle digs at Windows. Gems include the following paragraph discussing EFI and BIOS:

Macs use an ultra-modern industry standard technology called EFI to handle booting. Sadly, Windows XP, and even the upcoming Vista, are stuck in the 1980s with old-fashioned BIOS. But with Boot Camp, the Mac can operate smoothly in both centuries.

The real interesting question is whether Apple will release a version of MacOS X to run on regular PC’s. Personally I would be surprised if they do. Firstly, Apple hardware is seen as a premium product, and as such commands a premium price. They tried the clone route back in the nineties, but Steve Jobs effectively pulled the plug on the programme. The point to remember is that Apple make their money from hardware, so having a monopoly on machines that run both MacOS X and Windows XP would increase demand for their computers – releasing a version of MacOS X that could install on any cheap PC does not, if anything it would reduce it. Whichever way they go, it will certainly be interesting to see what effect this has on the sales of Mac’s now.

A Mac User Switching Colour Profile Bug Workaround

As with any platform, there are always the odd one or two bugs or quirks that annoy you. With the Mac, ever since we got a MacOS 10.4 machine, there is one that annoys me with the Fast-User switching. If you’ve not come across the feature, it allows the Mac to be logged on as me, and for Beth to come and check her e-mail without my having to log off – Windows XP will do something similar (although without the flashy MacOS X rotating cube effect).

However, I have a calibrated monitor profile set up on my account, that has a slightly darker, higher contrast set up to the default set up that Beth uses on her account. When the machine swaps over to her account, and then back to mine, I’m left stuck in Beth’s high contrast profile. More than that, the colour profile control panel doesn’t allow me to change back to my profile since the profile it is using is Beth’s, not mine.

However a few days ago, the MacOSXHints Weblog came up with a solution that is as simple as running the DMProxy application that is buried deep in the core graphics libraries. Beth has just checked her e-mail, the colour profile messed up, but I’ve tried it and it works. The page explains the problem (with an example screenshot of the effect) and goes through the solution, and how to set up a quick shortcut too.