Archive for the 'Cult of Mac' Category

The iPod: does it actually suck?

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

Sad iPodLuddite that I am, I’ve never owned, or even used, a digital music player, but I’m seriously thinking about getting an iPod at some point. As well as the obvious ease of integration with my Mac, they seem to be widely regarded as the best music players out there.

So I was intrigued by this recent article. Or rather, not so much the article itself, which lists three minor iPod user interface grumbles, but the torrent of comments after it, most of which are from iPod users frustrated by a whole range of hardware and interface annoyances.

Targets for users’ vitriol include:

  • No on/off button (seriously??)
  • Hard to select a song that’s in a long list
  • Freezes and lock-ups
  • Hard to jump to a specific place within a song or movie
  • No quick way to toggle repeat or shuffle modes
  • Backlight problems
  • Non-replaceable battery
  • Warranty issues
  • Screen scratches
  • Various podcast gripes
  • Weak headphone sockets

Is the iPod really that bad? Have “smug” iPod owners been storing up their anger all these years, only to vent spleen on this article, now that they’ve been given the chance? And if iPods suck this much, how come they’re the best-selling music players?

The mind boggles!


Wednesday, September 13th, 2006

Unlike the recent WWDC which left me somewhat underwhelmed, I must say I’m pretty excited by Steve’s recent announcements. In particular:

iPod Gapless Playback

This might be what finally persuades me to buy an iPod. Even my old linux player could do gapless playback – it always amazes me that iTunes or iPod can’t do this. If it can do it in iTunes as well now, then I’ll be very happy 🙂

Cheaper iPod

Never a bad thing! Time to start saving my pennies… 🙂

Tiny iPod Shuffle

Not that I’d probably buy a Shuffle, but look at it – it’s sooo cute!

640×480 TV Shows on iTunes

I almost bought a season of “Lost” on iTunes the other month as it’s cheaper than the DVDs, but the 320×240 res put me off. No excuse now! 🙂

Movies on iTunes

If they pull this one off and get a lot more movies on-board, and also get pay-per-view sorted (and bring it to iTunes Australia!), then I’m sold.

We don’t have a TV so we watch all our DVDs on the iMac in the living room. Currently, living in Australia, and thanks to the iMac’s non-region-free DVD drive, I can only watch my UK Region 2 DVDs on the iMac, which means I can’t buy or rent Aussie Region 4 discs (which sucks!). As nearly all our DVDs are Region 2 then we just buy new DVDs off However this is expensive and also means we can’t rent DVDs. If we can buy cheap movies, or rent them, off iTunes then that will conveniently bypass this stupid region crap once and for all! Yay!

Things I personally wasn’t so taken with:

Downloading existing album cover art via iTunes

I don’t particularly want Apple knowing about my entire music collection for marketing purposes, so I won’t be sending all my track listings to get the cover art, thank you very much. Besides I’ve already grabbed or scanned the cover art for most of my collection.


Meh, I already use it. Still, it’s nice to have it integrated into iTunes.


It’s a great idea and essential for the whole Apple end-to-end experience, but of course useless for me as we don’t have a TV and watch stuff on the Mac anyway. 🙂

It’s good to see that Apple are still innovating – makes me cheered to have bought into their platform at any rate!

Going the Other Way

Friday, July 7th, 2006

Interestingly, there have been a couple of big stories in the news recently about some well-known Mac users switching the other way, from Mac to Linux. One of them is Mark Pilgrim, a chap I have a lot of respect for after reading his excellent Dive Into Python book.

I can see his point about file formats. I want to make sure that my data is going to be accessible in 20+ years’ time (particularly my photos, with their names, descriptions, tags and a record of which album they’re in). iPhoto, iTunes et al seem fairly flexible on the export front but at the end of the day they are proprietary file formats, which is a concern.

For now though I (perhaps foolishly) see ease of use and features as more important, so I’m sticking with the Mac at present!

By the way, the squeak remains. It comes and goes – sometimes there’s nothing for a whole day (or it’s too quiet to notice), then suddenly it’s back with a vengeance. My workaround when it happens is to sleep the Mac, wait 30 seconds, then wake it again. This usually stops the squeak for a good few hours (maybe because of the fans revving up momentarily when waking from sleep?). It’s still pretty pesky though. If it doesn’t get better after a few weeks then I expect I’ll be on the phone to Apple.

Consumer Heaven

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006

Well this looks rather nice doesn’t it. If only I lived in NYC! More cool photos.

CNBC did an interview with His Steveness in the new store. Interesting that half of the people buying Macs in their stores are “converts” from Windows. He also made it pretty clear that Apple’s focus is “notebooks and consumer desktops”. Wow, I’m turning from a “PC user” into a “consumer”! 😉

Well I’d better buy a game or two then, if I’m going to be a consumer. The last game I bought was Baldur’s Gate I think, so I’m not exactly on the cutting edge of computer gaming. The Diablo series looks pretty cool, but I can’t work out if it’ll run on an Intel Mac or not. If you’ve tried it please let me know!

I just pre-ordered my copy of Parallels Workstation – sorry, it’s now called Parallels Desktop – for Mac. Kinda weird paying for software that doesn’t exist yet, to run on a computer that I don’t yet own. Still, I saved $10! 🙂

In other news, Reason is now shipping as a Universal Application. Woo-hoo!

Andy Hertzfeld talk

Sunday, May 14th, 2006

TUAW has a cool hour-long video of Andy Hertzfeld (one of the original Mac developers) discussing the early days of home computing, the Apple ][, Woz, hacking on floppy drives and thermal printers, and all sorts of cool geeky topics if you like that sort of thing! It’s pretty funny in places. Takes me back to the heady times of the Apple ][, the Commodore PET and my first ever computer (a Superboard II). Ahh those were the days!

Andy now works at Google and this talk was videoed at Google’s NY office. He also talks about the writing of his book, Revolution in The Valley.

The Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field

Thursday, May 11th, 2006

Steve and his reality distortion fieldI can feel myself getting drawn in by its power. Everything to do with Apple seems “insanely great” and all other platforms seem mediocre by comparison. The Mac will not only be an upgrade to my workstation, it will upgrade my entire life too. I will become 10 years younger and the worries of the world will simply melt away into a blissful dream-like state framed by shining white polycarbonate.

Does this happen to all Mac users? Is it a prerequisite to buying a Mac? Am I becoming “one of them”? Or is it simply that Steve’s vision of things is the reality and all other computer users are deluded? 😉

The RDF is well-documented, but I didn’t really believe it could affect me until now. I thought I could “just say no”. But it won’t be long now before I head over to the Apple Store and purchase my life-changing iMac, where the “buttons on the screen look so good you’ll want to lick them” and everything is exciting, incredible and “just works”. However I am very disappointed to discover that I don’t get a free black turtle-neck with my iMac purchase…