Friday, August 30, 2002

Just in case anyone thinks I'm a complete Mac zealot, I'll say it now: Today, Apple is on my Not list and Hot list at the same time. There's good, bad, and ugly reasons, all of them mostly professional.

The Bad: I received a trial Xserve for tests in authentication and file serving from Apple. Nice of them. Connected it very successfully and uneventfully to a storage area network. Tried out mapping Mac OS X Server 10.1 to a test Windows 2000 Active Directory and it failed, failed, and failed again. LDAP wasn't talking properly at all. The documentation we had from Apple turned out to be worthless. Unfortunately, no one at Apple had returned recent calls.

Attempting to use my 10.2 Jaguar client to directly authenticate to AD (per Apple's claims) blew up as well. I am not particularly happy. LDAP should be LDAP, and in the case of 10.2, it's LDAPv3 in its Open Directory configuration. What went wrong? If any of you have successfully configured a OS X Server to authenticate users in an AFP file server scenario to Active Directory, send me a note telling me how you did it.

The Ugly: involved glitches in Jaguar's SMB browsing and connectivity documented extensively at MacWindows, the preultimate Mac-Windows integration web site (John Rizzo, I do so want to be like you.) Essentially, the Active Directory issues are found here, but strange glitches in file sharing appear not only with SMB, but with MS Services For Macintosh and extensions to it. I saw the "disappearing icons" problem in SMB connections myself today. Weird.

The Good: My new "WindTunnel" G4 and its 17 flat panel are here and ready for pick up. Maybe I should make this "mostly good" since I won't be able to set it up today as I have engagements to attend. Fresh, superspicy BBQ with several beers beats even opening a fresh, new Mac on a day like this.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

Here's another article that just doesn't get it.

This Computer Weekly article talks about very old news (the limitations of the original Mac OS), complete speculation (rumors from an analyst that Apple may switch to Intel processors within 2 years), and the old "Apple is proprietary and locks customers into their choices" argument.

I'll make my rebuttals quick. Mac OS 9 is dying as a viable OS. It will never die, but it will be, and already is a secondary matter in many minds. Rumors are rumors: no one outside of Apple knows what they will choose for a processor model in the future. And finally, this quote from the article--

"What stands in the way is Apple's 1970s-style minicomputer business model. It makes its margins by maximum lock-in, with the ideal customer buying a Mac with all-Apple software and Apple peripherals from an Apple-owned store. Giving its users a choice would lead to the rapid death of the proprietary hardware business on which its survival depends.

--makes the illogic that because Dell makes Intel PCs that I should be able to buy them from HP and Gateway, too. Again, another person that doesn't understand that ALL computers that are manufactured from Dell, Apple, Gateway, Sun, and SGI are proprietary by design to distinguish them from each other for competitive marketing. Apple provides many hardware and OS choices. The significant difference (and the only valid comparison to the computers of the '70s) is that Apple designs the OS specifically to work seemlessly with the hardware. No stuffing-a-V8-engine-in-the body-of-a-VW-beetle-logic that the Intel architecture does.

Apple goes the farthest in this by using their own motherboards and processors and operating systems--all other components, including compatibility elements in the OS itself (in Mac OS X) interoperate with other operating systems. The "all-Apple software" comment really proves that either this person can't write clearly or hasn't a clue what they are talking about and is just repeating something they heard over lunch or between blue-screens-of-death.

OF COURSE Apple wants people to buy their products and "lock you in." So does Dell. They don't want you to choose otherwise if they can help it. Apple has (especially recently) made their hardware and operating system quite compatible with the world's most powerful and popular PCs and operating systems. This article suggests that Apple needs to sell its "soul", the element that differentiates it from the other PC companies. You know what? Apple did do that, once, during the tenure of CEOs Sculley, Spindler, and Amelio. That venture almost cost Apple its life.

A company locking you in to their technology does not prevent you from using or mating to other technologies. Ask any Microsoft Windows user. Oh...wait...

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

One thing that's great about Apple is the company's ability to light a fire under idle technologies.

USB was a technology that never took off until the original iMac went forward with it. Multimedia was popularized by QuickTime. DVD authoring and movie editing was something popularized by Apple. And, if go back farther, the Macintosh began the use of 3.5 floppy disks (it never used 5.25 floppies), external hard drives, SCSI, networking...the list goes on.

With Mac OS X, Apple has learned to take a cool but little used technology, ZeroConf, and utilize it to form AppleTalk-like networking using TCP/IP. With the old AppleTalk protocol, very little or no configuration was needed to connect computers, printers, and other devices. Now, Apple repackaged its ZeroConf inplementation as "Rendezvous."

For more information, this article on ZDNet explains ZeroConf excellently.
Just when you think someone gets it, they don't.

Read up on these articles from the NewsFactor Network on e-Commerce Times and these special series of articles on Business Week Online.

These articles periodically show up from so-called "technology writers." Writing like this perpetuates myths, falsehoods, and irrelevant topics such as:

> Myth:"In order for Apple to survive, they must increase/win back market share." In part, true, but the larger message is false. Apple is a very healthy company. Currently, only Apple and Dell are making money selling computers. In reality, while Apple sells about 5% of the total computers in the U.S. (that's what is popularly known as "market share"), no one has counted the actual number of Macintosh computers currently in use, which are NOT THE SAME as the "market share" number. Given that Macintosh software sales couldn't realistically survive on a 5% market share, it's more likely that Macintosh systems in home and business constitute a much higher percentage of the total computers in use in the U.S. What's the number? I would guess around 15 to 25%. Remember that Macs last a bit longer than their PC counterparts, although recent advances are also improving that number for PCs.

Could Apple use new customers? Of course. Do they have to have an overwhelming market share? No. If Apple's "Switch" campaign only converts 5% of Windows users, Apple has doubled their market share.

> Myth:"Apple must beat Microsoft." That war's been fought in the operating system wars of the 80's. Apple lost. This is the 21st Century. There's a new competition, but it's not a war. There is now a healthy competition between using not only Windows and Mac OS, but Linux and BSD as well. Microsoft may be at a disadvantage in this since they don't make UNIX software. Others do. Apple and Microsoft also have a symbiotic relationship that doesn't support a "war." But that doesn't mean they don't compete for users.

> Falsehood:"Macs aren't used in business and education." There's plenty of information to debunk this lie. Back in Apple's heyday in the late 70's, they owned a 75% market share (that means that three-fourths of all personal computers sold in the U.S. were Apple computers). Most of those computers were in education, where Apple owned a near-monopoly on that market. But things changed, and Apple become very stupid over the years, until co-founder Steve Jobs returned to fix things up. By then, Apple lost its dominance, but still had some footholds in education. Today, Dell and Apple fight for dominance. Apple sells about 35% of their computers to education (educated guess based on recent specs) and Dell has about 40%.

I don't have facts about Apple in businesses, but you can do your own math on this based on logic. Many businesses that create a product such as books have an advertising or sales department. These departments use graphic design software to do this job. My guess (based on my experience) is that 7 out of 10 companies in these businesses use Macintosh systems in whole or in part. I base this reasoning also on the point that many companies that create the product from these businesses' output require or prefer Macintosh-specific file types.

> Irrelevant:"Apple is a niche player." So's BMW. And Honda. And Audi. And even Gateway. If you're in business and you're successful, you're not a "niche" of anything. Volvo may have cornered a "niche" in safe, dependable cars, but that doesn't exclude their products from other uses or make their contributions otherwise irrelvant. Consider that annoying advertising/analyst spin. Some companies would give their gonads to get that so-called "niche." Apple just tries to reinvent what we might call a niche. In this case, its the "digital hub," where Apple shows a commanding mind share lead. Yesteryear, it was multimedia and desktop publishing.

I could go on and on, but, for today, badly-researched articles like these annoy me. Makes my job harder. It could make your job a little harder, too. Don't get evangelical about these problems, but don't let lies, damned lies, and statistics determine a more proper hardware/OS choice where it warrants for your organization.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

OK, OK. Enough stalling. Here's my review of Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar. My review concentrates more on the technical and business-related features that IT professionals need to see. Additional reviews with less technical matters can be found at places like MacSurfer.

Periodically, Apple manages to add something different to their Macintosh operating system software that makes most of us squeal with glee or scratch our heads. A few Mac OS versions, like Mac OS 7.6.1, was a head-scratcher. Mac OS X 10.0 was not only a head-scratcher for some, but a head-banger. Version 10.1 made the OS fairly useable, but the computer lacked the usual flair that Macintosh users appreciate.

The flair is back, boys and girls. The upgrade to Mac OS X is grade-A, with significant features to go with the bells and whistles that, to some, make up the Mac OS experience. What really makes 10.2 shine is the attention that Apple gave the operating system's features under the hood, below the mildly modified Finder and the desktop it partially manages.

The first thing you'll notice is the relative speed increase, even if you aren't using stronger ATI or NVIDIA video support. Startup time is improved--the OS doesn't appear to spend as much time searching for network support. Once you log in, there's no waiting or stall before the Finder is usable. This zippyness is partially from the improved multitasking Finder of 10.2. Anti-aliasing is smoother and can be controlled in System Preferences for those who have problems with the blur effects that anti-aliasing causes.

One of the strongest improvements is Windows networking. To see the available Windows domains on your subnet, just plug your Mac into a network, configure your Network settings (if necessary--if left to "Automatic", your Mac typically picks up itself that you are connected) and open Connect to Server from the Go menu in the Finder. In a few moments, you'll see your Windows domains, where you can click to find the server and share you need. No need for DAVE or Virtual PC to share files. (You'd still need VPC for running Windows applications, however.)

Jaguar lets your computer become a Windows share point, too. To activate it, open the Sharing preferences and check Windows File Sharing. You'll need to create accounts for the users who want to connect. The only other way that another PC user doesn't know you have a Mac is if you don't change the share name to something less Mac-like, like "WIND2353SPEN" or something else indecipherable.

Also in the Sharing preferences are basic controls for Mac OS X's built-in firewall, ipfw. While it won't necessarily replace FireWalk and the first ipfw GUI, BrickHouse, it's good that admins can configure this systems for some level of shielding out of the box. As in typical Apple convention, the firewall and its settings are not switched on by default so it won't preempt the use of the computer with basic dial-up connections. Configuration is pretty simple, but I have one issue with the configuration in that I cannot yet find a way to set "stealth" mode for the ports.

VPN support for PPTP and IPSEC is included. You can use VPN from the Internet Connect application. Sadly, I have not yet been able to get this operating in my initial tests, but hope to have something soon. The company I work for uses many security components to ensure that nothing leaves or enters unless desired.

The OS itself received the FreeBSD 4.4 support, and it appears that the addition of Jordan Hubbard (cofounder of the FreeBSD movement) and other FreeBSD developers is paying off in spades for 10.2, with most of the tools now much closer to being up-to-date in comparison to the other BSDs.

I have found it a little easier to overtax the system, causing me to force quit items more often. Classic loads much faster, but the improved power management features that send the Mac to sleep cause Classic apps like Outlook 2001 to drop their connections. I've had that with other mail apps, but I expected more. I've heard that the power management is much better for 10.2, allowing PowerBooks and iBooks to have much longer battery life on top of their previous time. However, either my battery is damaged and needs to be replaced, or Jaguar is failing to recharge my battery properly. I see 100% charge, but after a few moments use, the system gives an emergency battery power low message and forces itself into a sleep-like coma, where the system can't be revived until placed on AC power. (I'm betting the battery is bad.)

All applications I had used in 10.1 work fine, and some, like MS Office, appear faster. Bugs such as glitches with the user dictionary (prevented me from saving corrected words) don't happen.

Jaguar is designed to directly authenticate to a Windows Active Directory server, forgoing the use of a Mac OS X Server as a middleman for this process with version 10.1. I'll be performing this test over the coming weeks. This feature alone may make so many security admins happier.

Is Jaguar a good upgrade? For business, certainly. Homes will like it too, especially if they want to share files over the Internet to a Windows user. Overall, the speed and high-level features I mentioned make it a valuable and compatible OS with a typical Windows network, which for many Mac admins and desktop technicians, is all one can hope for in comparison with past Mac OS versions. This is the strongest and most platform-compatible Mac OS ever released, and I figure this version begins the "death-knell" for the original Mac OS in business and creative markets. Once QuarkXPress arrives for OS X, the slide to OS X will accelerate.

Monday, August 26, 2002

The Jaguar buzz continues, and I'm adding a bit to it. No, this isn't that review I promised (still to come) but I've run into quite a lot of new material on what others think.

First off, WebMaster Mac has an exhaustingly detailed comparison of Mac OS X 10.2 and Windows XP's features, performance, and applications, as well as usability. If you read nothing else today, read this. It's a good call-a-spade-a-spade article.

Slashdot members are debating once more on 10.2 in a review of the operating system. Lots of juicy information here.

The retail store I visited on Friday night during their Jaguar party took a few photos. A friend let me in on the fact that they caught me in a photo while trying to find someone to sell me a G4. (2nd photo in the compilation; I'm that black guy to the right). As you can see, the place was packed.

Saturday, August 24, 2002

Looks like the Jaguar Parties around the country were screaming hits.

I took in the Indianapolis party at a local Apple reseller in downtown Indianapolis. My friends and I were blown away. There were at least 100 people awaiting their copy of the operating system. I got mine, then ordered up a Windtunnel G4 for myself. The resellers were pleased with this development.

Many people also grabbed up a bunch of accessories, like iPod MP3 players (arguably the best ones in the industry right now). It was a good day (or should I say night) to be an Apple reseller. Apparently this scene was replayed throughout the country as people snatched up 10.2 Jaguar.

I installed Jaguar on my workplace PowerBook this morning. The responsiveness was definitely apparent. As I said in my previous post, I'll do better justice to Jaguar with a real review later.

Friday, August 23, 2002

Jaguar: Smells Like Mac Spirit. Or, maybe my deodorant has stopped working.

As you immerse yourself more in the Macintosh culture in your research and decisions, you'll discover that there is a palpable change in the air when something new is forthcoming in the Mac world.

Even my best friend, a Blue & White G4 owner for less than a week, wants to hang out at a local Mac retailer to enjoy the ambiance. At 10:20 PM. That's nighttime, you know. I'm usually sleeping then.

Oh, well, guess I can drop a check down for my new G4 and some software, then.

I could look at this positively and remember that my friend will likely pick up the forthcoming Jedi Knight II, where I will have to show him that I, of course, am the master.

OK, OK...I'm doing that "l33t gam3r with mad skillz" channeling again. This was a Mac professional news and information blog, right? Um...right.

Stay tuned over the next few days while I tear my Jaguar copy a new hole in such a way that most mainstream reviews won't. You'll need to know some of what I discover to give you a little ammo in moving Mac OS X into enterprise or mainstream businesses. I expect to be pleasantly surprised.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

It might be begging the question, but what IS the most versatile and compatible UNIX?

I would say Mac OS X, of course, but I'm biased. A recent rant on Slashdot gives me a slight pause about that issue as well. I know you can do quite a bit with FreeBSD, and make Linux sing as a server.

I guess I could define compatibility in terms of consumer hardware, such as being able to build a system, upgradability, or connectivity with FireWire/1394 or USB devices such as scanners or printers.

Oh, well. I don't have enough close familiarity with Linux or BSD to answer that question. I may have to create a Linux PPC or Yellow Dog install on my new Power Mac just to get a better bearing.
Apple's sales division came through with an Xserve to try out for my client. Like most businesses with so-called "enterprise" computer systems (if the computer is located at a business, isn't it by definition an enterprise system?), using Apple technology in their datacenters is typically unheard of.

Over the next few weeks, I'm hoping to show how nicely an Xserve can prove that assumption wrong.

The Apple rep who shipped the box warned me that this Xserve looked like it had been "through hell" as it has exchanged hands a lot since the server's introduction. But the computer works fine, he said. I wasn't worried, as I've heard that the Xserve chassis was a bit flimsy. Well, it is a rackmount server, so I didn't expect a lot of heavy reinforcement.

In other news, a recent forum post on the popular Macintosh news site, "The Mac Observer," asked for 10 reasons to use Macs in the workplace. I gave a few solid points to go with the many great responses and mentioned that I created a small Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that provided a cost justification with Macs and PCs. The spreadsheet compared the features-by-cost of a midrange or top-of-the-line Power Mac versus a Compaq workstation for setup costs in digital video as well as use as a general graphics workstation.

In short, the Mac was by far a bargain for digital video, primarily because the Power Mac has all the necessary hardware and software for creating DVD or other movies out of the box--all that's needed was a video camera. The PC would've cost an additional $1,300 or so, mostly for applications and a DVD-R/CD-RW drive--and there was no guarantee that this configuration would work initially, which would also add IT service costs.

The Mac held its own as a general graphics workstation. Once the PC was equipped with necessary standards for this job (apps, memory, and a little hardware), the Macintosh was not appreciably more expensive than a PC. (about $300). Factor in your own or third-party total-cost-of-ownership or return on investment information, and the Mac easily pays for itself in a short period of time.

I offered the worksheet to anyone who wanted it, which garnered a few requests. I'll make the same offer to you. If you want the Excel spreadsheet to give you something to work with (the sheet is based on the recent QuickSilver models, so you may be able to add stronger data on the new "WindTunnel" Power Macs with their dual-processors for an even greater cost contrast), feel free to e-mail me for a copy. Use it as you see fit, and share with friends. Don't try to fudge the numbers, though. Use a good PC for comparison--other IT managers can see through false numbers and know that PCs have the commodity pricing on their side.

More about the Xserve in the coming days, as well as an additional post about some recent news later today.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

The scientific community renews their interest with Macintosh systems, as reportedin this article from the Boston Globe's Hiawatha Bray.

UNIX is used lots and often in that field, and a Mac OS X client and workstation appear to strike a balance between a powerful yet less expensive alternative to SGI and Sun workstations.

In the article, neither Sun or SGI believed that Apple is making much impact. Hm. Sun's new 1U LX50 system is competitively priced but, in my opinion, woefully lacking in power. Pentium III systems? Ick. And SGI's website shows impressively designed workstations (great industrial design reminiscent of Apple's) but lacks any pricing, which suggests to me that, "If you have to ask how much it can't afford one."
Here's one more reason to consider a switch to Macintosh for business use. This article from a person named Chris Faget (nicknamed "Foon") details a significant and unfixable flaw in the Windows operating system (thanks to Macintouch for the link to the link).

I won't dive into the technical details because I'm not a Windows developer and won't try to pawn off the idea that I understand all the nuances of the underlying technology. However, I am a generalist and DO understand the significance. Essentially, the problem involves how Windows and its apps communicate. Nothing, and I mean nothing appears to be able to stop a message from, say, a virus or trojan horse from reaching its destination, which could instruct an application to do Bad Things. There's no ability to authenticate the legitimacy of a message from a source, so instructions to apps can come from anywhere. Appears that this is an implicit design of the Win32 API, which, according to the article, can't be changed by Microsoft. Nasty. Reminds me of a magical curse I read in the most recent "Harry Potter" book--the Cruciatius Curse, or something like that. The curse would allow a user to control the movements of another. Sure, it's fantasy, but this flaw is certainly a curse to some.

In happier news, writer Julio Ojeda-Zapata of Pioneer Press has written a series of articles on installing and using Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar that might be of interest to you. Helpful hint that Julio discovered The Hard Way: When installing any operating system, disconnect all USB and FireWire devices before installing. Most USB installers must know how the system exists before the device is connected, and it has been my experience that devices are never detected properly forevermore (unless the OS is reinstalled fresh) if they are attached as the installer is operating.

And for some cold, hard reality, see some benchmark tests with the Xserve models vs. a dual Power Mac G4 as well as more Pentium benchmarks.The source for this information, MacWindows, is an excellent resource for any IT professional who needs to integrate Macintosh systems into Windows and other computer environments. There are many special reports available on issues and resolutions in the use of server operating systems with Mac OS computers as well as other products like Microsoft Outlook for Macintosh. This is a must-read site if you are serious at working Macs and PCs together.

Monday, August 19, 2002

At the moment, my best friend owns the faster Macintosh between us. It sucks to feel behind, albeit briefly.

My friend actually now owns a Power Macintosh G3 Blue & White that I bought in February 1999. It was a nice system for its first version (it was revised once before the Power Mac G4s replaced the Blue & White), with a G3 350MHz PowerPC processor, greatly improved system buses, memory, accessibility, and DVD support. It was my happy, happy computer for all that time until recently, when the processor's cache went on the fritz. I was planning on buying a new desktop box when Apple introduced something better than the current G4 line (I knew the new systems were was a logical wait) sometime this year, so I offered my friend brief indentured servitude (mostly involving copious amounts of beer) in exchange for my old Mac. He's an artist, but owned a lowly old 300MHz PC with next to no real peripheral support. Something had to be done.

The B&W ran Mac OS X very well, and, with some additional RAM, OS X was a winner. Unfortunately I loved to watch TV through my Mac, so I had to stay in OS 9 most of the time to use the now-worthless ixMicro TV tuner card. Ditto for the Creative Labs SoundBlaster Live card--it's rather poor drivers were OS 9 only as well. Nevertheless, I knew my old Mac would be a zinger with a few key upgrades I had added before and just before I handed it off to my friend (by the way, my friend bears such a striking resemblance to a certain film director that he now continually confuses most fans he meets).

Early on, I added the IXMicro TV/FM tuner. That company went belly up less than a year after I bought the card, but at least it was a functional, happy product. Next, an upgrade was needed to take care of a serious bug in the IDE controller of the Rev. 1 B&W that I owned. For that, I turned to Sonnet Technologies, makers of many upgrade products for Macs, who happened to offer a ATA IDE controller card for Macs. That card not only bypassed the problem but also endowed the Mac with the potential for up to 4 IDE drives (not including the DVD-ROM and Zip drive, which were on a separate controller on the logic board). Too bad that the Rev.1 B&Ws can only hold three hard drives, so one of the slaves would remain unused if I packed the system to full.

The SoundBlaster card came last summer at Macworld Expo 2001, with a great offer--buy the card and the 5.1 Cambridge Soundworks 5.1 speakers for half-off. Sweet. With all of these gadgets in place, with a Maxtor 30GB drive handling the show, my old B&W could do it all. It was only last year when the system showed its age as the great 3D pseudo-flight sim combat game Descent 3 required me to turn down a few of its features as my trusty ATI RAGE 128 video card finally sagged to pressure.

Not much was needed for the computer to transfer hands except for the new processor. The B&W has a ZIF socket to make an upgrade a breeze. A little research determined that the PowerLogix PowerForce G4 ZIF upgrade was the way to go. After using some software to remove a block to G4 processor upgrades that Apple placed on the latest firmware of these systems, I dropped the G4 chip in...and nothing happened. I finally figured that the system was flommoxed in its PRAM, so I removed the system battery to clear out the PRAM. A startup chime finally greeted me once more.

I loaded this computer with everything I had from a software standpoint, including all the necessary updates, some apps that I wasn't using as a tech, and a few essentials. My friend needed to add a keyboard and mouse, but that made him happier since the one-button Apple mouse sucks when you're used to a two-button mouse. Microsoft's IntelliMouse optical wheel mice work great out of the box. Tried out a Kensington USB keyboard as was inexpensive, and CompUSA would swap it should it be a lemon (Kensington makes mice, and their keyboards were new stuff to me).

Today, my friend owns a 550MHz G4 Blue & White with 484MB RAM and some serious cold-cranking amps. And, for a little while (I hope) I don't own diddly-squat. I have a PowerBook Firewire system to play with for work, which I do take home, and I do have an EyeTV PVR TV player as well...but it's not the same. I lust for new desktop power. I'll get it soon...just in time for Jedi Knight II...and--er--some important work.
Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar: Here, Kitty, Kitty.

Recent reviews and quick comments on the Internet (a good place for you to watch for update news without duplicating work on my part is MacSurfer's Headline News) indicate that Jaguar is a robust new operating system update. Mac OS X 10.2 won't be without headaches for some, however, which is not unusual for any Mac OS update. However, since Apple is still finalizing or modifying a few nagging technologies from the 10.1 update (printing, scanning, Windows support, overall performance), some early or weak software drivers may break and fail to operate in Jaguar.

Again, this isn't uncommon when Apple introduces an update, particularly a major update or what Apple calls a "reference release, " which is a complete OS installer with new features that must be purchased. Using Jaguar will be a greater ouchie than in the past because of Mac OS X's relative youth and the challenging time that some software developers have presented users in updating (or failing to update) the drivers or software for their products.

Expect for products such as printer software for Mac OS X, scanner software, a few Classic applications, and applications written for Mac OS X 10.0 to experience minor or major difficulties. Applications that add extensibility to Mac OS X 10.1, such as the Windows networking software DAVE may fail in Jaguar, which has improved (but seemingly incompatible) Windows networking.

Professionally speaking, I look forward to the stronger VPN and Windows networking support in addition to performance tweaks. With 10.2, Mac OS X is likely to entice the remaining 75% of Mac users who have computers that are eligible to make the transition, especially with every major app (except Quark XPress) available for the general creative designer.

In other news, the venerable rumors site Mac OS Rumors suggests that IBM will become Apple's supplier of PowerPC chips over the coming few months. This shouldn't be a big surprise; the previous chip supplier, Motorola, has laid off a sizeable number of people and has lost millions, maybe billions of dollars in the last 2 years. They are likely not interested in creating, much less developing, additional G4 chips for desktops, and have failed to advance the G4 chip line to match performance (not to be confused with MHz) with Intel chips in recent months.

IBM, on the other hand, helped create the PowerPC chip specs from its POWER mainframe chip line. Today, the PowerPC is more akin to the POWER chips that the differences are nearly insignificant. Moving to IBM for chip production isn't a biggie for Apple except for the lack of the AltiVec "Velocity Engine" vector processing from Motorola's G4 design. Apparently, IBM has an AltiVec-compatible technology or has licensed AltiVec for their chip development, so that helps in keeping the PowerPC chips ace-in-the-hole with Power Macs. Moving to IBM chips also may help in the current processor bottleneck that doesn't allow the new G4 systems to crunch the data as fast as the memory and system bus should allow.

Apple appears to be anticipating IBM's chip arrival. Note in this QuickTime VR movie that shows how the processors and heat sink reside directly in front of the system fan for heat dissipation. Mind you that the current G4's are generating a sizeable amount of heat, but the new IBM chips will definitely need extra cooling.

From the "Glad-To-See-You've-Joined-The-Late-Nineties" department, ABC News has grasped the concept that perhaps the floppy drive is dead and should be discontinued. I report this with a drip of sarcasm since Apple dispensed with this technology over four years ago (it should be noted that Apple was the first with 3.5 floppy drives in the original Macintosh system) with the introduction of the original iMac. PC users have had to hold on to the old technology because few PCs could boot from a CD-ROM until relatively recently, which wasn't a good thing if you had to install drivers or reinstall the operating system without a floppy drive.

Oh--the article asked a simple question. "Now that Apple gets a pass on its no-floppy products, the new gripe will be about the way it labels its operating system versions. Do we really need three decimal places?" I say, sure. It's obvious that they haven't seen how the latest version of Linux is numbered.

Saturday, August 17, 2002

System note: Had to switch back to my original Blogger template before you or I turned Japanese due to squinting from the tiny, tiny text of the previous view. Hopefully technical problems don't require me to switch again.

It may take a while for the archives to be fully visible again. Blogger is strange, sometimes. But then, I can't gripe at the price.

Friday, August 16, 2002

Looking for some more third-party commentary on Mac OS X in an enterprise or business environment?

Then see this article from New Architect magazine. Quite a few architects use Macintosh systems for their work, but the number of software tools available are smaller. Mac OS X's robustness may help change software developer's minds about Mac OS X versions of these applications.
If you're Joe Tech, what's a good Mac system to have for day-to-day work? And, yes, I'm assuming that your workplace is willing to buy this for you, unless you happen to be independently wealthy. (Honestly, such a system isn't extremely expensive, but coolness and versatility come at a price.)

Personally, I'd recommend what Apple calls unofficially the "universal system." Basically, get yourself a PowerBook G4 and load it with lots of RAM (this is UNIX, after all, and it's performance definitely improves as working space increases).

Next, arm it with the following applications:

- Office v.X for Mac OS X
- Connectix Virtual PC 5.0 for Mac OS X with Windows XP Professional

With this configuration, you'll be able to connect your Mac to any network and do just about anything. Virtual PC is a PC hardware emulator, which means you can use almost any PC operating system. You can save drive images that allow you to use Red Hat Linux (or most other versions), any version of Windows, and a few other sundry operating systems of old (except BeOS, but what is that really useful for?)

What do I mean by "just about anything?" Well, Virtual PC does great in running administrative apps (how much speed does Microsoft Office XP need?), but since it emulates a Pentium II chip, its motherboard, sound card, hardware controllers, Ethernet NIC, and video card, it doesn't have a lot of relative cold-cranking power. So, games like Jedi Knight II are out in Virtual PC. (Don't lose hope, however--as I've noted ad nauseum before, a Mac version is coming that should work great in Mac OS X.)

But wasn't I talking about the professional things you can do with this system? Right...

Say you have a client with a video presentation from a camcorder that has problems in Windows XP with editing. No problem. Take the input, import it into iMovie and handle the job there. Or, Virtual PC might have enough uumph for you to try the same steps on the PowerBook to determine if the PC user has a specific hardware or software problem. Got a VPN problem on a PC network? Duplicate it through Virtual PC (you can store AND run as many PC environments running different operating systems as you have system memory and drive space) or use the VPN abilities in the upcoming 10.2 update.

The two advantages to the PowerBook is that it's mobile and very powerful. Unlike most PC laptops, a PowerBook laptop tends to be very comparable in relative horsepower to the Power Mac G4 professional desktops. The key is in its video support. an ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 on AGP, which gives it a lot of potency over less expensive systems. The plethora of USB and FireWire ports as well as S-Video ports doesn't hurt the PowerBook, either.

I can't say enough for the versatility that Virtual PC gives a Macintosh in a Windows network environment. If you can visit an Apple store, have a sales associate show you.

Thursday, August 15, 2002

I recently registered this site with Blogdex, an interesting weblog index that attempts to catalog recently updated or insightful blogs.

Not that my site has any information that's extremely important, but maybe--just maybe, there's someone that needs a little more information and fair commentary on the good, bad, and ugly of Apple hardware in a very Windows world.

Now and then I talk of Apple's financial stability--something that's pretty significant with all the hullabaloo in the stock market. Take a look at Edgar Online financial sheets for Apple from Yahoo for some real assurance. Compare it to Dell, which has a much larger capitalization, but is also the only other PC maker that's clearing any significant cash.

Interesting news from Bare Feats, a site dedicated on testing Macintosh hardware and software speeds, discover that the new DDR-memory equipped Power Mac systems introduced Monday show no appreciable speed gains over their previous SDRAM counterparts. True? Only real-world experience knows for sure. The G4 chips used in the new systems aren't any different from the previous QuickSilver systems, so these processors have the same processing limits that don't appear to be helped with faster system buses and DDR because the current G4 architecture can't use it, yet.
VPN support in Mac OS X 10.2 does appear to be a reality, based on some reader reports from the Macintouch news site. The funny thing for me was that Apple's solution for one element of VPN support involved a technology I had run into during my fruitless search for IPSec support with Mac OS X 10.1.

The solution was KAME, an open-source VPN project already running on FreeBSD. It looks like OS X doesn't provide a GUI for this, so it'll have to be configured and ran from Terminal in Jaguar for the moment. I don't think the lack of a GUI will last long given how fast some people have stepped up to make GUIs for many important OS features without a GUI, such as the shareware firewall configuration application BrickHouse, which merely allows GUI configuration of the ipfw features in the operating system.

OS X Jaguar also uses PPTP for VPN, which may already have a GUI (haven't seen Jaguar running yet to explore it to confirm this). For those of you trying to justify the use of a Mac in a Windows workplace with VPN access, this is certainly a help.

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Amy Wohl's August 12 comments on Linux on the desktop and Mac OS X in business ring true, even if I don't want to admit it.

A few companies are indeed reviewing Linux as a desktop OS, and I think for perfectly pragmatic reasons. It costs less, it can be made to fit in enterprises as yet another UNIX variety, it has an office suite that works with Microsoft Office, and can be used on a variety of hardware. With the collapse of the IT budgets in many businesses (who've wised up to the "upgrade everything each year" spiel that Microsoft has made over the years), companies can't afford Microsoft technology, or the increasing prices for their software licenses.

Amy writes in her post (commenting on an article on Linux on the desktop in the New York Times) that "Markoff goes on to note that others believe that both corporate and government customers are considering Linux (not Mac OS X, which is definitely not a current candidate in business environments, as far as I can tell) as a desktop operating system, partly because of Microsoft's recent changes in licensing policies for its Office Suite."

She's partially correct in her assessment on Mac OS X, but it has nothing to do with the operating system's abilities. In fact, most assuredly not, for Mac OS X is the only UNIX operating system with a version of Microsoft Office available, along with other features and compatibilities that, while possible, isn't yet fully functional or available in Linux. What I think she is implying involves the same situation I encounter at my workplace about the Macintosh, day after day.

Mind-share. Say the word "Mac" or "Macintosh" in front of a typical IT geek and their eyes roll into the back of their heads as if they were watching the worst home movie ever made (or, perhaps, "Battlefield Earth"). Apple's noncompliance with early PC standards during the Mac's early years have shoved it from the minds of IT decision makers. Most PC techs today never grew up professionally on modern Macintosh products (ca. 1997). These decisions against the Mac were logically made for the most part at first, given the idiocy that Apple was doing before 1997 and the expenses involved in these computers. But, with the changes made to Apple since 1997, most of these reasons against Macs in the enterprise are gone, or substantially weaker. The other shoe finally fell when Mac OS X arrived, making a Mac just as strong (if not a stronger) UNIX-class OS as Linux.

Still, why would Amy or any other computer user think that Mac OS X isn't being considered in the enterprise? I think the simple answer is that no one is telling the IT world otherwise, not even Apple to a sufficient degree. There are actually many Macintosh systems in businesses, from ad agencies, publishers, newspapers, law firms, and labs. Where Macs don't thrive right now is the corporate, "make-me-a-PowerPoint-presentation" stuffed-shirt-executive world of cubicles-with-Dilbert-drones. I know. Trust me. They are trained and experienced in only one computer type. It's that lack of "outside of the box" thinking that limits a business's competitiveness and creativity in the marketplace--something that has little to do with computers, but that's another topic.

It's amazing what an IT person can be made to believe if another IT person with sufficient credibility delivers the message. If I came up to a fellow Windows IT tech and told him that a Macintosh had a stronger Office product with fewer problems such as viruses than its Windows counterpart, the IT tech (after I steadied him when his eyes rolled in the back of his head briefly) would not believe me. If another Windows IT tech gave that tech the same news, the other tech would likely disagree and ask for more information. It's all a matter of delivery, I think. Windows IT geeks expect the "Mac guy" to talk nicely about Macintosh.

It's all the more reason why I like the idea of Apple dropping the Macintosh brand name in favor of a name that has less IT stigma. It will never happen, of course. But Amy's comments show how Apple and Mac OS X have come so far but have a long way to go in showing the product's true muscle and functionality. One beef about Amy's comments is that there are probably more Mac OS X distributions in the world right now than all Linux distributions, based on Apple's sales numbers of Mac OS X since March, 2001. Then, Amy wasn't saying that OS X isn't popular, just not accepted.

Oh...just as a quick opinion...Linux on the desktop isn't dead, but it's not coming to the business desktops anytime soon for the same reasons that Apple isn't on the business desktop right now. Linux is a beautiful OS created by an army of cooks (developers), given to many restaurants (Linux distros), who salt and favor it to their needs (pick a Linux sales company). In other words, Linux conforms to many industry standards under the hood, but lacks an consistent GUI that does not replicate the command line and the highly propellerhead way that UNIX will always react unless quelled (as Mac OS X has done). The fact that the developers of the Linux GUIs (X Window, to be specific, and the strongest desktop managers KDE and GNOME) don't design their products with the fact that a GUI is meant to simplify the use of a computer and not to replicate all of the operating system's complexities means that Linux will stay off of your mom's computer until this problem is resolved--or until something better comes along.
Apple has finally released new professional desktop systems on parity with the latest PC motherboards. Thank God. There was no excusing the slowdown of these computers. Better late than never, it seems.

While a PowerPC processor is very powerful, it is only as good as the sum of its parts. Since Power Mac systems until now had only a 100MHz system bus and slow SDRAM, that power was significantly diminished. So, the brute force of MHz found on Pentium systems did beat most Power Mac configurations. Hopefully, as of today, the bar has been raised so that Power Mac systems are still comparable in all other aspects to their PC counterparts.

What's cool for Mac OS X users is that ALL of these systems are dual-processor computers, starting from 867MHz and going up to 1.25GHz. It doesn't sound like a dramatic change given that Pentiums are coming out at 2.4GHz+. However, it's the strength of the PowerPC processor that was being held back, and in a dual-processor configuration with a UNIX operating system that uses symmetric multiprocessing, Mac OS X 10.2 should absolutely scream.

Apple couldn't improve much on its case design, but changed the internals so that two conventional optical drive bays are available in addition to what appear to be now four hard drive bays at the base of the unit. One 60GB Ultra ATA drive is included in the basic configurations, along with one CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo drive. The old fourth bay was sized for Zip drives, which are going the way of the dodo in their 100MB incarnation. Apple decided to make it a normal CD-ROM drive-sized bay that can house anything--a good move if users wanted to add a fourth hard drive or a second CD-RW for duplication burning. This is a LOT of expansion space.

The dual-G4 processors use a bit more power, which is why there appears to be a larger power supply and a dramatically vented rear of the computer for ventilation.

The expansion bays remain at 4, but are now located at the top of the computer body rather than the traditional bottom.

Other parts of the system look good, especially for general gaming, such as USB support, a strong nVidia video card with stronger options in build-to-order configurations, and other goodies. What is interesting is that these systems do not come with a VGA port natively. The video cards include an ADC (Apple Display Connector) and DVI video connector only, but Apple adds in a DVI-to-VGA adapter. Apple's really pushing for digital displays whereever it can, and this, to me, was a good way to allow VGA compatibility while not trying to stay too rooted in the old VGA technologies if they didn't have to.

It'll take some tests by a lot of people to see if the changes to the logic board make a difference, but I'm betting that it will, and nicely. Nothing was wrong with the G4 chip itself (problems at Motorola with their motivation to improve chip power notwithstanding), but Apple was in need to speed up the board. Glad it happened.

More about the new systems and their reaction a little later. I'm busy deciding which computer to get myself.

Monday, August 12, 2002

Based on some reports from the net, Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar is shipping to resellers. You can't buy it yet, but at least most of us need not worry of shortages of the software.

Some links to keep you busy while I chew on some thoughts before posting them: For more general commentary on technology, visit Amy Wohl's blog. Another necessary read, with links to more blogs, is Doc Searl's blog.

Friday, August 09, 2002

Some Mac users think that the 10.2 update isn't worth the $129 price tag. If you're an IT professional, you should definitely think differently. I was browsing the Mac OS X Server home page and came across the white papers in PDF format for the new services in OS X Server 10.2.

The improvements and features in OS X 10. 2 client ("Jaguar") may not seem dramatic to a home user, but when you relate them to the features in OS X Server 10.2, the power of 10.2 for the IT professional are dramatic.

One example: Apple used its NetInfo directory services for Mac OS X 10.0 and 10.1, an inheritance from the operating system's days as NeXTStep years ago. While NetInfo was generally compatible with other directory services such as LDAP, in Mac OS X 10.1, integrating it with other services such as Windows Active Directory appeared to be a tedious process. No longer.

While NetInfo still exists, Apple is becoming deadly serious on making their products 100% compatible and interoperable with other directory systems. Mac OS X 10.2 and Server 10.2 come with what Apple calls Open Directory, which supports so many variations on directory services and authentication through two or so management applications. From what I can interpret from the white paper, Open Directory is essentially LDAPv3 on steroids--Apple has placed a lot of tools in the services to allow it to identify and link to other LDAP systems, or allow a sysadmin to create their own LDAP system. Kerberos is integrated, and the Active Directory integration appears to be greatly improved.

Another feature of OS X Server 10.2 is the Network Install. With this tool it will be possible for a sysadmin to remotely install the Mac OS to workstations or applications over a fast network. This isn't the NetBoot tool they've offered. The white paper indicates that the process can be scripted, and supports older Mac OS versions as well as 10.2.

How about Kerberos authentication for Apple file sharing services? Got it in OS X Server 10.2. A built-in FTP service from the Connect to Server command in the Finder so a third-party FTP client or command-line access isn't needed? Got it in 10.2. Browsing for other Windows domain servers and shares? Got it. Apple File Service connections over SSH? Got that, too. A GUI that manages system policies for OS X 10.2 clients individually or in groups, right down to password policies, preferences, whether users can burn CDs or eject media? Yep, it's there.

The list goes on. These are great offerings for OS X and OS X Server, and will surely give IT professionals more ammunition for Apple enterprise support. Stop reading my jabber about this and get to the OS X Server web site.

Thursday, August 08, 2002

This little article on OSOpinion has it all wrong about Apple. When talking or reading about Apple's technology with most PC users, the word "proprietary" always comes up when it comes to Apple. "Apple's stuff is so proprietary and expensive. I can't go build my own Mac. I can always build a PC."

In that pseudo-quote above, only the part on always being able to build a PC is true.

Let's hike back a few years--for some of you, before you were born. It's around 1980, and the personal computer revolution is in full swing. There are dozens of different computer manufacturers. Most of them sold a personal computer that included a BASIC computer language interpreter (yep, you couldn't go down to the store most of time to buy software--you had to type in the code yourself) or some other operating system unique to its product. There were very few standards as we know them now, so connecting parts from one of these computers to another was basically impossible without an engineering degree.

During this time, Apple was the dominant personal computer manufacturer, of which 75% of all computers sold in the U.S. were Apple II systems. (Yes, once upon a time, Apple was indeed king.) The Apple II wasn't much different from the IBM PC systems that soon followed it, and it ran its own operating system that was generally incompatible with other computers. By the mid 1980's, the computer makers that were unsuccessful in getting sufficient market share for survival were dying out, and Compaq won it's suit versus IBM on cloning the IBM PC. There were essentially two computer powers left, but they weren't separated by manufacturer but as computer type. By the end of the 1980s, you likely owned one of the old computers that couldn't do much, a PC-compatible clone or genuine IBM PC, or the new, but initially expensive Macintosh.

Apple originally introduced the Macintosh more as an appliance than a computer we're used to today. They did not anticipate anyone having to crack open an original Macintosh anymore than you would crack open your toaster to add new heating elements. This decision, in contrast to the IBM PC's open box that allowed for what little constituted as parts and accessories back then, gave the Macintosh the reputation of being a "closed box." This was true to a degree: all Macs can be upgraded in some basic way, such as RAM, but getting the thing open was never, ever easy, and very dangerous--the first Macs were all-in-one systems with high-voltage displays inside. This issue was resolved when the Macintosh II, Apple's first conventional desktop Macintosh, arrived in 1987 with a box filled with expandability.

However, for years, Apple used its own standards for expansion parts. It used an expansion slot format that never caught on (NuBus) instead of ISA used on PCs. It used different processors than the PCs. It used a different hard drive technology (SCSI) than PCs. And, as you know, the operating system was so radically different (albeit very unique) that it took the PC manufacturers years to understand the joy of a simplified graphic interface. So, until around 1996 or so, a Macintosh was a standard onto itself. This brought on the "proprietary" term to describe all Macs.

But, even during their financial troubles, Apple began to learn quickly that it was expensive to continue setting their standards. For one, no one else was using their standards, and it was expensive to have these connectors and parts built. Second, the unique connectors and processes made it very difficult for Macs and PCs to exchange information. The company started its move away from incompatible connectors by using PCI slots in 1996 Power Mac models.

Apple continued its move from proprietary hardware with the original iMac in 1998. This system used Intel's USB standard for serial input. The hard drive was now a typical PC EIDE drive, replacing the expensive SCSI-1 technology that, by then, wasn't significantly faster than IDE. A standard Ethernet with an RJ-45 connector replaced the odd connectors found on some Macs that required an adapter. In early 1999, Apple introduced the Power Macintosh G3 "Blue-and-White" (nicknamed for its case colors to distinguish it from the beige-colored Power Macintosh G3 issued in the previous year), which added its FireWire drive/device connection technology. While FireWire was an Apple-developed technology, it released it as an industry standard most PC users know by its IEEE standards number: 1394.

Today, there are very few items with a typical Macintosh that are not available for PCs as an industry standard component. You can't buy a logic board (motherboard) from Apple directly, although an Apple service provider can do this to replace a failing board. Apple uses nVidia or ATI video cards in the same 4x AGP slots used on PC motherboards--all of these cards come with a VGA port, and some with the industry standard Digital Video Interface (DVI) port. All Macs use SDRAM or SODIMM (the parity is different, but nothing is very unusual there) memory in the same kind of slots on other computers. Hard drives are the same, as are the DVD/CD-ROM modules and their connectors. (Buy a Maxtor hard drive now and you'll see that their install instructions include basic information for Apple computers as well as PCs.)

The only unique things in a Macintosh made today are the chassis (duh), the logic board/motherboard, and the processors. It's this change to industry standard parts that made the Macintosh much less expensive than its PC counterparts. But why would you pay about $100-500 more for a typical desktop Macintosh over a PC? The answer is very simple: Apple may use industry-standard parts, but they don't use CHEAP (read: poor-quality) industry standard parts. Macs have always been built to last, and this hopefully will never change.

Note that even the operating system is based on open standards--Mac OS X is a variant of FreeBSD and is supported by many of that operating system's users. You can even freely download the core operating system components of Mac OS X and use it not only on a Macintosh, but on Intel x86 hardware.

Apple still makes an occasional proprietary part itself for best competitive performance, such as the Apple Display Connector, which is a variation of the DVI but also pumps electrical power and a USB signal for the display through the port. It's a nifty connector since it allows you to connect only one cable to a Mac--no separate power supply or USB cable needed. As I noted earlier, you can still connect a standard VGA monitor if you want, or even use third-party adapters for Mac or PCs for the flat-panel Apple LCD displays that use the ADC.

The word "proprietary" really applies to the PCs made by Dell, HP, Gateway, and IBM. Consider that most if not all of these computers are supposed to comply to motherboard standards created by Intel. Logical decision, else a motherboard may be incompatible with Intel's processors. So, technically, all of these systems are clones. So, how does a computer maker attempt to show that their clone is better than another manufacturer?

The computer maker adds proprietary hardware and software, such as a unique BIOS, additional motherboard elements, diagnostic software, or even a tweaked version of Microsoft Windows to differentiate their product for competitive advantage. Try installing a stock copy of Windows XP Home on a late-model 233MHz IBM ThinkPad or an HP Vectra and watch the fireworks. It should work, but it will fight you quite a bit because the operating system doesn't recognize the hardware and doesn't have the specialized drivers that computer needs.

The article believes that Apple will be pushed out of the hardware business. This is unlikely since Apple's profit is on the hardware, not the software. This is why we will never likely see a Mac OS X for Intel (haven't I talked about this before?). Besides, no company makes computer hardware that integrates itself so well with its operating system so that installation of further hardware and software is almost a no-brainer--typically, Macintosh products "just work."

There's no mystery to Apple's survival. They make a good product. (They have made lots of mistakes, so a better question is how Apple managed to survive their own stupidity.) The computer industry is changing again and Apple must continue to read the tea leaves to change with the times. For now, Apple realizes that unique technologies generally does more harm than good. They also see that they need to chase down the portions of the enterprise market that may favor them, such as the high-end creative communities in Hollywood, and the scientific community. That's why the Xserve rackmount showed up.

The most proprietary device is a name-brand PC running Microsoft Windows. Ever tried to recompile the Windows kernel?

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are contempories that were used to making closed products in the past. Today, it seems that only Steve Jobs has learned that open standards are crucial to his company's survival.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

Listening to "The Computer Guys" radio show on NPR usually gives me a headache. Today was no exception, although it could've been the start of a cold.

Throughout the show, one of the two computer hosts (I defer the use of the term "expert" for the time being) discuss their problems with Mac OS X, which the host intentionally calls "Mac OS Ex" just to annoy the Mac zealots in the listening audience. When asked by a listener via e-mail regarding the significance of Macs over PC systems in creative design, the host answers the question with succient, logical answers.

Macintosh systems "before OS 9 (paraphrasing the host) never suffered from the printer and font problems. Users of these systems are used to their computers simply working exactly as they expect." From there, however, the host decides to go into his failure in using Mac OS X and why he cannot recommend it.

No one expects everyone to like everything that Apple creates. However, I have to note to the three people who read my page who might have heard this show to take into account significant points about transitioning to Mac OS X.

1) Mac users are probably the most rigid, inflexible computer users in the world.

This isn't so much of a slam as a truth. Mac users have far fewer things to remember in terms of tackling a particular task, whether it be in the operating system or within most applications. This comes from Apple's interface design and how it trickles down to applications that utilize its features. This is really a feature, not a bug.

If you make a Mac user's life as typically complicated as a Windows user, they get testy. If you change their Mac OS experience (even so much as changing their desktop view settings), they tend to go nuts. This reason alone is why many (and I mean LOTS of ) Mac OS 9 users are balking with Mac OS X. While the Macintosh experience is still there, it's been rearranged. And, without training, Mac OS 9 users are not happy that the Mac OS has changed. Unlike most computer users, however, most Mac users know that they can switch to something else--a fact that Apple should remain mindful of.

2) The same transition happened when System 7 (an earlier Mac OS) arrived, when Mac OS 8.5 arrived, and when Windows 95 debuted.

This transition will pass. No one likes to work with something that seems unfamiliar. I know I was confused in early development versions of Mac OS X, where there was no Apple menu and the controls were extremely confusing, among other things. But I read a little, waited for Apple to keep some level of consistency with its early Mac OS versions, and tried again. Things worked from there.

Many Windows 3.1 users had a similar harsh transition with the move to Windows 95. The similarity continues when you note that Apple is reducing support for Mac OS 9, allowing it to fade into history as fast as it can, just as Microsoft wanted Windows 3.1 to go away.

There is a grain of truth in the OS X naysayers that Apple should research. More training is needed for existing Mac OS users, who have the hardest time in transitioning. Apple makes too many assumptions about their user's support of everything they do. A small but detailed manual is needed with Mac OS X.
A handful of interesting bits of news always preceed an imminent release of a new Macintosh. Once again, my wacky compatriots on Slashdot are chatting once more about a rumor of Apple moving to Intel x86 technology. I've already noted why it is possible, but won't change how Macs are made, nor would it commodize Macintosh parts (you'd still have to buy a Mac and would never be able to build one).

A quickie review of El Gato's new personal TV recorder for Macintosh, EyeTV, which I just purchased and spent all of 20 minutes playing with. It's got great possibilities. It found the first 125 channels on my Comcast digital cable feed (scrambled channels aren't resolved, but that's not surprising), and the quality is fair on most channels, although some channels are pretty poor in quality, but watchable. I haven't tried recording yet because my home computer is also my work computer (a problem that completely hoses my plans for recording my favorite show, Babylon 5, on the Sci Fi Channel). The application update to 1.0.1 is a must, so if you bought it early, download the update.

Still limping along from the Move from Hell, although I lost a lot of free radicals from sweating and I feel a little more buff. More later as I digest some recent Macintosh news.