Monday, January 31, 2005

New PowerBook: To Be or Not To Be

Apple's current PowerBook G4 line is currently the longest line without update. I can't remember when the last speed bump was (probably last April ... I remember roughly that it was before WWDC04). I've got one, bought October 2003. The first Alu-PBG4 15" model (with the famous white spots problem).

It had been so long since the last update. Since then Apple had announced a lot of cool products, notably the iMac G5 and new Mac mini (honestly, I want both ... iMac for desktop computer and the mini for being home media center. I will also connect them over the wireless, so I can build my code with Xcode using the distributed build feature and using the mini as the in-home server).... the iPod family had seen a lot of cool updates: the iPod U2, iPod photo, and latest iPod shuffle (waiting for my 1GB one right now). Even the iBook line had seen an update, which brought it up to much the same level as the PowerBook!

Sure, PowerBook deserved an update. The question is: when? ... or may be more: to what?

I believe that because of the G5-hype and marketing, a lot of people (dare I say almost everyone ?) are looking forward seeing a PowerBook G5 out the door. This had been speculated for so long, even before the iMac G5!

However, since the thermal control seems to be the persisting problem for the G5, it still pretty unlikely that we will see one anytime soon, and Apple had admitted this themselves.

What's next? Freescale's Dual-core G4 which was announced a while ago. Since its annoucement, people once again speculated it to become the next generation chip for PowerBook. But since then nothing came close to reality yet.

Else? Hmmm .... Yet-Another-Speed-Bump rumor surfaced before the Macworld Expo. At that time (and still this time), it seems to be the most likely thing to happen, but is surely the least people want it to. After all, 8 months and only 0.17 GHz? You can't kid people like that.

What do I want?

Hmm... I figured I don't really want a G5 in the PowerBook because of the power consumption and heat problem. I want to be able to use my laptop for hours, without burning my hands (or burn something else more important to a guy). One of G5 biggest advantages over other chips is its wider front side bus, and I don't think Apple can engineer the bus that wide in the laptop anyway (see it in the iMac? compare that with the PowerMac's FSB).

Personal Conclusion: I will take the Dual-Core G4 PowerBook over the G5 one anyday, when it comes out (and if it does come out; the rumor had re-surfaced, at least). Also when it comes to performance, I don't think the power-down G5 with smaller bus can perform any better the Dual-core G4. Actually, it can even be outperformed by the dual-core G4.

The only problem Apple might have for making Dual-Core G4 the next generation PowerBook: Marketing. They had created so much hype about one word: G5. Many people I know really believe that G5 is everything and being a G5 making it the fastest thing on this planet. If the Dual-Core G4 is outperforming the G5 ... then Apple has a problem.

However, if Apple (and IBM) can engineer the solution to put the G5 in PowerBook, with reasonable battery life and not making it hotter or heavier than the current line, it won't be that bad too. I might want one, consider that if PBG5 comes out, then the dual-core G4 might not be available at all.

Jan 31st. 4PM.

For the first time in days, if not weeks, that I feel free ... and can browse webs, writing articles, watch movies (I bought some of movies ... most notably Lost Highway, but haven't found time to watch any yet), and even play games (yes, I bought Star Wars: Knight of the Old Republic for Mac OS X and haven't played or even installed it! ... also my finishing of Neverwinter Nights had been long-overdue already) .... or I could be playing with my newly arrived iWork '05 and iLife '05, too! Wow ... it seems there are so many I want to do ... and what's better? Now I can effort to do them!

What happened?

Well, Jan 31st, 4PM, the deadline time for my master thesis had passed, and I DID submit it on time! Even though I still have to defend my thesis on the 10th of Feb. That's less work for me (just taking things from my thesis, making it more appropriate for presentation, etc).

Defending my thesis, will be the testbed for Keynote 2.0, that came with my copy of iWork ;-)

Now, what is the first thing I should do? :D

May be the most appropriate answer is: pad myself in the back, and take a good & full sleep

Saturday, January 29, 2005

5 Minutes with Pages (iWork '05)

Got my copy of iWork '05 today. Unfortunately, a pity that I don't have time to play with it much, gotta finish my thesis. Anyway, I got 5 minutes to play with it while my another machine (Dell) doing some calculation. I pull out some images from my iPhoto library and copy texts from my thesis ... and this is what I have, done in less than 5 minutes... looks really impressive.




Time to remove Microsoft Word from my dock! (I have never really used Word anyway ... I write most of my works, including casual articles in LaTeX, and drafting in TextEdit ... Pages seems to be really fit for writing articles. Have to see though).

If it works .... removing MS Office entirely from my computer isn't a bad thing ;-) [I removed PowerPoint after I got Keynote 1.1, and I don't use Excel. Not a chance for Entourage).

Sunday, January 23, 2005

X.org on Debian Sarge

Felt bad & Had emotional problem again. So, I decided to do something to pull myself back, and installing X.org on the Debian-based systems had been that thing for me last few times I felt like this :-)

After successfully setting X.org system to work with my Ubuntu Warty Warthog (see the relating entry), I thought that I should be killing my time by trying to get it work on Debian Sarge one last time, after my previous attempt failed. I missed Debian Menu so much when I'm using Ubuntu anyway, so I have been stick myself to Sarge when I'm using my Dell laptop.

Since my previous attempt broke more or less my Sarge installation (luckily, I backed up the data I had .. which is not that much), I had to reinstall Sarge again. So I get the older Debian net-installer daily/nightly build (9/25 .. which doesn't exist in that linked page anymore) which I found working fine with my Inspiron 4150, and reinstalled it with the Desktop Environment option in taskselect. OK, as usual, I got the working GNOME and KDE, and a few others, and of course, XFree86 X11 system. Now it's time to change.

So I edited the /etc/apt/sources.list to use packages from Ubuntu Hoary repository, as I did in the previous two entries (this and this), and commented out the rest. Next, I ran the usual


apt-get install xserver-xorg

to install X.org X-server. It installed with no problem, and then the configurator asked me which X-server I would like to use, XFree or X.org, which, of course, I selected X.org (otherwise why installing it?). I had to fix a dependency problem afterward. The xfree86-common refused to get removed. So I had to manually remove it, which is just the matter of performing the usual apt-get remove command

apt-get remove xfree86-common

Done.

Now I'm apt-get upgrading the packages using Hoary repository. Will report back the result. Stay tunes!

[UPDATE: Now done with everything. A few dependencies problems, of course. But it's working!] So, what else? FreeBSD?Joking, really ;-) ]

Friday, January 21, 2005

Mac mini photo posted!

I saw it in Steve Jobs' hand during his keynote ... I saw its photo in its official website ... I saw the stories of it everywhere, the Mac mini is obvious one of the hottest topics and gadgets in computing world now. However, I haven't seen it with my own eyes yet, or haven't seen any customer-taken picture of the mini, so I can't really tell how cool it is, in various sense.

Well, good picture worths millions ... and .:UNEASYsilence:. had posted a set of just-arrived Mac mini photos, off the box.

So small, so cool! And when I see the picture of it sitting beside the 4G iPod (or the iPod photo .. they are quite the same size and I can't really distinguish them by look) ... oh my god .. the iPod looks freakingly BIG. Yeah ... let me repeat, freakingly BIG!. Especially when we consider that the Mac mini is a desktop computer and the iPod is the portable digital music player!.

Check out the photos [www.uneasysilence.com]!

Rawitat Pulam@Com/Science

My yet-another-weblog.


Rawitat Pulam@Com/Science (http://rawitatscience.blogspot.com/)

Mostly about science, natural and computational, from classical and modern, to quantum and complexity. Also something about computer programming (mostly will be about Cocoa).

Thursday, January 20, 2005

MSN users be ware! New worm is attacking you!

Just today, some of my friends had been trying to send me some *weird* files (with weird name ... and ending with suspecious extension .PIF (Microsoft's Program Information File) ... which is potentially dangerous file, since it can (and usually) store the information to execute some programs to do some certain things.

The more potentially dangerous thing about this PIF file this time is: the extension is close enough to .GIF which is one of the standard format for graphics/image files. This could easily cause many users off guard and accepting the files, and, consequentially, execute it.

More information can be found here (ThaiCERT). The page is in Thai, but I believe you can find the information written in your native (or preferred) language easily.

[UPDATE: I made the English version of the original ThaiCERT article (a quick & dirty work ... translating+writing HTML page done in 10 mins). Check it out.]

The worm's name is W32.Bropia, and effecting any version of Windows. GNU/Linux, Mac OS, Mac OS X, OS/2, BSD, UNIX are safe. Windows users, if you haven't thought of switching to GNU/Linux or Mac OS X, please start your consideration. The world out there is not so safe ;-)

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Ubuntu Hoary and X.org #2

Got it working this time. Here's the screenshot (click to see 640x480 version):




So, basically, I reinstalled the Ubuntu Warty Warthog, then edit the /etc/apt/source.list as mentioned in my previous entry:

deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu hoary main restricted
deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu hoary universe
deb http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu hoary-security main restricted

Or, simply put: change every warty in the /etc/apt/source.list to hoary. Then do the following:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

which performs the upgrade to the entire distribution using the Hoary repository. Note that, therefore, this will upgrade everything using packages from Hoary, which will be using X.org instead of XFree86, so the X get replaced too.

The installation didn't go that smooth though, as expected from the pre-release (and testing) software like Hoary. I had to do various forcing the installation (mostly using -f with the apt-get does the trick).

The next step is to remove the ubuntu off, reinstall Sarge and put X.org on it :-) [Joking a boring joke, Ubuntu is nice and there's no reason for me, at least not yet, to get it out].

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Redemption: I'm Back!

In the fashion of Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire)'s dialog in Spiderman 2 ... I really want to scream


I'm Back

Out loud.

I'm back ....
... from all the emotional and feeling surrounded me recently.
... from clouding my eyes and judgement, and by emotion.
... from giving in too much to feeling, not thinking.
... from fears, uncertainties, and doubt.
... from the dark side of myself.

Troubling myself by trying to get X.org working on my Ubuntu Warty Warthog, which turned out fruitless, had the good side effect. It brought something back to me.

It's like I took the red pill, and had open my eyes, back to the person who I used to be.

Yes, this is me. A semi-anti-social computer geek. Cold-blood (sometime) and emotion-less.

Haven't feel like this for such a long time. Welcome back to the real world.

PS. Finished reinstallation of Ubuntu Warty Warthog now. Will upgrade the system using Hoary repository once more. I will get it work this time.

Mac mini; Less than you think [Really?]

Today's ExtremeTech's article: Mac mini: Less than you think, the author, Loyd Case commented:


So I feel compelled to point out that for $399, you can get a Dell 2400 with a 2.4GHz Celeron, 256MB of RAM, 40GB hard drive, 17-inch CRT and a keyboard and mouse? And that does include Windows XP Home Edition. Gateway has something similar, except it comes with an 80GB hard drive and speakers - although that $399 is a post-$100 rebate price.

Ok, first off, you get a Celeron system. But it doesn't matter, that would be sufficient for most people who just want to browse the net, sending mails, writing letter anyway. However, the "that does include Windows XP Home Edition" bits bugged me.

So, Mr. Case was comparing Windows XP Home with Mac OS X, as they are quite a good caparable systems?

Not a chance, even a single, slightest chance ... for being even close that.

Browsing, e-mailing in Windows had became day-time & working-time nightmare for many people. Some even refused to go online completely. That's Windows, the operating system that get infected in 20 minutes (<-- quite an old news, though .. Aug 2004).

I guess being to use computer without fearing the malware, being to do what they bought a computer to do, worth some price.

"Apple's designs are certainly far easier on the eye than Dell's mini-towers. And the G5 is a great processor… but, oops, the Mac Mini ships with a G4. So let's not get too carried away about the 'cheap' Macintosh. It's cheap relative to past Apple systems, but you can still get a complete Wintel system for considerably less,"

Now, we are getting some point here: Celeron vs. G4? You're kidding me!

If you want to compare the G4 processor, compare it with something else, a mid-end P4 sounds reasonable, a Pentium-M is also reasonable, considered the G4 is still a top dog for Apple's mobile system. Don't forget, it's RISC vs CISC issue, too! (half-kidding & half-joking here).

Now, let's get into the meat of this blog. How are we define the complete computer system?.

We all buy computers to do tasks we want them to do. We all want things that just work, without being annoyed, bothered, and having headache in things we shouldn't. So far, Mac OS X had been that system for me. Nothing beats the experience of sitting in front of the UNIX-box that is really easy to use and beautiful, and everything just works. Quite safe, quite secure.

Also, did I mention iLife? Yeah, Mac mini does come with a copy of iLife. One of the best integrated tools for home system.

Mac OS X + iLife, only this combination should worth something that is invaluable for the Wintel world (because there exists none that is comparable). It's not only about pricing in US$ or JPY or whatever the currency unit you take. It's the user experience, something that is not measurable by any statistical mean nor by any number. It's something you have to use and feel your own feeling.

Of course, Mac OS X and iLife do have their own flaws. Nothing is perfect. But, things do not have to be perfect to be the best. Different people define best differently. The best for me might not be for anyone else.

Anyway, my point is: it's NOT (only) about the price tag, you get it Mr. Case?

Sneak Peak at GNOME 2.10

A Sneak Peak at GNOME 2.10.

Look obviously amazing (check out the panel and applet transparency). GNOME is, IMO, the current king of Desktop Environment on Linux, and it would still be in that position, for at least another long while. [No, I'm not a fan of KDE ... it's too Windows-wannabe for my taste .. if I want Windows, I will use Windows].

Ubuntu Hoary and X.org

I had problems staying focus on what I should be doing recently, that is: finishing my thesis. So much personal problems, stresses, tensions, demands, and whatever I have now. So, I had decided to get myself back the feeling of being a semi anti-social computer geek, careless of people and things around me, regardless of whoever or whatever it might be. ... Something I used to be so good at.

So, I decided to upgrade my playground, Ubuntu Linux,'s X11 system from current XFree86 to X.org, using Ubuntu Hoary Hedgehog repository, a now-testing version which is scheduled to be officially released in April 2005.

So, I added these lines to my apt source.list


deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu hoary main restricted
deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu hoary universe
deb http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu hoary-security main restricted

Then

apt-get install xserver-xorg.


Now, I must have done something wrong or there were some incompatibilities between packages, so my X is now not really working. It's working, but, well, some problems with GNOME it seems. So now I'm apt-get upgrading the entire distribution. If this does not solve the problem, I will switch it back, or installing Debian Sarge without X11 and use Ubuntu Hoary repository to install X.org. Will be back with you reporting the result of this later.

Note: Ubuntu Hoary Hedgehog is not yet a stable release. Do not use it for any production or non-testing, non-playing. You're at your own risk!

[UPDATE] After re-installing Debian Sarge (net-install) clean, without desktop environment, changing to use Hoary repository to still didn't really work. X.org installed fine, but GNOME refused to install. There are some broken dependencies, which I just had no time to attempt to solve. So, maybe I will just try Hoary live-CD. Will report back again.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Japan: iPod shuffle and iTMS

From Forbes.com's article:


Apple Computer Inc. of the United States hopes to boost its share of Japan's portable digital music player market to 80 pct from around 50 pct now, Vice President Yoshiaki Sakito said Friday.

[skipped]

Expressing a bullish outlook for the product's Japanese debut, Sakito said the Apple group has received more prerelease orders for it in Japan than those placed for the iPod Mini player, which became a blockbuster last year.

Sakito also unveiled a plan to launch the iTunes Music Store online music distribution service in Japan at an early date, saying the group is steadily continuing its preparations.

It would not take 12 months before the Apple group starts the service in Japan, he said.

So, iTMS is coming to Japan, by the time I should be gone from this place already! What a sad story .... :-(

Anyway, looking forward to use it in my second coming. (Gandalf's On the 5th day, at dawn, look East manner ... Well, I will be coming from the Westside of Japan, though ... and it won't take me just 5 days).

Bits about "Sharing"

Recently, I found many people have misconception about sharing. So I thought I would write a bit about it.

Sharing is basically consists of three aspects: to give and to take. And last but not least, as the consequence, appreciation to both of them.

Giving alone would not make sharing possible. What is the point of giving when no-one is taking it? Taking alone would make it even worse. What to take if there's nothing given?

Appreciation is really important, too. What is the point of giving when no-one appreciates what you're giving, and someone even feel bad when you are giving? Taking need appreciation, too. If you take what you should, taking things that should belong to you with your right, then that should be appreciated by others.

Give what you can give, take only what you should take. Respect the right of people, respect the duty of people, appreciate what people had done for you and will do for you, do not feel bad for that.

Let see if my point is correct: Take P2P file sharing for example. (Talking about P2P file sharing, it's not necessarily means that I'm talking illegal music/movies/programs download. There are a lot of things being shared legally. Images of some GNU/Linux LiveCD, for example).

P2P would not exist if everyone just want to download and not sharing back things they have. You can download things you want, appreciate what the others had shared for you (so you can download it), and share back those files so the others like you who want the file can have it too.

Knowledge sharing works the same. Most things you know, were someone else's discoveries, not your own. People of the past, of the previous generation, had passed and shared their knowledge through us, for us to survive the world better, and for us to pass them it on, to the next generation, to the future.

Get this: one day you will die. This is the hard fact, the real fact, no one lives forever. What's the point of everything you know, if the next group of people who will walk this earth cannot use it to survive to ever-increasing cruelties of the world?

Everyone had taken so much of the others' generosity, and we all appreciate that, thankful for that. What about giving some back? No, the world would not hear your name, it might not be written in any page of history, it might be remembered by none.

But remember the ancient Native American (Indian) proverb,


We do not inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it form our children.

Humanity to others.

Aqua OpenOffice.org 2.0 CANCELLED!

From OO.org source itself (porting.openoffice.org/mac),


It's been over a year and a half since this page was last updated, and as of recent memory, all engineering for OpenOffice.org Mac OS X has been focused on X11 graphics, that is, OpenOffice.org Mac OS X (X11). Without significant contributions of time and talent this will most likely remain the case.

No engineering work has been performed on Quartz or Aqua development within the OpenOffice.org project since mid 2003. For the last year and a half all engineering work focusing on a native Mac OS X OpenOffice.org version has been concentrated in the NeoOffice/J project, using a combination of Java and Carbon technologies to replace X11.

OO.org does give some reasons to stick with X11 version on the Mac (well, OS X is BSD actually. Apple has its own X11 implementation for OS X. The current version of OO.org is running fine on my OS X). Listing here:

  • X11 Will Always be Faster to Market
  • X11 Will Always be More Stable
  • X11 Will Always Look like Other Platforms
  • X11 is the Ultimate Testing Tool

Given so many differences between Mac OS X API (be it Carbon or Cocoa) and X11, OO.org decision to stick with X11 might not be a wrong decision. Also, I would guess that OO.org do not have many people working on native-Aqua port as they do with Windows port. Porting to the Mac could be pretty difficult, given the complexities of OO.org. (This is not a port of a little tool, it is one of the largest open source software around).

It would be really nice, if they can make X11 version of OO.org 2.0 for Mac to be as nice as Windows version though. (I only tried Windows preview version, haven't tried the Linux version yet).

For those who needs native-Aqua office suite, look for iWork. No, it's not free, neither as in free speech nor beer. But pricing at $79, it's not bad at all. It does not have spreadsheet program though.

Oh, last time I tried NeoOffice ... quite promising, but given the performance of Java VM on Mac, I'll give it a pass. (I don't need a spreadsheet program anyway).

By the way, make sure to read Slashdot discussion thread about this topic.

Friday, January 14, 2005

It's not for "Eating"!!

Found this from the official iPod shuffle website (see the bottom of the page). Really funny:



It looks yummy though, maybe nicer if it comes in colors. Could be mistaken as gum easily :-)

The new name for Jan 11.

I wrote in my previous blog entry Jan 11. A Day in the History of "Small" and "Cheap", which I wrote about the Mac mini and the iPod shuffle.

Now I noticed another thing: Both of them are pure minimum, so minimum that they are both screenless.

So, Jan 11: The day in the history of "small", "cheap", and "screenless".

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Mossberg on iPod shuffle

Now, it's Walt Mossberg of Wall Street, (who, according to Steve Jobs during his special event with U2, is the toughest review to please) .. 's turn to review the latest iPod shuffle:


I've been testing the new iPod Shuffle for a couple of days, and, in my tests, it fulfilled -- and even exceeded -- Apple's claims for convenience, battery life and song capacity. Sound quality is so good you can barely believe the music is coming from something so small.

[skipped]

But, the lack of a screen on the Shuffle would bug me, personally. I really enjoy seeing the song information while I play music. It's one of the big advantages digital music players have over playing CDs. Of course, joggers and others who listen to music while they work out won't miss the screen, because they are rarely in a position to watch it, and the fact that the Shuffle is small and lacks a delicate hard disk will make exercising with it appealing.

There are a few design downsides to the iPod Shuffle. The lack of a screen means you can't use playlists of collected songs on it, because you have no way to select such a list. For many people, play lists are a key part of the iPod experience.

[skipped]

Still, this is a good product that will enlarge the iPod's appeal, especially with kids, people on low budgets, or people who work out. I imagine some existing iPod owners will also buy Shuffles as sort of add-on players. And the iPod juggernaut will roll on.

Walt wrote a good review, actually, many good things and many bad things are included. Really provide good information for people who might be thinking about getting one (me included). Make sure you read the full review

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

iPod shuffle: Experiences around the net

There are several people who got their hands on the latest member of the iPod family, the now much-talked about iPod shuffle, and were kind enough to share their first hand experiences and imprerssions with the world. So, I'd like to blog & quote somet of them.

First, it's James Duncan Davison, the author of the first Cocoa book I read, Learning Cocoa with Objective-C, in his weblog at www.x180.net:


To be honest, I was a bit skeptical at first. Even after laying out $99 for it, I was a bit worried that the controls would be too simplistic. After all, there's no scroll wheel. And no trademark iPod display. But, you know what? It works. And it works well. Derrick says it best: The reason that it can work so well even though it's so simple is because iTunes does most of the heavy lifting.

Of course, having one on the first day of MacWorld has been fun too. I've been able to show everyone I see what it looks like and let them play with it. But, better yet, was when I got some time to myself with it. Rock on.

Then, Chuck Toporek, the author of several books on Mac OS X, wrote in the O'Reilly Developer Weblogs:

While I didn't have much of an opportunity to listen to the iPod shuffle during the day at Macworld, I've been listening to it now for the last four hours as I work and write blog entries. It's a great little iPod, and I'm totally smitten. It's all I hoped and dreamed for, and more.

Then, Christopher Breen of Playlist magazine, in his article:

The Shuffle’s navigation wheel is divided into quadrants, with a Play/Pause button in the center. Depress the button for 3 seconds to switch into Hold mode. The east and west quadrants of the nav wheel are the Previous/Next functions, while north/south is volume up/down. Press and hold a Previous or Next button to rewind or fast-forward, respectively. The Shuffle also includes an LED indicator that flashes green for ‘good’ and orange for ‘Do Not Disconnect’ or ‘Error.’ Change the iPod from Shuffle to sequential playlist button via a slider on the back of the unit. This slider also functions as power on/off; slide the switch all the way up to turn off the device. So cool.

Where it starts to get really interesting is in the integration with iTunes. Plugging in the iPod Shuffle and selecting it will give you a new pane: the Autofill pane. You choose the source of your music (album, artist, playlist, etc.), and let the iPod do the rest of the work. You can have it select songs randomly, replace all songs, and choose higher-rated songs more often. Yet another ingenious way to remix your own music collection, courtesy of Apple.

I will also look for the negative comments, of course. But what I found so far from the RSS feeds I'm subscribing to, are mostly, if not all, positive.

My work, My life; iWork, iLife

Amazingly Incredible, or Incredibly Amazing. No other description for the new iLife and iWork.

Let's talk about the older dog first; that's iLife 05, the new version of iLife suite, dubed "Microsoft Office for the rest of your life" last year by Apple.

iLife 05 includes


  • iPhoto 5, a major update to iPhoto. Tons of new features, like a new photo editing tool set, ability to organize photos in folders, new way to look for pictures, better performance. RAW format is now supported, too.
  • iMovie HD, a major update to iMovie. Now supporting HD editing, supporting Steve Jobs' 2005: Year of HD Video Editing announcement. Supporting more formats. The killer should be automated process for movies-creation. Of course, better performance.
  • iDVD 5. More themes. New Live-Drop-Zones feature. Integration with iPhoto. OneStep DVD.
  • GarageBand, a major update to GarageBand. Supporting eight-tracks recording, musical notation and chord manipulation. Also the companion product line Jam Packs got a new release, too. This one is pretty special, compared to the previous three. It's Jam Pack 4: Symphony Orchestra.
  • iTunes. iTunes as we know and love. Still available, of course, as free download. As I'm typing this, iTunes update 4.7.1 is showing in my Software Update now. This update adds support to iPod shuffle and some performance improving.

Ok, that's for iLife 05. Now see what I think of it ....

Hmmm, with the price tag of $79, I have to think twice to buy it. The two apps I'm using mostly from iLife suite are iTunes and iPhoto. I used iMovie only once in a long while, never touched iDVD, and played with GarageBand a few times (because it lacks Orchrestra instruments like Violin, so it's quite out of my interest. Jam Pack 4 might change this though). I will have to play with these new iLife apps in Tokyo Apple Store (Ginza) first to see the new iPhoto and then make decision.

Now, let's move to something new: iWork.

iWork is basically an *official* successor to AppleWorks suite. But this doesn't mean they used or extended AppleWorks' codes. AppleWorks, after all, was an old application written prior to Mac OS X and therefore did not take any advantage of anything Mac OS X offers. Days after days, AppleWorks had shown its age.

iWork consists of 2 applications: Keynote, a presentation-creation application, and a whole new word processor with sense of style Pages.

First, I will comment on the Keynote; the application I really love. I have to make presentation quite often, be it at seminar or conferences, and will be more often next year as I will be a full-time lecturer at a university in Thailand. Keynote had been a great helping hand in helping me to create good presentation (great, professional-looking) with ease and in no-time, no-brainer, no-effort manner.

Keynote 2 will just rocks. With all new Apple-designed themes, new effects on text and graphics, new transitions, integration with iLife (being able to browse media library), advanced animation. A real killer should be one of the most asked features: Presenter Tools. Also, Keynote now exports Macromedia Flash format, too.

Next, my comment on Pages.

First off, the name. Basically, it's the same as Keynote. You use Keynote to create keynote presentation, so you use Pages to write pages ;-)

Second, this application blows my mind. If Keynote 2 will just rocks, Pages is a bomb.

I didn't expect it to be *this* good and incredible. Good bye Microsoft Word! (well, I don't really use Microsoft Word anyway, can't remember when was the last time I used it). It's really Keynote for creating pages of written contents (with/without pictures)!

Basically, you pick the style from design templates, you can customize it of course, then type/drag text, pictures, add charts, etc, anything you can do with Keynote ... then Pages takes care of the rest for you. No more manual formatting. Good/professional looking quality content, in no-time, no-brainer, no-effort manner.

And, of course, Pages is compatible with MS Word Document format, both important and exporting. It also export HTML for your website.

iWork, pricing at $79, I ordered my copy.

So, this entry, along with one below, summarized my thought on Apple's new annoucement at MacWorld Expo in two of the major aspects: consumer Hardware and consumer Software.

Jan 11. A Day in the History of "Small" and "Cheap"

Apple Computer had been on the high end, and high-mid range market of the consumer computers. I will not be talking about supercomputer or high-performance computing, or server here, OK? They are well-known for making expensive, high-end computers, like PowerMac and PowerBook. Their cheaper, more consumer-level products are described at the mid-level of the market at best, like iMac and iBook, as their prices are about the mid-level in the entire computer market.

iPod, even though very popular, also the iPod mini which, according to Steve's iPod mini worked statement, which helped the iPod family in taking over the market from the high-end flash player (recall that Steve said "we want to go after the high-end flash market", as he introduced iPod mini last year?) .... they are relatively expensive compared to the products with comparable technical spec. (Nothing will ever come close to the user-experience of the iPod, so the technical is really emphasized here).

Not any more.

Last year, Steve announced Apple Cinema Display 30", and said the day will go down in the History of Big.

Jan 11. It is the day that will go down in the History of Cheap and Small. It might also mark Apple's full-scale coming back to the real consumer-level market, the lower-end majority.

First off, Mac mini (which, I supposed named to match the iPod mini, as the iMac G5 was designed to match the iPod), a headless computer. Notably, it is very very small. I was surprised when I see Steve holding it. It is even smaller even than the AC power adapter of some laptop! The pricing is remarkably low for Apple, starting just at $499. The machine will be equipped with G4 processor, with speed of 1.25 or 1.42 GHz, and Harddrisk space of 40GB and 80GB, respectively. The memory will be just 256MB, though. However, this is very entry level computer, which should not be expect any higher spec anyway. You usually get machines with lower specs from other makers anyway.

Second, you thought iPod mini was small? Rethink. iPod shuffle will just change your mind. Pricing at $99 for 512 MB model and $149 for 1GB model. This iPod shuffle has no display, and it has a very easy to use interface and mode, that is shuffle-only. Life is Random, or so they say. The size if also remarkably small as well, and has the typical Apple-designed touch.

What? Shuffle-only? Well, 512 will contain just about 120-125 songs. So, taking your top-rated songs, songs you moved listened to, songs that you just love, etc. And I think it's OK regardless of how you shuffle it, it might just find you a new way of rearranging those songs.

So, Jan 11. The Day that will definitely go into the History of "Small" and "Cheap", at least in Apple's book.

[Will comment more on iLife and iWork later].

Jobs' Keynote@MacWorld Expo live update

This will be a quick blog. Since there's no live webcast of Jobs' keynote, the text-live update will do for this moment:

See:


The quicktime stream will be available 9 hours after the keynote is over. So it should be sometime tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Destination: India

** First appeared in my tBlog weblog but it's one of a few good recent entries that I'd like to keep here. With bits of modifications. **

India is really on its way of becoming the real power of IT, especially for out-sourcing, as many big companies such as IBM are exporting more and more jobs to India. For example, see:


and the most recent one (today)

The world is getting pretty much smaller now. IT is the present, and future. Especially with one of the newest scientific ideas: Information as a new language of science, or when we look at reality with bits and computational feel.

With offshore outsourcing (or global outsourcing), becoming a really growing option, we can see this thing happening more and more frequence.

India is pretty strong on computer programming and IT, and therefore becoming (it not already) number one in offshore outsourcing for such kind of jobs. Russia is being outsourced for programming and R&D, Philippines for data entry and customer support (have a friend working with a company in Japan, where they do R&D and planning, and all supports are in Manila), and China for programming.

This happens so the country strong in something else, like advancing the technology, could focus more on the R (or R&D) and strategic planning and business.

Where are we (Thailand)?

We need help, a lot. Not only from the outsiders, but the help we need the most is from inside. We need to see the reality and realize (and admit) where we are, find our identity, our strength, and represent it in the fashion the world want to listen, to the world.

I can see a lot of that, but seeing alone would not help. We need to get start, get our hands dirty working on it. We have a fast-moving world to catch. We were left behind in the last scientific and industrial revolution. Now the next revolution is upon us. It's our choice to make: join the revolution now, or being left behind in dust for another century.

No, it's not choice that can be made by government policies, words, idealism, or whatever. Nor it is anyone's choice. It's a choice we have to make together, by action.

If we choose not to join and pretend we can benefit from what the rest of the world is doing, like we are doing nowadays, things will become worse and worse. Look where the front of the world in term of scientific advancement and technology right now, and look back to what we can do. Bangkok has one of the highest traffic in the world, but taking imported cars off the street, we will be left with almost empty street. Taking building built by imported technology out, we almost have a bare land.

That is the world of engineering, the result of the last scientific and industrial revolution.

What we can do with computers and computer networks today are very amazing. There are thousands of undergoing researches to make it become even more amazing and easy to use, and render it more and more indispensable to our lives. I don't want to imagine what we will be able to do with it in the next hundred years.

So, if we are to miss the bus again by not joining the IT revolution now, the next century someone will be saying "taking out all the imported IT, what do we have?". The answer could be even worse than "the bare land" or "empty street" of today. Because you can still building primitive inhabitats and do some basic agriculture (grow corn, rice, have animal farm, etc) on the land, and walk the empty street. I don't know and don't want to give any prediction regarding the future of what IT might eventually become.

We have to do something, we've got to move on, together. Starting from information sharing and knowledge sharing. That is one of the most important thing, you can't do anything without proper information and knowledge.

Together is only way to move forward.

George E. Forsythe on Computer Science

** First appeared on my tBlog weblog, but it's one of the good entries I like to keep here as well **

Found this on Lambda the Ultimate weblog entry, about what George E. Forsythe (founder of Stanford's Computer Science Department) thought about Computer Science. This is originally written in Stanford technical report, number 26. Quote here:


I consider computer science to be the art and science of exploiting automatic digital computers, and of creating the technology necessary to understand their use. It deals with such related problems as the design of better machines using known components, the design and implementation of adequate software systems for communication between man and machine, and the design and analysis of methods of representing information by abstract symbols and of processes for manipulating these symbols. Computer science must also concern itself with such theoretical subjects supporting this technology as information theory, the logic of the finitely constructable, numerical mathematical analysis, and the psychology of problem solving. Naturally, these theoretical subjects are shared by computer science with such disciplines as philosophy, mathematics, and psychology.

I will translate this to Thai language sometime when I got myself out of all these things I busying with right now.

Later this year, I will be a lecturer at a university in Thailand anyway (will tell you the name later, when things are certain), so I think it would be nice to have this hang up on my door. I had so much of the current *wrong* stereotype about "Computer Science = Programming" in my country, and I had been denying and trying to explain it to people since.

Last minute thoughts on MacWorld Expo's rumors

All rumors are floating around, some even made lines in CNN and other major news publishers. Mac Rumors article+thread had summarized all the rumors about the upcoming MacWorld Expo. Also, today's Think Secret article listed 10 of the annoucement Steve Jobs might make in the Expo (with nice & short summary).

So, here is my thought regarding things I care about:


  • iHome, this is! (with Yoda's "My home, this is" voice).

    It should be nice as a home media center, for watching DVDs, listening to music, and viewing photos on the TV or computer screen. The system will sport G4 processor with 256MB of memory, which is quite capable for those tasks. However, I don't know where exactly will Apple target this machine. While it would be nice and serve really well as a home media center mentioned above, it's still a computer which could and should do more things, like ordinary word processing (writing school report or family newsletter). I want to know whether people will be able to use it as ordinary computer, or have to use special interface that wrap around Mac OS X exclusively for those home media tasks. People looking for another computer for normal tasks (me, coding and compiling) will be quite disappointed then. Or else, find ways to put GNU/Linux or normal Mac OS X on it (like someone did with XBox).

    Note from the lastest Think Secret article: the pictures found in the website linked above are fake.

  • New PowerBook G4

    The word new here is used sarcastically, as it actually yet-another-speedbump update to the current PowerBook line, using new PowerPC MPC7447A from FreeScale with clock speed at 1.5Ghz and 1.67Ghz. There might be minor updates in other hardware, such as BlueTooth and SuperDrive as well.

    After a long wait, the PowerBook line, one the flagship line for Mac, get its update. But if this is all it got after such a long wait, it will spell a major disappointment. This means we have to wait for at least another half-year for a real new line of PowerBook, be it a G5 (likely) or a Dual-core G4 (quite likely months ago, less likely now). The release of the new PowerBook should then be coincide somewhat with the release of Tiger, Mac OS X 10.4.

    I will wait for revision-B anyway, since the first models are likely to have problems.

  • iPod flash (or iPod shuffle)

    1GB Flash memory, approximately 250 songs. Screenless. Random shuffle only.

    Hmmmm ..... mixed feeling. Well, it's only 250 songs, so I can just copy my top-rated songs (which is now containing 216 songs, about 8xx MB) or create another smart playlist containing tracks that I'm sure I like listening to, then I can live with the random shuffle only (with skip/backward buttons). The problem is, even that, sometime I can be pretty selective when I'm in a certain mood. Then the iPod flash is not a good choice. Nevertheless, I want to get one, but have to see it first.

    Also, there might be updates to the current iPod family. For instant, iPod mini might gain capacity to 5GB (25% increase).

  • New Apps

    I'm exciting to see Pages, a new word-processing application, and the new Keynote. From what I heard the last time, Pages might not be a word processor (as is Microsoft Word) but rather a semi-publishing software (in other words, a combination of features between MS Word and MS Publisher). So it should help creating a professsional looking (or at least, nice-looking) contents without much effort (like Keynote did for creating presentation).

    iLife package might get a new version, too. There are also several apps that people heard of in terms of codename and I have no idea about that, so I'm not commenting on them.

That's all about my own interests in this MacWorld Expo. Can't wait for the real keynote, but sadly, the webcast will be delayed by 9 hours. And the server should be pretty loaded at that time anyway, so I have to wait longer to see it. (Well, reading people's summary and seeing Steve Jobs's Reality Distortion Field is very different and have much different effect).

So, time will tell and we will see.

Hello World!

Hello world!

Note: For those who don't know about this, one of the typical first program a programmer will write when he try out a new langauge is a simple prorgam that display Hello World! to the screen. There are many reasons to this, for example: checking whether the programming environment is set up correctly or not, the program could compiled or not (if even this program couldn't, then forget about the rest), and also, it does give a nice greeting :-)