MacWorld 2008 and an interesting stock trading tie-in promotion

Another exciting keynote from Steve Jobs today at MacWorld 2008 – in case you missed it you can catch-up on live.gizmodo.com. Just like the last MacWorld, Gizmodo’s live blog was hosted on WordPress.com as part of our VIP hosting program. ( you can read a “rating the livebloggers” review here)
update: watch the keynote & details on how other sites covering the event faired: Crunchgear, Engadget, and Twitter )

From a Mac product standpoint, I’m not totally convinced about the MacBook Air but definitely will check it out, and the Apple TV “take 2” is a huge improvement.

Shortly after the keynote this curious email offer arrived in my inbox:
trading.png

I definitely give them credit for linking their campaign to the millions of people out there with an urge to buy some new Apple gear !

OS X: Upgrading and Installing Leopard – pick the clean erase and install option

After waiting for Leopard to arrive I finally got my hands on it and went ahead with the installation. When you install your latest OS X you have a few choices:

leopardinstallloptions.jpg

In the past I’ve usually done a full HD backup, I then format the drive, and do a clean install of the new OS – using the upgrade as an excuse to clean house and get rid of all the crap that accumulates over time. But for some reason when I went through the process this time, the only option available to me was an “Upgrade”, which entails updating the OS as well as all applications and settings ( I later learned that perhaps having my external USB hard drive connected was the cause of that single option. )

So I rolled the dice and after doing the “upgrade” i noticed lots of sluggishness and beach balls a plenty !

So over the holidays I finally decided to do a full cloning of my hard drive using carbon clone ( which was simple and worked well ), and then proceeded with a clean install of Leopard aptly named “erase and install”.

Things are now snappy and that clean fresh OS feeling is quite minty ! You can also use the built in migration tools to transfer settings or just use the clone to copy over the “home” directory.

Waiting for Mac OS X Leopard: Why no digital download option ?

OS X Leopard imageThe newest version of Mac OS X “Leopard” is out in the wild, but my Amazon.com order has an estimated delivery date for next week.

Not a big deal, but made me think: In today’s world of broadband and on-demand user behavior, why doesn’t apple offer a digital download option ? On top of it, it’s environmentally more responsible to do away with all the extra packaging, fuel costs for shipping, etc.

As far as expertise and DRM issues, Apple has the experience with it’s iTunes store and .Mac service to offer this kind of option and make it secure.

In the gaming space I’ve seen Valve‘s digital efforts evolve over the last few years into a really impressive offering. They have a service called Steam (gigaom review) which essentially allows you to purchase games and download them instantly. They also use the service to foster online gaming, do auto patching, premier game trailers, and fight against cheats. It was initally conceived because they had trouble with 3rd party distribution, and ironically today Steam is used as a distribtuion platform for other game publishers.

The other company that could also facilitate this would be Amazon themselves. They distribute music digitally with their new amazon mp3 store — so why not do the same for software ?

Useful Mac apps: Play WMVs, Google Analytics Widget, and Quinn

Some helpful ( and fun ) OS X apps that I’ve been using recently:

– id Software released HD footage of Rage (trailer & developer walk-through), the new internally developed game, at QuakeCon 2007 (Shacknews coverage). It’s in WMV format, so if you are on a Mac and not running some kind of virtualization/windows combo, you should grab the WMV Quicktime component. While I haven’t played PC games in years, this one is looking pretty solid.

– Using Google Analytics to track your site’s traffic and running OS X ? Dashalytics is a new OS X widget that shows a snapshot from your Google Analytics account in your OS X Dashboard. On the subject of traffic stats, if you are running WordPress, make sure to check out our WordPress.com Stats plugin.

– Must be something about playing Tetris for hours on end back in the day (aka “Tetris Effect“) that caused me to seek out Tetris clones. A really good one that a few people have emailed me about (and just saw that Jamie wrote about recently) is called Quinn. Really clean interface, and even includes “extensive online highscore database” 🙂 Definitely worth checking out.

– (UPDATE #1) Forgot to also mention the excellent OS X port of Open Office called NeoOffice. It even handles MS Word tracking changes which is something Google Docs does not currently support. (thanks Matt for the tip)

Hit by the OS X 10.4.10 update problems – having flashbacks to BSOD

os x crash I’m speechless ! Just had my mac crash and require a restart (panic) for the third time in about 20 minutes.

Looks like it’s related to a 10.4.10 update that has caused problems with wifi when running on battery power. Plugging the power cord back in seems to have stabilized the situation.

For a few minutes I thought it was Firefox related, since that’s what I was using when the crashes occurred.  I tried out Camino for a bit ( it has been a while since I last used it ) — and it’s really a slick browser. Only thing holding me back from using it full time is the lack of plugin support.
Back to this buggy OS X update. As one user, tele_player, on the apple support forum put it:

 > …and this is better then Windows? Somehow I am
> starting to feel like I bought into the marketing
> hype of Apple products… =(
Right now, it doesn’t look better than Windows, but a screwup like this is actually VERY unusual.

Let’s hope we see a quick fix soon.

iPhone Sights & Sounds

iPhone A few thoughts on what is undoubtedly “iPhone week”:

* I was at the 5th ave Apple (AAPL) store the other day, and actually saw people camping out waiting for the iPhone nearly 100 hours prior to availability.

* Inside the the impressive store on 5th ave, the sales guy i talked to had a couple of interesting things to say:
1) The dollar is so weak VS other currencies, that he sees international tourists buying up everything, and often buying 2 or 3 of each item. ( They were sold out of the mac book and mac book pros I was looking at ).
2) They anticipate a ton of people buying Macs when they purchase the iPhone. Reminded me of the iPod sales habits of a few years ago.

* The reviews are in !:
1) Walt Mossberg just posted his review, and also posted a q&a with Steve Jobs, plus I’m including the video below:
2) David Pogue has a nice complete review as well as multimedia content.

* Biggest take away for me so far from all these reviews: Mossberg, unlike David Pogue of the nytimes, is positive about the touch screen keyboard:

The iPhone’s most controversial feature, the omission of a physical keyboard in favor of a virtual keyboard on the screen, turned out in our tests to be a nonissue, despite our deep initial skepticism. After five days of use, Walt — who did most of the testing for this review — was able to type on it as quickly and accurately as he could on the Palm Treo he has used for years. This was partly because of smart software that corrects typing errors on the fly.

I think for people like me who are die hard blackberry users, this keyboard question is the biggest issue that has to be settled — and the only way that can be done is by using the iPhone for a few days. Or maybe I’m just trying to convince myself why I must buy an iPhone and not wait for the 2nd generation version as I would normally do 🙂