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Archive for January, 2010

Apple unveils the iPad

January 27, 2010 Leave a comment

As widely predicted Steve Jobs has today unveiled the iPad tablet computer. There’s little in the specifications that hasn’t been discussed over the past few weeks, so here’s a brief rundown on what’s included.

  • 9.5 x 7.5 x 0.5 inch body
  • 9.7-inch LED-backlit glossy Multi-Touch display with 1024-by-768-pixel resolution at 132 pixels per inch (ppi).  Described as widescreen at the Apple iPad specs page, maybe the reality distortion field has broken on this feature.
  • Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n) and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology
  • 3G on selected models – UMTS/HSDPA (850, 1900, 2100 MHz) and GSM/EDGE (850, 900,1800, 1900 MHz)
  • 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB flash drive. Interesting choice of description, drive not memory. Will this be externally accessible?
  • 1GHz Apple A4 custom-designed, high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip
  • Built-in 25Whr rechargeable lithium-polymer battery offering up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music

The hardware specs are good, but the apps are even better. iWork for iPad looks very usable with the optional keyboard dock, and media apps closer to iLife than iPhone make the iPad look like an accomplished media device. Pricing also starts lower than was widely expected:

The only thing I find disappointing about the iPad is the home screen, which looks like nothing more than an upscaled iPhone screen with a background image and way too small icons. Given how smooth and intuitive the demonstrated apps look is this really what Apple plans to present as the starting point of the iPad experience?

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Apple Tablet Predictions

January 26, 2010 1 comment

Just about every site covering anything vaguely Apple related has pondered what might be announced at the ‘Come see our latest creation’ event on 27th January. If there isn’t a Tablet PC announced the internet will ignite with the wrath of a million Apple fanboys. On top of this the rumours of Iphone OS 4, iLife 10 and updated Macbooks mean that some of these aren’t going to be included. Just for fun, here’s my predictions on what will be announced tomorrow.

The Tablet

  • Called the MacPad. iPad is too obvious, and iSlate and iTablet are too awkward sounding.
  • 10 inch screen, resolution 1280×800 for all the iTunes HD content. This gives around 150DPI for use as an eReader. Possibly in two versions for LCD and OLED, until the OLED price comes down.
  • The OS will be something between the flexibility of Snow Leopard and the ease of iPhone OS. Maybe a dashboard type display with selectable widgets/feeds/ information. I would include the ability to run iPhone apps in a 320×480 window or full screen tablet apps. And multi-tasking.
  • 32-128Gb Flash Memory on board dependant on expansion options, so a worthwhile amount of HD content can be stored. Streaming HD content and audio from your iTunes account at home with a fast data connection.
  • An SD card slot. The Macbook Pro’s have them, and a 10 inch tablet would make an excellent photo viewer/editor.
  • A USB port, possibly miniUSB if the Tablet is as thin as the photoshop fake’s are hoping. This really opens up the device for adding an external HD stuffed with content, but realistically isn’t likely as most other peripherals would plug into a dock connector. How about a dock with USB available for third party expansion options?
  • Universal 3G ability rather than tied to one service provider, just add your own 3G sim. Maybe a data package as an option, but not compulsory.
  • A P.A. semi highly integrated processor?
  • Front and back video camera’s for video calls is a killer app for a tablet.
  • eBooks magazines and newspapers in iTunes, just like the Amazon Kindle store with lower prices and higher volume.

iLife 10

  • Grand Central and OpenCL support bringing a big speed boost to HD encoding. What’s the point of building these technologies into Snow Leopard if Apple doesn’t use them?
  • iDvd gets new authoring abilities for the Tablet and HD content, or a new app is added to do this. Dvd’s can package photo slideshows and multiple video’s, so file based media needs the same.
  • A simplified version of iLife for the Tablet would be nice, offering basic photo retouching and video editing.

iPhone OS 4

  • There’s no denying the iPhone seriously needs a good home screen showing calls and messages, calendar etc. Other platforms, especially Android, are catching up so something flexible but simple is required. And an easy way to switch 3G, WiFi and brightness like SBsettings would be nice.
  • Irrespective of what the iPhone doesn’t do well it’s still selling in large amounts so how badly are improvements needed? I’m betting iPhone OS 4 will be saved for the WWDC mid year, and an update to V3 will add tablet support and some new features.

Macbooks

  • Nope. It’s a tablet event.

Security Update 2010-001 on Hackintosh

January 23, 2010 2 comments

Apple this week released Security Update 2010-001 for Leopard and Snow Leopard Systems. The Update offers fixes for CoreAudio, CUPS, Flash Player, ImageIO, ImageRAW and OpenSSL and is a recommended update for all Leopard and Snow Leopard Users. I have now had a chance to install and test the update on my main Hackintosh and can report no found issues so far, so anyone using a similar method of installation should be fine to install through Software Update.

Over the past week I have done a re-install of Snow Leopard on my main Hackintosh, following some small irritations with permissions on the original install. As usual I made a backup to another hard drive then imported my user account and applications once Snow Leopard was patched to 10.6.2. This time round I have used a Boot132 CD and Chameleon 2 RC4, so over the next week I hope to update my original Snow Leopard on Hackintosh guide and create a new one to reflect the new method.

Macintosh Anti-Virus

January 17, 2010 1 comment

A couple of weeks ago my one year subscription to Virusbarrier X5 expired. The software had been part of the MacUpdate December 2008 software bundle, and while I had been quite happy with ClamXav it seemed a waste not to use Virusbarrier. It’s worked fine for the year, even though it hasn’t detected a single thing. This isn’t a reflection on Virusbarrier’s ability to do it’s job, more that as a Mac user who observes safe internet use there wasn’t anything for it to detect. There are still very few risks in the wild for Mac users, and unless you make a habit of installing pirated software your chances of becoming infected are virtually zero. This could all change tomorrow, but for now the Mac remains a safe computing platform. Read more…

Categories: security, software

Software Updates that show off the Mac UI

January 6, 2010 Leave a comment

A couple of software updates recently have reminded me just how good the Macintosh user interface can be. Functionality is good, but a swish interface really makes an app stand out.

First up is AppZapper, now at version 2. Version one was great for un-installing applications with it’s simple ‘drag an app onto the window and hit the button’ approach. The neat part was that AppZapper would also hunt out preference files and other associated junk (see above). The big improvement in version 2 is the Hit List (below). This shows all the Applications, Widgets, Preference Panes or Plugins on the machine for simple removal, even sorted by date, size or usage. No more hunting around the Library folder to bin that unwanted add-on. There’s also the new ‘My Apps’ to store license and serial information on purchased apps. Quite a lot of new features means AppZapper is well on the way to becoming an outstanding Application management package.

The second app is Version 2 of Panic’s Unison. Again, version one was a highly competent usenet client but version 2 sees all the windows integrated into one. There’s now built-in UnPAR/UnRAR/Join and recovery sets are only downloaded if needed. No need to fire up a web browser as search site’s can now be set up within Unison (and three are included to start you off). For anyone frequenting Usenet this looks like a great time saver. The screenshot below shows some of the default groups offered.