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For those of you who aren’t super obsessed Apple Fanboys, you may not know that one of the biggest Apple events, Macworld, is right around the corner. In fact, it all starts on Tuesday 1/15 and Steve Jobs will tell us about those amazing and shiny new products that Apple has been working on. But I am not talking about Macworld. What interests me are the weeks that lead up to it.

The weeks, or even months, before Macworld is when people start “leaking” information that someone on the “inside” has passed along. In addition, you also see speculation about where the industry is headed and the products that are “definitely” going to be released. Some rumor sites post lists of their readers ideas and speculation, most of which sound as if there origins are in a science fiction story. We hear stories about really cool technology that doesn’t really sound feasible. In the end, most of the rumors and speculation are usually wrong and way off the mark, but this doesn’t negate their value. In fact, these fake rumors are just as important as the products that are actually released.

All these fake rumors were created by someone’s imagination. They dreamt of things that they would like to see invented and instead of shooting down an idea because it was unrealistic, they ran with it. They told others about these ideas and somewhere along the way it turned into, “Company A is going to release product B according to a reliable source.” The fact is, a companies innovation is limited to their creators imagination. If people stop dreaming and start saying “this isn’t possible” or “it can’t be done” then innovation will come to a standstill. Some of the greatest products are a result of people following their imagination.

I don’t believe that all, or even most, of these rumors are started by employees at Apple or other tech companies, but their idea could still make it there. Someone may hear about this idea and try to make it a reality. These creative individuals may even start their own company or find their way into one that is already established.

Remember to take the rumors you hear with a grain of salt, but don’t stop enjoying these fantasy products that may show up in the future.

Here is an interesting blog post from an ex-apple employee by the name of David Sobotta. He makes some interesting points on the future innovation of computing.

He makes a good point about a lot of Apple’s great ideas come from Steve himself. What happens when Steve decides it is time for him to retire and hand the reigns off to someone else? I really hope that when that time comes someone at Apple can step up to the plate and fill Steve’s shoes. If not then that could spell out the downfall of Apple.

Go over and check out Mr. Sobotta’s blog, he has some very insightful posts ranging from the current state of technological innovation to his time spent at Apple.

The Zune.

I really really wanted the Zune to be outstanding. I wanted the press to get a hold of it and actually dub it the device that will dethrone the iPod. This has not happened. It hasn’t necessarily gotten bad reviews, it is just good. I was actually a little bit puzzled that my fellow Mac fanboys do not share my disappointment that the Zune was not the iPod killer.

Why do I want the Zune to be amazing? It is quite simple actually. If Microsoft made a product that the media was raving over, what would Apple do? They would make the iPod better by leaps and bounds. Apple wouldn’t sit around as their “golden child” got trampled by a competitor, they would go out and make it regain its throne. I am not saying that I am not satisfied with the iPod by any means, I just think that Apple can do better. I feel like they have a lot of cool things that they are planning to do with it but are holding out so they can release it in a steady stream and gain more revenue. This isn’t wrong from a corporate standpoint, but it doesn’t really benefit me the consumer.

So far it seems like the Zune isn’t necessarily bad, it just has some broken features. The biggest example is the wifi. It is an excellent idea but the limitations cripple it. I understand that the restrictions are in place to keep the record labels happy, but I believe that they could have made the restrictions a little more laid back. Also it could have been made a little bit more viral, they could have allowed you to re-share songs. That ways if “friend A” gives me a song that I like then I can pass it to “friend B” so that he can get a taste of it as well. Also it would have been neat if they could not only have done sharing but also a broadcasting type of thing. This way if you and your buddies are taking the train or something somewhere you could all tune into one Zune as if it were a radio station. One major thing that the Zune is lacking is Podcast support. I am a huge fan of podcasts and believe they are an excellent source of entertainment. The mere fact that the Zune does not support podcasts is a deal breaker for me.

Overall I think it is a good thing that the Zune has come in to battle the iPod, it will help force Apple’s hand to put more neat idea’s into the iPod. I am hoping that they incorporate the wifi functionality except do it better and hopefully include what I said above. Also, Apple could adopt a better interface to compete with the one on the Zune. I like the minimalistic one but it is starting to show its age. The form factor of the iPod is fantastic. I don’t want them to change the metallic back and polycarbonate front that they have used for so long. They can change up the screen layout and do some interesting stuff with the clickwheel, but in general I want it to remain the same. The last main difference means very little to me and I think that Apple’s approach is the better one. That is the built in FM tuner. I don’t need to have radio on my iPod and would personally like it to stay the way it is without it. Apple offers the FM radio add-on for those who want it and I think that is the way it should stay. That way people that want it can have it and it doesn’t add bulk to the iPod for those of us who don’t need it.

Overall I think it is good that the Zune has been brought into the market. It will force Apple to keep innovating and make the iPod better. As always, Arstechnica has done an outstanding job reviewing the Zune. You can find their review here.

If you have ever visited a site like digg.com or slashdot.org then you will probably know what I am talking about. It is probably one of the most annoying things that goes on on the internet. What I am talking about is people flamming eachother based on which operating system that they use. People that use Mac will bash Windows and Windows users will bash the Mac.

First off I just want to get this out of the way. I am a Mac user, I love Mac and everything about it. I also use a Windows computer at work and have Windows XP and Vista installed on my Mac. This post will not be Windows bashing or Mac praising, this is a neutral stance on one of the most annoying problems.

OS flame wars is a plague on social websites that discuss things regarding to technology. It usually starts when someone mentions something about one OS or another. For example someone posts on a forum a cool trick to do in Windows, then a Mac user (often referred to as a “fanboi” by the other opposing side) will come in and say that everyone is stupid for using a Windows computer. Thus the flame war has started. Now it will go back and fourth with Mac and Windows users will argue who is right and why.

These are pointless. Do they actually think they will change the other persons mind by attacking them and telling them they are stupid? If the person was even remotely interested in switching they will do it on their own. This happens on tech websites so I would assume they know something about tech. One thing people do not realize is that it is not always easy to learn a new OS, this goes both ways. They are very very different from each other. This goes for both ways, I use a Mac primarily and just started using a PC again a few months ago and it wasn’t the easiest to get back into it. I have to relearn how to do certain things and very few things are the same.

Another thing to notice is that these people use the machine they use for a reason. They wouldn’t be using the OS they use unless they believed it was the best option. Also, most likely they know the pitfalls of the OS of their choice and have found their own way of dealing with it. When a Mac user starts flaming a PC user and says, “well Window’s has a lot of viruses”, do they believe that these people do not know this? I am positive they do and use virus protection software to protect myself. They are also smart when surfing the web, remember these are tech guys and gals we are talking about. Also when a Windows user starts bashing a Mac user and says that they are just using toys and dumbed down machines, this is not really necessary. The person has the machine that works for them and by insulting them will only make them mad and want to fight back. Telling them these things will not make them switch.

Each OS has their benefits and drawbacks. The users usually know about these and use their machine accordingly. Also these people don’t really listen to each other. Instead they just reiterate the same things over and over.

Instead of fighting they should embrace the other OS. They don’t need to switch but should be happy that it is there. With more products in the market it will force companies to innovate and make good products. What motivation would Microsoft or Apple have if the other was gone. If they have no one to compete with they would just let their OS sit, or just make very small updates to get people to buy another copy or computer. It is important that both of these companies stay in the market.

These flame wars are pointless and a waste of time and energy. I won’t say it is a certain demographic that does it because I don’t believe it is so. Whatever it is that is causing this needs to be stopped. It is because of this that I am sometimes turned off from reading things dealing with tech on the internet.

Like I said, I am not bashing on one group or another (sorry if it seemed like it, it is hard to give example of both sides without being long winded) rather I want to address the issue at hand. I am not talking about friendly jokes between friends, like telling your windows buddy that your OS is better for…. It becomes a problem when it is harsh and mean and putting down another party. I am sick of hearing that I “dugg” a story because I am a fanboy. I obviously dugg it because I thought it was interesting, if that makes me a fanboy then so be it. I digg what I like and what difference does it make to someone else.

If you are like me then you heavily rely on your calendar.  To me it is what gets me through every step of the day.  I have everything planned out so that I don’t miss a thing.  Between work, school, and group meetings I can easily forget about something that can have severe consequences.

The calendar that I use is iCal which is included with OS X on the Mac.  It is a great piece of software.  There is only one problem that I have with this system, I can’t change it when I am on the go.  When I am at class and something gets changed or I pick up an extra shift at work I have no way of updating my schedule.

This is where it gets interesting.  I use Google Calendar to update my calendar when on the go.  I have my iCal calendar subscribed to the one created on Google Calendar so that when I publish changes it shows up on my desktop application.  Then when I get home I can officially put it into my calendar.

Another thing that is useful is to be able to view your calendars on the go.  This can be done a few ways.  First, if you have an iPod you can just have the calendar sync to that.  This way you will always have it with you on the go and can check it when needed.  Another option if you don’t like the layout of the iPod’s calendar is to have your iCal calendar put onto the web.  The easiest way to do this is if you have .mac.  If you don’t then it gets a little more difficult but still doable.  I have my calendar published with .mac and then subscribed to in Google Calendar.

Now I know some of you are wondering why I don’t just use Google Calendar for everything, the truth is that I don’t really like web apps nearly as much as standard desktop applications.  iCal has a much nicer interface and is easier to use than Google Calendar, also with Google Calendar you lose the iPod syncing option.  In then end it is really all about personal taste.  Some people would really rather just have it all on Google Calendar, but if you would like to keep it on a desktop app and have it on the go now you know how.

So I have been planning on writing this post for about 2 weeks now. Finally I have the time to type up my thoughts on the rumored iPhone. In case you haven’t heard about it, a lot of the rumor sites and Mac bloggers have been repeating rumors that Apple is going to release a phone with a built in Mp3 player, similar to the Motorola phones. It is being hyped up to be this great amazing product and a lot of people have been saying that they want one. To begin with I want to say that I do not want it, well the way people say it is going to be. I do not want a phone/music player, it does nothing for me. If I want to listen to music I have an iPod. The nano is small enough that it is almost un-noticeable in my pocket. Also the iPhone will either have a very small song capacity or it will be huge. I want my cellphone to be smaller than it is now, not bigger. Also there is the thing about battery life. I want my cellphone to last 2-3 days without having to charge. If I have in on and am listening to it that will kill the battery life. A phone’s battery life varies on how you use it. It has a shorter battery life if you are constantly making calls and longer if it is sitting idle. Now think if you constantly use it to play music, your battery life will be even shorter. I have had my iPod die on me a few times and it is not a fun experience. It would be 10 times worse if my cell phone died. During the day I am not near my phone charger so it would just be an incredible hassle. There really is no benefit to me in having a music player/phone. Plus it would cost more.  On the other hand…

I wouldn’t mind if Apple released a cell phone that was not also a music player.  I am not happy with the cellphones on the market today.  Very few of them have bluetooth and even fewer sync naturally with my Mac.  If Apple created a phone it would do both of these things plus have a nice UI and more.  What I want is a good cellphone that works and makes me feel good the same way my iPod does.  Is this to much to ask.  Apple doesn’t even have to be the one who makes it, I just think they are the ones that could.

All that being said, iPhone is a no in my book unless they have a cheaper model sans music player.

In my last post I took a look at games on the iPod. Now I think it is time to look at another new addition to the iTunes Store and that is movies. Like the games, at first I was extremely skeptical of this new addition to the iTunes Store. Unlike the games, I am still a little skeptical about the movies. Now let’s take a minute to get a closer look at the three main things that could either hurt or help the iTunes movies.

First off lets look at video quality. It actually isn’t that bad. Im not disappointed because the movies I will ultimately end up buying I won’t care if they are a little pixilated. I won’t buy new releases, I’ll get to my reasons for that when I cover price. So this means it only costs me $10 to get a movie, that is the same amount and sometimes less than a music album off iTunes. It is extremely convenient for me to download classics that I want to see. These are the movies that I don’t want to waste time and gas to drive over to Target and pick up a DVD copy. They are fun to just be able to watch when the mood strikes. So overall the quality is actually quite good compared to what I was expecting. The movie looked good on my 20″ display and on my 30″ TV.

The next thing that could hurt movies is how people have to watch them. No one wants to watch them on their computer, period. The good news is that you don’t have to. If you own an iPod I strongly recommend throwing in the dough to pick up the A/V cables. To me it is well worth it, I put all my ripped TV shows on there as well as my movies and I must say it is great solution. That being said if you have an iPod and A/V cables then how you watch your movies will not be a problem. Like I said before, the movies looked good on my 30″ TV. They were not DVD quality but they did not look bad by any standard (unless your a videophile). Also with Apple’s iTV coming out early next year we will have another solution so that we do not have to watch on our computers.

So far it is looking pretty good for these downloadable movies. Now lets get to the one problem I have, price. $10 for a movie isn’t bad, but $15 is. To be fair it technically is only $13 because if you were going to buy the new release you would most likely pre-order it or order it the day it is released and it would only cost you $13 compared to $15 after that. If you wanted to get the movie when it first comes out, chances are you have only seen it once before and that was in the theaters. If that is the case you would probably want the full quality DVD version so that you can get the highest quality and the special extras. Also you get a good physical copy of the movie. The only problem is really new releases, for the $10 movies it isn’t that bad of a deal to get them on iTunes. You don’t have to waste any time going to the store, and they cost about $10 less than the DVD version. The $10 movies is great for impulse buying when you actually take a minute to see how much it costs compared to the DVD version. Impulse buying is really what the iTunes store is all about, and at $10 I believe that can grab that market. $15 is way to high but the $13 dollars is a little closer to home.

Overall, I think that the movies sold on the iTunes store are worth the price and will probably do pretty good once people stop complaining about the price and realize it isn’t that bad of a deal. In the end you will either buy them or you won’t. Some people just won’t stand for lower than DVD quality movies which is understandable considering we all have different tastes and standards. All I can recommend is that you take $10 and go buy a movie that you like but have not seen in awhile. Then make your decision if it was worth it or not to you.

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