Category Archives: Apple

September 11, 2008, 3:55 pm

iPod update: A new hope

So at the end of the comment thread on my iPod lust decision process about whether or not to buy a new iPod touch, I concluded somewhat glumly that I had probably better wait until the gap between what I’d saved up and what the 32 GB model costs is made up somehow. I am happy to announce the gap has been closed, and then some, thanks to the dude that comes around every now and then to buy back textbooks. He just happened to drop in this afternoon, and I freakin’ unloaded, to the tune of three dozen books sold back. (My shelves are happy too.)

In case you’re unfamiliar with this process, there are people who make a living off of coming by professors’ offices and purchasing unused books for cash (at a rate far less than their retail value)  and then selling them to the open market. Ever wonder where those used books in the college bookstore come from? Some of them come from students, but…

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September 9, 2008, 5:50 pm

Help me buy an iPod, or not.

Apple today announced the newest iteration of the iPod nano and some changes to the iPod touch, among other things. This has been an eagerly-awaited day for me, since I took the honorarium from my April gig at Benedictine University and salted away most of it to get an iPod touch once the updates came out. But I must admit that I was really hoping that the 32GB model would be under $300; I was $100 off. So I turn to the blogosphere to help me decide how to blow my stash.

Constraints and preferences: I have $232.50 saved up. I have 12 GB of music (just music, no video) in iTunes and I would like to carry all of it with me plus some video. I would like — really like — to have mobile access to wifi in a handheld device. I currently have a 20GB photo iPod (second generation? third generation? something like that). And coming up with a whole lot of extra money — OK, well, really any

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July 30, 2008, 5:35 pm

Why I won't be getting an iPhone just now

My interest in the new iPhone has never reached critical mass, but after finding out that I can get 15% off AT&T cell phone plans through my work, I started thinking again. The basic family plan, after discount, would be $100 per month, which is more than what we’re paying now ($60/month) but possibly worth it if the iPhone is as great as some say. But my interest tanked again when I saw the coverage map near my house:

The finger on the map is roughly where I live. The orange color indicates “good” coverage, which according to AT&T means that it “should be sufficient for on-street or in-the-open coverage, most in-vehicle coverage and possibly some in-building coverage”. If I stray over to the other side of our subdivision into the yellow, it’s only “moderate”. Most of where I live and work is no better than “good”.

Sorry: But if I’m going to drop $300 on the phone and $1200 per year …

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June 10, 2008, 7:03 am

Open memo to Steve Jobs

Dear Steve Jobs,

I appreciate your noticing that the iPhone is prohibitively expensive for most some people. Cutting the price to $199 for the basic model is a good step. But: When the phone/data plan for the iPhone still starts at a minimum of $60 per month, cutting the price doesn’t make the thing more affordable. You’re talking about a reduction of $200 or so to a one-time startup price, but keeping the cost of ownership unchanged. Whereas, if the good people at AT&T would cut the price of the plan, you could likely keep the price unchanged and it would be a lot more affordable.

But then again, you are a genius and a rock star all at the same time, so why am I telling you this? Instead, please assert your reality-distortion field on your pals at AT&T to get them to play ball with normal people who like technology but can absolutely live without it if the price is too high. Which it …

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February 16, 2008, 7:49 pm

Death of a Mac mini

Last week, my wife had to reboot our Mac mini, and she got… the blinking file folder icon. For the uninitiated, the blinking file folder is the OS X equivalent of the blue screen of death. I spent an evening trying all the tricks on Apple’s support pages and trying to get it to boot from the OS X install disc, but no dice. 

So today the Mrs. and I took a trip up to the Apple Store to get a Mac Genius opinion. The verdict was what I suspected: the hard drive is dead. Fortunately we don’t keep a lot of critical data on the hard drive (the iPod has all our iTunes stuff, and our photos and movies are on an external drive) so the data loss is not catastrophic. We could possibly replace the hard drive, but we’d be looking at spending $400+ on parts and labor to fix a computer that’s four years old and was showing its age. So we’re declaring the Mac mini deceased. 

It looks like…

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February 5, 2008, 3:27 pm

Apple read my mind (but not my wallet)

index_new_media_20080205.pngAfter saying that Apple needed to add more storage to the iPod Touch before they could count on me buying one, they have obliged. Unfortunately the prices haven’t changed, and the 16 GB (which would just barely be big enough for me) is still $399. The new 32 GB model is $499.  Look: $500 is way too much for a music player, sorry, no matter how much stuff it does.

Now all Apple has to do is make the 32 GB model $399 and the 16 GB one $299, and we’re in business. or better ye, make the 32 GB model $299. Or maybe $29.

January 26, 2008, 7:35 pm

Tufte on the iPhone

Information design guru Edward Tufte has posted his analysis of the iPhone’s user interface, which includes this video which you simply must see. If that video doesn’t make you want to run out and venerate buy an iPhone, there’s something wrong with you.

He’s generally very positive about the UI, although he points out some “cartoony” elements here and there (really thick buttons, wasted space in the Weather app, etc.) that I don’t think I would have ever been bothered by until I heard what he had to say.

Some interesting comments in the article about the Weather app, too. I get the feeling there are tons of developers out there (some of whom are likely among the commenters) raring to go once the iPhone opens up to third party apps.

January 26, 2008, 1:32 pm

Colleges switching from PC to Mac en masse?

apple-pc-mac-people.jpgIt’s not just Wilkes University that is contemplating an institution-wide switch from Windows machines to OS X machines running both OS’s under Boot Camp.

At Princeton University, 31 percent of students’ computers connected to the campus network in fall 2006 were Macs, compared with 10 percent in 2003-4. Similar gains have been reported across the country. In fall 2006, 20 percent of freshmen at the University of Virginia owned Macs, compared with 3 percent four years earlier. At Dartmouth College, which has historically had strong Apple support, the numbers are even higher, with 55 percent of freshmen last semester reportedly using Macs. [...]

n 2006, two colleges separately took the unusual step of switching to Mac lab environments with the dual-boot option: Wilkes University, in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and Bemidji State University, in Bemidji, Minn. Both began purchasing iMacs to…

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January 21, 2008, 9:05 pm

Some short tech updates

My two weeks of poring through tenure and promotion portfolios, and writing recommendation letters for those up for tenure or promotion or annual review, are finally over with. It actually ended up being two weeks + 1 day. And those portfolio reviews, far from being dull, gave me tons of material that I would love to blog about — and never can. Oh well.

So I’m going to get back on the posting bandwagon slowly, starting with a three little tech-related  mini-posts.

maple-95.png1. I have finally got Maple 10 up and operational on my Macbook running  Leopard.  As I have written about before, this has been an issue from the day I installed Leopard. And it’s been an issue for many others as well, judging by the number of search engine referrals from queries like “Maple 10 Leopard FUBAR” or something similar. For some reason, the advice given in this email actually worked, although I had to do some …

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December 17, 2007, 12:33 pm

Possible fix for Maple 10 and Leopard

After getting some pretty lame advice from Maplesoft before, I emailed their tech support again regarding the Maple 10 vs. Leopard issue. (Namely, that Maple 10 dies a quick death every time I try to open it in Leopard.) This time, I got back some advice that actually seems to work. Here’s the text of the response email:

Mac OS 10.5 (Leopard) is not currently supported by Maple. There are
plans on adding support for this OS to a future version of Maple, but
this does not include Maple 10 or Maple 11.

Users with Maple 10 and Leopard may find they need to edit the
info.plist file which is part of the Maple 10.app package. In order to
do this ctrl+click on the “Maple 10.app” and select “Show Package
Contents”. Then open the “Contents” folder. Open the info.plist file
with a text editor and search for “1.4+” and change this to “1.4*”. Save
this file and try to start Maple 10.

Note you may…

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