New iMacs At Apple

Last week, Apple unveiled its new line of sleek iMacs. They are now thinner, more powerful, and actually less expensive than the previous models. I’ve seen one myself, and it is mouth watering. However, while at the Apple Store in Raleigh this past Friday, I found that the new iMac wasn’t the only new thing to get excited about.

Apple has updated its Mac Mini computer. I own a Mini, having bought it at the end of May. Since then, the Mini’s processor has been upgraded to a 2.0 Ghz Intel Core Duo 2 processor and 1 GB memory now comes standard (I paid extra). The hard drive option has been increased to 160 GB as well. I had read some online predictions that Apple would not be continuing the Mac Mini line. I am very happy to know that this isn’t true. It is truly a fantastic machine and is worthy of more attention. I absolutely adore mine.

Last week also saw the release of iLife ’08 and iWork ’08. Both sound like worthy upgrades to already exceptional software from Apple. I am not going to detail those now, but you can read all about them on their website. There has never been a better time to switch to a Mac. Also remember that the new Mac OS 10.5 Leopard will be out in October!

Apple Mail vs. Thunderbird

I am back to using Thunderbird again for my email. When I bought my Mac at the end of May, I tried to use the Mail program included with OS X. My main reason for doing so was that it is the only program that seems to work with iPhoto when you email pictures.

Mail is a great mail program, so don’t get me wrong, but I am used to using Thunderbird. I appreciate the “Smart Mailboxes” that Mac Mail offers. That is a great feature. I just got fed up with photos and videos appearing embedded in my outgoing mail. I had to type around a video box that moved on my screen as the text area grew. I could find no way of turning that off. Plus, the Mail program offered little in the way of options. Automatic mail checking intervals were either 5, 15, or 30 minutes. You can’t alter those presets. It is take ’em or leave ’em. That is a moot point, but an example of what I mean about options.

Thunderbird on the Mac, just like in Windows and Linux, shows an attachment box in your composition window, listing the files that you are sending. Thunderbird also gives clear indications as to what it is doing when fetching or sending mail, whereas Mail does not seem to offer many details. These aren’t the only reasons that I like Thunderbird more than Mail. Both are great programs, but I like Thunderbird’s wealth of options and its themes and extensions capability. I was, however, quite disappointed to find out that there is no way of importing contacts from the Mac OS Address Book into Thunderbird. This needs to be made possible in future versions.

I’ll continue using Thunderbird for my email on my Mac. I installed the newest version (2.0.0.4), and am very happy with it so far. But I admit that I will miss the Smart Mailboxes and paper airplane sound that I heard when using Mac Mail. Still, it seems as though I’ll have to continue to use Mail for interfacing with iPhoto, at least.

Apple Safari 3.0 Beta

This past week, Apple released a beta of the new version 3.0 of its Safari web browser. For the first time, the browser is available on Windows! The claim it is twice as fast as Internet Explorer 7. I like that Apple is encroaching in the Windows arena. After all, users are already comfortable with Quicktime and iTunes. Why not?

That said, I still mostly use Firefox on my Mac. Safari is indeed very fast and capable (I have version 2.0.4). It has everything I need, but I still prefer Firefox. I have several Firefox extensions that I rely on. Not to mention the fact that for some reason my visual post editor in WordPress doesn’t work in Safari. I do use Safari on a few sties, like Pogo, where I have to run Java. Java applets seem more stable going through Safari. When the final version 3.0 of the browser is out, I’ll definitely download it.

I Am Now A Proud Mac User!

My birthday just passed and I found myself at the Apple Store in Raleigh. I bought myself a shiny new Mac Mini! I am ecstatic. For now, I am transferring my files from my old PC over to my new Mac, and getting accustomed to a whole new way of computing. I am already in love with the Mac OS X Tiger. This is a giant leap into another world; one I have wanted to take for many years. This day has finally arrived!

I have added a new category to the blog. This is the first post to the Mac category. Also, while this post is still hot, expect a lot of new Mac and Apple related material from my del.icio.us bookmark feed on my Links page.

Apple Logo

Mac Mini

OSX For Everyone

I have been needing, err, wanting a new Mac Mini computer. I just lost an eBay auction for one and emotions are running high. Thinking about the big computing picture, I wonder why Apple just doesn’t license its OS X operating system to traditional PC manufacturers such as Dell, Gateway, and HP. After all, Apple has embraced Intel and now uses its chips in their computers. If the architecture is the same, why not give it to the masses?

I know Apple lives up to a high standard by working “hand in glove” (as they put it) with the hardware (which they also produce). But why not license it to quality manufacturers and, if they so decide, not offer it as a box on the shelf? For example, the Windows Media Center Edition 2005 is technically the latest release of Windows XP, on media steroids. You cannot walk into Best Buy or CompUSA and buy this OS on CD. It only comes pre-installed on new computers sold by participating manufacturers. If Microsoft can do this, then so can Apple. Apple can set a minimum level of PC performance required to effectively run their flagship OS smoothly, and poof, everybody can have an affordable machine running the splendor that is their operating system.

I certainly cannot ask them leave physical PC business, because all of their hardware products are so very sleek, stylish, and cutting-edge. They make some fantastic products and always get top rankings for customer satisfaction the PC magazines I read which conduct these surveys. Apple just needs to open the flood gates and really widen their software business. I suppose they already have, by making more applications in recent years, notably the iLife and iWork for the Mac, as well as strengthening their iTunes and Quicktime offerings. I think they can broaden their appeal by actually appealing to the masses instead of a niche audience, as they do now. The mass success of iPod, iTunes, and their surprising deal with Intel has put them back on the map, and on the path to broad consumer appeal. They need to embrace it by offering their goods and services to a wider audience.

Every young adult wants an iPod, and to use iTunes, both of which are the best of their kind. Apple is in a position today to rattle the computer industry with this bold move. A victory of such, and Apple may finally reverse their market share, which has suffered ever since their poor decision not to license their platform to outsiders back in the 1980s, opening the door to for Microsoft to run the world for the past 20 years.

iPod Shuffle

For my birthday, Laura bought me an iPod Shuffle! I absolutely love it. I used to own a small Phillips mp3 player that I’d bought years ago. That player only had 128 mb of storage and the controls were clunky. The one AAA battery didn’t last as long as I hoped, either.

But since using my new 512 mb iPod, I can see why it is above and beyond its rivals. Sure, the Shuffle doesn’t have a screen, but its simplistic abilities and size were my primary reasons for wanting this particular model. The player just plain works, and works well. Managing my music library and playlists is so brain-dead easy with iTunes that I can’t imagine going back to using any other software. It is so smooth and slick, it makes others in its class seem clunky and complicated.

The iPod has a few noteworthy cool things that I doubt you’d find in other players. For instance, if you are playing music and your headphone cord is pulled out, it automatically pauses the music for you. The built-in rechargeable battery never needs to be swapped out; only charged with a powered USB port. The device also doubles as a portable storage drive for any kind of data, not just music files. The onboard USB plug gives you freedom from having to search for the right cable to connect the iPod to the computer all the time.

Overall, I am very satisfied with it. Now that I am a proud iPod owner, I have moved up to the ranks of the elite class of music lovers. I can wear my white earbuds with pride.