Mac OS X Services in Snow Leopard
Mac OS X Services let one application supply its powers to another; for example, a Grab service helps TextEdit paste a screenshot into a document. Most users either don't know that Services exist, because they're in an obscure hierarchical menu (ApplicationName > Services), or they mostly don't use them because there are so many of them.
Snow Leopard makes it easier for the uninitiated to utilize this feature; only services appropriate to the current context appear. And in addition to the hierarchical menu, services are discoverable as custom contextual menu items - Control-click in a TextEdit document to access the Grab service, for instance.
In addition, the revamped Keyboard preference pane lets you manage services for the first time ever. You can enable and disable them, and even change their keyboard shortcuts.
Series: Macworld NYC 2002
iCal, iSync, new iPods, a 17-inch iMac, Mac OS X 10.2... and .Mac for $100 a year
Article 1 of 7 in series
Despite rampant rumors that Apple would release new desktop Macs (a move possibly held up due to new systems requiring Mac OS X 10.2), the only new Mac that appeared at last week's Macworld Expo was a 17-inch (43.2 cm) iMac selling for $2,000Show full article
Despite rampant rumors that Apple would release new desktop Macs (a move possibly held up due to new systems requiring Mac OS X 10.2), the only new Mac that appeared at last week's Macworld Expo was a 17-inch (43.2 cm) iMac selling for $2,000. Other than the new wide-screen display, the addition of an Nvidia GeForce4 MX graphics controller, and an 80 GB hard disk, the 17-inch iMacs will be identical to the existing high-end iMacs. That means they'll have 800 MHz PowerPC G4 processors, 256 MB of RAM, SuperDrives, 10/100Base-T Ethernet, a 56K internal modem, Apple Pro speakers, and the usual complement of FireWire and USB ports.
The screen is the most unusual aspect of the iMac - its native resolution is 1440 by 900 pixels, a 16:10 aspect ratio. It can also run at three other resolutions in the 16:10 aspect ratio, plus three resolutions in a standard 4:3 aspect ratio. Perhaps because of its location, cantilevered out on the iMac's chrome arm, the display looks more awkward than the screen on the Titanium PowerBook G4 or the two large Apple Cinema Displays, all of which have roughly similar aspect ratios. In contrast, the 17-inch Apple Studio Display provides a resolution of 1280 by 1024, offering a few more total pixels and more vertical height than the wide-screen iMac display.
The 17-inch iMac should be available in a week or two - the fact that it's nearly identical to the existing iMacs probably helped Apple push it out quickly. Although there will no doubt be those for whom the higher cost of the 17-inch iMac is difficult to justify, Apple's data show that cost isn't the deciding factor with iMac buyers. During the keynote, Steve Jobs said that half of all the new iMacs sold were the high-end models with the SuperDrive; this new model adds a mere $200 to the price of the previous high end model for the larger display, better graphics controller, and larger hard disk. Given the known (and viscerally obvious) benefits of a larger screen, I expect the 17-inch iMac to be a hit - I know I'd pay the premium for it if I were in the market for an iMac.
Article 2 of 7 in series
Steve Jobs devoted a large portion of his Macworld Expo keynote last week to building excitement for the next major release of Mac OS X. Codenamed "Jaguar" and known officially as Mac OS X 10.2, the release will reportedly offer significantly improved performance and 150 new features when it appears for sale for $130 on 24-Aug-02Show full article
Steve Jobs devoted a large portion of his Macworld Expo keynote last week to building excitement for the next major release of Mac OS X. Codenamed "Jaguar" and known officially as Mac OS X 10.2, the release will reportedly offer significantly improved performance and 150 new features when it appears for sale for $130 on 24-Aug-02. For people buying Macs between 17-Jul-02 and 24-Aug-02, the Mac OS Up to Date program will provide a copy of Jaguar for $20, but unfortunately, there is currently no other upgrade discount for current Mac OS X users.
Many people have complained about Jaguar's cost, and as much as Apple needs to find sources of revenue in this harsh economy, the company will have to be careful. It's clear that Apple wants to keep people upgrading versions of Mac OS X, and if the price is too high, that could slow further adoption just when Mac OS X is gaining ground. Apple estimates that there are 2.5 million copies of Mac OS X in active use, and they believe that number will double to 5 million by the end of 2002, thanks to 77 percent of Mac buyers keeping Mac OS X as the primary operating system. (For reference, Jobs implied that 5 million Mac OS X users would account for 20 percent of the installed base of Macs, many of which can't even run Mac OS X.)
Our take: Apple should offer a discount for existing users. Times are tough all over, and as much as Apple needs to bring in revenue, Mac users don't have unlimited funds either. Apple is already pushing the limits with the $100 annual .Mac subscription fee (see "iTools Morphs into .Mac; Users Squawk," later in this issue), but that's more optional than a major upgrade to an operating system that still has significant problems and gaps. Plus, losing too many people in the upgrade process could complicate Apple's work in pushing out security fixes going forward and providing a single target for future application development. Until this point, it was safe to assume that everyone was running the latest version of Mac OS X; a too-high upgrade price could further divide the Mac community by operating system version. I strongly encourage people to send Apple feedback on this issue - it's unreasonable to ask Apple to give Jaguar away for free, but the cost could be lowered for existing users.
A Few More Jaguar Details -- We covered the main features of Jaguar when Steve Jobs first announced it at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) several months ago, so we won't recap that coverage - see "Jaguar: Mac OS X Prepares to Pounce" in TidBITS-629 for information about iChat, Mail, Sherlock 3, QuickTime 6 (now shipping via Software Update, along with a minor Mac OS X security update), Rendezvous, and more.
In fact, the Macworld Expo demo of Jaguar appears to have been extremely similar to the WWDC demo - the only new feature I hadn't seen mentioned before was a Desktop Pictures preference pane that can automatically switch between different pictures every so often, a feature previously found in the realm of shareware utilities. That's not to say there weren't new details, and I'd highly recommend browsing through Jaguar's extensive list of features, including such things as AirPort Software Base Station, AppleScript folder actions, mounting of FTP servers in the Finder, and a clean install option. Especially fascinating was the keynote demonstration of Rendezvous, which lets Macs running Jaguar discover network services over TCP/IP. Jobs first showed iTunes automatically discovering and sharing music between a pair of Macs connected only via AirPort; a subsequent demo showed a Mac automatically finding and configuring a network printer, something that's currently a tedious manual process.
An important improvement barely mentioned in the keynote for lack of time is Jaguar's improved accessibility, which includes a Zoom feature for magnifying anything on the Mac OS X screen, a black-and-white option for improving contrast for reading text, mouse support using the numeric keypad, and system-wide keyboard access.
One interesting note: the Macworld Expo keynote was the first large-scale webcast to use the new MPEG-4 open standard. About 50,000 people watched, half of them with QuickTime 6, which had garnered more than one million downloads in the 36 hours from its initial release to the keynote.
iCal -- Although Apple is building an ever-increasing level of functionality into Mac OS X itself - witness the system-wide Address Book and Sherlock 3 - Apple also announced two new applications: iCal and iSync. iCal is a simple single-window calendar that should fill the needs of many consumers. It supports multiple calendars (such as one for each member of a family), and can publish calendars and subscribe to them via .Mac or any other WebDAV server. iCal will be a free download from Apple when it ships in September, and it will require Mac OS X 10.2.
The product most likely to suffer from iCal's release is Microsoft's Entourage. Although my impression is that Entourage is a more capable calendar, it lacks extensive sharing capabilities and is aimed at the individual user, leaving it vulnerable to iCal. Sharing is key - as Jobs noted in the keynote, we all have calendars, and there's almost no point in having a calendar if you can't share it with the other people affected by your schedule. For many years, Tonya and I have relied on Now Up-to-Date (once again sold by Now Software, just revived as a division of Power On Software) for its sharing capabilities, and we've been flabbergasted that more busy families didn't use something similar. It's unlikely iCal will hurt Now Up-to-Date much, since Now Up-to-Date is more appropriate for businesses. Plus, Now Software announced a Windows version of Now Up-to-Date at Macworld Expo that should make the program significantly more attractive to offices with Macs and PCs.
Our take is that iCal will be as much of a hit as the rest of Apple's iApps. It's hard to beat a free program that offers much-needed functionality, especially when it comes from Apple.
iSync -- iCal is cute and will be useful for many people, but iSync is far more important. Based on the SyncML open standard, iSync is a general-purpose application for synchronizing data between multiple devices. Jobs described it synchronizing calendar events from iCal and contacts from the Mac OS X Address Book to an iPod via FireWire, to a Palm handheld (it still requires the Palm conduits) via USB, and to a Sony Ericsson cell phone via Bluetooth (a wireless communication technology that is to USB what AirPort is to Ethernet). As with iCal, iSync will be a free download for Mac OS X 10.2 users when it ships in September.
The utility of such a program is obvious - Macs are getting smaller all the time, but they can't hope to compete with the tiny consumer electronics that continue to gain in popularity. For people who are often away from their Macs, iSync will make it possible to carry a minimum number of these devices and choose between them based on the primary feature you want - an MP3 player, a PDA, or a cell phone.
In the future, Jobs said that iSync will be able to synchronize files between multiple Macs via .Mac (presumably via local networks as well, with some help from Rendezvous). My impression is that iSync is meant to be open, so other applications can take advantage of it as well to synchronize data instead of entire files. The first one I'd like to see is iPhoto, which currently has no good way to synchronize photos between a laptop you would take on vacation and a desktop Mac that you'd use for most of your photo work.
Jobs called iSync a landmark, groundbreaking application, and I think he's right. When coupled with the next generation of small digital devices, it brings significantly more power to Apple's concept of the Mac as a digital hub.
Article 3 of 7 in series
Among the bevy of announcements during Steve Jobs's Macworld Expo keynote last week was the release of iTunes 3, a new version of Apple's free MP3-playing software that's available now, though only for Mac OS X. New in iTunes 3 is Sound Check, a feature that normalizes playback volumes to avoid the situation where some tracks are shockingly louder or significantly softer than othersShow full article
Among the bevy of announcements during Steve Jobs's Macworld Expo keynote last week was the release of iTunes 3, a new version of Apple's free MP3-playing software that's available now, though only for Mac OS X.
New in iTunes 3 is Sound Check, a feature that normalizes playback volumes to avoid the situation where some tracks are shockingly louder or significantly softer than others. Although I hadn't noticed that much when I first started getting into MP3s, it's become increasingly annoying as my music collection grows. iTunes 3 also offers new categorization options that track the number of times each track has been played and let you rate each song from one to five stars. iTunes also records the last time each song was played.
The main new feature, though, is Smart Playlists, best thought of as filters for your music. For instance, you can create a rule that matches all songs in the Rock genre that were released during the 1960s, and iTunes automatically gathers together the appropriate songs. Even better, Smart Playlists update automatically, so if you add a new CD of early Beatles music, for instance, it will instantly appear in your 1960s Rock playlist. Smart Playlists become even more useful when combined with the play count and rating information, so you can, for instance, create a playlist that gives you 50 randomly selected electronic dance tracks you've rated more than four stars, 600 MB of blues songs recorded before 1970, or the 10 tracks you listen to most often. If you delete a song from a Smart Playlist that's limited to a specific number of songs or a specific size, iTunes automatically picks another appropriate song to fill the space.
iTunes 3 also now supports Audible.com, an Internet service from which you can purchase spoken word content for over 18,000 books, a variety of newspapers, and archived radio shows. With iTunes 3, you can set bookmarks to save your place in long audio books.
Finally, iTunes 3 tries to help you regularize your MP3 collection by renaming the individual MP3 files in a regular fashion, a one-time action that wasn't entirely successful for me. Plus, a Consolidate Library command in the Advanced menu offers to move all the MP3 files that iTunes knows about into your Music folder.
Article 4 of 7 in series
Among the announcements at Steve Jobs's Macworld Expo keynote in New York was the release of new versions of Apple's popular iPod MP3 player. The existing 5 GB iPod remains available, though its price drops $100 to $300Show full article
Among the announcements at Steve Jobs's Macworld Expo keynote in New York was the release of new versions of Apple's popular iPod MP3 player. The existing 5 GB iPod remains available, though its price drops $100 to $300. Although Jobs said nothing of this, I anticipate that the 5 GB model may not last too much longer, given that it doesn't share the slightly redesigned case now used by the $400 10 GB model and a newly introduced $500 20 GB model. The new case is about 10 percent thinner, sports a solid-state scroll wheel (much like a trackpad surface), and adds a FireWire port cover. Plus, the iPods now come with an accessory kit that includes a case with a belt clip (though there are numerous other iPod cases that might suit you better), a wired remote, and new headphones. Existing owners can purchase the accessories separately: the case alone sells for rather steep $40, and the remote/headphones bundle also costs $40.
The iPod's internal software has changed as well, so you can now browse by genre and composer (a feature for classical music fans for whom the artist and the composer are different), support for smart playlists and play counts that synchronize with the equivalent features in iTunes 3, support for the iTunes 3 Sound Check feature for regularizing volume, and support for Audible.com with round-trip bookmarking for spoken word content. (For existing iPod owners, these features require iPod 1.2 software, which Apple says will be available in August.) iTunes 2 is still supported for Mac OS 9 users, though presumably without support for the new features appearing in iTunes 3, which works only in Mac OS X.
Additional changes that start to move the iPod beyond being an MP3 player include an Extras menu that lets you browse through calendar events and contacts synchronized via iSync from iCal and Address Book under the forthcoming Mac OS X 10.2. The Breakout game is also available from the Extras menu, instead of as an Easter egg, as is an option that displays a clock.
Perhaps most notable is that, starting in late August, Apple will sell the same iPod models to Windows users for the same prices. The iPod hardware requires no changes, but the package sold to Windows users includes a six-to-four FireWire cable (for connecting to the four-pin FireWire ports common on PCs) and can synchronize songs with Musicmatch Jukebox Plus, a leading PC MP3 player. I suspect that the PC user experience won't be quite as good as on the Mac, since four-pin FireWire cables don't carry power, so PC user will have to use an AC adapter instead of charging the iPod while it's plugged into the FireWire port. Plus, I'd be surprised if Musicmatch Jukebox Plus offered all the features of iTunes in terms of play counts and smart playlists. And finally, Apple said nothing about there being any synchronization of calendars and contacts for PC users.
Article 5 of 7 in series
By far the most controversial announcement during Steve Jobs's Macworld Expo keynote was Apple's move to turn its free iTools service into the fee-based .Mac (pronounced "dot-Mac")Show full article
By far the most controversial announcement during Steve Jobs's Macworld Expo keynote was Apple's move to turn its free iTools service into the fee-based .Mac (pronounced "dot-Mac"). Although iTools has amassed 2.2 million users since its launch at the start of 2000 (see "iSay, Apple's iStrategy Is iMpressive" in TidBITS-512), Apple has struggled slightly to find the right mix of features, dropping the iReview Web site reviews and the KidSafe service that selected sites appropriate for children, and most recently, surreptitiously implementing bandwidth limits on HomePage-based Web sites (see "iTools HomePage Bandwidth Limitations" in TidBITS-634). Nonetheless, the free Mac.com email addresses, 20 MB of iDisk space, and HomePage Web page hosting have proven extremely popular.
If you visit Apple's Web site now, though, you'll see no trace of iTools. It has been replaced with .Mac, a new service from Apple that offers some of the same features as iTools for a $100 annual fee; a one-year discount of $50 is available for current users who sign up before 30-Sep-02. (Apple also offers a 60-day free .Mac trial, which includes the same features of iTools plus Apple's Backup software, mentioned below.) The name change was undoubtedly done partly to help Apple distinguish the fee-based .Mac from the free iTools; it's also a play on Microsoft's .Net Web services initiative because .Mac is delivering a set of consumer-oriented Web services today.
If you do nothing, your iTools account will be deactivated on 30-Sep-02, and any data you have stored in your iDisk or on your Mac.com email account will be deleted (so make sure to download anything you don't want to lose to your hard disk).
What's New in .Mac -- Apple realized that just charging for the features available in iTools wouldn't be popular, so they attempted to sweeten the deal by extending what .Mac can do. Changes include the following; make sure to read the .Mac FAQ as well.
Mac.com email now offers 15 MB of storage space (up from 5 MB) and provides access via the Web as well as POP and IMAP. It also includes photo signatures. You can purchase additional storage, and if you want more than one email address you can buy up to 10 more Mac.com addresses for $10 per year each (though these addresses can't use photo signatures).
iDisks now come with 100 MB of disk space (up from 20 MB), and you can purchase additional storage. Apple also has a new iDisk Utility application (Mac OS X only) that helps you access and manage multiple iDisks and Public Folders.
HomePage now lets you send iCards with your own pictures to announce new Web pages, adds a "Send me a message" button that lets visitors send you iCards with feedback, offers more layouts for photos, runs slide shows full screen, makes instant site menus, and offers improved performance.
iCards remains available to everyone, but only .Mac members can send iCards using their own photos now.
.Mac members can download a new Backup program that works only with Mac OS X. It's a simple backup application that can save files to CD-R/CD-RW, DVD-R, and to your iDisk (though if you have a slow Internet connection you won't be able to back up much data to your iDisk). I strongly recommend that you adhere to a solid backup strategy as much as is possible with Backup - see "Have You Backed Up Today? Part 1" in TidBITS-432 for full details.
Along with Backup, .Mac members can download a copy of McAfee's Virex for either Mac OS 9 or Mac OS X, and your .Mac membership includes free virus definition updates. On the plus side, Virex can identify and eliminate Windows and Unix viruses as well as Mac viruses; on the downside, you must download and install new virus definitions manually, which runs counter to the entire .Mac concept.
You can now sign up for and use the iDisk and Mac.com email aspects of .Mac from a Windows machine, though Backup and Virex don't work on Windows, nor does the HomePage Web application.
Apple claims that .Mac members will receive technical support, saying, "Members have access to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), instant system/network status, the AppleCare Knowledge Base, and private discussion boards moderated by Apple technical support representatives to ensure that questions are answered within one business day." Frankly, it sounds lame - how are you going to use these tools if, for instance, your problem is that .Mac won't let you log in? Worse, support for Backup and Virex is limited to installation, launch, and removal of the software - too bad if you need help using the programs.
What's Coming in .Mac -- Although some people will likely find the selection of features in .Mac compelling right now, Apple has also announced additional features that should make the deal even better once Mac OS X 10.2 comes out on 24-Aug-02. With the new iCal, you'll be able to publish your calendars to .Mac and subscribe to other people's calendars, which will be helpful; you'll also be able to publish calendars to any WebDAV server.
More interesting will be shared screen saver slide shows - publish your photos to your iDisk and your friends and family can subscribe to your photos within their Mac OS X Screen Saver. This feature will go a long way toward providing the basic functionality of the Ceiva stand-alone picture frame - a neat device that requires a regular subscription fee and has one of the least usable Web interfaces I've ever had the misfortune to use.
Consternation and Controversy -- Many Mac users are furious about the switch from the free iTools to the fee-based .Mac. Many people simply didn't use iTools heavily enough to justify the added expense - the Mac.com email address was nice, but not worth $100 per year. Others are bothered by the fact that much of the value of .Mac seems to be in Backup and Virex, but people who are at all serious about backup and anti-virus software probably already own equivalent software that may be significantly more capable, as certainly is the case with Dantz's Retrospect backup applications. Plus, .Mac doesn't come with any Internet access, whereas most Internet connections from standard ISPs like EarthLink already include multiple email addresses and Web space, making the decision to pay yet again for these features more difficult. And finally, people feel let down because Apple initially made a big deal about how iTools was free and was intended to be a part of the overall Macintosh experience. Discussions on this topic have been raging on TidBITS Talk.
As with Apple's recent bandwidth limitations on HomePage-based Web sites, most people appear to agree that it's reasonable for Apple to want to recoup the costs of running the iTools service and even turn a profit. Steve Jobs even did well at introducing the unpopular news - he basically just pointed out that many of the other free Internet services are now either charging or have gone out of business because they didn't have viable business models. But Apple may have picked the wrong inducements to the 2.2 million existing customers. A 60-day grace period and a half-price discount for the first year are better than nothing, but a better move would have been to keep the Mac.com forwarding addresses available for free for current users. That would ensure that Mac.com email addresses would continue to help promote the advantages of the Macintosh out on the Internet at large while significantly reducing the bandwidth and disk space requirements of the service.
Another concern is that .Mac features are built into Mac OS X itself and into applications like iPhoto. It doesn't look good if high-profile functionality like having the iDisk be available from a Finder menu or HomePage publishing of Web photo albums simply doesn't work if you're not a .Mac member. It's poor user interface, and a poor user experience.
But what's your opinion? We're running a poll on our home page that asks about your plans regarding .Mac usage - let us know what you think. Also, since Apple has 60 days to reconsider these policies, I strongly encourage everyone who has an opinion on this topic to send Apple feedback. Keep it reasonable and acknowledge that Apple must run a viable business in your feedback (whining about how everything should always be free won't do any good at all). If we're lucky, Apple will moderate their position and at least keep free email forwarding for existing users.
Article 6 of 7 in series
Although the number of exhibitors at Macworld Expo New York might have been lower than some previous years, there was still a lot to see, and a few products jumped out as being worthy of mention. EyeTV -- El Gato Software, the folks behind Roxio's Toast, had the hit of the show with their new EyeTV, a hardware and software combination that enables your Mac to act like digital video recorders TiVo and ReplayTVShow full article
Although the number of exhibitors at Macworld Expo New York might have been lower than some previous years, there was still a lot to see, and a few products jumped out as being worthy of mention.
EyeTV -- El Gato Software, the folks behind Roxio's Toast, had the hit of the show with their new EyeTV, a hardware and software combination that enables your Mac to act like digital video recorders TiVo and ReplayTV. It records shows directly to your hard disk (taking up 650 MB of disk space per hour), provides an interface for watching recorded shows, can pause live TV, and can record and play simultaneously. Upsides include a capability to use Toast to save shows to CD-R, control over how much disk space is used, and a low cost ($200) without additional service fees. On the downside, though, EyeTV uses relatively low quality MPEG-1 by default, and if you use its higher quality setting, you can't save shows to CD-R. Plus, resolution is only 320 by 240 pixels, it doesn't appear from the specifications as though EyeTV works with digital cable or satellite dishes, and of course, your Mac must live within cable distance of your television. [ACE]
MyTV2GO -- Not far from El Gato was Eskape Labs, showing a variety of hardware and software products that put TV shows into a window on your Mac's screen. Starting at just $80 for MyTV2GO's video capture and TV tuner capabilities, Eskape's product line offers a low-cost option for those who just want to watch TV on their Macs. An FM tuner model of the MyTV products are also available. Other entries in Eskape's product line include a USB video mirroring device for showing your laptop's screen on a TV (or recording it), and straightforward video capture and video conferencing devices. [MHA]
Now Software Returns & Goes Cross Platform -- Old-timers will remember Now Software, makers of the popular Now Utilities (an idea just revived by Aladdin Systems with their Ten For X utility collection) and the powerful Now Up-to-Date & Contact calendar and contact manager. Now Software floundered, was bought by Qualcomm for confused reasons, and the software sat dormant until Power On Software rescued it. Power On has just revived the Now Software name and moved Now Up-to-Date & Contact into the Now Software division. More interesting, though, was Now Software's announcement of a nearly identical Windows version of Now Up-to-Date & Contact, complete with full cross-platform sharing of calendar events and contacts on local networks and over the Internet. The final Windows versions aren't due for a while, unfortunately (hopefully before the fourth quarter of 2002 for Now Up-to-Date and second quarter of 2003 for Now Contact), but given the large number of Mac users who need to share calendars and contacts with Windows users, I expect the software will be eagerly awaited. [ACE]
Six Degrees -- People who rely heavily on email for project collaboration will be intrigued by Creo's Six Degrees. It watches what you do in email, tracking files you send and receive, the people with whom you're sharing these files, and any surrounding email discussions. Then it gives you a clean interface for finding files or email threads related to a given project no matter where those files or messages might have been filed or how they might have been named. What I appreciated most about Six Degrees is the way it adapts to what you're already doing, rather than shoehorning you into some arbitrary organizational scheme - too few products offer such functionality. Six Degrees isn't perfect, though, and in fact I won't be using it now for two reasons: it works only with Microsoft Entourage (plus Microsoft Outlook on Windows), and much of what I do is ongoing communication with random individuals or TidBITS staff, not discrete projects involving sharing files with a set group of people. Nevertheless, Six Degrees shows a lot of promise, and I'm looking forward to it adding support for professional email programs like Eudora, Mailsmith, PowerMail, and QuickMail. It costs $100 and there's a 30-day evaluation copy. [ACE]
4D Mail & WebSTAR 5.2 -- When 4D brought WebSTAR to Mac OS X, there was a gaping hole from the Mac OS 9 version of the product suite - no mail server. It wasn't even that WebSTAR's mail server was particularly good - it wasn't - but if you were using it, the lack of a mail server made upgrading to Mac OS X more expensive and difficult, with the main options being Tenon's Post.Office ($300 for 100 mailboxes) and Stalker Software's Communigate Pro ($500 for 50 mailboxes), neither of which has a Macintosh administration application. At Macworld Expo, though, 4D announced 4D Mail, a high-performance Mac OS X-native POP/IMAP/SMTP/WebMail server with solid spam blocking capabilities and filtering of Mac and Windows viruses via Virex, plus a Mac OS X application for administering the server. 4D Mail will be bundled as part of WebSTAR 5.2 and sold separately.
When 4D Mail ships in early September, the pricing will be competitive with existing Mac OS X mail server products, with a $150 version for small offices that supports 10 mailboxes, a $250 version for 100 mailboxes with 100-mailbox expansion packs for $150 each, and an unlimited mailbox version for $1,500. The news is even better for owners of WebSTAR - if you have registered WebSTAR V by 31-Aug-02, the upgrade to WebSTAR 5.2 with 4D Mail is free and includes an unlimited mailbox license (after August, you get only a 100-mailbox license). Similarly, if you upgrade from WebSTAR 4.x ($200) before 31-Oct-02, you also get WebSTAR 5.2 with an unlimited mailbox license. For those looking for canned solutions, 4D also released the $500 4D Business Kit 1.2 for making online stores in Mac OS X, and the free 4D Portal 1.5 for Mac OS X (with source code) for making custom portal sites with weblogs, discussion forums, auctions, and more. [ACE]
Move2Mac -- Apple has been pushing the new Switchers ad campaign in which real people talk about why they switched from Windows to the Mac. Steve Jobs even said in the Macworld Expo keynote that 60 percent of the 1.7 million visitors to the Switchers Web site are using Windows machines. But how will all those Windows users who buy a Mac move their documents, email address books, and so on over to their new Mac? Move2Mac, a $60 product due out in a few months from Detto Technologies, should reduce the manual hassle of moving data across. It's a combination of software that helps the user select data to move and a USB cable for the physical connection. [ACE]
JBL Creature Speakers -- Harman Multimedia has set the standard for innovative industrial designs for speakers, and the new $130 JBL Creature speakers spring directly from that heritage. The self-powered satellite speakers and subwoofer come in three colors (metallic blue, metallic silver, and white) and have a droopy shape that resembles Darth Vader's helmet. The large subwoofer has knobs for adjusting bass and treble, and one of the two small satellite speakers has a pair of touch-sensitive volume control buttons (touch both at the same time to mute). The satellite speakers also sport LEDs underneath for an unearthly glow in low light rooms. Obviously, there was no way to evaluate how good these speakers sounded in the cacophony of the Macworld Expo show floor, but as with some of the silent movie stars, sometimes it's not about how good you sound, it's how good you look. [ACE]
Remote Computing from Microsoft -- The surprise announcement from Microsoft was a free program with the ungainly, if accurate, moniker of Remote Desktop Connection Client (RDC). Put simply, it lets you open a window to a Windows 2000 or Windows XP machine running either Terminal Services or Remote Desktop Services. Then, you can run Windows applications, copy files back and forth, and even move text via the clipboard. RDC doesn't work like screen sharing programs like Netopia's Timbuktu, the free VNC, or even Apple's Remote Desktop. Those programs transfer the image of the remote screen to your Mac, whereas RDC is responding to instructions from the remote computer and doing the drawing locally. I haven't had a chance to test it yet, but RDC should be notably more responsive than screen sharing programs. If you have a PC running an appropriate Windows operating system that you need to use occasionally, RDC could be the perfect solution. It's a 610K download and runs only in Mac OS X. [ACE]
Spamfire Stops Spam at Your Mailbox -- We've talked a lot about unsolicited commercial email over the years, and recently the focus has been on the undesirable effects of server-side, content-based email filtering, especially when the user has no control over it. Spamfire Pro from Matterform Media puts control in the user's hands, where it belongs. Spamfire (available as a downloadable demo version, plus inexpensive Lite and Pro versions) filters out the spam in your POP3 or IMAP mailbox, based on highly configurable rules and filters, before triggering your email client to retrieve what's left. The $20 Lite version can check one mailbox; the $30 Pro version checks multiple mailboxes and includes a year of automatic filter updates from the company. [MHA]
Article 7 of 7 in series
My post-Macworld Expo coverage generally aims at analysis, noting significant trends or themes that help us understand the state of the Mac industry and where it's goingShow full article
My post-Macworld Expo coverage generally aims at analysis, noting significant trends or themes that help us understand the state of the Mac industry and where it's going. This year, however, I'm not going to do much of that, because I'd feel as though I was rewriting last year's analysis of the New York show. In short, attendees were surprisingly numerous (though down about ten percent from last year, a negligible dip considering last September's terrorist attacks on New York) and seemed happy and upbeat. The number of exhibitors was down, but the ones with whom I spoke were happy about the traffic and direct sales. And just like last year, there weren't any truly amazing products, although a number of the more interesting ones appear in our traditional superlatives article in this issue.
Instead, join me on a ride through the events of my week, complete with a pair of appearances at Apple Stores sandwiching the three days of Macworld Expo. I hope you'll get a better feel for what a Macworld Expo week can be like for me and see how much happens at the Expo beyond the show itself.
Sunday, July 14th -- I began with a three and a half hour drive from Ithaca, NY to the Apple Store in West Nyack, NY for a "Meet the Experts" presentation on iPhoto. At the Palisades Mall, a monstrous conglomeration of stores with an abysmal directory, I found the Apple Store and introduced myself to Scott behind the Genius Bar. He clearly knew his stuff, as did the other Genius Bar staffers I spoke with, although he said the downside of the position is that people constantly ask if he's a genius. (Answer: Yes, with a capital G and a TM sign.) The presentation itself got off to a rocky start, with someone in the back immediately asking a detailed iPhoto troubleshooting question. Luckily we managed to get past that quickly, and I showed off iPhoto basics and passed along tips for using it well. Although many audience members were clearly new Mac owners, they asked amazingly good questions, and as I neared the end of my presentation, I realized I'd been talking for nearly two hours.
I packed quickly and jumped back in the car to drive another hour into New York City to have dinner with my grandparents. Then, I drove for another hour to my aunt and uncle's house in Staten Island, where I chatted for a while before retiring to catch up on email. Exhausted, I finally went to bed around 1 AM.
Monday, July 15th -- Monday is TidBITS production day, so I spent my waking hours editing the issue and trading email with other editors and contributors. The New York Times ran a short piece about our spam filter travails (see "Email Filtering: Killing the Killer App" in TidBITS-367), so I also spent some time on correspondence regarding that. Before I knew it, my relatives had returned home from work, and it was time for dinner. They went to bed around 10 PM, and once again, I stayed up until about 1 AM, finishing a final edit pass on a Macworld magazine article and responding to as much email as I could, since I was going to be offline all day Tuesday.
Tuesday, July 16th -- Tuesday before Macworld Expo is traditionally a day I reserve for having fun in New York City on my own, so I got up early to go into work with my aunt, who's second-in-charge of the Statue of Liberty (still closed to visitors, though you can walk around outside now). I spent the morning browsing through the excellent Ellis Island Museum, then headed into Manhattan. I took the subway uptown, checked into the Paramount Hotel, and then spent the afternoon hopping between art galleries in the Chelsea district and taking photos of people on the street.
At 8 PM, I returned to the lobby of the Paramount, where TidBITS readers had already begun to gather for our annual TidBITS Ice Cream Social (see the group photo below - thanks to Pekka Helos for taking it!). We chatted for about half an hour, tried some truly amazing fresh Krispy Kreme donuts brought by Alex Hoffman, and then walked to a nearby Ben & Jerry's. After cooling off with ice cream (especially welcome in the muggy evening temperatures), we headed back to the Paramount to continue discussions about everything from spam filtering to the room-sized printers that print Apple's trade show banners to the new REALbasic Developer magazine, until we finally called it quits around midnight. I spent another hour preparing email for the next morning (when I'm travelling, I try to send Tristan email every day or so with pictures of things I see), and it was time for bed.
Wednesday, July 17th -- Finally, the official Expo began in earnest with Steve Jobs's keynote. Press people had to be at the Javits Convention Center by 8 AM for the 9 AM keynote, so I got up and out quickly. I always like to walk over to Javits from the Paramount in the morning - despite the 15 minute walk, it's a relaxing time. Arriving at Javits, I immediately ran into an Apple employee friend from Seattle who had been dragooned into holding a big Media sign and directing press people to the appropriate staging area (he was good, and refrained from using the words "pen," "corral," or "herding" when anyone was listening). After 15 minutes of chatting, I joined my fellow pack animals, and another 20 minutes after that, we were herded to our seats in the auditorium. Interestingly, there weren't as many people registered as press as in previous years. This year, I had no problem finding a seat.
The Macintosh media world is relatively small, so many of us know one another, and I sat with a number of editors from Macworld Magazine. We traded comments back and forth and shared notes occasionally as Jobs ran through a vast number of announcements in a mere two hours (see TidBITS-639 for full details).
The keynote gets the bulk of the attention at Macworld, but for me it's merely the launch pad for numerous meetings and appearances. After the keynote, I dashed off to a press briefing from Creo, whose Six Degrees software provides a new way of organizing project-related files and email, though currently only for Microsoft Entourage users.
After that, I had about 20 minutes to snarf lunch in the speaker room and send and receive email using their AirPort-based Internet connection before heading off to my Macworld Users conference iPhoto presentation. People once again asked so many good questions that I only made it through about two-thirds of my material. Luckily I was able to continue talking at a signing at the Peachpit booth immediately afterwards. After an hour of that, I met with Peachpit's publisher, Nancy Ruenzel, to chat about the book's performance and future. Next up was a short conversation with the director of marketing for Web Crossing, whose software TidBITS is considering for our next-generation infrastructure. Around 5 PM, I finally had a chance to see the show floor, at least until 6 PM, when the show closed.
Don't think that meant the end of the day, though, since first I hung out with everyone who was going to the Netter's Dinner, and then walked over to the restaurant with them. Before we arrived, though, Glenn Fleishman, a good friend who worked with us on NetBITS, and I broke off and took the subway downtown to meet a small group of Mac friends at a theater where ex-Seattleite Mike Daisey was performing his one-man, Off-Broadway show about working at Amazon.com. Glenn had done a six-month stint as Amazon's catalog manager, and since we had lived in Seattle during Amazon's rise to prominence, Mike's show was especially hilarious (I recommend it to anyone who has watched the dot-com boom and bust at all closely). Since Glenn and Mike knew each other, our group had dinner with Mike and his wife before we all piled back into the subway to head home. I made it to the Paramount by midnight, but after realizing that my roommate - Chuck Shotton, who wrote the first versions of WebSTAR - had arrived and was already asleep, I went to the lobby to work through email for an hour before I dropped from exhaustion again.
Thursday, July 18th -- Vowing to be better about email, I got up early and arrived at Javits around 9 AM, which is before the show floor opens. Luckily, the press room, with its AirPort-based Internet connection and bagel breakfast, was open, so I settled down to my email. I didn't read much, though, thanks to an impromptu visit from Craig Isaacs, who used to be the VP of Marketing at Dantz Development and is now the president of networking software company Neon Software. In addition to catching up on personal news, I saw enough of Neon's NetMinder and LANsurveyor products to want to spend more time with them later. Craig realized he was late for a meeting, so I spent a few more minutes with email, just in time to receive notification that I'd managed to retain my third place ranking in the MDJ Power 25 list of influential people in the Macintosh world. That list has been good for my ego each year, and it reinforces my belief that making connections and doing the right thing is always the best course of action.
I hit the show floor at 10 AM and spent a few hours browsing the booths before attending a briefing with CMS Peripherals about the ABSplus backup device (a FireWire hard disk with a custom controller and software that enables it to back up changed files whenever you plug it in), and then taking lunch with the president of 4D to talk about their new mail server.
Next up was another signing for my iPhoto book at the Aladdin Systems booth, after which Sean King invited me over for a live broadcast of his Your Mac Life radio show, leaving only a half-hour before the show floor closed.
Even though I'd managed to eat lunch, the Peachpit authors dinner was welcome, as was the group limo ride that eliminated a long, muggy walk. There, along with much convivial conversation, I learned that my iPhoto Visual QuickStart Guide had been the first product purchased during the grand opening of the new Apple Store in Soho. After dinner and a little rain that didn't break the mugginess, fellow author Dori Smith and I hopped into a cab to go to Apple's Pro-to-Pro party, where vendors demonstrated products and services at small stations while everyone mingled. Unfortunately, demonstrations from a small stage were also going on, with a deafening sound system. By the end of the party, I'd been lucky enough to show the party coordinator my 1998 article on how to throw a good Macworld party.
When things wound down at 10 PM, I was too tired to attend the Your Mac Life party with the Macintosh All Star Band, so Tim Holmes (the manager of Apple's Mac OS evangelists and #5 on the MDJ Power 25 list this year) and I walked back to the Paramount, where we talked for a few hours before another friend, Richard Ford of Packeteer, (who was previously Apple's Open Transport product manager) happened on us in the Paramount's bar. His arrival extended the evening for another few hours, so 3 AM had come and gone before I went to my room, where Chuck was still awake. It was another hour before we finished catching up.
Friday, July 19th -- Chuck and I had to check out of the hotel before heading over to the show, so we were awake and packed before 9 AM. We met Richard Ford and Tom Weyer of Apple for breakfast and discussions about unusual wireless networking situations, since Tom had been the wireless networking evangelist until recently. Once at the Javits Convention Center, I headed for the speaker room to get email again and dash off a note to Tristan before hosting an informal, round-table discussion in the User Group Lounge. I had a great time talking and quizzing people on TidBITS trivia in exchange for a few TidBITS t-shirts I'd brought to give away. I then saw most of the rest of the show floor before putting in an hour at the Peachpit booth talking to people about digital cameras and iPhoto. There I also received the enjoyable news that Peachpit had sold all its copies of my iPhoto book at the show - we had to send the last few people over to the Aladdin booth, where a few copies were left. With the show floor closing, I had an hour to check my usual sources on estimated attendance and exhibitor opinions about the show.
Though the show was over, I wasn't done. I met Tim Holmes again, and we compared notes on the show while picking up our luggage and meeting Andy Ihnatko (#23 on this year's MDJ Power 25), with whom we took a cab to Brooklyn for dinner with a number of Mac friends at Tim's brother's house. Most people left or went to bed by midnight, but a few of us stayed up talking until nearly 4 AM.
Saturday, July 20th and Beyond -- The week's lack of sleep clearly catching up with me, I struggled awake at 7:30 AM and went to breakfast with fellow journalist David Strom at 8 AM. After a lengthy (and tasty) dim sum breakfast in Chinatown, David dropped me off at the Apple Store in Soho, where I was to present at 6:30 PM that evening. My plan was to dump my luggage in an office and then spend the afternoon walking around Soho. I had a great time talking to street artists and wandering in and out of stores and galleries until the lights suddenly flickered and went out when a transformer blew at the main ConEd plant, which powers a large chunk of lower Manhattan. Not being from New York, I didn't immediately assume the worst, but the natives were distinctly jumpy, especially as the fire engines started racing past (as much as is possible in crowded Manhattan streets).
After the power went out, I walked back to the Apple Store, where I watched as firemen rescued people trapped in the elevator, leaving the store with their ladders and a standing ovation from the customers. The Apple Store was better off than almost any other business in the area - its open, airy design had a lot of natural light, and of course, the PowerBooks and iBooks kept working for a few hours on battery power.
Nonetheless, it was still early in the afternoon, so I didn't see any reason to stick around to see if the power would come back on. Instead, I walked downtown to J&R Music & Computer World, which is one of the main Mac dealers in New York City and located just across the street from the blacked-out area. I was curious to compare them to the Apple Store, and after doing so, I can see why Apple is keen on opening more stores. Although J&R seems generally well-respected as a Mac dealer, the Apple Store had two advantages. First, you can be sure in the Apple Store that everything works with a Mac. Second, Apple does a great job of letting people touch not only Macs, but also peripherals like digital cameras, scanners, and printers.
Continuing down to the tip of Manhattan, I walked past ground zero of the terrorist attacks, which looks primarily like a large construction hole now, though plenty of physical reminders of the destruction of the World Trade Center towers remain. Around 5 PM I returned to the Apple Store, which was being forced to close at 6 PM because the power hadn't come back on. Undaunted, I volunteered to demonstrate iPhoto to anyone who came by since my iBook was the only machine still usable. Even more fun was showing the Apple Store employees some of the tricks and techniques I've learned, since they give presentations about it and other Apple programs every day.
Fortunately, the subway to the Staten Island Ferry was still running, and after a scenic ferry ride, I was recounting the events of my day to my aunt and uncle over dinner. I made it to bed by the relatively early hour of 11 PM.
After a late and leisurely breakfast, I made the four hour drive home, then spent the rest of the afternoon and evening writing this article and catching up on important email. Unfortunately for me, we decided it was more important to run the keynote coverage, so I spent all day Monday writing the articles you read last week. We normally prefer a more relaxed production schedule, but special occasions like Macworld Expo often require such last minute exertions.
Finishing Up -- I hope you've enjoyed this trip through my life at Macworld, and if I occasionally seem distracted or tired at future shows, I hope you'll now understand why. As you can tell, the hardest parts are finding time to visit the show floor and keep up with email.
Although I'm dead tired at the end of each day, I do love doing this. There's little I enjoy more than talking with people about Macintosh and Internet topics, and for many people in the industry, trade shows are the main chance we have to see one another.
The big difference between the Macintosh world and so many others is the community that's grown up around the Mac, and that's nowhere more evident than at Macworld. Sure, many people just go to Macworld Expo, walk around the floor for a few hours, and then go home, but if you put some effort into meeting and talking to other people, it's easy to find yourself welcomed into the community.