Leopard Day

Leopard boxSo yesterday was the big day. Apple released the upgrade to their operating system, Mac OS X v10.4 “Tiger.” As of 6pm last night, we now have OS X v10.5 “Leopard.” I pre-ordered Leopard about two weeks ago because I would not be available at 6pm on Friday to pick it up due to The Bridge. I mean, I’m not that much of a geek that I’d neglect the more important things to be one of the first in line to buy a new shiny product. The website said that if I pre-ordered, it would be delivered to my house on the 26th. And as a result, even though it was released at 6pm, I got my copy at 9:23am via FedEx. No, I was not waiting at the door, time clock in hand, counting down the minutes ’til Mr FedEx got here. I was at work and received an email from FedEx telling me that it was delivered and the time it was signed for. Very nice. So I came home on lunch and installed it on my MacBook Pro. Later that night, after The Bridge, a leader’s meeting, and some quality diner time, I came back home and installed it on my iMac. I did a clean wipe and install on the MacBook to get rid of all old files and generally tidy up the system I did an upgrade on the iMac as I didn’ t want to risk anything happening to my data on there, even though I over-backup my system.

Anyway, I have it running nicely on both machines. I must say it’s a beautiful system. There are little tweaks and enhancements and modifications all over the place (in fact there are over 300 of them) that add up to a really sweet OS.

https://i2.wp.com/images.macrumors.com/downloads/leopardexposeinspace.jpgI’ve just started using Spaces and I think I’m about to get addicted to them. They’re really sweet and so useful to maintain a clean desktop. It’s pretty easy to get used to the keystrokes to switch between spaces and to move and modify what programs are where in them.

iChat Theater is pretty awesome. The ability to show any file to the person on the other end is so cool and there are other little features included that make it pretty solid. You can now record your video chats directly in iChat. You can drag files over your video and select if you want to just send the person the file or show it in the Theaters. The background replacement is awesome, but you do need to be in front of a solid colored wall for it to work properly.

The image “https://i2.wp.com/blogs.zdnet.com/Apple/images/time-machine-logo2.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Time Machine is real nice. I tried it out a bit, and I think it will be a great way to maintain your files. As far as backup goes, I still like Mozy, since it’s off-site. For now I have Time Machine off until I get a dedicated 500Gb drive for it. I don’t want to fill up my media drives with backup data.

The UI is soooo pretty. So sleek and shiny and new. I love it. Cover Flow with Quick Look is a great way to view your files, though I do find myself switching back to some of the more traditional views in some instances. They did fix the problem with how the dock looked on the sides of the screens by making it a non-3D box. The regular dock, on the bottom of the screen is so nice looking, though, that I’, tempted to put it back on the bottom, but I’m so used to it on the side that it frustrates me to have it down there.

The new mail is really nice, though I haven’t yet played with the full extent of it’s capabilities. iCal has some new features, but noticeably has a new sleeker view for your calendar events. Everything looks sleeker and beautiful.

The image “https://i1.wp.com/blogs.zdnet.com/Apple/images/quicksilver_logo.png” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.I have found a few little bugs, not necessarily with the OS, but with programs acting funny in the new environment. For example, I use Last.FM and Quicksilver all the time, and so I keep them out of my dock and only in my menu bar. Well, for some reason, the icons show in my dock all the time, and I can’t get them out. Other little apps, like SoundSource don’t work at all in Leopard. They’ve completely disappeared from my menu bar, though they are still on the system. I did have Keychain issues on my MacBook Pro, but I think they were my fault from trying to make the keychain do unnatural things. I’ve reset the Keychain on the MacBook and all seems well now.

So, I’ve been using it for about 24 hours now, and so far so good. Any issues are easily fixable with software updates, and so I’m not worried. Leopard seems pretty solid. I like it. We shall see if anything new develops over the next week or two of use.

Unpackaged Welcome to Leopard Installed!

And so I leave you with some random tweets I received yesterday all about Leopard. Enjoy:

thopex: “Und n”achste Woche hol ich mir dann den Leopard 🙂 (Note: I have no idea what this means, but the “Leopard” with the smiley at the end made me laugh)

cheapRoc: Happy Leopard day everyone! God bless our mother Apple and all her glory… Jobs be thy name…

thetwin314: OMG, Leopard!

rebelprince: iPhone sized line for Leopard. More cheering. Consumer as celebrity. Thoughts later, this is important.

frak: finally in leopard – w00t

erickyp: I am going to have to say goodbye & when I come back – my twitters will look like a Leopard

Anistar: 2 good things for the day: installing Leopard & Jess is ok… i can breathe

kevindente: Why do I get the feeling I’ll be reading nothing but Leopard reviews for the next week?

bblboy54: Twitter is apparently not able to hand the stress of the Leopard release.

BillyTV

BillyTV

So I started a channel over at Justin.tv, and it is called BillyTV and it is glorious. Ok, so I don’t know how much I’m actually going to use it. I have to see if I like it or not. I guess this is really BillyTV Beta for now. We will see if it lasts. The page is pretty sweet, though.

I also stream on UStream.tv and Stickam.com for various things. You can catch all my streams on my website at William Hartz LIVE.

Click here for BillyTV

‘Splodin Nanas!

Don’t you hate when your Nana just spontaneously combusts?

Danny Williams, an iPod nano owner claims that his Nano burst into flames while it was in his pocket. He claims that there were chest-high flames emanating from the malfunctioning iPod, but luckily he was saved by a piece of paper also in his pocket. Well, thank goodness for that sacrificial, flammable flame retardant sheet of protection!

Ok, for real, the Nano’s battery probably was defective. It probably did explode in his pocket. It’s happened before, albeit with rare occurrence in the iPod world. But chest-high flames? And a magical piece of paper to protect him from burns?

1. Paper is flammable. Glossy coating is flammable. Perhaps the coating takes a bit longer to catch, but the heat would easily transfer from iPod to leg and effectively burn. Also, why is there only a small puncture hold and mild discoloration on the card, if in fact there was a blazing inferno proceeding from his lap? Shouldn’t there be serious burning of the paper since I’m sure the flames weren’t extinguished in a few seconds?

2. If the flames were chest-high, why is his entire torso not burned? A little card in his pocket can’t protect from that.

3. Mistaken for a terrorist? I think that’s a bit extreme.

Anyway, I’m sorry his iPod malfunctioned. Apple did say they’d send him a new one. But this is obviously an exaggeration in an attempt for another frivolous law suit to get money from a company.

Engadget has the full story, with video.

I have to get back to work as my lunch break ends soon, and so…. oh no, I just spilled some coffee on myself… someone will pay for this!

Don’t let this happen to you. Make sure your iPod is protected.

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Zune 2.0

Well, Microsoft announced the release of the Zune 2.0. I will say that these new Zunes are much nicer than their 1.0 counterparts. They’re thinner… much thinner. Very less brick-like. And no more doo doo brown. I’ve only seen pictures, but I dare say these things look fairly sweet.

Some basic upgrades to the standard Zune: It’s now has 80Gb in storage, glass screens, connects to Xbox 360 for customized playlists, new touch-sensitive pad that acts as the iPod click wheel and that looks pretty cool, and 3.2″ widescreen display. It still has the same WiFi and squirtibility. Other big news that that the Zune now supports podcasts, which is awesome!

Even bigger upgrade news is the Zune’s answer to the iPod Nano. The Zune is now available is a 4Gb or 8Gb smaller Flash model with all the same basic features of the 80Gb Zune. The 80Gb hard disk model comes in black while the Flash models come in red, green, pink, and black. They look comparable to the old model iPod Nano’s in size and form. They have the Zune touchpad and a 1.8″ display.

All the new Zunes come with what Microsoft calls “Premium Headphones” but we’ll have to wait and see how they sound in real life.

The new Zunes are prices exactly the same as their iPod counterparts… the 80Gb model being $249, the 8Gb model being $199, and the $4Gb being $149.

It is also said that the Zune Marketplace will be selling high-quality DRM-free music as well, which sweetens the deal significantly.

These new Zunes seem to be waaaaaaay better than their 1.0 siblings. The original Zune was a total waste, but it seems that Microsoft has learned well and may have a contender on their hands. Will they dethrone the iPod? No. At least not for many, many years. And even with time it will be a significant feat. But this product, at least on paper, seems it may be worth a look. I’ll play with one when they’re released on November 13 and write some more.

For now, Engadget has a complete side-by-side comparison between the new Zunes and their iPod counterparts. See it here.

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MarsEdit

8EE1F87B-F92F-4D21-93C7-9B6100C9B627.jpg So I just downloaded a new program I heard about on MacBreak Weekly that would make it easier to blog. I’ve always found it a pain to have to log into a website and use their interface to blog. I know, it’s not really that hard to log in and do it. I just found it a pain. And certain browsers didn’t well support WordPress… I need things to simplify my life.

Things have been crazy around here lately. It seems there is always a meeting to go to or a project to work on or something of importance that demands my attention. Honestly, it can get a bit overwhelming. I need a vacation… badly. I will talk more of that later on. The point is that I am constantly looking for a way to simplify things, to automate things, to make my stress reduced and my life easier. Sometimes the little things, when added up, can do more that one large “stress reliever.”

Maybe I’m making more out of this than there really is. Anyway, I downloaded the program MarsEdit. It links directly to my current blog, but lets me edit from an offline state from a program sitting locally on my disk and then send it to the web when I finish. It links to your Flickr account for easy access to add pictures to any post, which is pretty sweet since I usually send all my pictures that I use on my blog to Flickr. It seems easy enough to use. This very blog is being typed on MarsEdit. I’m currently using the 30 day trial period, and if I like how it all works, it’s only $30 to purchase it. MarsEdit is made by Red Sweater Software and runs on the Mac OS X platform.

You can download your trial software at http://www.red-sweater.com/marsedit/.

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Amazon mp3 Store

Big hugified great news. Amazon has opened up their very own mp3 store, aptly called Amazon mp3.

This is a brand new part of the Amazon website. I think it just opened within this past week, and from the looks of it, it is shaping up to be pretty sweet. Here’s the basic jist of it:

– Over 2,000,000 songs are available on the website
– The songs are all in 256kbps mp3 format
– The songs are all DRM free (!)
Amazon mp3 is 100% compatible with both iTunes and Windows Media Player, so you are covered in whatever platform you use
– Songs are priced at either $0.89 or $0.99 (or so it appears for now). Albums range from $5.99 to $9.99
– Since the songs are mp3 format, they will play on any digital media player, including but not limited to the iPod, iPhone, Sansa, Creative Zen, RAZR, or even (dare I say it) Microsoft Zune.

Amazon offers an app called the Amazon mp3 Downloader to make getting the content really easy. Even better, as the Downloader downloads the music, it automatically ports the songs into iTunes or WMP. Not too shabby, Amazon!

amazondownloader.png
Click the above image for full size view of the Amazon mp3 Downloader

I wanted to try out Amazon mp3, and so I picked up a few albums. One was the newest Feist album that I’ve been debating getting for the past few days. I’m listening to it right now, and I must say that it’s pretty good. That’s another story for another time. The other is Pink Floyd‘s The Wall. I’ve yet to listen, but, common, it’s Pink Floyd. It’ll be great.

So, you may ask why you should use Amazon when you have iTunes right there available and so easy to use. Well, let’s compare:

iTunes:

– Over 6,000,000 songs available
– Over 3,000,000,000 songs already sold
– Songs available at 128kbps AAC with DRM for $0.99
– Songs available at 256kbps AAC with no DRM for $1.29
– Most albums sell for $9.99
– Completely fluid compatibility with iPod and iPhone only
– Also available as iTunes WiFi for iPhone and iPod Touch for music-on-the-go
– 30 second previews of all songs
– Supports podcasts, movies, TV shows, audiobooks, and games
– Stand-alone app connects to the Web for content. No need for a browser.

Amazon:

– Over 2,000,000 songs available
– All songs available at 256kbps mp3 with no DRM for between $0.89 and $0.99
– Albums sell for as little as $5.99 and as much as $9.99
– Works with any digital music player on the Market
– 30 second previews of all songs
– Web interface
Renoun Amazon “recommendation” algorithms fully integrated

Clearly iTunes has more “bells and whistles” to its name. But let’s not forget that iTunes is in version 7.0 while Amazon mp3 is in 1.0. iTunes is great and I will continue to use it. Plus, iTunes is the only really easy solution to get podcasts and tv shows and such onto the iPod. It has more musical selection and, with over 3Billion songs downloaded, has proven its reliability. Here’s the wrench in the iTunes utopia, though. As far as pricing goes, Amazon has them beat… by a lot. Many popular songs are at $0.89 while the others are $0.99. And all the songs are 256kbps DRM free. The iTunes 256Kbps DRM free music is priced at $1.29. True, iTunes offers their music in AAC format, which is superior to mp3 and so the iTunes music will sound better (to the trained ear), but AAC is an Apple proprietary format and is incompatible with other players. Mp3 is universal and open to all. And you’re saving as little as 30-cents and as much as 40-cents per song bought. The purchase of albums can even wield better results. Look at the iTunes and Amazon pages for Pink Floyd’s The Wall (click the images for full-sized versions):

itunes.png
iTunes

amazonmp3.png
Amazon mp3

Amazon mp3 is 1/2 the price of iTunes in this instance! This, coupled with the fact that the Amazon mp3 Downloader automatically sends the downloaded music to iTunes, makes the choice obvious that the way to go for this album is to use Amazon mp3. And this is why I bought Pink Floyd as one of my tests for the Amazon mp3 store. And the music has all the meta data in it. It has the cover art attached. It looks just like Apple music when viewed side by side in Cover Flow:

coverflow.png
Click for a full-size image

So, what does this mean? It means that I will be checking with Amazon before I make any music purchases. I can deal with a 256kbps mp3 as compared to a 256kbps AAC for all the money I am saving and for the ease of use it offers.

I did find it a wee bit hard to parse through Amazon’s database. I tried searching for a Bob Dylan album, but couldn’t quite get to a Dylan artist page to select the album I wanted to purchase. iTunes does have music searching down to a science, and their iTunes Essentials, Celebrity Playlists, iMixes, and other specialty playlists does make it fun to find new music. I bought about $10 of music the other day while just browsing those little playlists in iTunes.

The other good thing about Amazon jumping in the digital music distribution business is the fact that Apple finally has some real, solid competition. That can only mean good things for us, the consumers. Will we see some more competitive pricing? New innovation? Who knows, but it can only be good.

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iPodsss

So this is about 3 days old, but I haven’t been home in the past three days to check email, let alone blog. I watched the Apple announcement on Tuesday about the new iPods, and here are my thoughts for the 2 people interested:

iPod shuffle:

Nothing really new with the Shuffle. Same 1Gb of storage. New colors. No big deal. I’m not a fan of the Shuffle. I like to be able to see my music while I listen to it. I want a screen and then I want to be able to pick the song I want based on the mood I am in. One nice thing is that the Shuffle now comes in a PRODUCT(Red), so you can help fight the epidemics of diseases in Africa if you feel so inclined simply by getting the $79 iPod you were going to get anyway.

iPod nano:

It’s the new fat nano. I’m not sure how I feel about this one. I always felt like I would break the old thinner nanos if I breathed on them too hard, but they looked mighty good. The new nano is just…. fat… weird looking. I haven’t actually seen one of these in the wild yet. I have plans to visit the Apple Store this weekend, and they should be in stock by then. Maybe I will change my mind once I hold one in my hand. Some nice improvements: video capability, new UI (which I’ve heard is fairly sweet), Cover Flow (which I have also heard works pretty sweetly), full metallic body, more default storage. People have said that the fat-ness is not a big deal since the iPod is so small. We shall see. iPod nano is available with 4Gb of storage for $149 and 8Gb for $199.

iPod classic:

Not too much upgrade to the iPod, or as it is called now, iPod classic. It does now sport a full metallic body and the same new UI with Cover Flow as the nano. The big enhancement is that the classic now starts at 80Gb for $249 and a massive 160Gb for $349. The high-end classic has more disk space than my MacBook Pro. Crazy. I am still very satisfied with my old 30Gb iPod. It works great and hasn’t failed me yet, so I can personally testify to the reliability and durability of this model of iPod.

iPod touch:

Welp, people have been asking for an “iPhone without the phone” and here it be! The crowd reaction to the iPod touch announcement was loud and extended. I must say that it’s a sweet device. It has the iPhone’s iPod interface which everyone loves. Safari is built-in along with 802.11b/g level WiFi. YouTube support is in there. Syncing for calendars and contacts. A clock. And the big, HUGE “one more thing” of the announcement…. iTunes WiFi Music Store! It was said back when the Zune was released that Apple would be the ones to take the WiFi-in-a-media-player concept that Microsoft failed with and make it the right way, and so they have. It’s amazing. You can go online right from your iPod and get on the iTunes Music Store and purchase and download music to the device. And it syncs back with iTunes when you get home. So cool. I can tell that if I had this I would spend obscene amounts of money on music, so it’s better that I refrain from getting it. They also have a deal with Starbucks where, when in a participating Starbucks, your iPod will show whatever track is being played over the speakers and allow you to purchase it right then and there via the iTunes WiFi Music Store. This is a pretty cool feature, though it wouldn’t benefit me as I don’t drink coffee nor do I visit Starbucks (and my friend David has already told me how sad a state I live in because of this fact). Still, it’s nice to know that this technology is possible, and hopefully it will spread to other places as well. All this for $299. Not bad at all. And iPod touch comes in 8Gb and 16Gb models. Of course, I don’t really see much need to get the iPod touch because….

iPhone:

Apple has lowered the price of the iPhone! Actually, they have discontinued the 4Gb model (much to AJ‘s dismay) and reduced the price of the 8Gb model from$599 to $399. So really, you can get everything in the iPod touch along with a great phone for $100 more. Of course, not everyone wants the phone, hence the cry of “Give us an iPhone minus the phone.” Me personally, if I was going to go for the iPod touch, I would just go all the way and get the iPhone. Nothing has changed with the iPhone physically since it’s June 29 release, but they are going to roll out the iTunes WiFi Music Store to the iPhone’s software in a free update later this month. They also will, later this month, unleash a custom-ringtone maker available as a part of iTunes but to be unlocked next week. You actually have to pay an additional 99-cents on top of the 99-cents you already paid for the songs to make them ringtones. I don’t get why that is, but that’s the deal I suppose they worked out with the record labels. I personally don’t care for ringtones, so I wouldn’t need this nor pay the additional 99-cents. You can use your own personal songs that you didn’t buy from iTunes as long as they are a participant in the program, but you still have to pay the 99-cent fee for the ringtone. Oh, and for those who are angry because they just bought an 8Gb iPhone recently, never fear. Apple is offering a $100 in store credit for all those who missed the price cut. Visit apple.com for more details or contact Steve directly.

There is a new version of iTunes available now that supports all the new features of the new iPods. Visit iTunes.com to get it, or simply “search for updates” on your already existing software.

Apple and iPod. The beat goes on.

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Happy Birthday, CD

https://i0.wp.com/img.infotropic.com/i/storage_10.jpgThree days ago, August 17, was the 25th anniversary of the Compact Disc. Read the history of the CD here.

In a previous blog post I mentioned that my parents, when they bought me my first CD player when I was a child, also bought me two CD’s: Carman’s Radically Saved and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. And, yes, I am still embarrassed about the Carman CD. Not so much the Beethoven.

And so I ask again, as I did in the previous blog post. On this quarter-century anniversary of the compact disc, what was the first CD you ever bought or received?

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Microsoft Office, or the lack thereof

 iwork.jpg=Today I removed Microsoft Office from my MacBook Pro. I realized that iWork ’08 can handle most of what Office can do and that it can now convert and open Office documents with ease. Pages can read .doc’s. Numbers can read Excel spreadsheets. I don’t know for sure if Keynote can read PowerPoint files, but it would seem it can based on what the other programs can do. So, there’s no need for me to have MS Office anymore.It’s always been a love-hate relationship with Office. I mean, yeah, it’s the industry standard, and for good reason. Office is a great productivity suite. I have Office 2007 on my PC and it is a beautiful collection of programs. And I must hand it to Microsoft… Excel is an outstanding program – the best spreadsheet system on the Market today, in my opinion. However, it just never worked right on my Mac. Perhaps it was because I was running the 2004 version. It was painfully slow and buggy and felt cumbersome to use. Things were not where I expected them to be. It felt so much more complex than the Windows versions of the software. I found myself frustrated with it and there was a sense of dread whenever I had to open a Word doc or Excel spreadsheet. Good news, though… Office Mac 2008 comes out soon. It’s supposed to be a very nice system. Perhaps I will try it, but I would much rather buy a $79 Apple suite than a several-hundred dollar Microsoft suite.I am currently running the iWork ’08 trial that came with iLife ’08, and plan on buying the full thing in my next paycheck.

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iLife ’08

I recently got iLife ’08 and it’s pretty sweet. Did I blog about this already? For some reason I think I did. Now I wonder if I should continue. Ah well. Yeah, I like it.

iPhoto 7. Events are pretty awesome. So much easier to organize photos. And the Web Gallery is a pretty sweet way to quickly get photos online for others to see. I’m still going to use Flickr as my primary photo website, but at least I can direct people to My Web Gallery while I am processing and naming and tagging the photos for Flickr. I’ve also started tagging photos in iPhoto to try out the searching capabilities. I’m not too fond of the tagging system, though. I wish the tagging was more along the lines of Flickr or YouTube, but I think I can deal with it. One other thing I’ve noticed that I don’t like is that I can no longer access my iPhoto library directly from Finder. I have to work all kinds of special magic to get to the place where my images actually exist. Fix this, Apple! But overall, iPhoto 7.0.1 is a much better improvement over iPhoto 6, in my opinion.

I have not yet fully tried out iMovie. I shot some footage last night with which I will edit in a day or two. There is much on the To Do list for this afternoon and, honestly, the size of the list scares me a bit. It’s so long that I probably shouldn’t be blogging right now. I have tried out the direct Publish to YouTube and Publish to .Mac features and it’s pretty sweet. I was originally a little worried that they removed all timeline-based editing from it, but it’s not that big a deal as Apple had the foresight to leave the old copy of iMovie HD on the system for those who prefer the old method. I do plan on getting Final Cut soon enough, so I will deal with iMovie 7 until that time. I do wonder what iMovie will do to where my footage is stored. Will it make it difficult to access as iPhoto does? Is it going to bundle the clips with the movie file as iMovie HD did? That really bothered me since my iMovie files were hundreds of megabytes large. I suppose I will post another blog later on dedicated to my experiences with iMovie once I really have a chance to play with it.

GarageBand is pretty sweet. We recorded a song last night in my room which sounds pretty good, though it is not edited or mixed down yet. The one thing I really like about it is that it now has mp3 support. It was always such a pain in the butt to have to export the GarageBand mix to AAC and then import that to iTunes and convert it there. Way too cumbersome. I will try out the mp3 export on Tuesday when I edit down the weekly podcasts. I don’t see why there would be anything weird with it, but you never know. The reason I need to upload mp3 is that my web server doesn’t support AAC. I plan on switching domains because I want to do some enhanced podcasts in the future and need it use AAC. That’s another story for another time.

I’m going to try out iWeb in a little bit, but I’ve never been too impressed with it, so we shall see. iDVD, by all accounts, is worthless to me, so I will pretend it doesn’t even exist.

I suppose that is all for now. I have tons of work to do and really need to get started. Peace out yo.

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