Free Mac App Every Day in December

7 December, 2006

Every day during December, the MacAppaDay site is offering an item of Mac software that’s normally non-free, for free. Go along, join up, and download. The only catches are:

  • There are only 5000 copies of each item of software, and they do run out
  • Most of the software will not be free to upgrade in the future, unlike if you had actually purchased the software.

Those aside, so far the software has been useful or at least interesting: Shoebox (a photo organising app that you use in conjunction with or instead of iPhoto); YummyFTP (a very fully featured FTP client); ShadowClipBoard (a nice multiple clipboard utility), Cookie Assassin (for a tidy way to manage your browser cookies),  and a couple of others that I can’t seem to recall right now. I started slow and missed out on the first couple of days, but have been grabbing them since. Even if you don’t need it now, why not get a free piece of decent software? 

Each day’s new item conveniently goes up at about 9pm, so get going!


Prices Drops on Macs in NZ

6 December, 2006

As an update to the story of Apple finally deciding on a presence in NZ, apparently all resellers prices are dropping becuase of that. From Totallymac:

All NZ Reseller pricing is changing today as well, to be in line with the NZ Apple store.
All products will ship to end users directly from Australia.

And sure enough, Totallymac’s price for the iMac is now $2699, the same as the Apple store. Excellent.

Good news for New Zealand Mac Users.

6 December, 2006

It’s day of big news for NZ Mac fans.


First, Apple now has a New Zealand online store. Just like the US’s one. Not a store run through Renaissance, not some poxy iPod reseller, but a real NZ online Apple store. Free shipping, free iPod engraving, and prices that are a couple of hundred dollars cheaper than the others also add to the joy. For an example, a 20 inch iMac is $2699, while at the very good, they’re $2955. I don’t know any of the politics behind this new store, but Renaissance must be pretty damn annoyed at all the work they put into their online Apple store that only opened a few months or a year ago, that has just gone to waste.

At as right now, not everything is working, the podcasts link is broken, for instance, but I’m overlooking any little bugs like that…

There’s currently a giveaway draw going on for the next few days: there’s a MacBook and some iPods up for grabs every day until December 10th, so go along and give them your email address for some Mac-lovin’

The second news is that after years of rumours, there is now an iTunes New Zealand store. Yes, New Zealanders can finally put some legal music on our iPods! Songs are $1.79 each, which is only a small rip-off compared to US prices, as opposed to the huge rip-off we’re all used to. And it’s cheaper than the UK store, where, at 79p each, songs would work out to over $2 each.I’m looking forward to browsing around, and actually being able to buy music online.

Realistically however, I know I’ll end up buying very little because:

  •  a) I already have my music “Back catalogue” of all those CDs, tapes, and records I’ve bought over the years, and
  •  b) BitTorrent. 😉

Leopard Wish List

4 September, 2006

A few realistic wishes for the upcoming OS X 10.5 “Leopard”:

* losing a network drive doesn’t lock up the finder for long slow minutes

* A return to a proper spatial OS9 Finder (oh wait, I said realistic 😉 )

* Open applications have that “hollow” grey look that OS9 had – just for another visual cue of what you have open

* column view automatically resizing to show the longest (within reason) item name

* column “preview” not locking up the Finder when trying to play a large or unknown movie type

* iChatting with video actually works without 4 hours of tinkering with Firewall setting, camera settings, internet setting, iChat settings

* Unchecking the “include when checking for mail” option in Mail does what it says and stops checking that account for mail

* Mail has “Next” and “Previous” buttons (not “Next unread”, just “Next”. Like in Entourage)

* Personally, I’m uncomfortable with the concept of Copying and Pasting files like you can do in Windoze, but an option to do this in Leopard might help switchers.

* Perhaps a way to sort some other way than alpha while in column view? It’s the most handy way to navigate around your Mac, and I’d guess that most people eventually gravitate to this view, so a few more options would be nice. Tricky to implement though

* Ability to turn off Dashboard and Spotlight for normal users

* You can currently have no password for a user, but if you later set a password, you cannot go back to having a blank password. Even going into the command line doesn’t work. I’d like to be able to have no password again!

* Less integration with .Mac. I’m dropping my account as it’s rapidly become outclassed by free offerings from places like Google, and the .mac mail addresses have been spammed outrageously for the last few months. I would like to be able to get full functionality out of my rather expensive operating system without being strong-armed into forking over more money. Alternatively, free .Mac for every Leopard owner. I’d go with that…Smiley

* I’d go on about how changing a filename shouldn’t change what type of file it is (calling my cat Fido doesn’t make him a dog, but calling my essay “Essay.jpg” changes it to a picture), but I’d be wasting my breath

* Option to have the Trash on the desktop

* More consistency in the Finder. Compared to Windows it’s a dream, but there are definite lacking areas. One small example: buttons in the system prefs should actually look like buttons or at least like something you can click. Look at them with newbie eyes: there is no indication what they are – they just look like pictures (which confiuses my mother no end). And do you click them once like a web link or twice like an app? They’re neither, and inconsistent with other aspects of the OS.

Apple’s New iBook – sorry, MacBook. One Word Description: Contrasty.

18 May, 2006

Yesterday, Apple released new consumer laptops. Like a lazy description of a holiday destination, these MacBooks are a land of contrasts (just like Namibia; the Middle East; Jamaica; Kansas; Chile; Guinea; New Zealand; Mozambique; and Idaho) Let's look:

Glossy, widescreen display

  • Contrast 1: the new name: MacBook. Awkward and hard to say. On the other hand, I think we can all agree that the fad of putting "i" in front of everything is well and truly dead. Or should be.
  • Contrast 2: They're up to 5 times faster than the old iBooks. Even taking into account the lies of the marketing boys, 2 or 3 times the speed of the last iBooks is incredibly fast. It's a huge jump in speed. Those Intel Core Duo chips are snappy.
  • Contrast 3: Intel Integrated Graphics. This means that there is no dedicated graphics card, and instead, graphics are powered by normal RAM. So although 512MB of normal RAM seems adequate, you're losing a chunk to just produce a picture on screen. I have for years sneered at crappy Windows-based laptops that have had integrated graphcs, and for good reason: they have always been shit. Just because Apple's doing it now doesn't mean this will change. I've been in the market for a new iBook for a couple of years, waiting for decent speed, decent price, and decent features. I never thought that  something that wasn't on my shopping list (iBooks have shipped with decent 32MB graphics cards for ages) would come back. This one thing alone stops me and probably many others at my computer knowledge level ("partially-knowledged"?) from even considering this laptop. I'll look forward to see the first benchmarks come out and see whether I'm justified in thinking like this or not.
  • Contrast 4: Lots of cool little features: built in iSight camera, no latch needed to open and close the lid, remote control, wide-screen screen (13.3 inch), built in Airport, built in Bluetooth, the usual iLife software, Front Row software, long battery life (6 hours), scrolling trackpad (senses if you touch it with more than one finger and will scroll or other-click or lots of other things depending on what you want), Sudden Motion Sensor so that if you drop it (as you will, eventually), the hard drive parks itself quickly while in the air so you don't inconveniently lose all your data as the read head of the hard drive ploughs into the platters and does the equivalent of jamming a stick into the spokes of your brother's bike as he rides past showing how he can ride with his arms folded across his chest.
  • Contrast 5: various crappy little features: a price increase of $100 US dollars, which will no doubt turn into 3 or 4 hundred by the time the NZ rip-off effect has occurred, the battery life is only 6 hours if you have wireless turned off and are not watching DVDs – then it's only 2.5 – 3.5 hours, the modem is gone (on a consumer laptop? That's just crazy), adaptors to connect your Macbook to another monitor are no longer included.
  •  Contrast 6: they come in black. Or white. Nice. The black one has a slight increase in hard drive size, and a massive increase in price. Apple's back to pointless price increases for no benefit. I was starting to miss that. Reasonable prices and features were just so boring.
  • Contrast 6: Contrast. The MacBooks now have a "glossy" screen, which is again what those crappy PC laptops have had: they look nice and shiny and bright in the shop, especially compared to the matte finish of current iBook screens. They have great contrast and bright rich colours. However, it's also like attaching a sheet of reflective plastic to the front of your computer. In practical use, these things will be better mirrors than screen. John Siracusa over at Ars Technica has some good photos and thoughts .

I want a new laptop. But at the moment, these MacBooks don't do it for me. I'm still happy that I got that 800 Mhz G3 iBook off TradeMe for $650.

“Apple vs. Me” actually, Apple vs him

10 April, 2006

"Would you ever want to be on the business end of legal action from a company with US$9 billion in cash? What about being targeted for deletion by one of most powerful multi-national corporations in the world? What if a company with US$14 billion in revenue and 14,000 employees wanted a piece of your ass? Welcome to my world."

read more | digg story

So says the story at ZDNet (that great bastion and defender of all things Mac). Regardless of the wrongs and rights of companies protecting their secrets vs. the rights of journo's to stick their noses into such secrets, I personally think that this whole "FireWire breakout box for GarageBand, code-named "Asteroid" was a deliberate tactic by Apple to ferret out leaks in their company.

Apple is suing anyone who even mentioned this thing back when it was originally rumoured, probably knowing that enough pressure in the right areas will open up a trail that will lead back to its own internal blabber-mouths. Alternatively – and we're getting into tin foil hat territory here – Apple has entirely made up this project for the same reasons – to see where the boat leaks.