My plane was on-time coming back from San Francisco last night and the pilot pointed out some fireworks on the right side of the plane when we were landing. As I exited the plane I was surprised to see Governor Jim Douglas and Senator Pat Leahy standing by the door to welcome us home. With the other dignitaries were also the families of the dozen or so Vermont National Guard members returning from duty in Iraq. My seat mate told me that he had been traveling for nearly 35 hours from Qatar and boy was he happy to be coming home. So, I joked a bit with the Governor and Senator and took my place in the welcoming line as the soldiers exited the plane. It was good to see our Vermont guys home safely.
It was a whirlwind trip to San Francisco but it was also a very rewarding set of meetings. I am on the Apple reseller advisory board so, in addition to the keynote at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, I had a series of meetings with other Apple specialists and Apple folks. I met with the sales and marketing side of Apple as well as the AppleCare service organization. One thing that is in common to every single meeting and the keynote was a very very upbeat attitude on the part of everyone connected with Apple including the resellers. There is a lot going Apple’s way right now and there is an excitement and high energy level that I have seldom seen, especially in a company as large as Apple. With this excitement is a growing realization in the reseller community and within Apple that we are, indeed, partners, and with the incredible opportunities presented by the great new products from Apple there is an increasingly obvious mutual respect.
I left Vermont on Sunday early in the morning and got to San Francisco in the late afternoon. The reseller board had dinner scheduled to touch base before our meetings with Apple the next day. We had about 20 minutes of chatting time before the flamenco guitar and dancers drowned out our discussion. Nevertheless, it was good to get out and talk with the resellers from all over the country. One thing that became pretty apparent to me is that no two resellers are quite alike. Some are strictly business to business, some are strictly retail and others have a hybrid model. I was chatting with David Lerner from Tekserve in New York and Kevin Anderson from The Mac Stores in the Pacific northwest and as the three largest Apple Specialists we all marveled at how different our business models were.
It was up early again to get in line for my pass to see the keynote at the Moscone Center. I received my VIP badge and waited with a couple hundred others for the doors to open. We noticed the doors open and made our way to the line to be seated. I don’t know how we managed to get as close as we did but we ended up in the fourth row, easily the closest I have been for any keynote. I did a lot of people watching as we waited for Steve Jobs to take the stage. Steve Jobs came out and gave a quick overview and then turned it over to Phil Shiller to show us the Mac Pro. The Mac Pro is about 2 times as fast as the fastest Macintosh computer ever and there are some really interesting design features. Apple has really taken advantage of the partnership with Intel and the lower power lower heat Core 2 Duo chips allow a much greater versatility in the configuration than the G5.
You can put up to 4 SATA drives into the Mac Pro and you don’t need to buy anything other than the drive to do so – it comes with the drive carriers and all the cables, etc. We asked an Apple engineer to show us how to add drives and it is very easy and a really cool design. You can also now have two optical drives. One very interesting comparison was the price comparison to a similarly configured Dell system. We have now reached the point where we can effectively end the debate about whether Macs are more expensive. In fact, the Mac Pro is the most economical AND most powerful Mac, ever. Now, I don’t recommend this and it seems a bit of a waste but you COULD take Mac Pros and load up Boot Camp and Windows XP, set it to default to Windoze and you would have the most powerful and most cost-effective Windows tower on the market. It is no wonder the Apple folks were all smiles!
We spent a lot of time debating the wisdom of Apple’s decision to just have one stock model of the Mac Pro and we the debate is still raging. We will be selling a lot more configure-to -order machines and will probably have to stock some configurations as we determine which are the most popular.
The Intel Xserves were also released and one of their most significant features is redundant power supplies. This has been a barrier to adoption at many critical server locations.
After Bertrand Serlet poked some fun at Microsoft and Vista, Steve and Scott Forstall reviewed just a few of the new features of the next version of OS X Leopard. You can read about them a lot of places including this issue of Kibbles & Bytes but the top three for me were:
Time Machine – this new backup and archival feature is simply revolutionary and will make backing up as simple as buying a hard drive (and we will have plenty to sell you!)
Web Clip – this Dashboard feature lets you make a widget from any section of any web page. You could make a widget of Barkings!
Spaces – A very cool addition to the finder which allows you to have several virtual windows open at once so that you can group applications together that you are using. This is going to be very useful.
I found the hints of the changes to Mail and iCal to be teasers, too, I can’t wait to get my hands on Leopard!
What a great thrill to be that close to the stage for the keynote! I feel very privileged!
On Tuesday, our board met with the AppleCare group from Apple and we discussed a wide range of issues and challenges. I have been in these meetings where it has become very contentious and didn’t get the impression Apple was listening. This time was very very different. We were on one team and were working together to provide the best possible customer experience. AppleCare was focused intently upon improving the customer experience and while Apple leads in most surveys in customer satisfaction they are not content to sit on their laurels but are pushing themselves and their service providers to do even better. They have a good crew of folks that really did listen to our concerns and suggestions.
Mac Pro Analysis By Ed @ Smalldog.com
WWDC is in full swing this week. By now most Apple aficionados know that the Intel-based replacement for the PowerMac was finally unveiled. The PowerMac name is being retired after 8 years of use, and the new machine will be called the Mac Pro. “Pro” is the operative word here; high-end professionals are the target market for this high-end machine. Apple threw down the gauntlet with the Mac Pro – it’s a very impressive system.
It’s always a little confusing when a machine debuts with all-new architecture, so I’ve written a simplified overview of the features on the Mac Pro.
First, Apple offers one standard Mac Pro configuration that can be greatly customized. The standard configuration includes:
- Two 2.66 GHz Xeon 5100 Processors – 1 GB FB-DIMM RAM (2×512 MB) – 250 GB Hard Drive, 3 empty slots (3 Gbps SATA) – NVidia GeForce 7300 GT (256 MB VRAM) – SuperDrive (2 slots total, 1 open) – 4 PCI-Express Slots (One occupied by graphics card)
Apple is using two Intel Xeon (codename Woodcrest) processors in every Mac Pro. It was widely expected that Apple would power the Mac Pro with the slower (but still excellent) Core 2 Duo (codename Merom) processors. Apple will probably use the Core 2 Duo in a future machine.
The Xeon used in the Mac Pro is a brand-new, server class processor. Like the G5, it is a 64-bit processor, allowing speed advantages with applications designed to take advantage of 64-bit processing (such as many scientific applications, and Tiger server.) It’s currently available in 2GHz, 2.66GHz, or 3GHz speeds, and has an excellent roadmap for future speed bumps.
Each Xeon processor has 4MB of shared L2 cache; as Apple writes, “that much L2 cache enhances processor performance by keeping data and instructions closer to the processor cores.”
For all it’s power, the Xeon is a relatively quiet processor – it’s energy efficiency rarely requires system fans to come on.
Apple calls these Quad Xeons. Each Xeon chip features two processors; thus two Xeons together makes a quad.
Each processor has an independent 1.33 GHz front-side bus; the G4 topped out at a 167MHz front-size bus!
The Xeon is an excellent, incredible chip.
Some people (mostly hardcore gammers) have been disappointed by the Mac Pro’s default 256 MB Geforce 7300 GT video card. However, the 7300 is a great card; it has a dual-DVI and standard DVI port, and will run a 30″ Apple display, along a second display. The GeForce 7300 GT is faster than the previous GeForce 6600 GT and X600. The Mac Pro can host up to four graphics cards, so you could run four 30″ monitors at the same time (yes, that’s ridiculous.)
Apple offers an upgrade to a 512 MB Radeon X1900 for $350, or to the 512 MB Nvidia Quadro FX 4500 for $1650. Both will run two 30″ Apple displays at the same time. The FX 4500 is considered to be an ultra- high end option, with the highest possible performance. That’s why it costs more than a black MacBook. The FX4500 has an integrated stereo 3D port, so you can use stereo goggles for stereo visualization applications.
Every Mac Pro ships with a 16x dual-layer Superdrive, and has an open slot allowing you to install a second Superdrive, so you can copy a CD or DVD disk-to-disk. I remember when Apple dropped dual optical drives with the introduction of the G5, making some people very upset. Now that we once again have the option for dual optical drives, various people are saying, “who cares?”
The Mac Pro has eight RAM slots, and can recognize up to 16 GB of RAM. The Mac Pro takes 667MHz DDR2 buffered Error-Correcting Code (ECC) RAM; the RAM must be installed in pairs. We are selling a 512 MB chip for $125.00, a 1 GB chip for $185, and a 2 GB chip for $399.00. RAM is installed on a special riser card, that comes with the Mac Pro. This new RAM is very fast; each chip has it’s own mini- processor. Also, the Mac Pro has twice the width of the memory architecture of the G5.
The Mac Pro can host up to four 3Gb/s internal SATA hard drives (compared to two in the G5.) The Mac Pro comes with hard drive trays, similar to the Xserve. You put your SATA drive into the tray, and then slide and lock it into the Mac Pro. This is my second favorite feature of the Mac Pro (after the awesome Xeon processors.) You can swap these drives out as needed. Two thousand gigabytes (2 terabytes) of data storage can be hosted inside the Mac Pro. You can use OS X to create a RAID 0 or RAID 1 with the internal drives.
The Mac Pro features four PCI express slots. One of these is a double- wide PCI Express Graphics Slot, which means you can use the new double-wide video cards without using up one of the three open PCI express slots.
The Mac Pro sports: two independent 10/100/1000BASE-T (gigabit) Ethernet interfaces with support for jumbo frames, two FireWire 800 ports (one on front panel, one on back panel) two FireWire 400 ports (one on front panel, one on back panel,) five USB 2.0 ports (two on front panel, three on back panel,) two USB 1.1 ports on included keyboard, front-panel headphone minijack and speaker, optical digital audio input and output Toslink ports, and analog stereo line-level input and output minijacks.
I’m glad to see that Apple has a Firewire 800 port on the back and front of the Mac Pro; Apple is still committed to Firewire 800!
CONFIGURE TO ORDER OPTIONS
Apple is bragging that the Mac Pro can be configured five million different ways. The default Quad Xeon processor is the 2.66 GHZ; you can also choose a Quad 2 GHz and save $300, or choose the Quad 3 GHz for an additional $800.
You can upgrade the default Nvidia 7300 video card to a Radeon X1900 for $350, or upgrade to the Nvidia Quadro FX 4500 for $1650. You can also add multiple cards to a single machine.
You can add a second Superdrive for $100.
Bluetooth and wi/fi are not built-in; you have to custom order these. While most high-end computer professionals I know don’t use wi/fi or bluetooth on their desktop workstations, plenty do, and would like to have this option built-in. It will cost $79 to add bluetooth and wi/ fi to the Mac Pro.
The Mac Pro does not have a built-in modem, and it will cost $49 to add a USB modem.
Apple will also add additional RAM and hard drives to the Mac Pro for you. Small Dog Electronics charges considerably less than Apple for our brand-name alternatives to Apple’s offerings on those. This will not void your Apple warranty.
Yes, the Mac Pro is cheaper than a comparable Windows-based PC. There is much speculation that many people will buy the Mac Pro, install Boot Camp and Windows, and use the Mac Pro as a Windows machine. Read this link for a detailed price comparison:
New Xeon Xserve PREVIEW By Ed @ Smalldog.com
Apple also unveiled brand-new Intel-based Xserves! I will write an in depth review next week. For now: the new Xserve features a 64-bit quad Xeon, running Mac OS X Server Tiger. The two Dual-Core Intel Xeon processors can run up to 3.0 GHz. According to Apple, performance runs up to five faster than of its predecessor. “With an industry-leading high bandwidth server architecture that includes PCI Express, independent 1.33 GHz front side buses with 4MB of shared L2 cache, and fully-buffered DIMMs (FB-DIMMs), the new Xserve delivers up to four times the I/O bandwidth, up to three times the memory bandwidth and twice the storage bandwidth of the Xserve G5. The new Xserve is Apple’s most customizable server yet with dozens of options, including faster processors, larger hard drives and dual power supplies.”
We’ll provide an in-depth review of the Xeon Xserve next week!
My First Week! By Geoff @ Smalldog.com
NOTE: The following article was originally posted at Small Dog’s blog Barkings, which can be read here:
http://blog.smalldog.com/ The first week of a new job is daunting. Everything is new. New people. New desk. New commute. New language. New roles and responsibilities. New computer. New smells and sounds. Toss in the fact that this very same week I have moved to a new state, bought a new house (thus I am newly poor), have new cable, electric, internet, water softener, and phone companies AND I need to buy a new (used) car. What does this all add up to?
Wow . . . (take a deep breath Geoff) . . . WOW!!
I have not been this intimidated since walking into my first dance in 7th grade with new braces and a face doused with Oxy 10. I made it through that night though and rest assured I think everything is under control and I will make it through this first week in one piece.
So why VT?
After 7+ years in the marketing department of an international beer manufacturer with stints in both the US and the UK, my wife and I decided we wanted to step back a bit and take some time off. I am not a big corporate guy and I found myself getting sucked into the templates and politics of the big corporate world. So my wife and I decided to take our two little girls (3 and 18 mos) to New Zealand for 4 months and figure out our next move. (as an aside – New Zealand is the most incredible country I have ever been. The people, the scenery, the pace of life are all top notch. If you ever are fortunate enough to go you will never want to leave). Where we netted out was that we wanted to live in a place where you can enjoy the beauty of the outdoors and raise our children with the peace of mind that they will be safe, well educated and appreciate nature. Basically – how could we duplicate our lives in New Zealand every day back in the States? Being from the Northeast what better place to settle than VT (besides it is still Red Sox and Patriots country!)
So why Small Dog Electronics?
Where do I begin?
Was it that Small Dog is a member of the Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility and they give thousands every year to worthy charities? Was it that the key product line (all things Apple) is a marketers dream as I have never seen such consumer passion for IPOD’s and IBooks than in any other category? Was it that when I spoke with friends and family who had heard of Small Dog they commented on the fact they received the best customer service they could imagine? Was it that as a dog lover I get to play with no fewer than 10 dogs on a daily basis in the office? OR was it the fact that I got a job offer despite not shaving a 9 month long goatee (in protest to the corporate world and despite protests from my wife and mother)?
Well it was all above and more. I love the idea of working for a small business who cares about the customer and believes in the product they are selling. There is an entrepreneurial spirit here that is felt from the warehouse to the showroom and all places in between.
So far so good . . . . While I am certainly the new kid on the block and need to learn an office language far different than ‘barley, malt and hops’, my first impressions are great ones and I cannot wait until I feel settled and am cruising along.
If you ever want to chat about New Zealand, beer, the Red Sox, or the perils of a new job please do not hesitate to give me a shout.
Geoff Blanck The new marketing and sales guy
OS 10.4 Security Tip By Ed @ Smalldog.com Here are the different types of user accounts that can be created and operated in OS 10.4. Knowledge of the different account types can help keep your computer secure.
1) The User account is the least privileged account. It allows a user to modify settings for their own account but not for others and they cannot modify the universal settings. For multiple users of a single system you can further limit user accounts to prevent them from changing system preferences, removing items from the Dock, changing passwords, burning CDs or DVDs or using some installed applications.
2) The Admin account can perform many of the operations normally associated with the root user. An Admin account can add or delete User files, but typically cannot otherwise modify the contents of the User file. Admin accounts can modify the System folder by using the Installer or Software Update applications.
3) The Root user is a superuser, which has full permissions for anything. Root users can execute any file and can access, read, modify or delete any file in any directory. Unlike most UNIX systems this superuser Root access is turned off by default and most Mac users will never have to access Root. This protects your Mac from those that might do damage by acting as a root user.
Every user on every computer should have a password assigned to him or her.
Many people are always logged into the Admin account by default, which is a security risk.
For an extra level of security, you can do what Morgan at Small Dog does – he creates an Admin account, and then creates his own non- admin user account for himself to use. The Admin account is the first account he creates on his computer, and then he creates the user account. You create the secondary user account in “Accounts” in “System Preferences.” Here’s how he does it:
1. Browse to System Preferences > Accounts.
2. Create a new user, with a new name and password.
3. Click on the button that says “Allow user to administer this computer.”
4. Select your previous Account.
5. De-select the button that says “Allow user to administer this computer.” The non-Admin will have all the data, bookmarks, and software that was created when it was a Admin Account. The Admin won’t have this data, but in most cases should not need it.
Even if you’ve always been logged into your computer as an Admin, it’s not too late to go back and demote yourself to user with the instructions above.
If you need both users to have access to all data, there may be some UNIX script that would allow you to do that, but I am not aware of what that script is.
Let us know if you have any other suggestions!
Anniversery of Walden By Ed @ Smalldog.com
Walden was published 152 years ago, on August 9, 1854. Walden is one of my favorite books. I’ve read it a few times, and skimmed through it many more. I always discover some new idea, historic curiosity, subtle witticism, or brilliant turn of phrase in Walden. I love how Henry Thoreau writes; he is one of the great American writers, and Walden is one of the great American books. Walden is appreciated around the world, and has been translated into dozens of languages. Walden had a powerful influence on Gandhi; he famously read it while imprisoned for protesting the treatment of Indians in South Africa.
Computers (even Apple computers) and the ideas in Walden would seem to be opposed. However, Thoreau’s ideas of self-reliance, freedom of expression, independence, and appreciation for Nature powerfully inspired the inventors of the personal computer. Many of those innovators were radicals who, like Thoreau, were extremely intelligent and yet did not quite fit into mainstream American society. From MIT to Stanford, to the Amateur Computer Society and Homebrew Computer Club, Thoreau was a personal hero of the inventors of the digitally interconnected world we occupy today.
While Thoreau might not appreciate Myspace, spam, the Drudgereport, and the billions of pages of online porn, he would probably approve of the research options, freedom of expression, and platform for speech offered by the internet.
The ideas of Walden are more relevant than ever. You can read Walden free online at Project Gutenberg:
Also check out one of my favorite websites, the Thoreau blog. See it here:
Here are the specials for this week, valid through August 18 or while on-hand supplies last. Be sure to use the wag URL to get this special pricing.
Back-to-School Add-On Bundle – Office, 512 MB Flash Key, Lock, More – $174 PLUS $50 Rebate!
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16831/mymac
LaCie 300gb Extreme Triple Interface Firewire 800/400/USB – $169, limited time only!
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16858/mymac
3-Year AppleCare Warranty Plan for MacBook – only $189 until September 8!
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Mac mini Intel Core Solo 1.5GHz 512/60, 19in LCD Moniter, MS Office, Keyboard/Mouse, MORE, $999!
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MacBook 1.83, Canon iP1700 Printer, Belkin Surge Protector, Cable for printer, Ogio Case – $1189!
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Mac mini Core Duo 1.66GHz 512 MB/80/Superdrive, 19in LCD Monitor, Office, Printer – $1289!
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MacBook 13in 1.83GHz 512/60/combo, Canon Print/Copy/Scan, MS Office, 512 Flash Key, Bag – $1399
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Mac 17in Intel 1.83GHz 512/160/Superdrive, Canon Print/Copy/Scan, Office, Lacie 160, More, $1699
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Black MacBook 13in 2.0GHz with 2 GB RAM/80 GB HD/Superdrive/AP/BT, Applecare – $1889!
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MacBook Pro 15in 2.0GHz 1gb/100/Superdrive (r), Black MacCase Sleeve for MacBook Pro – $1949
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MacBook Pro 15in 2.0GHz 1gb/100/Superdrive(r), Canon Printer/Copier/ Scan, Office, MORE – $2239!
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Canon DC10 DVD Digital Video Camera – FREE SHIPPING – $549!
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Canon DC20 DVD Digital Video Camera – FREE SHIPPING – $649!
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Canon Optura 400 Digital Video Camera – FREE SHIPPING – $789!
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Canon Optura 500 Digital Video Camera – FREE SHIPPING $989!
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Canon Optura 500 Digital Video Camera – FREE SHIPPING $989!
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Canon Optura S1 Digital Video Camera – FREE SHIPPING – $649!
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16875/mymac
I’m glad I got my traveling over before the new restrictions and security procedures. On the other hand, banning all carry-ons will sure make loading and unloading the planes a lot faster. It looks like a great summer weekend coming up here in Vermont, might be time to break my low-carb diet for my annual sweet corn eatin’ orgy. Thanks for reading this issue of Kibbles & Bytes!
Your Kibbles & Bytes Team,
Don, Ed & Holly