All Guy wants for ChristHannaKwanzmas (A Holiday Rant!)

Ah, the holidays! Filled with happy debt-ridden shoppers fighting for those last covered parking spaces at the Mall. Smiling self-medicated local news anchors doing feel good stories about house fires that destroyed the family’s belongings, but everyone got out OK. CNN and Fox News bringing us the latest casualty numbers from Iraq and Afghanistan. How about the story of the soldier who insisted on having his finger cut off rather than cut off his engagement ring? Then, after the finger was cut off and the ring was saved, someone lost the ring. Happy ending for THAT one, since some jewelry store gave him and his fiancé new rings. Repeat after me everyone! AHHHHhhhhhh!

OH, and let’s not forget those nutty Iranians and North Koreans feverishly trying (or already succeeding) to build nuclear weapons. Of course most people are somewhat numb to this prospect since both India and Pakistan currently have an unknown stockpile of them with missiles with enough range to hit each other (and their neighbors), hate each other with a passion because they each want what is essentially farmland and rocks (sometimes both!) in the Kashmir region, and rattle their sabers over this every other year or so. All those people who lost their jobs because of outsourcing to India cheer up! That job might be coming back to these shores sooner than you think. Of course the position itself might be slightly irradiated. Nothing says “Happy Holidays!” more than the threat of unstable regimes with weapons of mass destruction.

None of this of course has anything to do with Apple, the Macintosh line of computers, or the iPod. But I was feeling snippy and decided to rant a bit. Heck why not? It’s my article.

Speaking of the iPod, it’s on track to sell a couple of million this quarter which is good for all who follow Apple’s ups and downs. Apple’s stock is zooming to new heights, which is great news to those holding any. Which doesn’t include me. A girl I know bought some back when it was at around 25 bucks a share. Unfortunately this wasn’t when the stock was rising but falling to it’s last year low in the 12-13 dollar range. She sold it 20, only losing about 20% of what she had paid. She was not in the least bit happy with me since I was the one who told her that the stock was due to rise. The way I look at it is that it’s her fault for even listening to me in the first place. The only satisfaction she got was reminding me over and over that Apple was going into the crapper (She’s not a Mac user) and how happy she was that the sold it off when she did. Oddly enough once the stock started it’s meteoric climb, she stopped talking about it.

As of yet I STILL haven’t talked about my wish list. Patience, patience, I’m getting there.

In one of my articles this year, a reader (anonymously of course) made the comment that the particular article in question was mostly just attitude. He was right of course. I don’t deny that my way of writing is pretty much free-style. I type whatever is going on in my head at any given moment and somehow try to drag all the relevant pieces together. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t. What I have noticed however is that in the articles that I don’t manage to stay focused on a particular topic are the ones that generate the most responses. Is there some kind of connection here? Probably not. Maybe my wrangling ramblings of writing (Tip of the hat to Spiro Agnew) appeal to some and not to others. I mean I usually have some kind of point to make. Whether or not the point makes sense or is even coherent is up to the individual. Just remember that I grew up in the 70s in South Florida and that I’m lucky to have two brain cells left to rub together.

My ChristHannaKwanzmas wishes (See? I told you we would get there. Oh ye of little faith)

First off to my Wife: As much as I joke about her, she is my rock and my life would be as stable as a Florida sinkhole without her. She is the mother to my two children and the bearer of infinite patience. Don’t believe me? Imagine having to live with someone like me and not lose your mind. I love her dearly and wouldn’t change a thing (mostly).

To my two boys: I wish you great happiness and joy each and every day. I love you both very much. Do well, and learn great things. This is important because eventually you’ll have to support me.

To my family: Thanks for being there when I was less than pleasant to be around. I hope I’m more pleasant to be around now (though I wouldn’t take any bets on it).

To my friends (both of you): Lets get together for that beer and poker fest soon. It’s good to laugh and enjoy yourself.

To my co-workers: Hi. How are you? Oh yeah, Merry holidays. Except for Tony who is more in the friends’ category.

To the people in my Dojang: Thanks for not beating me up the 16,000th time I forgot how to do Taeguek Sa-jang and kicking combination number 7.

To my fellow writers at MyMac: Thanks for all your contributions and thoughts in my various writings. I know I’m not the most lucid of people and I appreciate you. Also thanks for not taking offence when I wrote something I thought was funny and sometimes just came out sounding mean. Special thanks to Tim for allowing me a place at the table and “Hello Kitty iPods ™” for everyone!

To the Miami Dolphins: Thanks for having such a crappy season that I was able to concentrate on more important matters than whether or not the “Fins” would make the playoffs after their inevitable December collapse every year.

To Apple Computer: Now we get down to it. What you probably thought was REALLY going to be the focus on this article. Boy I showed you.

Dear Steve Jobs
(Care of Apple Computers),
Well, what can I say? It’s been a banging year with lots of drama. Everyone short of Mom’s Café and MP3 players INC. came out with iPod killers and all failed to make any real headway against you. I can’t think of anyway to improve the iPod so I will leave it in your capable hands. Of course if you can bring it down in price to the point where I can actually justify buying one would be greatly appreciated. I know you will eventually come up with a model that also does video that I also won’t be able to afford. I think the biggest problem facing Apple will be figuring out the name for the store that will sell movies online. Lets see, you sold music and you called the store iTunes. You want to sell video and you’ll call the store iMovies. Hmmm, I’ll work on it and get back to you.

The G5 iMac is terrific and as soon as I can, I plan on buying the 20” model. The design is nice and apparently selling much better than the previous version. How would I change it? I would add a FireWire hub and USB 2 hub to the base. It would be optional and just plug into the existing ports on the back of the enclosure. Maybe Griffin Technologies ( or one of those other smarter than me companies will make a replacement base. Or maybe they won’t.

The G5 Towers are totally sweet and expensive. I won’t be buying one anytime soon unless that Lottery ticket I just bought comes up a winner. Sorry, I just don’t have 2-3 thousand dollars to drop on a computer this year.

The G4 PowerBooks are everything anyone could want in a portable computer…unless of course they want a G5 portable computer then they’re most likely going to be disappointed. Of course MacWorld is coming up and maybe you’ll pull a rabbit out of their hat. But of course that trick never works (Nothing up my sleeve! PRESTO! RAAAARGH! Wrong hat? I usually take a seven and a half!), but now here’s something we hope you’ll really like.

G4 iBooks. Yes the little portable that put the “I can probably afford this” into your (Apple’s) laptops. I might be a little biased (ya think?) since I own one. I suppose I could complain about the 32 Meg graphics card, or the slower buss speed than the PowerBooks, or lack of a FireWire 800 port. How about the fact that Apple only uses 4200 RPM hard drives in their portables and only 256 megs of RAM in most configurations without having to option for more (at additional cost of course). I guess to sum up my wishes for the portable line would be for Apple to move to Freescales’s dual-core G4s until they can shoehorn a G5 in that won’t melt the enclosure. Second, to move up to 5400RPM hard drives (bigger default drives would be nice too), and last, to bump the RAM up to 512 Megs across the line. While it would be nice to have a 64 Meg graphics card in the iBooks, this most likely won’t happen until the PowerBooks scale upwards in some capacity. Oh yeah, and a lot cheaper too. While I’m at it, please make me the ruler of the entire known universe with the possible exception of the more industrialized areas of New Jersey. After all, I’m not a total glutton for punishment.

Next on the list is the eMac. I don’t own one, but for some reason I really like this machine. The only thing about it I might change would be to move to dual-core G4s and more standard memory. For what its purpose is (a cheap starter Mac) it is darn near perfect. Of course many won’t agree and to those people I offer a lump of coal…thrown at near hypersonic speeds at your head. The eMac has made it possible for many people to experience the Mac difference without spending a fortune. I know of at least three myself who I recommended this machine to over the last three odd years and each one is still using it and still happy. When it gets time to get a new machine, I bet all three will stay Apple.

Let’s see, have I covered everything? iPods, check, iMacs, check, G5 towers, check, portables, check, eMacs, check. I haven’t talked about servers and I won’t since I know diddly-squat about them. Nothing major left in hardware to talk about, so let’s talk about what’s missing.

As much as my professed love for the eMac will allow, I still think that Apple needs a cheaper no monitor Mac. Not a G5, but a speedy G4 or equivalent of some kind. Including 10/100 Ethernet, FireWire 400/800, USB 2, 32-64 Meg graphics card, easy to upgrade hard drive with space for two. All the wireless options (at an extra charge of course) and DVI/SVGA output for any external monitor with a video output port that can connect to most any TV (through an optional converter cable). I expect this to happen not long before I become ruler of all the known universe.

Moving on to software. Starting at the top, I like the direction that OS X is moving in. Mostly the “no longer a release a year at $129” part. I didn’t get OS X until 10.2 came out and I bought 10.3 right after it’s release because of the new features in it. At least that’s what I told myself. I don’t know if I’ll buy 10.4 right away. Dashboard doesn’t seem nearly as neat or useful as Expose was. I’ll probably wait until 10.4.2 or.3 comes out.

I don’t own Final Cut Pro because I’m not a Pro at video. Final Cut Express is fine for my needs and to be honest most of my video work ends up being done in iMovie. Motion, Shake, DVD Studio Pro are also a bit beyond my needs (and wallet). SoundTrack is great, but I wish they would take out that 50 loop limit when searching. They don’t have that limit in GarageBand and I prefer it that way. AppleWorks is in need of a major revamping. I would love to see some kind of professional office suite from Apple, but I can’t see this happening as long as Microsoft continues to upgrade MS Office for the Mac on a regular basis.

Nothing on the PC can compare to the iLife suite. That’s not to say that improvements can’t be made. Starting with iMovie. A second video track would be a great addition, but that might start to cut into FCE sales. iDVD is wonderful. Nothing compares at this price or a lot more. iTunes is free and since it’s there to sell songs and iPods, whatever Apple does to improve it (I can’t think of any) is welcome. iPhoto needs a better editor. Its current crop makes it a fine photo archiver, however I have PhotoShop Elements 2 to use for more serious editing.

GarageBand is the most amazing software to come out of Apple in a long time. That much power for such a small price. I love it (check out my GB tunes at either artist name Guy Serle or under artist name GuyDude. Just posted a new one called “Holiday Star”). Not being a real musician, I can’t comment on GB’s shortcomings in relation to using actual instruments, but I do have one suggestion and here it is. If you re-use loops in a composition, you have to copy and paste the one you want to use from another track. This can sometimes be a pain in the neck if you can’t remember the exact name of the loop. A better solution might be to take a page out of Soundtrack’s features and include a tab to bring up a window that shows all existing loops used so far in a song and the ability to play them in that window. Find it, then drop and drag to a new track. The current workaround is to mark all used loops as “Favorites” and click on that tab in the editor to bring them up. While this works, you need to deselect them after a completed song to start with a clean slate the next time. Soundtrack’s version remembers them for each composition.

Anyway Steve, I hope this finds you well and happy. Save up your voice for the Keynote speech you’ll make next month and give us lots of surprises. Good luck on that Pixar Company. I thought that “The Incredibles” was your best work so far though I don’t know about the new one “Cars”. It looks good, but I can’t figure out what story you’re going to tell. All my best.


PS. Merry ChristHannaKwanzmas and a happy New Year to all you MyMac readers.

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