Rain and more rain! We were spared from the flooding that hammered our neighbors to the south but it has been raining steadily for the last two weeks. The Mad River is high and it is raining heavily today. We did get a slight break in the weather yesterday as Hapy and I took Artie out on the Killington Golf Course to do his performance review. (Ten years for Art!) As we headed down Route 100 it was raining but as we hit Rochester the sun started to peak out and we had a great round of golf (the weather, not the play!). Then on the way home it started to rain again. I had a meeting in Burlington later that day and on the way home I ran into a lightning storm like none that I have seen. There were repeated lightning strikes, some of them big horizontal bolts and others flashing to the ground on either side of my car as I drove. The flashes blinded me and some of them seemed to leave crackling embers of burning air.
One thing about all this rain is that the plants are growing fast. All of my apple trees are covered with blossoms, so unless we have a late season frost we might actually get some apples this year. Then again, I was listening to the weather forecast this morning and we have a cold front coming in on Saturday and they had the nerve to mention “snow” in mountain areas for Sunday night. Unfortunately, whenever they say mountain snow, the micro-climate at my house dictates that even if no one else gets snow, we will! I hope this weather pattern clears up before my traditional Memorial Day ride to Maine.
I read an interesting report from the ChangeWave Alliance, a network of 7,500 highly qualified business, technology, and medical professionals in leading companies of select industries-credentialed experts who spend their everyday lives working on the front line of technological change. ChangeWave surveys its Alliance members on a range of business and investment research and intelligence topics, collects feedback from them electronically, and converts the information into proprietary quantitative and qualitative reports.
They issued a report about Apple that indicates a “huge” increase in Apple Mac sales based upon the transition to the Intel chip and Boot Camp software. I think that they are correct and I can confirm their findings at least by the anecdotal experiences we have at Small Dog Electronics. I was at the doctor’s office the other day and got to talking about the Mac. He had switched to PCs but has fond memories of his PowerBook Duo, saying it was the best computer he had ever owned. When I told him about the new MacBooks and Boot Camp, I could see the wheels spinning and I’m sure he’ll be visiting our store soon. Twenty-five percent of the ChangeWave Alliance members surveyed said that Boot Camp made them more likely to buy an Apple computer in the next six months and only 2 percent said that it would be less likely.
don @ smalldog.com
All About the All-New, Superfast, Do-Everything-out-of-the-Box MacBook by Ed @ smalldog.com
After months of speculation, the replacement for the G4 iBook has arrived. Expectations for the new machine were extremely high, and there were concerns that the eventual iBook replacement wouldn’t live up to the hype. In fact, the MacBook blows way past the hype. This is a bona fide smash hit of a computer—almost everything one would want in a portable consumer computer is found in the MacBook. Rather than an update of the iBook, this is a completely new design, with all-new features and capabilities not found in any other similarly priced machine.
Several readers have pointed us to this link, showing that the MacBook is cheaper than similarly configured Dell:
The MacBook is based on the Intel Core Duo, which means it is like getting two processors on a single chip. This is the same exact chip found in the original MacBook Pro. Speed tests around the web show this to be an extremely capable processor, exceeding many of the capabilities of the G4 and the lower-end G5 IBM processors (which, of course, are already quite speedy). The MacBook is currently the smallest computer using the Core Duo chip. It’s 20% thinner than the 12- and 14-inch iBooks. Despite its larger display, the MacBook weighs only 0.3 pounds more than the 12-inch iBook. Its total weight with battery is only 5.2 pounds.
The MacBook can use up to two gigabytes of PC5300 SO DIMM RAM. RAM should be installed in pairs in the MacBook for best graphics performance. The MacBook uses speedy 2.5-inch SATA hard drives, the same as the MacBook Pro. You can install up to a 120 GB drive in the MacBook. Here is a link to MacWorld demonstrating how easy it is to upgrade the RAM and hard drive in a MacBook. Our techs will appreciate this, as it is bit of chore to upgrade the hard drive in the G3 and G4 iBook.
The MacBook uses a brand-new keyboard design, with lower-profile keys integrated from inside the case. These should be much more durable than the keys on the iBook, which could occasionally pop off. People will either love or hate the keyboard; I think it looks really cool, and it should be extremely durable.
All MacBooks have a 13.3-inch “glossy” widescreen display with 1280 x 800 resolution. The glossy aspect of the display is another love-it- or-hate-it feature. The vast majority of people love the bright, saturated colors provided by the glossy displays. However, they can pick up a little side glare in bright sun, and some graphics professionals can’t rely on the colors provided by the glossy display.
There is a mini-DVI port on the MacBook, which is a huge upgrade from the mini-VGA on the iBook. You can drive an external monitor up to 1920 x 1200 pixels, which includes Apple’s 23-inch studio display. The MacBook supports native dual-displays, instead of the video mirroring found on the iBook. There is a 1/8-inch built-in audio port on the MacBook, allowing both digital and analog input and output.
All MacBooks come with the built-in iSight camera, an Apple Remote with Front Row software, AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth built in, as well as OS X and iLife 06. There is no built-in modem—if you need a modem, Apple’s external USB version is $49. The MacBooks also come standard with a long-life battery (up to 6 hours), and the awesome 85w MagSafe A/C power supply. The 60W MagSafe Power Adapter from a MacBook can be used to power a MacBook Pro, but because it is lower wattage (60W instead of 85W), it will not CHARGE the battery in a MacBook Pro. (This is identical to the way iBook and PowerBook AC adapters interoperated with each other.)
The MacBook starts at $1099 for a 1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo with 512 MB of RAM, a 60 GB drive, and the Combo drive for burning DVDs and playing CDs. For $1299 you can get it with a 2 GHz Core Duo and the DVD-burning SuperDrive. You have to pay $1499 to get the machine in matte black. The black model comes with an 80 GB drive and the SuperDrive as standard equipment.
The only thing you can’t currently do with the MacBook is run the current version of Final Cut Studio—the 64 MB integrated graphics card is not currently supported by Motion or Aperture. You need a MacBook Pro or PowerBook for that. However, the new version of Final Cut Express 3.5 will run beautifully on the MacBook.
The MacBook can run Windows XP under the Boot Camp beta. XP should run extremely well on this system, as it has on all other Intel Macs. It’s now possible to buy an Intel Core Duo laptop from Small Dog that ships with both Mac OS X and Windows XP installed, starting at only $1219. It’s almost like getting two powerful computers for the price of one!
Occasionally readers send in emails or articles that simply have to be published. The following was written by a person who works at Apple, Inc. It’s really great, and I highly recommend reading it. Thanks again for sending this in!
I have been a loyal reader of Kibbles and Bytes and think you guys put out a great publication. I think your store has some wonderful things and I think you guys are a great place for all mac enthusiasts. I have yet to subscribe to your podcast, and I need to do that.
I figured I needed to contribute for your next edition of Kibbles & Bytes to add a tidbit that a number of people may not actually know. I work for Apple doing Tech Support for them. What a lot of people may not know is that they may not know that there is a specific group in Apple (the one I work for) that started up last January that specifically deals with all the iApps and a few pieces of the OS. We deal with the five pieces of the iLife suite (iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, GarageBand, and iWeb; note: iTunes is no longer part of iLife, it’s now its own app, and that’s handled by the people who handle iPod questions), the iWork suite (Keynote and Pages), and then deal with iCal, iSync, Front Row, and Photo Booth in the OS. We deal with all the questions of things that aren’t working with the programs, report any bugs that are found, and correct any errors. We normally try to refer any “how-to” questions to our help menus and knowledge base since we just don’t have the bandwidth to be able to sit and hold hands walking people through things that we do have documented that people do have already in front of them. But, we also do what we can to make sure that we do point our customer to the right path so that if we are pointing them to self-help resources, we want to make sure that resource is there and that they are accessing it correctly.
If we could give some pieces of advice to our customers, we would say the following. First, NEVER DO ANYTHING TO YOUR IPHOTO LIBRARY FOLDER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Well, let me take that back, you can always copy it and back it up. But, other than that, don’t touch it. If you want to delete photos, do it through iPhoto. If you’re trying to attach photos to an e-mail message, do it through iPhoto. If you’re trying to attach photos through a web browser or upload them onto a site, export your photos into a folder onto your desktop and then attach them or upload them. But, whatever you do, don’t go into your iPhoto library, delete photos from there, or go in there and, because you don’t like how it’s organized, go in there and change the organization. It is organized a certain way for iPhoto, and if you go and change it, it will completely screw up your iPhoto library, and on our end as techs, we’re going to have to have you move your library out, create a new one, and reimport your photos, and have you rebuild all your albums, reorganize all your photos, and do a lot more work than if you did it through the iPhoto interface. I promise you that if you delete the photo in iPhoto, put it in the iPhoto trash, and empty the trash, the photo will be gone. So, avoid the iPhoto library at all costs.
Second, in almost every program, under the menu next to the blue apple that has the name of the program next to it, there’s an item that says “provide ________ feedback”. Take advantage of it. We truly treasure and listen to our customers’ feedback. You don’t know how many changes to our programs come because of our customers’ feedback. Changes that happen don’t just happen from a bunch of engineers that come up with their own ideas, they come from our customers. I mean, so many of our customers use this so dedicatedly for so many different reasons, both personal and professional. So, if you think there are things that you think should be changed about something, send it to us. Either look for that feedback link under the menu, or go to our website at www.apple.com/feedback and send us something.
Finally, know your self help resources. We refer our customers to three places to find answers. First, our help menus. The help menus are a great resource that really explain very well the very basics of how to do simple things in programs. We use them all the time to point our customers in the right direction. They should always be the first place a customer should look if they have a question about “how to” do something in any of our programs. The second place is our knowledge base, or kbase. Our knowledge base, on top of containing all the help articles you can find in the help menus, contain articles that we post on various fixes and issues to things that we are seeing and hearing from our engineers, customers, and tech support agents. So, the “bug” you think you found might be something we already know about and already have documentation on in our knowledge base. Last, when all else fails, a great place to look is our discussion boards. Our discussion boards are a great resource because it allows you to talk to other mac gurus. Normally, our computers come with 90 of phone support, and you can purchase AppleCare (which extends your phone support to 3 years) within the first year. If you are out of your 90 days and cannot purchase or are beyond the 3 years if you had AppleCare, an alternative to the $49 charge we would charge for support is to use our discussion boards, and this is something that we do offer and suggest to our customers over the phone. So, take advantage of your resources. They are there, they have lots of knowledge, and they should be able to answer your question 90-95% of the time. One piece of advice, though, don’t treat it like Ask Jeeves. . . use short keywords, not long questions. If you want to know how to burn your iMovie in iDVD, don’t go to the knowledge base and type in there “How do I burn my movie into idvd”. I would simply just put “imovie iDVD” and let it come up with a number of things. It’s the thing of it’s better to have too much than too little. It’s better to sift through a little too much than too little. So, stay simple, stay short.
Oh, one more thing (Steve Jobs’ famous line), if you call Tech Support wanting to know about the latest and greatest stuff right after it’s released, we know just as much as you do, and we know about releases right when you do. Sometimes, you know about releases before we do because while you’re listening to Steve Jobs talking about the release of our new product, we’re still on the phones. We can’t shut the call center down to listen to him (BOY do we wish we could). 😉 So, if we don’t have all the answers about the newest product right away in tech support, understand that they tell us absolutely nothing until it’s released. Once it’s released, then we get flooded with stuff, but we’re trying to read info while still trying to do our job. So, understand that we won’t have all answers right away, but we will do our best to still get as many answers as we can.
Keep up the good work. Look forward to your future editions.
iLife ’06 Gets Upgrades by Don @ smalldog.com
It was a busy week for Apple. Apple started out by quietly revising the iLife applications. The most significant upgrades were to iWeb, which I will talk about in a minute, but the other applications were also upgraded. The updates are available through the software update system preference. You must already have iLife ’06 installed to take advantage of these upgrades.
iDVD 6.0.2: Resolves issues with integration with the other iLife applications, importing of legacy projects, and some theme-related issues. It also addresses a number of other minor issues. iDVD 6.0.2 update addresses issues with burning some 16:9 projects and improves overall stability.
iPhoto 6.0.3: Resolves several minor issues with playing shared slideshows in Front Row.
iMovie HD 6.0.2: Addresses issues with Ken Burns rendering performance, scrubber bar editing performance, theme image quality, PAL audio, and displaying iLife Sound Effects automatically in its iLife Media Browser. It also improves overall stability and addresses a number of other minor issues.
iWeb 1.1: iWeb 1.1 update adds two new features for .Mac subscribers and addresses a variety of usability and performance issues.
Comment support for blogs and podcasts (.Mac published sites only) Blog search support (.Mac published sites only) Usability improvements to themes and templates Image management fixes to improve site performance Other bug fixes and usability improvements.
Of these, there are three improvements that are very significant. The first is the addition of comment support. This only works if you have .Mac, but we all have that, right? If you have iLife ’06 and do not have a .Mac subscription, you are missing some of the richest and most powerful features of iLife. One of the drawbacks to using iWeb for a blog was the lack of comment capability. What fun is it to have a blog for all of your great thoughts if your friends cannot comment? Apple solved this problem not only by activating comments but in doing so in a manner that is very powerful.
It took me a little while to figure out how to activate comments on my personal blog <http://web.mac.com/donmayer>. I’ve been gradually putting up all of the soapboxes and other writings that I have done over the past few years and I like the feedback, give and take, and community that discussion of the issues generates. To activate comments, you must choose the “Inspector” from the toolbar on the bottom of the iWeb screen. Choosing the Blog tab will give you a couple of new options. The first is whether to allow comments with an option to also allow attachments. You can set this flag for any blog entry. I decided to allow comments on any blog entry so I just selected the entire blog category and allowed comments.
One of the dangers of having an open-comment blog is that automated spambots will eventually find it and start posting crap. Apple avoided this by providing verification for posts. You have one of those little boxes with numbers and letters to enter that people can read but machines have trouble with. I like people-only schemes and find it a little like science fiction that we have to protect ourselves from machines by coming up with things that only real humans can do.
You may want to manage the comments of others because of inappropriate, off-topic, or otherwise bad posts. Apple again has made that easy. If you surf to your own blog and have comments, there is a little lock icon. If you click it, it will ask you for your user name and password and you can then delete the offending posts.
The other check box in the Inspector will put a search box on your blog. This will allow users to search your blog entries. It works great—very fast. The other big change to iWeb is under the hood. This is a change in how your changes are uploaded to .Mac. In the past, this was a long process that locked you out of working in iWeb until it was complete. Not only that, but it seemed to load the entire site to .Mac, not just the changes you may have made. It’s smarter now and will just upload the changes, making it a lot faster, and it also releases you and lets you work in iWeb while it loads in the background.
One less-documented change is that it is now possible to change the default location of your Domain file. All the information iWeb needs to create your websites is in one file called “Domain.” You can copy this file to another computer so that, for example, you can work on your site from home and at work. Beginning with iWeb 1.1, you can select a new default location for your Domain file. You do this by moving the Domain file to the location you want (i.e., Family, Business, etc.) and then rather than clicking on the iWeb application to open iWeb, you click on the Domain file you wish to use. While this does not solve the problem of the difficulty of working on iWeb on multiple computers, it does make it easier. You just have to copy that Domain file to a flash drive and carry it to the other Mac. One thing to keep in mind is that you can only publish one Domain on .Mac, so all of your sites that you wish to publish to .Mac must reside in that single Domain file.
Further details on changing the Domain file location can be found at:
Saft Makes Safari Better! By Don @ smalldog.com
I was surfing around looking for something else when I bumped into Saft. Saft is a clever Safari plug-in by Hao Li that adds some handy features to Safari such as ad blocking, draggable tabs, sidebar, searchable history and bookmarks, full-screen browsing, type-ahead searching, customized Google Search field, URL shortcuts, and kiosk mode. One of the handiest features that I use is that Saft will remember which windows were open when you quit Safari and reopen those windows when you launch it again.
You can download a fully functional timed version of Saft at:
It is a single-session demo, but that’s all it took for me! I immediately went to pay the $12 shareware donation and got the full version. It is an essential addition to Safari!
Here’s a list of the features of Saft:
Ad/banner blocking with simple URL pattern matching Add bookmark folder here and add bookmark here in every bookmark menus Always open browser window in tab Auto hide Downloads window Auto save and restore opened browser windows at quitting and start Block animation Block HTML refreshing in front-most browser Block images and plugins Bookmark search Bookmark this group of tabs Consolidate browser windows Control-1 to 9 to popup bookmark menu or open bookmark Control-drag page Crash protection Customizable HTTP timeout Customized Google search field Do not allow scripts to bring tab to front Drag tab buttons to add the URL string to other applications Enter/ctrl-enter to go to next/previous links (like in Google) Export Selected Bookmarks Extended search from contextual menu External text editor support for TextArea Focus the last selected tab when closing the current one Full-screen browsing Growl support History search Install debug menu Kiosk mode Max screen for normal browser windows One-page PDF export Open tab in new window Option to use Aqua interface Original URLs in Finder comments of downloaded files, exported PDFs and saved pages Save and load browser windows Separator in bookmark menu Sidebar Sort bookmarks in every bookmark menus Stop download warnings Tab rearranging with drag and drop Type-ahead searching Undo support for closing tab Undo support in TextField URL shortcuts URL traverse with return-key
Why Every Small Business Should Use a Mac (and why Apple should abandon their new TV ads) Dawn @ smalldog.com
As Don mentioned, I’m leaving Small Dog to start my own business, Voodoo Marketing. Over the past few weeks, I’ve had conversations with several small business owners. Out of ten or so prospects, all but one of the businesses are using PCs and Windows.
I’ve noticed one thing that all these folks have in common: they haven’t added much new software to their computer. The computer has changed little since they brought it home, other than some documents accumulating and perhaps some pictures. If they bought a scanner, they may have Adobe Photoshop Elements, but that’s about it. They are basically going through life with nothing but Microsoft products— Word, Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, and Explorer plus other Microsoft products for dealing with sounds, images, video, etc. This is a full arsenal of software, but it provides a very limited experience.
Why aren’t these Windows users going out and getting cool software and doing more neat things with their computer? Again, I’m going to go back to the necessary evil idea. The business owner isn’t going to put more money into the computer because to them it’s a typewriter and email transmitter. Yes, there are thousands of shareware and freeware titles out there but if you had a Windows computer and were completely afraid of viruses, would you go looking for software online?
The biggest reason to use Macs instead of Windows for a small business is, of course, the virus issue. To be honest, we Mac folks don’t even know the pain of experiencing a crippling virus, so it is hard for me to understand how devastating this might be.
These folks are also afraid of “screwing up” their computer. So instead of turning their computer into a useful tool, they avoid making any changes. Rather than thinking, “How can I get my computer to do this for me?” they think, “It will cost me too much to hire someone to set my computer up to do this.” From the start, they think that they’ll screw something up. Of course, they may hire someone because they don’t have the time or interest to figure it out, but that’s not what I’m seeing happen. ( I have also seen a few Macintosh users who won’t try something new because it may mess up their perfectly balanced system, but this is usually a holdover from something bad happening in OS 7.)
Another problem these users face is crashing. Let’s face it, this is a frustrating waste of time. I haven’t had a serious crash since Mac OS X 10.3 came out. In fact, I haven’t restarted my home iMac in months (or at least since my last software update). This is just something to which I’ve grown accustomed. My computer is up and running constantly, sleeping only when it is not at my beck and call.
But how does all of this explain why Apple should abandon their current TV ads? If I’ve met ten business owners in two weeks who are all experiencing the same issues, think how many are out there. Apple’s current TV ads with two people pretending to be computers aren’t addressing these issues in a way to which real people can relate. Apple was bang on with their old Switcher campaign, but they are way off with the latest “Two Guys” campaign.
With Intel Macs blurring the differences between hardware, Apple needs to hammer home the things that make using a Mac different from a user standpoint: everyone can use them from scientists to kids, and they are rock solid. Two guys pretending to be computers just aren’t going to do that.
Here are the specials for this week, valid through May 25th or while on-hand supplies last. Be sure to use the wag URL to get this special pricing.
MacBook 13-inch 1.83GHz 512/60/combo/AP/BT white, Windows XP home installed, FREE shipping, $1219!
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16680/mymac
15-inch PowerBook G4/1.67GHz 512/80/SuperDrive, plus 1 GB RAM and PowerBook MacCase – $1699
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16661/mymac
Men’s XL Burton Shield iPod Jacket – now only $199
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16682/mymac
Men’s L Burton Shield iPod Jacket – now only $199
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16683/mymac
Men’s M Burton Shield iPod Jacket – now only $199
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16685/mymac
Men’s S Burton Shield iPod Jacket – now only $199
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16684/mymac
Men’s XL Burton Audex iPod Bluetooth Jacket – now only $329
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16687/mymac
Men’s L Burton Audex iPod Bluetooth Jacket – now only $329
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16688/mymac
Men’s M Burton Audex iPod Bluetooth Jacket – now only $329
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16689/mymac
Men’s S Burton Audex iPod Bluetooth Jacket – now only $329
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16690/mymac
iPod 20gb (color display) with free shipping – $225!
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16694/mymac
Apple iPod 20gb with Color Display with Free Kensington Case – $195!
Apple iPod 40gb Clickwheel with Dock, free shipping – $195!
Another rainy weekend is coming up. We hope there will be some breaks in the weather so we can get outside a bit.
Hey, have you checked out the Small Dog blog lately? We have a lot of the Small Dog folks posting on a daily basis. We’ve even had a few posts from Hapy! Check it out and let me know what you think:
Thanks for reading Kibbles & Bytes and have a great weekend!
Your Kibbles & Bytes team,
Don, Dawn, Ed, and Holly