As you may have heard, areas of San Francisco’s South Bay and coast lost their landline, cell phone, and Internet connectivity because an individual or individuals unknown deliberately sliced four fiber optic cables in San Jose, California. This action (currently termed “vandalism”), in addition to unplugging over 50,000 area residents, caused many businesses to shut down and threatened lives because 911 services were out for the better part of the day.
This was a serious business, and my hope is that whoever thought this one up will spend the most productive years of a lifetime in a cramped jail cell mulling over the consequences of their decision. AT&T is posting a $250,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the perpetrator(s). In a tight economy I can’t think of a more worthwhile way to make a buck.
Now, let’s talk about me (because, as my family and friends routinely remind me, it’s always about me).
Microsoft has really been pushing its “Apple Tax” marketing message. First we had the latest round of “I’m a PC”ads. Then we had Steve Ballmer claiming that, in the current economic climate, it makes no sense to pay a premium for an Apple logo. And now we’ve got a marketing brief disguised as a whitepaper from analyst Roger Kay, entitled “What Price Cool?” (which you can read in PDF form).
The gist of this marketing push: “Apple computers are more expensive than Windows machines because, well, hey, wait a minute—why should you pay more for a Mac?”
The other day, we published two cost comparisons between Mac laptops and Windows notebooks, written by my PC World colleague James Martin. Rather than configuring Windows computers to match the specs of a particular MacBook or MacBook Pro, James picked two price points—$1,000 and $2,000—to see what your money could get you from HP and Dell. It’s an interesting take on the price-comparison genre, and one that perhaps better reflects how people actually shop: with a set budget in mind.
I’ve been critical of many “cost comparison” articles in the past, noting that they seldom compare comparable computers and that they often leave out important differences, but I thought James’ articles were largely fair. (And laptop comparisons tend to be more sound than comparisons of desktop models, since it’s difficult to put together your own notebook from parts—you’re limited to buying the computer from a well-known vendor.) In both the $1,000 comparison and the $2,000 comparison, James found that you can get better specs and more features with a Windows laptop, although the Macs still have a lot of appeal. But is that the whole story?
The little Inspector panel here in my word processor reports that this question is only 63% rhetorical (good God, is there anything that Scrivener  can’t do?). I have a good half-dozen working computers in my office and there are times when bringing you a column is like getting a sack of mail from Plum Creek, Nebraska to Sacramento, California. I ride one computer until it collapses or shies up lame. Then I jump off, grab my mochilla from my exhausted mount, and jump onto the computer that’ll carry me for the next ten miles or so.
Generally I keep this up until my work is done, or I run out of working computers. Some days, I get to go to the movies at one in the afternoon.
Everywhere you look, businesses are discovering how social networking — Twitter presences, Facebook accounts and more — are effective ways to reach customers. But companies that start using social networks as ways to spam or troll for new business ought to be put in their place, and right quick. Case in point: MacHeist.
I’ve been using Twitter for a while, and have amassed a few hundred people whose Tweets I follow. They’re professional colleagues, friends, people who I know, and some relative strangers who say witty or insightful things — the reasons I follow people on Twitter are varied. But one way or the other, they’re all people with whom I share common interests or some kind of connection.
In the past day, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen this Tweet:
Apple’s MobileMe certainly had its growing pains when it launched last summer, but the online collection of syncing services has matured since then. MobileMe has definitely become an integral part of my computing experience.
I have been a steady user of Apple’s online services since January 13, 2000. That’s the day that Apple launched iTools, a collection of apps and services the company released to capitalize on the then-new fad of hosted services. With iCards, Web page hosting, e-mail and storage, iTools didn’t let you do a lot, but it was a window into where Apple would go in years to come.
Of course, iTools would morph into .Mac before becoming MobileMe with the release of the iPhone last July. Even .Mac gave us a glimpse into the future of what the service would become—iCal sharing, backup and IMAP e-mail for all users that paid the $99 a year fee.
I popped in on the Photoshop World conference this week in Boston. If nothing else, my day trip to the event gave me a good sense of what Macworld Expo is doing right as a trade show—and what it can be doing better.
Photoshop World is the National Association of Photoshop Professionals’ (NAPP’s) regular gathering of members, who engage in several days of intensive training and workshops to get the most out of the creative tools they depend on to make a living. The event features more than 40 instructors leading more than 100 classes and includes many well-known names in the world of photography, authors, and trainers.
The Boston event takes place in the Hynes Convention Center, site of the last Macworld Conference & Expo in Boston back in 2004. The scale of the Photoshop show is smaller than Macworld Expo but much more focused—it very specifically handles creative professionals only. And Photoshop World is not open to the general public—pretty much everyone who comes is a NAPP member.