Judging an iBook by Its Cover
After reading “”Meet the iBook”” (October 1999), I’m more convinced than ever that Apple’s barrel is filling with rotten fruit. Don’t get me wrongas someone who’s been a loyal Macintosh user since the 68020 days, I’m all in favor of customer-focused innovation. But that Fisher-Price look has got to go. I simply can’t imagine walking into a business meeting carrying that thing. I can already hear them: “Where’s your
computer?” or “What a nice purse you have.”
And another thing: at almost 7 pounds, the iBook is going to be a ball and chain to lug around. I wouldn’t carry it to my car, much less across campus or around the world. Since it lacks a touch screen, you can’t even use it to copy your instructor’s drawings or equations from the board. What good is that to a typical engineering, science, or business student? What Apple needs to design is a 2.5-pound cordovan lightning bolt that reads my mind and feels my pain.
When Steve Jobs introduced the iMac, he called it “tomorrow’s technology for $1,299.” The iBook is yesterday’s technology for $1,599. True, the iBook features much of the same technology as the iMacbut a year later, which makes it archaic by computing standards. The iBook falls behind current technology in terms of speed, weight, and graphics acceleration. Granted, these improved features could drive up the price and might be hard to add to a portable computer, but the ability to play video games and watch movies is more appropriate for a consumer-oriented system than for any other model. The one truly innovative feature of the iBookthe AirPortreally makes sense only in a classroom setting. Before the iMac,
just meant “cheap.” Steve Jobs changed all that when he introduced the iMac, which was a consumer model actually designed with specific features appealing to consumers. Now, with the iBook, we are back to the “cheap” definition of the term.
In my opinion, one of the biggest advantages Wintel machines have over Macs is they start up faster. Though the G3 processor has helped some, the Mac is still sluggish. In “”Meet the iBook”,” David Pogue discusses Apple’s new Energy Saver control panel and its option to save current RAM contents. He says that this feature allows for much faster start-up and eliminates the “Welcome to Macintosh” logo and the extensions parade. It seems to me that this would benefit all Mac users, not just iBook users. So, is there any way that I can obtain a copy of the new Energy Saver control panel?
Although we could debate which platform has the speediest start-up (there’s no doubt that Windows-based machines take a lot longer than Macs to shut down), we agree wholeheartedly that the iBook’s “hibernation” feature (Apple hates this term, by the way) would be an excellent addition to all Mac systems. Unfortunately, according to Apple, hibernation requires both special software and special hardware, and the hardware is currently available only on iBooks. So for now, we can only dream.Ed
Forty Bits Bites
Apple’s new AirPort, which received one of
Best of Show awards at Macworld Expo in New York, uses 40-bit RC4-40 encryption for the transmission of data. This concerns me, because if I were to use a 128-bit-encryption browser for, say, online banking, the AirPort’s 40-bit transmission becomes the weak link in the security chain and defeats any efforts to ensure strong security. By today’s standards, 40-bit encryption is obsolete. It can be cracked by a good hacker in a matter of hours, or in seconds if intercepted by a more advanced organization. For my purposes, and for the purposes of anyone who wants to conduct truly secure online communications and commerce, this level of encryption is unacceptable.
In the article “”01/01/00″” (October 1999), Geoff Duncan says, “The original Mac development team chose midnight, January 1, 1904, as the start of the Mac calendarin part because it’s mathematically convenient to have a calendar system start on a leap year, which 1900 was not.”
Am I missing something here? I learned in school that leap years occur every four years. I wasn’t around in 1900, and maybe things were different back then, but if 1904 was a leap year, wasn’t 1900 also a leap year?
We received several letters about this. Because Earth takes a little less than 365.25 days to orbit the Sun, every fourth year is a leap year, except years ending centuries, which are leap years only if they are also evenly divisible by 400. Therefore, 2000 will be a leap year, but 1900 wasn’t and 2100 won’t be.Ed.
In his review of QuickTime 4Pro (
, October 1999), Jim Heid left out any discussion of QuickTime musical instruments. If Apple wants QuickTime to be taken seriously as a MIDI programand it should want thatit needs to release a version of QuickTime that won’t delay when used in a MIDI setup. QuickTime has always delayed when being used by MIDI controllers or programs. There are too many PCs that can be used as sound modules for Apple to ignore this problem.
QuickTime 4 Pro is a real win-ner that deserves more than the 3.5-mouse rating it received in
. For example, in the File menu of QuickTime Pro is the Present Movie command, which gives you the option of displaying full-screen movies. Yes, some clips look a tad grainy, but the
trailer looks brilliant in QuickTime Pro. And a two-minute trailer such as the one for
Shakespeare in Love
is only 5.8MB. That means a single CD can hold 100 minutes of full-screen video.
I Want My ixTV!
Jim Heid ends his review of XLR8’s InterView video-capture card (
, October 1999) by saying, “There’s no cheaper way to get video into a USB-equipped Mac.” That isn’t totally true. I use IXMicro’s ixTV, which fits into a PCI slot, captures video, and costs only $69. It includes a TV tuner in addition to its S-Video and RCA inputs, so you can capture live broadcasts or just watch TV in a window on your screen. And whereas VideoShop’s Capture, bundled with the InterView, can capture video at a maximum resolution of only 320 by 240 pixels, the ixTV card can actually capture 640-by-480 videoa feature that allows full-screen playback. In my opinion, it’s a much better product than the InterView, for a lower price.
Shot Misses Mark
I read with disgust Christopher Breen’s anti-NRA comments in October 1999’s
The Game Room
. It is disappointing that a magazine that professes to “think different” is so quick to jump on the politically correctbut highly misguidedNRA-bashing bandwagon. I do not look to my computer magazines for social and political commentary, especially when the commentary is so sadly lacking in thought and reason.
Please cancel my subscription and refund the balance. I’ll be contributing the money to the NRA.
Rock My World
David Pogue outdid himself with his column “Steven Saves the Mac” (
The Desktop Critic
, October 1999). It’s a masterpiece! Mac users are a unique bunch, possessed of an idealistic devotion to a computing paradigm that seems to go beyond its inherent technological superiority. We hoped for years that someone at the head of Apple would finally get it and realize that our fortunes lie with those who dare to “think different.” Steve Jobs deserves all the credit he gets, and so do you. Thank you for a witty rhyme that was straight from the heart. Your work has earned a place of honor framed on my wall!
A Loan Survivor’s Tale
Apple has a student-loan program that supposedly makes it easy for students to get the Macintosh products they need. The problem is that I don’t know of any students who have actually qualified for these loans.
I’m not saying that these loans are never approved, but maybe Apple’s standards are too high.
One person I know applied for an Apple loan to buy an iBook. The student’s parentwho owns a home and makes well over the $15,000 minimum incomeapplied as a coborrower. The loan was rejected. My friend drove down to a local bank and applied for a bank loan with a slightly better interest rate. That loan was approved the next day.
Maybe Apple’s loan program is more of a marketing scheme than an actual attempt to give poor students access to computers.