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Pride Gulp

Swallowed my pride and bought an Air. It was cheaper than the other options and people I respect are happy with theirs. And it’s nice. But the OS is as quirky as any Windows machine. EG: no apparent way to turn off system-wide spellchecking without some system-level hack.  in Pages, wherever you open a document, from whatever folder, the save prompt won’t, by default, be in that folder.  to use the App Store the first time you may need to log in and out again, despite it registering and displaying your credit card details and other account information correctly. No error message appears; just nothingContinue readingPride Gulp

Still Sneaky After All These Years

I still retain the capacity to get bummed out by the intrusiveness of software from companies you’d think would be trying to make us happy these days, not make us madder. My friend Scotty, the Winpatrol watchdog, has been doing a great job of keeping an eye on these things. The culprits either try to change file associations or add a program to the boot sequence, without telling us. Some recent examples: Windows Live Mail, without me doing anything at all, suddenly tried to wrest control of my emails by grabbing the extension EML from Thunderbird: This was unconnected to anything I was doing, orContinue readingStill Sneaky After All These Years

The Leopard’s Spot (On)

Just gotten back from a demo of the new version of Mac’s operating system, Mac OS X Leopard (must confess I don’t like the names. It’s slightly better than Vista, but still a bit lame in my view.) But that’s not the point. I arrived halfway through the demo and so missed a lot of the stuff, but, still. Wow. There’s something about Mac software that makes you go ‘ooo’ even when you don’t really want to. I won’t bore you with details, but watching it unfold made me think a few things: Rarely is there anything startlingly new here. It’s intuitive, obvious, like allContinue readingThe Leopard’s Spot (On)

The Death of Writing

James Fallows points out that not everybody back in 1980 believed the computer would replace the typewriter as a writing implement, and that his prediction that the device would be useful incurred the wrath of, among others, the late David Halberstam. James offered to write some articles on a computer, some on a typewriter, and offer a prize to anyone who could tell the difference. No-one took him up. I recall Bruce Chatwin saying that he could always tell which books had been written on a word processor and which hadn’t. And, funnily enough, I disagree with James’ assertion that: As is obvious to everyone now,Continue readingThe Death of Writing

Foiling EMI

Further to my rant yesterday about digital rights management, my friend Mark tells me that getting around the Coldplay X&Y copy protection is easy — just rip it on a Mac. He’s right, at least for me: Works like a dream, after no joy at all on two ThinkPads. This may not be true with all copies of the CD. I bought mine in Hong Kong in 2005, although it appears to be imported from Europe. A piece on ConsumerAffairs says the “CD’s restrictions also prevent it from being played or copied on Macintosh PCs.” Some folk reported problems playing it on their Macs. HopefullyContinue readingFoiling EMI

Directory of RSI Software

This is the first in a number of posts about RSI, or Repetitive Strain Injury, the subject of this week’s column, out tomorrow. Here is a collection of software designed to ease RSI. RSI software tries to help in a number of ways: working out how long you’ve been at the keyboard and reminds you to take breaks; suggesting exercises for you to perform while you’re taking those breaks; records macros (shortcuts) to specific tasks you do a lot so you don’t have to use the keyboard as much (especially keystroke combinations); reduces mouse usage by allowing you to control the mouse from the keyboardContinue readingDirectory of RSI Software

Podcasting Is Big, Led By Mac Lovers

Podcasting is big. Well, not as big as paying bills online, but almost as big as blogs. According to Nielsen//NetRatings (PDF file), 6.6 percent of the U.S. adult online population are downloading audio podcasts. That’s more than 9 million people. But in case you get all excited about that, compare it with viewing and paying bills online (51.6 percent) or online job hunting, (24.6 percent). Still it’s bigger than I thought. Videocasting is also popular, at about 4 percent of the population, which is slightly less than the blogging population (4.8 percent) and a touch larger than the online dating population (3.9 percent). Most of theseContinue readingPodcasting Is Big, Led By Mac Lovers

Apple and Google AdWords

Further to my piece about Apple going after web sites using “iPod” somewhere in their name, is the company Apple going after third party developers using Google AdWords? A piece in TidBITS (“Apple Cracks Down on Google AdWords”) paints a worrying picture of trademark protection gone mad: some recent unsettling events indicate that Apple may in fact be moving in the direction of preventing third-parties from using Apple trademarks in advertising. Last week, I received a confusing email message from Google AdWords Support, telling me that they had “disapproved” several of the ads I placed for “Take Control of Mac OS X Backups” because theContinue readingApple and Google AdWords

Apple, Nano, and the Cost of Silence

It’s been nearly a week since the first stories about problems with the Apple iPod Nano screen started to surface, and, according to The Register, they’re spreading: More importantly, the post on Apple’s discussion boards discussing the issue has grown from 188 posts to 583 (at last count), and now includes people who have cancelled their orders. Ooooh dear. Indeed, the screen-scratching problems don’t seem to be the only ones with the Nano. Some people have been complaining about wholesale screen failures and others about the battery life, which they say doesn’t match the claimed 14 hours, even when you follow Apple’s instructions (backlight off,Continue readingApple, Nano, and the Cost of Silence

Another Kind of Portable Device: The SoulPad

ZDNet reports on an interesting tool being developed by IBM — the SoulPad: The SoulPad could let users carry their computer’s data, applications and personal settings on their mobile phone or digital music player Researchers at IBM are testing software that would let you tote your home or office desktop around on an iPod or similar portable device, so that you could run it on any PC. The virtual computer user environment setup is called SoulPad, and consumers install it from an x86-based home or office PC. SoulPad uses a USB or FireWire connection to access the network cards for connecting to the Internet, theContinue readingAnother Kind of Portable Device: The SoulPad

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