Tech Week in Review

Anti-spam victory, divided views on OS X, Rev. R2D2 iMac, free Maya, thoughts on new iMacs and iBook

Victory for Anti-Spam Advocates

In what might be the most overlooked piece of news this week (for obvious reasons), the San Francisco Chronicle has reported that the California State Court of Appeal has "upheld the constitutionality" of a 1998 law regulating UCE. This is A Good Thing™, so you should be very happy to hear this news. As usual, I would encourage anyone interested in fighting spam (that's "spam," not "SPAM," which is a trademark of Hormel) to visit the following Web sites:

OS X Elicits Divided Response

With all the Macworld SF hype, another article that many may have overlooked is Andrew Orlowski's follow-up to last week's piece ranting about Aqua and the general unfriendliness of the GUI in Mac OS X. The Register said the piece "provoked 180 emails in one day," which probably qualifies as a pretty big response. Orlowski links to Charles W. Moore's column on the topic, which I generally agree with (more than I agree with the original, anyway), as well as Dan Gillmor's blog, which also makes some good (although thinly supported) points.

The New iMac, Rev. R2D2

This is just funny.

Alias|Wavefront Announces Free Maya

That's right, the same program that George Lucas and Co. used to create that spectre of the silver screen, Jar-Jar Binks. Okay, so they probably didn't use Maya for that, but they did use Maya for almost all of the buildings, spaceships, cities, landscapes, etc. in Episode II. Now you can be the next George Lucas — or his next employee, anyway.

The publisher of Maya has announced a $7500 price cut. There's a catch, though: you can't save in "professional formats" or use plug-ins, and all images you create will have a watermark on them. Part of me says those are a small tradeoff for a $7500 price cut, but my dark side wonders how hard it would really be to remove the restrictions and turn the program into the real thing. Either way, I think this is another Good Thing™ for the Macintosh.

Insert Obligatory Macworld Commentary Here

I wasn't in San Francisco this week. I sure wish I had been, because not only did I miss out on all the cool stuff at MWSF '02, but I had to finalise my senior thesis and do lots of homework instead. I just get the raw deal all around, I guess.

I can't really say that I'm glad I wasn't there, but I don't think it's such a great loss. Because by golly, the whole iWalk thing just never materialised. And that removable tablet screen with pen input that the new iMac was supposed to have? Stupid Apple couldn't figure out a way to do it. And they've had since, oh, about 1999 to figure it out!

Okay, removing tongue from cheek now. I like the new iMac. I wish there was more freedom of movement in the display, but I think Apple probably had to design it the way it is for maximum durability. Can you imagine how hard it would be to keep ribbon cables running through a full-range ball joint intact? And if you think the Wall Streets have droopy screen hinge problems, well, a ball joint would probably become far looser even faster.

The new iMac seems — at least to me — a lot more competitive than its predecessor. For $100 more than the old 600 MHz CRT model, you get a 700 MHz G4 and a built-in 15" LCD. To look at it another way, you get the low-end G4 Quicksilver with a slightly slower system bus, no expansion slots, and a CD-RW instead of a Combo drive, plus a 15" Studio Display, for $900 less than the Power Mac/Studio Display combination costs.

I applaud Apple's decision to keep the bottom two CRT models around, though I think that adding a CD-RW drive to the 500 MHz model would be an excellent idea. Make the CD-ROM drive a BTO option for $50 less or something, which would be a good incentive for buyers who don't need CD burning capabilities.

I love and hate the new midrange iBook. I love it because I think it's an excellent addition to Apple's lineup. I hate it because now I can't decide which I want more: a 12.1" iBook for $300 less or the 14.1" screen that I have on my Wall Street. (For that matter, I still haven't totally decided whether I want a portable or a desktop for my next Mac — but for what I spent on my Wall Street, I could have a new iMac and a 14.1" iBook with change left over.)


From the "huh-that's-weird" department: Where are the updated Power Macs? I wasn't expecting G5s, but with the 800 MHz iMac powered by the same G4 that's in the Quicksilver models, the Power Mac line is looking just the tiniest bit passé and uncompelling. The same goes for the PowerBook G4.

Look for updates to the PB G4 at Macworld Tokyo (often a preferred launching point for portables, thanks to Japan's enormous appetite for small things), and possibly (probably?) a 1 GHz+ Power Mac G4. Regardless of Apple's Tokyo plans, I don't think there's even a tiny chance that the Power Mac line will make it all the way to Macworld New York in its current form — if Macworld Tokyo isn't the time, then WWDC (or an as-yet-unannounced media event between the two) will be.

Guess that's all for this week. Yay Macworld!

copyright ©2000-2004 by Chris Lawson