Tech Week in Review

CD copy protection, upclocked CPUs, Intel's "concept" PCs, BusinessWeek and Apple, cleaner silicon, USPS and Windows XP, tech hoax, power of AppleScript, and Web resources for Mac users.

When is a CD Not a CD?

When Philips, co-owner (with Sony) of the Compact Disc trademark, says it's not. This might be the biggest blow yet to the copy-protection "features" that major record labels are introducing on their CDs. "Philips [says that the copy-protected discs] must bear warning labels to inform consumers," Reuters says. More power to 'em. I noted this potential conflict before (though not in a column), and I'm glad to see that I wasn't the only one who thought of it.

And When is 500 MHz not 500 MHz?

When Sonnet ships a 466 MHz-labeled CPU in a 500 MHz-clocked upgrade card. Other World Computing broke the story earlier this week, and Sonnet has posted a response. Sonnet's explanation is a very good one, but the reaction to OWC's questioning makes Sonnet look guilty. Your call.

All Hail Jonathan Ive

All you iLamp-haters out there, sit up and take note: it could be a lot worse — just look at the Intel "Concept PCs" referred to in the article (Flash and JavaScript required). I take no responsibility for any damage you might cause to your computer or monitor as a result of seeing this parade of pretenders to the Macintosh style throne.

Speaking of computer design, some undercover photographers have taken some surprisingly clear photos of rejected designs for the new iMac. Again, it could have been a lot worse...

BusinessWeek Redux

Apparently Apple has become the topic of choice over at BusinessWeek, which is running a full-on special dealing with Apple this week. Anyone else think this was done in response to a lot of negative feedback that the Cliff Edwards column got last week?

Cleaner Silicon

Several research groups around the US have been exploring the use of supercritical carbon dioxide for cleaning of silicon wafers used in making microchips. Supercritical CO2 has applications in many areas beyond the microchip industry, probably most notably in dry cleaning, where it has begun to replace the toxic and hazardous chlorinated hydrocarbons that are commonly used now. As a chemist, this is one of those marriages of computers and chemistry that really catches my eye. Maybe now we'll have someplace to put all that CO2 that we keep generating.

No Wonder the Mail is Slow!

And you thought it was anthrax screening. MacInTouch reader Cliff Crouch has discovered the real reason: The USPS is endorsing Windows XP.

Slow mail? Probably because they keep having to reboot the sorting machines. And the cash registers. And the mail trucks. And the delivery drivers. And . . . well, you get the idea.

Like Cliff noted, this sure is a weird coincidence — the US Postal Service, a government-subsidized entity, is giving away demonstrations of the operating system that caused Microsoft to be found in violation of US antitrust laws. This same government's Department of Justice recently curled up in a ball and hid when the opportunity to punish Microsoft for breaking the law came about, and now the Postal Service is giving out XP demos for free? And I still have to pay 34 cents to mail my grandma a letter? What's wrong with this picture? Why not charge Microsoft a $100/demo subsidy to keep the kiosks around and cut postage rates? We all know Microsoft can afford it.

Meanwhile, the American Antitrust Institute has filed suit against both Microsoft and the DoJ, and Joe Wilcox has written up a commentary for about the Netscape/AOL-Time Warner suit against Microsoft.

Free Lunch! Step Right Up! Get Your Free Lunch Here!

Wait. A free lunch? No such thing, right? Well, there is if you believe this story. If the Irish inventor isn't full of it, the world's fossil fuel problems are solved and we can all quit worrying about global warming. If, as I suspect, this is merely a lot of smoke and mirrors, well, the science/technology sector needed something to get all in a tizzy about after Ginger (Flash enhanced) turned out to be an $8,000, well, scooter. Call me when you've solved cold fusion, and we'll tip back a pint o' Guinness or lift a glass o' Bailey's together. I'll even buy.

E... T... Phone... Home...

Anyone who has ever pooh-poohed the capabilities of AppleScript should read this story on MacScripter. Enterprising shareware authors, take note: I think you've just found a killer shareware idea. Make it an invisible extension and have it activate on startup if the owner doesn't perform some "routine" action. Start recording all keystrokes and wait until either a LAN or PPP connection is initiated. When this occurs, the Mac should either 1) start sending data packets to a known host, along with the keystroke record, or 2) wait until the PPP connection is closed, which initiates a timer. After a set period of inactivity, or after a certain time of day, attempt to "phone home," preferably a number with caller ID. Any more brainstorms or modifications? Let me know.

Web Resources for Mac Heads

While none of the sites mentioned in Jim Heid's LA Times article will likely be new to most readers, it's nice to see them getting mainstream press coverage. Congratulations to the publishers of the sites listed, including Low End Mac's own Dan Knight.

See you in the funny papers. Or, uh, next Friday, since Bill Watterson isn't planning a return anytime soon.

copyright ©2000-2004 by Chris Lawson