Tech Week in Review

Software piracy, FTC vs. spam, OS X browser reviews, Cult of Mac, AOL + Apple?, HTML compatibility, IBM's new minimicrocomputer, CDs and copy protection, the Apple of their eye, and the ReviewBoard TiBook review snafu.

Four quickies to start you off this week:

Quit Tryin' To Be All Sneaky-Like

Ambrosia Software has very intriguing piece on shareware piracy. Thou shalt register your shareware legally and quit trying to pirate codes from HackUser or C&N.

The Feds Don't Like Canned Meat Either

The FTC is cracking down on deceptive spam. You know, the "GET A MILLION DOLLAR REWARD! Just send us your credit card number so we can steal... I mean, uh, verify your eligibility" stuff. Now if someone in Congress would just stick his neck out a bit and get a real anti-spam bill drafted, we might be making some progress.

OS X Browser Fix

Here's your OS X browser review fix until I can get the various OS X browsers reviewed myself.

The Cult of Mac

Wired has a neat little Mac-only news section called The Cult of Mac. There are some pretty nifty articles there, so have a gander and see what you think.

Apple + AOL = Microsoft Killer?

Well, at least this guy thinks so. Merger? Nah, but partnership would be nice. Unfortunately, it would probably also mean the end of Office for the Mac, which, as anyone exposed to corporate America knows, would mean the end of the Mac's recent resurgence in the business world.

Let's just allow the unofficial deals and partnerships to continue so Microsoft will still make Office. (Apple, get AOL-Time Warner to make a better Netscape.) Of course, Apple could go out on a limb, turn AppleWorks into a true professional-level Office competitor (think "AppleOffice Pro" or something), make it fully Office-compatible by using the same file format, and dispense with all the problems of bug-ridden Microsoftian code.

It's a nice thought, anyway.

My Web Page is More Compatible Than Yours

You HTML authors out there will appreciate this article on designing good Web pages. In particular, it deals with those tricky DOCTYPE declarations and "WYSIWYG" editors — probably more accurately termed WYSMBWYGIYEHTPCTLRIIEOMN: "what you see might be what you get if your editor happens to produce code that looks right in IE or maybe Netscape."

WYSIWYG editors are great for getting a page laid out initially, but they still don't remove the need for a good text editor (like BBEdit) and something like HTML Tidy (which is available in plug-in form for BBEdit). Even Dreamweaver generates very messy code by default, leaving lots of room for optimization, and other editors are generally worse.

IBM is iWalking

Okay, so it runs WinXP, and it's only a prototype right now, but we all know IBM makes G3s as well, and the AIM alliance has access to all the Motorola embedded PPC technology, so here's some more grist for the rumor mills. Stripped down OS X? Heck, with an iPod-sized hard disk, 256 MB RAM, and a 1 GHz embedded G3, there's no need to strip it down. I'm still wondering what CPU was used in the prototype — an Intel or AMD chip would run far too hot for such a small space, and porting XP to run on a G3 would be no small feat. Perhaps a Transmeta Crusoe chip could do it. If anyone has information about the CPU used, let me know.

I Want My Backups!

Continuing — for the third straight week — with the topic of "CDs" not necessarily being CDs, Jody Dugan has a My Turn article and Wired has an article in its Politics section on this topic.

"Until value exceeds price," Dugan writes, "piracy will never go away." The record companies are obsolete. Their distribution model is hopelessly broken, and they're now relying on the crumbling crutch of copy-protection technology to prevent their own downfall.

Sorry, folks, but I'm not paying for your new Porsche. If Adam Duritz or Dave Matthews or Bono wants to sell me digital music directly for $7 per album, I'm all over it. If the record companies want to sell me the same thing for $18, of which the artist gets $2, well, like I said: I'm not paying for your new Porsche. And I'm certainly not paying for a Porsche in the garage of someone who thinks Britney Spears or Jessica Simpson or any of those innumerable "boy bands" make real music.

"Beleaguered?" Not Any More

Wow. Steven Van Esch hit the nail on the head with this week's Mac Scope column. It seems like the mainstream press just can't get enough of Apple these days. Van Esch missed a few, but his omissions are understandable considering the volume of pro-Apple articles this week.

Here are the ones that most caught my eye: BusinessWeek is singing the praises of the new iMac's ergonomics, while Fortune can't get over what a great multimedia computer and what a great bargain it is. The Minneapolis-area Pioneer Planet loves the new iApps from Apple, and Rodney O. Lain has an interesting take on what we Mac users should think now that we're using a computer that isn't the butt of the industry's jokes any more.

Finally, Gene Steinberg's AZ Central — always a Mac-friendly zone — has a very interesting article about Apple's brand recognition relative to that of the various Wintel box builders.

But just when you thought everyone was happy with the new Macs, a guy at the Cleveland Plain Dealer had to say that the iBook looks like an awkward teenager. Did this guy not see the original iBook, the one looked like a cross between a purse and a toilet seat? The design wasn't so bad, but the new design is so much better that I just don't understand the reviewer's issues with it.

"We Up and Done Goofed With This Here Article"

I — and probably most other Mac folk — had never heard of the site ReviewBoard until earlier this week. What changed the situation? A reviewer posted a review of the PowerBook G4 that was possibly the most misguided and poorly researched review in the history of technical reviewing.

Apparently the guy who was supposed to do the review was on vacation during a move, and he returned to find his mailbox filled with several thousand irate letters from Mac users who were, shall we say, less than pleased. Philip Ferreira has posted the proper review, for which I commend the folks at ReviewBoard. The new review, although positive and much more factually accurate, is still poorly written.

I hope ReviewBoard will take this opportunity to clean up their act a bit, because right now I would have a hard time taking anything posted there seriously.

So this Mac Web writer walks into a bar...because it's been a long week.

copyright ©2000-2004 by Chris Lawson