Tech Week in Review

OS 9.2.1 delivers, road trip to Woodfield Mall's Apple Store, rumors and ATI's new chip, Mozilla, tech writing on the Web, Skylarov indicted, AirPort insecurity, and much more.

9.2.1 Delivers

That's right, I'm running 9.2.1 with nary a hitch. Not one hiccup since I installed it, although it doesn't seem to have sped up my Wall Street by much, either. Boot time is about 10-15 seconds faster, but that's about it. I still can't out-type the computer, so I think it's doing pretty well.

Interestingly, a lot of people on MacInTouch are reporting problems with Eudora under 9.2.1. All the problems so far have been with people running in Sponsored mode, however, and I believe the problem lies in Eudora's advertisement retrieval code. I'm running the paid version and have had no problems (just like some others on MacInTouch).

As with most Mac OS upgrades, the standard recommendations apply: do a clean install, then migrate your Preferences folder over first. Slowly migrate any third-party extensions over, checking MacFixIt for problems first.

I didn't have enough room to clean install, and, in fact, the Installer told me I didn't have enough room for the installation period — but it worked out fine.

Ask a Genius, or Inside a Mac Web Writer's Road Trip

OK, so I drove four hours so that I could have the privilege of getting up at 0600 so I could drive another hour and wait in line for two more hours "just to get a T-shirt." Stop laughing, readers, because you know that if you had a spare Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, you'd do the same thing.

Michael Coyle, webmaster of ResExcellence, and I got together (along with our respective significant others) for dinner Friday night at Walter Payton's Roundhouse. Don't get the BBQ chicken pizza. It's weird. The beer is great, though!

I got to Woodfield at about 0710, a little later than scheduled (I swear it wasn't the beer), but tolerably early. Apparently one die-hard guy (Mac spouses, be glad your husband/wife isn't like him) got there at 0330, pulled a lawn chair out of his car, set it in front of the nearest mall entrance to the Apple Store, and went to sleep until 0630, when the mall doors opened. As I told Amelia, my girlfriend, "I drove four hours, but I'm not that psycho!" Good work, whoever you are. I applaud your dedication. If I lived in Chicago, I probably would have been right there with you.

Anyway, when we got there, the line was about 50-60 people. Several of them were wearing Apple shirts of one variety or another, and the couple who walked in with us started searching out particularly cool ones with me. A girl slightly ahead of us was wearing a "Moof" shirt with Clarus on the back. A man slightly in front of her was wearing one of the iBook "Go" shirts. The early morning guy had on one of the really old black T-shirts that said "Apple" in five colors, like the ones they had back around '84 when the Mac was introduced. Another guy had on a shirt with "Been there, done that" on it. One man was wearing the old classic "The power to be your best" from the IIfx era. A lot of people had on OS X or other Mac OS shirts, and one other guy had on the iMac "Yum" polo shirt that was part of the demo day kits back in '99. I saw one other guy wearing my original white "Think Different" polo later in the day.

That, coupled with introductions and how-do-you-dos, wasted a good portion of time in line. It's amazing how easy it is to burn two hours when you have people with Pismos, iBooks, and TiBooks — all combined with Airport — sitting around you in line. By 0815, there were nearly 400 people in line by my estimate.

Let me be upfront about this: I don't care how dorky it sounds, but I'm laying claim to the following four Woodfield Apple Store firsts:

Now, allow me to explain. The first two aren't even up for debate. Amelia and I, who are apparently more photogenic than we give ourselves credit for (awwwww — now shaddup and keep reading), headed straight for the back of the store to the Genius Bar. I didn't really have any particular question in mind at all, but I was curious to see what it was like back there. Sorry, but I don't even remember what I asked.

Steve Jobs. Yeah, as in the CEO of Apple. He wasn't there. A guy named Josh that looked a heckuva lot like a balding, slightly older Steve Jobs was there, though, wearing the iBook "Go" shirt I mentioned before. Josh hails from the Chicago area and has been using Macs since 1988, when he first used a Mac II. I asked him how long he had been waiting for this, and he replied "Since 1984!" Ah, a true fan. He, probably like most other people in line, wasn't planning any big purchases but said he was most excited about a free T-shirt.

I have to admit, the T-shirts are really cool. If you haven't seen 'em, check out the galleries at My Mac, MacNETv2 , and ResExcellence. My T-shirt stayed safely wrapped in its plastic tube, however, while Amelia and I shopped the rest of the morning and into the afternoon. A salesman in the Gap store downstairs approached me and asked if I worked "at that Apple store upstairs." I told him I didn't, but handed him a business card, and we chatted for several minutes. Turns out he was about to sell his Grape iMac and get something else (not a Mac), but when alerted to the ridiculously low RAM prices, he immediately perked up and decided his Mac was good enough. It wasn't a sale, strictly speaking, but it kept one in the fold, so it's almost as good.

My dad asked me just before I left why I was driving 400 miles round-trip just to see a store open. I told him if he had to ask he just didn't get it, and that's about the best explanation I can give.

2Go or Not 2Go

The ever-reliable MOSR is now claiming Apple will be using ATI's newly announced Radeon Mobility 7500 in the next TiBook revision. While I don't put any stock in MOSR's reporting, the PowerBook Zone has a brief and interesting commentary (see 28 August news if it's no longer on the main page) on the release, while mostly avoiding speculation that the chip will be used. (Note to O'Grady's Power Page: MOSR doesn't "report" anything. They wildly speculate about a lot of things, but that's not "reporting.")

Get Thee to a Mozilla FTP Site

This is apparently Pathetic Shakespeare Reference Week here at TWiR. Mac Edition's CodeBitch wants YOU to download and start using Mozilla if at all possible. The more people who use it, the better feedback the developers will get, and the better they can make it. The better they make it, the less dependent we will be on Microsoft Internet Exploder 5, which, although good, has some serious HTML bugs in it. Just ask Jack Miller of As the Apple Turns — we had a brief discussion about IE's shortcomings (amongst other things) while we waited in line in Chicago on Saturday morning. Netscape 6/Mozilla isn't without its faults, and CodeBitch makes that clear, but we simply need better standards support than what we currently have available.

Random Link of the Week: Flashbacks

For a brief moment, I considered not mentioning the fact that this article was from 1979. I guess they had irony back then, too. They just didn't know it yet. <big wink>

My Pet Topic

We're back to my pet topic: the quality (or lack thereof) of writing on the Mac Web. Rodney O. Lain, that — for lack of a better term — "presence" on the Mac Web, has written a great article about writing better. Every writer currently writing on the Internet who has any sort of journalistic aspirations owes it to themselves and their readers to take this article to heart. It's what I would have written myself if I could have put it into words and was as good a writer as Rodney.

Speaking of poor journalism, you'd think a college newspaper — which ostensibly trains journalism students to write better — would have an editor who knows the difference between Mac and Apple. Sorry, Chrissy, but you lose.

And while I'm on the topic, head over to Steve Gilliard's piece on NetSlaves about the "failure of tech journalism." It makes some great points, although it could have been better-written, and Steve is obviously a raving anti-Mac bigot. (Read the posts in the forum and you'll see what I mean.)

Praying for Puma

While a lot of Mac folks out there seem to be desperately awaiting the release of Mac OS 10.1, Andras Puiz is giving it hell over on Applelust, and with good reason. His series on 10.1 pulls no punches and is well worth the read. In a related vein, Derek Currie and the Insanely Great Mac staff have put together a list of 80 bugs in 10.0.4 that they hope to see fixed. A lot of them are issues I first noted several months ago. Almost all of them are things I agree with completely.

Fed Smackdown, Part Deux

Last week I mentioned that the FBI was trying to persuade a Good Samaritan to accept a criminal plea bargain for alerting a newspaper to the fact that their ISP had a wide-open security hole. Well, the Feds have filed a formal indictment against Dmitry Skylarov for violating the DMCA. The DMCA, quite possibly the most asinine piece of legislation passed in this country since Prohibition, has not been used to prosecute anyone until now. I fear this may only open the floodgates for more.

Megahertz Myth Explained

Don't get the so-called "Megahertz Myth?" Read Joel Davies' latest column. Show it to your mom. It's funny and informative at the same time, written in a way that anyone can understand.

Microsoft Is Still Stupid, and So Are Windoze Weenies

Also last week, I berated Microsoft for breaking QuickTime and bemoaned the fact that Apple had to fix it. I apparently had a poor choice of words in using "fix" there.

Right on, guys. My goof. And you thought Mac users were bigoted? Like Right On Mac, I don't quite understand how breaking plug-ins is "innovation," but maybe the guy who wrote that has been watching too many Steve Ballmer presentations.

Need more proof that Windows users are stupid? Michael Dell himself is, as Jack Miller noted, having "delusions of Steveness." Sorry, buddy, but we had 802.11b (a.k.a. AirPort) a year before you did, no matter what you might claim in interviews.

There's a Guy with a PowerBook Washing My Window...

A lot of press coverage as of late has been dedicated to how insecure 802.11b wireless networking is or appears to be on paper. Sure, it's simple enough for someone to set up a network and then crack it as an exercise in proof of concept, but in the real world, breaking in might be a lot harder than you would think. John Welch covers this issue in depth in inetd: WEP Panic this week. Basically, if you're not the guy in New Zealand running AirPort over a 57 kilometer connection, you don't have a whole lot to worry about unless you do silly things like let the window washer use a laptop to capture your network traffic.

"I Told You So"

Jon Rubenstein may find a job moonlighting on the lecture circuit soon if AMD's latest marketing campaign is any indication. It looks like Apple isn't the only company with a clock speed deficit, and AMD appears to be livid at Intel for "devaluing the meaning of megahertz."

Steve, Jon, and the whole SPS group at Motorola have to be sitting back and laughing at this right about now. What I find particularly funny is that AMD is finally admitting what Mac users have known since the time of the G3's introduction (remember the "up to twice as fast" ads?) and what savvy computer-industry watchers have known since the early days of RISC. High-end *nix workstations such as those from SGI and Sun have traditionally lagged behind in clock speed but been far ahead in performance due to the rest of the CPU and motherboard architecture. Maybe we'll finally see a shakeout in the industry with some real — and useful — cross-platform benchmarks emerging.

Oh My God

Becky, look at his butt. It is sooooooooooo big.

MTV Total Request Live better be playing this one in regular rotation within the next 24 hours, or I'm going to lodge a complaint with Carson Daly himself. Thanks to James Carusone for the video, and thanks to Digital Droo for the soundtrack.

That's a wrap, folks. See you next Friday.

copyright ©2000-2004 by Chris Lawson