Best way to upgrade to Snow Leopard?

So, Mac OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard” comes out tomorrow, which leaves me in something of a financial quandary.

The base “upgrade” package will go for A$39. The Apple website says that this SKU is appropriate for users of 10.5, while 10.4 users (that would be me) would be better served picking up the Mac Box Set. This package includes iLife and iWork (A$129 each) as well as the OS for a total of A$229. This is a good deal, but still $190 more expensive than the OS on its own. Continue reading

iPhone 3GS

Last week, I finally joined the 21st century and got an iPhone. My mobile contract was up, and it seemed like a natural progression from the iPod Touch. I’d already considered some alternative smartphones like the XXX and the YYY, but niggling concerns about Mac compatibility and screen resolution singled out the one choice I could make.

Phone

I don’t actually talk on the phone much. It’s just a function of the way I operate socially that I’m a minimum-spend telephony user. As such, I haven’t really noticed anything outstanding about this function of the device. That being said, I do like the “conversation” view of text messages, and the easy integration of the Address Book.

Internet

I’ve read a number of complaints about connectivity and the iPhone. Overall, I can’t say I’ve run into them. Occasionally I’m forced to reboot the thing when it can’t get on to the net via 3G, but I’ve found that’s mostly a problem with the “dialling” in, and that giving it a moment can clear it up. I suspect it’s more a function of my carrier than the iPhone.

Mobile Safari makes web browsing almost as good as a real PC. It renders things well, and is pretty speedy.

Apps

I’ll go into what apps I’m using in a later post, but for now I want to mention an interesting phenomenon: my Twitter use has increased due to actually having a good interface while on the move. My venerable Nokia 6110 just couldn’t make Twitter a good experience, but the large screen and easy keyboard make Twitter much more accessible. Likewise for Facebook.

Finding an app in the App store, however, is a royal pain in the butt. It might be cheap, and it might be useful, but if I can’t find it, there’s no point. Apple really needs to address that.

Earphones

When I got my first iPod (a venerable 1st-gen Shuffle), I swore by the earphones. They didn’t distort, they produced a decent quality sound. Naturally, they eventually broke down, but by then I was using my Nano, and quietly moved on to in-ear buds. I hadn’t realised until trying the earphones that came with the iPhone how much a difference in-ear makes to sound quality. I find that with the classic whites, I am constantly pushing them further into my ear to capture more bass.

It’s a shame, because I want access to the remote control and microphone on the iPhone buds. Instead, I’m going back to my in-ears.

Camera

The built in camera is pretty good. The touch-to-meter function is a godsend in variably lit conditions, and helps deliver relatively clear photos. The only drawback is the lack of flash. Of course, one photo with a flash would probably deplete the battery, so I guess we can’t have everything.

Battery

This is probably the iPhone’s weakest suit. I seem to be unusual amongst mobile phone users in that charging my phone is a habit. I just plug in when I go to bed and don’t have to think about it. Nevertheless, all previous phones that I have owned have not actually needed that discipline. The iPhone on the other hand is at least 50% down at the end of every day. I don’t even consider myself a heavy user, given that I have internet access at work (and am actually working most of the time), so I can see this being a major problem for most people out there.

Conclusion

Overall, the iPhone is a solid consumer-grade smartphone. It integrates well with the Mac’s iCal and Address Book applications, though the lack of task management feature does get on my nerves. Nonetheless, most of my experience with the iPhone has been great. The only real downfall is the lacklustre battery life. I now carry a charge cable with me wherever I go.

Music Industry vs Music Games

Wired.com is running an essay on the music industry’s beef with music simulation games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero. In some ways, it’s like listening to a broken record: old business hasn’t anticipated how the times are a-changin’ and starts whining about not having a big enough cut of the proceeds.

They’ve done it with Apple and the ITMS, they’re doing illegal things  to hinder file swapping, and they’re doing very little to be innovative and stay ahead of the game. What they don’t seem to realise is that if they weren’t stuck in this orthodoxy of the plastic disc, they could be inventing new distribution channels like games and ringtones and online file distribution.

One fact jumped straight off my monitor and burned into my brain when I read the article:

Music games are proven earners—Aerosmith has reportedly earned more from Guitar Hero : Aerosmith than from any single album in the band’s history.

Wow! Aerosmith is one of the biggest rock bands in history, and they make more money off a game? It’s obvious this could be used as a fantastic promotional tool, but it can also help revitalise bands.

Due to the last couple years of music games, I’ve (re)discovered music and bands I haven’t given a thought to in over a decade. I’ve spent money on them. Even if the label gets a relatively small cut from the game, it gets much more from my track purchase.

I would hate to be working for such an introverted, conservative company. It would frustrate me to think that my employer behaved like a spoiled brat who wanted credit every time somebody came up with a better idea.

Touchy Feely

Having to go several days without one’s primary PC makes one appreciate anything that can help replace the lost functionality. And so I spent a very intense couple of days with my new iPod Touch.

This second generation is very sexy. I’ve been interested in upgrading my Nano for a while, but couldn’t justify the iPhone to myself. As an all-in-one package for media play and portable web access, it really is a great device. Continue reading

My Mac’s a Lemon (And I Want My Money Back)

It’s no secret I’m an Apple loyalist. The first computer I set eyes on was an Apple][e when I was four. I touched my first Mac when I was 6, and the first PC my family owned was a MacSE 30 with an ImageWriter II. I’ve had a couple non-Macs over the years (running everything from Windows to Linux and a shade of BSD in between), but I keep coming back to the products produced by Steve and co.

And that makes my disappointment with my MacBook so much harder. Since I got it about 12 months ago, it’s been in for repairs three times. One for a cracked topcase, and twice for hard drive failure. That means I’m on to my third hard drive now. Continue reading