My MacWorld 2 Cents: Recap

by Alan Graham

On January 5th I decided to post a blog entry that didn't make predictions about Apple announcements, but instead made a call for improvements. Surprising enough, I got just about all I asked for. Italics represent what I called for, followed by what I got.




iLife

While I'm sure we'll see some type of update for the iLife suite of products, what is sorely missing is collaborative solutions. It is not uncommon for people to have multiple machines in their homes with multiple accounts on each machine. OS X needs a collaborative database solution so media can be stored in a central repository.



My main desire for this was the fact that we have multiple machines in my home/office, one digital camera, and an issue of where the iPhoto library goes. All too often my wife and I both want access to the same set of photos. The announced update to iPhoto will make this possible with Rendezvous file sharing.




iTV/iPain

I don't want to watch TV on my Mac, and I don't want Apple to make televisions. But I do want to store media files on my home server. I'd love to see an Apple wireless/wired DVR with a free scheduling service provided to .Mac users. A set top box with no internal storage would lower hardware costs, and I could stream video from my eMac to any TV in the house.



Apple needs to find a solution to the problem of getting audio from one location to another. My iTunes library exceeds the storage capacity of any iPod, plus if I take my iPod somewhere, no one else can play music files on the stereo. So far, no one has built a great, affordable solution for streaming audio from a server to a stereo. Plus, I now have a large number of Apple iTunes Music Store files that only play on Apple hardware. And while transmitting audio over FM radio works, it sucks. It's the 21st century, we can do better.




Well, Apple didn't deliver it, but several others did. El Gato has released a high end version of their EyeTV DVR. And if that was already fantastic, they also released a new device called the EyeHome which "...allows you to access the digital content you have stored on your Mac - photos, music, video, movies - and enjoy it on your TV and home entertainment system. EyeHome features an easy-to-use and remote-controlled TV interface. From the main menu's list of "EyeTV" recorded television, "Movies", "Music", "Pictures" and "Internet Services", you can simply access your library of digital content."



And if that weren't enough, several vendors announced a number of Bluetooth audio solutions which can be found here and here.



What I Didn't Get



iPhone?

While some are looking for an Apple iPhone, I'd settle for an Apple device that put iChat audio functions into a portable handset/headset in my home. Having the ability to accept or initiate an audio chat 100ft from my computer would be fantastic.



I still think something on this order may be on the horizon, if not from Apple from someone.



Spam

I'd like to see Apple take a stab at curbing spam through the .Mac service, not just through Mail. This past holiday season, I received several hundred spam emails that slipped through the spam filter in Mail.



No luck here, but perhaps someone can point me to a better solution. Recently spammers have invaded the O'Reilly Talk Back posts. So now I get several spams a day masked as replies to my posts and articles.



iSearch

I'd love to see Apple release an application that allowed me to track and manage all of my files across multiple locations. As someone who moves from machine to machine, location to location, I'd love to have keyword searching and file syncing between all these machines with a simple keystroke.



No luck here either, but it seems that Apple is hip to the fact that people now have multiple machines in the home and office, and will soon need these tools. Fingers crossed for later in the year.



Pleasant Surprises

I was pleasantly surprised by the new mini iPods. Now that they come in pink, my wife might actually want one.



Garage Band came out of nowhere. Didn't see that coming, but pleased to see it arrive. As a music major in college, my Mac based MIDI studio cost me in upwards of $10,000 in 1989. I now have the same capabilities at home for under $300. While Garage Band doesn't replace some of the higher powered MIDI/Recording solutions out there, I do expect to find it changing the initial creative process, and I do predict we'll see an album this year conceived and created entirely in Garage Band.

Anything you wished for, but didn't get?


6 Comments

xyzzy-xyzzy
2004-01-07 08:45:19
GarageBand
I'm also pysched about GarageBand! I can't remember ever buying a Midi sequencer program for that cheap, and now I can get instruments and loops and whatnot!


This kind of stuff is why I really like Apple.

goofybastard
2004-01-07 11:11:27
managing spam
I've fallen in love with a solution built using TMDA and ProcMail. It provides a challenge/response system that has virtually stopped spam from reaching me. I used to get 75-100 spams between my two personal accts each day. Of course TMDA/ProcMail requires access to the server or a super-cool sys admin that can do the dirty work.


I've read recently about a mailblocks.com and they provide a challenge/response system for like $10 a year. Pretty darn cheap if you ask me. I've not used their system though but I'd imagine it does what you'd need.

anonymous2
2004-01-07 13:32:33
To say nothing of:
1. The aesthetically incompatible LCD displays
2. The indeterminate ship date for VPC 7
anonymous2
2004-01-07 21:45:48
MWSF '04 is just kick-starting the year...
Your column is a short and refreshing piece in contrast to the feel of post-MWSF dissapointment lurking in a load of online coveage...


"iSearch?:"
This one would be the killer app, like a "Sherlock for all of your digital life" or the such... But one wonders if a thouroughly-referenced "total database" of somebody's files wouldn't end up hogging a lot of disk space. And in which machine would you keep the main database? In your home computer, your office rig, the iMac in the den or your ipod? How long would a search take? Honestly, to efficiently process such a potentially humongous database, wouldn't 64bit processing power become necessary (yo, intel, you readin'?).


"iPhone?:"
Obviously, the wireless telephone market is already owned by a handful of giants. (how big is a hand that can hold a set of giants?...) Not an easy market for anyone to enter right now. Although Apple or a 3rd party (nokia?) could develop a clip-on cell-phone/bluetooth accessory for the iPod mini: the iPod would provide the guts of the system (calendar, address book, storage space etc) and the clip-on doohickey would provide the antenna, emission/reception chipset and some input method which would tie in with the iPod's controller... maybe I should submit myself to a related Aorta project...


"iTV/iPain"
A PC is as much out-of-place in the TV room as a large TV set is on a receptionist's desk... MS might get the entertainment box kinda right with the XBox II, but I'm more inclined to believe that a full-featured computer is necessary to create, capture, edit, manage, archive and broadcast (within a household) any type of media... Apple is getting half there with iLife '04, what lacks is a powerful compact headless iMac with a TV-capable all-in-wonder class GPU card.


On january 24th, I really hope 2004 will be like this: http://www.flyemoney.com/aorta/


enjoy!

anonymous2
2004-01-07 21:51:08
Kickstarting with a typo...
The link in my last post is wrong, bad! bad! bad!


here, the one and only true link:
http://www.flyermoney.com/aorta/


(phew!)
Robert

anonymous2
2004-01-08 14:17:29
Filter junk in Mail.app
This free little app might be useful for you: it works as an add-on rule in Mail but allows you to use regular expressions/blacklist query/whatnot to flag/move spam:


http://www.macupdate.com/info.php/id/13452