Posts for Tag: iTunes

Hello New Mac Mini - Bye-bye Optical Drives

Along with today's Mac OS X Lion release, Apple refreshed the MacBook Air and Mac Mini with new chipsets and beefier configs while keeping prices the same or lowering them in some cases. While no major structural changes were made to the MacBook Air (Thunderbolt added and backlit keyboard brought back!) the Mac Mini lost its internal Superdrive completely. Last year's server version removed the optical drive and now the desktop version is DVD free, as well. Yet another sign of Apple's march towards zero internal optical drives for all its machines.

The move is hardly a surprise. Forget about Apple's desire to be cutting edge. CDs and DVDs as a technology are just outdated. People don't carry around CDs for listening to music any more. Virtually all movies released to date are on Blu-ray or are being streamed via Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, etc. CDs and DVDs to deliver software is dying a slow death (hastened by App Stores of all types) and optical discs never really caught on for on the go data storage. USB thumb drives are more practical and the combination of continuously falling prices and ever increasing sizes make it a no brainer. Would I want to carry around 4-8 DVDs or one 32GB USB flash drive (currently priced at about $40 and falling). Also, Apple just killed another reason for you to use an optical drive by letting all new Macs reinstall the operating system over the internet (very cool).

I'm not against optical drives in general. I do see the need for them when watching Blu-ray movies (though not available on a Mac) or when needing to store huge files cheaply (about $1 per 25GB blank disc or $7 for 50GB blank disc). I just don't need to use them ALL THE TIME. That's why a laptop (or Mac Mini) coupled with an external USB Blu-ray drive is a great solution. You shouldn't have to devote 25%-35% of your machine's internal real estate to a peripheral you only use 1% of the time, if that much.

Some words of wisdom regarding backing up your data

So my car was broken into on Friday and my Macbook was stolen.  This isn’t a post to discuss that incident.  What happened has happened and in honor of the fast approaching lunar new year, I’ve decided to be more Zen – Possessions Are Fleeting.  This is more about the events after the theft. 

I did the usual things like filing a police report, getting my window fixed, and cleaning up the car.  Next, I needed to get my digital life back on track.  First, if I had actually used Time Machine like I was supposed to, the backup process would have been super simple.  That was strike one.  I use Mozy to backup my work files so those were easy to retrieve.  Since we migrated to Google Apps earlier this year, all of my email was stored on their servers so getting access to that was easy.  What was not easy to get back were my personal files – mainly music and photos.  Luckily, I sync those items with my iPhone so technically I have a copy of those on the phone.  The difficult part is actually getting them off the phone and onto my spare laptop.  Every time I try to sync with iTunes, it tells me that it’s going to wipe all these items off my phone and replace it with the items on the laptop (which at this point is nothing).  I’ve got a Genius Bar appointment tomorrow to try to figure out how I’ll be able to have my photos and music somewhere other than my phone.

So the morale of the story is back-up your computers.  Don’t rely on copying files periodically from your laptop or desktop to an external drive.  That’s a very ineffective way of doing things.  If you have a Mac, use Time Machine.  Have it set to backup at least every 24 hours.  If you have a PC, use Mozy.  It’s free for the first 2GB and only $5 a month for unlimited storage - use this link and promo code "FEBRUARY" for a 10% discount!  $5 people.  That’s less than two lattes or one lunch out or half a movie every month.  The point is it’s not much and well worth it.

Apple Tablet ... my thoughts

A while back, I wrote a post about Apple's rumored netbook with touchscreen. I said it would be much cooler if it was just a straight up tablet like out of Star Trek: TNG. It looks like I was right. More news today comes out that the tablet may actually come in multiple sizes. Also, very cool.
Now here's my new prediction. There's been reports that the new Apple Tablet will be a multimedia device capable of playing music (with some new album content) and also HD video. But what I think the new wrinkle will be is that the device will replace the Apple TV which hasn't been making much headway in our hearts and minds. All the tablet would really need is just an HDMI out port to hook up to your TV. BAM! You have a portable video/music device that you can plug into any output source (TV, stereo, etc). I won't use it for that purpose (got my sweet rig already) but I could definitely see it being a great kids in the back seat device or being able to watch your library of content in bed. My wife already transcodes shows to the iPhone I gave her to watch before bedtime. Just think if all she had to do was just stream it via her shared iTunes library on the desktop...

ZunePass and iTunes - Not exactly apples to apples...

I recently saw the above ad for ZunePass, Microsoft's unlimited music service. Basically, you're renting music as opposed to buying it. I'm not against the concept of a music subscription service, I just think they could have done a better job in the ad of promoting the pros versus always comparing/contrasting with Apple. At some point, Microsoft just needs to go in another direction with its advertising strategy. Always comparing yourself to Apple is a sure fire way of constantly reminding people that a highly competent (not necessarily better in all cases) competitor exists. Same thing with the latest Laptop Hunter commercials.
So here's my free advice to Microsoft. Pitch your strengths versus the strengths of your competitor. Stick to the fact that there is more choice in hardware for PCs, they almost always cost less than Macs, Microsoft Office works much better on a PC than on a Mac, Exchange is better than whatever is available for Macs (is there anything available?), and the fact that most IT folks hate supporting Macs.
The good folks over at Penny Arcade made a very insightful and hilarious comic mocking the latest ad.